The journey home for Amber was a daze. She had no idea how she managed to even make it back in one piece. What had Anson done? He normally couldn’t even hurt a fly! There must have been some kind of misunderstanding.

Her hands trembled as she fumbled with the keys to the door. They jingled too much and she couldn’t fit the key into the lock.

Damnit! Open!

Frustrated, she kicked the door only to let out a little yelp.

Calm down. I need to calm down.

She took a deep breath and slowly inserted the key into the keyhole again, this time, it worked and the door creaked to an open.

Although it was nearing dawn, the room was still quite dark and while the windows were left open, Anson had drawn the curtains to a close.

“Anson?” Amber whispered, closing the door behind her. Then in the corner of their little room, right beneath the window sill, Amber saw her brother, huddled under the curtain that flapped gently in the morning breeze.

He was rocking himself back and forth, still holding onto his phone. He did not answer her.

“Anson?” Amber inched forward, not wanting to frighten her brother. He was like a man possessed, and kept mumbling something under his breath.

She finally reached him and crouched down on one knee. “Anson?” she called out again, softly this time, reaching out a hand and placing it ever so gently on his shoulder.

This time, her brother looked up. His eyes were bloodshot and swollen from crying. His face was bruised too.

My God…

Her heart broke at the sight of him. She had never seen Anson so frightened before.

“Amber….” The sight of his sister finally brought him out of his trance. He threw his arms around her and started to cry, his tears of fear and confusion flowing freely like a stream.  He had only cried once in front of her and that was when their parents died.

“I didn’t mean it…We were just fighting…I didn’t even stab him….but when I woke up he was dead..” he choked in between heaving and sobbing. He wasn’t making any sense to Amber.

Who’s dead?! Where?! When?! Why?! A barrage of questions flooded her mind. She wanted to shake him senseless and scream at him for having done such an inhumane thing but she remained quiet, allowing him to cry and calm down before she opened her mouth to speak. She needed to hear his side of the story first.

Anson cried for a long time and it was only after the sun had risen high in the sky that he finally stopped. The siblings sat next to each other, with Amber stroking her brother’s head as he sat staring at the barren wall which lay opposite them. Amber had pulled back the curtains to allow sunlight to shine into the room. Their heads which protruded slightly above the windowsill cast a shadow against the wall.

“It was the tattooed guy with the gold chain,” Anson finally spoke. He had a distant look on his face as if he was reliving the moment.

No….it was the man who had assaulted her previously. She looked at her brother, her eyebrows knitting together, “Why?”

 Then Anson told her his story……

“I arrived earlier at the club earlier, you know, just in case anyone bothered you. There was a bouncer at the entrance but he was busy playing with his phone. I drank too much before coming and had to pee. I didn’t feel like going into the club, they wouldn’t have let me in anyway, so I went to the back alley. It was a blindspot and no one would be able to see me, so I thought I’d release myself there.

I was done and about to leave when I bumped into him, he was drunk and had probably come to pee or puke. I don’t know..but when I tried to leave he started making all those derogatory remarks about you. The things he said…..they were downright demeaning and vulgar. I couldn’t take it. I lost my cool and shoved him in the chest.

He pushed back and we started fighting. Then he pulled out this swiss army knife from his back pocket and started attacking me. I must have stumbled backwards or something because the next thing I knew, I was on the ground lying next to him.

He was lying face down and the knife…it was plunged into his back. I thought that maybe he was alive and tried to pull out the knife. But then I heard a police siren nearby and…and I freaked out. I ran as fast as I could back home. I didn’t know what else to do…” Anson’s lips trembled and he ran his hands through his hair.

Amber hadn’t noticed it before but his hands were stained with blood. The dead man’s blood.

“Oh God…” she took his hand and cradled them in hers. His hands were icy cold.

“We have to call the police,” she whispered. They had to, it was the only way. The right thing to do.

Anson looked at her, terrified, “They’ll lock me up. My prints were on the knife!”

Her heart was beating furiously now, “But you didn’t kill him. It could have been an accident.” She racked her brain, trying to think clearly.

“Anson, I believe in you. But we have to go to the police. If you didn’t do it, they will clear your name.”

“I didn’t do it!” he yelled in frustration, starting to cry again. “I don’t know why he was dead!”

She let go of his hands and grabbed his face, forcing his emerald eyes to look into hers, “I believe you. We need to go and clear your name. NOW. Before it’s too late.”

His breathing was laboured but he understood. He nodded. Amber never lied to him. He trusted his sister with his life.

It took them a good twenty minutes for Anson to scrub off the caked blood and change into a fresh set of clothes. He had broken down twice at the sight of the blood during the scrubbing. Amber had to keep encouraging him, even though deep down, she was scared shitless herself.

They were about to leave for the police station when her phone rang. It was from an unknown number, but she answered it anyway. Had she chosen to ignore the phone call that particular morning, the lives of the Banks siblings would have turned out very differently. But she did, and because of that single phone call, Amber Banks and her brother truly tumbled down the rabbit hole into a living nightmare.

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