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My Father Didn't Kill Himself

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They say my father killed himself.

I don't think so.

He was my best friend. He was my rock. He would never take his own life.

No. Somebody killed him. I'm sure of it. I just have to prove it.

If I don't, we can't collect on his life insurance. We're already in too much debt. Without that money, we'll lose everything.

He would never do that to us. I just know it, and I'll prove it, too, even if I lose everything in the process.


  1. This was my first adult book, and the only book I have written in an epistolary style. I learned so much writing it, and it's also the only book I've ever optioned.
  2. Delilah, even all these years later, is one of the characters I love the most. The others are all from long series, but this is the only appearance from Delilah, and she makes a big impression.
  3. I would be nowhere without this book, as it literally taught me how to write, and it showed me how to couch a theme inside a plot. I love this book b/c it's a mystery novel, but it's also a character study on grief.



This is a book every parent of a teenage child or anyone who's lost a loved one suddenly should be encouraged to read; this also applies to teenage children for whom it should be compulsory reading, as I consider it to be a modern classic, worthy of great recognition from all walks of society.



I wasn't sure what I thought I would find when I agreed to read this with all the emotions that would bombard a person in this situation. Its a well written, easy to follow, heartbreaking, gut wretching tears that you would share with character.




Posted by Delilah Clark × September 27 at 11:01 am.

I looked at myself in the mirror last night and hated everything about myself.

I didn’t feel like a blonde.

 Blondes are chipper and nice. They wear pink and go to sporting events to support their friends.

They drink rape juice and flirt with boys in orange hats.

I don’t want to do any of that.

Every strand of my hair belied who I was and how I felt.

So, I dyed it.


It looks great now.

I can’t wait to see people's reactions.


Posted by Delilah Clark × September 28 at 9:36 pm.

I stayed up for three days prepping my eulogy. Mom told me she was too worn out to speak at the funeral.

I had to do it.

I didn’t know what to say.

I tried to tell her that, but she didn’t listen. She wouldn’t do it or couldn’t do it. I didn’t have the energy to argue. Instead, I locked myself in my room and wrote one draft after another.

They all sucked. Just for reference as to how SUCKY they were, here’s my first draft.

“My dad was a cool dude. He did stuff with us and stuff. I really miss him. He didn't commit suicide. And he liked pancakes.”

Hemingway once said all a first draft has to be is done, but even he would slap me for that one. Nothing I wrote after that was substantially better, either. At one point I plagiarized one of Knute Rockne’s speeches word for word. The one from Rudy.

I literally wrote it word for word from memory, at one in the morning, after not sleeping for a week.

And I thought it was great for ten solid minutes.

Don't ask me what I was thinking or how that relates even a little bit to my dad’s life—besides him being a lifelong Notre Dame fan. He made me watch Rudy three times a year like clockwork: the beginning of football season, the night before the championship game, and his birthday.

I arrived at the funeral home late, despite my mother waking me several times.

I couldn’t drag myself out of bed, because of sleep deprivation and depression.

Most of the mourners were already seated by the time I got there. I walked down the aisle between a sea of black clothing and mournful faces. All eyes were on me.

My stress babies were kicking the closer I got to the front of the church. There were more people than I’d expected.

The priest cleared his throat then proceeded to drone on for two hours. I’d barely slept in nearly a week, and it was really hard not to nod off.

Let’s face it—I did a couple times. I’m not ashamed to admit it. Alex told me at one point that I’d snored, only to be awoken by the uncomfortable jabbing of Mom’s elbow in my side and a stern look from the priest.

But come on. That priest was way out of line. We don’t go to church. My mom only hired that joker to piss off our Jewish family, which had overtaken our home for the past seven nights.

My dad had never even met this guy before, and they certainly never swapped stories. Yet the priest had no problem telling a quorum of strangers all about how my father lived. It was pathetic.

What do priests know about grief? They can’t even have kids or a family. Their only loved ones are little boys—that was probably over the line, but I’m not deleting it.

Eventually, it was my turn to deliver the eulogy. Every eye was on me as I stepped up to my father’s coffin. I looked over at his smiling corpse. He was always smiling. It was nice to see him smiling in death, too.

Then it dawned on me. I realized this would be the last time I would see him, ever. I teared up. My anxiety baby came to term. I named it Abed, after my favorite TV star.

I cleared my throat as best I as could and looked out at the audience, tears streaming down my face. I realized why public speaking was the number one fear in society; in fact, I don’t think it’s ranked highly enough. There needs to be a number higher than one.

“My father wasn’t a great man. At least not in the way history describes great men. He didn’t topple empires or destroy the Galactic Senate. He wasn’t a scientist or a scholar. He didn’t cure cancer or end violence among women. He was just a guy.

