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You Only Live Once
It was a beautiful summer day. The sky was clear, the air was warm, and the breeze was cool. Tia had gotten up early, read a book, ate a sturdy breakfast and decided to walk to work. The day held an easy schedule, so it was a good day to get work done. Tia was a nineteen year old girl who had just finished her first year at Stanford University. She was smart, intelligent, and witty, but she was not very social. She could be happy by herself the rest of her life. However, her family was very important to her. Her sister, who was the opposite of her, was her closest friend. She had a six hour work day, not including her lunch break. She was doing research on a new psychological experiment at their company. The day flew by, and by the end of the day she was in good spirits. She completed a large amount of work that day, and was feeling a positive vibe for the rest of the week.
When she returned home, the vibe flipped. As she walked into her driveway, it was full of cop cars. Tia ran inside, with some caution, to see what was going on. Uncertainty filled her stomach. She slid through the door.
Tia’s mother was sitting at the table, with several officers questioning her. Her face had lines of mascara from crying, and she looked small and weak in her chair. She sniffled and said, “Tia come here. We have some things we need to talk to you about.”
Tia walked over and slowly sat down. She eyed the police officers with clip boards, running around and scrambling down notes. Not all of them were dressed in uniforms, and she assumed they had different ranks. As she as she landed in the chair, a woman started talking. She was not in uniform.
“Tia Nelle, we are here with some sad news. Your sister, Adelina, has been murdered. We have not found her body, but we have clear evidence that her body has been disposed of in a dumpster. Her body would have been collected this morning, so we have officers searching through the collected garbage to find her body. We will be doing our best to find the culprit and unravel this story. Your sister is our top priority, and we will not stop until this case is solved.” She ended her spheal with a sigh, like it was a burden to say all of that to Tia. It was all monotone, without a slight bit of care. She was completely apathetic, except for getting the job done.
As for Tia, she was in shock. But her mind started spinning. Adelina? Murdered? Who would have even wanted to hurt her sister? Names and people started to fill her mind. Without realizing it, Tia had stood up and began pacing.
“Now Tia,” her mother said, “We know this is a lot. We need to stick together as a family.”
“Yes, mother,” Tia said. “But I want to find who did this. I’m going out to look.”
The police officer grabbed her arm as she headed towards the door. “No you’re not,” she said sternly. “We need to talk to you. How do we know you weren’t the one who did it?” She forced her back into her chair and called over a man with a clipboard. “Alright,” she said, crossing her arms and sitting across from her. “We need to know everything about you.”
After the interrogation, Tia ran out of the house. She didn’t feel sadness, or guilt, or anger: only determination. She had to find who killed her sister.
In fact, the interrogation didn’t exactly go as the officer had hoped. Instead of questioning Tia, Tia began to start questioning the officer. However, there was a method to her madness. She learned a lot about where they were searching, how they go about their cases, how quick they generally work. And now she knew, it wasn’t enough. They can’t search well enough. They don’t know enough. They don’t work quick enough.
Before anything, Tia had to find the place Adelina was murdered. She ran into downtown fresno, and walked swiftly until she found the alley, and turned into it.
Sadly, most of it had been cleaned up. All that was left was a torn piece of caution tape that had been used to box out the scene. Tia looked around, examining everything. She found the dumpster that Adelina had supposedly been thrown in. She opened it up.
There was blood inside.
Excited to find something, Tia pulled gloves from her backpack and a ziploc bag. Her research supplies came in handy apparently. She had to get these back to the lab as soon as possible. She shoved the sample in her backpack and paced briskly off to the lab.
After dropping off the blood sample, Tia was unsure what to do. Then she started to think of the people who may not be in good terms with her sister. The first person who came to mind was Adelina’s old boss. She accused him of intruding on her physical boundaries. She began to head off towards his restaurant.
She headed straight towards the kitchen.
“Ben Bronson,” she said, “I’m sure you know Adelina, my sister, is dead.”
