It’s a narrow corner hill, and then a hairpin, all within a fourth of a mile, and it’s the exact center point between my house and Kelsey’s. There is no way around it if I want to go out with my best friend I have to travel that stretch of road, and she the same for me. Right at the start of the hairpin are five wooden crosses, three from the late seventies, two from the last five years. One is from Jake, whom I called Kevin. Kevin is Kelsey’s brother. We lost him there one day, on the way home from the movies.
Next to the road is an apple orchard, if I reach out my window I can grab apples as I ride shotgun in Kelsey’s car. We were with Ali the day we lost Kevin. No one was driving, we were walking. We all knew it was a bad idea to walk along the dead man’s way, but there is only one way from Ali’s to Kelsey’s, maybe there are two ways, but we only ever took one, there were bears in the woods, and bears are dangerous. We’d never seen a bear, but we could never be too careful.
Kevin was head of us, riding on his skateboard; it was on this stretch of road that Ali broke my leg, but that’s a different story completely, this one is about Kevin and the day we lost him. Kevin was with Cameron, Cameron was Kevin’s best friend, like Kelsey and I but boys.
We reached the top of the hill and looked down, down the rolling apple orchards that would soon be a housing development. Ali grabbed and apple and bite it, the crunch hurt my ears.
We rode Razor Scoters down the steep hill because Razor Scoters were cool then, or maybe it was several years past their prime, but we rode them anyway. When we reached the hairpin we realized we couldn’t find Kevin. He wasn’t anywhere to be found. We’d lost him. The three of us had lost Kevin. Cameron was by the crosses.
The next day at school everyone wore black, several girls cried. I stood silently against my locker with Kelsey and Ali next to the chemistry room. Kevin ran by, late for class a usual, his skateboard under his arm. I wanted to trip him, but I didn’t, that would have ruined the occasion.
In study hall, Cameron’s desk was empty. Someone put a candle on it, but it wasn’t lit, that wasn’t allowed. We all sat in silence for Cameron.
The day that we lost Kelsey’s brother in an apple orchard, a boy died; his name was Cameron. I didn’t know him, but he went to my high school, I knew his brother, his name was Jake. I called him Jake; he didn’t have a weird nickname like Kelsey’s brother. This Cameron was a year older than us. He was riding his dirt bike across the halfway point between my house and Kelsey’s. We all knew dirt bikes weren’t meant for corners that sharp, or hills that blind.
When Ali bit the apple that hurt my ears, Cameron crashed into a steel bar that crossed the dirt path next to the road. Cameron wasn’t wearing a helmet, and Cameron’s body hit a tree.
The day we lost Kevin, Cameron was at the half way point from house to Kelsey’s, but not the way that I normally went. I liked to drive the dead man’s way. Cameron was on the shortcut, the one that crossed under the highway and ended up behind Burger King. I don’t know if he was going there, but he might have been.
The day we lost Kelsey’s brother for forty-five minutes in the apple orchard; Lauren, the girl that sat next to me in algebra, watched her boyfriend die. Lauren was on the back of Cameron’s dirt bike. She was wearing his helmet, he only had one.
Kelsey’s brother’s friend Cameron was the one that found Kevin. He’d tried to ride his skateboard along the narrow path between the trees and crashed. Kevin cut his arm on the tree when he hit it. The dead Cameron cut his arms too, but he cut his head and face more. Kelsey didn’t tell her mom that we lost Kevin in the apple orchard, simply said that he fell while skateboarding, which was true enough. Lauren didn’t lie to her mom about what happened. Lauren didn’t have a chance.
After Cameron’s funeral, Jake went to the halfway point between my house and Kelsey’s a put up a handmade wooden cross. I pass it every time I go to Kelsey’s there’s no way around it. I pass it every time I go see my best friend. A simple reminder of a boy I barely knew.
Until next time Internet,