It was the summer going into 7th grade when my father first purchased Boise from a longtime family friend in Minnesota. She was a Rottweiler, just six weeks old when she made her first appearance in our lives. Her coat was black and beautiful and shined immensely, like a lake did on a sunny day. That was also the summer my older sister died, the summer she was murdered.
It was just after the Fourth of July and our family had returned home from celebrating the holiday with my grandparents, who lived a few hours up north. By the time we made it back home it was well past midnight, so most of the family had dispersed into their rooms for the night. I went directly to bed, for I was exhausted after hearing my father and sister argue the entire drive back to our house.
The next morning when we woke up however, my sister was gone. Nobody knew where she had gone. I figured she had been angry with our father and went to a friends house for the night to cool off, but we never heard from Ashley again. It wasn’t until a week later that her body had been discovered by 3 hikers in a state park only ten minutes from our home. The police conducted an investigation but they said there really was much to work with. The crime scene virtually contained no evidence, neither did my sisters corpse.
Just like that, my entire family was torn apart. My parents broke down, they were a complete wreck. My aunts, uncles, and grandparents tried there best to give us support, but what could be done? There was absolutely no helping our situation, my sister was gone and that was that. They say it is never the ones you expect to go. Ashley had so much potential to do great things in the world, it simply wasn’t fair that she never had the chance. With a near perfect grade point average, and the fact that she was a varsity softball player as a sophomore, she could have gotten into any college of her choice. Now she was gone, and all that was left were distant memories that now seemed like something from a dream.
The next two months after her death were a blur. I had continued to go to school, my parents were working again, and life seemed to just go on as it had before. I was becoming more and more distant from everyone that I used to be close to, friends were now strangers, and my parents were nothing more than roommates to me. I refused to speak to anyone about Ashley, instead I bottled my emotions and held them inside. I could see it in everyone’s eyes that they wanted to reach out and talk to me, try to connect with me because they thought they knew how I felt, but they didn’t so I chose to stay quiet. Even if I thought about speaking to my mother or father about her, I just couldn’t think of the words to say, so I would leave it alone.
My entire world had shut down, but life around me kept going. I was empty inside, feeling lost and directionless. Simply being swept along through life, instead of actually living. My best friend in the entire world was gone and I felt completely alone.
One day upon returning home from school I walked into the kitchen to find my mother holding a sleeping Rottweiler pup in her arms. As I approached my mother, getting closer to her, it moved its head up and looked directly into my eyes, leaped from my mothers arms, and ran to me. I was so happy, and for a moment, everything seemed right again. Boise had given me a feeling of companionship, something I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
I would come home every day after school and we would go for long walks together or play in the back yard all day until the sun went down. She was like no other dog I had seen before. I could sit and talk to her for hours and even though she wouldn’t say anything back, I could see it in her eyes that she understood. She didn’t just understand what I was saying to her, but she understood what I felt. When I was with Boise, it almost reminded me of how I felt when Ashley and I would sit on her bed and talk about things into the late hours of the night.
It wasn’t until a full year had passed after owning Boise, that I realized how special she really was. I came home from school one day to find my sisters bedroom door, which was always kept closed, wide open, and Boise was sitting on her bed, gazing out the window. There was nobody else home and I couldn’t figure out how she had opened the door. I never mentioned anything to my parents about it, I just sat with her on my sisters bed, petting her fur for hours as we stared out into the distance together. We did this every day for months straight, just sat and stared at nothing. It didn’t matter to me that I was missing out on things a normal kid would experience at my age, because I wasn’t exactly a normal kid, I just sat and enjoyed the simplicity of it all with Boise.
One day, I came home and was surprised to find my sisters door shut. Instead, Boise was outside of my parents bedroom, violently scratching at the base of their door. She looked at me, then back at the door, continuing to bark and scratch, waiting for me to open it so she could show me something important on the other side. I normally never entered my parents bed room, I never had a reason to before this, but being sure they would be gone at work for a few more hours, I decided to take a look. I reached for the knob and pushed the door open, Boise rushing in as I did so. She sniffed around for a minute and stopped at their closet door, sat down, and patiently waited for me to open it. I reached foreword slowly, grasping the brass doorknob tightly and waited. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. My hands were sweaty and my heart was racing, but I decided to go on anyway. I turned the handle, and before the door was fully open, Boise rushed past me and went inside.
