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“Marcy, I want to tell you something, but you have to promise not to tell anyone, do you promise?” the voice, belonging to my sister uttered through the phone.

“Hi Matty, what kind of a secret is this?” was my usual answer because it’s not the first time she’s called me with this request. There are three levels of secrets my sister and I share: the most casual of secrets is, okay you can tell a friend that is not connected to the information, but no one in the family; two, tell no one until I’m dead; three and this is the most confidential of all, this one you take to your grave. Level one was amended when Matty was dating the boy down the street, she did not want our parents to know. The reason was, this boy older, he had a car and a moustache, and she was 15. This secret was a level one, so I told a friend. This friend saw my mother occasionally, since our parents were good friends. One day the information was spilled, just like tea from a knocked over teacup. That’s when we added the amendment to level one of our secret pact: we can only tell a friend who is not connected in any way to the information being shared.

“It’s a take it to your grave secret,” ahh, this is rare, a level three. Matty added to the drama by becoming quiet, I could almost hear the haunting organ music. Even though I have never in our history of knowing each other said, I don’t want to know the secret, it is within my personality to give her a hard time, though I wanted to hurry along our conversation since I had lots of homework to cover.

“Don’t you have anyone else you can tell?” I started the dance, “I’m not sure I want to know,” I whine taking the lead.

“It’s about someone you know, but you can never tell anyone,” she takes the lead from me.

“Fine! Tell me, but wait, will this upset me?” I say as I concede…as I always do.

“I hope not….”

In the years to come, our secret-pact agreement had only become stronger. I should have invested in a fire-proof file cabinet to keep our secrets organized. The only downside to that would be that the secrets would be tangible and therefore, known. Our lives became parallel paths winding along a road, side-by-side and often touching, but mostly happy to be close without crossing. After college, Matty became a successful caterer, specializing in wedding cakes and bougie affairs, such as gender-reveal events and one-year-old parties serving milk that comes from anything but a cow and of course designer coffees and organic and free-range foods. My life took a twist, I like to think it was a turn that was needed, otherwise I would be as snooty as my sister.

Due to an injury in my second year of college, I lost my scholarship. My scholarship was for girls’ basketball. It was a freak accident when I fell off a ladder injuring my back; game over for me. My doctor advised me to become a fan rather than a player. My recuperation time included three months in bed, I was basically a prisoner, but it gave me time to take a detailed look at my life, until my fall I was majoring in marine biology with a minor in photography. What I realized was, my majors were not going to satisfy me. What did I care about was my inner constant question? I decided to start at the beginning, I took an aptitude test. It showed my interests lied in other people, helping my community, social services. Wow, who knew I was a democrat, maybe even a liberal. I talked to friends and family and asked, what do you see when you look at me? The one adjective that was common in all descriptions was empathetic, everyone thought I had the skill to see another’s perspective.

My injury occurred after the spring semester and gave me time to change my life’s course. I left my current college to complete my degree at a local university, to save out-of-state tuition. I changed schools and majors, I was now majoring in social services, focusing on sociology. Upon graduation I was offered positions as a school counselor, recreation therapist and child social worker. I decided on social worker, I wanted to help children be safe, help parents find resources and in return feel as if I was making a difference in others’ lives. The job, or career as I liked to remind my family, was not glamorous, it did not pay well, it was even dangerous at times, but it was meaningful and gave me a huge amount of fulfillment.

On that day, the day that, again, changed the course of my life was all due to a secret. I was on my way to an appointment to see a family in need. A mother and her two young children, the dad was in custody and neighbors were calling, saying the children were hungry and the mom may or may not be legal. These cases always broke my heart, I do not condone separating parents from their children. On my way to the appointment, my car started making a noise, no, not again, the last time this noise cost me $500! I did not want the sound to get worse, so I pulled over. I organized my choices in my head, one, I could call roadside and probably get towed and never see the family who needed me; two, I could take a ride sharing service and deal with the car later; or three, call my sister and use one of her cars. Do I really want to involve Matty? The person who never misses a chance to ridicule my vocation choices, choices in men, friends and even my car? I decided on the latter, the families’ welfare was more important than my humiliation, I really am an empathetic mercenary.

I hold the phone close to my ear because the reception is lacking, I can hear the ringing and hope Matty will pick up. By the seventh or eighth ring, I start to get ready to text, but I hear a muffled voice, “Marcy?”

“Hi Matty, this is a terrible connection, maybe I should call back?” I start to click off, “No, you’re fine,” she says, and I realize the connection is secure, it’s her voice that’s not clear.

“Are you ok?”

“No, I’m not, how quick can you get here?” Matty isn’t asking, she’s expecting.

