Regrets Collect Like Old Friends
Savannah had not had company in a long time. Maybe that was what caused her dark eyebrows to furrow as a knock sounded at the door of her small apartment on the lower east side of the city that she had always craved, though now that she was there, she had no idea why.
She sat at a large wooden desk, with a candle on her left side, nearly setting fire to her long hair when she turned, and an old typewriter, the one she had used to finish Newspaper Taxis, a murder mystery that sent the publisher into bankruptcy. She had her own theory that she had been going slowly mentally insane since then, her part-time manager forcing her to stay at work and eat every day.
"I'm working." Savannah said sternly from her desk. She enjoyed- well, she didn't really enjoy many things anymore, but she appreciated the solitude. The right kind of company never came along often.
"How funny, I am too. I'm tired of you New Yorkers, I have a warrant and you have good reason to get over here. So open the damn door." A voice warned from outside, a voice that belonged to one Erin Conner. A while back, she had been an intense rower, but when the decision was put in front of her, her interest belonged in the field of crime scene investigation. She was sent alone to meet a twenty-something author, whose name was hauntingly familiar.
Savannah had almost recognized the voice right off, her breath catching and her knees falling weak at the memory that surged through her bones, and she thought I must be crazy, it's true, and I am. Because that voice hadn't echoed through her ears for what must've been a decade by now.
However, she only walked over to the door, pulling it open harshly and wincing as the sunlight hit her eyes in an unwelcoming way. And then she saw it. Erin Conner had never changed. She was a bit taller than she remembered her in high school, but that was a given. Her blonde hair fell just barely past her shoulders and her blue eyes shone with a childish innocence that no longer lingered in her tone.
Erin looked back at Savannah sympathetically as she, too, had realized. Even in the blinding sun in the day, the older girl's skin was stained with moonlight, and the tears that left trails of cheap, soft black eyeliner running down sensitive skin on her cheeks. She was sickeningly skinny, the resulting image of someone who had given up. The hair still had the same jumpy curl, and maybe that was the only thing that looked remotely happy or playful on the young woman now.
They both blinked.
And for a while that's all they did, was blink and breathe and take in and realize that despite the odds, here they were again. Savannah smiled, which was odd for her. And that made Erin smile; because she already knew that it wasn't often that Savannah smiled.
And Savannah almost hugged Erin, but she wasn't much of a hugger anymore, and Erin had a gun in her belt. She could remember a couple times that she really pissed Erin off, so she decided not to risk it at all. That was probably the most sensible decision she'd made all day. "Well, obviously I have to ask why you're here. I'm kind of concerned, I know it's not because you wanted to visit me." Savannah smirked.
"Oh, don't be so negative. It's not that bad." Erin lied, inviting herself in and sitting on the mattress on the floor, Savannah following shortly behind and sitting next to her. "I'm working on a new case. It's rather strange actually; there was a girl in San Francisco. She's about our age, and she's been working in clubs and bars for… god, it must be since high school. We don't have much information on her yet, but apparently, she murdered someone based on a murder in a published book called… Newspaper Taxis. And that led me straight here. I can't find a copy; we need it to identify the weapon more accurately and who she might've murdered."
Savannah stared wide eyed at Erin the entire time, not believing a story like hers would inspire something so terrible and purely unreal. She nodded slowly at Erin's request, taking a deep, shaky breath before pulling out the last copy of the book from under her mattress. She had the other copies recalled, and she didn't know who kept it, but there weren't many out there. Even the sight of it set her off; how many hours she spent in the world of the characters who failed her in the end.
But she wasn't the victim of her defeats. And she wasn't the sole author of her victories, of which there were very few.
She shakily set the book in Erin's hands, immediately tearing her eyes away from the cover. She already wanted this case to be over as soon as possible. In the book, the main character, named Sebastian, killed the girl that he had fallen in love with for not loving him back, going mentally insane because of it. He stabbed her through once for every reason that he had fallen so hard for the girl. He lived his life in regret and depression after he was excused from murder in the first degree by the defense's case that he was found innocent due to reason of insanity.
Erin nodded as she took the book and hid it against her side, having figured out that the sight vexed the young woman. "I'll be back to speak to you, I have to take this to the headquarters. But, I'm currently at a hotel up closer to Time Square. Really, I want you to stay with me while I'm in town." She offered gently, along with a sad smile to the girl who seemed to be becoming a part of her surroundings, the one who she used to watch melt into the scenery of the sport she would go through withdrawals without.
And for that short moment, Savannah could've sworn she'd seen a glimpse of the young, innocent, light, just-into-middle-school Erin that she had come to known so well a while back. It broke her heart. "I'd love to, but I'm really busy with my work lately, I just-"
"I know you. It isn't working, it's detaching from feeling alive." Erin explained with a sigh as she reached into her coat pocket and pulled out a business card. "Call me. I'll be done with the book by morning; you won't have to look at it again."
Savannah nodded, giving a small, almost grateful smile as she accepted the business card. Maybe she could get the chance to start again. Maybe, if she just got a little push…
The second knocking that strange day occurred in Fremont, California, but then again, things like this barely compared to all the strange things that happened in Fremont.
