The Forgotten: Ch. 2

Friday, June 07, 2019

**Don't forget to read Chapter 1 first!**


Taylor Tomas wasn’t a bad man. He wasn’t even really a bad husband, as far as I knew. Why, then, was he murdered? Why did he have an affair with Lesley Lai, his love interest in his current movie role? Besides the obvious beauty and seductive appeal that got her countless roles in talentless films, Lesley had nothing special. 

Nothing to cheat over. 

Nothing to be murdered over. 

As far as I could tell, at least.

 A few hours after my conversation with Katelyn, I sat on my couch with my phone pressed to my ear, trying to simultaneously have a conversation with my ex-husband, Todd, while watching the E! Network interview “Lesley Lai comes clean: The truth about her affair with Taylor.” I had a flight scheduled to take me to Los Angeles on Monday. I would have preferred to leave sooner, but the joint custody arrangement I had with Todd meant it was my weekend to spend with our daughter, Hope—an arrangement I couldn’t afford to break now that it could be held against me.

Todd and I had been separated for years, but for some reason, he was suddenly filing for an official divorce. Thus, the E! Network special would have to do for tonight.

“We were in love,” Lesley told the camera, dabbing a tissue at her watery eyeballs. “He was going to leave his wife, and we were going to be together. We were going to have kids. He told me he always wanted kids.” She burst into a dramatic display of tears, blowing snot and salt water into that flimsy tissue. “I’m sorry. This is just so hard. I loved him, you know?”

I wondered if Katelyn was watching this. I could imagine her sitting in prison, her orange jumpsuit too big for her. Everything was always too big for her. She was the skinny twin, taking after our gangly mother, while I was full of flesh, and broad like our father. 

I imagined she looked ridiculous in all that orange, swallowing her whole while Lesley Lai told the world that Katelyn Tomas had motive.

After all, who wasn’t going to see this blubbering celebrity spill her guts on national television and automatically imagine the possible scenario? They’d see Taylor Tomas, all muscle and fake tan and good looks, tell his wife of barely three years that he had fallen in love with another woman, someone he worked with, someone named Lesley Lai. They’d see Katelyn’s reaction, a crime of passion with blood splatters and a crazed expression. 

I could see it, and it wasn’t even real.

“Do you think Katelyn Tomas knew about you and Taylor?” the television reporter asked, a vision of innocent deception.

“Everyone knew about us,” Lesley said, staring straight into the camera and looking as serious as a doctor with bad news. “We couldn’t have hidden our love even if we wanted to.”

The reporter leaned a little closer to Lesley, her face patiently concerned. “And how do you think Katelyn felt about the affair? In your opinion, do you believe she could have murdered Taylor?”

Lesley looked down at her hands fingering the tissue, and nodded. “This life isn’t for everyone. Nothing personal ever stays secret for long, and all that fame and exposure can make people crazy.” She locked eyes with the reporter. “It’s terrible what happened to Taylor. Jealousy brings out the evil in us all.”

I chuckled. I couldn’t help it. My sister, a jealous, crazy murderer? Ha! Taylor would have been lucky to get any reaction from her at all. 

Maybe that’s why he cheated.

“Hey.” One word from my ex-husband, and my attention is snapped to the current phone call, but just as quickly, before I can even react, my attention fades into the memory.

Monday. January 1, 2001
“Hey,” Todd crooned, his hand stroking my long, brown hair.
“I’m pregnant,” I said.
“What? That’s great, Car!” He grabbed the flesh of my hips, and pulled me toward him. “But how? I thought you…”
I didn’t hear what he said next because I got trapped in the memory of how...

Friday. December 8, 2000
We were celebrating his promotion to head detective. We’d finished a whole bottle of our most expensive champagne, a gift from our wedding. Naturally, we weren’t as cautious as we normally would be.
His lips were on my neck and his hands were peeling off my clothes and I was giggling as I fell onto the bed and then my hands were tangled in his hair and…

“Uh, hello? Carrie? You there?” Todd asked, a lilt of agitation in his voice.

“Yeah, sorry. I’m here,” I said, and Todd sighed.

“Hope wants to stay at a friend’s house. She has an important biology project due on Monday. I’ve been working late all week, and it sounds like you’ve got enough going on, but I wanted to make sure it was okay with you before I let her stay with her friend. It’s your weekend.”

I tried not to be annoyed. I could imagine it was hard to have a mother who tended to live in the past too often to actually be a mother. 

At least that’s what Todd would say. 

And at sixteen I hadn’t wanted to spend time with my mother either. But still. 

