“I believe you find life such a problem because you think there are good people and bad people. You’re wrong, of course. There are only bad people, but some of them are on opposite sides.” - Terry Pratchett
I stand in the kitchen pulling out the lasagna from the oven, the smell of rosemary, garlic, cheese, and marinara filling my nose. It has been a while since I cooked, I usually go through the drive-thru because it’s quick and easy, and I don’t feel like going to all this trouble, especially when it’s just always been Josh and I.
I have been craving lasagna so bad that I made the excuse I could take some to Eliza, and the rest I could save for leftovers. Even though the leftovers part I’m probably lying to myself about.
As I am caught up in cooking flashes of my mother pop up in my head, and a feeling of longing, and regret consumes my chest making it tighten. I hope wherever she may be that she is safe, and that she knows no matter what happens between us, she’s still my mother, and I’ll always, without fail, love her.
There was a short time in my memory when my father was still around, we seemed to be a normal family. The sad thing is that Josh has no memories like that, my mom practically abandoned him.
I don’t even know if I have seen my mother hug him, she was very cruel to both of us growing up, but that was all Josh knew was cruelty, and it was from the one person that was supposed to love him, and she rejected him of anything of the kind.
After letting the lasagna cool, I cut off a few pieces, and walk them next door to Eliza’s house. Her house is unusually dark for it being this late in the evening. Without thinking anything of it I ring the doorbell, I linger there for a few good minutes, still no answer.
After patiently waiting for a little while longer, I start to worry a little. Eliza is definitely home, she never goes anywhere, I mean maybe she’s taking a nap or something.
That could be a huge possibility, but I should probably check on her. It’s been a few days since I last saw her. I walk around back hugging myself trying to endeavor the cold, crisp air.
I open her little white picket gate, and walk over through the grass to her small porch area, with all her potted plants and flowers, circling around the small space, dead and wilted at this time of year. I lift the pot up closest to the glass sliding door, and grab the spare key she keeps hidden underneath. I quickly run back to the front and carefully unlock the door announcing myself as I open it afraid that I might frighten her.
“Eliza!” Nothing answers back so I make my way into the dark living room, I start to get an eerie feeling walking down through the foyer, I slow my footsteps realizing I don’t think I want to walk in there. As I get to the end of the foyer I slowly poke my head out before taking another step but it is too dark for me to see anything so I call out again.
“Eliza!” Still no answer, I gather my courage and I flip the switch on to the living room. And there Eliza is sitting in her chair like she always does, but sitting very unusually still.
“Eliza! Why didn’t you answer me? Didn’t you hear me calling?” I walk around her chair, and gasp at the petrifying scene that is before me.
“No, no, no, no... Eliza… oh my god… no this can’t be happening…”
Pain, the deep-stricken pain that I feel deep within my chest, like part of me has been ripped away, and there is no way to reattach it. I fall to my knees not being able to look away at Eliza’s pale face, just staring blankly with her gray-blue eyes wide open.
Her shawl is wrapped tightly around her as usual, she literally was about to do as she always does, sit down, and enjoy her cup of tea that I notice is sitting on her end table next to her chair, and then she was probably going to read a good mystery novel, or do her crossword puzzle.
She died here, sitting alone, with no one by her side. I squeeze my eyes as tears stream down my face, quickly I get off my knees and grab my cell phone out of my pocket and dial 911.
After this, I have to tell Josh, there is nothing in the world that my brother would usually soften to, but when it came to Eliza he melted any shred of attitude that he might have.
I don’t know how I’m going to tell him. Memories of the night at the club a couple of days ago play in my mind, I haven’t really seen him very often, and this will be how I am forced to speak to him again. He told me to stay out of his life, but I know he would want me to tell him something like this.
This is going to break his heart, the one person that he accepted affection from is gone. This might be Josh’s breaking point, this might be the event that will confirm what I already know, that I have truly, and utterly failed my brother.
After I hang up from the 911 call, I take one last look at Eliza, and decide I would rather not let people see her like this. I gently brush my fingers across her eyelids, putting her to her final rest. Eliza was so healthy and young in spirit, I never thought that she would be gone so unexpectedly like this. I only wish I could have said goodbye.
I sit out on the front porch waiting for the ambulance to pull up, not being able to look at her any longer. I feel the heavyweight of my phone in my pocket, I need to gather up the courage to call Josh. There is something that is telling me this is really going to put him off the deep end more than he already has.
I don’t know what pain is worse, losing someone because they can no longer be a part of this world, or losing someone because they just don’t want to be a part of your life. I can’t decide, because both are, in my eyes, abandonment.
I honestly just feel like I did when I was a little girl, when I would watch my mother put on her makeup in the bathroom. She would be standing there looking so beautiful, I remember wishing I could look just like her one day.
Seeing her beautiful black hair fall down over her shoulders, and gray smokey eye shadow she would put on to make her eyes pop. I knew that this meant she was going somewhere, and I would sit there and watch her not wanting to leave her side, hoping to enjoy every moment with her.
Flash Back (Nine Years old)
“Mommy.” She looked down at me looking annoyed that I had interrupted her. I could hear Josh’s playful little giggles as he sat in the playpen in the living room.
“I’m trying to get ready. Go play with your brother,” she said, not looking down at me.
“Where are you going mommy? I’m hungry.”
“Well obviously I am going to the grocery store so we can get some food in the house,” she scoffed frustratingly.
