TW//drugs, murder and forced scene (Only mild)
“Hello?” Max said.
He didn’t know it was me. I smiled, picturing him frowning his beautifully gifted eyebrow.
“Hey, Max,” I said.
“Yes, it is me. What are you doing right now?” I said with a little girly voice. Lily who was checking her luggage tilt her head and raised her eyebrows, to which I responded with a wink.
“I am at my apartment with my friends. We’re discussing our soon-to-be house,” he said excitedly which made me smile again. “Whose phone is this, by the way?”
“It is Lily’s. We’re still at the airport,” I replied while signaling her to head to my grey SUV car.
“Oh, she has arrived. So, is she going to stay with you?”
“No. She will stay with her family. They want to spend time with her for a while.”
“That’s great! We can have our time without a distraction,” Max teased.
“I heard that,” said Lily with annoyance. I laughed at them. They never failed to remind me of Tom and Jerry.
“All right, Max. I will come to your apartment after greeting Lily’s family. Love you.”
“Love you too, babe,” said Max and I hung up.
It is nine in the morning and it is already hotter than expected. Lily seemed tired, so I forced her to go inside my car and told her to open the air conditioner while I filled the back of the car with her luggage.
“I am still mad at you, Megan. He proposed to you last month and you didn’t tell me!” she said as soon as I started the engine.
I know she wasn’t mad at me anymore. I called her last Sunday to tell her that Max had proposed to me. At first, she was excited telling me “Finally, that bastard knew how to make a move first.” Then, when I told her it was last month, she was angry instantly.
Lily and Max had been best friends since childhood, but they went to different colleges, from which I met with Lily and became her best friend while Max made new friends in his college whom Lily despised so much. After college, Lily introduced me to Max and things happened, and now we were going to be married in the next two weeks.
“He didn’t tell me too!! I felt betrayed,” Lily said.
“Hey, come on. I didn’t tell you because I wanted to make sure that he meant what he said. As for Max.....I think.......he didn’t tell you because if things didn’t work out, he didn’t want to destroy our friendship,” I looked at her in her eyes, “Will you forgive us? Please?”
She sighed, “All right, only this time. You’re lucky I love you both.”
“Yes!!” I said, “I will let you choose my wedding dress.”
“Really!! I would love that!!,” she screamed which I laughed. “How can this girl change into different moods.”
By the time I arrived at Max’s apartment, he had already gone out with his friends to a nearby mall, which relieved me. Like Lily said, his friends gave me a bad vibe, especially Stephan, who seemed to be the leader of the group.
“Stephan is notorious for his drug use in college but he always got away with his parents’ bribe,” Lily once said to me.
When I told Max to not befriend him anymore, we got into big arguments. Later, I tried to understand him, but I couldn’t help think that Max looked more like a puppet of Stephan. Even after college, Max still listened to Stephan.
Max texted me that they would take only fifteen minutes, but I knew him better. When he told fifteen minutes, it was thirty minutes. I went to his room, laid on Max’s bed with a laptop on my lap and watched Netflix movie to kill the dullness.
In the middle of the movie, I looked around his room involuntarily and on the spur of the moment, my eyes caught the sight of a black-colored rectangular box with gold on its edges, landed perfectly on his bookshelf. I didn't notice it before. It was quite beautiful that curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to look inside.
Tiptoeing on my feet, I grabbed its edge and pulled it toward me, but my small hand make it slipped out of my hand and hit the floor which caused all the materials inside to scatter on the floor.
I sat down and looked at them, they were photographs of Max in different ages, Christmas and birthday cards. I observed them thoroughly, Max was handsome and cute even as a child. There was also a photograph of Lily and him. He was holding a snowball globe in his hand while Lily was placing her arm on his shoulder. Back then, Lily was taller than Max.
“December 25, 2001, in Lily’s home,
Lily gave me a snowball globe with a Santa Claus inside of it.
I love it so much. She said, “we’re gonna be best friends.”
I smiled. Just like that, a date, location, and a small phrase of a memoir were written on behind every photograph.
“I didn’t know Max was the type who love to collect things like these,” I said to myself as I started collecting everything and arranged them as it was before.
As I opened the black box to put the photographs inside, the pink color of something stopped my action. It was quite discernible under a white-colored paper floor of the box. I touched the pink spot and there was something below the white paper.
So, I removed the paper and there I saw it.
A photograph of a girl in her nineteens, with a slender body and shoulder-length blonde hair. She was smiling sweetly at me, her eyes screamed innocence.
All of a sudden, jealousy built in me, and my grip on the photograph tightened, my thoughts were reeling, and I started to shake out of anger and jealousy. I looked at the back of the photograph to see what's written, but to my disappointment, it only said “Angel”.
