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Ivy struggles with feeling out of control of her life. After her sister goes missing, she’s left with more questions then answers. When another person is killed, Ivy begins to investigate the murders. But the reality is – circumstances can change perception and lead a good person to do bad things.

Chapter Chapter One

Dr. Robeline

The room was hot and potent with the smell of eucalyptus. It drove me insane; all I could think of was the itchy feeling of a cold on my palate. Although the scent cleared my sinuses, I found myself gagging on the dry air. I crossed my legs and waited in forced patience. I tried to ignore the clicking of the vents and focus on the mute hum of the room. Nothing was better then silence.

Talking was endless in this place and it was beginning to get on my nerves. All I really needed was to reflect on myself. I didn’t need to maul over my problems and discuss what had happened. Talking was a problem inside itself for me. I always found the wrong things to say, it was like a curse. Most of the time I didn’t mean the brutality of my words but it came off weird. I had problems with communication.

Besides that fact, I couldn’t even begin to piece together what was going on in my mind, it was a struggle to understand all that had happened in such a short span of time. It all seemed to be too much.

Shuffling my feet, I stared at my black fabric flats. I had them for too long, the sole was beginning to come off. My left foot picked at the exposed sole, flipping it back and fourth, back and fourth, back and fourth. Tick-tock-tick-tock.

Suddenly the door swung open behind me and someone strode in. Pressing my back into the chair I sighed, nerves catching fire all over my body. Although I was anticipating this moment and I really felt like I was ready for this, the sound of the door slamming behind the person who had just strolled in made me jump from my seat.

Trying to gather myself, I glanced out the window and wished I were anywhere but in that cramped room suffocating with anxiety. It was mid fall. I hoped winter would come earlier this year. There were too many ties with summer; too many memories.

It would be nice to try to forget everything that had happened. Season changing always had some magic for me; a new beginning. Except in this case that wasn’t an option. I had to deal with my demons. It was time to face my problems and even though I knew that, I wished I could shrivel up to the size of a molecule and float out of the screen of the half opened window.

Tearing my gaze from the orange, red and yellow trees outside, I glanced at the dark haired women across from me. She was shuffling objects out of a bag. Number 1, a notebook, Number 2, a blue pen, Number 3, sugar, which she promptly added to her coffee that was sitting to her right. The aroma of black coffee travelled to my nose and I drank it in. I would have killed for a strong coffee.

“Hi, I’m Doctor Robeline,” the women extended her long, thin hand out to me and smiled, revealing yellowing teeth in the corners of her mouth. Gross. She looked about 40. Her dark hair was tied back neatly in a ponytail. Very professional. Her eyes were too close together and beady. However her skin was clear. She might have been attractive at one point in her life but it looked like she had too many sleepless nights and drank too much coffee because of a caffeine addiction. But who was I to judge.

“I’m Ivy,” I mustered, shifting my gaze away from her. It was too much too feel Robeline’s eyes on me, studying me. Looking over my appearance. It made me uncomfortable. It was the type of uncomfortable that made it easy to forget how to speak English or walk straight without tripping. I hated when I was scrutinized.

Even though I convinced myself I didn’t care about what people thought of me, it still scared me that this woman that I didn’t know just might hate me or dissect me in the same way I did to her. But then again, I knew that that thought wouldn’t serve me anything. She was my doctor, she was supposed to help and I wasn’t supposed to feel judged by someone I would unload all my thoughts and feelings onto. Rationality always came afterwards. That was arguably part of my problem but then again, I wasn’t in any place to diagnose myself; hence the doctor that was peering across the table at me with curiosity.

“Well Ivy, do you want to tell me a few things about yourself to get us started?” Robeline asked raising her light brown pencil thin eyebrows.

What a hypothetical question? Of course I didn’t. I didn’t even want to be there. Holding eye contact, I stared at Robeline with a blank expression. I wasn’t in the mood to dive into a deep discussion about myself. Clearly.