“Can we go with you?” I already knew the answer but I wanted to ask anyway.
“No goddammit! Leave me the hell alone I said,” I still stand there with tears streaming down my face. She wasn’t going to the grocery store, she wasn’t even planning on coming back tonight.
“Why do you lie all the time mom?” I yell childishly. She finally looked at me, glaring at me as if I had spoken anything other than the truth.
“Are you still here? Get out of my face, or you will regret it brat!”
“I hate you mom! I wish dad was here! He would never let you treat me like this,” I screamed at her, feeling my face become hot and red. She kneels down at my height and looks at me with disgust.
“The only reason why your dad left is because of you, do you hear me? He couldn’t even stand to look at you! In fact I can’t even stand to look at you right now!” She stands up and takes a big chunk of my hair in her hands and drags me to my bedroom at the end of the hall, opens the door, and shoves me in there, closing the door, locking it behind her. I scream, shout, bang my fists on the door, but she never comes to let me out. Josh was still sitting in the living room in his playpen but now crying hysterically.
“Please someone!! Let me out!!” I screamed barely being able to breathe, I was crying so hard.
Finally after almost an hour I hear the door knob click. Eliza walks in with Josh in her arms. She just looks at me sadly. Eliza didn’t call the cops, or children services ever, because she knew she would always be there, and there could be worse outcomes in the system.
She took my hand, and led me out of the house. She never even asked me questions, or spoke ill of my mother. The only time she would talk about it is if I brought it up. It would always just be her making me some hot chocolate, her playing games with us, and watching movies even. Eliza was like a guardian angel.
What am I going to do without her?
A latex hand is placed on my shoulder, I hadn’t even noticed the bright flashing lights. I am so out of it, I feel a waterfall of tears, and hotness on my face.
“We are going to go in now mam. Does she have a family that you can call for her?” I shake my head.
“No one that I know…”
“That’s okay we will figure it out. Go home and get some rest, we will have someone call you about the details okay?” I nod at the nice man, and walk away knowing there is no looking back. If I did I might collapse.
I walk through the front door. Helios is laying on the couch, he picks his head up curiously, and immediately jumps down, and follows me as I walk into the kitchen. I sit down pulling out my phone in my pocket and just stare at it for a few moments.
I go to my contacts and click on Josh’s name. It rings, and rings for what feels like forever, I almost hang up thinking he is going to ignore my call.
“Hello,” he answers, and goose bumps form on my arms. I am shaking with fear to utter the words that I have say to him.
“Josh… I have to tell you something,” my voice has already given away that something is wrong.
“Jamie... what’s wrong?” He asks me, sounding genuinely worried for me.
“Eliza... she’s gone…” I blurt out.
“What do you mean gone?” He asks confused.
“She’s dead Josh.” After I utter those words it has become more real for me then it did when I found her cold, pale body. I wanted to be strong for Josh but this time I can’t. I finally let my crying come out at full force. Eliza is gone, my sweet beautiful, kind-hearted neighbor who was like family to me is gone.
There is nothing I can do to bring her back. I don’t know whether Josh is staying silent because he is in shock or because of what I have told him, but he hasn’t said a word, I just kept crying until finally he broke his silence.
“Jamie… everything is… everything is going to be alright,” he chokes out. I immediately quiet myself down, I'm now in shock, I want to respond but I have been rendered speechless. Is Josh comforting me?
“What?” Is all I could manage to get out.
“This time, we are going to get through this… together.” I’m practically pushing the phone into my skull, making sure I hear him right.
“I’ll be home soon.” And then the line goes dead. I pull the phone away from my ear, looking at it as if it’s going to give me the answers to all the questions I need answers to. What is going on with him? I know he’s upset but he didn’t just sound upset, he sounded afraid.
Josh is trying to be strong for me when I should be strong for him. This isn’t right, I should not let myself go like that. Maybe I really am becoming selfish, who knows what Josh is doing right now. I need to find him… I need to go to him! I pick up my phone again, and call him to try to find out where he’s at. But there’s no answer, this isn’t good! I have the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach, so I call Jordan his friend but he doesn’t pick up either. I call everyone I can think of until finally I’m out of options, except for one!
Ryan! I quickly dial his number and he picks up at the third ring.
“Jamie! I am so glad to hear from you I…”
“Ryan just shut up and listen to me! Have you seen my brother?”
“No, Jamie what’s going on?” I sigh, rubbing my hands all over my face!
“Ryan I think he’s in trouble. He just found out Eliza is dead, and I just have this feeling that he’s going to do something stupid.”
“I will help you find him. Don’t move, I’m on my way!”
I hang up the phone after speaking with Jamie, and then I throw it on the ground and stomp on it, smashing it into tiny pieces. I won’t be needing it anymore after tonight, this is it, I’m done. After everything that’s been going on with Jamie, and Marcellus and now Eliza, I have nothing left anymore. The only thing I do have is to make sure Jamie is safe.
Eliza was my rock, the closest thing that I had to true genuine care for besides my sister, but now she’s gone, and Jamie is going to be next if I don’t do something. Even if something happens to her at least I won’t be around to see it. That’s selfish but I can’t handle losing anyone else I care about, I refuse to.
I pull out my gun from my pants checking to see if it’s loaded. This is the only way that I can protect Jamie.
I have to kill Marcellus Giordano.
Chapter Twelve“Have I gone mad?&rd