I rested my head in my hands, staring at the butcher knife in front of me. I hesitantly reached towards it, letting my fingers brush over the handle, and quickly recoiling at the contact. My hand shook slightly as I cradled it in my lap. I dropped my head and noticed blood stains on my carpet. The events of last night came screaming back into my head, flashes of memories threatening to choke me and drag me back. I fought to remain calm as I remembered. Going to a club. Hugging my sister. Her hands shaking. A hand grabbing her wrist. Me pulling her into my arms. Him pulling her away. Her running as I swung. Me carrying him to my house. Him, tied up in the attic. A knife, ready to strike. My hand bringing it down. I shook my head to clear my thoughts and snap back to reality. I glanced up at the ceiling, where I knew that man was laying, still, and no longer breathing. I heard a knock on the door and tensed, quickly throwing a towel over the blood before answering the knock. I opened the door to reveal her. She smiled at the sight of me and threw her arms around my neck. I stumbled back slightly and tentatively wrapped my arms around her back. “Hi?” She pulled back and looked into my eyes.
“Alex! Sis, it’s so good to see you!” I grinned.
“Likewise. I haven’t seen you since I moved out a couple years back.” I met her gaze and quickly realized how sad she was. “Ella… Are you okay?”
“Not exactly. The same way this isn’t exactly a social call. I was wondering if you’d seen my boyfriend around anywhere.” I tensed, and she rested a comforting hand on my shoulder. “I know you don’t like him, but he didn’t come home last night, and his mom is worried. You were the last one with him, so I was wondering if you’d seen him or have any idea of where he went.” My mind wandered to the man dead upstairs and I rapidly shook my head.
“No, I’ve got no idea. After last night, he ran off and I haven’t seen him since. I’m sorry, but I hope you find him.” She sighed.
“I didn’t think so. Oh well. I’ll go ask some friends of his to make sure he didn’t crash at their place.” Ella turned to walk off, but I called after her.
“Wait!” She looked back at me. “Let me drive you. I don’t exactly trust his friends.” Ella grinned and tossed me the keys.
“Be my guest.”
* * * * *
A couple hours later, we were at the last house with no results. Despite the person Ella’s boyfriend was, I could see that she badly wanted to find him. I knocked on the door and waited. I noticed Ella’s upset expression and slipped my hand into hers, hoping it would help slightly. The smile that came to her face verified that it had, so I kept my hand there. The door opened to reveal a tall guy in a muscle shirt and ripped jeans: Justin, a friend of Ella’s brother. He looked down at me and Ella, smirking. “Hey Ella.” He nodded at me, but kept his eyes on Ella. “Alexis.” I huffed.
“It’s Alex. You know that.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever, Alexis. Come on in, Ella.” He stepped aside and Ella led me in. I looked around and had to stop myself from grimacing. Empty beer cans littered the floor alongside dirty clothes and ashtrays filled with used cigarettes. I squeezed Ella’s hand softly, praying that we could leave soon. Justin came up behind us. “So, ladies, what do you think? Care to stick around for some fun later, Ella?” I balled up my free hand and whirled around to face Justin.
“Listen here, buddy. If you think for one second that you can-” Ella cut me off and tugged my hand, pulling me behind her.
“What she means is have you seen Brandon at all? He didn’t come home last night and we’re all worried about him.” Justin smirked.
“I don’t know why he’d leave. If I shared a house with you, I’d never leave.” He stepped close to Ella, and I moved between them.
“Anyway,” I said pointedly. “Have you seen Brandon? We don’t know where he is, did he crash with you last night?” Justin’s smirk vanished, replaced by a scowl.
“No, I haven’t seen him. Maybe you should try searching your own place. I know how much you hate him.” My blood ran cold. I gripped Ella’s hand tighter and spun on my heel.
“We’re leaving. Now.” I stormed off and got in the car, slamming the door behind me. I sat, steaming, before putting the car in gear and starting to drive, Ella remaining silent until we returned to my house. As I went to get out, she put her hand on my arm.
“Hey, sis, is everything alright? You seem on edge.” I sighed, unable to meet my sister’s eyes.
“It’s just… what Justin said… it didn’t feel great.”
“I’m sorry. He’s kind of… Insensitive to people’s feelings.” I nodded and got out of the car, tossing the keys back to Ella as we walked up to my door. I unlocked the door and hugged her goodbye, stepping inside my house. As I turned to close the door, I noticed she was still standing on my doorstep. I sighed and opened my door fully.
“Ella, what’s wrong? I can tell that something is off.” She hesitated, seeming either unsure or unwilling to answer me. I gently took her hands in mine. “Whatever it is, you can trust me. I’m your sister.”
“It’s just… I can’t stop thinking about what Justin said.”
“About sharing a house.” She shook her head.
“No, about you hating him and searching your house.” I felt all the color leave my face as a bolt of panic shot through me.
“Searching my house? Ella, it’s no secret that I don’t like your boyfriend, but you love him and I’m still your sister. It’s not like I’d harm him.” I slowly began to recoil, silently praying that my sister would leave after that statement.