I was lost. There wasn’t much I would say about myself anyway. I would have rather got right to the subject. It was all I could think about, all I could dream about. Although my story was messed up beyond belief I knew I had to get it out. It was time to sort it out anyway. After all, she was there to help me. If anyone could that is.

Running my tongue over my canine tooth, I cringed at the startling silence that grew over the room, multiplying by the second.

After shifting in her seat Robeline took a deep breath and dove in to uncomfortable conversation. “The whole idea of telling each other a little about ourselves is to get warmed up and then we can start talking about what happened. I don’t expect you to unload it all on me right away, but I do expect some progress so we can keep the process moving smooth,” she paused to sip her coffee, not breaking eye contact and freaking me out with her intensity. “Is that alright?”

I leaned back into my chair. It was probably too rude to just tell her to get on with it. And I was working on my patience so that wasn’t an option.

Robeline stared at me for a moment before shifting her eye contact in sudden decision. “Okay I’ll begin,” Robeline declared. She bared a wide smile as if compensating for starting off on an awkward note. It was too enthusiastic. “I love to paint and camp with my family but my real love is helping people. I was born in Ohio but moved around a lot as a kid. I didn’t have much of a social life when I was young. I met my husband in college and we decided to move out here to Golden and settle down and have a family. We wanted the serenity and quietness of a small town. And then I found this job and I’ve been here ever since.” She smiled delicately as if she had given me her whole life story in a jumbled, thoughtless mess and now it was my turn.

I wanted to laugh in her face. Met her husband in college, has a passion for painting and helping people. I mean, common. This was so cliché and sharing such ‘in depth’ information about ourselves seemed completely unnecessary. Nor did this make me trust her any more. The only thing that made me even want to talk to this women was the PHD hanging on the wall behind her head. But of course it was too ‘abrupt’ to just say that.

Stiffening my jaw, I stared at her. “I’m not going to participate in mindless small talk,” I stated. “I came here to talk about what happened,” I paused, “And even that is too long of a story.”

“We have time,” Robeline assured me. Her lips bended into a tense smile; her attempt at kindness not touching her dark, beady eyes. I could tell she was irritated by my response and she was a bad actor. I wondered how many clients she had and how many times she pretended to care about her hundreds of patients. How exhausting it would be to try to be nice over and over and over. Even then, I couldn’t help but be angered by her fake response. It made me want to punch her in her yellowing teeth.

“I’m aware,” I growled, scowling. My thumb found it’s way to my mouth and subconsciously, my teeth ripped at the edge of the nail that was already bitten down to a stub. Pain stung through my nail and I regretted letting my nerves take over.

“Well,” Robeline sighed, “If you don’t want to introduce yourself, I guess we can get right to it,” her eyes gripped mine, “Tell me about Alana.”

Although I knew it was coming, goose bumps rolled from my neck down to my wrists.

Chewing the inside of my lip, I leaned forward and tried to shrug off every part of me that was telling me to turn around and leave. Ignoring the butterflies whirling and crashing in my stomach, I started to explain the problems I had before hand. Before everything went to absolute hell.

There was something about Alana’s dashing, white smile. I couldn’t even begin to explain the feeling that it gave me. It made me feel like I was worth something. And since I had little to no self-esteem it really gave me a sense of purpose when I made her happy, although it rarely happened. I was never the one who made her happy. I enraged her more than anything.

Alana was my older sister. She was gorgeous to say the least. If anything that was an understatement. She was pretty much the definition of perfect, if a person could define it. She had the most stunning clothes and odd personality. Everyone seemed to be intrigued by her. She had long blond hair that fell to her waist and beautiful light blue eyes that would light up when she spoke out of excitement. Her eyes revealed so much about her. You could tell if she was lying or laughing or faking a smile.

