Chapter One: The River’s EdgeThis is a story about a town, a small town, and the people who live in the town, and work there, and fall in love there, get married there, have children there, and yes, even die there. From a distance—or from the window of a train rushing by– it presents itself like so many other small towns all over the world. Safe. Decent. Innocent. But that’s only how people want it to be. Or think it is because they’re young and don’t know any better—or they’re old and they don’t want to know any better.

At a certain point, though, you look close enough—and you start seeing the shadows underneath the town and sometimes—the shadows take over. And you’re living in this place you don’t recognize anymore. And you’re feeling a lot of things, but safe isn’t one of them.

The name of our town is Abingdon. And our story begins, I guess, with what my twin sister and I did this summer. On the twenty-second of August, just after sunrise, Cheryl and I drove down to the River Thames, in a red convertible, for an early morning boat ride. “Are you frightened?”, Cheryl asked as we linked hands and walked towards the boat at the edge of the river. I shook my head in response. The next thing everyone knows happened for sure is that Dilton Doiley, who was leading Abingdon’s Boy Scout Troop on a bird watch expedition, came upon Cheryl by the river’s edge.

“Jason…”, she whispered sitting on a rock at the edge of the river with damp hair and soaked clothes. Rosewood Police dragged Sweetwater River from my body but never found it. “If he is dead, Hal, I hope that he suffered until his last dying breath. May he burn in hell.”, muttered Alice Cooper under her breath.

So the next week, my family buried an empty casket and my death was ruled an accident, as the story that my twin told made the rounds. That she had dropped her glove in the water, and I reached out to get it, and accidentally tipped the boat, and panicked, and drowned. Later in the evening, after the casket had been buried, Kevin Keller, the sheriff’s son, went down to Sweetwater River to fool around with Moose, a member of the football team and found me at the edge of the river. By morning everyone was talking, texting and posting about it. And even more, gossip was flying about at the police station that our boat couldn’t have just tipped over, that our story didn’t check out. Their newest lead was that someone must have purposely made it seem that the boat had tipped over to try to get rid of us. So on Tuesday, halfway through the fifth period, the first arrest would be made for the attempted murder of my twin sister and me.

Chapter Two: Touch of EvilWeeks later, over at the Coopers’ residence, Hal and Alice knocked on their daughter’s bedroom door. “Hey, Betty? We just wanted you to know, it’s gonna be a bit of a late night for us.”, Hal informed his daughter. And eagerly wanting to comment her mother Alice said,”It’s going to be a lot of late nights for us.I mean, an accidental drowning, who cares? But someone attempting to murder the sociopathic twins of the wealthiest family in town? That’s a national obsession waiting to happen”. Betty always thought her mother could sometimes be a bit much, snooping around in other people’s business, but then again it is her job since she and her father are the proud owners of the town’s newspaper. Though Betty didn’t put too much thought into that since her oldest best friend, Archie, who she’s had a crush on for a while now and her newest best friend, Veronica, made out in a closet at a party. The next day the apologized over and over, like the past few days, though today Veronica had brought a gift certificate for hers-and-hers mani-pedis and blowouts at Chez Salon as a peace offering.

Betty being Betty, the perfect, little nice girl she had accepted the offering, though later at cheer practice she and Veronica had a fallout.”After this practice, I’ll totally need a pedicure. You?”, Veronica said trying to spark up a conversation. “I’ll have homework.”, responded Betty harshly trying to pretend everything was fine.Once again Veronica tried,” I know everyone grieves differently, but Cheryl’s hosting a pep rally to cope with her traumatic experience.

That’s either brilliant, or psychotic, or both.””Yeah, well, at least Cheryl’s not putting on an act.Pretending she’s a butterfly when really she’s a wasp.”Defending herself Veronica responded,”For the record, the only reason I went into that closet with Archie was so that Cheryl wouldn’t.””Oh, so you did it to protect me? ” “Damn straight.””Okay, so nothing happened between you and Archie in the closet, then?” After a slight silent pause, Betty felt like a fool to ever believe a word that came from Veronica’s mouth,”Yeah, that’s what I thought. You know, Archie and I were fine before you got here.

“”If by, fine, you mean he was oblivious and you were pining after him in quiet desperation.””We were friends, at least.””You were walking on emotional eggshells around him, scared to tell him the truth.””Okay, you don’t know me, Veronica.””It is not my fault he doesn’t like you.If that’s what you’re thinking.It’s not anyone’s fault.

It’s not even stupid Archie’s.It’s just how it is.Most of the time the people we like don’t like us back.

Romeo and Juliet are the exception, not the rule.””Look never speak to me again.””If that’s what you want, I’ll accept that.But what, exactly, did Archie do wrong?” “Are you seriously taking his side?” “No, I’m not taking any side” “So this is your way of trying to be friends with me again?”, Betty almost yelling at this point quieted down as Cheryl approached them both.

“Oh, sorry, ladies, am I interrupting?”, Cheryl said with a polite smile on her face. “As a matter of fact – No, you’re not.Actually, I was about to come and find you, Cheryl.I have a gift certificate for hers-and-hers mani-pedis and blowouts at Chez Salon. Do you want to come with me?”, Betty responded with a grim look towards Veronica.”Don’t do this.