“Of course I knew,” he said, without a bit of remorse, “Everybody knows.”
“And I’m sure you would have something to do with it,” Tia continued. Bronson sighed, and turned towards her from a conversation he was previously having.
“I am sure I would have nothing to do with it.” His glare looked so forceful, she was scared. But she wasn’t going to back down. He must have seen that. “Yes, she accused me of things that nearly ruined my business, but I’m fine now. My business is fine. The amount of people who come here has returned back to normal. So I have no reason to murder her.”
“But you did have a reason,” Tia said. “You did.”
“Sure I did,” he said, shrugging. “That doesn’t mean I did it though. What are you anyway, a detective?” He laughed.
“I found out two hours ago that my sister is dead,” Tia said. “I am finding who killed her. And right now you are my first suspect.”
Tia headed home. When she got in the driveway, the police officer that interrogated her was walking to her car.
“Just the person I wanted to see,” she said. “I thought I would update you on the case. Currently our top suspect is Ben Bronson. I am going to talk to him now and bring him to the police station.”
“Any other suspects?” Tia asked.
“Our second choice is your dad,” she said, “He disappeared without a trace this morning. We know he has never been violent, but he has not been in contact with anyone in your family since the murder.”
Tia’s gut wrenched.
Sleep was impossible that night. The day had been the opposite of what she had expected. And now that she couldn’t do anything but think, she couldn’t do anything. The tears came, and the determination left. Her sister was gone.
Tia woke up, feeling dreary. She decided not to go to work that day and to continue looking for her sister. She looked at her phone, and saw a text from her sister’s best friend from middle school, Jake Anson. He wanted to meet, so she decided to get coffee with him that morning and then search for her sister after. He was not taking the murder well, just like the rest of them.
“Hello,” he said when she walked into the shop. “Are you okay?”
The real question was if he was okay. She honestly had never seen someone so red eyed and sad. Something about it was off, maybe the fact that she had never seen a guy cry before. “I’m doing alright. I can’t sit around and mourn, I need to find the person who did this. I don’t know why, but I feel guilty sitting around and not looking.”
“I feel the same way,” he said, looking eager. “Can I please help you? I can’t sit around anymore, it just makes me feel worse.”
“Of course,” she said. She dropped her file of suspects on the table.
“What is this?” he said, looking concerned. The energy dropped from his face. “I want to look for the murderer, not do paperwork.”
“This is my list of suspects, why they are suspects, recent phone call lists, payments and purchases, text history, search history, etcetera. It is useful, so if you want to take a look it may be a good idea.”
Jake started flipping through the pages. When he got to one page, his face fell. “Why am I in here?” He asked, holding up the folder and pointing to a picture of himself.
“Everyone who may be involved with her is a suspect. Generally, murders happen from someone who personally knows the person. I am sorry, but you are a suspect.”
“Are you?” he asked.
“Not currently, no” Tia said. “But I also don’t have any altercations with her, or something she has done. For example, didn’t you get into a fight recently with her boyfriend? What was that about anyway?”
“Is this an interrogation or are we going to find my best friend’s murderer?” he responded. The sadness in his eyes made Tia feel like he was genuine. No murderer would be that anxious to help.
“I’m sorry.” Tia said. She sighed. “Tia’s boyfriend is also a suspect.”
“I saw that,” Jake said. “I think we need to talk to him.”
“Alright. What are we waiting for.”
“Hello, Tia,” a wet eyed boyfriend, Eric Denver, said. He didn’t acknowledge Jake who was standing beside her. “I’m assuming you are looking for Adelina’s murderer?”
“I am,” she said. “And you are a current suspect. You recently got in an altercation with Jake, and that shows aggression and disrespect to Adelina’s friend choices, and her childhood. What was your reasoning and what were your feelings towards Jake at the time?”
“I didn’t mean to lose my temper,” he said. “But I don’t think it is a completely irrational response when I found out she cheated with him. I knew there was some chemistry between them, but also I didn’t think they would be that disrespectful.”
