'til death do us part. The story of lovely Lauren Astley and Nathaniel Fujita, the boy who loved -- and killed -- her.
By Dr. Jeffrey Lant
They were such a cute couple. Everybody said so and everybody was right.
Lauren, mistress of a smile a mile wide, petite, always stylishly dressed (a must for the future fashion designer she wanted to be)... Nathaniel towering far over his girl... a big boy but graceful, track star, football star, a "catch" the other girls whispered... Lauren was lucky. But Nathaniel always knew, and never hesitated to say, just how lucky he was, too. Lauren was a special girl... a girl you wanted be loved by and grow old together. Boys could dream, too... and think of forever.
In the cauldron of high school romances, hotter than hot today, cast off and forgotten for a new love tomorrow, Lauren and Nathaniel were an established couple, a "done deal." Girls, worried sick that they'd never find the boy of their dreams and fretful, envied Lauren. What was her special sorcery that kept Nathaniel happy, faithful and contented? Lauren would smile when asked... but the secret was hers... and his.
Lauren listened to him. She came from a family where listening was valued. Her father was an elected member of the Wayland, Massachusetts School Committee. Malcolm Astley had a way of looking at you and listening, really listening to what you had to say. Even if he didn't agree with what you were saying, you felt like you'd been respectfully heard... and that made you feel good. Lauren had that gift, too, and used it liberally as, over time, Nathaniel opened up about the things boys have always sought out women for... understanding, complete, unqualified acceptance, a calm place in a world of uncertainties and imponderables.
Lauren knew Nathaniel's demons, and, in the special alchemy of her s**, she understood when to be his girl, his sounding board, his mother. So do the women we love insinuate themselves into our hearts and lives until living without any part of them becomes impossible, unthinkable. Nathaniel needed Lauren in just this way... and so sleeping and waking, Nathaniel Fujita was Lauren's boy...
And so it went as these two lovers lived their busy high school years together. Marriage, of course, was mentioned, how could it not be? But the word that challenged the status quo and changed everything was college. Ardently desired, a word that meant freedom... from parents, from the thrall of the known, shucking off the securities of family and friends... to embrace the glorious, unknown future. College was a magic word, the key to an exciting new life you where you could be something better, different, exciting.
Lauren, more than Nathaniel, lit up when college was mentioned. She needed to be careful now; for Nathaniel college meant separation from Lauren; separation meant the possibility of growing apart, meeting someone new and more ardently desired. It meant the end of what they had. College for Nathaniel meant gambling with the affections of the woman he loved, wanted and adored. Her l*** was now possible... and that was unimaginable. His family and friends told him how lucky he was... but he feared the worst.
What the parents said.
Although we do not know, we can guess both sets of parents weighed in with sage advice and insights. Both Lauren and Nathaniel would have been informed, perhaps by both sets of parents, that they were about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of life. Both needed to be free to learn, to grow, to experience. This could be seen as undercutting their unequalled relationship but if their love were real and true, testing it would strengthen it.
Lauren took this traditional parents' message to heart; she was anxious for what she knew would be thrilling to begin.
Nathaniel was less sure, more wary; it seemed to him all the parents were trying to hoodwink and deceive him, with the result that he became chary, wary, suspicious. To keep what he wanted so much he'd need to be watchful indeed. And now he knew lonely nights, moving from one unnerving thought to another. For now when he saw Lauren's smile, more often than not she was thinking of college... with everything that meant... with Nathaniel too often the afterthought he dreaded and could not accept.
Change was what Nathaniel feared, but he still had Lauren. On that basis, he'd do what was necessary to keep her.
Then, after the Prom which they attended together just the other day, Lauren delivered her terrible news... that the Prom was the swansong of their relationship, not another celebrated event in the calendar of their love.
Thus she delivered unto Nathaniel Fujida the worst intelligence of all, no doubt as tenderly and delicately as possible. But it was, nonetheless, the single thing he feared most of all. It had now happened, and it was just as bad as he had imagined.
Sick to his stomach, overwhelmed, cast off, lost, his world now unhinged Nathaniel Fujita looked for comfort... and saw only loneliness, rejection, unimaginable pain he could not escape and which confounded and appalled. Oh, God, why me! But God did not answer...
Thus began the descent of young Nathaniel Fujida, swift of foot, strong of body, handsome of face, now desolate at the end of the love he was sure would endure forever, but had not.
On Sunday, July 3, a day before the citizens of Wayland would celebrate their country's Independence Day, Nathaniel asked, insistently demanded to see his beloved. Lauren probably didn't want to go; there would be a scene, of course, hot words, painful for both. But Lauren felt she owed this boy, once all in all to her, and loved, the courtesy of listening to him and soothing, if she could.
She drove to his house at 7:45 p.m., spoke to him for just 2 to 3 minutes; never getting out of the car. Did something she said now seal Lauren's fate.or had Nathaniel already determined on what he must do? We do not and may never know.
But we know what he did, the better to ensure the girl he wanted and devoutly loved should never love another or be loved. He would do that which would keep her to himself, forever.
Lauren, caught unawares, perhaps without a clue how far gone in his special madness Nathaniel had already sunk, had no chance at all of preserving her young life once he had determined to end it. The struggle was brief, unequal, sickening, soon over.
Nathaniel's strong hands and the weapon he used slashed her neck with a life wound, gaping, significant, horrendous. From here the brief life of beautiful, winning Lauren Astley flowed out, to be soon mixed in the limitless sea, where Nathaniel, his dark purpose accomplished, cast the body. There was a bungee cord tied around her neck, as if he thought he could recall her at will.
The police, of course, had no trouble finding him; he went straight home with the ghastly accoutrements and evidences of his unimaginable night's work. He had made little effort to clean up... and none at all to flee. He had done what was needful... and was ready for whatever should come.
Lauren, petite, wide-smiled, elegant Lauren, would now love him and him only. And that was what he wanted, the only thing he'd ever wanted.