“Whoa, I have a family I have to talk to. I was only calling because…” I didn’t think she was listening. My empathetic ear told me her focus had wandered.

“I need you, please come,” again, it wasn’t a question, it was a statement.

“Matty, can you listen to me?” I was speaking to no one; the connection was lost, or she’d hung up.

Now it’s time to recalculate my choices, Matty is out, my parents are out of town…who am I kidding, why am I even considering anything other than going to my sister. I call my office and ask that they reschedule for later in the evening, and feel that it’s not much of a lie to say I’m having car trouble. I start my car and pray that it will get me safely to my sister, about eight miles away. Driving over and in between prayers, I think about the vast differences eight miles can make. On one side, you worry about theft, car jackings, even the sun going down. I look at the blocks as I pass and wonder, where is that line, that line that shows the differentiation between the two sides of town. The houses are dingy on this side of town with bars on the windows, unkept yards, homelessness is rampant, and graffiti is considered a form of art; some of the writings on the walls do show talent, I must admit. Maybe if the people on the “sketchy” side of town cleaned up their environment, showed pride in their community, that sense of pride would roll over into other areas of their lives to make improvements? Wilcox Boulevard, another half mile to go, this must be where the line is because on one side of the street, we have card board houses people are living in and just across the street there are chic shops and even a Paleo restaurant. I wonder if the rent is more affordable so close to the line?

After I park my car, the first thing I notice is that behind Matty’s car is another car, a small red sporty looking car. Stepping out of the car, I get a very ominous feeling, as if there’s a dark cloud over me and it’s about to rain daggers. I attribute the unbalanced feeling to changing gears so quickly, first my day is planned out and then Matty causes me to U-turn.

“Hello? Are you here? The door is unlocked!” I yell through the entrance area. I was always jealous that my sister could work from home. She can spend all day experimenting with recipes, chatting with clients, networking. Her kitchen is a 5-star chef’s dream, she even has a walk-in fridge, a breakfast nook and a food warmer. I wonder why she doesn’t have more dinners since she also has a spacious dining room with seating for 12.

The house is so quiet which is unusual, on most days a visitor can usually hear French Café music flooding the hallways and seeping into each downstairs room. “Matty!” the ominous feeling is still lingering, it’s as if its shackled to my ankle and threatening to grow more sinister.

“I’m in the kitchen,” Matty’s voice weakly calls out. I thought it was the connection on the phone, but her voice is still shaky, Marcy can’t shake the unsettling dark feeling coursing through her body and settling in the tips of her limbs.

I slowly push open the swing doors leading to the kitchen, something just told me to be wary. The counters are clean, and the kitchen island has a tree of cupcakes. They are scrumptiously decorated in soft pastel colors and dotted with confetti-like dots with colors to match. The whole kitchen sparkles and smells of lemon and soap. In my peripheral vision I catch a spot of red, looking down to the left of the island I see a man’s shoe, but it’s standing vertically from the back heel. It takes me a moment to realize that it’s attached to an ankle. The blood is spotted on the floor near the shoe, it looks fresh and after scanning the island again, I see that there are splatters of red there too. I hear a muffled cry, and I immediately recognize the agonizing sound. Matty cried the same way when our dog, Barney, was hit by a car outside of our house. I walk over and look down at my sister, she’s holding a large steak knife and it must have been some time since it was used because the blood was showing coagulation at the edges. “Matty, what happened?” the words are released slowly, my mouth stays open, I think it was automatic, my brain wanted to make sure I was breathing. The man lying on the floor next to Matty had at least three chest punctures, he was obviously dead. “Matty!!” now the questions are over taking my brain, they’re coming so fast, I can’t get them out. “Why?!” was all I could say.

“Remember that guy I told you I was seeing? Remember you wanted to meet him?” she was crying, but the words were clear.

“Not like this!!”

“He tried to break up with me. I told him I loved him. He laughed and said we weren’t that serious…I thought we were,” Matty looks up at me.

“Did you call the police?” my brain is starting to think rationally. I pat my pockets for my phone and remember I left it in the car.

“No! We can do this, I know how to dispose of the body. Help me, we’ve always helped each other,” I saw the pleading in her eyes and all I could think was, she’s my sister.

Matty drops the knife in the sink and starts to wash it, then she wipes the counters and floor, it’s all so methodical. She seems to have calmed herself, her lips are pursed tightly and her eyes are half open as she concentrates. I know what she's thinking, she's not calling the police, “Marcy” she looks over at me, “Can you keep a secret?”

August 21, 2020 06:02

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1 comment

Pragya Rathore
13:19 Aug 26, 2020

Lovely story! I loved everything about it. The plot, characters, style, everything was simply amazing! Great job ;)


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