I’m in the mood to share some writing. So here’s a chapter of The Death Effect for your enjoyment. It hasn’t been edited or critiqued yet, and I’m not looking for anything like that here. Just wanted to give the universe a taste of my story. There shouldn’t be any spoilers, if you’ve read any of my previous posts about TDE, you know the girl dies…
Chapter Twelve: Her Sister
Why? Why did this happen to her?
Taylor watched, her breath snagged inside her throat, as her father stood up and approached the door. It’s just Jake, she thought, just Jake coming to find me. But the rational voice in her head told her she was wrong. Jake would have called first. And Jake knew she was there, she’d texted him when she got off work.
Her father’s steps fell heavily as he approached the door. Thud. Thud. Thud. Taylor massaged her right temple with her thumb, trying to rub the fear and guilt away. She heard the squeak as her father turned the handle and pulled the door inwards. She turned her eyes down to the table, unable to face the officer or detective she knew would be standing there.
“Yes? Please tell me you found Lisa.”
“Sir, I’m so sorry…”
Taylor slumped forward and felt rather than saw her mother jump up from the table and fly across the room.
“No,” her mom cried out, “no!”
“I’m so sorry, ma’am, but a body…”
Taylor finally looked up, only to see her mother wailing and falling to her knees, her father trying to hold her up.
“… a body was found in Bear Lake not long ago. It matches the description of your daughter.”
“It has to be a mistake,” her father mumbled, “it can’t be Lisa. It has to be a mistake.”
“I know how difficult this is, but I need someone to come down to the morgue with me and identify the body.”
Her mother’s cries increased and her father sank to his knees, wrapping his arms around Geri’s shoulders, neither answered the officer. Taylor stood on shaking legs and shuffled to the door. She looked the officer in the face. His jaw drew his mouth into a tight line, his dark brown eyes gazed with concern into hers. It was Officer Kasey, the same man who’d taken the initial missing person report. But now, he cared. The tears that had been pooling in her eyes finally broke free and gushed down her face.
“I’ll go. I’ll go and identify her.”
The officer nodded. Taylor retrieved her heavy winter coat and purse from the kitchen table.
“It’s not her, Tay, it can’t be.” Her dad grabbed her arm as she passed by to follow Office Kasey. She squeezed his hand and walked out the door, with one last glance at her parents, left devastated and clinging to each other.
“Why didn’t Detective Carson come?” Taylor asked as Officer Kasey opened the passenger door to his patrol car for her.
“He’s finishing things up at the crime scene. He wanted to come and give the news himself, but I volunteered and it was more important for him to be there, gathering evidence, than me.”
Taylor gulped, the words “crime scene” hitting her like a knife to the gut. She slid into the seat and he shut the door and moved around to get in the driver’s side while she buckled her seat belt. After he got in, started the car, and maneuvered onto the highway, she turned to look at him.
“Why did you volunteer?”
“Why did you volunteer to come and tell my family that my sister is…” she couldn’t finish the sentence, the word left unsaid lingered in the air, stunning them both into silence. Kasey shifted in his seat, looked in the rearview and sideview mirrors, anywhere and everywhere but the passenger seat.
“I mean, I can’t imagine anyone actually wants to be that person, the one who destroys all hope.”
“No. No one wants to be that person,” he agreed. He cleared his throat. “I guess I volunteered because I felt guilty.”
“I didn’t really take the case seriously when I filled out your report.”
“Well, I did everything I was supposed to do, I filled out the report, asked the standard questions. But I didn’t really believe there was anything wrong.”
“I don’t know. Things like this happen all the time. A family member doesn’t hear from their loved one in a day or two and automatically thinks the worst, when ninety-nine percent of the time, they just took a vacation without telling anyone, or something like that.”
Taylor pulled her coat tighter around her and breathed hot air onto her numb fingers. She wished something could warm her heart.
“So, I guess I volunteered so I could say I’m sorry to you, to your parents. I could have dug deeper, asked more questions, treated you with more respect.”
“You think the body they found is really her?” she whispered.
“I’m sorry, but, yes. The picture you gave me…”
“Right.” They didn’t speak throughout the rest of the drive. Taylor couldn’t talk, the flow of tears was too overwhelming.
When they approached the brick building, Kasey disturbed the tension. “Are you sure you can do this? It can wait until one of your parents can come.”
“No, I don’t know if I can do this, but I can’t let them go through it, they’re in enough pain.”
He led her inside, instructed her to sign in, then they descended a dark, narrow staircase to reach the basement. Taylor almost wanted to laugh- it was so stereotypical, like she was an actor in a film and the set director had made the scene as dreary and unwelcoming as possible. But then, why would they make the stairway to the worst moment in life anything but bleak?
A grey steel door greeted them at the bottom of the steps. Kasey punched a code into the panel beside the handle, then held the door open for Taylor. She took a step forward and stopped.
She couldn’t go any further. She knew that in another few feet or so she’d be face-to-face with the corpse of her baby sister. She couldn’t do it. Her feet trapped her firmly in place, cemented to the ground. Any step forward was just one step closer to the truth that she’d never said “sorry” and would now never have the chance.
“Taylor?” Kasey’s voice echoed off the blood-red bricks, but she didn’t hear him. She could only hear the fighting, the bickering, the nasty words thrown between her and Lisa.
“Why didn’t I make it right?”
Taylor turned to Kasey and grabbed his shirt with both hands. “Why didn’t I make it right? We fought so much the past couple of years. I didn’t want to fix things between us.” She collapsed against him, sobbing out her guilt and pain. “And now it’s too late. It’s too late!”