I followed her inside, finding her sniffing around again, before she stopped and sat down at the other end of the closet, where my fathers clothes were located. She was looking directly up at a pile of my fathers jeans, neatly folded and stacked about five pairs high. Whatever she wanted to show me was up there. I reached up and felt around, finding nothing. Boise, still staring at the jeans, waiting for me to continue to look so I do so. Even though I know my parents won’t be home for a few hours, I was anxious. The more time I spent in there room the more fearful I got. Of what, I wasn’t sure, but I had a really bad feeling. I ignore my instinct and keep searching. I move the stack of jeans to the side a few inches and my hand touches what feels like a box, I grab it and pull it down.
It is a small, wooden box, with tribal carvings on the front of it. I open it up, and what I see makes my heart drop. It is a small charm bracelet, the exact same one worn by my sister the night she was murdered. It had been missing from her body and the police were never able to locate it, I now know why. Underneath the bracelet was a journal. I open it up and begin to read, the writing inside was from that of my fathers own hand.
In the journal he wrote in solemn detail of the night of Ashley’s murder. He talked about how they stayed up after my mother and I went to sleep, arguing about how she was going to quit softball to focus on school. He talked about how they yelled at each other back and forth and she tried to walk away, but he grabbed her, she slapped him and he threw her down, she hit the back of her head on the corner of a table in the hallway. He talked about how he tried and tried to wake her up, but she just wouldn’t and he panicked. He talked about how he picked her cold body up and put it in his trunk, about how he drove to the state park and tossed her body in a ditch along one of the trails like a piece of trash. My eyes were filled with tears by this point, making it difficult to read but I kept going. He talked about how he cleaned the blood from the hallway and went into bed and laid up all night, trying not to cry so my mother wouldn’t wake up. He talked about trying to make himself continue on with his normal life, to avoid suspicion and all he could think about was how he hoped he didn’t get caught. He talked about how most nights he was too afraid to go to sleep because of the dreams he would have, so instead he would just lye awake and waited for the police to come. He talked about the overwhelming guilt he felt every time he looked into mine or my mother eyes. He talked about how he wish he could just take it back, but he couldn’t and he had to live with that.
I dropped to my knees and buried my face into my hands and cried for hours, Boise was next to my side the whole time. What happened next was a blur, it was simply too painful to remember but it didn’t matter now. My father was in prison and my mother, Boise, and I could finally live in peace.
Some nights when I lye awake, staring at the ceiling, I wish things could have really been like that. I wish I would have been strong enough to call the police or to confront my father about what I had found that day. Instead I returned the journal and bracelet to the wooden box and put it back where I found it. I went to my room with Boise that night and cried myself to sleep.
I had tried my hardest to be myself after that day, to avoid unwanted suspicion from my parents, but doing so was very difficult. I had so much on my mind and with nobody to talk to it just ate away at me. The days were passing quickly now, weeks would turn into months and before I knew it school was out and it was time for summer break. It was the first summer I would be spending alone, without Ashley.
It had helped tremendously having Boise around, she managed to keep me company, but it just wasn’t the same. The thought of going on our annual family vacation without my sister made me resent my father even more than I already did. There was a sinister hatred that had grown inside of me that made it difficult to even be around him. I had no choice but to tolerate him, and make it seem like everything was okay. I was still too weak to call the police on my own father.
that weakness turned to strength however when I came home one day and Boise was gone. With as much sympathy as she could muster, my mother explained to me what had happened. Apparently they had come home from the store to find that Boise was in their room, which had been completely demolished. She had torn apart everything and when my father went to “discipline” her, she attacked him. He had no choice but the put her to sleep and they were on there way to the vet to have her taken care of. I was in utter disbelief. The only living thing on this earth that I had love for anymore was being taken to be killed by the same man who had murdered my sister.
I said nothing and not a single tear was shed by me, I had spent too much time crying and it was time now to be strong. I simply walked past my mother and went into their bedroom. I returned holding the wooden box of my fathers with the tribal carvings on the front. Still remaining silent, I handed it to her and walked to my sisters room. I sat on her bed and for the first time in my life I was content on being alone in this world. Everything would work out how I dreamed it had, my sister could finally be at rest.