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Family First – by Jordan O’Halloran

“Babe, have you placed your bet for the wedding yet?” Tony shouts at me from the kitchen.

“What bet? You know I don’t gamble anymore. Remember Vegas last year? We lost almost  $10,000!”

“Babe, calm down. The bet is for how long Jessica and Scott are going to last. I bet 6 months. What do you think? The group text is waiting.” He says while flashing his one dimple smile. I may resent him for a lot of things. But, seeing that smile always melts my walls away.

Jessica, my younger sister, is getting married for the 4th time tomorrow. She’s only known Tony for 2 months.

“I bet 3 months. Are you packed yet?”

“Yeah, my suitcase is by the door already. I packed that yellow shirt you like.” He says while walking into our bedroom.

“Are you fucking serious? You know I hate that shirt!” I say while clenching my fists and biting my lip hard.

The yellow shirt he’s talking about says, Bullets Make Me Happy. I swear he wears it to just piss me off. If I’m being completely honest with myself, I am only staying with him so I didn’t show up to the wedding without a date.

Tony comes into the bathroom where I am gathering my tea tree shampoo and coconut body wash.

“People aren’t going to care about my shirt, Hailee. They are going to be focused on the shit show. Just breathe. I don’t think the maid of honor needs to stress this much.”

“I know I know. You’d be proud of me, though. I turned my phone on silent this morning!”

“That’s amazing. In this case though, it may not have been a good idea…”

My heart stops. Did something happen?

I ask, “Why wasn’t it a good idea? What are you not telling me?”

“No reason to be defensive. Jessica has just called me 15 times already and texted me 30 times.”

I pause the TV that’s playing my Halsey playlist and grab my phone.

Shit.

I unwillingly decide to turn on my phone. It looks like she has texted me close to 80 times.

I click on her name and she answers right away, “What the hell? Where have you been? I have been calling you all morning.”

I roll my eyes. I can’t wait for this Bridezilla shit to be over.

“I have been packing. I needed to just relax today. I had a lot of court cases this week.”

“Well, you can’t relax. You are the maid of honor. I need you to come over right now. I am having an emergency.”

“What? Your shoes don’t match your dress or something?”

She gasps, “Wow. That was rude. I am going to pretend you didn’t just say that. Please, come over. I will make you blueberry pancakes.”

The key to heart is blueberry pancakes. She knows this.

“Fine. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.” I hang up on her, so she doesn’t ask for anything else.

I slide my feet into my purple flats and give Tony a kiss on the cheek.

I pull up to Jessica’s dark blue and red house. I put my black hair into a messy ponytail and take 3 deep breaths.

I ring the doorbell and hear her two kids fighting.

Jessica opens the door and says, “Finally. Girls, say hi to Auntie!”

Elizabeth and Emma are the cutest twins ever. The two of them are from Jessica’s first marriage.

They look up at me and in unison say, “Hi Auntie!”

Before I can respond, they go back to fighting over a pair of white shoes.

Emma pulls on Jessica’s shirt and says, “Mom! Why did Elizabeth get the cute shoes? This is so not fair.”

Jessica groans, “Elizabeth got the cute shoes because you said you wanted to walk barefoot. Now, leave me alone. I need to talk to your aunt.”

The two of them keep fighting. I walk towards the smell of butter and blueberries.

Jessica looks at me and says, “Thank you for gracing me with your presence, your highness.”

“Oh, shut up. Just tell me what the fuck is going on, okay?”

“Jesus. Calm down. You need to relax.”

She puts her bleach-blonde hair in a clip. She’s a natural brunette like me and has been dying her hair blonde since high school.

“So…why am I here?”

“Don’t hate me.” she looks down at her feet.

I cross my arms and say, “What now?”

“Well… I need your help getting rid of two bodies…”

“Wait, what?”

I choke on the saliva in my mouth. “You’re kidding, right?”

“No, I’m not kidding.”

A part of me wants to believe that this is a joke. With Jessica as stubborn as she is, she sees everything through. Even if it’s to her detriment.

“What bodies? Who?” I say while my voice cracks.

“Stop yelling at me. You said you wouldn’t hate me!”

“I don’t hate you. Just tell me what you have done.”

“I killed… I killed Scott and Chloe.”

Chloe is Jessica’s best friend. I say best friend. However, it’s definitely one of them constantly trying to one-up each other. At Jessica’s last wedding, Chloe showed up in a white dress. She claimed that it was ivory, yet we all knew the truth.

A chill runs down my back and the hair raises on my arms, “You’re not kidding. Why would you do such a thing?”

She looks down at her feet. “Well, last night, I went to Chloe’s house to drop off a pair of earrings. When I got there, I saw Scott’s car in front. I thought they were planning a surprise for me or something. I didn’t think about it too much…”

“Okay, I don’t care about the details. Just get to the point.”

“Eventually, I get to the door and hear Scott moaning. I open the door and see them on top of each other. I freaked out and killed them both.”

My heart is racing and I can barely breathe. I have anxiety most of the time, however, this feels like I am having a panic attack on steroids.

As my hand shakes, I say, “How did you kill them? A butter knife?”

“You’re ridiculous. No, I had a gun in my purse. It’s the pink one with the silencer that Scott bought me when we got engaged. He said it would help me defend myself. You know how he is. Cops are paranoid.”

“You mean, how he was?”

“Yes, how he was. So, are you going to help me or what?”

“Where are the bodies now? Were you not thinking?”

“No, dammit. I have never killed anyone before. I am asking you to help me and not hate me.”

“For the last time, I don’t hate you! You just dropped a huge bombshell on me. Do you even have a plan?”

“Why yes, I do. You think you know everything. You may have been the one that went to college and everything, but that doesn’t make me an idiot. I have brains too, you know. ”

“I never called you an idiot. Just let me go pee. This is a lot to process.”

I walk to the bathroom. I may work with potential murderers for work. This is different. This is family. This is crazy. I put some peppermint essential oil on. My hands shake while I open the bottle for my anxiety pills to keep me from spiraling.

I text Tony and say, “We both lost the bet.”

Before I get his response, I turn my phone off.

It’s going to be a long day.

Jordan O' Halloran

Jordan O'Halloran lives in Kelseyville, California with her partner, roommate, and cat. She is addicted to the smell of books, bright colors, and caffeine. A huge advocate for mental health and kindness, she spends every waking moment thinking of the perfect first line. When not writing, you can find her eating cheese, painting, or sleeping. You can follow her writing journey on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter as Jordanjotsjoy.

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