Three Minutes to Freedom

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Chapter 1

“Riley! Come on. Would you stop?” I yelled out the open car window to the fuming figure of my sister.

Angry footsteps burned through the light dusting of snow, behind her retreating form as she stormed off towards the house. She didn’t respond, but the rude hand gesture she flicked at me got the message across loud and clear. I sighed and watched through the slightly fogged glass as Riley rushed towards the door, her auburn hair waving behind her. Its final fiery flick, as she disappeared behind the door, an ultimate and banishing end to our conversation.

This was a common occurrence between us these days. Riley was pissed about one thing or another and would storm off into the house and go sulk in her room. Which was fine. It’s not like she ever left her room except for school and to get dinner anyways. She was basically a recluse and had like no friends because of it. I never knew why she shut herself away. I mean she has the full potential to have a ton of friends. She’s hilarious and kind and smart as hell. Well, she used to be at least. I wouldn’t know anymore. I never talk or see her anymore. Our only interactions nowadays involve her yelling at me and then running away.

We used to be exceptionally close when we were little. I mean we have been together since birth so we were really, really close. Perks of being a fraternal twin is that you get a “built in” friend since day one, I guess. But that also means you can really get on each other’s nerves. And fighting has become a part of my daily routine.

Now that I think about it, this all began when we started high school. I really don’t know what happened, we just kind of fell apart. Riley got super involved in her academics and I started focusing more on basketball. Our schedules were always full, so the only time we saw each other was at lunch. I eat with my friends sometimes, but I don’t think Riley has any friends to eat with so I usually track her down and eat with her. I feel bad, like somehow it’s my fault she has no friends.

And it was this guilt that was nagging at me now. Sure Riley got on my nerves, but she’s my sister. If I can do anything to fix our relationship, to get it back to what it used to be, to help Riley out of her funk, then I’ll do it.

Quickly, I stepped out of our car, grabbed my sports bag from the back seat, and rushed to the front door. I fumbled for a few seconds with the key on my lanyard, before I managed to shoulder the door open and get inside.

“Riley, where are you?” I called out into the nearly empty house. Still, only silence greeted me.

I tried again, “Riley, please tell me what’s wrong.”

A muffled, “Like you don’t already know,” came through the ceiling. I glanced at the sheetrock above me briefly before I took the stairs two at a time and approached her room, “Riles. Please. What happened?”

I knocked cautiously, knowing full well that it would be useless to try and open the door. There was a solid click of a lock and suddenly, Riley’s door swung open, her emerald eyes flashing a furious shade of green behind her thick framed glasses.

“No! You do not get to call me that. Especially, not after what you did!” She shoved an accusatory finger into my shoulder.

“What? What did I do?” I asked incredulously.

“God!” Riley screeched, throwing her hands up in the air in annoyance, “I can’t believe you,” poking me in the shoulder again she continued, “You act like you are so perfect, so innocent, like you can walk on freaking water. When in actuality you… you’re the devil reincarnated!” A snarl formed on her normally serene features.

“Riley!” I gasped, affronted by her unusually harsh words.

“No. No! Don’t you dare turn this back on me! You deserve it. You deserve to get a taste of your own medicine. You are the most self-centered, narcissistic, pompous human being that I have ever had the displeasure of knowing. I mean you are so engrossed in your own perfect little world that you don’t even see what you did,” the younger girl paused briefly before sucking in a pained breath, “What you did to me,” she finished lamely, furious tears welling into her eyes, as she stared pointedly at the ground.

I took a step forward, but she only retreated further into her room, raising a hand to stop my advance. “Riley, please. I don’t know what I did, but I’m so sorry for whatever happened,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper. I had really hurt her.

“I can’t believe you,” The red-head scoffed, her eye’s searching my face, “you still don’t know what you did,” her enraged gaze sliced through the tension between us. But, eventually, her emerald glower met with my own slate grey gaze, piercing into the deepest of parts of my soul, “Why him, Addison? Of all the people why did you have to go for him?” she asked, the anger finally dissipating from her voice and being replaced with hurt.

