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ONE

Olive Hicks sat on her couch, a thin throw blanket around her shoulders. Her head fell forward as she dosed off. She jerked her head up and looked around. She was alone, her parents and sister long gone to sleep. She looked at her cell phone on the coffee table, screen blank.     

She had lost count of how many prayers she sent up to a God she wasn’t sure she even knew of. Ring, she begged her phone. She reached over and tapped the screen. No missed calls or messages. Kenna’s parents had promised to call her if they heard any news.

Olive and Evelyn had been best friends since preschool. Evelyn was the new girl, and had everything anyone could want. When one of the girls stole Evelyn’s Hello kitty pencil box, and she didn’t do anything about it, Olive punched the girl and handed Evelyn her pencil box. Ever since then, Olive felt responsible for her.

This is why Evelyn’s disappearance was her fault. Evelyn was acting strange all week. Sleeping through class, and showing up to a few classes late. Her hair got a bit messier, her clothes a bit darker. Evelyn didn’t want to talk, so Olive didn’t make her.

But she should have. She should of grabbed Evelyn by the shoulders, and shook out her deepest secrets. If she had, Evelyn wouldn’t be gone. The cops suggested drugs to her parents. They laughed, and then stopped.

The cops where serious. They thought it was drugs because she was acting different. Her parents said her sleeping and eating patterns varied at best.

Thursday morning the cops pulled Olive out of class. Her Father sat with them, his hand over his mouth as he shook his head. Her first instinct was that Daisy, her sister was dead. But as she approached she learned the truth. The cop asked her one questioned that stuck with her for the next three days.

Did Evelyn ever talk about being depressed? No. Evelyn had everything. Two parents that loved her, a flashy car, nice clothes, Her and Olsen. What did she have to be depressed about?

What was the definition of depression anyways? Being sad? Being alone? The cell phone lit up and buzzed as Olive jumped. She scrambled for her phone and typed in her password.

 But it was only Olsen, asking her if she had heard anything. No, she texted back. She was only barely starting to talk to him. She had asked him out, and he had turned her down. That summer Evelyn was dating him.

Of course he would pick her. She was flawless and didn’t know it. It had hurt Olive when she saw that and stopped talking to him all together. She lied for the first time to Evelyn and told her she was just busy and her afterschool activities conflicted with his. Evelyn believed her.

She always did. She put her phone down and crawled into a ball. She hadn’t been really sleeping. Not ever since she found out about Evelyn being gone. Her parents, and Evelyn’s, and the few times she had Seen Olsen’s, all asked her if she was okay.

 Yeah I’m fine, she lied, I just hope they find her. The cops had grilled her about places she could go, and what kind of person she was. But hers and Olsen’s answers were the same. She wouldn’t have gone anywhere alone, because she was afraid of being alone.

TWO

 

Olive was failing miserably at acting like she was okay. He had met her… the summer before high school. She was always the head strong one. She was stubborn, and frankly scared the shit out of him. He leaned against my locker as He watched her Yawn her way through the hall.

She tried her locker combo three times before standing there and giving it the evil eye. He swooped into the rescue just then and shouldered her out of the way.
“How’s it going?” He muttered.
“Like a basket of peaches.” She muttered back, and then shoved a book into her locker when I opened it.

“You need to sleep O.” He put a hand on her shoulder, and moved her to face him.

Olive gave him an annoyed look, “What Olsen?”

“When was the last time you slept? Eaten?”

“I can’t remember.” She slammed her locker, “All I can think about is Evelyn.”
He stood there watching her, clutching his strap to his bag.
“Why aren’t you as tired and worried as I am?”
“Because I’m too busy looking after you. There is nothing I can do to help Evelyn.”
“Leave me alone.” She shut her locker, “I don’t want to be your friend.”
“Well the way I see it, you only have me, and I have you. Now, are you going to look through Evelyn’s room while I distract her Mom or not?”

“Fine.” She sighed, looking over her shoulder, “I’ll do it.”
    Olsen had noticed that ever since Evelyn had gone missing, Olive was constantly looking over her shoulder. They were supposed to be worrying about college and finals. Not looking for the girl who, well just vanished in thin air. And it seemed like that is exactly what happened to Evelyn.

