In the last chapter, Saria attended Daniel's search party. A conversation with his sister, Elizabeth Johnston, lead her to believe that there might have been more to the relationship he shared with Liliana than she already knew. We now find her haunted by this prospect...
02nd March 2014
I haven't written to you in a while, have I? How long has it been since last I put pen to paper and spoke to you of my life? A day? A week? A month?
I don't suppose you'll even notice that, though, would you? You probably have no concept of time anymore. No concept of what constitutes a day, a week, a month, a year, none of it. None of it matters to you. You'll spend the rest of eternity lying in that makeshift grave I built for you. In a hundred years, you will still be there. In a thousand years, you will still be there. When I am long dead and gone, and my own body has turned to bone and dust, you, my little sister, will still be in the ground.
That being said, I could probably give some excuse as to why I haven't written. I could tell you that I've been busy, that prison life has kept me on my toes, that I've been spending my free-time in the library reading books on law, scouring over them in the hopes that there might be some loophole that I can use to appeal my case. Something that I could use to get me out of this damn hell and back to freedom.
I could tell you all of those things, Lili, and all of them would be true. But I've promised that I would be honest in these letters, sister. I promised that I would tell you the truth, no matter how ugly it might be.
And the truth, little sister, is that I am rather annoyed with you.
Oh yes. I haven't been upset with you in some time, have I? Haven't been angered by your actions in quite a while. When was the last time I felt upset by you, my sweet sister? It feels like forever. Since you died, my thoughts of you have been filled only with fondness. Only with wishful thinking, wistful dreams of a life that could have been,
Maybe it's because you're gone, and perhaps death makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps knowing that I'll never see you again makes it easier for me to forgive your mistakes - of which there were many, we both know that.
Perhaps the old adage is true, that you really don't appreciate what you have until it's gone. That said, there are some things that just make me mad. That piss me right the fuck off, no matter who does them.
And you, my sweet sister, have pissed me off.
But I'll get to that in due course, don't you worry.
It had been about a month or so since I attended Daniel's search party, and still, not a trace of him had been found. I'd been keeping tabs on the story, reading up on it online whenever I got the chance. I'd even joined an online group that his parents had set up - Help Find Daniel Johnston - it was called. What a creative title.
It had well over two hundred members, too, Liliana. Two hundred people who wanted to see Daniel found and returned safely to his loving family. Some who logged on every day and posted stupid status updates such as:
"Hope you come home soon, Daniel, we all miss and love you. Stay safe, stay strong."
It was laughable, truly, truly laughable. Did they think their heartfelt message was going to make a difference to the search? Did they think that, somehow, Daniel was going to be able to see them? That these desperate, pathetic pleas would make the missing boy just. . . appear, back in his parent's arms?
Daniel was rotting in the bottom of a lake, and in no position to check any online forums, in no position to receive any texts. Sometimes, I wondered how people would react if I told them the truth. If I published the details of my crime for the world to see.
Imagine it, Lil. Just imagine. If I wrote out every disgusting, morbid, decrepit description of what I had done to Daniel. Told them about how the genius planning, about all I had gone through to make my plans come to fruition - gotta keep them in suspense, right? Keep them hanging onto the edge of their seats, wanting to learn more.
Then, when I'd told them all about the preparation, when they could take it no more, I'd spill all the gory details of what I had done to Daniel. Every stab, every time the knife sliced his flesh, every way his body jerked and writhed on the ground, all the blood.
If only I could tell the whole world what I'd done, could proclaim my power and greatness over this pathetic boy for all the universe to see, so that his pathetic family could quake in my might - so that they would know that it was I, Saria Abrams, who had deciding power over their son's life.
Alas, I could never do such a thing. It wasn't because I knew people would be horrified by my actions. They were all foolish sheep who didn't understand the unbridled joy, the true power that comes with taking a life. They didn't understand how great murder could make a person feel. Though, I suppose, I can't really blame them for that, can I? After all, hearing about murder on the news is not quite the same as committing it, right?
