I didn’t think that this would be the story. I know that it is too early on the road to be burning out but here I am in the middle of nowhere analyzing this map that I am clearly holding upside down as if I can decipher it’s many channels. Do maps have channels? Is that really the best word to describe this tangled web of winding road that has become my life?
However, to find oneself isn’t the best thing sometimes just to get lost?
You could use the navigation on your phone, a voice chortles in my head and I roll my eyes while applying more pressure to the gas pedal. The wind syphoning in through the open windows of my SUV whips through my curls tossing them in every which direction. I reach out and nab the sunglasses dangling from the chain of the dog tags looped over my rearview mirror and push them up over my head like a headband to restrain the chaos.
The road cutting through the hillside is stifled by the darkness of towering trees with the light of the moon spilling through their canopies turning the blackness into a milky shade of blue. My high beams flick on automatically and though I should decrease my speed due to the gravel standing in for pavement I continue onward without regard. I have somewhere to be despite not knowing where that place is.
I will find it.
It will find me.
It doesn’t feel real. I keep waiting on the punch line to come. For someone to jump out, shooting finger guns animatedly at me, with smiles as bright as the sun, before wrapping their arms around me and whispering, hey, Eva, it was all a joke. I could take something like that. Really, I could. It would be so much easier to understand a cruel and unusual joke being played on me rather than facing the reality that she’s gone.
She can’t be gone.
Even as I say the words in my mind, though, I know that it’s true. I’ve never known something to be so true, so real, or so accurate in all of the time that I’ve spent on this earth. They always tell you that some people are so close that even distance cannot truly separate them. That’s what it’s always been like for my sister and I. She could be halfway around the world and I could be sitting in class, in the middle of a mid-term, and I could feel her heart breaking. It’s no wonder that somehow I felt her heart stop, though, at the time I couldn’t distinguish what it was that I was feeling. I just knew it was dark, full of sorrow, and completely engulfing.
I remember exiting class with my fellow students at Dartmouth.The rhythm was not syncopated like it should have been. It was as if I was walking in slow motion, at a slant, holding on haphazardly to my textbooks. Young adults chattered animatedly all around me, moving to and fro, but it was like walking through a thick fog and there were several moments where I felt as if I couldn’t breathe.
In my mind’s eye all I could see was her face, my face, staring back at me. There were tears in her eyes and we were so close that I could almost feel her breath on my skin. Then suddenly she was gone. I knew she was gone.
I’m seated now in the backseat of a black Bentley with dark sunglasses shielding my weeping eyes. The motley colored forestry of New Hampshire has dissipated into the backdrop of my life to be replaced by bustling city streets and flashing lights. I hold tight to the black blazer that I’m wearing over a pearl-white silk blouse because, now, this article of clothing feels to be all I have left in the world. It’s that, my purse, and the iPhone that I carry around like a lifeline that is clutched tightly in the palm of my hand as if my releasing it will send me into cardiac arrest.
All I’m wishing for right now is just to disappear but, hell, where would I disappear to? What would I be disappearing from? I don’t have any place to run and hide. I have no arms to embrace me and to tell me everything will be okay. All that I have is a few letters sent by mail to my college dorm and an invitation to a home in which I’ve never visited which I know now will feel like a tomb the moment that I enter it.
God, I wish that I had been able to say goodbye.
Andrea and I hadn’t really spoken to one another in years. When our father whom was our last root tying us down to any foundation passed away it seemed that our relationship had disintegrated. I had gone off to Hanover, New Hampshire to attend Dartmouth. I really had no idea at the time what I wanted to major in but it was Dartmouth! I was in the Ivy League! I could make up my mind on how to spend the rest of my life once I got there.
Drea, which is what I had called my twin sister since the beginning of time, had travelled into a completely different direction. I kept my head down with my nose buried in textbooks. She, from the tiny snippets that she shot my way here and there, was doing everything but. One moment she was waitressing, then bartending, trying her hand at modeling, and then a few short beats later it seemed she was living the high life. Suddenly she was attending galas and dating men that seemed to not only lavish her with attention but also with their money. She’d gone from rags to riches over night and the more that she became absorbed in her new life the further that she distanced herself from me.
