I was ghosting you last night because I was with someone else.
Was the text Carrie woke up to in the early morning, filling her thoughts with rage. She couldn’t believe that that was all Emily was going to say after last night. Just an apology text, no explanation, no elaboration on who she was with.
What does that mean?? She frantically texts back, fingers furiously tapping on the cracked screen. She hopes for some explanation, no matter what it is. Something to answer why she missed picking her up last night to take them both to the airport, a trip they’d been carefully planning every detail for months to finally meet each other after being online friends for the past five years.
The text bubble appears, then disappears, then appears again. She turns the phone off, letting out a deep breath to stop her from slamming her phone down. Instead, she puts it on the nightstand, getting out of bed to start the day.
She tries not to let the lack of response bother her, but it does. Throughout the day, it’s all she can think about. She checks her phone again, just to be safe. Still nothing. The anxiety digs into her mind, replacing the dying anger. Why hasn’t she answered yet? She usually gets back to her quickly, chronically online is what she would herself, Emily never takes so long to text back.
Emily, what were you doing last night? She tentatively texts again, hoping for a quicker response.
Again, it only takes a second for the text bubble to appear, and another for it to disappear. It keeps disappearing and reappearing again and again for a minute, before it disappears again for good. Carrie just stares at her phone with a confused look on her face, trying to figure out if she’s trying to tell her something but can’t figure out how to word it.
What do you keep trying to type? She texts, wishing she could just force an explanation out of her.
The bubble appears again, no longer disappearing. It’s hard to explain. The message appears after a full minute. All I can say is that it’s not your fault.
The additional message piles more confusion on top of everything. It’s not her fault? That wasn’t a concern for her. What does she mean that it’s hard to explain? Emily always finds ways to explain even the most confusing topics in the simplest forms.
No response. The message gets marked as read, but she never types anything. Carrie lets out a sigh of frustration.
The message sends five minutes later. Can’t talk right now. I’ll Facetime when it’s safe.
Carrie’s heart skips a beat. What does she mean when it’s safe? What happened last night. She turns her phone ringtone on full volume. Whatever it is, she hopes Emily is okay.
She hasn’t been texting like she normally does. The short texts, the unsure sound of everything, not responding. It doesn’t sound like Emily. Something’s wrong. Very wrong. She nearly jumps out of her seat at the thought. If something was wrong, she would have told her outright like they always would do. They never kept secrets from each other, so why keep this one? What’s so different about this that she feels the need to keep it under wraps?
The question itches at the back of her mind for the night, and into the next day. She barely gets a wink of sleep all night. She finds herself checking her phone every few minutes, hoping for a Facetime from Emily. The phone remains silent, not a ring or vibrate. Emily said she would Facetime when she’s safe, but it’s been more than twelve hours since she texted that.
Carrie bites her thumbnail, staring at the wall across from her bed, mind foggy from lack of sleep. It’s morning and she has yet to get out of bed. Her mind buzzes with questions, but no answers. Maybe Emily forgot to Facetime her. No, she wouldn’t do that. She’s not the type to forget these things. Maybe she should call the police, the thought jumps into her mind. Put in a missing person’s report. After all, she hasn’t heard from Emily for more than twelve hours.
Maybe that would give her some peace of mind knowing that she has done at least something about the current situation. Just sitting and doing nothing certainly isn’t doing anything to curb her anxiety. She reaches for her phone, sitting on the nightstand.
It starts to vibrate as soon as she picks it up, letting out the cheery ringtone she chose when she first got the phone. It’s Emily.
Carrie eagerly swipes the accept button, hoping to see Emily’s cheerful face on the screen to tell her that everything’s okay. Instead, she’s greeted with a black screen.
“Emily?” She asks nervously. “Emily is that you?”
Instead of her familiar voice, Carrie hears deep breaths. Emily picks up the phone, revealing her troubled expression, deep eye bags from lack of sleep, and a black eye. She lets out an uneasy laugh. “Sorry, I dropped the phone.” She says. “It’s been a rough few days.”
Carrie sits up straight in bed, unsure of what to say at seeing her friend looking like this. “I was about to call the police,” she says, “and put in a missing person’s report.”
“Probably a good idea.” Emily says, stealing a quick look over her shoulder. She’s walking, but Carrie can’t tell where. It looks like the woods somewhere.
“Where are you?”
“Can’t say I know.” She admits. “I’ve been running from him all night. I barely got my phone back when I -” The signal cuts out for a second, breaking up their connection, before returning to normal.
“What? You cut out.” Carrie says frantically, worried she might lose her again. “Who are you running from? What’s going on?”
“I found bad company.” Emily admits. “Turns out getting back with an ex isn’t a good idea.”
She lets out another nervous laugh. “I never told you I kicked him out, did I?” She says. “I kicked him out after he cheated on me, and now he’s worse off than ever. He blames me, of course.”
“I-I’ll call the police.” I blurt out. “Where are you?”
“That wouldn’t do anything. I’m lost. Jeff’s probably lost, too.” She tells me. “My phone’s almost dead, too.” She stops in her tracks, listening for something. “I have to go.”
Before Carrie can protest, the call is already off, and she’s left staring in her own tired eyes.
She decides to call the police, quickly filling them in on all the details.
“Slow down.” The officer on the other line says. “Who are you talking about?”
He remains quiet, and Carrie waits patiently.
“You must be mistaken.” He says after a full minute. “Emily Caddel was murdered five years ago.”