When people hear about murder, they can. . . sort of distance themselves from it. They can sit there on their high-horses and judge those like me, saying that we're evil, that we're monsters, that we deserve to die. Always the same bullshit, all the time. I had to wonder, though, would these same people be quite as judgmental if they ever killed someone? If they could walk a mile in my shoes, could see the reasoning behind my choices. I wasn't a monster, my little flower, despite what people may think. All I did, I did for you, for us, to further the betterment of my goals.
We all have goals, after all. Can I be blamed if people force me to get my hands dirty in order to achieve mine?
No, I rather think not. Still, not only did the 'moral' side of humanity hate criminals, law enforcement aren't our biggest fans, either. That's why I couldn't spill my guts out for all the world to hear. There were rules and regulations against stabbing people to death, no matter how much they might have deserved it.
And I, my sister, most certainly did not need or want to end up in jail. Despite the troubles that I so often had in life, despite all the pain that I had endured during my years on this Earth, despite the many betrayals, I happened to like my freedom.
The smell of freshly cut grass. The taste of my morning coffee. The mindless buzz of the television playing some stupid pop quiz show or whatever as I tapped away at my laptop. Walking in the woods, the feeling of leaves or snow crunching under my feet. These were all things that I did not wish to lose. Things that I knew a prison cell would not have.
Ah, but I know now, these words matter not. I have been caught for my crimes, and am facing the so-called 'just' punishment for them. But as of then? I was still revelling in my freedom, and wanted to ensure I held tight to it, ensure that I grabbed at it with both hands and never let go.
So, to do that, I had to play the part. Humble, demure, prim-and-proper Saria. The young lady with the pretty dresses, and the blonde curls, and the pearl necklaces, like something right out of the 1950's.
A person for whom butter wouldn't melt in her sweet mouth. Brilliant, yet compassionate all at the same time. At least, this is how I must be perceived to the rest of the world. I knew, deep down, that Daniel's murder was far different from the others I had committed, and brought with it a far greater risk.
I have said it before, Lil, but I shall say it again; Daniel had people who cared for him. He wasn't like Chloe or Amber, or Jess. He wasn't abandoned or homeless or some hooker on the streets. He 'mattered'. He was loved. People cared for his well-being. They needed and wanted him to come home safe. So, despite how much joy it might have given me to exclaim my part in his disappearance for all the world to see, I knew I had to bite my tongue.
Of course, this would be easier said than done. Try as I might to push the events of the search party from my mind, and to only focus on it to check for updates of the boy, there was one thing I could not shake.
That, of course, being my conversation with Elizabeth, Daniel's sister. How I wished now that I had not layed eyes upon that girl. That I had the common sense to stay well and truly away from her. What, did I not think some form of abject misery wouldn't stem from our little chat?
That she would say or do something to bring my blood to a boil, to cause the false pretence of happiness that I had built up to crumble away into nothingness? And of course, she had, Lil. The stupid bitch. She had all but destroyed my confidence with those simple yet devastating words.
"Daniel talked about Lili all the time."
How those words brought such a profound sense of despair to my soul, Liliana. Such a simple phrase to anyone else - one that might have given another person joy to hear - but served no purpose than to make my insides seem to curdle with a terrible mixture of rage, anxiety and misery all at the same time. What did she mean by that, sister? Daniel talked about you? When? Why? What did he say? For what purpose, I wondered, did he have to discuss you in any capacity?
Oh, how I tried to tell myself that there was nothing amiss. Elizabeth might have just been exaggerating, surely. Perhaps her brother had only mentioned your name in passing; you were both in the same class, after all.
Perhaps you had helped him with homework, or worked with him on a group project. Something like that. You always had such a compassionate heart, sweet flower, always wanted to help others. I could almost believe that you would do such a thing for Daniel. Then, that he would tell his family of your acts of kindness, and that would be an end to it.
