Suspense Mystery Sad


I miss you.

Mom and Ryan miss you too.

Please, come home.


I hope you’re happier.


Faded pictures stare back at us from every newspaper. You look artificial under their editing. It’s driving Ryan insane. He taped over the mailbox so people would stop sending sympathy cards. Mom barely comes home from work. She says she needs the distraction, or she’ll go insane. It’s too late for the rest of us. 

I thought I saw you yesterday.

Strawberry blonde waves reflected in my rearview mirror. Your laughter carried through my open window. There was that green sundress you loved. I slammed on the brakes and threw my door open. When I got out, you were gone. There was just an empty sidewalk. I was standing in traffic, getting honked at by a street full of cars.

Your friends thought they saw you too. You were walking on the beach. They said you weren’t alone. A man was carrying your shoes. They said you were chasing him. I told them that’s the only reason you would run.

He must be something special. Does he treat you well? If he doesn’t, Ryan will probably beat his face in. That’s how he expresses his grief, I guess. He uses his fists. I just walk along the beach, looking for you.

I saw your bracelet in the sand. It was still wet from a swim. Did you leave it for me? It was tight against my wrist, but I pulled it on anyway. The material smells like that coconut butter you used to wear. 

Now, I wear it while I walk.

I can’t help but ask; why did you leave it? It was on a random towel. The man lying next to it jumped a foot into the air when I stepped over him. He pretended he'd never heard of you. It was a lie. The newspaper sticking out of his bag had your face on it.

Now, I keep a mental image of his face. Thin lips and a crooked nose. Graying roots. Narrowed eyes. Was he the guy you were chasing? It’s okay if he was. I’ll keep an eye on him. I can come to the beach when he’s not here, if you prefer. We can go for a swim together. I won’t tell Ryan or Mom if you show yourself.

If not to me, then to Ryan. He’s suffering worse than the rest of us. He said it was his job to protect you, as your big brother.

Someone at school told him you were dead. He beat them until they almost were. Now, he’s not allowed back. When he got home, he slammed the door until it broke. Then, he cried.

He told us, Olivia. He told us what happened.

He told us he found you that night. The night you snuck out and went to the beach. Did you sneak out a lot? I always thought it was Ryan making the noise. Maybe it was. He wasn’t as practiced as you were, dancing in the sand. I know you went night swimming and Ryan made you leave. You laughed when you got into his car, soaking wet.

Why didn’t you tell us you were meeting strangers?

I went to one of those beach parties last week, just to see what it was like. There was a girl dancing around the fire. She was brunette. Her eyes didn’t light up like yours. She slapped pills into my hand. I threw them into the water. Then I waded out until the cold current lapped against my waist and screamed for you.

You never came.

By the time I got home, someone had taped a note to our door. They said they missed you. I didn’t recognize the handwriting. Now, I’m realizing there’s a lot about you I don’t recognize. The longer you stay away, the less I’m recognizing. It’s easy to have hope for a few days. It’s harder for months. It’s difficult in the cold.

My footsteps leave deep prints on the beach now, in the snow. That’s how long I’ve been following yours.

I follow them to the pier you always liked. Glowing lights lead me down the promenade. Decorations hang from the posts. That’s where the footsteps stop. It’s where the snow covers something off the shore. Ice builds up on the coast. There’s a hand, almost blue-

“Olivia, is that you?”

My feet fight for traction on the icy path. Snow numbs my fingertips, but I know it’s hurting you worse. That’s why I keep digging. Your cheek feels like ice against the pad of my thumb. When I pull away, frozen clumps of mascara come with me.

“Olivia, what did you do?”

Ryan's there faster than I thought possible. He drags you further up the shore. Numb fingers struggle to find a pulse. Hot tears melt the ice on your cheeks. They warm you more than my jacket does.

Glassy eyes stare at the sky. They’re not as bright as I remember. Your hair isn’t as wavy as I remember either.

The police eventually tell us it’s not you. It’s just a different unlucky girl. Ryan and I blink at you until it isn’t you. It’s just someone blue. A brunette, with straight hair and pale skin. That confirms what I thought. Ryan and I are going insane. We’re hunting down dead girls.

On Christmas, I walk to the beach and stare at the snow. Your footprints are there. They lead down the coast, but I don’t follow them. There’s already a second pair chasing you. I figure you wouldn’t want your sister interrupting your happy day. So, I just blow you a kiss from the shore.

When the snow melts, I bring your bracelet back. Guilt has been eating at me since I took it. Mom always used to yell at me for taking your things. I guess I’m only starting to learn my lesson. That’s why I drop it by the pier and start back toward the parking lot. I only stop when I hear your laugh. When I turn back, the bracelet’s gone.

I’m glad you have it back. It looks better on you.

I wanted you to wear it at Ryan’s graduation. It was a miracle they let him graduate in the first place. That’s why I saved you a seat.

You didn’t come. At least, that’s what I thought. Ryan said he saw you alone in the back. You clapped for him but disappeared when he ran off the stage. He said he chased after you, but you were already gone.

I wish you’d stop doing that. I wish you’d knock on the door in that annoying way you used to. Your birdcall. You’d never arrive anywhere like a normal person.

Now, you simply won’t arrive. It’s rude. You were supposed to have the perfect summer before senior year. All the girls would have fought to be in your good graces. They always did. You’re a celebrity in this small town. It’s no surprise your name came up in the paper a year after you disappeared.


