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The sound of sobs rang through the house as I shut the front door. I dropped my bag and took off my coat as I ran up the stairs. It was coming from Harlow’s room.
I opened the door, finding her balled up in a corner of her bed, gulping for air and shaking, her face soaked. Her blonde hair was sticking to it, and her makeup was smeared all over her face, as if a little kid had finger painted it.
At her feet were papers. I didn’t know how to respond at first. I knew that I was being stalked by a girl that wanted to kill me, but Harlow didn’t know. And neither did her parents, and I had intended it to stay that way.
I picked up the papers. There was a detailed pencil drawing of me sleeping, the word “DEAD” scrawled in red in across it. There was a ripped paper with my name, looking like it had been written in blood. Then there was a picture of me waiting outside of the school, with a big red ex through it.
Harlow’s mirror was covered in candy red lipstick, the word “REGAN” in big letters at the top. In smaller letters she had filled up the mirror by writing random words like “dead” “will die” “dying” “must die”. I worked on cleaning the mirror while Harlow looked at me through glass eyes.
“Someone wants to kill you” she whispered, her lips barely parting.
“I know, Harlow, and I was trying to keep it from you.” I sighed. “Look, I’ll take care of it. Just, don’t tell your parents” I tossed a fifth paper towel full of red lipstick on the floor. Mr. and Mrs. Daniels had finally agreed to take me in after my mother and father were put in prison. Harlow had been my best friend since preschool, though, so even though they didn’t agree with the choices my parents made, they still made room for me. I didn’t want to blow that.
“How, Regan? Wait until some night when she just…stabs you?”
I didn’t answer. I didn’t know what to do with this whole thing. I wasn’t going to tell Harlow there was no way she could ever kill me- that I had seen her, that I had met with her before. I don’t know what I did, but obviously something. The fact she was incapable of killing me brought me the slightest bit of comfort, though.
“Be careful, Regan, please” Harlow whispered, putting her face into her hands, crying again. I stopped cleaning and went over to hold my best friend. “It’s ok. I promise.”
Harlow was upset the entire next day, so upset that I couldn’t even convince her to go out that night. It wasn’t stopping me, though. I had a date to meet at a bar (and grill) downtown that I wasn’t giving up.
It was a serious of unfortunate events that night, though. Starting with the fact someone had stained my favorite sparkly denim mini skirt with what looked like blood. So I ended up changing my whole outfit.
Then I burned my hand on the curling iron, caught my eyelash in the curler, and burned the skin around my eyebrows by leaving hot wax on too long.
I was finally ready, dressed in dark skinny jeans and a long V neck with black rhinestones on it. I knocked on Harlow’s door to tell her I was going out, but she was standing in front of her mirror, her hair straight, wearing a floral dress and putting on makeup.
“You coming, too?” I asked.
Harlow turned, capping her lipstick. Her lips were extremely red. “Nah. Not with you. I’ll probably meet Sidney out someplace…” she shrugged. “Be careful, ok? I’ll see you later.”
I walked downstairs, almost tripping in my heels, and grabbed my eyes off the counter.
“Hey.” Riley, Harlow’s sister, grabbed my hand. “Look, don’t go.”
I gave her a weird look. Riley never talked to me. She was so much older, a college junior, who acted like sixteen year olds were the cause of all the world’s problems.
“What?” I asked, swinging my keys around my finger. “Why?”
Riley didn’t say anything. “I just have a bad feeling. More than a feeling.”
She was scaring me. I took my keys and headed out.
“Wait” Riley chased me to my car. “She says her name’s Valerie, right?”
My stomach knotted. How did she know? “Yea…”
“It’s not. I know her. She thinks she’s going to get you tonight.”
“I’ll be home before midnight” I said, getting in the car and slamming the door, disturbed. I put my foot on the pedal, backing out of the driveway, tears in my eyes. I had met with Valerie on nights like these, in the woods by the pond. She swore she would get me, her green eyes flashing. She had tried knives, poison…anything that could kill me. But they didn’t. So, why would she get me tonight?
I opened my eyes to a silent room-in a bleak hospital. I was lying on top of a made up bed, nothing attached to me. I looked at my clothes…my jeans were ripped and some rhinestones had fallen off my shirt. There was a huge scar on my chest and a sharp, shooting pain in my leg but that was it.
“Her parents are in jail. I don’t know what to do. I mean, I don’t want to buy for the burial, and seeing how badly Harlow is, the bills will skyrocket.”