But no. Somewhere, deep within the recesses of my frazzled mind, I knew this was not to be the case. Call it a woman's knowledge, call it sisterly intuition, call it whatever you will, but I had this horrid thought stirring within me. Was it possible that you had been seeing Daniel behind my back? That you and he engaged in some secret relationship? After all, I had graduated school long before you would have. There was ample opportunities for you and that scum to enjoy some 'quality time' during school hours.
The thought made me sick, Lil. The idea of that disgusting excuse for a person being anywhere near you, of being... your boyfriend. Besmirching your perfect self with his filth. You were mine, Lili. My sister. My family. My blood coarsed through your veins. That alone placed you upon a pedestal and set you atop heights far greater than Daniel Johnston could ever hope to achieve.
Yet, I could not stop thinking about it. I knew you liked him, I wasn't blind. Though I had made you promise not to ever speak to or see him again, Elizabeth's words were causing me great pain. It was a pain that I brought with me to every aspect of my life, from the moment that the search party ended. For the days and weeks that followed, I longed so desperately to shake the cruel imaginings from my mind, but i just could not do it.
It seemed to me as if my very thoughts had turned against me, claiming now to haunt me with ideas that made me want to rage and scream and burn the whole world down. Yes, you were dead, sister. You had been gone for quite some time now, and I was never going to see you again. Surely it made little sense to fret about something that may or may not have happened, to taint our memories with the pain of a betrayal you may not have committed at all.
But no. Your death did not cancel out the promise you had made. You swore to me that you wouldn't speak to Daniel again, looked me in the eye and promised. It was a promise you had made when you were still alive, obviously, and therefore it was still valid to me.
Damn it, sis, the pain, the stress, it was killing me. Even at work. In the place I most tried to keep my personal life at bay, even there I could not shake off the dilemma I was facing.
Usually, I was quite good at masking my true feelings, my true intentions. I could plaster a smile across my face and crack a joke, and nobody would be any the wiser to my internal conflicts. Just how it had to be. But no. The stress you were causing me was far too great to merely let go. Every time I spoke to anyone, every call I made, every customer that walked through the bank's front doors and asked for a loan; it all felt like my very walls were going to crumble around me.
The porcelain doll known as Saria Abrams was tainted, Lil, her fissures cracking under the weight of the pain that her own, little sister, was causing to her. How long would it be before I just... Snapped?
As I sat at my desk, pen in one hand, absently twirling the phone cord around my finger with the other, I envisioned how easy it would be to burn this whole place down.
Damn it all to Hell! I wanted to take a fucking match and light the world aflame, to make everyone and everything suffer in the way I was. Why must I hide my rage, Lili? Tell me that. Why must I wear a mask and fool the world, when all I wanted was for them to know just how broken and livid and raging I was?
I remember this afternoon, a Thursday, like it was yesterday. I sat at my desk, gripping the ballpoint pen so tight that my knuckles began to whiten around it. Over and over I scribbled into the lined pages of my notepad, not a word of substance, Lili, just incessant lines and loops and circles. Like a woman possessed. My thoughts seemed to operate on a never ending chain.
She loved him. No. No, she didn't. She loved me. No, she didn't love me at all. She lied, she lied. Would she lie? Would she have dared? Goddamnit, Liliana loved me! Me, me, not Daniel, never Daniel! Me! I took those beatings for her, I gave my soul to her, I did it all for her- she wouldn't FUCKING betray me like this. Would she?
I clenched the pen so hard that it broke, ink splashing all over my hands and staining them. The pen rolled from the desk and landed with a thud on the floor, but not before making a stop on my lap, staining the pretty floral dress I had decided to wear that day.
"Fuck!" I swore under my breath, pressing an ink-stained hand to my throbbing temples. This stress, it would drive me into an early grave before I knew it.
You see what you've done to your big sister, Liliana?
It was Charles, my boss. I hadn't even noticed him, so fixated was I on my own pain. Yet now, here he stood, by my desk, a look of concern written upon his features.
Shit, Lil. I didn't want to deal with him, but I had no choice. Turning, I licked my lower lip anxiously, and faced him. He wore an expression in his beedy grey eyes that spoke volumes. He, clearly, knew that something was up.
