To: “Universe 7,613,981” <email@example.com>
CC: All Staff
Subject: Case Number: 2396-6990-7321
Eloise Sauer will die of anaphylaxis.
It isn’t to be debated, she will eat a peanut—unbeknownst to her—and have a grim death at the home of a friend located along Groveshire Drive, on the morning of December 23rd.
If it wasn’t for her people-pleasing personality, she may live; unfortunately, that won’t be the case. Living in a small town means Eloise’s social circle encompasses the entire town’s teenager population, and despite her introverted ways she hides her true self. Her friends will urge her attendance at a Christmas party, past her curfew, to do unmentionable teenager activities until dawn breaks. The pressure at the social gathering will cloud her better judgement—resulting in her death.
I have thought long and hard about this case, but no outcome is better for Eloise; dark as it is, she has suffered far worse in other realities. In your realm—in comparison to the infinite other universes within the multiverse—she will have a kinder destiny than elsewhere.
Everything possible thing will go wrong for Eloise Sauer, you may proceed as planned.
Inevitable Fate, Manager, Staff
Every possible thing is wrong, nothing is going to plan. My head spins as I dig through my closet for a Christmas outfit. Not red—Kacey doesn’t think it goes with my fair complexion and already red hair—blue may work though, if there are some silver accents. I race against time, hoping Kacey’s Christmas party won’t be as horrible as last year; the crowd is always too overwhelming. The thought makes me reel back in dread, but I like to coordinate outfits. It is relaxing—I like the time to myself. Alone, but never lonely.
Except today was different.
The only helpful factor from today is the laundry being clean. It isn’t organized as I normally have it—a mental note of thanks to Jason—but it’s there. Jason is only eleven after all, he isn’t perfect when it comes to chores. Neither am I, far from it actually.
Spare time is only a luxury now, as I am throwing clothes onto my bed as if my life depended on it. A pair of light-blue jeans, a pair of black UGG boots, and a silver and blue winter coat wink back at me; making the perfect—
Or, nearly, the perfect outfit. Accessories help everything come together.
I rush over to my vanity, letting the gleam of earrings and necklaces take my attention. After a few quick minutes, a pair of silver hoops and three silver rings—two on the right, one on the left—are paired beautifully with the outfit for the night. Now it’s ready.
I start to change, only pausing when I catch the sight of myself in the vanity mirror. My glasses—I didn’t have terrible eyesight, they were more reading glasses if anything, but I don’t have time for contacts. My phone chimes, reminding me of the party, so I opt to skip the glasses and contacts. It was most likely a text of Kacey, and she wasn’t one to wait. Even if the party would be the last place I want to be, Kacey is still my favorite person in the world.
Without a second glance, I make way for my 2003 Toyota Camry—with phone and keys in hand—and close the front door behind me. I walk to the car and begin readying myself for the hours of socializing at Kacey’s Christmas party across town.
Every possible thing in my body is urging me to stay, yet here I am; rolling out the driveway, grumbling until I find my way to Groveshire Drive.
When it came to tomfoolery, Jason was a qualified mastermind. He never let an opportunity escape him, and as the youngest, he provoked his sister to no end; this was one of those moments.
While his sister decorated lop-sided reindeer cookies in the kitchen, he snuck upstairs and took her contacts. He knew of her plans and wanted her to search for them—just to scare her when she found him instead. As he always did.
Except this time was different.
Instead of playing along with his shenanigans, she bolted through the front door, ultimately forgetting him. He was now much more mature at the age of eleven, Jason reasoned, so this shouldn’t bother him.
Except it did.
He thumbed the contacts case in his hand, and stayed still behind the bathroom door. Eloise’s presence always filled him with giddy energy, but now? Now, he felt disappointed. He planned this heist for days, and yet she wasn’t here. She was with them, and the thought scared him. She was going to college soon, what would he do without her here? Who would he meddle with? His parents?
