On the 20th of March 2013 I saw my sister for the last time.
She is not dead, or at least I don’t think she is. Rachel looked like she had a plan and I think she will be able to survive. But she is gone. She told me she would leave the country. She said she couldn’t stand the people, the fake smiles, even the language and standard greetings anymore.
She left and she told me, point-blank that she would change her name and try everything to forget our parents, her old friends and classmates, her ex and his friends, and even me.
Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t close, certainly not since Rachel turned seventeen. I was fifteen back then, when she met the man that ruined her life – now her ex. But there was a pain that I can’t put in words, something that broke inside my heart, when my own sister told me, point-blank, that I would never see her again.
She told me that even to just look at me made her feel sick.
She is somewhere else now. I would like to think she is in South America, somewhere where it’s warm. But honestly, she could be anywhere from Siberia to the French foreign legion to somewhere in a Tibetan monastery.
She didn’t leave because of me. None of this is about me. It’s all about her and that guy, Matthew.
I think Rachel got with Matthew because she wanted to prove our parents wrong.
I heard the fight in my room, how they made her promise to never see him again, right after the party. He wasn’t even invited. Maybe a friend of hers brought him along, or maybe he just crashed the party.
I was in the corner, talking to two of her more geeky friends – those guys that did Rachel’s homework from grades five to seven – they were the only ones I could talk to back then. I ogled her friends, but I only talked to the other nerds, and even they were embarrassed to have me around.
It was strange to see Rachel in her skimpy clothes, dancing with her friends, and with guys I had never seen, on the makeshift dance floor in our living room.
They broke the TV and stole the aquarium. Yes, not the other way around. That’s how horrible that party was. I’m just happy I had the clarity of mind to lock most of our upstairs rooms before I went to bed. But then, maybe, if I had stayed downstairs, maybe I could have saved her.
I didn’t even see him during the party. I went to bed around 3 am; he must have arrived after that.
I still don’t understand why our parents let her have that party; why they even felt that they had to leave the house to the kids for the weekend – which, in the end, meant they left it to Rachel and I would be in my room. They tried to convince me to stay at a friend’s place or visit my grandparents; I refused.
Rachel got a new laptop, but the real birthday gift was that weekend; one weekend without parents, but, sadly enough, with her younger brother still in the house.
I went to bed at 3 am and got up around 11. I stumbled down the stairs, ignored the comatose soon-to-be-a-college-douche on the stairs, saw the gaping hole in the TV – and then he was there. Matthew. He was mixing flour, eggs and milk in a pan; straight in the pan, not in a bowl. And he was wearing nothing except boxers and my dad’s shirt.
He took Rachel’s virginity in our parents’ bed; in the bed that they had had since their wedding; in the bed in which Rachel and I were conceived.
“Who are you?” I asked.
Rachel didn’t wake up until the afternoon; he was long gone.
I saw her panicking, how she stuffed the stained sheets in the washing machine, how she googled “emergency contraception.” She closed the browser when I looked over her shoulder, but I looked in the browsing history.
That night I found out what a ‘booty call’ was. He called. She looked scared, still she said yes.
“He’s the one.” Rachel told me before she ran out.
On Sunday night our parents took me apart. Rachel wasn’t home, so they blamed me instead. Stolen aquarium? Me. Broken TV? Me. Rachel not there? My fault too. Vomit in the closet? I had to clean it up.
I don’t remember Rachel coming home; she just rushed out of the door in the morning. Her eyes were swollen, her pupils unnaturally wide, and she was strangely hyperactive, on edge my dad would have called it if he had seen her.
I don’t remember many times when my dad and I agreed. But I didn’t even need to tell him about the stolen shirt and the stained sheets; he knew Matthew from just a two second phone call on Monday evening.
The phone rang. My dad picked up.
“Hello?” Dad said.
“Who is it?”
Dad cornered me, questioned me. I denied everything. I didn’t even tell him about the stained sheets. But he knew anyway.
Monday night Rachel wasn’t home.
Tuesday night I heard the fight; I don’t even know what time it was.
Rachel screamed “I love him.”
Dad screamed “You will never see him again.”
A door slammed.
“If you walk out that door you can’t come back.”
Another door slammed.
The next day, when I came home from school, her room was empty.
