Seeing Lexie under the neon lights downtown in a revealing outfit while trying to sell her body for cash brought on unpleasant memories that I know I will never forget.
We were both 13 when the nightmare happened. Lexie’s father had built her a treehouse in the backwoods where the entrance was located on the floorboards with a latch for a padlock.
Knowing how she feared spiders the most, my older brother came up with a plan to fill the treehouse with fake arachnids to which I happily agreed to not knowing that it would destroy all of our lives.
My brother picked the lock and after setting up what we had planned he instructed me to make sure that I put the lock back in place so that Lexie wouldn’t question a thing. I nodded my head as a yes and with that my brother took his leave.
We waited that very afternoon in the nearby bush to watch our prank on Lexie. She started to ascend the inclined stairs but stopped when she reached the entrance, clearly confused about something.
My brother and I wondered what could’ve caused her hesitance but when I felt my right pocket that was when I figured it out.
I forgot to put the lock back.
Before I could even tell my brother, the door to the treehouse suddenly swung open and a hand emerged, grabbing Lexie inside before being closed shut.
My brother broke me out of my shock by yelling at me to get help before he ran to Lexie’s aid. My lungs begged for air as our houses were not yet in sight but I refused to listen as I only had my mistake in mind.
The adults were alerted when I broke out from the woods with my frantic state and when I relayed how something was happening to Lexie, they were sprinting before I could even blink.
My brother was never the same after that horror. He blamed himself for everything and like a coward, I could only fiddle with the lock in my pocket.
We never saw Lexie again after that day. Their house became too silent and lost its vibrance the day Lexie’s family moved away.
I only knew the full extent of my negligence when I was old enough to understand. My brother confessed about how when he banged at the wooden door while screaming for Lexie he was pulled inside as well.
The way his eyes filled with tears upon retelling the story spoke of the deep trauma he was carrying.
“He pulled me in before slamming Lexie back on the door so that no one else could come in and he….he made me watch.”
The way my stomach dropped at that showed me how one little error could dismantle one’s possible future.
After ten years of carrying the guilt that should’ve been mine, my brother bit the bullet and when the news reached me, I could only squeeze the lock in my pocket.