She carried a bizarre energy; it was so alive. She had a hearty laugh and an incredible sense of shamelessness; she was who she was and she held a sense of dignity for being different. I guess that is what we all want – to be something special. But for her it just came so easy. I couldn’t help but question why she was who she was and why I was so different. But that’s another story.

We lived in Golden. Alana had her hobbies. She was big into snowboarding and dreamed of being in the Olympics; she had ambition to say the least. We lived with our grandparents because our parents had died in a car crash when we were just 8 and 10. We lived a life of normality, despite the fact that half of our family was crushed in an accident. I tried not to let it bother me that I didn’t even seem to remember my parents. Alana remembered them better.

Alana was getting ready to go to University and I was fresh out of high school. My name is Ivy. I was always the shadow of my sister’s perfection. I was merely the opposite of her; I was gawky and awkward with mousy brown hair that spiralled in tight curls and fell to my shoulders. My eyes – brown. I wore bland awkward clothes that made me look awful and I had absolutely no sense of style whatsoever.

I was never popular. I was the kid in the library every lunch or break in our old high school. Antisocial, and an outcast, I buried myself into books and homework. When I left high school I left all my “friends” behind as well. Turned out the only thing we had in common was high school, that and the fact that we didn’t have any friends. I was “weird.” Most people wondered how Alana and I were even related. So did I.

Even though I thought I was secure with myself and that Alana was just something that I could never be, I always wished I was her. Even though she wound a large circle of lies that seemed impossible to keep up with, it would have been easier to switch places with her. She was a somebody. She had it together. She had dreams and ambitions and hobbies, and to top it off she was going to school to be a doctor – that was if the Olympics didn’t work out for her. Alana was so full of determination and I was… Stuck in life. My grades were decent but I didn’t have the slightest clue what I wanted to do with my life – there was no drive for anything.

But of course Alana made up for what I didn’t have. She had everything in her life planned out to a T; at least it looked that way. She had a perfect boyfriend who she didn’t hestitate to take advantage of. She had any guy she wanted and I couldn’t even get a guy to glance in my direction and pretend I was female.

Alana’s boyfriend Matt seemed to love her with no end. I envied her because of how much he did just to linger in her presence. He was the perfect boyfriend, starting off with his stunning looks; he had a darker shade of blond hair, and blue eyes. He had a smile that held so much goofiness and even looking at him made me smile. He knew Alana had a light in her and he was just as attracted to it. So much so he wanted to have her forever. I would die for that type of love. But that just doesn’t happen for people like me. I wasn’t perfect. I didn’t have a light in me.

Alana held life at her fingertips, she even radiated with it. But of course she had to ruin that because she didn’t seem to notice how fortunate she was. And here begs the question; why do the lucky ones always mess up their lives? Maybe it was boredom but for whatever reason, Alana didn’t seem to care how lucky she was to have someone like Matt. She started sleeping with Keith. I should have seen it coming really. Light does attract moths.

Keith was much the opposite of Matt. He had long dark hair that hung like a greasy, lifeless mop at the top of his head. His hobby was guitar. But I was convinced it was some sort of a front, it usually was with him. My guess was that he only played to ‘get chicks’, because he was that type of guy. He was the opposite of Alana with no drive for a future. And on that note, I suppose we had one thing in common. Our only difference was the fact that he just didn’t care. And I did. A lot.

The upside to Keith was that he was funny; but he possessed only the type of humor that got annoying and crude after awhile. He was the type of guy to wear dirty clothes 4 times in a row, going purely off the scent lingering in the fabric. I didn’t see what Alana saw in him. I thought that maybe she just wanted to stir something up with Matt. But with Keith… there was a reason to be shocked. He was Matt’s lazy, going nowhere in life best friend.

The only thing Keith had going for him was his girlfriend Tanya, who was a bitch. But of course she was pretty and popular and outgoing, which was more than I could say for myself. Naturally, she was stunning. She had dark features – black hair that was long and thick like a curtain, and chocolate brown eyes, with olive skin. Gorgeous; which may have explained the tension her and Alana had; that and the fact that Alana was sleeping with her boyfriend. Even though I didn’t know Tanya personally, I didn’t like her because my sister didn’t. That was reason enough for me.