“Alex, trust me, I know.” She grabbed my hands almost desperately. “But still. It’s not that I don’t trust you, because I do, with every fiber of my being. It would just really make me feel better to see that there’s nothing there for myself. Please? I promise, it isn’t because I distrust you, but because I’m worried and stressed. It would help to see for sure that Justin was wrong.” Slowly, I nodded, still unwilling to agree, but not wanting to look guilty either. Ella smiled and walked into my house. I contemplated following her, but ultimately decided against it, realizing how suspicious that would seem. As she headed into the kitchen, I shoved the couch over the bloodstains and sank down on it, awaiting my sister’s return.
* * * * *
After what seemed like forever, Ella padded back into the living room and took a seat next to me, wearing a blank expression that caused fear to creep into my heart. “Ella? Did you find what you were looking for?” She nodded, refusing to meet my eyes.
“I did. Thank you. I’m glad I at least checked.” I let out a breath I didn’t know I’d been holding. She didn’t seem upset, meaning she most likely hadn’t seen anything, so I was safe.
“I’m glad. I’ll walk you out.” I stood, but Ella remained seated on the couch. “Ella?” I gently touched her shoulder, causing her to flinch away from my touch. I crouched, leaning down further in order to meet my sister’s eyes. “Ella, hey. What’s wrong? I can tell something’s up. What it is?” Her eyes flitted to mine before darting away again. A faint whining reached my ears, and I shook my head, trying to clear it. “Ella, sis, what is it? Tell me. You can trust me. I’m your sister.” The whining began increasing in volume, forcing my attention to the noise rather than my sister. I shook my head once more, but the whine persisted, becoming almost like a scream in my head. I turned away from Ella, desperate for it to stop. “Do you hear that too?” She remained silent as the noise grew in volume. As it got louder, I realized what it was. A siren. And it wasn’t getting louder, it was getting closer. I felt my heart rate speed up as I tried to remind myself that there’s no way they could know; the only person who could was Ella. I slowly turned back to face her. “Who do you think that’s for?” I halfheartedly joked. Her eyes raised to meet mine for the first time since she left to look around, and I noticed they were red. I stepped closer. “Ella? Have you been crying?”
“You,” she said, so quietly, I nearly missed it. I blinked in confusion, unsure of what she meant.
“The sirens. It’s the police. And they’re for you.” My breath caught in my throat as I choked on my words slightly before regaining my composure.
“For me? What… What do you mean?” Ella took a deep breath and stood, her eyes locked on mine.
“Alex, I saw. I saw the body.” I quickly stepped towards my sister, words falling out of my mouth.
“Ella, please, I can explain, it’s not what you think, I swear, just please-” She cut me off with a wave of her hand.
“No, No explaining. You killed a man. You killed my boyfriend. I trusted you. You’re my sister, for goodness sake! You’re supposed to have my back and at least try to get along with the people I care about. But you killed the person I loved in cold blood!” I reached for Ella, hearing the sirens getting closer.
“He treated you like his personal toy, he didn’t respect you or even care for you! I was just protecting you… I love you.” Ella backed away, shaking her head.
“This isn’t love. This is sick. You don’t murder someone just because of their actions that you see once! That’s not ok in any way, shape, or form.” I sank to my knees as the door burst open, the police flooding in and surrounding me. They yanked me to my feet roughly. My hands were cuffed behind my back as another officer read me my rights. His voice faded into the background as I stared at my sister, who was unable to meet my eyes. I let my head drop to my feet as I was led into a squad car. I kept my eyes on Ella, even as the car pulled away from the curb, leaving my house in the mirror.
* * * * *
I walked into the glass room and over to my cubicle. Ella was sitting on the other side of the glass divider, a phone in her hand. I sighed and took a seat, picking up the phone on my side. “Hello?”
“Alex.” Ella’s voice was just as clear as it had been the day I went to prison.
“Ella. Why are you here? Surely you know what day it is?” She nodded, tears glistening on her eyelashes. I rolled my eyes. “Why are you crying? You’re the one who caused all this. After all, it was you who called the police on me ten years ago. So what do you want?”
“I wanted to say goodbye. And I did what I had to do! I couldn’t just let a killer go free, even if she is my own sister.” I slammed my fist on the table, drawing the attention of a nearby guard.
“Goodbye? Goodbye?! You get me the death penalty for trying to save you and you came here to say goodbye? No. You don’t get that right anymore. Leave. You got to see your precious sister one last time, now go.” Ella sighed and stood, crying silently.
“I did what was necessary.” I stood as well and scoffed.
“Yeah. Me too.” I dropped the phone, sending it clattering to the floor. Ella pressed her hands to the glass, shouting at me to come back, even as I turned and walked back to my guard. He eyed me apprehensively.
“You ready?” I nodded. He grabbed my upper arm and led me into a room with a chair covered in straps and metal. I sat down and let him strap me down. I kept my eyes straight ahead as the machine was hooked up. “3… 2… 1…” I let my mind drift to the last time I was happy, the day before the murder, when I spent the whole day carefree with Ella. The guard flipped the switch as a smile crept onto my face and the world faded into darkness.