It still seemed like only yesterday that Louise was reported missing. Even after five years. Five years ago to the day, in fact. June is always the worst month of the year for me. More so on this day: June 17th.
This is the day that I lost her. My best friend. My partner in crime. My better half. Vanished without a trace.
Everyone knew she and I were pals for life. We grew up together, since kindergarten filled us with the joy of playing house and learning our ABCs. Our friends knew we were inseparable, and our parents always loved having us over to stay nights and weekends.
We were both mischievous, though, and had to be busted out of trouble numerous times. My next-door neighbor, an old destitute by the name of Baxter Hesterfield, or Old Baxtard as we nicknamed him, couldn’t stand us. He despised children in general, but it seemed he had a special place in his hatred for us.
It might have had something to do with us lighting firecrackers one hot Independence Day and hurling them over the fence and into his backyard. Or perhaps it was fueled from the endless rolls of toilet paper we used on his house and front lawn during Hallows’ Eve in our sophomore year.
Whatever the case, or whomever the target, most of our neighbors automatically suspected the two of us were behind it. I’m not going to say we were behind every nefarious prank that happened on our cul-de-sac, but she reveled in being known as the trouble maker. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but I had to admit; it was always so god-damned fun with her.
These were the good days. Even when at our worst, I felt we had it best. We were invincible, unstoppable, and inseparable. She was always the schemer, and I was always there to lend a helping hand. We made plans to take over the world, or at least run away to the middle of nowhere, start a cult, and rob weak-minded individuals of their money by convincing them to worship a tree or something.
Had I known my time with her would have been cut short, I would have cherished it a lot more than I did. We never appreciate things until we have to live without them. I just never thought it would be her that I would have to move on without…
It hasn’t always been easy, these past five years. She vanished without a trace at the end of junior year, and I just wanted to give up then. Days turned into weeks, months…I had to graduate without my best friend. And college…I’m lucky if I can get through a night of studying without some small memory making it impossible to concentrate.
I wonder how she would react if she knew I was studying Psychology. She loved studying nut cases, as she called them, and wanted to know more about psychological disorders and indoctrination. Help with the cult ideas, she claimed. My interest was always English, but…it just felt right to switch. She deserved this more than I did.
The hardest part, however, is coming home every summer. My folks are more than happy to give me a place to stay during the hot summer months of the South.
I repay them by helping out around the house, like mowing the lawn and cleaning out the attic. It’s the least I could do. They were my rock through the whole ordeal, even before then, when I found out…
Why couldn’t she have gone away later in the summer? Why did she have to disappear so early? We had plans for that summer. We had saved up money for…well, guess it doesn’t really matter at this point. Plans were cut short after her sudden disappearance.
I put all of that money into funding search parties. Providing food and water, funding a headquarters, flyers, social media posts, the whole nine yards. Her parents always cried on camera, but it never felt fake. There was genuine love and a need to have Louise back in their arms, to know she was safe, but most of all, alive.
Then the money ran out. It only took a few months. We hadn’t saved up that much, but the coalition to find her had been very lenient on costs. Her parents were thankful for all of my monetary and emotional support.
They were proud of me, to have such a strong head on my shoulders and a calm demeanor throughout the whole ordeal. I would only smile and give them my arms to cradle into and my shoulder to cry on.
Inside, I was not calm at all. Inside, I was a twisted, tormented mix of emotions. My best friend was gone. I knew it in my own heart that she was not coming back. She was lost forever. She was…dead.
She was a beautiful girl. Full of life and potential, she was ready to take on the world and make it her bitch. Her long, brown hair glistened in the light of day while her light blue eyes shined in the darkest of night. She had the figure of a model, but not the skin and bones, anorexic kind.
The figure of a real woman that knew she was sexy and wasn’t afraid to admit it. She could have all the guys in her corner, swooning over her and her perfect form. Her killer smile shone like a flashlight, with her gleaming white teeth and that fire engine red lipstick she wore to school every single day.
She was sexy. I felt sexier just standing next to her. How she ever thought of me as her friend blows my mind to this day. She could have had anyone as her posse, or the whole of the school in her pocket.
Instead, she chose me as her confidant. I, just a small-town girl forced to move to the suburbs of a big city when her dad found a better job. Forcing a young girl to adapt to new surroundings at such a young age was damning.