 Evelyn was always a constant. If it was one person he could count on being around it was her. The two of them were constantly talking. Be it over the phone, through texts, or face to face. Olsen had noticed it immediately when Evelyn began to change.

Even before her own mother had taken notice.  As first it was little changes and he wasn’t worried, because she was still her. Then she began to change in big waves. The biggest one, was she stopped texting and calling him first. Their conversations where left short, and opened ended.

He wasn’t worried that she was kidnapped. He knew she left. He just wanted to know why she had cut him off. He could have gone with her. He would send their parents texts, and she wouldn’t like that.

 So he now understood why she had cut him off. She began cutting people off one by one in the days leading up to her disappearance. He took little comfort in the fact that he was the last one she cut off. But it gave him hope. Maybe she would listen to him.

Hear him out for old times’ sake. And if not he could always grab her tiny ass and toss her over his shoulder and bring her home. There was always another choice.

THREE

Victoria Castor sat in her kitchen on a bar stool with the house hone between her arms. Her cell phone was next to her right elbow, the volume up as far as it would go. Something wasn’t right. Evelyn always texted her before she was going anywhere. She also texted her when she got to where she was going, and when she was leaving to another place. Her daughter was extremely responsible that way.

The first twenty four hours after Evelyn had gone missing where the hardest. The cops told her a person had to be gone with no contact to anyone for twenty four hours before they started looking around. Yes the cops where now involved but they should of found her by now. How far can a little tiny girl get without her car? Or her wallet?

How had she not noticed that Evelyn wasn’t in her room? She told herself that since Evelyn wasn’t a reckless child, that she had no reason to suspect anything. And that was the honest truth. She could see out of her peripheral vision her husband had just entered the kitchen. He sighed setting his brief case on the counter.

“Victoria, you need to sleep.”
“What I need, is to find my daughter.”
“Are we really going to do this now? She’s my daughter too. I raised her since she was six months old.”

“I’m sorry. Your right.”
“Why don’t I look after the phones while you sleep. What good will you be to the cops if you can’t answer any of the questions they ask? I promise to wake you up the second I hear anything.”

“Okay.” She sighed.

  Once she was heading upstairs Deven sighed. He walked over to the fridge and grabbed out everything he needed to make a sandwich. He loved Evelyn, but couldn’t help but to be mad at her for what she was doing. There was a very high chance that she had trusted the wrong person and got kidnapped. That would be just like her.

 He should of taught her how to fight. Should have taken No for an answer and tossed it across the room. Because now his daughter was missing, with no way to protect herself. He put his sandwich together and took a bite looking at the phone. Ring damn you.

 He didn’t know how much more of this he could take. Of Evelyn being gone and his wife looking like the walking dead. Of seeing the parents of people Evelyn went to school with at the store. All the whispers and the pathetic I’m sorry looks earned everywhere he went. He knew in his heart that Evelyn hadn’t run away.

Because if she had, she would have been found by now. He didn’t share this with his wife however. The sharp ring of the phone made him almost drop his sandwich. He scrambled for the phone so it wouldn’t wake Victoria.

“Hello?” He questioned.
“Mr. Castor?”

“Yes.”
“We need you down here at the police station. We may have something. We need you to come prepared.”
“I’m on my way.”

 Deven unplugged the phone and reached for his keys.

 

FOUR

She lit a cigarette, and took a deep drag from it. The Streets where slick where they met the blurry head lights of passing cars and traffic lights. Evelyn Castor sat in a parking lot leaning against a light post. The rain fell around her in a steady sprinkle. Her disappearance took time to put together.

In the weeks that she had left, she transferred money into a new account with her new social security number and new ID Gone was her blonde locks died a dark brown. She had cut everyone off one by one, changed her clothes, so everyone would believe she was sad and had run away. When the truth was much darker for her sad little quiet town. A town where no crime really ever happened and surely a teenager, one with her whole perfect life ahead of her, did not get pregnant. She sighed and stopped her smoke out.

This wasn’t her. She couldn’t change every aspect of her when she was alone. She was still that girl who didn’t want to go places by herself. But now she needed to. She took a few self-defense classes, bought a gun, pepper spray and a taser.