“What? Is that all???He is calling him Angel??? Of course, she looks like an angel,” in times like this, my thought gave no help to me.
“Babe, I am home!” Max yelled from the entrance which scared me, “You still there, babe??”
I quickly put everything inside but the girl photograph, and placed the box where it was before.
“Coming!” I yelled as I exited his room and opened the door for Max.
“Sorry, it took longer than I expected,” Max said while kissing me on my lips.
“That’s ok, it wasn’t that long,” I said with a little shaky voice.
Max looked at me, “Are you mad at me?”
“NO! I am not mad at you. I was sleeping and you woke me up. You scared me.” I quickly lied and wrapped my arms around him.
“Sorry, babe.” Max said and kissed me again.
“So, you are telling me that Max is cheating on you?” Lily said while looking at the photograph.
I called her this early morning to tell her what happened back in Max’s apartment, and then within seconds, she was right outside my house.
“I don’t know. I have this strange feeling I can’t explain. You know him better, Lily. Is he the one who would cheat on me?” I said desperately.
Lily looked at me and sighed, “You do remember that we were so far away during our college, right? Maybe this can be the girl from his college; an ex or a crush.”
No. This didn’t relieve me at all. Tears built in my eyes, the tip of my nose became red, my lips started to swollen and I looked down.
Lily got up and went to my refrigerator. “Hmm…. I should’ve got something on my way. You need to go to the grocery store, Megan,” she said before looking at me. She heard me sniffling.
Lily came toward me and lifted my chin, “Megan, I guarantee that Max would rather die than to cheat on you.” I forced a smile at her.
She wiped my tears and said, “Now go wash your face and get ready. We will get something on our way to the wedding dress.”
“Ok,” I said faintly and went to my room.
“Make sure you look beautiful unless you don’t want people to think the bribe is a zombie,” she said out loud which I chuckled.
And so, Lily and I went about our journey of finding a wedding dress which didn’t go well. In the end, she gave up and let me choose what I wanted. I felt bad, nevertheless, I must be selfish because it was my once-in-a-life-time wedding. I also pushed aside my occasional thoughts on the blonde girl.
Yes, everything went well, at least until that day, three days before my wedding day. After that day, I couldn't ignore anymore
I was in the grocery store not far away from my home. There, I saw her again and this time, in person. There she was, in the same grocery store, looking at the chocolate bars. She looked exactly like the girl in the photograph, the only difference was she looked more mature and her blonde hair was longer. She was more gorgeous than in the photograph.
When I saw her out of the blue, I was so shocked that I stopped walking in the middle of the store.
“Miss, can you move, please?” a man said politely and only after that, I realized I was gawking at the girl.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I apologized and quickly went to the cashier counter.
I tried to tell myself that I was insane, “Calm down, Megan. You’re hallucinating,”
The cashier boy smiled at me and did his job while I was trying to lower my increasing heartbeat.
Again, to worsen my increasing heart rate, someone touched my shoulder and said, “You drop something, sis.”
I turned around and met with green eyes. If the girl in the photograph looked innocent, this girl looked smart. The blonde girl smiled at me and pointed at my wallet on the floor.
“Oh shit,” an edge of the photograph was visible. To not let her suspect anything abnormal, I quickly picked it and said, “Thank you.”
“Don’t mention it,” she replied.
Then, I turned my back to her and told the cashier to do his work quickly. I heard her friends coming to her.
One of them said, “What’s your plan, Angel?”
“I’m going to destroy his life,” Angel replied which gave me a shiver throughout my body.
“Lily, please pick up your phone,” I had been calling Lily since the day after we went to the wedding dress. She didn’t pick my call. I wasn’t sure if she was mad at me for not choosing the dress she picked for me.
I sent more than a hundred messages to tell her that I would wear the one she chose. But she didn’t call me back nor message me. I needed her so badly to talk about what I saw in the grocery store. It is not a coincidence. It is more than a coincidence and I didn’t know exactly what it was. I needed her to find out the answer.
In the end, I decided to go to her home.
“Emily, is Lily home?” Emily was Lily’s sister. She was the one who opened the door when I arrived at Lily’s home.
“No. I thought she was with you,” replied Emily with confusion.
“What?” I said.
“She didn’t come back since the day she went to your house with her pajamas in the early morning,” she said nonchalantly. The bond between she and Lily was like they wouldn’t even know when one of them was kidnapped.
“Ok,” I quickly went back to my car and called Max.
“Max, where are you?” I asked.
“Uh…I am at work. Why?”
“Have you talked with Lily?”