“, pleaded Veronica.Harshly Cheryl told her,”Butt out, closet monster.You have forfeited your right to take the high and mighty road.”Then turning towards Betty,”As pour moi, Betty, but of course.I never say no to a pedi.And I was just about to suggest the same thing.

“I know my twin could be a bit much especially after the boating incident, but she’s always been very protective of me as I of her. So, when she got the opportunity to get closer to talk to Betty, she had to snatch it. It’s not necessarily that she was suspicious of Betty, but Polly, on the other hand, is a totally different story. So after the pedicure, my sister and Betty went back to Betty’s. “Your room’s so sweet.”, commented Cheryl”It’s too pink. It doesn’t feel right anymore.

“, said Betty disagreeing.”No, I like how girly it is. Mine is, too. You should come over and see it sometime.

But, just you, not Veronica. I mean, she must be evil incarnate if even you won’t have her as a friend.And on the subject of being friends, Betty, I’m sorry I’ve been such a witchy-witch to you. After Polly and Jason’s epic demise I was angry at everyone. But I took it out on you which was super unfair.

How, uh, how is Polly? Is she still in that group home? Do you think she knows what happened to Jason and me?” “I, I’m not sure.”, mumbled Betty.”What do you think went down between them? I don’t know What do your parents say? About Jason and Polly?”, asked Cheryl desperately.

“Not a lot.”, responded Betty. “Same. I keep thinking that maybe Jason said something to her or she said something to him. I mean, didn’t they have a big fight this summer, or…” “Why are you asking me so many questions about Polly? Cheryl?”, Betty interrupted.

“Because, you dumb cow, someone tried to get rid of my brother and me my brother and I think it was your crazy, tweaked-out sister.””Get out of my house!”, Betty yelled.”Not until you tell me.”, argued Cheryl. “Cheryl, get the hell out of my house before I kill you.”Later when Betty’s parents got home her mother barged in and said,”A little sage, to banish the evil spirits.””Mom.

“, said, Betty as she looked at her mother with a sarcastic face. “I’m not joking, Betty. That family is pure evil. I’m wondering if the Blossoms didn’t attempt to kill their own children themselves. Tried to sacrifice them to some dark pagan god that they worship in that insane mansion of theirs.”, argued her mom. Betty then asked,”Mom, does Polly know? About Jason?” “I told her. But half the time, your sister doesn’t even know what day it is.

“, responded Alice. “Mom, why were you so against them being together?”, Betty questioned again. “Many reasons. That family. Everything they touch, it rots.””Mom, I was thinking Maybe it’s time I go visit Polly.””I am so proud of how you stood up to that dragoness, but honestly, Betty, why was Cheryl over here in the first place? And who else is gonna come waltzing in? Veronica? Archie? How many times are you gonna let them hurt you?” “Until I learn my lesson, Mom. You were right.

And what you said about Archie.Sometimes it’s hard to admit things to yourself.”, Betty responded as her mother left the room.My mother is crazy, Betty thought to herself. I’m afraid I’ll never see my sister again.

 The next day, Principal Weatherbee and Sheriff Keller interrupted our biology class to pull someone out. “You’re here for me, aren’t you?”, asked Cheryl. “We don’t need to do this in front of your classmates, Cheryl.”, said Principal Weather bee.”It’s all right, Principal Weatherbee. They’ll find out soon enough.

” “Now, that won’t be necessary,” said our principal trying to avoid publicly humiliating my sister. “Wait, Cheryl, find out what?” asked Archie. “That I’m guilty.”Chapter Three: Double BodyGuilt, innocence. Good, evil. Life, death.As the shadows around Riverdale deepened, the lines that separated these polar opposites blurred and distorted.”I’m guilty,” Cheryl said in Biology class.

But of what? “To clarify, I didn’t mean I was guilty of the accident. I love him more than I do myself.But I am guilty of lying about what happened on July 4th.

“, confirmed Cheryl. “I don’t know what happened the week after that, but Cheryl, in your own words, what happened at Sweetwater River?” said the sheriff. “The plan was bananas, even for me. Jason and I wanted to leave Rosewood and never come back. We decided to stage a tragic accident so that our mom and dad wouldn’t come after us. Our story would be, we went for an early morning boat ride, and the boat tipped and capsized, and Jason drowned.

Then out of the grief, it would’ve caused me I would later commit suicide. I was to leave a note saying that I couldn’t handle the fact he was gone and that I went to join him. In fact, when we were faking Jason’s death, we made it to the other side dry as bones. We said goodbye on the Greendale side of Sweetwater River. He promised he’d call me as soon as he was in a place where he couldn’t be reached or pulled back by our parents.

One month, at the most. Every day, I waited for him to call, for an email. That was supposed to be his signal, the signal to fake my own suicide,” stated Cheryl. All of a sudden, the door swung open and in barged in my parents and practically yelled,” What the hell is going on here?” “Mommy,” cried my sister.

“Don’t say another word, Cheryl. Get up,” demanded our mother. “Why didn’t you call us?” CLIFFORD: Because she’s a liar, Penelope.When we get home, you’re telling us everything.Hot off the presses.Mom.First, you leak Jason Blossom’s autopsy report, and now this? People are loving the coverage.You have to stop sensationalizing this horrible thing.It’s news, Betty.We own the Riverdale Register.We have a responsibility to keep the people informed.Whatever Jason did to Polly, he’s still a person.You reap what you sow.You should be writing about the real story.

x

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