The Forgotten: Ch. 1

On the night of her husband’s murder, my sister had been on a flight out of Los Angeles to New York City. If she hadn’t been arrested as soon as her private jet landed at JFK, she would have continued on all the way to London for the start of her World Tour, promoting her newest sure-to-be-platinum album. 

But even before the news was splashed across the covers of Us Weekly and People and every other source of celebrity gossip with such condemning titles as “America’s Favorite Pop Star: On the Run!” or, my personal favorite, “Heartbreak and Hate: From Hit Single to Killer Widow!” I knew Katelyn Tomas was innocent.

Even if I sometimes wished she wasn’t.

Saturday. December 19, 2010
Katelyn’s watery, blue eyes make contact with the camera as she twirls the end of her dyed-golden blonde braid around her finger.
“I just hope my music helps someone. You know that feeling, like your whole world is coming to an end? I’ve been there. I know how that feels. And if not for music, I don’t know if I would have made it through. So that’s my goal. I just want my music to be the reason someone keeps going.”

I swear, sometimes I wished I could reach my arms through the television screen and wrap my hands right around my sister’s perfect little neck. If you wanted to help someone so bad, why did you forget me? I would ask. You left your whole family behind! How is that helping? But I knew she meant it. She was only three minutes and thirty-six seconds older than me, but for the first sixteen years of our lives, she had taken on the role as my older, wiser, protecter. 

“She came into this world first, so she’d know it was safe for you to arrive,” our mother used to say. 

Personally, I think she just liked leaving me behind. 

“They’re saying I had motive, Carrie,” Katelyn cried into the phone now. “Motive! Can you believe it? They actually think I killed my own husband! Over her! Like she’s that special! It’s so ridiculous. They’re coming up with all these theories and showing me these awful pictures, and asking me such stupid questions.” She sighed. “I just don’t know how much I can take, Car. I don’t know what to do. I’m so, so scared.” 

I could tell by the sudden silence that she was crying. I closed my eyes, and took a deep breath in. 

Sunday, December 31, 1995
“Katy, what’s wrong?” I ask.
It’s the middle of the night. Our room is dark, but I can still see Katleyn’s back turned toward me in her bed across the room. She’s silent and still, but I can tell by the way she’s breathing that she’s crying, not sleeping. 
“I’m fine,” she says. “Go to sleep.”
She pulls her blanket up over her ears, and…

“Carrie?” Katelyn’s voice snapped me back to the present conversation. “Will you come stay with me? I don’t want to go home alone. I know it’s been a long time, but…you’re all I have.”

I must admit, when the news of her husband’s murder was released, my first thought wasn’t to call and express my condolences. My first thought was finally. Finally something terrible had happened to her. Because that is what our relationship had been reduced to during that so-called “long time.” I didn’t know this person on the phone. Not anymore. We may have shared a womb once upon a time, but this wasn’t the sister I knew at all. The sister I knew disappeared the day William Friday showed up and offered her an opportunity to escape. From that day forward, she was replaced by the Katelyn who never talked, who withdrew and kept secrets, and suffered silently on the inside, who left her family behind and never looked back.

         Until now.

“Carrie, please. I need you.”

“I know,” I said because it was only obvious.

Did I believe that Katelyn Tomas murdered her husband? No, I didn’t believe that, but probably only because I couldn’t. I remembered why she was on that flight to New York City, and unlike the rest of the world, I remembered it wasn’t to flee the country. But more than that, I remembered who she was before all the fame. 

“I’m not a lawyer,” I said. 

“I know.”

“I’m not a detective either.”

“I know.”

“Well, Todd is filing for divorce, and I’m not sure I should get involved in this. I mean, the most helpful thing I could do is testify on your behalf as a character witness, but I haven’t spoken to you in twenty years, and—"

“Carrie, I know. That’s not even what I’m asking.” She sighed. “You don’t have to get involved. I understand. I just thought…you know…you’re all I have now, and…” A deep breath. “I just don’t know what to do. I don’t know anything anymore, Car. I just…I just need you.”

And so I agreed. I agreed to help her in any way that I could. Even though I remembered the exact details of when she left me for her cheery cloud of pop-song pixie dust. 

And everything since.

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