Part 2 – Envy
“Uh, don’t take this the wrong way, but why are you still here?” I asked Charlie, who was sitting cross-legged on the end of my bed. Veronica was happily tapping away on my computer, engrossed in a match of some competitive game.
“I was waiting for you,” Charlie said, shrugging. “I’m curious. Sue me.”
“She’s been going through all your stuff,” Veronica said, not taking her eyes off the screen.
I glared at Charlie. She just stared back, blankly.
“What were you looking for?” I demanded. “And why didn’t you stop her?” I asked Veronica.
Veronica ignored me. Charlie held out her hand, held in a loose fist, before opening it. Half a dozen small plastic objects fell out, clattering across the floor.
I reached down to pick one up. It didn’t look like much. Whatever it was, it definitely wasn’t mine.
“What are these?” I asked, holding one between my fingers.
“Bugs,” Charlie said. “Surveillance bugs. Somebody is very interested in you, Sabrina.”
I felt my skin crawl, and a shiver ran down my spine.
“What?” I dropped it like it was about to burn through my fingers. “Who? Why?”
Veronica turned away from the PC, a grim expression on her face. She reached out and grabbed my hand.
“It’s okay, Sabrina. We’ll find out who did this. I promise you, you’ll be okay.”
“I know who did this,” Charlie said, and Veronica stared at her.
“You what- who? Who did this, and why do you know?” Veronica demanded, almost spluttering. “How did you know to look for them, or where to find them?”
Charlie rolled her eyes, and stood up, her foot crushing one of the tiny microphones. A fleeting smile crossed her lips.
“Because that’s how I think,” she said. “Sabrina is interesting. She disappeared the night everything went to hell. She walked home, unscathed.”
“That doesn’t explain the who,” Veronica said.
“The who is the Celestial,” Charlie said. “I’d have thought that was obvious.”
“Who?” I asked, but Veronica stood, standing in front of me defensively.
“No,” she said, her voice full of venom.
“Hey, I don’t like it either, but you’re kidding yourself if you think he’s not paying attention,” Charlie said.
“Guys, who is the Celestial?” I asked, pulling away from Veronica.
“The leader of one of the most powerful gangs in the city,” Veronica said, her shoulders slumping. “They were big before, but now…”
“The Stars,” Charlie said. “Evidently, he has a sense of humour. Also, he’s more of an information broker than a gangster, but that only makes him more dangerous, really.”
I felt my body tense up, and realised it wanted to change. It wanted to be strong, to feel safe. I held it in. There was no way I wanted Veronica or Charlie knowing about that.
“I’m not special,” I insisted. “He’s wasting his time. Why won’t he just leave me alone?”
“He’s not gonna like having his bugs messed with,” Charlie said. “He’ll send people back with more.”
“No!” I shouted. “My family, they can’t, they’re innocent, I-”
“Hey, it’s okay,” Charlie said, her voice uncharacteristically soft. “He’s not going to hurt them. That’s not his style.”
“And how do you know so much about him?” Veronica asked accusingly.
“Personal experience,” Charlie said, her voice heavy. “I’d rather not talk about it.”
“No, we’re gonna talk about it,” Veronica insisted. “You’ve been here every day since Sabrina disappeared. You’re the one who seems obsessed with her. You knew exactly where those bugs were. And where were you the past six months, hey? You’re the suspicious one here.”
Charlie’s eyes flashed, a brief moment of anger, but she calmed herself.
“I was in hospital,” she said evenly. “I tried to kill myself.”
“Wha- shit,” Veronica said. “Shit. I didn’t know. I’m sorry.”
“Nobody knew,” Charlie said. “That’s the way I want it. It’s not how I want people to see me, to think of me. I’m supposed to be strong, tough, in control, you know?”
“Why?” I blurted out, without thinking. They both looked at me, and I turned red. “N-not why did you do it. Why do you need to be strong?”
“I… don’t know, anymore,” Charlie said, staring at the floor. “Originally, it was for her. Now, I think it’s for me. Maybe it’s all I know. Maybe it’s the only way to keep myself from ending up back there again.”
“Her?” Veronica asked. “You never mentioned a her before.”
Charlie looked up, her eyes wet.
“Rachel. She was everything to me. I loved her so much, but I couldn’t…”
Veronica hugged her, clearly taking her by surprise. She stiffened, but slowly hugged back. The two of them stood like that, holding each other close.
I coughed awkwardly. The two of them separated.
“I want to sleep,” I lied. “I’m exhausted. Can we talk more tomorrow?”
“Of course,” Veronica said, rubbing my arm. “You still want us to stay over?”
“No, I’m okay,” I said. “Thank you, but I think… I think I need to wind down and just think, you know?”
“We’ll get out of your hair,” Charlie said. “Call if you need anything, yeah?”
“I will,” I said, lying again. “Thank you.”
I hugged them both goodbye, and saw them to the front door. As soon as they’d left, I turned back around, and rushed up to my mum’s sewing room.
I had a plan.