It took a few years to stop missing her. To stop checking for stray emails, looking at my phone for missed calls or text messages, or for the occasional Facebook status, tweet or Instagram shot. The little girl that I had grown up with, whom had always been my best friend, had left me. Daddy died so in my eyes once she found a new daddy to take care of her she had no use for me anymore. I stopped checking. I stopped reaching out. I moved on with my life without her.
Now here I am in this ridiculously congested metropolitan to pack my identical twin’s entire life separate from me into tiny little boxes. Where I am supposed to send them to, I do not know. What I’m supposed to do with the rest of my life? I have no fucking clue. I am alone in a giant world with no family and only a few people I would almost consider calling friends. I have nowhere to call home.
You picked a fine time to die, Drea.
I officially graduate from Dartmouth in a little over a month. I was granted a leave of absence but let the truth be told I could skip out on the entire ending of my college years and still I’d be on the Dean’s List with the fancy plaque on the wall that I’ve been aspiring for. Here’s to leaving college with a bang! My twin sister dies and I’ll be eyeballs deep in debt thanks to student loans and assisting my other half in exhausting the resources left behind by our parents to put us through school. Of course, my portion went toward actual schooling. God only knows what the beautiful one did with her trust fund?
The Bentley slows and lurches to a stop in front of what appears to me a marble skyscraper. I try not to change my breathing pattern or appear shocked and dazed behind my sunglasses as I attempt to nonchalantly peer out of the tinted window to grab a better look. The driver whom has not spoken a word to me the entire ride steps out of the vehicle. I steal the moment to eek out a holy shit before quickly regaining my decorum as he circles the vehicle and opens my car door. I slide to my right and gather my tiny insignificant items before graciously accepting his hand and stepping out into the cool air of the city.
“If you would step inside, Miss Reynolds, there should be a woman by the name of Agatha Whitfield waiting for you. She is Miss Reynolds’,” he stammers for a moment and clears his throat uncomfortably, “your sister’s attorney. She is here to handle her final affairs.”
Drea would have an attorney, I roll my eyes spitefully on the inside but outwardly I nod my head once, thank the driver, and head dutifully inside the gold and glass doors.
“I will send up your bags!” he calls behind me and I turn quickly to throw him another nod of thanks.
Agatha Whitfield stands just inside the building to the left of the front desk where an older gentleman wearing a suit, tie, and security badge is seated with his eyes scanning a computer screen. Due to her name I had already made her out to be ten times my age and very much a Cruella De Vil in the flesh. To the contrary she is a petite young woman with long brunette hair cascading over her shoulders dressed in a simple knee-length navy blue dress and white heels. She holds before her a briefcase and when she sees me enter the establishment she takes in a sharp breath.
“I’m sorry,” she quickly apologizes and shortens the space between us thrusting her hand out to take mine and shake it firmly. “Evangelina Reynolds, I am Agatha Whitfield, your sister’s attorney. It’s a pleasure to finally meet you.”
“I do hate that it has to be under these circumstances but I promise you that I will do all that I can to make this as painless for you as possible,” she assures. “Your sister and I were very close, kind of like sisters as well, and she’s told me a lot about you. She’s written out quite an outline for you in her will.”
I blink slowly at the young woman standing before me. I’m unsure if it’s because of her revelation that she and my twin were so close that they considered one another to be sisters or because she has just stated that my sister at such a young age had already scribbled out a will. Agatha is staring at me, gauging my reaction, and takes in another sharp breath.
“I do sincerely apologize again. It’s so strange speaking to you, seeing you right now, when you and Andrea so vividly…”
“Identical,” I put a hand up to stop her before she begins. “Trust me, its only skin deep.” My words sound harsher than I intended them to be. “I apologize as well, Agatha, but all of this is a bit overwhelming. A few hours ago I was in my dorm room and now I’m here, where my sister lived, and I haven’t really spoken to her in forever.”
“She was sorry for that,” she places a hand on my shoulder and I do all that I can to not recoil from her touch. “If you’re ready, Evangelina, I can take you up to her condo. It really is a lovely place. The condominiums here are multi-storied so it’s really like having a small house in the sky.”
