The Collected Accounts of June Bloomer

Across newspapers and television, seventeen year old June Bloomer is being shredded across the country for the cataclysmic events she caused in the quiet town of Johnston's creek. However months after the horror, in that forgettable village, June's only four friends are determined to tell the truth of June from the causalities they received first hand and nothing less.

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30. Entry eleven:

I decided to call up Eve Sommer up the next day and asked her if she wanted to play tennis. I didn’t let myself think about it, mainly because I had no idea what I was going to say if the line would pick up. It rang once, twice, three times... and on the fourth my heart skipped a beat as the dull voice cracked along the wires. I could smell the desperation of the house from the word ‘hello’.

Mrs Sommer had answered, dripped clean of all her charisma we had grown up around at fetes and parties. It had a sparkle to it, dry like champagne and sharp like edges of a freshly shattered mirror. Now, it fizzed out like wine left out for the night. We all knew she took the blame as her own. It didn’t matter how far down the legal system could shove Tim in jail. Everyone knew that Tim was no more a murderer than he was the result of a sad life. And Aubrie was so alone, so unshielded from protection or sense… it was only a matter of time.

She perked up when I introduced myself, but shrivelled at my proposal for Eve. Eve doesn’t participate socially at the moment, Mrs Sommer said through a drag of smoke. She’s feeling a little under the weather right now.

I had heard her fumble for the cigarette a minute before, and the cruel, cold blow through her teeth. She’d given it up years ago for the fear of what it was doing to her teeth, nails and hair. Now, the shop assistant claimed they had to order extra for Mrs Sommer. They couldn’t complain about the extra business of course. But that didn’t mean they didn’t like to talk about it.

I sat playing with my hands, waiting to see what she’d say. It took an age until we finally came to the agreement I’d come over for a visit, but would have to leave before dinner because she hadn’t made enough. And I just knew then, that Mrs Sommer had fully lost it, because everyone knew Mrs Sommer hadn’t cooked a meal in her life, and more often than not they had help to assist them.

And another thing, Mrs Sommer added just when I was just short of hanging up, don’t you think of bringing that girl.

Which one? I asked, stupidly, forgetting it was Mrs Sommer I was talking to, and that I might as well backchat the president.

June Bloomer, that’s who. She said, then promptly hung up with a loud thump, and left me hanging on the dead line, with the sounds of my dad peeling himself out of bed for tea and toast, and a world not splashed to pieces by fear and guilt. I can’t really remember what that sounds like, except maybe a boiling kettle and a still silent everything else.

+

The Sommer house was only a few minutes from mine, in a supreme estate much grander than its neighbours. The view of three stories was mostly hidden by large trees and a thick metal gate, still uncorroded by neglect. I had a flickering hope that maybe they were alright then, and maybe the trauma was going to end. This wasn’t a place where you could just ignore a whole family spiralling into a mad silence.

There were unopened gestures of food, maybe weeks old, on the path out towards the house. I mean, the Creek community had done all they could for the Sommers, but eventually all they had wanted was to rot in their grief. The grass was unkempt littered with wavy brown flowers and the house stood in front of me, almost with a sag fixed deep in its architecture that let out the sigh of the whole family.

Mrs Sommer stood at the chipping doorway, wearing a polka-dot white nightgown and her hair in big, plastic curlers. Her lips were painted in a pastel pink, smudged and quickly applied. It made me feel hysterical, and then low, to think she might have done it all just for me. I was as much as a plain Jane as Aubrie, but maybe that was why. Around her and the fanatics, I thought she might run around the house next crying “Out, Damned Spot!” and trying to smear the lipstick off like guilty blood.

She had once been the southern belle archetype, that blonde dreamer who married young and pretty to a man twice her age with gold-lined pockets. But now her blonde had transformed to a silver husk, with outgrown roots and finally, the process of aging toiling on her. Her eyes were heavily littered with mascara, and the purple of not sleeping; and her high cheek bones were sullen covered by blotchy skin. It was like stripping off a shell and finding out there was no creature to it after all, but the hollowness.