“So you tried to get even with him, but what about her? Were you so upset that you would kill her, or accidentally kill her in an altercation, because you felt disrespected by her?” Tia said. In all honesty, she was horrified. Why would Adelina and Jake do that to Eric? It was cruel. She also realized she was becoming a bigger influence in the case, and not necessarily a positive one. She was too involved with the suspects and the victim. But she couldn’t stop.
“I did not kill her. I loved her. She promised she would never do it again, and then she told Jake that she would no longer be his friend anymore. It put too many risks in her dating relationship. After that, I forgave her. I was sad, but I was proud my girlfriend felt comfortable coming back to me and asking for forgiveness. My guess would be that Jake was mad that she came back to me, and killed her, or her old boss was mad because his business is currently getting shut down for not being able to pay taxes. He doesn’t have enough customers.”
“You’re kidding!” Tia said. “I had no idea Bronson was being shut down. He told me business was fine- he lied to my face!”
“Are you surprised?” Eric said. “People don’t tell the truth nowadays. Have fun chasing the killer.”
Tia turned to Jake. “I can’t believe this. I’m calling the police. Ben Bronson has to be the killer.”
Jake nodded. His face was very pale. “Eric openly accused me of murder.”
“It’s okay,” Tia said. “It’s not a big deal. You know you’re innocent.” She typed in her phone and called the police. “Excuse me, I have found the murderer of Adelina Nelle.”
Tia looked satisfied as she watched Ben Bronson handcuffed and taken into the police car. Adelina’s murderer was found. The job was done. But something Bronson said made Tia uncertain again, and giddy in her stomach.
“You better keep looking, Tia Nelle. The murder is not solved.”
Tia thought he was messing with her, but wasn’t sure. What if he was telling the truth? Her pocket started vibrating, and she was getting a call from work. She picked it up, worried her boss was upset she didn’t turn up that day.
“Hello, Tia, your blood sample is complete if you would like to come pick it up.”
Tia raced towards the lab.
She was in shock.
The blood. The business. The murder. Her sister. The affair. Her father’s disappearance. It didn’t add up. The blood wasn’t from who she was expecting. She expected to prove the blood was her sister’s.
It was Jake Anson’s.
Everything felt upside down. She had been working with the murderer the whole time. She got the wrong person arrested. She left the lab and went outside to contemplate all that had happened, when she saw something out of the corner of her eye. It was a person. Tia took off after her. She knew who it was. It was a blond, blue eyed, thin, tall pretty girl.
“Adelina!” Tia yelled. She ran as fast as she could.
She kept running, but couldn’t catch up. She stopped and leaned over to catch her breath. When she looked back up, she was right outside of Jake’s house. Tia called the police.
The police arrived and Tia led them straight inside.
A shocked Jake stood up off of the couch he was sitting on. There was a shower noise in the background. Jake look incredibly nervous. He hid his arms behind his back.
“Put your arms in front of you,” one of the police officers said. Jake obeyed. He had a gash on one of his arms. That must’ve been where the blood came from.
“Where is Adelina,” Tia demanded. “What have you done with her.”
After a few seconds, he replied in a whispery voice: “She’s in the shower.”
The murder was a mistake. It was framed. Adelina and Jake Anson attempted to make it appear like a murder to keep eyes off of them. Jake was immediately questioned by the police, but instantly it all made sense to Tia. Jake and Adelina loved each other. In reality, Jake and Adelina ran off together to avoid disapproval of Adelina’s parents. Eric had been chosen by her parents, and when Adelina was young she had agreed to her parents to marry him. She was betrothed, and even after talking to her parents she was not allowed to back out of her promise. Instead of facing her family disowning her, she decided to fake a disappearance. Adelina never loved Eric at all.
After several minutes, the details had been worked out. But Eric was taken into the police station to be questioned, because the situation was very uncertain. Adelina agreed to run away with him. In fact, it was her idea. She was taken into the police station as well. After Tia had hugged her and nearly tackled her.