Mom cried. Dad drank for the first time in years. Mom didn’t stop him.
That was nine years ago.
Since Rachel left Dad drank every night.
Two years ago his liver failed.
Rachel didn’t even come to the funeral
A number I didn’t knew; I recognized her voice despite the rough voice and despite the sobs.
“Hey little one,” Rachel said. “Can we meet one last time?”
How do you say “No” to that?
“What the fuck?” I said when she sat down at the other end of the plastic table.
I wasn’t even sure what I was referring to – the scars on her face, the scars on her arms, the greasy short hair, or the fact that I hadn’t seen her in nine years.
“Hi.” Rachel said. “Thanks for coming.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“How’s mom?” She asked.
“Alive.” I said.
“Sorry.” She said.
I drank my coffee.
“Really sorry.” Rachel said. “For everything.”
“Okay.” I said.
“I couldn’t leave.” She said.
“Sure.” I said.
“They forced me to stay.” She said.
“Sure.” I said.
“They made me watch things.” She said.
I stayed quiet, looked at the caked blood on her nose, the faint dark rings on her right eye, the small, round scars on her arms.
She pulled her sleeves over her arms.
“I wish I hadn’t left.” She said.
“That would have been better.” I said.
“They hurt people.”
“They hurt you?”
“Not just me.”
“Why did you stay?” I asked.
“They wanted me to stay.” She said. “They wanted me to watch.”
“Matt and his family.” She said.
“You stayed with him?” I asked.
“Dad kicked me out.” She said.
We sat quietly.
The waiter asked for her order and left.
“What did they make you watch?” I asked.
“They hurt others.” Rachel said.
“Who?” I asked.
“Mostly girls.” She said.
“And you watched?”
“Yes.” Rachel said. “They made me.”
“Why didn’t you leave?” I asked.
“I was scared.” She said.
“Scared of them?”
“Scared that they would kill me like –“
Rachel stayed quiet.
“Like the other girls?” I asked.
“Yes.” She said.
“They made you watch?” I asked.
“They made me.” Rachel said. “And I helped bury them.”
“What did they do?” I asked.
Then I regretted asking.
“They tied them up.” Rachel said. “And then they –“
“They raped them.” She said.
“And then they killed them?”
They kept them for days.” She said. “And they tortured them.”
“Fuck.” I said.
For just a moment Rachel smiled.
I moved my hand towards my coffee cup; I pulled it back when I realized it was shaking.
“They tortured them?” I asked.
“Until they died; or until their bellies grew.” Rachel said.
“When their bellies grew?”
“Then they killed them.”
“And you?” I asked.
“I made food.” Rachel said. “And in return they let me live.”
“For nine years?”
“It felt longer.” She said.
“How did you get out?” I asked.
“Matthew was looking for another girl. And I killed his dad.”
“You killed his dad?”
“While he was using me.” Rachel said. “He deserved it.”
“How?” I asked; the word nearly got stuck in my throat.
“Scissors.” She said.
“While he was on top of me.” She said.
“He was –“
I stopped when I noticed her belly. “It grew.” Rachel would have said.
“Yes.” She said instead and lowered her eyes.
“Whose?” I asked.
“Matthew or his dad.” She said. “Or maybe one of their friends.”
My mouth stayed open.
She pressed her lips together.
My shaking hands grabbed the cold coffee.
“I’ll leave the country.” She said. “I need to end this.”
“End – this?” My eyes were on her belly.
“Yes.” She said. “I wouldn’t have told you, but I need money.”
“You want to abort?” I asked.
“He killed the first four.” Rachel said. “It’s better like this.”
“I need to leave the country.” She said. “Don’t tell mom.”
“Never.” I said.
“Thank you.” Rachel said.
We talked for a few more minutes. I withdrew $200. Then I brought her to the hotel, paid her room, handed her the rest, and left.
Two days later I gave her all that was left in my account.
Rachel had tears in her eyes.
She hugged me; she smelled like old cigarettes but somehow clean.
We talked for a few minutes, I asked her what her plans were – she said she wasn’t sure.
When she got quiet I said goodbye. She smiled when I closed the door.
Her lips moved. I think she whispered “Thank you.”
The next day I phoned the hotel. They told me she was gone.
This is my story, originally I published it on Reddit.