August 28, 2014

Elizabeth's Story

by Jessica Knoll

Biz and I had been chilly to each other ever since that night I busted her swapping spit with Pat Denson. I missed her, but I didn't know how to tell her I missed her, or that I was sorry, or even what I was sorry for, really. I think Biz felt the same. She made sad doe eyes at me every time we passed each other on the stairs, but we were two hard-headed bitches. Neither of us wanted to cave in and make nice first.

I started spending a lot of time with Isabel. Ugh, Isabel. I know. But when Isabel wasn't grinding her jaw like a lunatic, or knocking on your door at 4AM asking if you had any coke and if you did she would like, totally pay you back for it later (there was never a later), she was actually pretty decent company. There was something unfiltered about her that I found alien but entertaining. Isabel was raised in a small lakeside town in upstate New York, not far from where Smithson was located. It was maybe the toniest zip code within a two hundred mile radius (not a tough title to nab in this area), and there was no doubt in my mind that Isabel was the prettiest, most popular girl at her high school and that her family was the most well-off in town. Isabel had come to Smithson so sure she was going to rule the roost, and was gobsmacked to discover the truth: that she was nothing but a big fish in a small pond.

Isabel was a quick learner though. She adopted the prep-school hippie boarding school style of dress that was so popular here (and which I despised), ditched the hooky "Dontcha Know, Bobby?" dialect, and sucked up to the girls who actually did rule the roost. Like I said, she got close to being on the Turq House lease, but ultimately, what landed her in Grey House, the architectural equivalent of Gretchen Wieners, was the thing I actually liked most about her: her big fat mouth.

Isabel just said whatever came to her mind first, without turning her words over and examining them from every angle before deciding that maybe there was a better way to put it. What must it be like to have been raised to not police your every thought? To not have every word that came out of your mouth be calculated, painstakingly crafted to please or pain or piss off? There was a freedom about Isabel that I admired. That I envied. My friendship with Isabel would go on to annoy Biz for years to come. "She's just so obviously looking for a meal ticket," Biz complained, years later, when Isabel latched on to one of Peter's best friends.

I'd given her a look. "And you aren't?" Biz pursed her lips, her refusal to comment more revealing than if she'd just outright admitted it.

But my fight with Biz wasn't the only reason I was spending more time with Isabel. No, I needed a sidekick for what I wanted to do—someone to keep me grounded, to keep me from doing something I would regret, but someone who also wouldn't judge me for toeing the line. Biz would kill me if she found out I was willfully cavorting with the enemy.

Monday night, I called Isabel. "Want to go out?"

Isabel yawned. "Brick house is having a party, right?"

I coiled my finger in the phone's cord. God, I can't believe I'm so old that we used landlines when I was in college. "I don't want to go to that."

A pause. "Where do you want to go?"

"Ronnie's," I said quickly, before I lost my nerve.

"The townie bar?" Isabel gasped. I could imagine her with her heart on her chest, all aghast, when really, her socioeconomic status was closer to that of vodka-from-a-plastic-jug swigging local than that of the average Smithson student.

"I've got an eight ball," I said, peering inside my purse to make sure the baggie, packed tight with white pixie dust, was where I'd left it. I'd purchased it especially for this occasion, knowing I would need bait to lure her to Campbell's watering hole. I could have just gone alone, sure, but I didn't trust myself to be alone with Campbell. I don't know what happened to me when I was around him, but I just couldn't keep my stupid mouth shut. First, I'd gotten all defensive when he'd brought up the The Seneca Sorority Sisters ("It wasn't murder. It was an accident." Could I have been any more obviously defensive?), and then I told him about my brother. If I had been smart, I would have stayed away from him all together. But I couldn't, anymore than the ocean could ignore the moon, tugging on its shore line every night.

"Let me just change," Isabel said. "What to meet me here?"

The idea of walking into Grey House made my stomach boil. "Wait in the driveway," I told her.