Mrs. Daniel’s voice. Did she think I was dead? What had happened? To me and to Harlow?
“Harlow is doing surprisingly well” a male voice said, “I hardly doubt she’ll need much of anything. But Regan Chandler’s body needs to be dealt with by her primary caretaker…you.”
I wasn’t dead. A dead person couldn’t feel or hear…could they?
“Dr. Mahoney” a new female voice, “There is no Regan Chandler in the files. There’s a Regan…”
“It’s Chandler” Mrs. Daniels said. “She’s Harlow’s best friend. I would know.”
I got up slowly, walking to the door, I slowly opened it.
There was a nurse, a doctor and Mrs. Daniels talking. The Doctor left, leaving the nurse to say she was going to check on Harlow while everything got figured out. Mr. Daniels appeared from around a corner.
“Why did Harlow go out last night?” He asked, “and how the heck did she manage to hit Regan?”
“It was their plan” Riley said, standing. “Harlow’s been playing all these games on Regan. Making her think some psychotic stalker was plotting to kill her. Mom was her number one cheerleader.” Riley started to shake. “She’s barely been here a year, dad, and they can’t accept she’s prettier and more popular than…”
“What the heck?!” Mr. Daniels whispered, angrily. “What is wrong with you, Elaine? You know we could keep both of them at the time, financially. So you get Regan back and you plot to kill her?”
Wake up, Regan. WAKE UP! I felt so sick.
“It wasn’t spur of the moment, Harvey” she said. “Regan has been around Harlow her entire life. They’re going to be juniors next year, and it was getting clear Regan was going to cost our daughter major titles…homecoming queen, prom queen…even valedictorian, Harvey.”
“They are both are daughters” he hissed.
“Um…” the nurse was back. She looked from Harvey to Elaine. “Harlow…Harlow got mixed up with Regan somehow so…Regan’s alive and Harlow…” she was clearly uncomfortable. If she only knew how I felt. My life was a bad, bad horror movie.
“Harlow’s dead?” Elaine cried, “How the heck…”
“Apparently she was wearing a black wig when she hit Regan. Other than that, their faces were so mangled that…”
“You mixed them up?! Idiots!” Elaine screamed.
“They are twins.” Harvey said. “As you probably discovered, Ms. Rachel, Harlow is a twin. And Regan’s last name legally is Daniels.”
The nurse pulled a paper from her clipboard and handed it to him. “Can I just ask how this is possible?”
Riley laughed, surprisingly. “Sure you can. My mother, Elaine and my father, Harvey, couldn’t take care of two babies. So, they decided to give one up for adoption. Turns out the adoptive parents of Regan lived in the same area!” Riley smirked at her mother, clearly enjoying telling the story.
Time for my curtain call.
“Sorry” I said, coming out of the room after Riley finished. “I couldn’t help but overhear all of that.”
Elaine cursed, throwing down her purse and screaming. Some nurse was on the phone with the police. Harvey was on his phone, a wide range of emotions on his face.
“So…you are Regan Daniels?” the nurse, Ms. Rachel, said in a tried voice.
“Thought I was Regan Chandler, but guess not. Guess Margo and Greg Chandler are criminals” I laughed. “Can I take a swing at something, Riley?”
She shrugged, a trace of a smile on her face. She knew what I was going to say.
“My parents never stole, never committed a single crime.”
“That’s the power of Elaine working undercover at Best Buy.” Riley said. “This…this is a sick family.”
My mother and father were released and I was sent back with them. Mr. Daniels ended up depressed and anxious, while Riley married over the next year and moved away. I had to soak things up.
There were pills and therapy, hypnosis and recalling facts. All the professionals I saw and my mother and father thought I should be taking this differently. That I should feel more.
But maybe I knew “Valerie” was Harlow all along. I knew from those emerald eyes the first night Valerie and I met, Harlow in a black wig. I knew from the drawings Harlow left me-I knew her art from others. She wanted to be an art major in college, so her stuff was displayed in every room. I knew from her notes- all in her handwriting.
And the final straw was the red lipstick on Harlow’s mirror. She special ordered “Candy Girl Red” lipstick. It was her signature.
The fact we were twins was hardly a surprise. Our eyes are exactly the same. Harlow had blonde hair, but that was dyed. Being friends with her all my life, I knew when she was really upset and when she was acting it.
She was acting that last night. I knew this, but I didn’t realize it until the mess unfolded.
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