“A simple guy. I think he worked in finance or with loans or something. Frankly, I didn’t ask, and he didn’t tell. It didn’t matter. That was the great thing about our relationship. We could be ourselves. There might have been a lot of complicated things about him, but it was simple between us. Because we are family. And I’ll always remember that. I loved him.”

I stopped a moment to gauge the audience. I think somebody coughed loudly, but otherwise the reaction was…non-existent. I bared my soul and all I could see were glazed looks coming back at me. I continued bitterly, resolute to win them over.

“What I cared about was that he never missed a softball game, back when I played softball, and he was always around on Friday for dinner. Man, he could eat. He ate more than men three times his size.”

I chuckled. I couldn’t help it. I think a couple other people nervously chuckled with me. 

“And isn’t that the mark of a man, not in how big his impact is on the world, but in how big his impact is on those that he cared for? If it is, then my dad was the greatest man in history.”

I walked off stage, drenched in tears. The priest thanked me, turned, and slowly closed my father’s coffin. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live.

And that was it.

Later that night, the extended family left without even a goodbye. I doubt I’ll ever see them again.

If I do, it’ll be too soon. I’m just glad they took that stupid parrot with them.


Posted by Alex Dewitt × September 29 at 9:15 am.

I cried like I’ve never cried before. And I’ve cried a lot in my life.

I’m a bit of a crier.

I read early drafts of Delilah’s speech and still cried. I laughed when she’d given me her first draft to edit. They were so bad I put a big X through the whole thing, and yet I still cried…even then.

Her second effort was better, and the third was better still. She stopped asking me after that. I think she wanted me to be surprised, but maybe she just didn’t need any more criticism. I just wanted it to be good, you know? I didn’t mean to offend her.

What she came up with was good. Not great, but she spoke from the heart. There’s no need to be a perfect orator, or give a nation’s moving speech. All that mattered was that you said your piece and made your peace.

When I walked up to her afterward, she yanked me aside and spoke in a whisper. “The investigation’s over,” she said. “They say it’s a suicide. Don’t worry, though. I’m going to give it to that fool tomorrow. My dad didn’t commit suicide. There has to be some sort of conspiracy.”

I tried to be supportive. But deep down, deep in the recesses of my soul, I believe the police. I don’t believe in any conspiracy. I had to believe her, though. I can’t cast her out. This will blow over. It’s just the second stage of grief—anger. She’ll move on in time.


Posted by Delilah Clark × September 30 at 8:21 pm.

I had unfinished business with the fool that ran my father’s case. Alex tried convincing me to just go home and forget about it at first, but she must’ve seen the fire in my eyes because she backed off that nonsense toot sweet.

So, after school, Alex and I took our bikes and stormed down to the police station.

See that’s funny because it was storming pretty hard.

Seriously, I almost died a couple times on the trip.

Alex definitely came inches from eating it when a dump truck hydroplaned and almost wiped her out. Luckily it just drenched her, which is good ′cuz I’m not equipped to handle two tragedies in a week.

When we finally reached the police station, Alex was still soaking wet. She asked me to wait until she dried off, but I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t.

I was on a mission.

I bounded into the police station, leaving Alex in my dripping wet wake.

After weaving my way through the desk monkeys stapling and collating their lives away, I reached the wide, open space that movies usually call “the bull pen”.

That makes it sound more romantic than in real life, but it’s actually just a bunch of dudes jammed into desks no bigger than a standard crate. It’s sweaty and greasy and reeks of rotten, fast food farts. Apparently nobody told them how to eat or groom themselves during police training.

Someone “lucky” enough to make detective would sit there. Crammed in a corner, downwind of the food and subsequent farts that came with it, was the detective assigned to my dad’s case. He was being chewed out by a loud, burly man with a cookie duster.

Kind of looked like the comic book character one of my neighbors is obsessed with. John Jet, Don Draper? Dan Dash, that’s it.

The burly one was laying into my detective pretty good. Spit was flying all over his face. It was glorious.

I’d learned a little about the sniveling, little kid who had the balls to claim my dad was a suicidal sissy.

His name is Terrence, the youngest detective I’ve ever seen—including on TV—basically the Doogie Houser of police work, and that was after failing the entrance exam three times, which would be impressive if it didn’t reek of incompetence. He said it was nerves, but I know better. It's because he's a terrible police officer.

Finally, Dan Dash’s less pleasant identical twin finished flinging spit and walked away. I waited until he went back to work before I shouted, “Mornin' Terry!”

I could see his pen scratch, digging a deep groove into his paper at the sound of my voice. Maybe it was the fact I’ve been calling him every hour on the hour since he gave us the news. It’s about all I can manage. It’s gotten me through the last couple days. Having something to live for, even if it’s small, is so important.

