Macy Lynn was always a problem. But not in the way that you might think. She lived on the outside of town, in an old farmhouse with her daddy. Her mother split when she was a kid, and since then I hadn’t seen her daddy without a drink in his hand. We all knew nothing good happened in that house but we were also raised to know it was none of our business. Each family in our town had their own problems, Macy Lynn’s just seemed to have more of them than others.
She sat in front of me all throughout grade school, and middle school. By the time we got to high school we only rarely saw her and when we did she was in and out of the Principal’s office. I was infatuated with her, so were the rest of the boys at our school. But she never returned the interest. We saw her sometimes at parties, always sitting on the lap of a different college boy.
I’ll never forget the last time I saw her alive. I was sixteen, it was winter. I had just gotten my license and I was driving around in my dad’s truck for the first time alone. She was walking along one of the empty roads outside of town. Her long blonde hair was piled into the hood of her tattered jacket. I almost didn’t recognize her. If I hadn’t spent so many years studying the slope of her shoulders, the back of her head, I might not have even stopped.
I rolled up beside her and lowered my window.
“Macy? Macy Lynn.” She whipped her head around and glared at me. Her face was red and blotchy, maybe from crying, maybe from the cold.
“What do you want Jacobs?” Sometimes I couldn’t tell if she remembered my first name or not because she always called me by my last name. But then again so did the guys on the football team.
“Can I drive you somewhere?”
“No, keep driving. I’m fine.”
I almost did what she said. For as long as I’ve known her she’s been stubborn. But not in your typical kind of way. She was stubborn in a more in a defiant kind of way. Somewhere I knew if I let this girl go that I would regret it. So I stayed. I kept driving next to her, waiting for her to give in and let me drive her. It started to get cold with the window open so I cranked up the heat. We went on like this for about half a mile and finally she stopped walking and turned to me.
“Why won’t you leave me alone? What? Are you stalking me?”
“I just want to give you a lift home is all.”
I don’t know if she believed me or not but she jumped into the truck and I rolled up the window.
“You know where it is right?” She asked me shaking off her hood and putting her hands over the heater.
She was quiet for a while but we got closer to her house and she asked me to keep driving.
“Anywhere, you can drop me off whenever you want, I’m just not ready to go home yet.” She said. She looked tired so we drove around until she fell asleep. It was cold out, and it was dark so I knew no one was hanging around town but I still avoided most places anyone I knew would be.
Kelly, my girlfriend of three months wouldn’t really be pleased if she knew I was driving around late at night with the Mysterious Macy Lynn asleep next to me. My curfew was ten o clock and being that this was the first time I was trusted with the car I was not willing to risk losing the privilege before I even got it.
Around nine thirty I drove Macy Lynn up to her house and noticed that the beat up Lincoln wasn’t parked outside anymore. The house was dark and vacant. This house must have been beautiful when it was first built. It was a huge old thing, grand veranda, shutters, red front door. All the works. Now the grass and the tress around it were overgrown and dark. I figured when Macy’s mother left, all the life in the place must have gone with her. This was the last house on the street, and I could smell the dirty lake water from my car.
As soon as I cut the engine Macy woke with a start and looked around puzzled and scared.
“What? Where am I?”
“I’m just dropping you off remember? You fell asleep after you told me to drive around for a while.”
“Oh my, I’m so sorry, here I don’t have much but I can see if I have any money for gas.” She said clearly embarrassed. Her cheeks were a brilliant red and I fought off a grin. She was rummaging around in her large shoulder bag and I stopped her.
“Really, Macy I don’t need any money. I promise. It’s okay, I was just helping out.”
“I don’t need any charity.” She said straightening out her shoulders and pulling her head back. I knew this stance. She was gearing up for a fight. I had seen her use this look on teachers, coaches, ex-boyfriends, mean girls.
“Woah, woah, its okay. Wasn’t charity. I just got my license, wanted to drive around anyway.”
“Okay,” she said slowly. “I guess I’ll see you tomorrow Will.”
“I’ll see ya tomorrow Macy Lynn.” I said as she climbed out. I’ll always have that face in my mind. She wasn’t defensive or cruel like she was at school. She looked softer, smaller, so much more alone than I realized. Her bright green eyes still find their way into my dreams, even now all those years later.
The next time I saw Macy Lynn was at her funeral. Officially? She drowned. A freak accident. She fell through the ice on the lake behind her house. We all had our theories, the police even brought her father in for questioning. He wasn’t any help. I was paranoid for weeks that somehow they would think that I did it. That someone saw us together that night. But we weren’t friends, there was no reason to suspect me. Her death was ruled an accident.
But anyone who knew Macy Lynn knew it wasn’t an accident. She lived by that lake her whole life. She knew the parts that were frozen over that time of the year and the parts that weren’t.
The day after they dragged her body out of the lake the whole school was quiet. Teachers, staff, students from every grade. Some girls cried, and there were flowers laying by her locker. I couldn’t help but laugh at all of it. She would have hated this, everyone pretending they liked her. Especially the girls. They hated her, and she hated them, always did. Maybe it was jealousy, maybe it was plain dissidence.
Before her funeral my mother was hysterical. She was wearing her nicest black shift dress and her best pearls but her eyes were red rimmed with sadness and she grabbed my shoulders firmly before we left the house and kissed me on the forehead.
“Don’t you ever, ever do anything like that to me do you hear me William?”
“Yes ma’am” I told her.
The service was huge. Full of kids from school, teachers, store owners from town. Anyone who knew Macy Lynn was crammed into that church. We only had one church in town, only ever needed one. I had gone to service with my mother and my father and my little sister every Sunday since I could remember and this was the first time I had ever seen Macy Lynn there. Everyone turned up, everyone except her father.
The casket was open, and she laid there in a white dress. That was a joke in itself. Macy only ever wore black, like she was always prepared for a funeral. She looked almost foreign to me, her hair was brushed and there wasn’t a hint of makeup on her puffy face. But that wasn’t why she looked so strange. Maybe it was because her eyes were closed.
She looked at peace. Macy Lynn wasn’t a peaceful person. As I stood there paying my respects I almost half expected her serene face to turn into a scowl. But it didn’t.
No one ever saw her father again, no one expected to either. He left his job at the factory outside of town and his beat up Lincoln was never seen after that.
Sometimes, after I got off duty I would drive my squad car down by that old house and think of Macy Lynn. I never stopped blaming myself for what happened to her. I played the last time I saw her alive and vibrant in my head until I couldn’t keep the details straight anymore. I thought about it for the rest of high school. Did she look depressed? Had she drastically changed her appearance? Did she give any hints about what she was doing?
But then again, her death was an accident right?
The house looked the same. Older maybe. No one touched it, like they expected to see Macy Lynn smoking on the porch again, or her dad’s old Lincoln sitting in the driveway. Some of the windows of the house had been broken and occasionally we got domestic disturbance calls to the area. Reports from neighbors saying they saw kids lurking around the house.
I drove home to Kelly that night as it was getting dark. Our kids were almost her age now and sometimes they asked me about her. Whenever they talk about the Mysterious Macy Lynn, or the old haunted farm house I tell them that she was a girl who needed our help. She was a girl who everyone was too afraid to talk to. She was a girl no one could save.