Oh, God, guys, I’m so terrified. I always knew. I always knew something was off about my little brother, but now… please, I need help. I just don’t know what to do.
Anyone who knows me can tell you that I’m your prototypical overprotective big sister. My little brother, Jeremy, is five years younger than me. He’s a sweet kid, but really quiet, the kind who wears glasses and gets shoved around in the hallway. When I was in high school, I followed him through the middle school hallways, watching out for him like a hawk so his bullies couldn’t get to him. I don’t mean to brag, but I was pretty popular, so I was able to use my influence to protect him while I was in the school. After I graduated, it got more difficult. I heard about it even all the way at university. Mom would call me crying about Jeremy. The other kids called him names: freak, psycho, creep. It used to make my blood boil – if I was home, I’d never let anyone hurt Jeremy.
The thing is, though, Jeremy never seemed bothered by the bullying. When kids would shove him, or give him disgusted looks, or laugh at him as he walked down the hallway, or trash his locker… he just walked through school with his head down, drifting off into his own little world. I used to really worry about him, you know? He really daydreams. He just can’t seem to stay in this reality.
But he’s still my little brother. My sweet, quiet, space-case little brother.
I was thrilled when I came home last spring break and discovered that Jeremy had landed himself a girlfriend. As soon as I walked in the door, he was talking nonstop about this girl, Theresa. She’s beautiful, she’d kind, she’s smart, she likes all the things Jeremy likes… on and on. Now, you have to understand, Jeremy almost NEVER talks. I’m the closest person to him in this world and he never says more than five sentences a day to me.
Of course, I was so excited for him. But I was also a little suspicious about this girl. As soon as he said her name, I went into overprotective sister mode. I started poking and prodding, asking questions in an attempt to really understand this Theresa chick. I asked him how they met, but what I really wanted to know was what her intentions were. What’s she like? But the real question was why she was going after my quiet, harmless little brother? Do you see each other often? Does she live around here? That meant: When do I get to meet her and grill her for myself?
Jeremy seemed blissfully unaware of the true intent of my interrogation. He answered all my questions freely and dreamily. I took careful note of all his answers, mentally promising to wring her little neck if she made him cry.
Unfortunately, I went back to college before I got to meet his little sweetheart. I decided I’d step aside – begrudgingly – and give their relationship the opportunity to flourish. This was, after all, his first girlfriend. I didn’t want to ruin his chances by making his family seem psycho.
Fast forward a few months. I came back for summer break and noticed that Jeremy had gone back to his usual self: quiet, unfocused, self-contained. As soon as we were alone, I inquired after his girlfriend.
“We broke up.” He didn’t sound heartbroken or even a little upset. He said it matter-of-factly, and I was left wondering what on earth had happened. I asked my mom, but she was just as clueless as I was: apparently one day he’d just stopped mentioning her and that was that.
Now, something about this didn’t sit quite right. When my first boyfriend and I broke up, I was absolutely crushed. Jeremy was taking this a little too well…. What had happened? Was he too embarrassed to tell his big sister?
Ultimately, I pulled a really dick move. Jeremy went out for a few hours – he has a little fort in the woods behind our backyard where he likes to study and read. He left his phone to charge on his desk. I snuck guiltily into his room and decided a quick little peek wouldn’t hurt anyone.
I found his texts with Theresa and started from the beginning. Turns out they’d met on some Internet forum and started chatting there. She lived only 20 minutes away, but they had been texting and apparently officially “dating” for weeks before the topic of meeting each other was seriously considered.
To be honest, the texts were pretty normal at first. They were sweet and syrupy and just a little cringey. They texted some pictures, but nothing dirty (thank God). It culminated with them planning to meet on May 3rd after school. His last text said: “I can’t wait to see you tonight, I love you <3.”
And after that, there was nothing.
Seriously, it’s so weird. No more texts, and when I checked his call history, I found that there were no more calls, either. Something was up with that. Had something gone wrong that night? What was up?
Frustrated, I decided to check the Internet. I’d figured out her full name from the text messages so I figured it would be easy to do a quick Google search to find her Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else.
My heart practically stopped when the top hit was a missing person’s report.
I read through the report frantically, my heart lodged firmly in my throat. Theresa Evans, age 15, never returned home from school on May 3rd, reported missing May 4th, anyone with information regarding her disappearance is to contact the police immediately…
Something was wrong. Something was dreadfully wrong. My mind was racing through the possibilities. Had they been assaulted? Was Jeremy too afraid to come forward about whatever had happened? Was he being threatened?
The back door slammed as Jeremy came back home. I threw his phone back on his desk (I’d been clutching it mindlessly) and raced downstairs, trying to act casual. Jeremy, being his usual spacey self, didn’t notice my evasiveness or the sheen of sweat on my forehead.
That night after Jeremy had gone to bed, a plan started to form in my mind. I wanted answers, but at this point I didn’t want to ask Jeremy directly. So how could I find them? Jeremy’s backwoods sanctuary came to mind. He spent so much of his time out there reading and hanging out. I knew he’d built a nice little fort for himself. Maybe there was something out there that could shed some light on this insanity.
Once mom had also gone to bed, I grabbed a flashlight and set off. It took me a few wrong turns to remember how to get out there. Damn, that kid liked his isolation. Eventually I saw the little shack and felt relief wash through me. I don’t know why, but seeing it made me feel reassured. It was just a little shanty, and Jeremy was just my sweet little brother. All my worries were for nothing, weren’t they?
I wish I was right.
As I got closer to the shack, the smell hit me. That smell… I’d never smelled it before, but instantly I knew what it was. Oh, God, no. I ran into the shack, holding my shirt in front of my nose.
Theresa’s body was spilled out on the floor. She was decaying badly at this point. I was gagging as I looked at her corpse, trying to hold down my lunch. Her clothes had been ripped off and she’d been placed on a blanket acting as a makeshift bed. I got a little closer and my world started turning.
There was white… stuff… between her legs and her chest. It was… oh, God, it was Jeremy’s…
I ran outside as far as I could and threw up. And I puked again. And again. Oh, sweet Jesus, my little brother…
I walked back in a daze and crawled into bed, shivering. Oh, man, I had to call the cops. I had to get them involved. But… but my brother… but Jeremy…
I ended up staying at a friend’s house for a few days. I told my mom we were going out of town on a road trip, but really I just needed some time to figure out what I was going to do. Of course, I had to tell the cops. But… but could I do that? Oh, please, not my sweet little brother…
I returned home yesterday, utterly exhausted and having reached no conclusions. As soon as I walked in the door, I heard Jeremy’s animated, excited voice. My chest tightened up as I walked into the kitchen and saw him talking mom’s ear off.
I looked at the two of them warily. “Hey, Jeremy. What’s up?”
He grinned at me and said, “Hey, guess what, Hannah? I got a new girlfriend!”
Oh, God, please help me. I think I’m going to be sick…