Alana didn’t like a lot of people and in turn, a lot of people didn’t like her. She had her enemies. She was very likable when she was being fake, which she almost always was. It was odd because her best friend was modest and very much the opposite.

Her best friend’s name was Angela. Angela had strawberry blond hair cut around the shoulders and paper white skin. She was not the tanning type. If anything she was the one you would gladly hand your sunblock to at the beach because her skin tone was blinding you with its very own brand of fluorescent light. Angela was a sweetheart and didn’t buy into the drama of my sister and Tanya. I was surprised that they were friends.

It seemed like everyone had something figured out for themselves. Everyone had a life or was at least happy. Except for me. I didn’t know what I was going to do with my life. At first I thought it was just high school or maybe a sense of direction would form in one way or another after I left that bland and awful place. But sadly, nothing happened for me afterwards. I was stuck in a small town with no sense of direction and no idea how to get out. Talk about feeling trapped.

One day in the small town of Golden, where nothing ever seemed to happen, Alana went missing, leaving far too many questions then answers. She had gone to a party and didn’t come home.

At first I was confused at her disappearance, as everyone was. But over time I started to piece together what happened. This is my story.

Finishing my shower, I squinted at myself in the mirror. My brown eyes seemed lifeless from lack of sleep. Dark bags hung under my dull eyes, exaggerating my exhaustion. Grimacing, I leaned forward over the sink, gulping small mouthful’s of air. It was the only thing keeping me from vomiting all over the sink.

The beginning of a hangover was always the worst. Holding my breath I started to heave. Gas pushed up my throat and I knew that was only a warning. Throwing the toilet seat open I dry heaved into it. Finally, I vomited acid-like liquid up and into the toilet. It was a stingy yellow. Spitting in disgust I stood up again only to get a hot flash that radiated cold through my face and into my entire body.

Groaning, I scooped up my dirty clothes and whatever I had left of my dignity and left the washroom. The television was on, I could hear the droning of the news but it hung bland in the air. Disinterested, I went straight to my room.

Throwing open the door I threw my clothes carefully into the hamper. Closing my door, I started to the blinds, shutting out every ounce of light that was pouring into my room. Today was a day I didn’t want to be alive. I could hardly deal with moving at that moment. All I could manage was to crawl into my bed. I had to try hard not to move because I knew if I moved too much it would only result in having to return to the porcelain god and give him my sacrifice. I felt like death was impending.

Curling into a ball under my covers forced myself into a restless sleep with too much tossing and turning.

Eventually, my door was thrown open. It rattled on it’s hinges and snapped against the wall.

Grunting, I squinted at the light that shone from the light above my head. A boob light. It was such a ridiculous design and it was the only thought I could muster in my dozing state.

“Ivy, where is Alana?” Gran asked, her voice shrill. “There’s been a fire in the woods, and your sister has yet to come home.”

My blood ran cold at that instant, tense, I sat up. With a foggy mind I squinted at Gran who stood at the foot of my bed now, her forehead knitted in concern. Her voice had exploded through my mind before I could put together what she had meant.

Rubbing my face to awaken myself I shot a look at her that expressed my pure annoyance at her bursting through my door, “I wouldn’t be too worried, Gran. You know Alana, she was out partying last night she’s probably just having a rough morning, I’m sure we will see her later,” I muttered. “Where was the fire exactly?”

“The woods near our house was set alight early this morning. The cops figure it was a bunch of kids playing some sort of a prank. The firefighters were here a couple hours ago fighting the fire. They don’t know where it started but it was right near us. A lot was destroyed in the fire. The police are still investigating,” Gran shook her head. “Can’t imagine kids and how they have fun these days. Why don’t they just throw a ball around or talk with their peers, but instead they set fires and steal.”

