THE FOREVER LETTER
by Abigayle Thompson
That afternoon an invitation was placed in the mailbox outside the Roney’s home. It was the end of February, a cold day with clouds settled across the sky. A breeze started to kick in, causing the grass to wave in the wind, there were mud puddles, and clumps of dirty brown snow on the edge of the road. The twins Jake and Josh were the second youngest out of their six other siblings in their family. However, the invitation inside their mailbox would soon forever change their lives.
The mail usually arrived around about 11 in the morning, thus the letter had been sitting there for awhile now. Their younger sister Xenia raced Mable, the next youngest, to get the mail. They always fought over the letters just to see if they had gotten any for themselves. After they had reached the mailbox, they came sprinting back into the house, “Jake and Josh we have a letter for you!!” they said waving it around in the air. Jake went over to Mable and took the letter from her. “Hey Josh, I think this is for that party Lane was talking about at school. She must’ve dropped it off today,” said Jake.
“Oh yeah, when is it again?”
“It says.. this Saturday, you think we can make it? Ya know after the game?” said Jake looking up from the card.
“Sure, but I want to come home and shower real quick before we go… for the ladies,” Josh said with a grin and a wink.
“Gross!” screeched Mable who was sitting on the couch listening in.
“What does Mable think is gross?” asked their Mom as she entered into the living room.
“Josh kissing girls,” said Mable with disgust.
“You kissed a girl Josh?” asked mom.
“NO! Haha, but me and Jake want to know if we can go to a party Saturday night after our basketball tournament.”
“We’ll see, it depends on if you can even stay awake by the time we get back. Usually you guys are out,” chuckled Mom as she walked towards the kitchen.
Mable then walked across the carpet to the coat rack and grabbed the leash to take out the dog. She headed outside through the back door and walked Missy down the steps to a small red bush. While the dog was going the bathroom Mable heard a low hissing sound. She turned to see two eyes underneath their back porch. The dog instantly turned around and started to run towards the hissing, but the leash yanked her back at the last second. A raccoon came out from underneath the porch and was approaching Mable and she screamed. Jake’s face appeared in the window, he looked startled and scared. You could tell he was mouthing something loudly behind the glass to their Mom. So she opened the back door and ran down the steps with a broomstick. When she hit the raccoon across the head with the broom its head bobbed up and down. The coons tongue was hanging out the side of its mouth while its eyes spun. Mom yelled, “Mable, hurry dear, up the steps and into the house. Quickly please.” Mable scurried, tugging the dog up the steps and onto the deck. As they were entering the house Mable turned back and saw the raccoon swaying, but waddling as fast as it could into the forest behind their home.
Once back inside the home Mom said, “I’m sorry, are you okay? The raccoon didn’t hurt you did it?”
“No, I’m fine. It almost bit Missy though,” said Mable.
“I’m glad you’re fine,” her Mom said with a smile. As she said that Dad entered into the kitchen because he had just arrived home from work. The conversation switched. They started talking while asking how each other’s day had been.
That evening their family parted their own ways. Jake and Josh were playing a game downstairs on the Xbox. Mable was spending the night at Lane’s house for the weekend because she was friends with her younger sister. Mom was teaching Xenia how to make cookies in the kitchen. The smell of them baking in the oven floated throughout the house. Dad was on the couch reading the newspaper and discussing the news with their oldest son Caden. The third youngest child, Charlie was teasing Bridget, the second youngest, chasing her around with a nerf gun. The baby, Adia, was sound asleep in her crib up in her room. Everything seemed to feel perfect. The atmosphere was warm and you could feel the love swarming in the air. However, much would change the following evening.
Around 9 o’clock the evening began to settle down. Everyone had tried the cookies that Xenia made with Mom. The snickerdoodles were warm and fresh. Then it was time for everyone go to bed. Mom walked upstairs and tucked Bridget and Charlie into their bunk bed and gave them a kiss on their heads. Dad was rocking the baby while he read Xenia a bedtime story. Jake and Josh were told to head up to bed in 10 minutes. Caden was studying at his desk in his room, writing something down in his notebook. He was always writing letters to his girlfriend who lived 4 hours away. It was hard for them to see each other, but they made it work after meeting one another at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra concert. They were both big Orchestra nerds. He played the cello and his girlfriend played the bass. After he scribbled his remaining sentences into his notebook he climbed into bed and turned out the lights.