- - -

It was a long shot that I'd see Campbell. But sure enough, there he was, holding court by the pool table. He looked up as Isabel and I walked in (then again, so did everyone else), before lazily flicking his eyes back to the red billiard ball, knocking it into the far left pocket with a startling clap.

Isabel glanced at him over her shoulder as she took a seat at the bar. "Isn't that one of the detectives working on Bridget's case?"

I followed her eye line like I was noticing him for the first time. "I think so," I said.

"Vodka soda," Isabel said to the bartender, holding up two fingers to indicate how many. He rolled his eyes as he turned away to make our drinks.

"It is," Isabel confirmed her own question. "He interviewed me. He's so hot."

I shrugged, refusing to commit. "He's really pale."

Isabel's drink landed in front of her and she took a sip. "His body, though." She risked a glance over her shoulder. "Oh my God," she hissed. "He's coming over here!"

Campbell appeared at my side and I tried to rearrange my features into a flat, nonchalant expression. "The Holiday closed or something?" he asked, not exactly friendly.

The Holiday is the bar favored by Smithson students. I spoke up before Isabel could say something asinine like, "Elizabeth was dead set on coming here for some weird reason!" "We just needed a breather from everyone," I said.

"It's a tough life you girls lead," Campbell said, signaling the bartender for another round. He glanced down at us, and I suddenly felt very small. I don't ever feel small. "While you're here," he rummaged around in his back pocket and extracted a crumpled up piece of paper. He unfolded it and held it in front of our faces. "We're asking around. Have you ever seen this man before?"

The guy staring back at us was middle-aged, with greying dark hair and a mean smirk. He was attractive, in an I-have-a-closet-full-of-human-skin-coats, kind of way. I wanted to ask Campbell why he wanted to know if we'd ever seen him before deciding on what my answer would be, but of course, Isabel ran her mouth first. "Never," she declared.

I would have glared at her if Campbell wasn't staring at me, expectedly. "I actually think I might have," I said, slowly, as though trying to remember even though there was nothing to remember. I'd never seen that man before in my life. "Do you think he has something to do with Bridget disappearing?"

Campbell folded the weathered photocopy of the picture and tucked it into his back pocket again. "You know I'm not at liberty to say."

"Is he a bad guy or something?" Isabel asked, her voice pitched with concern.

Campbell furrowed his brow and didn't answer. "Would you two say Bridget was happy?"

Isabel blinked at me, then Campbell, confused. "Happy how?"

"In general," Campbell said, "with her friends, her family, her life on campus. Did she seem happy?"

I was liking where this line of questioning was going. It suggested they thought Bridget had either done something to herself or maybe even run off. "I wouldn't describe Bridget as happy," I said. I frowned into my drink and thought about it some more. "No. I really wouldn't." I knew not even Isabel could disagree with me on that one. There had always been something dark and tortured about Bridget Mason.

"She was under a lot of pressure," Isabel said, defensively. She had been tight with Bridget.

Campbell raised an eyebrow, interested. "Meaning?"

"You know," Isabel shrugged, "with her family. Her mom, especially. It was on her to be the perfect daughter. I'm sure you can imagine."

Campbell nodded, seeming to understand what that meant. I felt like I was watching two people converse in a language I didn't speak. "Wait," I said to Isabel, "imagine what?"

Isabel stared at the floor, and one corner of her mouth twitched. "I shouldn't have said anything."

What did that mean? An unease settled over me. "Said anything about what? What is going on?" I looked to Campbell for some sort of elaboration.

"I'm assuming you are talking about Abby," Campbell said to Isabel, essentially ignoring me.

My hands went stiff around my drink. I only knew one Abby. "Abby who?" I asked, with quiet severity. The way I always sound whenever this subject comes up.

"Bridget's sister," Isabel said, and it came out like more of a question than a statement. "Bridget's sister?" Like she was scared. Like she was betraying Bridget. She's not alive, I almost snapped, you don't have to be afraid of pissing her off.