Perhaps Agatha is a real-estate agent too?
Wordlessly I follow behind her, still clutching my purse close to my body, as we make our way pass the aforementioned security guard toward the elevators. I watch as Agatha presses the pad of a manicured finger to a small gold button against the wall between two elevator doors. A gold panel flips down with a series of number keys which her fingers dance across. A green light beneath the keys flashes, the panel retracts, and a short bell chimes announcing that the elevators are descending to our level. Suddenly I feel like a civilian happening upon a secret government agency.
“This building has some of the most advanced security systems in place. Very ahead of the times,” Agatha offers an explanation to the questions in my mind. “A lot of very wealthy and powerful individuals reside here. They like to feel protected.”
“Did my sister need protection?” I blurt out before I can stop myself.
Agatha smiles clandestinely. “Andrea was a great girl, Evangelina, and very smart. I’ve never known anything that would indicate she’d have any enemies if that is what you are asking me? She was attached to a few names, however, and…” her words trailed off, “I’d much rather discuss those details with you in private.”
I look over my shoulder toward the security guard whom appears to be completely disconnected from us and our side conversation. It is but a moment later, however, that another body seems to wander into the pristine lobby. I am instantly thankful that I did not take the time out to remove my shades prior to this moment because I am staring.
An Adonis of a man dressed in a tailored navy blue suit and tie stalks in through the entrance of the building. As he walks he twirls a set of keys around the index finger of his right hand. The other hand is shoved into his pocket with the wrist adorned by a freakishly expensive timepiece and he speaks sternly to some nameless person through a bluetooth device plugged into his ear. His physique is enough to make one salivate, his clothing cannot and should not hide that, and a million steamy scenarios are running through my mind within seconds.
“Let Clive know that we will discuss it in detail tomorrow evening over dinner,” his voice is deep and very much masculine. When he speaks I notice that he tends to favor one side of his mouth as if he is whispering a secret to someone. It is oddly attractive. “Finalize the paperwork. We’ve done business together for a long time so he trusts us he just wants to ruffle feathers,” he pauses for a beat as the phantom on the other end of the line speaks and then with poignancy states, “Exactly. Let’s make this happen.”
I feel a light nudge to my side and quickly redirect my attention toward a now giggling Agatha. I suck my bottom lip into my mouth in embarrassment and she shakes her head before whispering a cosign to his attractiveness. It is a sudden camaraderie that is welcomed in the moment. He come to stand beside us, ending his call, and I do all I can to hide behind the frames of my sunglasses.
“Ladies,” he gestures toward the open mouth of the elevator as we hesitate on entering it a few moments later when it arrives on the ground floor.
“Thank you,” Agatha smiles warmly and nearly drags me inside. “Going up?” she turns back to him once we are inside.
“I can catch the next one up,” he smirks and throws a wink in my direction. I can feel the heat rising from my neck up into my cheeks. “Haven’t seen you in a while,” he adds.
And just like that it’s over.
My face falls and his brows furrow in confusion as to why my reaction is as such. Agatha turns to me but says nothing as the door slides between us in what feels like a slow and deliberate drag. I chill runs down my spine upon it’s closure.
“No one knows about Andrea. It was a specific wish of hers to inform no one but you of her passing.”
“Okay,” I mange to eek out a whisper as the pooling tears begin to tighten my throat before they have even fallen.
“Is there anything that I can say or do?”
I shake my head and swallow down the lump that has formed. I haven’t shed many tears since I first got word about Andrea’s passing. It wasn’t because I hadn’t felt it. I felt it instantly. It was because I wasn’t in a space where I could release what I was feeling. This elevator, with Agatha, was about to be as good as it gets.
“I may have some tissue in my purse,” she commented more to herself than to me as she opened her handbag and began to rummage through the contents within. “Its really a short ride up to Andrea’s condo.”
“I’ll be okay,” I take in a deep breath and decline the offer before she can locate her secret stash and begin to fan myself in order to cool off. “Overwhelming is still the word of the day.”
“I understand,” she assures, “but brace yourself. Andrea has a whole list of surprises in store for you. She wanted you to play a game…”