The sun shone through the curtains down the hall. A scent of bacon and pancakes drifted through the air. It was Saturday morning and you could hear the birds chirping outside in the trees behind their home. One by one the kids woke up and wandered down into the kitchen where the scent carried them. Dad was at the table setting out cups of orange juice. Xenia was eating bacon when Charlie walked in to get some food. Bridget spilt syrup on herself and Mom was taking her to the bathroom to get it off her cotton pajamas. Jake and Josh were both still sound asleep because they always slept in until about 10 a.m.
The schedule for the day was already set. It was Dad’s turn to take the boys to their tournament. Charlie was coming along for the ride. Mom was watching the other kids at home, while Caden drove himself to his private cello lesson. The ride to the tournament was about an hour away. They played a total of 3 games. The first game they lost, but the next two they won.
On their way back from the game they stopped by a quick restaurant to get some food before heading home. “Will we have time to make it to the party?” asked Jake.
“Yeah, and even if we did show up late Lane always has long parties so it’ll be good,” said Josh.
“Just remember boys to make good choices. I trust Lane and all, but you never know what could happen. If it get’s out of control you can always call us or just leave.”
“We know Dad,” they both said in unison. They finished the ride back to the house in silence. Once they got home they went upstairs to get ready.
“Hey honey, where’s Mable? Is she home yet?” asked Dad when he got home.
“No, the Jenson’s said that they were going to take the kids to a trampoline park during the party,” said Mom.
“Okay, sounds good,” said Dad. The boys walked down the stairs ready to head over to the party.
“We are gonna leave now if that is alright,” said Jake. Dad nodded at them because he was in a conversation with their Mom. The boys took the keys off the rack and walked out to the garage. They took Dad’s car and backed out of the driveway. On their way over Jake asked, “Josh what’s up? You seem out of it right now haha.”
“Oh..I’m just tired. That tournament swept me. I’m still kinda pissed though that we lost our first game. You saw how close we were,” said Josh.
“Yeah, that was kind of a bummer, but hopefully Lane’s party is good. She texted me to say their parents left to take the kids to the trampoline park and dinner. So we got the house to ourselves.”
“Do you know who all is coming?”
“No, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see,” said Jake. They pulled up along the curb outside her house. The street was already lined with cars. It had already been an hour into the party. Usually people didn’t show up until after 9.
They walked inside. The floorboards were already vibrating beneath their feet. Lane always had the music going down in the basement. There were people scattered throughout the house. They walked towards the basement door and a wave of body heat floated up when they got near it. Lane was near the bottom of the steps. When she saw them she waved them down the stairs. Josh knew that Jake was into Lane just as much as she was into Jake. Although they never dated, they had their special connection.
Josh walked to the back corner and sat on the couch. Jake and Lane were talking in the corner. Of course someone had brought drinks and she was already offering him one. Jake was never a big drinker. He prefered to stay healthy for sports. Josh on the other hand didn’t really care. Jake refused the drink, but pulled Lane back up the stairs so they could talk and check on the rest of the house. Lane had mentioned that she didn’t want the party to get too out of control. Her parents were fine with parties as long as no one got hurt or too carried away.
In the midst of all the dancing and fun Josh just sat there looking dazed, as if he wanted to be anywhere but there. Everyone thought that he and his brother had the perfect life and perfect family, but no one knew truly what Josh had experienced. He always seemed to be the odd one out. Jake was the “better looking” one even though they were twins. He also seemed to do everything Josh did, except better.
When Josh was five years old he was sexually abused by one of his cousins at a family gathering. No one knew, but him. He was too afraid to say anything about it. The abuser claimed that they were playing “doctor” on him. In dark late moments like this, flashbacks could strike any moment. Just then he felt in coming. His mind tilted. Images flashed through his head. He felt scarred. Unsafe. Defeated. Depressed. Fear pulsed through him at every beat. His mind swayed. Flashbacks were sweeping throughout his dimly lit mind. Josh’s body was beginning to shake. He got up and started to walk to the small kitchen in the back of the basement. In times like this he needed to leave. People were pressing around him. Their bodies sweaty from dancing. “Hey Josh!” someone yelled from inside the crowd. His fists squeezed and he kept his head low. Not now, not now.. Is what he thought.
It always pissed him off though that Jake seemed to have everything. Even if Josh wanted to date someone it was hard. The flashbacks. Just a single touch from a certain person sent him into shock. People never even knew. Jake didn’t even know. Although at one point he had thought that Jake had caught on.
The room swayed. Josh opened the small fridge in the mini kitchen and took out a drink. He sat on the floor and took a sip. His head resting against the cabinet. After finishing a can he grabbed several more from inside. He wanted this all to end.