We chatted for a minute, but really all I wanted to hear was Terrence admitting his error. For him to admit he was an idiot and acknowledge that my father was murdered. That is NOT what happened, though.

After all the bike riding, this is verbatim what he said to me:

“It is still the opinion of this department that your father committed suicide. I tried to be diplomatic, but you’ve got to hear the truth. You’ve really got to let it sink in. This isn’t healthy, so listen to me. Your father committed suicide. We investigated thoroughly and that’s our unanimous conclusion.”

It was the last straw on the pile of heaping garbage that was my week. Nobody tells me my father committed suicide. Not my mom, not Alex, certainly not some numbnuts detective!


Posted by Alex Dewitt × October 2 at 11:14 am.

You probably shouldn’t cause a scene at a police station. Seems like something every human being should know instinctively.

That’s not something Delilah knew though.

I went with her the other day—through the muck, the rain, the teeming downpour—to the police station to talk with Terrence, the detective assigned to her dad’s case.

Did I mention how hard it was raining, or how three trucks nearly ran me off the road? One hydroplaned an inch from my bike. It drenched me and gave me a series of mini heart attacks.

Delilah left me sopping wet at the entrance while she beelined ahead to make a jackass out of herself.

She was on a mission: a mission to convince Terrence her father didn’t commit suicide. She’d called him fifty times so far this week and every time he gave the same answer,

“It was suicide.”

What did she think would change if she went down there? Clearly, she thought her presence would lead to him having a change of heart, right there on the spot.

People don’t work like that, though. They tend to harbor opinions for a while, especially when all the facts point in one, very specific direction. And all the facts point toward Tim committing suicide.

Delilah is nothing if not pigheaded, though.

She snapped when she heard him say suicide again. I don’t know why she expected anything different in person. Maybe she figured her award-winning personality would save the day.

It didn’t.

So, she went ape. Like seriously flipped her lid. Luckily, she’s only ten pounds with no muscles. I held her down no problem and pulled her away before she could do anything monumentally stupid.

Good thing I was there, or she might’ve been arrested. She was gonna kill that dude. I saw it in her eyes.

She needs to chill out.


Posted by Delilah Clark × October 6 at 3:12 am.

It’s been eight days since the funeral. After visiting that jerk detective, I've only left the house to go to school.

Have I even gone to school? I don’t really remember.

I definitely haven’t eaten.

I don’t want to eat. Everything tastes terrible. I placate my mom and take the food to my room every now and then. Then I throw it out the window or flush it down the toilet. She doesn’t really care, either. She’s going through the motions just like I am.

We are living, breathing zombies. Please don’t shoot me in the head, though. Or anywhere. I guess we’re more like metaphorical zombies.

My brain hurts thinking about it. I’m going to bed.


Posted by Delilah Clark × October 7 at 7:04 pm.

I hate everything that I own.

Or I guess I should say I hated it, past tense.

Nothing I used to own exists anymore.  It was all too cheery. Lots of pink, bold-colored cardigans and skimpy, spaghetti-strap, summer dresses. It blinded me, like looking directly into the sun. My makeup counter too. I had absolutely nothing that I could wear anymore.

So I burned it all.

I do love me a good, cleansing fire. Sometimes, during the winter I’d watch the flames dance in our fireplace for hours.

So yes. I threw everything into a heap, poured a gallon of gasoline on it all, threw a match and watched it light up the night sky. I even brought marshmallows to roast.

Today I wore the only things I own: black fishnet stockings from a Halloween costume, a faded, black shirt that said Eat at Rosie’s my dad got me on our trip to Kansas, and a leather skirt I bought for Spirit Week last year.

My mom flipped out. She stuttered and stumbled, averted her eyes, handed me a wad of cash, and told me to go buy some new clothes. Whatever I wanted.

And I wanted black.

Black clothes to match my black hair and my black soul. Black boots. Black everything. For once in my life, Hot Topic was my friend. I didn’t want to think about how to be perky, or pretty, or stylish. I just wanted everybody to leave me alone.

And nobody is left alone more than the Goths. People hate them; revile them even. Most importantly, Goths are left to their own devices, and that’s exactly what I wanted.


Posted by Delilah Clark × October 8 at 4:59 pm.

The sheeple’s reaction was priceless. I was like a leper at school today. 

I’m far from the most popular girl in school due to my propensity to use words like propensity, but Alex, being on the gymnastics team, titillated the imagination of every boy she came across. Something about being bendy really does it for Neanderthals.