Had I not found her during activity time all those years ago, handing me a few blocks and asking me to help her build her castle fit for a queen and a princess…
I’m just a normal girl. I’m just…Carla.
I had looks, believe me. I was just as stunning as Louise. In fact, I looked rather similar to her. The same color hair, the same figure…even our eyes almost looked identical.
She would often say that mine were only just a shade darker, but unless you were close enough to kiss me, no one would notice. She only knew that because she kissed me once. We laughed after that.
We were perfect together. How I longed to see her in school or stay with her during the weekends. Every holiday, I had to visit her and her family, or she and her family visit me and mine. Oftentimes, even our own parents had trouble telling the two of us apart. It’s like we were meant to be twins from birth.
We deserved to be together, forever. At least, I thought so.
Then she fell in love. In love with a man. Just some idiot in his senior year with a broad chin and muscles for days. She fell hard for him, and all I could do was watch, smile and pretend to be happy for her. Maybe if I had stopped pretending and actually told her the truth about how I felt, then all this could have been avoided.
I loved her. I wanted her to be more than just a friend. I wanted her to be my girlfriend.
I had told her once how I felt about dating and relationships. She knew about me, smiled, and hugged me, saying she supported me no matter what.
As happy as that made me feel, it also sunk my heart to my toes. Support did not mean empathy. She didn’t feel the same way I did.
I guess I should have guessed that, her being with him. But maybe I hoped that would change her mind. Maybe I hoped…she would love me, too.
But no. She was in love with that idiot. How could she fall for that man? What about me? I was much better than him. He couldn’t treat her like I could. How could we be together forever when she was head over heels for this man?
We were supposed to conquer the world. We were supposed to always stand side by side through thick and thin. She was going to go away and I would never have her to myself again!
Damn that Jimmy. Why did he have to be so charming? He should have just stayed away from me…from her. He should have just stayed away from her. We’d still be together if he wasn’t such a big fool.
It was easy to get rid of him afterward. After all, Louise had no love for him. Only Carla did.
With her best friend gone, though, Carla couldn’t possibly love Jimmy. No, she would be too traumatized from the loss of Louise. Half of her has been missing for five years. All she can do is live on without her. Every brush of her hair, every blink of an eye, every glimpse in the mirror…a small, insignificant reminder of her.
Every time I look in that mirror, I only see Carla. It’s rather easy, given our similarities. It’s only when I get up close to kiss her, the reflection in the mirror, that I’m reminded of that one small difference that separated us. Her eyes were definitely a shade darker than mine.
June 17th is the only day of the year I give myself pause. On this day, I’m reminded that years ago, there were once two of us. Two young women ready to conquer the world. She and I were queens, empresses, and badasses, full of life and promise.
I watch my Facebook come alive when her parents, her friends, and everyone affiliated with her post on her memorial page all of their fondest memories. Even Jimmy, now married and with a kid, sends a note from time to time wishing me well and hoping for the best. Seeing all of the likes, the hearts, the sad faces, and the many comments of support and wishful thinking give me a slight feeling of guilt.
Yet it also puts a small smile on my face. To think, after all this time, they have yet to catch on to the ultimate prank. They’re looking for the wrong girl. They’re looking for Louise, the beautiful girl who was loved by all and missed by even more.
They should be looking for Carla. Instead, they’re looking for me.
Those poor idiots.
I loved you more than anything, Carla. We would have taken the world by storm. Now you’re gone, and you’re never coming back. I couldn’t have you in the end, so…no one could.
No one had the right to you. No one but me. Just me, Louise. The good girl who wouldn’t lose to a bad boy. I’m sorry you had to take the fall. I’m sorry you have to be the lost girl, yet no one is really looking for you.
They’ll never find you. You’re just a memory, all burnt and turned to ash. Scattered about the wind, left in the whispers of my parents, who hug me every day of the summer, but especially today. June 17th. The day after I burned you alive in the forest, fire hotter than the passion and love I had for you.
Credit: Brandon Harris
Thanks for stopping by and reading this “Geek Short Stories – CrappyPastas” post.
Brian’s Banal Belvedere:
I want to really love this story. I want to praise it for the twists it contains. Then I thought about it and read it again.
Louise, Carla, Louise, Carla, Carla, Louise. What just happened? Does she have a split personality and was always only one person? Was there a double switch? Who killed who? WTH? Who’s on first? Does second base even exist?
I honestly have no idea what happened in this story now. Does the author?