Part 2: Jane
"Could they make the holidays any more vulgar?" Daria asked as the next commercial came on. "I hope so." Jane replied with a smirk. Daria sat up. "What?" Jane shrugged. "The more debased they become, the less reason to celebrate them, and the less reason for my family to get together, until presto! I'm finally alone on Thanksgiving with a TV dinner." "Sometimes I wonder if you're too cynical, even for me."
Jane thought of the long-ago conversation she'd had with Daria about the holidays. Currently, it was the day before Thanksgiving and she was by herself. True, Trent was due back that day, but since her parents had left on a trip to Belize together that morning, at most, it would be her and Trent for the holiday. Her father had gotten a job photographing for a travel brochure and her mother had taken the opportunity to study the local crafts. Remembering the last time all the Lanes had come home, she thought it was probably for the best.
Daria was at Raft, having chosen to stay over the holidays. Jane assumed she was busy with classes and papers and her job at the library and figured that was why she hadn't come home. Probably enjoying time away from her whacked-out family, too. At least, she hoped so. They had drifted apart since Daria had left. Jane emailed and called occasionally, but Daria was always busy.
"What about if Trent died? Would you come back for a visit then?" She'd joked when Daria told her she wasn't coming home for Thanksgiving. Daria hadn't appreciated the humor.
the mail drop and went to go see whom they owed money this month.
Seeing a letter with an unusual postage stamp, she opened it first.
Dear Mr. and/or Mrs. Lane and/or Who It May Concern:
Jane sank to
the floor. It wasn't uncommon to get random letters about her
siblings' activities, but this was the one she'd always dreaded.
Possible relation...found current address of next-of-kin...regret to inform you of the death of Ms. Penny Lane...
Jane felt the tears start to well. They'd never been close as sisters, and she only saw her once every few years, but to hear of a sibling's death in such a way...
Her parents' flight had left that morning. Why couldn't this have come yesterday? She didn't want to deal with this alone, and prayed Trent would be home soon.
Jane wandered to her room and flicked on the TV, hoping for a distraction.
"...local news, an apparent murder-suicide in Orangevale, a mother of four murdered her children then took her own life, in a horrible act that's left neighbors in shock."
"I ain't shocked! Those kids were always runnin' away, she couldn't control 'em. You ask me, I think the woman finally snapped, killed 'em then herself." A dumpy woman in a magenta tracksuit spoke to the camera.
"Police say there was a suicide note. No names are available until the family of the deceased is contacted."
Jane felt a cold chill creep down her spine. Summer lived in Orangevale.
"In other news, this morning's tragic crash of TransAirways flight 928 just off the coast of Belize has grounded flights all over the country. It is not known at this time what caused..."
Jane ran out of the room, down the stairs into the kitchen to the note her mother had scribbled.
Jane crumpled the note in her hand. No. This wasn't happening. She had not lost her parents and older sister all in the same day.
She emptied the junk drawer onto the floor, frantically searching for the small address book. Finding the number, she grabbed the phone. She had to dial three times before she got it.
"Hello! Is this Bill?" A male voice had answered and Jane desperately tried to remember the name of Summer's latest live-in. "I need to talk to Summer. Is she there?"
"Who is this?"
"Jane! Her sister. Is she there?" Jane was practically yelling.
"Miss, please calm down. This is officer Dayton. I'm afraid there's been a terrible tragedy. Your sister killed herself and her childr..."
dropped the phone.
Please come home, Trent. Please.
Numbly, Jane hung up the phone, ignoring the voice still talking. She ran through the address book, looking for Wind's number. She dialed, about to launch into hysterics when she heard some thing pick up.
"We're sorry, this number is no longer in service..."
Trying to hold on to a shred of sanity, she dialed Daria's dorm room.
"Daria? Thank God. Daria, they're gone. All of them." Jane broke into sobs.
"Jane? What? Who's gone?"
"Everyone! Mom...and Dad...plane crash...Summer...killed...whole family...letter...Penny...died in El Salvador..." Jane tried to speak though the tears.
"Jane, that is so not funny. I told you I can't come home for Thanksgiving. I have three papers due and I'm late for my shift at the library. I'll call you back later."
"DARIA!" Jane screamed as the dial tone clicked on.
She sobbed, somehow managing to get the phone back into the cradle. It rang almost instantly.
She grabbed it, thinking Daria had realized she wasn't kidding.
"Is this Mr. or Mrs. Lane?"
Jane closed her eyes. It sounded like a cop. They want to talk to me about Summer.
"They're uh," Jane swallowed, "not here right now."
"Who am I speaking to?"
"Jane, their daughter. Youngest daughter," she added quickly.
"Miss Lane, I hate to tell you this over the phone but your brother Trent was involved in a car accident. He was," The cop cleared his throat, "pronounced dead on the scene. We need someone to positive ID..."
Jane dropped the phone.
Suddenly she recalled that when looking for something for breakfast, the only thing she'd found was an ancient turkey TV dinner in the freezer. An insane laugh escaped her lips, rising in pitch until it filled the house.
The phone lay on its side. "Miss? Miss? Miss?"