Eleanor Green, aren’t you just glowing with the beauty of summer? It’s a shame I haven’t left the house much. She shrugged, as though she’d not been kept inside by her inability to return back to normality and instead by bad weather, or a flu. Nevertheless she clucked about her kitchen, with an array of pots and pans cluttering the sinks and workspaces. And everywhere there were photos tacked to all the surfaces. A brief shadow of a daughter – I think it was Delilah – ran past, with sure steps and a squeak. The house looked like it was the end result of a great party. I wondered then if it had ever been cleaned from when Aubrie had disappeared, and if they had spent the rest of their months in a recovering state. Maybe they weren’t ill after all; just hung-over from the tragedy.

Mrs Sommer fixed me with a drink, talked about how her husband was, and led me out to the garden through the separate glass door, with glass blurred with a dozen sets of finger prints. Aubrie was here. She was this house; and there wasn’t a single item that couldn’t be linked to her. She had been part of the equation all along without anyone to notice. Mrs Sommer’s nightgown tore on the handle and she laughed, with a deep laugh that comes from a dark place and echoes through your ribs.

And then I saw her. Aubrie Sommer. Alive. I saw her copper hair, glinting in the glimpse of sun. She sat with her legs crossed, her head dipping into a faded book. Before the realization of reality, there was a feeling of complete bliss before the inertia snapped, and I remembered Aubrie Sommer had a frozen grave, not a sunlit life.

There was something holding me back from screaming. I scanned her face as she looked up to me; painfully slow and almost stagnant, like in horror films; but something was different. Her eyes were never light, like a thin sheet of blue sea, and her face had a softer quality to it, without the tan of the cheeks of the red of her neck. The hair too, which had been so identical, was cut too short and blunt. This wasn’t Aubrie; but it was a decoy. A fake. A copy.

Then she noticed me, and those eyes lit up like Eve again. I knew it had to be Eve; she had the same loveliness trapped under, like autumn leaves clogging up the glass lain with daises. I wanted to run, but where to? Instead I approached her with the two sugar rimmed glass of a cosmopolitan, except she’d only poured in the solution and not the other components. It tasted too sweet and synthetic, but I sipped it through the yellow straw out of a fear I still might scream.

 I needed to do what Eleanor Green did best; hold my tongue, and be a friend.

Ellie! She exclaimed, and ran up and hugged me. She’d never called me Ellie in my life. The closer she pulled me, the more the smell of body odour and hair dye clogged my nostrils. Her mere force nearly knocked the two glasses neatly out my hands, but with the same grace she’d had before, she swooped one straight out my hand and sipped before spitting it out.

What’s a Cosmo without the flavour? She said, giggling as she pulled a heart-shaped pouch from her pocket. The flask was emptied of its contents, and she shook it in her hands that didn’t stop shaking even as she drank the full glass without stopping.Ah, at least Eve wasn’t fully gone yet.

How have you been? She asked, and I replied with the usual; busy, bored, overwhelmed with avoided homework, underwhelmed with amusement… Her expression was so painfully enthusiastic, I wondered how long it had been since she’d heard word from the outside world. No one had heard from the sisters in days. Eve asked me about this friend and that, were they going out yet or was that gossip spread. It was more desperate now, with animated eyes like an anime hero. She was a painted doll, Aubrie edition. I could no longer see either sister in her, just a sad hybrid that lacked the magic of both.

I didn’t dare ask her anything in return. I didn’t know exactly what to say unless she guided me there in a conversation. All I could think about was how the garden still had little relics from the party that had cost her sister’s life. Still a little crack in the pavement. Still a . Still tangible objects she could run her hands along and remember, and the forest always in sight to stare out and search for the lost soul. Now it seemed to have doubled in height, so the trees eloped the entire house to near choking. In the corner of my eye, there was a stray pink lantern and paper cup, trapped in the crooks of trees. I thought about how pretty June looked under the rosy lights before all this, and how well it hid Michael’s permanent blush.

Then Eve dragged me to sit down on the white slabs of flat rock, with a bright sun and the reflection of Mrs Sommer in a window like the ghost of the house. Mr Sommer had long since cleared the house for the day. While the girls fermented into the classic brick, he did all he could to escape it.