Ryan couldn’t believe you snuck out again. He told you that group was a bad influence. I told him you loved to chase things that were bad for you. The people at the party had a video of a man holding your hand. Is it the same one that brought you to the beach?

He was whispering in your ear, and you were laughing. Later, we watched both of you jump into the ocean. He jokingly pulled you under.

No one ever saw you come back up.

Mom keeps taking more shifts at work. She says we need money with Ryan starting college. Even though Ryan doesn’t want to go to college.

He drives me to the beach every day. We walk until we lose track of your trail. I tell him about your bracelet. I tell him about the man whose face I memorized.

We didn’t expect to see him over the summer. I happen to look up, and there he is. A different towel lays next to him. A different bracelet. A different newspaper. Though, his face never changed. Thin lips and a crooked nose. Gray hair. Closed eyes.

Rylan tackles him in the sand.

Mom has to leave work early to bail him out of jail. I don’t have the money. She doesn’t have the patience. As soon as we’re home, Ryan and I throw our bags into the car. We drive to the beach faster than you ever could. The man’s gone, but the bonfire burns brighter than I’ve ever seen it. Heat sears my shoes as I chase Ryan through the crowd. He won’t talk to me. He’ll only shove past all the people swallowing their pills.

It's the waves that swallow him. They eat him up to the shoulders. Then, I lose track of his head.

Time moves slowly in my search. I dive into the swell screaming. Chilled water burns my throat. Waves throw my feet over my head. Everything’s dizzy. Or, I’m dizzy. Nothing makes sense under the curtain of surf. Water pushes its way down my throat. It forces its way down my nose and spins me in circles.

The only help I receive is from the seaweed. Outstretched hands tug me to safety. Cuts leave bloody trails through the ocean. A path for predators to follow. The direction of their safety takes me further from the light.

Cold water gets colder. Darker. Water pounds against my head. It works with the seaweed to drag me down. I can’t see anything but blue. Blue…and then finally, you.

You, and your bracelet. Strawberry waves crown your head. That green sundress hides among the plants. Light twinkles behind your eyes. I can’t reach you. It’s so frustrating. I can’t get to you. And, why? Why are you telling me to look up?

Ryan rips me out of the water like a child digging for a lost toy in his chest. I didn’t get a chance to talk to you. There’s so much I wanted to say.

I try to dive back under, but Ryan won’t let me. He holds me above the waves. We’re both gasping for breath. Seaweed tangles around his arms too. Blood trickles from the cuts. He swears as he marches out of the tide. No one cares that I’m still screaming. They take videos with their phones, but they never try to help.

Is that what happened to you? 

Ryan tosses me into the car dripping wet and locks the door. For the first time in my life, I hit him. It happens the second he climbs inside. I slap him across the face. Raised, red skin makes a perfect outline of my hand. It’s a horrible thing to look at. Still, I scream in his face.

He never flinches. Not even as I cough up a lungful of water. His lips tremble but he accepts my anger. A mirror image of me.

It hurts because there used to be three.

Water puddles on Ryan’s aged seats. I don’t feel bad about leaving a mark. There’s already one stained into the fabric.

The thrum of the engine takes the brunt of the silence. Not a single word is spoken on the drive home. Not until Ryan throws open his door and sprints across the lawn. He marches into Mom’s bedroom and flicks on the light. Words tumble from his mouth in one long shout. She mumbles back. The slamming door ends the melody in a giant crash. 

Muffled voices bicker. Shadowed feet pace across the room. Hours pass where I sit in the dust, realizing we haven’t cleaned in two years. Voices slip under the door and join me in my heartache. Ryan says he wants to move somewhere else. Mom agrees.

Our house sells in two days. The mailbox is re-opened. The front door is replaced. Mom comes home and announces she found a new job. Ryan found a house. It’s as far away from the ocean as he could manage.

They’re hauling boxes into the moving truck now, talking about buying a new lawnmower. Apparently, there’s acres of grass where we’re headed. We’re leaving first thing in the morning.

That means today is the last day I get to follow your footprints across the sand.

Coconut butter wafts past with every breeze. Bonfires are lit between each group. Plumes of sparks dance into the sky. One hundred funerals for the life we had here. They keep me warm in the fading sun.

People wave as I pass. It’s mostly your old friends, cuddled in blankets. I don’t wave back.

I follow your footprints exactly, stepping into the dented sand. They lead all the way back to the pier.

It’s not a place I want to be. That’s why I shove my hands into my pockets and watch the wooden posts pass. Faded pictures stare back at me. I can’t bear to look at the water here. It turns out, I don’t need to.

Your bracelet sits in a patch of sunlight near the last post.

I pull it onto my wrist and turn toward the parking lot. That’s when I hear your laugh. I hesitate to turn around.

When I do, strawberry waves race toward the shore.


October 22, 2023 19:53

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Aureliano Giano
20:21 Nov 05, 2023

The amount of emotions this text holds is incredible. There is a lingering presence of tension while reading the text and slowly realizing its direction. The strawberry waves stand as touching theme accompanying the reader throughout the story and making it seem like we share this moment with the person writing to Olivia.


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Rabab Zaidi
14:27 Oct 29, 2023

Very well written but very sad.


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