Plus, she was super nice to everyone. So her popularity was through the roof. Because we are best friends, I go along for the ride. I’ve never been chummy with any of the popular crowd, thank God, but they’d acknowledged my existence and, on the whole, didn’t seem to mind my proximity to them.

I was generally happy and cheery, or at least I used to be, so people enjoyed being around me. I rooted for all the right teams, said all the right things, and liked all the right stuff, so I blended into the hodgepodge of popularity.

But when I stepped into school this morning, dressed head to toe in black, that all changed. People went from waving at me and acknowledging my existence to running the other way when I approached, scared that some of my freak juice would rub off on them.

I’m not even sure they recognized me. I heard more than a few “Who is that girl?”, “Is she new?” and “Check out the new freak (azoid).”. Lots of people giggled or downright laughed. But they all left me alone. And that's what I wanted.

Everybody except one person.


She just didn’t seem to get the hint that I wanted to be left alone.

“Did you go shopping without me, Delilah? It’s certainly an interesting look. Seriously, are we going to a costume party later? Please tell me we’re going to a costume party later and I just missed the memo.”

I told her there was no costume party, that this is how I dress—and I had burned everything else I owned.

Alex was incensed, flabbergasted. She could barely put two words together. “B…B…Burned.” Finally, her lips and brain synched together, and it all clicked for her. “Burned! What about that cute scarf I got you last Christmas?”

It went up in flames, as did the matching pink Spirit Week shirts that were supposed to be flame retardant, and even the sweater I borrowed from her. I promised to get her another one—a better, black one.

I burned everything except my pink ALEX is #1 shirt. I keep that in a safe place.


Posted by Alex Dewitt × October 8 at 7:11 pm.

Delilah only wears black now. I mean only black. Like black, black on a black background. It’s literally the exact opposite of what she used to wear. Well, maybe not literally. She wasn’t bride white every day before. But at least she had color. Now she has the absence of color. 

Now her eyes are black. Her lips are black. Her hair is black. Her clothes are black. Her personality is

I get it, I guess. I mean she was so happy. So, so happy before. She would laugh and root and pick everybody up, because her parents were like that too.

Whenever I had a bad day, she put a big ole smile on my face, no problem. Whenever we had a bad day, Kendra and Tim would be right there with a joke and kind word.

But Tim wasn’t happy, was he?

I mean he committed suicide. That’s not something somebody does when they’re happy; only when they’re miserable. How do you synthesize that with life? How does anything seem happy? How does happiness look attractive to you?

It can’t.

Yeah, it’s a really childish thing to just burn all your clothes and become a Goth, but I mean we’re just kids, right? I mean at the end of the day we’re not adults. We’re not equipped to handle something like that out of thin air, a complete change in our perception.

Tim was Delilah’s hero. He could do anything: fix any problem, find any solution, and do it all with a smile. Now, that image is shattered. All she has is the past.

It’s a horrible thing. It’s a crappy realization. It’s all around crappy, crappy bo bappy. I’m trying to be supportive. I’m trying to keep my head down, keep my spirits up, keep up with school—and Delilah’s school (she barely comes any more)—and gymnastics. I’m going to do it all with a smile, to show her there’s still positivity in the world, even if she makes fun of me for it.


Posted by Delilah Clark × October 10 at 11:49 pm.

I haven’t done any school work in weeks.

Alex brings me more every night, but I haven’t touched it.

I would estimate there’s about forty hours of schoolwork on my desk, at least. Waste of time. They already told me I’m getting straight A’s for the semester, perks of being a half orphan. So what’s the point?

Now this might not be weird to any of you, but for me I used to do four to six hours of schoolwork a night. I would do school work for the fun, even if there wasn’t a grade attached, to keep my skills sharp.

I remember actually caring about it. About taking pride in school. Something about Harvard. Is it sad that I just don’t care about that at all?

My teachers have been really nice and supportive, when I’ve gone to class.

But I haven’t been doing much of that. I barely take a backpack to school any more.

One thing I have been doing a lot is fighting. My temper is razor thin. Anytime anybody says anything to me that is even a little bit off, I smack them right across the face.

I’m not a proficient fighter, but I’m very good at getting in one good punch and running away. Nobody has fought back, except Gus, our resident bully. But that fatso is learning, too.

I’ve been to the principal’s office more recently, than in all my years of schooling combined, squared, and then cubed. So I guess to the sixth power, then.

The principal turns a blind eye to my temper. The whole admin staff does. I can’t get into trouble, it seems. Seriously, who do I have to garrote to get detention in this school?

Honestly, this “are you doing all right?” crap is wearing thin. My teachers, the other students, the principal—even Jenny’s leaving me alone – are all talking to me in patronizing tones.

I want them to hate me as much as I hate them, which is passionately.

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