Nodding, I started to swing my legs over my bed. “I know Gran, it’s definitely unexplainable,” I looked down at my feet, questioning whether it was time to get up or not.

“You look awfully tired,” Gran noted, “Didn’t sleep well?”

“I went out last night,” I stated, my tone more assertive then I intended.

“Oh?” Gran asked her brow furrowed in concern. “Be careful with that, you know how your sister can get a little wild. I would hate for you to start going out partying every weekend.”

“Gran…” I growled in a warning tone. I hated when she tried to tell me what to do. It wasn’t like I was in high school anymore. Alana was always allowed to do what she wanted. But that was also because Alana often fought over her freedom and what she considered fair. It didn’t usually match what Gran and grandpa thought was fair.

Even though I hardly went out I did want the same freedom that my sister had and I almost took offense to it when I wasn’t given the same right as Alana. Just because she was popular – and yes, she went out more but I was still in the same position as Alana regardless of the fact that I didn’t make plans. It was harder to argue that fact to my grandparents, surprisingly. Alana was better at manipulating people to get what she wanted.

Gran threw up her hands in defense “Right, not my place.” She held her mouth in a tight line, biting her lips together. “I just think it’s unproductive, that’s all.”

“Gran,” I said louder, gritting my teeth.

“Okay, okay. I’m done.” She turned to leave but managed to grab a glass of water that was on my dresser on her way out. I failed to bring my dishes back into the kitchen, that was common knowledge. I was grateful her nagging stopped there. Today wasn’t a day for anything productive, not even conversation.

After a deep breath I gathered the strength to walk out of my room and into the hallway. Alana’s bedroom door was wide open. Noting this, I peaked in. It was a mess, as always. Rolling my eyes I walked into the living room. Grandpa was sitting in his chair. He didn’t break eyes with the TV to notice my presence.

After a moment of silence he grunted, “Do you know where your sister is? Your grandmother and I are worried sick.” Of course my presence was hardly worth a hello.

Shrugging, I walked into the kitchen. It was all about Alana. If I were to go missing nobody would notice for at least a day. “She’s probably fine, I bet she’s with friends or something. Or maybe she passed out cold at the party.”

“Well which one is it?” Grandpa asked, his eyes still trained on the television set.
Staring at him in stunned silence, I snapped, “Could be either or all.”

Grandpa made eye contact with me, sensing the hostility in my voice and then he smiled. “Just kidding.”

Forcing a smile that looked more like a wince, I started to pour a bowl of cereal. It was getting harder to live with my grandparents. I felt like I needed more freedom then I was allotted. But in order for that to happen I had to either get a job or figure out what I wanted to do with my life and both options seemed dreadful and challenging to me.

Sitting down at the table I dug into the rice krispies that I had poured. The only way I would eat them was if they were layered with sugar. The gritty sugar tasted good after a night of drinking, but swallow after swallow I wondered if I would only end up throwing it back up again. Why I even tried with eating, I really don’t know. Maybe to make it seem like I wasn’t drinking as much as I did the night before. Gran was one to take notice to that kind of stuff. I wasn’t in the mood to be questioned about last night.

Staring out the window into the woods, I noticed the police were still on site. Most of the officers were staring into the trees as if looking for something they couldn’t quite find. Shocked, I squinted through the glass at the ash covering the ground. The wind was blowing, causing the ash to bound into the air. Drinking in the sight, I noticed Gran on the back porch lurking towards the trees as I was. She was holding the home phone in her hand. Defeated, she turned and started back in. “It’s not like her to not answer her phone,” Gran stated, looking down at the phone.

“She’ll be home later I’m sure.” I shrugged, at a loss of words.

“It’s odd,” Gran corrected me. “And with this fire…”

“She will be home later,” I repeated more to myself than to anyone.

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Dallas Sproule

Strathmore, Canada

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