The Locked Door

One Year Later

“So this is a farmers’ market,” I say. “Hmm.”

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning in the Bay Area and Brady has dragged me to the local farmers’ market. I’ve never been to a farmers’ market before. As far as I can see, it consists of rows of vendors selling products that are about five times more expensive than what I get at the supermarket.

“This is much better than what is in the supermarket,” he says. “I promise.”

“Hmm,” I say again. “So are these people selling vegetables actually

farmers or…?”

Brady pokes me in the arm. “Can’t you just enjoy a little fresh air for a change?”

Brady is so strange. He likes things like fresh air. Especially now that he got another job in Silicon Valley and he’s stuck at a computer all day again. Every weekend, he wants to go out and do things. Outdoors. Much more of this and those vitamin D shots I get are going to be for nothing.

But I had a very specific reason that I wanted to come to the farmers’ market today. Yesterday I looked at the list of vendors, and one name stuck out as familiar.

“Oh look!” I say. “That woman is selling little hand puppets over there! Ruby would love that.”

“Hmm,” Brady says.

After Brady and I were dating for about three months, he introduced me to his daughter. Who is so cute, you could just about die. Especially since she was missing both her front teeth and whistled every time she talked. (They have since grown in. But she is still pretty cute.)

I even let her name my cat. I was getting sort of tired of just calling her Cat. Especially since she sleeps in my bed every single night, occasionally on my face. Occasionally on Brady’s face. I figure she can do what she

wants after she saved my life. But thanks to Ruby, she’s stuck with the name Meowsie. I felt bad for the cat, but I couldn’t say no to Ruby. Anyway, the cat has a pretty good life.

And it turns out I don’t hate kids.

“You need to stop buying so many presents for Ruby,” Brady says. “Seriously. You’re spoiling her.”

“Fine,” I grumble. “Let’s go buy some turnips for lunch or something.”

Brady laces his fingers into mine and squeezes my hand. I give him a squeeze back and grin at him. It’s a beautiful day out. On days like today, I can forget everything that happened a year ago. It feels like it’s all finally behind me.

Harper, much like our father, pled guilty to the murders of those two girls. First-degree murder. She’ll be serving two life sentences in prison, while her boyfriend William “Sonny” Bennett Jr. has recovered from his injuries and is serving twenty years for his part in the crimes. I didn’t go to Harper’s sentencing. And I haven’t answered any of the letters she’s sent me in the last year. I rip them up every week.

It’s sad because I always wanted a sister. I used to fantasize about it when I was a kid. And right after I found out I had one, I lost her. I would have been better off as an only child.

My mother knew what she was doing when she tried to take her life. I don’t blame her for that anymore.

Philip was in bad shape for a while after what happened. The surgeons attempted to reattach his left hand, but it failed. He couldn’t operate anymore and had to retire from surgery. He was miserable for a while, but I tried to be there for him as much as possible. I even went over to his house late one night and dumped a bunch of alcohol out. He’s okay now though. He started teaching at the local medical school—anatomy. It’s not the life he imagined for himself, but he’s happy enough. He even started dating someone recently, and he told me it’s getting serious. Maybe now that he’s been through a life-threatening experience, he’ll be able to settle down for real. Although he told me he still has nightmares.

I still have nightmares too. I wake up during the night screaming, and Brady wraps his arms around me and talks gently to me until I calm down.

“Look!” I say to Brady, “Maple syrup. We should get some of that. I can make pancakes for Ruby.”

He looks at me in surprise. “You’re going to make pancakes?” “What? Why can’t I make pancakes?”

“You can. I’ve just never even seen you turn on the stove. I’m not entirely sure you know how.”

I poke him in the shoulder. Even though he might be right. But I think I could figure out how to turn on the stove. It’s not brain surgery. “Well, I’m going to start cooking. Every weekend, I’m going to make pancakes.”

He laughs. “Fine. I’m going to write that into our wedding vows then.” I can’t suppress a smile. Brady asked me to marry him a month ago,

and I’m still getting used to the idea. My fiancé. I never thought I would get married, but it just felt right. I asked him if he was ready to get back on the horse again only two years after his divorce, and he said he definitely was.