"Is everything alright?" he asked. "You seem... Distant, today. Not like yourself."
"I'm..." I started, then stopped myself. I had been about to say 'I'm fine' but what good would it do, I wondered? All it would serve would be to keep up false pretenses again. The agony would only be biting away at me. No, no, I had to deal with my conflict once and for all.
With a deep sigh, I took center stage once more. "Actually... My head, it's been pounding all morning, and I feel... a little nauseous."
Not a lie. Just a manipulation of the truth.
"Maybe I'm stressed, or something. I don't know. I... I don't mean to worry you."
Charles glanced at me. For what seemed like an eternity, we looked at one another. Would he buy my sob story? Or would he tell me to suck it up and keep working? Could he tell that all I wanted was to go home? Oh, how the minutes ticked by, the only sound emanating from the clock as it brought forth another method with which to haunt my tortured psyche. What would he say? This man, who held the power to decide if I went home or remained in this hellhole of an office until my designated closing hours.
Finally, mercifully, he relented, and his next question made me internally rejoice; "Do you want to go home for the day, Saria?"
I continued staring at him as he spoke. "You do look fairly stressed out, and maybe a bit of rest would do you good. So go on. Take the rest of the day off - and Friday, too. I'll get someone to cover for you."
This, right here, is why it pays to be a good employee, and not just in the monitary sense. With all I had done for the company, all the money I brought in, the new customers I acquired, all of it, of course I could be granted some leeway when it came to taking time off. They knew I wasn't some bulshitter, they knew that I wasn't going to try and 'pull a fast one'.
"That... Yeah. I think I need that. Thank you." With a half-smile, I rose and began packing away my belongings. Once I had that all done, I said goodbye to Charles, and began making my way out the door.
"Oh, are you going home early, Saria?"
Fuck. I didn't want to talk with him.
"Yeah, I have a headache. I just need to rest. I'll be back on Monday." I gave him the best smile I could manage, which was rather half-assed on my part, truth be told, and walked out the door, not wanting to engage with these people any more than I had to.
Once outside, I took a deep breath, and trudged my way through the streets to where I had parked my car. Every step felt as though I was putting my feet deeper and deeper into twenty inch snow. The weight of my burdens appeared to carry on me like falling into quicksand.
I needed it to end, Lili. All this worry, this fret, I just needed it to stop. I needed answers, regardless of what they may be.
Reaching my car, I quickly unlocked it and hopped inside. My fingers gripped at the steering wheel, and for a brief, fleeting moment, I entertained the notion of just driving as far as I could possibly go, of driving thousands of miles until I couldn't drive anymore.
But no. No, Lili. Where on this Earth could I go that I would not be haunted by the remnants of the pain lingering within? To what end would fleeing serve when it was my own self I longed so desperately to flee from?
Sister, what I craved were answers. I needed to understand what was going on in our world, in that head of yours. If there was but a shred of truth in Elizabeth's words.
And I knew that there was but one place in which I could find them.
As I pulled up to my house, I felt the nerves racing through me once more. I had to do this, I knew, but what I wouldn't give not to. Still, there was no way for me to find peace without knowing the truth. The walk to the house from the car took forever. Every fibre of my being was calling me, begging me not to do this. It felt as though I were a prisoner making my way to the guillotine.
Fumbling around for the correct key, I swore under my breath as I tried to unlock the door. "Damn it, damn me, fuck this to Hell." Eons later, the door clicked open, and I pushed my way inside. Normally, after work, I liked to relax on the couch with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, and let the worries of the real world drain off me.
This wasn't a normal day, though, Lil, and there was something I had to do. I tossed my bag on the sofa, and began the walk down the corridor to your room. How long had it been since last I placed a foot inside there? How long since I last breathed the air of your scent? How long since I saw and touched the items that had been yours?
Even now, as I pushed the door to your room open and stepped inside, I couldn't help the profound feeling of loneliness that hit me like a freight train.
