As Jackson stared into her sister's image in the mirror, all her suppressed memories coming back to her with a rush, she sank to her knees on the floor, beginning to cry. It couldn't be! She had to be crazy! She had to be wrong! You don't just forget a thing like strangling your sister to death!
But she knew even as she thought this it was true. All these years of misery, where she had wondered what had happened to Cordelia, what had caused her to suddenly disappear... now she knew. It had been her. As usual, she was the one at fault, she was the one to blame. Only that time she had screwed up more than any person should be able to get away with. And yet somehow, she had.
They never knew it was me, she thought wildly. All those policemen, all those search parties, even the private detective, and they never found her body. A 14-year-old outsmarted them all. Including Cordelia. The one time I beat her at anything, I had to beat her to death!
Jackson began to laugh hysterically, tears streaming down her cheeks. She didn't find anything the least bit funny; she really had no idea why she was laughing. I really am a freak, she thought as she giggled and sobbed at the same time. I really am. I am a monster, just like everyone said. They were right, they were all right. I shouldn't be the one who's still here. I should be the one who's dead.
She latched onto this last idea, knowing instinctively it was true, it was right. She should be dead. She had killed Cordelia, she should have to pay for it with her own life. That was why Cordelia was here now, saying her name- the last word she had ever uttered. She wanted to send Jackson a message, to show her she could not forget forever. Why else had Jackson been looking in the mirror so compulsively, drawn to it? It was not her reflection, but Cordelia's, that she had searched for. Without even knowing it, she had been waiting for the day Cordelia would appear, letting her know it was time to pay for taking her life. And the penalty was her own.
" Jax," whispered Cordelia, her eyes locked on Jackson's. Jackson nodded slowly. She knew what her sister wanted. She knew what she had to do.
" I'm a monster," she whispered. " Something has been bothering me for a long time... and it isn't you, Cordelia. It never was. It's always been me. I hate myself. And now- I am going to kill myself."
With those words, Jackson lunged at her reflection in the mirror, knocking her fist into the glass with a vicious blow. The mirror cracked, several shards falling onto the dresser and floor. Jackson barely noticed the pain in her fist, nor that she was bleeding. She picked up a large shard in her hand, closing her fist around it. She slowly brought the shard up to her throat, remembering her hands around Cordelia's. Hesitating, she glanced over at Cordelia, still watching from her position in the mirror. Cordelia smiled, encouraging. It had been what Jackson was looking for. With a quick jerk, she brought the glass across her throat. Sharp pain blocked out all other thoughts as her blood gushed to the surface. Jackson sank onto the floor, closing her eyes. The last thing she heard before darkness settled in was her sister's voice, warmly voicing her approval- " Jax..."
Downstairs, Jackson's parents were deep into an argument. They were screaming at each other when suddenly they heard a loud crash. They paused briefly, startled.
" What the hell was that?" asked Steven, Jackson's father.
" It sounded like glass. Do you think it was a burglar?" asked Nina, Jackson's mother.
" Don't be stupid. It was probably Jackson. She's such a klutz."
" Don't call me stupid!" Nina said heatedly.
" Well don't act stupid then," Steven said rather childishly.
" Shut up, Steven! Go see what that noise was!" Nina ordered.
Steven rolled his eyes. " Why can't you?"
" Because you're the man, you're the one who risks his life to see if we've been robbed!" Nina shrilled.
After several barbs thrown back and forth at each other, Steven finally got up to check, mainly to shut his wife up. He looked around all the windows, but none were broken. Nina came up behind him as he walked back into the living room.
" Well? Are there any windows broken?" she asked.
He shook his head. " I think you're full of it. That wasn't glass."
" Well what was it then?" Nina demanded.
" How should I know?"
" Did you check Jackson's room?"
" No, she's got that awful sign up again. Besides, wouldn't she have screamed if someone broke into her room?"
" You never know with Jackson. You better check, Steven."
Rolling his eyes in exasperation, muttering under his breath, Steven made his way to his daughter's room. Reaching it, he knocked on the door.
" Jackson? Is everything okay in there?"
Jackson didn't reply. However, this was typical of her. Steven knocked again.
Nina came behind him on the steps. He scowled upon seeing her.
'' What's wrong?" she asked.
" She's not answering me."" Is that surprising? This is JACKSON we're talking about. Just open the door."
Glaring at his wife, irritated, Steven opened the door. What he saw made him gasp, and Nina screamed, her hands flying to the sides of her face. Their daughter was lying in a crumpled heap on the floor, her throat slashed visciously. Bloody fingerprints covered her mirror, and a huge chunk of glass was missing, shards scattered across the floor and dresser. A large shard was embedded in her throat.
Steven stared, shock freezing him to his spot. He could not move or think, so numb did he feel. Beside him, Nina was having no such reaction. She clawed at her hair, weeping and screaming, " Nooo! My daughter, not Jackson! Not Jackson too! Nooo!" Sobs racked her body. She shook violently with their force. Her legs buckled from under her, and she fell to the floor, crying.
Steven found himself moving forward, zombielike, though he was not meaning to do so. He was in such a state of shock he acted merely by instinct. He walked in this state to Jackson's phone, dialing 911.
" 911, what is your emergency?"
" My daughter has just committed suicide. She slashed her throat with glass," came his voice, sounding very distant and emotionless.
" We'll send paramedics right away. What is your name and address?"
Steven gave it to them, then hung up. He sank on to Jackson's bed and stared into space, ignoring his wife's keening. He did not see her or hear her; he could not even see his daughter's body right in front of him. HE looked into space and saw and heard nothing.
This is where the couple remained, unmoving, until the paramedics found them four minutes later. Breaking into the house and then rushing into Jackson's room, two paramedics headed straight to Jackson's body, taking her pulse, though they knew it was hopeless, then performing CPR. A third lifted Nina by the elbows and led her downstairs, giving her a sedative. The fourth paramedic bent in front of Steven.
" Sir," he said, trying to get Steven to look him in the eye rather than stare into the distance, " How long has she been like this?"
Steven did not answer him.
After several more attempts to question him, the paramedic gave up, joining the other two on the floor before Jackson. But it was too late. Moments later they declared Jackson dead. The one who had tried to talk to Steven took him by the elbow and tried to make him rise to his feet. Steven, his face blank, did so willingly enough, following him out of the room. The remaining two paramedics began to write up a report of the case.
Jesse Douglas, the younger of the two, shook his head sadly as his partner wrote. HE had seen this kind of scene way more than he would have liked. He would never understand how a person could do this to themselves. But if this girl's appearance was anything to judge, she had her reasons.
His eyes drifted to the dresser, noting the blood. Suddenly he saw something out the corner of his eye in the mirror. He looked up sharply, but as soon as he did, it was gone. It must have been my imagination, he decided. It hadn't been more than a flash, really. But for the briefest of seconds, Jesse had thought he'd seen the image of a girl in the mirror, a young girl with blonde hair.