The two siblings have always been like two peas in a pod: he the extrovert and her the introvert. She could be comfortable with silence, but he never was. Ever since he was old enough to walk he would be by her side, either acting as a saint or the impish boy he was then. Usually the latter. He, in this moment, quickly realized how much he would miss her. Even if she was only an hour’s car ride away, she would be with them, not him.
Jason placed the case back in it’s rightful drawer, and walked out of the bathroom. He knew he was working with borrowed time, so he set himself back to planning more final memories with his sister. With such little time, he would make each prank and mischievous act count.
Perhaps, Jason pondered, Eloise won’t mind if her cookies were eaten by an imp with a hankering for sweets . . .
Just do it, this is for Kacey—walk inside. My breath hitches as I look over the rim of my steering wheel, taking in how many people are inside Kacey’s townhouse apartment. Too many to count, why does this surprise me? Giving me enough reason to comb through possible excuses in the back of my mind.
‘My family has just got food poisoning.’ Not realistic, I cook for my family, and Kacey knows how much I value kitchen safety.
‘Fluffy died yesterday, and my family is still grieving—’ Wait, I don’t even have a dog. Is Fluffy really the best name coming to mind, why not Max? Maybe even cookie or some other snack-related name.
I huff at the prospect of smiling at strangers, all of whom claiming to know me. The idea makes me blanch, but I remind myself why I am here: Kacey. I am surely not here to party, just here to make an appearance and leave as quickly as possible. As usual.
With a final breath, I turn off the ignition, pocketing my keys in my oversize coat. I open the door, and breathe-in the frigid winter air. I almost lose myself in it. I have always loved the feel of it—snowflakes covering my cheeks, and the calm feeling in the tranquil whiteness of it all. I would give anything to just stay out here, and not go inside.
The car door closes behind me, and I lock it before shuffling to the door. The snow crunches under my boots, I focus on the sound of it rather than the booming music inside. It is too loud, louder than usual, but I don’t mind. I may sing-along to a few songs, rather than gossiping about strangers. Now there’s a thought.
Every possible thing in my body is urging me to go home, yet here I am; ringing the doorbell, waiting until Kacey comes into view and welcomes me inside.
“What took you so long? Come in Elli, before your face turns blue!”
When it came to people, Carter could read them without a hitch. He would never let people know—as he wasn't much of a people person—but it was a useful skill to have when he liked to watch people at parties; this was one of those moments.
At the corner of his eye, he could see the hostess—Kacey Flint, a senior at their high school. He knew her social circle well enough to understand who she was: flirty, adventurous, a social-butterfly—everything he wasn’t. Carter preferred to watch, rather than being the center of attention. It just worked that way, high school fostered a fragile balance between the same overused stereotypes.
Except she was different.
Kacey opened the door to another senior Eloise Sauer, the only person he couldn’t read. One moment she could be thrilled over gossip, and the next, he would catch her looking almost—drained. She was neither a Beauty nor a Recluse, stumping him in the mystery that was Eloise Sauer, piquing his interest in her.
The only reason—although he would deny it—he came to these parties was to see her. He wasn’t obsessive, he was just interested when she came. The air—no, the atmosphere—seemed heightened somehow. It was almost as if he felt her presence.
Carter moved to the railing, setting his red solo cup in the nearest person’s hand, and watched. As he always did.
She seemed to dodge the crowd as she moved, dancing around the partygoers. All at once, she was playing the social-butterfly and a reclusive who didn’t want to be here. A person would walk up to her and she would weave gracefully to the side. It was an art not many could master, Carter noted to himself.
Carter leaned over the railing, caught her eye, and waved. She grinned back, doing the same. She didn’t know him, and he knew this, but he admired her for the act. It was amusing, better yet—in Carter’s eyes—baffling to watch. He wanted to see her, or know about her, before the opportunity would pass.
Perhaps, Carter reasoned, she would be easier to read if they could properly be introduced . . .