We have also started house hunting. I couldn’t go back to my old house after what happened there, so I put it on the market, and I’ve been renting an apartment ever since. A few days ago, we put in a bid on a beautiful new house with a big backyard and a nice large bedroom for Ruby, but there’s one specific feature of the house I like best:

It has no basement.

Brady wanders off to sample some cheese while I go over to the maple syrup table. The table features maple syrup in all varieties and sizes. Homemade, apparently. The table is manned by a pleasant-looking woman with brown hair swept behind her head into a bun, wearing a checkered apron.

“Hi!” the woman says. “May I interest you in a sample of Baker’s Maple Syrup?”

“Sure,” I say.

As the woman tips a little maple syrup into a sample cup, she hums to herself. I squint at her, trying to recognize the eleven-year-old girl who I found crouched on that hiking trail on the way to her house, nursing a sprained ankle.

“Marjorie?” I say softly.

But she’s too focused on her task and she doesn’t hear me. It doesn’t matter. I know who she is.

Marjorie hands me a little cup of amber liquid. “Now give that a try.”

I tip the cup back and swallow the contents. It’s delicious. Just the right amount of sweetness.

“It’s really good,” I say. “You make this yourself?”

She nods. “My husband and I have a farm. We tap our maple trees and collect this sap ourselves in buckets. We do the whole process ourselves.” She giggles. “Even my kids help put it in the jars.”

“That sounds nice,” I murmur. “I… I’ll take two bottles.” “Light or dark?”

I swallow. “Um, how about one of each?”

I dig out the bills from my wallet while Marjorie packs up the two bottles of maple syrup in a brown paper bag. She holds out the bag to me, but just before I take it, her eyes narrow.

“Do we…” She frowns. “Do we know each other?”

I squirm under her gaze. I don’t want her to know who I am. I don’t want her to recognize me as Nora Nierling. As far as I’m concerned, that person is dead. I just wanted to know Marjorie was happy.

I couldn’t save Mandy Johansson, but at least I saved Marjorie. “I just have one of those faces,” I say.

Marjorie nods. She doesn’t seem suspicious of me. And she shouldn’t be. She doesn’t have the sort of life where dead bodies materialize in her basement. She has a good life. The sort of life I want to have. The sort of life I’m going to try to have from now on.

So I take my paper bag with the two bottles of Baker’s Maple Syrup and I go to join my fiancé.


My sister, Nora.

What a disgrace.

When I first found out I had a sister, I was happy. My whole childhood, I knew I was different from everybody else and I never understood why. My adoptive parents didn’t understand me—they were terrified of me. Then I turned eighteen and I found out who I really was and it finally all made sense.

I watched her for a while. I admired her, I admit that. My sister—a

surgeon. I kept wanting to approach her, but I was too intimidated.

Then I met our father. And he told me the truth. Nora was the one who turned him in all those years ago. She went to the police and told them about his workshop. If not for her, he would be a free man. And I would still be with my family. Nora betrayed us. She’s not like we are.

But our father is wrong about Nora. He has no idea.

I’ve seen her do things. I remember when that man, Arnold Kellogg, came in with his wife after his hernia surgery. The wife had a black eye, and it was so obvious that he gave it to her. The wife came back the next day, and I heard her talking to Nora in her office. I heard the wife crying, saying she could never leave him, that he would find her and kill her. She was desperate.

Then Nora left the office. I watched her take a vial of the calcium gluconate that we had in the supply room, as well as a syringe. Then I followed her back to her office and pressed my ear against the door.

Inject this into him while he’s sleeping. Everyone will think it’s a heart attack. He won’t wake up.

Then a week later, Mrs. Kellogg returned to tell us that her husband had died from a heart attack.

I know what Nora did. She killed that man. Or at least, she’s responsible for his death. And it didn’t bother her at all. Not even a little bit.

So you see. She’s more like us than anyone knows.

I never told the police what I knew about Arnold Kellogg. I kept her secret. After all, she’s my sister.

And you never know when information like that will come in handy.

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