“You have everything. Everything!” she practically wailed, “I mean look at you,” her arms waved towards me. “You’re perfect in every sense of the word,” she began ticking off every point with a finger, “You are the star basketball player in the state. Five different colleges are offering you a scholarships to play for them. You are friends with everyone at Hill High. I’m not exaggerating when I say everyone knows your name. They all want to be your friend,” she threw her hands up in the air in exasperation, “Hell, who am I kidding? Everyone wants to be you, Addison! God. They would kill to be anything like you,” her head and voice lowered in sadness, “Not to mention every guy wants to be with you, they all think you are the prettiest girl in the school.”

The younger girl took another step further into the depths of her dark room, “And me? Well no one ever seems to notice me. No one can even see me. I’m stuck in the shadow of the famous Addison Tishler. But the worst part, Addison. The worst part out of this whole shitty situation is that out of all of them, out of all the guys at school, you chose him. You chose Christian,” her voiced raised slightly, her head snapping up to finally match my distressed look, “Christian, Addison! I have had the biggest crush on him since freshman year, and now you are dating him! How could you do that to me? How could you not know? I mean, come on. I’m your sister for God’s sake.”

I brushed a hand quickly through my brunette locks, mumbling obscenities to myself. How could I have been so blind to not see my own sister’s affection for my boyfriend? “Riles…”

“No! I said you didn’t get to call me that anymore. Only people who actually care about me get to call me that,” she spat, a single tear finally breaking through the barrier she desperately built up to hold the waters at bay. The younger girl pawed it away, irate with herself for letting her emotions get the better of her, skewing her glasses slightly on her face.

I tried again, tears welling in my own eyes, “Riley, I swear to you, I had no idea you liked him. I wouldn’t have let our relationship get this far if I had known that. You are my best friend, I would never do that to you! I-I love you.”

“Bullshit. Oh. And the tears. That’s a nice touch. Almost made me believe you actually cared.”

And just like that, the door was slammed in my face.

“Screw you, Riley!” I yelled, slamming my hand against the door, “I don’t know what happened to you, but you are nothing like the sister I once knew.”

“Yea. Real nice, Addison. You are really tugging at my heartstrings right now.” Riley shouted back.

Shit. I was supposed to be making this better. Not worse. Quickly, I tried the door knob, but it was locked once again. I pressed my ear against the cold wood, hoping to catch any sound coming from my sister.

I took a deep breath, trying to calm my frustrations, “Riley. I’m sorry,” I paused, straining to hear any noise. Nothing.

“I know you don’t want to talk to me. And after what you just told me, I don’t blame you. But for what it’s worth, I swear to you that I didn’t know you liked him. I would never intentionally hurt you. Please, believe me. I love you. I just want you to be okay,” I knocked quietly, “Riley, please just let me in. Let me explain.”

But minutes passed and not even a peep came from the other side.

I rested my forehead briefly on the wood before I sighed and pushed myself off the door,

“Fine. If you are gonna be a pissy baby about this, then I’ll just leave you in your silence,” I shouted, my anger at her finally boiling over the edge. But a rush of guilt quickly stifled the rage burning inside and I immediately regretted my impulsiveness. I needed Riley. She was my best friend. I knocked again. Her deafening silence was tearing me apart.

"Riley. Please," I whispered.

"Just go away, Addison," a sob echoed from the other side of the door.

I faltered for a moment, hoping she would change her mind and come out. Normally, we could talk things through. She would forgive me for what I had said and I would forgive her, even though she was never in the fault. But this time I could feel it was different. I had really hurt her. And the light sobs coming through the door only solidified that fact.

Like a slap to the face, it all dawned on me. Riley was right. I had been so focused on myself that I forgot to take care of the people around me. I had neglected my responsibilities as the older, albeit by three minutes, sibling. It was supposed to be my job to take care of my baby sister when she was sad or hurt. I was supposed to give her advice and point her in the right direction. But I was screwing it all up. I wasn’t doing my job. Instead I was putting my sister down and making her feel useless.

I was the reason Riley had shut herself off from the world. I was the reason she was so secluded. I was the one who had destroyed our relationship, not her.

This whole screwed up mess was my own fault because I didn’t listen to my sister. Now I had lost her, potentially for good. And I hated myself for that.

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