by: Elizabeth Koh Featherbe
Arielle stared on vacantly at the raindrops that splattered angrily on the exquisitely painted stained glass windowpanes of her bedroom. Despite the intensity of the claps of thunder and the sound of heavy rain, Arielle was so deep in thought and lost in her own world that she seemed practically oblivious to it all.
The dreary atmosphere outside was in no way at all helping to lighten up her already saddened and disheartened spirit. For the past several months it was as if Mother Nature was in tune with Arielle’s inner-feelings as it seems to have been reflecting her negative emotions in the form of frequent thunderstorms.
As though it had just happened yesterday, Arielle could remember clearly that exactly 121 days ago, she had lost a person whom she held close to her heart. The pain of losing her only sister was still fresh in her mind and hadn’t numbed at all since the day her sister was murdered.
Ever since the loss of her sister, Arielle withdrew from most of the outside world. She turned away from immersing herself in hobbies as an escapism although counsellors tried encouraging her to do so. Her mind was only consumed with thoughts regarding unanswered questions about the murder of her sister.
‘Why can’t the police look harder into solving this case?’ Arielle wondered to herself for the thousandth time. She sighed audibly, a tear trickling down her cheek again as she hugged her knees to her chest. ‘Do they not care about what happened to Belle?’
“Arielle! When the rain stops could you run over to the convenience store? We’re out of sugar!” Arielle’s mother’s voice broke her train of thought.
Despite her current disposition in life, Arielle was still one who always helped out at home when needed, and so she agreed to run the errand after the rain had stopped.
An hour or so later, once the rain had tapered off, Arielle found herself stepping into the convenience store down the road from her home. She disliked going out much in the neighbourhood because in her mind everyone labelled her as ‘the sister of the girl who was murdered’.
Arielle avoided eye contact with anyone in the store and headed straight for the shelf full of sugar packets. As she reached over for a packet on the top shelf she knocked over a couple of packets onto the floor. Bending over and hurrying to pick them up, she found that someone else had reached for it.
“Are these yours?”
Arielle peered up and locked eyes with the most beautiful and kindest pair of hazel eyes she had ever seen. Her eyes scanned the face of whom they belonged to. ‘Could he be a model?’ she mused in her head at the sight of such good looks.
She nodded and smiled shyly, “Yeah, thanks.”
With the exchange of those few words began a conversation that lasted for what seemed like forever. Jorian was the name of Arielle’s newly found acquaintance whom she had felt an instant chemistry with. He was only two years Arielle’s senior, which made him the same age as Belle, Arielle’s sister who was murdered. Jorian gave his condolences to Arielle over the incident as he told her that he himself had been Belle’s classmate during their senior year of high school.
Sparks between them flew instantly, which led to them agreeing to meet up once again as soon as possible.
Of course Arielle was late in going home after her chat with Jorian which led to her mother nagging at her poor display of punctuality. However Arielle was so high up on cloud nine that she could barely process her mother’s lecture as she only had Jorian on her mind.
Within the next few days, Jorian asked to meet up with Arielle at the movies. Arielle was ecstatic to see him again. This was the first time she was experiencing such an increase in her heartbeat rate and having butterflies in her stomach whenever she saw him.
Their meet-ups became more and more frequent as the two eventually drew closer. Arielle was happy whenever she was around him because he was the first person who could really lighten her mood with his witty jokes and cheerfulness. She even felt safe confiding her deepest feelings with him as if she had known him all her life.
After getting to know Jorian for about 5 months, Arielle found the courage to invite him over to her house for dinner with her family. Jorian immediately agreed as he mentioned that he was eager to meet her family.
At the night of the dinner, Jorian’s amazing personality instantly won over Arielle’s parents’ approval and they were able to converse as if they had known each other for a long while. Jorian told them how sorry he was about the news of Belle being murdered and that he understood how difficult it must be for them to cope with grieving over the loss of their daughter.
Arielle’s parents were a little comforted by the fact that Jorian told them how he and Belle had been classmates back in high school. ‘It’s so nice of him to try and help ease their pain by saying such nice things about Belle,’ Arielle smiled to herself as she listened to Jorian gush over Belle to her parents.
Arielle’s parents felt as if they could talk to him about the murder incident and asked what he thought of the rumours about Belle’s murderer being a stalker who was obsessed with her. To their luck, Jorian said that since he had an uncle who worked in the police force, he would try his very best to seek help from his uncle regarding Belle’s murder case. They felt a slight glimmer of hope in knowing this and thanked him from the bottom of their hearts.
After dinner was over, Arielle and Jorian had plans to go watch the night-screening of a movie since it was a Friday night. On the way to the cinema, Jorian suddenly realized he had forgotten his wallet at his apartment unit and hence they made a detour back to his house.
In Jorian’s home, Arielle waited quietly in the living room because he said that he might as well take a shower since they were back at his home. She looked curiously around and went over to his desk in the corner of the living room. There were sheets of paper and stationeries messily strewn all over the desk. Arielle was so bored and decided to look at whatever it was Jorian seems to study so intently on these papers where there were so many circles drawn in red around words and numbers.
The draft blowing in from a small opening between the window and the window sill was so strong it blew some papers right off the desk. Picking them up from the floor, Arielle clumsily knocked over notebooks from the shelf beside the desk. The notebook lay on the floor, opened up to a page filled with pictures. ‘Is that…Belle..?’ Arielle looked at the pictures with an expression that was beyond puzzled.
The page was filled with pictures of Belle which seem as if they were taken from a distance to be unnoticed. Arielle frowned as she picked up the notebook and flipped through it. The pages revealed maps with carefully drawn routes on them, train station timings, school class schedules, list of dates, and other things that didn’t make any sense to Arielle.
Feeling uneasy about this she flipped over to the last page where it was written in what looked like blood – the date of Belle’s murder.
At that exact moment the thought had hit Arielle, ‘Is Jorian…Belle’s murderer? Are all these the plans he had when he had planned to murder her…?’
‘All this while, the person whom I had drawn close to as a way to escape grieving over Belle, was really the one who had caused all this pain…?’ Arielle felt dizzy and nauseous at the thought.
Arielle felt her hands tremble as she picked up the second notebook she had dropped. Panic struck her as it was similar to the first notebook, except that it was all based on herself. Feeling full of fear she flipped to the last page and saw today’s date written there, in red pen this round, not in blood.
“If I couldn’t have Belle, no one else could.” Arielle jumped up at the sound of Jorian’s voice as he stepped out of his room, his eyes fixed on her, and a gun in his right hand. “You remind me too much of her.”