She was starting to like the dark now. It was easy for her to move around unseen. She could stick to the shadows. She pulled the pack of smokes from her pocket and set it on the cement surrounding the light post along with a lighter. There, some other poor sap could use them.   

She patted the post twice before walking around her black sleek, dark tinted window car. She climbed in, turned the engine over and messed with the heat controls. She was wearing thin jeans, soaked through shoes, and a thin hooded jacket. She took off her damn jacket and dropped it onto the leather seat next to her. Sure she missed her parents. Olsen and even Olive.

Yes she felt guilty for not telling Olsen why she left. But she knew no one would understand. After all, she wasn’t even eighteen yet. Not old enough in the eyes of most to raise a baby. She put the car in drive and drove towards the two bed two bath house that she had rented.

She needed to find a job, so she had money if she needed to run. She couldn’t live off of the money she stole from her parents forever. She pulled into the garage, and waited in the car until the garage door had finally closed. Guided by the light of her head lights she flipped on the garage light, and unlocked the door that headed right into her kitchen. She pulled off her shoes and socks and dropped them on the floor.

She turned off her car and popped her trunk open. She grabbed as many bags as she could carry and headed inside. She did another trip and closed the trunk. She headed inside, shutting the door with a foot. She put the food away, leaving out dinner.

She pulled out pots and pans and started cooking. Once everything was on simmer she sat on a bar stool and pulled up the internet browser. She needed a job, and she wanted one now. She wanted to save up as much money as she could before the baby got here. She didn’t know anyone, so she couldn’t work when the baby was born.

She wrote down a few promising offers, closed her lap top, and went to stir her dinner.

FIVE

 

When Victoria woke up from her nap she hurried down stairs to ask Deven if she heard any news. Finding Deven gone and the phone gone, sent her in a wave of rage. She plugged in the phone and reached for her cell phone. No missed calls or texts. Just wait until she got her hands on him for doing this.

The nerve of that man. She scrolled through her numbers to call him, but the door was knocked on. She hurried over to it and yanked it open. Olsen and Olive, her daughter’s friends stood there.
“Hi guys, come in.” She led the way to the kitchen, “You hungry?”

“Starved.” Olsen nodded at Olive.

“I just have to use the bathroom real quick.” Olive Nodded at Olsen and quietly jogged upstairs.

“Where’s Mr. Castor?” Olsen noted the half eaten sandwich.

“Your guess is as good as mine is dear.” She opened the fridge. “What are you in the mood for?”
“A sandwich is fine.”
“I have some left over potato salad if you want it.” She dug around the fridge, “Barbequed beans.”

“Sounds great.” Hurry up, O.

“How are your parents doing?”

“They’re good I guess.”

“Do you want your potato salad warmed a little bit? It’s cold.”

SIX

 

“It’s not her.” Deven sighed with a bit a relief.

          Someone’s daughter was dead, but not his daughter. The coroner pulled the sheet over the poor girls head. The two of them where similar in shape and size but-

“That’s Evelyn’s bracelet.” Deven pointed out.
“Are you sure sir?” The officer asked, “Many girls have charm bracelet’s.”
“Not like this.” He unhooked it from the girl’s wrist, “See? EC. Her Mother and I gave it to her for her sixteenth birthday.”
“So how did it end up on a dead girl’s wrist?” Muttered the officer.

“That’s what I want to know.” Deven looked at the bracelet in his hand, “Maybe she dropped it and the girl found it.”

“Or it was planted on her.”

“What do you mean?” Deven asked as the cop took it and put it in a baggy.

“We called you here to identify the body because she is similar to the description that you gave us of your daughter. Someone killed this girl, and put her bracelet on her to throw us off.”
          Deven watched as the officer handed Evelyn’s bracelet over to a woman in a lab coat. He watched as the woman left the room. He turned to face the officer.

“So what does that mean?”
“It means someone has your daughter, and they don’t want us to find her.”

 

SEVEN

 

“What did you find?” Olsen questioned, as he pulled away from Evelyn’s home.

“She didn’t take any of her clothes, or her purse. But here’s the interesting part.” Olive turned in her seat a bit, “Her browser history on her desktop is swiped clean and her laptop is gone.”
“So what does that mean?”

Olive held up Evelyn’s journal, “I’m hoping that this will tell us.”
“Start reading it.”