Your bed, your shelves, your clothes, your books. Everything reminded me of you. It felt as though you never left, my flower. Like you had been sitting trapped in that room for ages, waiting for me to come and let you out. Waiting to be set free.
No. No. I shook the thoughts of you from my head. Couldn't think of them today. Couldn't think of anything but the task at hand. With grit and determination, I began to look through your things, rifling through drawers, pushing books aside, all in the need to find what I wanted.
And just what was it that I wanted, sister mine? Why, your diary, of course. The same diary that hid the sordid account of your knowledge regarding my murder of Laura and Chelsea. The little book to which you spilled out your very heart and mind.
If nothing else, then this book must hold the answers that I needed so badly.
"Where is it?" I griped, tossing another book to the floor as I ransacked your things like a woman possessed. "Come on, come on, where the fuck did she keep this shit? It has to be here somewhere, ri—aha!"
There it was. Sticking out of a bottom shelf that I hadn't thought to look in yet. A eureka moment if ever there was one. Bending down, I lifted the diary into my hands, and sat down on your bed.
Was I truly about to do this, Lil? To read your deepest secrets when you were not even alive to speak a word in your own defence? Could there not be a greater betrayal of our sisterhood? A bond that we had formed together since the early days. Alas, what choice had I but to obey the whims of my tortured mind? I needed answers, needed them now. There was nothing for it. Like an Olmypic diver competing for gold, I knew my only choice was to bite the bullet, hold my breath, and jump straight in.
I opened the diary, and began to read through it. All your thoughts, my sister, laid bare for me to see. Every worry, every fear, all the happy times in between. In a weird way, part of me thought I could distance myself from this. That because you were dead it would be less painful. More like reading an autobiography of some celebrity that I had heard of in passing but never met before. I thought, idiotic as it sounds, that I would be able to forget it all for a moment and just read.
Ha! Easier said than done, isn't it, Liliana? For it wasn't long before I found the answers that I had both been looking for and didn't want to find at the same time.
I'm going to transcribe this diary entry, sis, as best as I can remember. Not that you would ever forget it, anyway, you backstabbing— but I need to write it down. Need you to fully comprehend the depths of your betrayal.
Alright? So here we go.
February 14th (well, check out the fucking date on that one, sister)
Today is Valentine's Day, and I don't think that I could be happier. It feels like I'm walking on air, like I'm floating and dancing and singing and the whole world is aglow. Why am I so happy, you might ask? Why am I so elated? I'll tell you.
It's all because of Daniel. Daniel Johnston. My boyfriend, and yes, you read that right. I have a boyfriend. Liliana Emily Abrams has a boyfriend! And oh, what an amazing boyfriend he is. Kind and funny and smart, not to mention, so damn cute! His smile, the dimples on his cheeks, ooh, he makes my heart go all fluttery just thinking about him.
I've liked him for ages, diary, did I tell you that? Always from afar, though, because I never suspected that he might like me back. But he does. He does and now we're together. We're together and he bought me chocolates for Valentine's, and a card that said 'My Pretty Lili'.
Isn't that just the most romantic thing ever? He's amazing, so amazing, I'm in love! Yet... I can't help but wish other things in my life ran as smoothly as this. You see, Daniel and I will have to hide our relationship, and hide it well. If not, then Saria might find out, and I know she won't be happy.
She has banned me from speaking to Dan, and I don't know why. Can't she see that I just want to grow up? I want to be happy, and I want a life of my own that doesn't involve her— doesn't involve her being around me twenty-four seven. But I can't say that to her. I can't express how I feel to my big sister or she'll get angry and then we'll have a big fight again and— I don't want that.
So I have to hide this from Saria. I wish I didn't, but there seems to be no way to make her see reason or logic here. Still, at least I have you to confide in, diary. You don't judge or ridicule me, or hurt my feelings or anything like that. You just listen.
And I appreciate that.
— Liliana xx
There were more entries after that, Lil. Some talking about your secret meetings with Daniel, some bitchng about me, some doing both.
One that simply read:
I think Saria—
And had the pages torn out after it so I couldn't read the rest. Not that it mattered. I was not thinking of anything but what I'd just read.