It was raining then, little droplets catching in the lace and the false eyelashes on one Kelli Castaldo as she knocked oh so desperately at the wooden door of the small office building. There was a big white-lettered sign on the building that now only said 'Petro', though it used to say 'Nelson and Petro', and all of the letters that were removed were still visible with a faint white stain.
"Hanna!" The blonde girl outside yelled, her voice flooded with tears. The familiar name felt strange rolling off her tongue and leaving her lips, but it had more chance of catching the young lawyer's attention. "You have to help me, please, god, I need you." She whimpered brokenly, more to herself than anyone who would be inside.
Kelli went to college for rowing right after high school, but when it flopped she moved straight to San Francisco, in love with the feeling and the rush in the artistic streets of the city. She had lots of company most of the time, usually people she met at local bars and clubs she worked at- cough, wink- However, she was still as bright and almost happy as she was when she left New York. This was, after all, exactly where she said she would end up after her days in school.
Hanna Petro left New York with Allison Nelson after attending Albany Law School together for four years, getting their own little cozy office and a mildly successful business in Fremont, California along with it. It was lovely there, and this was what the pair had always dreamed of doing, though a little Olympic Rowing on the side could've been nice.
After two years of working together, however, a big argument ensued. It haunted Hanna every single day, because she had no idea where Allison had gone after it happened. There had been rumors of her death, but really, all known was that she disappeared and that Hanna was the last person she'd spoken to. The memory was as clear as day.
They both sat silently at the small desk, Hanna on one side, and Allison on the other. They were expressionless, almost numb, and deep in thought. "This business is keeping me down." Allison muttered, refusing to meet Hanna's surprised gaze.
"I'm sorry?" Hanna prodded, raising her eyebrows to her hairline as her eyes clouded.
"We're both better than a small office in Ohio." She said through gritted teeth, clearly bored with her surroundings after two years of it, which was odd to the younger girl.
"This is California-"
"It feels like Ohio." Allison argued. "It feels like I've been stuck in the same old cage with you for god knows how long it's been now. I have potential for something bigger. It's keeping me down, and I'm telling you, we need an upgrade." She ordered with a sigh as she said back arrogantly in her chair.
Hanna shook her head, swallowing thickly. "We don't have the money or the success for an upgrade, I'm sorry that you feel trapped, but we can't do anything about our setting until we really get off the ground." Her voice was flooding with tears, because she just knew. She knew Allison Nelson far better than this. Far better than she wished she did at the moment.
"Which will be what? Another two years of waiting around for someone to come in with the case of the year? Our advertising isn't bringing anyone in, it won't, and no one even sees our office." She said with a huff. Of all things, the older girl was ambitious. She wanted it all as soon as it could come. "I'm destined for better things than… this at least. This isn't what I dreamed."
Hanna opened her mouth to argue. "Yes it is, don't you remember-"
But he was cut off by her partner, who stood up. "Well, maybe I've woken up. Maybe you should follow sometime." Allison snapped, packing up her briefcase and heading out into the rain. "I'm out. Good luck with your cage." She shouted behind her as she got in her car, drove away, and simply didn't look back.
Hanna didn't cry. She didn't… feel much at all. She just sat, silent and numb as before.
As she heard the knocking at the door, Hanna sat, frozen, at her desk. She swallowed thickly, eyebrows furrowing as she heard a voice familiar to her. She couldn't quite place a well-painted fingernail on whose it was, though. She had been waiting for a proper goodbye to Allison for a year, three months, and six days. She wouldn't allow her back into the business, after leaving her here with nothing to go on, but she did care about the girl's safety at least.
The girl stood up, wiping some long, messy brunette hair from her blue eyes before heading to open the door, a tall and almost unnaturally skinny blonde girl stumbling in and out of the rain. She fell straight to the floor. Hanna watched in confusion and anticipation to see what the blonde girl on her floor would do, and then… she laughed. Kelli laughed out of complete adrenaline as she writhed on Hanna's floor. Kelli was the only one, who hadn't forgotten any of them; who had refused to let go wherever her future led her.
"Who are you, and why are you here?" Hanna groaned. "Look, I know times are hard, but I really can't have any of you coming and sleeping on my floor. Really, you are very pretty, I'm sure you could find somewhere else…" she started, being cut off by Kelli as he stood up and placed her hands on the younger girl's shoulders, making her jump and flinch away.
Kelli smirked wickedly and shook her head. "Kelli Castaldo. We used to row together, I know we did." She smiled, looking deep into Hanna's eyes as if trying to access her memory. "You always wanted to be a lawyer; you and Allison came here after college a-and I moved just to San Francisco. Erin works w-w-with crime scenes, and Savannah wrote a book, and that's… that's where my problems come in, I need your help, you and Allison."
Hanna froze for a moment, and her eyes widened and softened again and a smile threatened to tug at the corners of her lips… but then the moment was over. Then, she just went on like she normally would, refuse to let anyone in to hurt her all over. "Allison and I haven't been business partners for a year now. No one has heard from her since she disappeared in 2024." The girl started as she stepped away from Kelli carefully. "What's your case?"
"Savannah's book… is no longer a work of pure fiction." She handed Hanna the book, closing the younger girl's fingers around the hard cover. "And I'm guilty."