Olive opened the journal and began to read. She skipped through the pages, hoping to find something useful. She shut the book frustrated.
“Nothing?”
“I need more time in her room. I didn’t want to seem suspicious.”
“Well, a second visit would definitely make you seem suspicious. We shouldn’t even have visited in the first place. That was our one shot.”
“Well, what about her locker? Her car? Where did you guys go to be alone?”

“Evelyn’s browser history being cleared give me all the answers I need.”
“Answer being what?”

“She left of her own accord.”

“Well, at least she’s not kidnapped.”
“What don’t you get Olive,” Olsen shouted, “She left us willingly. We would of never down that to her.”                           

“Hey,” She reached over and put a hand on his, “We’ll find her.”

 Olsen glanced down at their hands, and then flipped his over and laced their fingers. Olive couldn’t help but wonder if this was what they would have been like. What if Evelyn wasn’t ever a factor? He would have chosen her. But Olsen wanted Evelyn.

He secretly craves a touch that only she could give. He now wanted to find her more than ever. He wanted to confront her and demanded an explanation. He wanted to hear what she thought was a good reason to run away from everything they had. He wanted to ask her face to face to see if her eyes looked guilty, or sorry even.

How dare she do something this selfish. They could have worked out everything together. Olsen made sure Evelyn new that. Didn’t he? Had he not spelled it out for her?

Did she not feel safe talking to him? Had he made her feel that way somehow? And what about the pretty girl sitting next to him? He spared her a glance. He hadn’t talked to her in months.

And here she was, offering him a comforting touch when he had turned her away. At the drop of a pin, she was there for him. But that was Olive for you. She was drawn to the darkest deepest parts of someone to shine her light. To make every monster go away.

He should have been with her. He should have told her yes. Because the truth was he loved her. But he didn’t want to be her first. First love, kiss, broken heart.

 He couldn’t be that for her. So he settled for Evelyn. Someone he knew who would chase her dreams before giving him a second thought. Evelyn was safe. But he had fallen in love with her on the way, and now he loved two very different girls.

Evelyn was the girl who he could turn to with no judgment. Olive was the girl who wanted him to love the darkest parts of himself and the girl who got away. So who was he supposed to love more?

EIGHT

Huh. Would you look at that? This looked promising. A bar was under new management and was looking for some new people. I could do one of these jobs, she thought. Waitress, bartender, even a busser.

She took a shower, put on black slacks and a white button-down shirt. The classic job-hunting outfit. She pulled on a black suit jacket and headed out. When she pulled up to the bar it was closed. There were a few guys unloading a truck.

She got out and hurried around two people carrying a roundtable, and slipped into the dimly lit area. It was all wood and dark colors. The sound of sizzling was off to her right, and she could see people laughing and cooking. People arranged tables on the main floor and argued about what looked best. A guy dressed in all black with a rag tossed over his shoulder angrily scrubbed at a spot on the bar.

She squared her shoulder and made a beeline for him. Something about the way he looked gave off power. He had to know who was in charge because he had to work closely with him. She took in a breath to question him-

"We're closed. We don't open until the weekend. Can't you read? There was a sign outside."

"I'm looking for the owner."

He jerked his head up to me, and She took a step back. He glared at her with the greenest eyes that you had ever seen.

"What do you want?"

"Well, I want to talk to the owner," She slapped her leg.
He grinned at her, "I mean what do you want, as in I am the owner."
"Oh." She stood up straight and nodded, "Sorry."
"What do you want kid?" He began to scrub again.

"Are all of you men useless?"

"Excuse me?" He laughed, his hands falling onto the bar.
"You cannot seriously believe for a second, that scrubbing at a chunk of old food with a dry rag will get you anywhere."

"What can you do?" He began to scrub again."
"Clean that stain."

He tossed the rag down, and leaned against the counter behind the bar, holding up a hand. She nodded and went into the kitchen. She looked over the bottles of cleaners and finally found open. She gave the stain a squirt and the rag and cleaned the bar.

"Huh," He joined her looking over her shoulder, "Well who would have thought?"

She turned to him sticking out her hand, "Evelyn."

"Evelyn," He shook her hand, "You have yourself a job."

"What position?"

"Any position you want."

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Publication Date: 01-10-2018

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