Have you ever been emotionally numb, Lili? If not, then I can't aptly describe it to you. The feeling of powerlessness. The weight of it all crashing down upon your shoulders and making you sink faster than a ship with a million holes in it.
The diary fell from my fingers and clattered to the floor, forgotten. Next, my body seemed to react as if on its own accord. I barely made a sound as I rolled off the bed, landing on the carpet with a muffled thump. I lay there, my eyes glazed over, my head ringing.
A piercing numbness seemed to coarse through every vein and muscle. It couldn't be true. No. No! It couldn't be! You would never betray me like this. You were my baby sister, you and I were thick as thieves. There could be not a snowball's chance in Hell that you would ever dare to go against me.
Yet, here was the evidence, plain as day. You had betrayed me. Hidden a secret, forbidden relationship behind my back like the two of you were motherfucking Romeo and Juliet. It made my temper rise, coming to a boiling point.
Tears welled in my eyes and I grabbed your diary again, chucking it across the room. A garbled sound escaped my lips, a word, a phrase, I think, but I'm not sure which.
Might have been something like, "Lying whore!" Or "Traitorous little bitch!" I'm not sure. Either or. Does it matter? You were both.
My whole body shook with rage as I rose to my feet, swinging my arms wildly like a demon. I knocked books off of shelves, threw clothes about, flung the covers of your bed onto the floor. I ripped the paintings you had done ages ago off the wall and tore them all to shreds, the pieces fluttering around me like a twisted interpretation of snowflakes.
I was broken, Liliana, broken and hurting and betrayed and angry, all at the same time. I wanted to destroy everything, every last drop of perfection that this room used to represent. Tears were streaming down my face, my hair a matted mess, my breathing labored. You betrayed my trust, sister. You traitor! You fucking bitch! You Judas! After all I had done for you, or did you forget?
I comforted you when Mom and Dad beat you. I stayed up all night when you had nightmares. I brushed your hair and sang you songs and made you laugh when you were down. I bought you gifts and listened when you had a problem. I took beatings and so much more so that you wouldn't have to. I put my ass on the line and murdered our parents so that you could have a chance to be safe.
All of it was for you, flower. It was all for you! I did it because I loved you, and what did you do? Went behind my back and dated the scum that I had forbidden you from even talking to.
It's not just about Daniel, Lil. It's the principle of the thing. You swore, you promised, looked me in the eye and gave me your word as a sister that you wouldn't speak to him again. Now, after your death, I find that you had been dating him?
Fuck that. Fuck you.
You have no idea the pain you put me through right now, do you?
I should have made you suffer, Liliana. I should have slit your throat ear to ear and left your rotting corpse for the animals to find. No. No. I should have fucking killed you when you were born. Should have put a pillow over your head or thrown you out the window or down the stairs.
Anything, anything but this. Why did I let you into my heart, Lili? Why did I let myself love you?
Because I did. I loved you. I still do. Even after the agony you had caused me, I still loved you. Had you walked through those doors right now, I still would have given you everything. But it was never enough, was it? No, not ever for you. There was always someone else ready to take my place in your heart. Whether it be Daniel, or Laura, or Chelsea, or even the abusive fucks that we called Mom and Dad. Always someone to replace me, as if I were not worthy of love.
But I am, Liliana. I am worthy of love. So much more than you can imagine. And I know I have love to give, I know I do!
I'll prove it to you, sister. I'll find someone to love me, someone who won't hurt me or betray me or ever make me feel like you did. I'll find someone who makes me feel worth it and who can piece back together the broken shards and fragments of my heart.
I'll find the peace that I deserve, I promise you.
I hate you—
No. Wait. I don't.
I love— actually, fuck this. I'm angry, Liliana, and I'm disappointed.
You don't get a sweet sign-off this time.
In the next chapter, Saria meets someone who not only reminds her of the past once more, but may give her the chance to be loved again. What will happen? Please comment, rate, and subscribe. The next chapter will be up as soon as possible...