It was Bloomer. Eve whispered then. June.

I asked her what she meant but she shook her head, and closed her mouth like she couldn’t physically speak the words.

What do you mean, Bloomer?

She did this to us. She killed Aubrie.

All at once I didn’t care if she was mad and broken, I just cared she was laughing. Not a happy laugh, but something just shy of sobs. My muscles started to contract into a punch, but I forced it down. I could endure for a second maybe. But Eve couldn’t say things like that. Not without a reason. Tim was locked up; the case was closed. We all had to move on.

What makes you say that? I asked.

She’s the devil. Don’t you see Eleanor? It’s June’s fault. She’s brought something to this town. I can tell, like a bad spirit. None of this happened before June.

I wanted to 1) ask why she thought she had any reason and 2) argue with her; but it was true. Before June, the world of the Creek was a small and unmighty as any suburbia, but Eve was just playing around with coincidence and calling it statistics.

Are you hurting the people in life that you love? Do you realise you love them at all? I lead Aubrie to it. It was our party; maybe it’s my fault. She ran her hands through her hair in clumsy clasps of copper, and I wondered if she’d made herself believe it was Aubrie’s. Maybe it was so she could look into the mirror and slump her shoulders to mousiness, and tell herself as Aubrie she was beautiful, and herself as Eve that she was sorry.

June Bloomer knows something we don’t. Eve hiccupped and took the neglected drink from me to intake herself. She licked her lips and fiddled with her pocket, and slipped out a crinkled card. It had the Virgin Mary on the front, with parted lips and closed hands and a tear on her holy complexion. It was a commiseration card. She flexed out its spine and showed me the words inside, and a scribbled June at the bottom, with a dainty love heart sketch and daisy, half-wilted.

She didn’t say anything else in the card, but quoted a poem. For that she’d used a gold pen, smeared at every third word but still perfectly legible. It read:

In youth I sought the golden flower

Hidden in wood or wold,

But I am come to autumn,

When all the leaves are gold.

— G. K. Chesterton

Eve’s hands were trembling now, and her lip uncertain and red from biting too hard. I didn’t know what it meant until months later. No one did.  Well, except June, but we were always in the dark. For the first time in the summer, despite the sun, despite the warmth, it was autumn. A chill rippled through the air – the kind that usually carried the wispy brown leaves – and shook through Eve’s shirt so I could see her collarbones jagging into her thin chest. The poem felt too personal, to Eve and her obsession with youth and fun.

I left a few minutes later, with a promise to see Eve next week. I didn’t want to, but I needed to see that she could look better week after week. She would never get help, because Mrs Sommer was much too proud to admit any illness in her girls. I couldn’t imagine how bad Holly and Delilah must have been, if not on par with their sister. Delilah never took something lightly; she fell into it. And Holly had always been withdrawn and violent, maybe she would survive better out of this than the rest of them. I said goodbye to Mrs Sommer staring into the television screen, with the shopping channels on. Already, in the reflection of the little diamonds and the gloved hands displaying them, I could see a hint of old Mrs Sommer, sparkling like the stripes of sun on a hot pink Cadillac. She dismissed me finally with a hug goodbye (more of a half-second tap), and she smelt like smoke and a hint of vomit, a little different from the usual peaches handcream she liked to carry in her front pocket.

I was walking on my way home when I spied the girl the Sommers were so afraid of. She wasn’t exactly threatening, with a dungaree skirt, a polka dot raincoat and a white blouse peeking from underneath. And there were classic Oxfords shoes, all topped off with her white-blonde hair in a half ponytail. The unorthodox killer, they would call her much too soon. But all that came to mind that day was sweet.

Rose’s edit: I can’t believe you went to the Sommer house! That took a lot of courage. And I think we read that poem in English.

Michael’s edit: I… I never even knew that. The Sommers sisters need more help than I thought. And yep; definitely in English.

Rose’s edit on Michael’s edit: That’s the problem with being invincible, Michael. Once you have the illusion of it, people think nothing can break you. The Sommer sisters have proved that, haven't they?

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