His body felt numb. He climbed the stairs, his body unsteady. Where is some place I can hide? He thought to himself. Jake came out of the coat closet across from the room. He looked at Josh with a panic expression, then reached back inside and took a jacket off a hanger then walked away saying, “Dude, Josh go sit down somewhere you don’t look too good.”
It became a blur. The lights on the main floor were turned off. Bumping into dark objects. I just need to hide. The closet. His thoughts and emotions. Blue rays of light sweeping through his eyes and swaying with the world. His insides curling up. Anger. Everything crashing down inside his head. His head hurt. The world seemed upset at him. No one would understand or seem to care. Blurriness. Then darkness.
Jake walked over to the bathroom and quickly pulled off the coat and shoved it inside the bathroom closet. His hands hurt. Why? Why am I so dumb? There was a knock at the door. Jake quickly washed his hand, but not the image out of his head. Lane was standing there when he opened it. “Let’s go,” she smiled up at him. With a confused look, but then remembering where he was he took her hand. They headed for the stairs to go up to her room. A shiver went down his spine.
It was around 12 when Josh woke up. The stench was horrible. He looked around, but it was pitch black. He reached around for the closet door knob, but instead felt something stiff and sticky by it. He didn’t know how he had ended up inside the closet. What the.. he thought. He didn’t even remember making it to the closet. Opening the closet door a stream of light seeped inside. Josh started puking all over the floor when he saw what was laying next to him on the ground. On the closet floor next to him was his sister Mable. Her body was covered in blood and her eyes lay open staring straight ahead. She wasn’t breathing. Had I done this? Had I just murdered my sister? Why was she here? Unable to think, Josh crawled out the closet, his body was shaking. He laid on the floor. Was he crying? “Help..” he croaked out of his mouth. His body was too in shock to scream. The main floor was deserted. The floorboards vibrating against his cheek. Sobs racked his insides. NO, no, no, no… This couldn’t be happening.
Upstairs Jake was talking to Lane on her bed. “Yeah I hope you don’t mind, but when your parents called I told them that your sister Mable was going to a trampoline park with my parents and Katrina. However, Katrina and Mable just stayed here. My parents are away for the weekend. They went down to Carolina for a quick business trip,” said Lane.
“Yeah, well I trusted you. Also I should probably bring Mable home.. Where is she?” asked Jake trying to not look scared.
“She should be in Katrina’s room, unless they went downstairs haha to party. However, I doubt that.” Jake got off her bed and said he was going to look for her. Lane followed him down to Katrina’s room. They looked inside. Katrina was sound asleep on her bed, but the sleeping bag was empty on the floor. “Maybe she went to go get a drink of water or had to use the bathroom,” suggested Lane. Jake was starting to shake, but Lane wasn’t paying attention. The bathroom was empty.
Towards the stairs Lane heard Josh’s sobs. “What is that?” They went down the stairs. Josh was laying on the floor shaking. “Josh we better get you home buddy, you look exhausted,” said Jake. Josh was too in shock to say anything about Mable. “Can you just drive Mable over tomorrow morning then?” asked Jake.
“Sure,” said Lane. The two boys headed out the door and made it to the car. Jake started to drive home. When they got home no one was awake, so they headed up to their bedroom. Jake quickly stopped by his parents room to let them know that Mable was spending the night at Lane’s again because she was already sleeping. His parents thanked him then told him to go to bed.
When Josh woke up Lane had called him. He was surprised so he called her back. What seemed like reality last night seemed so far away like it was a very bad dream. When Lane picked up the phone she said, “It’s Mable. Come here immediately. Bring your family. The police are already here.” Was it a dream? It couldn’t be. Flashbacks. Red light. Drinking. Darkness. Sticky. Blood. No it couldn’t be.. Josh quickly awoke his family and Jake and told them that they needed to go to Lane’s. Something bad had happened.
When they arrived the police had started questioning Jake and Josh. Mable was pronounced dead on scene. Mom was in shock and sobbing into Dad’s arms. He brought their Mom out of the house so she could calm down. “Josh, Lane says that you were laying on the kitchen floor last night sobbing, is that true? Right before you left?” asked one of the police officers.
“What were you doing last night Josh that lead you to the kitchen.”
