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Slipping Sideways: Chapter 2

Roger Parsons is dragged into a web of lies and secrets that all lead back to his sister's suicide.

I called 911. When they arrived, they told me she was dead. They took the body away.

After asking where my parents were, they made me call my best friend's mom, telling her to stay with me until my parents got off their flight. Then they left.

Mrs. Crothers had arrived quickly and now sat in the living room uncertainly. The silence was unfriendly. The walls seemed to press inwards, trapping me. Her purple dress was rumpled and stained blue on the sleeve and her hair frizzed wildly outward. Her eyes followed me as I left the room.

I quietly walked up the stairs, focusing on the soft carpet beneath me. Anything but my sister's pale face and bloody wrists.

Mrs. Crothers trailed behind me, wringing her hands. Her soft breath blew against the back of my neck. I walked into the bathroom. They hadn't even drained the bathtub.

Mrs. Crothers snatched up the knife before I could reach it. I gave her a long stare. I wasn't suicidal. She should know that.

I turned my back on her and unstopped the drain. The rosy water slowly receded until there was nothing left, but a blood stained bathtub. I took my sister's light pink towel and scrubbed away the residue of my sister's death.

When Caroline's towel had soaked up the last of her and the tub was white again, I stepped back. I left the bathroom, still holding the towel. I shuffled down the stairs and out the door, stopping only to grab some matches and the small box of fireworks Caroline and I were going to set off together.

I threw the towel down on the sidewalk in front of my house. Then I ripped open the box of fireworks, dropping them one by one on the now red towel. I lit them and stepped back. They went off in loud cracks, shooting sparks, burning huge holes into the fabric as I stared on dispassionately. When they were finished, I set fire to the ruins of the towel. In a few minutes, all that was left of my sister's suicide was charred ash.

I left the ashes on the sidewalk. I turned around sharply, the sidewalk tearing at my bare feet. I trudged back to the house, past a bewildered Mrs. Crothers, and settled onto the cold cement steps leading up to the porch. All that was left to do now was to wait.

Mrs. Crothers, at a loss as to what else to do, began to water the bushes in front of the house. I ignored her, watching the fireflies float by serenely, listening to the cracks of happy fireworks and the carefree laughter of my neighbors. Only the little section of front lawn was silent and sorrowful. The rest of the world didn't notice. I tried not to think as I waited, pushing my sadness deep down. Caroline would come back. Somehow.

The hiss of the water was interrupted by the sound of car tires. I looked up and watched as they stepped out. Mom smiled at Mrs. Crothers. "Thank you for doing the watering. You really didn't have to."

Mrs. Crothers stared at her for a moment, wide-eyed, before giving her a quick nod and turning her back. Mom gave her an odd look before continuing up the sidewalk, Dad close behind her. I narrowed my eyes.

Mom bent down close to me, giving me a sad smile. "We have some bad news for you."

I stared at her silently, tendrils of dread wrapping around me.

Dad sighed, "We're getting divorced."

I blinked.

"And we're sending you to Grandma's house while we settle everything out."

I sat motionless, the world slipping sideways before my eyes, dropping me into my own personal hell.

Mom stood back up abruptly and said, "Where's Caroline? We want to tell her too. Then we can deal with it as a family."

"Caroline's dead."

Then I ran.

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