At least some of us are having more luck on the relationship front. A final glance towards a giggling Kacey and Tony tells me they are back together, after another angry split. Kacey has left me for the vultures it seems, and now I must fend for myself. Even if the idea makes me want to mentally kick myself—
“ I knew he wouldn’t be the romantic type, but still—”
My gaze lands on the door, and I want nothing more than to leave. Weighing my options, I could either continue this conversation—not seeming rude to Charlotte, or I could dash outside—without a care about what people may think. Letting the options sink in, I come to the conclusion that my social anxiety makes the decision for me.
“—it was two weeks and what did I get from it? Nothing! Jordan was probably the most conceited, delirious, fuc—”
“Excuse me,” A voice breaks Charlotte’s rant. I turn, and it’s Carter. I don’t know him much, and I don’t think Charlotte does. This is different. “I can hear you across the room, and I am starting to feel bad.”
She blushes. “Why thank you, it’s so kind—”
“No, not you, for Jordan. You set the bar too high for him, or any guy for that matter.” He turns to me, asking, “Would you like to dance? I have been waiting for the last twenty minutes, but my patience has its limits.”
I snap out of my reverie. “Sure, after this song though, I am going to get some punch.”
He nods back at me, showing a genuine smile. Different from how he acted around school, keeping to himself. It suits him; both the smile and the brooding. I never took myself for liking the brooding type, but this night has proven every possible thing can change. I may just like change.
I leave a gaping Charlotte behind, making my way to the kitchen, until Rachel comes barreling beside me.
“Elli! Good to see you, do you want a snack? I just made a fresh batch this morning!” I enjoy baking, but Rachel—Kacey’s younger sister—devotes her life to it. If there was a better baker than me in our small town, it would be her.
Everything is different tonight, why not a dessert tasting as well? I am feeling bold, adventurous, I could use a dessert or two to celebrate. “Why not? As long as there are no nuts—”
“Of course not! One second!” She doesn’t hesitate reaching into the fridge, leaving half of her body wedged inside. “Try one of my cookies on the counter, I am getting out my masterpiece.”
I sit beside the kitchen island, and think about Carter, keeping an ear out if he calls. As if I could hear him. I laugh at myself, the music is too loud to hear the person next to you, let alone someone across the room. I grab a reindeer cookie—my favorite—and take a bite. Perhaps I could look into Carter’s hazel eyes, and we can dance the night—
Except this is different.
My throat swells, my mouth numb, as if I swallowed a bee and it’s creating chaos up and down my throat. I reach for my phone, but I can’t do much without my glasses or contacts. I fall off the chair, eager to reach Rachel, to warn someone—anyone, and get to the hospital.
She rounds, and I can barely hear her screams. I can’t do much other than watch the world fade to black. Every possible thing is out of my hands, yet here I am; hoping—no, insisting—this won’t be the end, knowing fate can be kind and merciful in times of crisis.
“Elli why . . . so quiet?”
“Your face . . . and getting blue!”
“Help . . . where is my . . . Kacey!”
To: “Inevitable Fate”<firstname.lastname@example.org>
CC: All Staff
Subject: Closed Case Number: 2396-6990-7321
Eloise Sauer has died of anaphylaxis.
As of this morning of December 23rd, at 1:18 AM, she had a grim death at the home of a friend located along Groveshire Drive.
If it wasn’t for her lost contacts, friend’s on-and-off relationship, a boy’s interest, and a reindeer cookie she may have lived; unfortunately, that wasn't the case. Living in a small town means news of Eloise will spread like wildfire, and the entire community can feel the waves of her death. Her friends Kacey and Rachel blame themselves for her death, and they will mourn her for years to come; her soulmate, Carter, will hate parties and eventually step out of his comfort zone in Eloise’s memory; her brother, Jason, will never pull a prank again, pursuing the career as an allergist to help children who may have anaphylaxis similar to his sister.
I have also thought long and hard about this case, but no outcome was better for Eloise; dark as it is, the community will grow from it.
Everything possible thing went wrong for Eloise Sauer, we may proceed as planned.
Universe 7,613,981, Supervisor, Staff