Trigger warning: Talk of murder
In the early morning of January first, a strange woman came to our little town, weather-beaten and tired. She said she was 'visiting', but I wasn't so sure about that.
It wasn't out-of-the-ordinary for a strange person to suddenly appear in our village, because at the start of every year, a stranger would come to our town.
Sister Sophia, the Reverend Mother, would take charge of them, and find them a place to live. Then everything went back to normal.
But this woman was different. She was wearing something on her face I had never seen before, and her clothes were different than the things we wore. One of the littlest girls in the village, Marie, spoke up, having noticed the odd thing on the woman's face. "What is that?"
I shushed Marie and smiled apologetically at the woman, who had an offended air about her. "Not like you would know," the stranger sniffed at the little girl. I pulled Marie into my arms in an effort to keep her from running at the newcomer. The little girl got mad very quickly, and I didn't want her to make the woman angry.
Sister Sophia walked up to the woman slowly, as if approaching a wild bear. "Dear heart, what's your name? For the books, you know."
The stranger scoffed. "Oh, for the books, is it? It's Scarlet. Scarlet Regan."
The Reverend Mother nodded and scribbled something on a notepad. "Thank you, Ms. Regan. Now, if you could please make your way to the town hall to sign some papers. Follow me."
The nun's skirts swept across the cobblestones, and Scarlet zipped up her motorcycle jacket and followed with clomping noises from her combat boots.
After the Reverend Mother and Scarlet went into the town hall, the rest of us followed and seated ourselves in the citizens section to hear Ms. Regan and be witnesses.
Half an hour later, Scarlet Regan was a part of our town, like she'd always been here.
The next day, Sister Sophia knocked on my door, which I was not expecting.
I answered the door. "Oh, hi, Sophia. How can I help?" Then I lowered my voice so people wouldn't hear our conversation. "Is it about our...interesting new resident?"
The Reverend Mother nodded. "I was actually going to ask if you could take Ms. Regan in..." she trailed off. "Your family hasn't taken anyone in for 10 years now."
I knew she was right. I remembered our last boarder, a young man named Jack Parker. I was nine then, but I still remembered him very clearly.
Now it was just me in the house, and it was time I took on a newcomer, so I had to yield.
I sighed. "Sure, Sophia."
She smiled, obviously having a huge load lifted off her shoulders. "Perfect."
That afternoon, Scarlet moved in to my house, bags in tow.
And that was when I started to notice her mean streak more and more.
First, Scarlet kicked my cat under the table when she scratched Scarlet. Then she yelled at my next-door neighbours when they had some friends over because it was "too loud", apparently, and more.
I cracked eventually, after I was blamed for killing my neighbour. And that was when I knew it was Scarlet! The nerve of that woman!
But you know how it is; getting blamed for something you didn't do. It's enough to put a wrinkle in anyone's skinny jeans.
It was when we went to court that Scarlet was exposed (by me) as the killer. She was already P.O.ed at me, and I could tell everyone at the same time, so I thought, What the heck, let's just do it. It's all in now.
Scarlet and I stared daggers at each other from across the courthouse. We were standing on daises on either sides of the room, with the judge in between us and the jury at the back.
"Would the prosecuting attorney like to make an opening statement?" the judge began.
My lawyer stood. "Yes, yes I would."
A boring half-hour later, both lawyers were finished their testimonies, and the jury convened. "We have decided," the jury declared, "that Miss Ella Jameson is innocent. Miss Scarlet Regan is guilty."
I pumped my fist. Scarlet jumped to her feet. "You'll regret this," she growled menacingly. "And you'd all better sleep with one eye open, because I...will...get...you. Even if it's the last thing I do."
Three Years Later...
I walked along the river Seine, my heart thumping wildly. Usually, I would be enjoying the scenic view of the water, but today I was too nervous to notice.
I was applying for my first job outside of my hometown, and I was very scared. It was an interview for une coiffeuse, or a hairdresser in English.
I always loved hair, and doing hair, so when I heard about this job opening, I was super excited.
So there I was, walking on the cobblestone path, on my way to the interviewer, butterflies in my stomach.
When I arrived at the hair salon, I was greeted by a woman in her mid-20's, around my age. She had spiky purple hair in a pixie cut, and she had a silver ring in her nose. "Bonjour," she told me with a French accent. "You are Ella Jameson, correct?"
I nodded. The woman smiled. "Welcome to Jade Does Hair. I'm Jade, by the way."
"This is such a cool place!" I complimented Jade and looked around the room, admiring the setup. "Amazing. Also, the structure's support beams make the salon look very fancy."
Jade chuckled. "I think we'll get along very well, ma cherie. We like the same things; interior design and hair!" She held out her manicured hand. "Here, I'll show you around."
Jade led me out of the waiting room and into the main salon. "And in here," she explained, "is where everyone gets their cheveux cut. As you can see, we have a large selection of hair tools and are very well-equipped."
I nodded, super impressed with the variety of scissors, razors, and mirrors Jade had laid out on a table.
She led me to another room down the hall, which she told me was her office. "I talk to my clients and stuff like that in here."
I dipped my head. "Cool." She smiled. "If you're worried, I'm sure you'll pick up on everything quickly."
I shook my head. "No, that's not it. Um, have you heard or seen anyone named Scarlet Regan?"
Jade raised one eyebrow. "Friend of yours?" she asked curiously.
"You could say that."
Jade couldn't help me much with the tracking-down of Scarlet, but she told me that I would probably get the job, which I was ecstatic about.
The reason I was in Paris was to find Scarlet Regan and take her into custody. After the court case where the jury declared Scarlet guilty, the judge had tasked me with tracking down Ms. Scarlet Regan, however long it may take. So there I was.
I walked back to my apartment with a bounce in my step. However, that bounce quickly faded when I saw a woman with the build of Scarlet cross the street, striding my way.