The Forgotten

Friday, July 26, 2019



Katelyn insists on allowing me to settle into a room in her “guest wing” before sharing her story. 

“You came all this way for me. The least I can do is let you relax a little before we get caught up in all my mess," she had said. 

Personally, I think she was trying to stall. Whatever her story was, I could tell she was in no hurry to share it. So I let it slide for now. 

Truthfully, a long soak in the giant, Jet-Stream tub in her guest bathroom sounded nice. It had been a long flight, and quite a day. Not to mention a difficult weekend.

Hope had been more distant and belligerent than usual, and Todd and I had gotten into it about the blue streaks she’d put in her hair while staying at her friend’s house the previous night. 

“It’s just hair,” I had said. “What does it matter what color it is?”

“It’s the statement she’s making. She’s rebelling. If we don’t set clear boundaries now about acceptable behavior, she’ll be sneaking out and doing drugs before long.”

“She’s a teenage girl, Todd. This is just what teenage girls do! If you want to start the war with her, go ahead, but leave me out of it. I have more important things to think about than what color her hair is this week.”

“Right, I forgot. You don’t live in reality, and can’t be bothered with your daughter’s future. My bad. Carry on with your more important things to think about.”

“That’s not fair, Todd.”

“No, what’s not fair is you refusing to sign the goddamn papers so we can stop having this same godforsaken fight all the time!”

In the end, I’d started a war over a box of “normal”colored hair dye, and Hope had spent the weekend locking me out of her room, vulgar music blaring, avoiding me as much as possible. 

But it was easier than signing those goddamn papers.

Maybe Todd was right about me after all. 

I wasn’t ready to let go.

After my bath, I dressed in a comfortable t-shirt and sweatpants, and met Katelyn downstairs in the kitchen. I wasn’t surprised to see it’s just as extravagant as the rest of the house, if not more so, though it still took my breath away to catch the view of the rolling hills of Hollywood out the floor-to-ceiling glass windows. 

“I think I would kill to have a view like this every day,” I said, and Katelyn chuckled.

“Would you hate me if I said I hardly notice it anymore?”

“Yes. Very much.”

“You get used to it.”

I sighed. “You sicken me, dear sister. Truly.”

Another chuckle. “Have a seat. I’ll make us some tea.”

As she filled a kettle with water, my phone buzzed to life. Todd’s name and our wedding picture lit up my screen. I cringed. This was not going to be a pleasant conversation. I had neglected to tell him I’d be in California for the week, and I doubted he’d be happy about it.

I answered anyway.

“Yes?” I said, pressing the phone to my ear.

“Why is Hope the one informing me you’re in California for the week? Don’t you think that’s something I should be aware of?”

“I’m visiting my sister. It’s not a big deal.”

“The famous one?”


Friday. November 20, 1998

“The famous one?” Todd asks, his eyes widening.

It’s our third date, and I’ve just told him that Katelyn Harp is my twin sister. We’re sitting in a booth in the back of a dimly lit bar. It’s barely nightfall, so it’s not crowded. We’re the first customers of the evening. The bartender glared at us when we ordered our drinks. He was still drying off the glasses I imagined he had spent his entire pre-shift cleaning. 

“Yep. Her full name is Katelyn Jessica Harper, but I guess the ‘er’ at the end wasn’t as catchy. Or maybe it just didn’t fit on the album cover.”

He gives me a skeptical look. “You’re messing with me, aren’t you?”

“I swear I’m not.”

“You don’t look like her.”

“Is that an insult or a compliment?”

He takes a sip of his drink. The ice sloshes in his glass, a tinkling sound. He’s still looking at me like he doesn’t quite believe me. I don’t blame him. 

“A compliment,” he says with a wink, setting his glass down. I feel his foot knock against mine under the table as he leans toward me, his voice low as he says, “I have a certain preference for the beautiful woman in front of me right now.”

“Is that so?”

I lean a little closer and…

“Earth to Carrie? Hello? Are you still there?” Todd asked.

I cough. “Yes, sorry. I was just getting a drink.”

“I’m sure,” Todd said sarcastically. “Since when do you visit your sister? I thought you guys hadn’t spoken in years?”

“Her husband was murdered, Todd.”

“Isn’t she the one who killed him? I thought she was arrested?”

“No!”

“She wasn’t arrested? I thought I saw—"

“Todd, I’m not getting into this with you right now, okay?”

“No, Carrie, it’s not okay. Our agreement states—"

“Our agreement isn’t valid until I sign the papers, remember?”

“Then sign the damn papers, Carrie! Jesus, I—"

I hung up on him before he could finish. I turned to Katelyn with an apologetic grimace, turning my phone to silent, and slipping it back in my pocket.

“Sorry,” I said, “Todd can be such an ass sometimes.”

“He doesn’t think you should be here, does he?”

“I don’t think he cares, really. He’s just mad I didn’t tell him first. In his mind, I'm sure I undermined his authority somehow by telling Hope instead.”

“Hope’s your daughter, right?”

“Yes,” I said. “She wanted to come with me. I would have liked to bring her so you could meet her, but it would be against the law with our pending divorce. And she’s a bit too out of control at the moment, if you ask Todd. Apparently she’s going through a rebellious phase. I doubt all this,” I waved my hand around the room, “would help.”

“It must be hard,” Katelyn said, her gaze dropping for a moment. “I’m sorry to drag you into my mess like this. It sounds like you’ve got a lot going on back home.”

“Honestly, this is a nice break. It’s too bad we’re not identical. I’d gladly switch places with you in a heartbeat.”

“You might change your mind once you know the full story.”

I huffed, skeptically. “I guess we’ll have to see.”

The kettle screeched its completion, and Katelyn turned to finish preparing the tea. 

“Should we take a seat?” Katelyn asked, handing me a steaming mug and gesturing toward the kitchen table.

“After you,” I said.

She took a seat, and I followed, settling into the chair across from her. She wrapped her hands around her mug, and blew at the steam floating above it. I waited as she took a tiny sip from her mug, and set it back down in front of her.

She met my gaze across the table, took a deep breath, and began her story.

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