I was putting off a much overdue reunion with my sister for this. A sister whose husband was just murdered. A sister who desperately needed me. Finally. For once. 

Did I mention said sister was a famous pop-star? 

Considering the circumstances, was it really too much to ask that my daughter at least give me the courtesy of showing up when she’s supposed to? 

I could demand her time, of course, and have Todd drop her off before dinner as planned, but that seemed more trouble than it was worth. If she was happier studying with friends than with me, who was I to demand otherwise?

“Yes, I suppose that’s fine,” I said.

“Alright. I’m sorry about this,” Todd said before he hung up.

He didn’t want to deal with the memory he knew his words would evoke.

Saturday. January 13, 2007
“I’m sorry about this,” Todd says, “I really am.”
There’s a bag slung over one shoulder, and our daughter, Hope, is fast asleep in his arms, her thumb in her mouth. She’s six years old now, but she still insists on being carried.
“I love you,” I tell him, and he sighs. “Please stay.”
“I used to believe that, Car, but I can’t anymore. You don’t love me. Not as much as you love living inside your head, and I can’t be living in the past with you anymore. Hope and I deserve a future, don’t you think?”
“That’s not fair. How can you say that?”
“You refuse to move on, Carrie. You refuse to let go of the past. Jesus, Car, sometimes it’s like you’re not even really here! Don’t you see that?”
“I want to move on, but I can’t. I told you I—“
“Yeah, I know. Hyper-whatever. You saw five different psychiatrists and sixteen different neurologists after your sister left, blah, blah, blah. Don’t give me that, Car. You’re better than that. One day, you’ll see. Or maybe not. I don’t know anymore. But until then, I don’t think we’ll be able to work things out.”

I had never been able to convince him it wasn’t my fault. It’s not like I chose to remember everything in excruciating detail. It was just a part of me, my brain. And I actually felt like I had come a long way since my teenage years when I allowed my memories to completely overwhelm me. At least by the time I met Todd, I had learned how to use my abnormality to my advantage. 

Wednesday. March 16, 1996
“There’s definitely an abnormality present. The intensity of her emotions and memory recall is obviously far beyond the normal range,” Dr. Stein, or Dr. Number One as I had called him, had said. “I’ll have to run more tests and see if I can find an exact diagnosis. Then, we can go from there.”

He wouldn’t be the one to find the answer without a solution, my blessing and my curse. It would take several doctors and a couple years, but a diagnosis would eventually be found before my high school graduation. 

“I feel so terrible,” Lesley confessed on the screen in front of me. “I blame myself for this. Maybe if I hadn’t gotten involved, he would still be alive, you know? You just can’t help who you fall in love with, though. We couldn’t stop ourselves. We tried, but we just…couldn’t.”

I wondered about the truth in her words. Was there really nothing she could have done to stop herself from falling in love with her married co-star? 

Sometimes, I wondered if Todd was right. Was I just not trying hard enough to move on? Was I purposefully allowing myself to get stuck in the past, allowing the opinions of the overeducated to discourage any hope of memory loss? 

People learned to remember. Couldn’t I learn to forget?

Thursday June 30 1998
“Your MRI shows a slight enlargement of the temporal lobe and caudate nucleus which is a primary indicator of hyperthmesia…”

Todd was wrong. 

He had to be wrong. 

This was something I couldn’t control. 

Why would I put myself through this? Because my sister left? 

Sure, separating from a twin is difficult, but I wouldn’t say we were those kind of twins. It’s not like she died when she left. 

I mean, she might as well have, but still. It wasn’t like I suffered a serious trauma. 

Certainly, many others had it much worse than I did. Nobody would willingly put themselves through this. Todd had to be wrong. He didn’t understand what it was like to remember everything. 

He didn’t understand me, and he probably never would.

“What do you have to say about the rumors Taylor was planning to change his Will? Did you ever talk to Taylor about adding you to his Will?” the television reporter asked.

Lesley looked shocked, as if she couldn’t believe the question had been asked. She was either a good actress or a dumb one. She had to have known the motive finger would be pointed at her eventually. 

There were two sides to every story, after all, and not everyone was inclined to believe Lesley’s version of the truth.

“I don’t believe it matters whether he left anything at all for me. I don’t need or want anything except to see his killer brought to justice,” Lesley answered.

I flicked off the television as the reporter began to announce the details of the upcoming memorial service, showing clips of fans already leaving flowers and autographed photos for their dearly departed idol along Hollywood Boulevard. 

I needed to get to my sister. 

I needed to find out the truth.

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