“First I had gone downstairs. I was sitting on the couch, but my head was hurting so I went and had a couple of drinks. Probably more than I should’ve. My heachache was getting worse so I tried to get upstairs away from the music. The closet was the nearest place, but I blacked out and don’t remember entering the closet. I woke up inside of it, when I opened the door to leave I saw Mable next to me. I started sobbing and was too in shock to move. That’s when I was laying on the floor in the kitchen and Lane and Jake walked in,” said Josh.
“Do you think you hurt Mable when you were unconscious or in the period you don’t remember?”
“It may have been possible, but I would never do anything like that to my siblings.”
“You do know that you put yourself in a situation where you didn’t have control of your body,” said the officer, “ Jake, where were you that evening?”
“Sir, I was downstairs at the beginning talking with Lane. Then we came to this level to check on the people in the rest of the house. After that I got cold so I went to the coat closet and grabbed a jacket. I went to the bathroom after that, then me and Lane headed upstairs to her room and talked. Lane had told me then that Katrina and Mable were here so we went to look for her, but that is when I found Josh. He looked unstable so I brought him home.”
“Did you have any drinks?”
“No sir, I did not,” said Jake.
“You do understand that both of you were to enter the coat closet that evening. We will have to go through further investigation. It could be one of you or it could even be another victim at the party.
Lane we will need to know who you all invited. For right now Jake and Josh you are coming with me. Parents you can also follow officer Jenkin’s, he will bring you to her body if you would like to see it,” said the officer as he went outside to talk to Jake and Josh’s Mom.
“Thank you,” sobbed their Mom as she tried to hold it together. Lane’s parents were on their way home. Lane was shaken up and her younger sister was sitting around the corner of the stairwell listening in.
After about 3 weeks of gathering information and eyewitness accounts, there was enough evidence to convict one of the brothers for the murder of their younger sister Mable. At the end of their court session Josh was going to be pronounced guilty. He was under the influence and in the closet for most of the night. He hadn’t remembered her being in there at first, so the conclusion was he murdered his sister while in the closet. Just before the session closed, Lane, went up to the stand. After being too afraid to bring up what she thought wasn’t real before, she spoke it now, “The night of the murder I didn’t want to believe what I saw. I was outside at the time, helping my friend Miranda who was throwing up in the bushes. Just for a second I had turned my head and through the window of the house I saw..” Lane started crying as she spoke. “I saw Jake. Mable was there, she was alive, but only for a few more short seconds. I saw Jake hit her. She fell to the floor, then I saw… I saw him pick her up. I..I.. I was so confused, but then I will never forget what happened next,” Lane looked down and clasps her hands in her lap.
“Please continue Lane,” said the Judge.
“I saw him with…a knife. He had cut her throat, but what was worse was that he turned. Just for a second I had thought we made eye contact. Then I saw him open the closet. I don’t know what else happened in there, but when I came inside Jake was in the bathroom. After what had happened me and him went up stairs. I started drinking more because I was afraid… I wanted to forget. I didn’t want what I saw to become reality,” said Lane.
“However, you couldn’t tell if it was Jake or Josh because they are twins and it was dark out,” said one of the lawyers trying to prove Josh guilty still.
What people didn’t know was that while Josh was sitting downstairs drinking, Jake was upstairs. Then as Josh was coming up the stairs and into the kitchen Jake acted like he was pulling on a coat from inside the closet. However, Lane wasn’t in the room yet and neither was anyone else. Jake had blood all over his hands. The room was dark and when Josh thought he was running into objects it was actually Jake who had kicked him. Josh had then slipped and hit his head on the table knocking him unconscious. Jake had then took Josh and put him in the closet to cover up the murder in which he had committed. When he went to the bathroom that was when Lane came back inside, so he shoved the jacket in the bathroom closet and washed his hands.
However, the jury then left to decide who they thought was guilty of the crime. When they all came together, Josh was pronounced guilty. Although some facts were left unknown. Everyone was wondering how Josh was the guilty one. Jake always got away with everything. Lane was in tears because she knew the truth. Jake somehow was just trying to get back at Josh for being his twin. Jake had always hated Josh. For some reason the thought of having someone look the same and act very alike terrified him.
Josh broke down. He felt worthless. He was trying so hard, but everything ended the wrong way and now he was being punished for something he didn’t do. The Judge dismissed them. For the Roney family their world would never be the same. For the fact that Jake was still on the loose and Mable was now gone. One decision can change the course of your life, just like how the Roney family found that out.
About the Author:
Abby Thompson is a senior in high school who feels that writing is a way to express herself. This is her first short story and hopes that she can reach those who seek for entertainment from literature. In college she hopes to major in Interior design and Architecture.