But hearing that the Abby they were talking about was Bridget's sister calmed me down a bit. Abby Mason wasn't the name of the girl who made my blood run cold.

"Half-sister, isn't it?" Campbell said, in an off-handed way. "They have different last names, I thought."

"Yeah," Isabel said with a nod of her head, this extra detail causing everything in me to seize up again. Because I knew what she going to say next. I just knew it. "Ellison," Isabel added. "She came out of Mrs. Mason's first marriage."

And then I knew something else: why Bridget had done it. I couldn't even say I blamed her.




    

30 comments:

  1. Hate that we have to wait a week to find out; this has been the best cliffhanger yet

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    Replies
    1. Nooo noo, they are ALL like this!!! Amazing writing, please make this into a book!

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  2. These cliff hangers are killing me!
    -Nicole

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  3. Why Bridget had done what? can someone please explain to me?

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    Replies
    1. Chris - @nylonlover69 on TwitterAugust 28, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      Why Bridget drugged and kidnapped Elizabeth, and half shaved her hair.

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    2. Ok Thanks! Thought it might be something else

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  4. Loving it!!

    I've been writing a blog about my real life.. Which at this point involves me secretly dating my boss! Take a peek!!
    http://thepinotdiaries.wordpress.com

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    Replies
    1. Wow. Do not read the Pinot Diaries, anyone. Good content but terrible writing. Choked with run-on sentences.

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    2. i think it's rude to use Jessica's blog to plug your own.

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  5. GAH! What a cliffhanger! I'm soo looking forward to reading this next Thursday.
    This blog is amazing!

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  6. OMG I can't wait to hear more!!!!!

    sheerluckandpixiedust.blogspot.com

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  7. Need to know about Abby and CANNOT wait to see what goes down with Elizabeth and Campbell. Great as usual!

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  8. Replies
    1. Agreed!! It's like only reading a chapter of a book at one time. I binge read books not causally read them.

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  9. *So* intrigued by Campbell! Can't wait to get the scoop on Abby. Can't remember if Elizabeth's dad was married before her mom or not, and if he has any other kids from said marriage?...a really unfortunate connection would be for E. to be related to both Abby and Bridget through a 1/2 sister type of deal. *That* would surely mess with E.'s mind good & proper. Can't wait to read more next week; love this story, and all the compelling characters! Take care.

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  10. Though, on 2nd thought, E. wouldn't be related to Bridget - only Abby - if her dad was also the father of Abby. It'd still be a weirdo coincidence, though pretty unlikely.

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  11. Would you consider compiling all your "Elizabeth" posts into an ebook? This is playing out real well and totally different from "Josie", though I loved her story, too. Just a thought...

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  12. Is Abby's dad supposed to be Elizabeth's dad? That's what I'm getting from the comments. I don't know, I forget what happens by the time the next post is up.

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  13. Can someone explain to me the whole Abby thing? Thank you

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    1. I was just throwing that theory out there; I don't have any idea if Elizabeth's dad is also Abby's dad or not. It's just that, E. makes it seem like the Abby they're talking about in this post being the same one she knows is *such* a huge deal...like a shocking revelation. I'd think the connection would need to be a close one for her to react like that. Guess we'll just have to wonder until next week; I'm really curious, though.

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    2. Idk why but I thought Abby was Biz? Like that was her real name? That's why E said she couldn't blame Bridget for how she reacted when she confronted her about staying away from Biz's man?

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    3. Ohhh...that would be *so* weird if Biz turns out to be this Abby-person that Elizabeth is so freaked out about! Can't wait until tomorrow to read more.

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  14. Have we heard about Abby before?

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  15. I really like the thematic elements of this story. Each week leaves me wanting more.

    As far as I know, we have heard nothing of Abby before. It sounds like Elizabeth has quite the tangled web of a life.

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  16. Always happy to read this!!

    http://playingwithwildfire.blogspot.com/

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