“No, she didn’t pick up my phone,” Max replied quietly, and then I heard someone calling his name from behind.
“Babe, I have to go. I will call you back,” he said quickly before yelling to the one who called him, “I’m coming!!”
I shook my head at him and wondered if I could bear his workaholic behavior in the future. I drove through the whole town to find Lily but there is not a single glimpse of her. By the time it was evening, my body started begging me to go home and so I gave up.
“Ding,” I was eating a hamburger when my phone notified me, I quickly opened the chat box. It was from Lily.
“Thank God!” I said.
“Come meet me at my favorite coffee cafe at nine. Don’t be late,” Lily texted. It didn’t sound so much like Lily.
“Lily, what’s going on? Where are you? Why didn’t you pick up my phone?” I received no reply, so I called her but she didn’t pick up.
Later, she texted me back, “Just come to that place, Megan, please. I will explain everything when you get there.”
“Lily, I am at the cafe,” I texted her.
The cafe was small but as homely as it always was. Not many people knew this cafe so it was not crowded. I looked at my watch and I was fifteen minutes early. I didn’t know why but I had a feeling that something bad was going to happen. I ordered a hot cup of coffee to relieve this anxiety.
An hour had been passed and I had ordered every type of coffee the cafe could offer, but Lily didn’t show up. It was strange that I was relieved more than mad at her. At last, I decided to leave after going to the cafe's bathroom.
After doing my business, I came back to my spot. To my surprise, I saw Lily taking her spot beside my purse. What surprised me more was that she was not alone, two men in suits were sitting on her left, and on her right was “a blonde girl?”
Lily turned around and gave me a weird smile. The two men, who were in their mid-forties, looked at me warily while the blonde girl was giving me a death stare.
“Megan, please calm down and take a seat,” Lily tried to comfort me which she failed. I hesitantly sat down on my spot and looked at Lily trying to avoid the stares I was receiving.
“This is Johnson, a detective and Ben, a lawyer, and this is Angel.......... the twin sister of the girl in the photograph,” Lily said, pointing at each of them.
“Isn’t Angel the girl in the photograph?” I thought.
Lily continued, “Listen, Megan, you need to be strong. What I’m going to say might....... hurt you.Promise me you will listen till the end.”
I just nodded.
Lily looked at me intensely, making sure that I was ready, and then said, “Max and Angel are from the same batch, and so is Angel sister’s, Ava. What I heard from other students is that....... Max killed Ava.”
“Megan, please, listen.” Lily begged me while holding my hand into hers.
“Angel said,” Lily looked at Angel who had tears in her eyes, “Max had a crush on her sister who was also attracted to Max. One day, Max invited Ava to Stephan’s party and she went without Angel.”
Before Lily could continue, Angel interrupted with her low, angry voice, “Do you know that your husband and his friends forced her to do something which she didn’t want to? Do you know your husband killed my sister?”
“Angel, Megan knew nothing,” Ben stopped Angel, “I will continue from here,” he said to Lily who nodded her head and squeezed my hands.
“According to a report, Stephan and his fellow friends including Max were using drugs at the party. It was that all of them wanted Ava and she refused. So, they forced her. Max lost his sanity due to drugs and he killed her accidentally at Stephan's house,” Ben said calmly.
“It was not an accident!!! They did it intentionally!” Angel yelled in her tears.
“Calm down, Angel,” Johnson said softly and rubbed her back.
Again, I couldn’t say anything.
“Max, how could he? This is a dream. No, this is a dream,” I closed my eyes, tears rolled down my cheeks. Someone touched my arm which told me that it was not a dream.
“Are you ok?” Lily asked and I shook my head.
“Can you give me the photograph? This can be useful,” Johnson said to me. Everyone was looking at me what I would do. I signaled Lily to take it from my purse.
As soon as Angel saw the photograph, she cried uncontrollably and said between her cries, “This was taken by me, I wrote my name on its back. She was so beautiful and naive back then. She had always wanted a prince charming and now she is gone.”
After a while, they decided to leave with the photo to let both Angel and me to calm down. Ben also told me to cancel the wedding because the case will be reopened which might hinder the wedding.
“I know Megan, I was like this as soon as I knew,” Lily said hugging me while I laid my head on her shoulder with my eyes closed, “this is best for Max and both of us. Stephan is blackmailing him, Megan. He is forcing Max to commit more crimes. This need to be stopped.”
My phone buzzed in my purse. Since I was not picking up, Lily looked who was calling, “It is Max.”
“Answer it,” I said.
“Babe, I’ve been calling you. You’re not in your house. Where are you?” he said and I didn't say anything.
"Babe?" he said again, and this time, I replied, “I hate you.”