Best Friends. Short Story.

Anna stared at the sheet in front of her, it was no accident she had gotten this form. Not one bit. She read over the names again, praying that her eyes didn’t play some kind of mean trick on her, but it was still there, clear as day. Barbara Roberts, with her husband Ken Roberts. Obviously it was a sign. She put down the sheet and started her breathing exercises, she didn’t want to have another attack in the office. Last time was when they announced a new doll, it had been a limited edition run and Anna knew she had to have one. They already thought she was weird as it was, it wouldn’t do to make it worse. Anna had learned that she should not talk about some things with her co-workers and her doll collection was one of them. Even if it was extensive and fascinating.

Anna glanced around to make sure no one was paying attention to her, then she quickly scribbled down the address and phone number of the couple. She wasn’t going to do anything with them of course. Maybe she’d go for a nice drive on the weekend, and if she just so happened to pass by their house and get a glance at the gorgeous couple, well, what was the harm in a coincidence like that? Once she had it written she slipped the scrap of paper into her purse and continued reading. It didn’t provide a whole lot of information about the couple and there were no pictures. That little fact never bothered her before but now it was a crashing disappointment. Sometimes she did make up little stories for the people on the paper in front of her, but not this time. This time she didn’t have to imagine anything, because she already knew all about them. Obviously Barbara, who would only respond to the affectionate nickname of Barbie, would be blonde, with stunning features and an amazing career, though what, exactly, that career was would be a bit of a mystery. The more she thought about it the more Anna realised it wasn’t such a mystery after all. Of course Barbie would be highly qualified, she would have multiple high ranking careers, moving from each one seamlessly.

Then of course there was her Darling husband Ken, he too was blonde, obviously, and he had an amazing body. Very sculpted naturally, as he didn’t have much time to go to the gym, due to his demanding career, he too of course would move from high powered position to high powered position, always in demand. They were the perfect couple, with one child and no doubt more on the way. Anna knew this was it, these were the people she had been searching for her entire life. She had seen and met people who were so called living dolls and with each one she was disappointed. None of them resembled her true loves, if anything, they were making a mockery of them. But not these people, these successful, popular, statuesque people who were born apart and drawn together by their very destiny. They were each others true loves and always would be.

Anna felt jittery for the rest of the day, she was too distracted to work, she kept playing out their lives in her mind over and over again, how perfect it all must be for them. Perhaps she could even meet them, become their friend, their confidant, welcomed warmly and enveloped into their world and wealth and beauty. After all, what would the harm be in meeting them? She wouldn’t just march up to their house and knock on the door, no that would be creepy. She would just keep an eye on them at first. Make sure they’re safe, there are a lot of weirdoes out there, she had met a few of them herself. She personally didn’t like to associate with other collectors in person. They could be so judgy and jealous. It wasn’t her fault she had an amazing collection. She would still talk to them of course, but they were online relationships, which were the safest kind. They could talk about their collections, even share pictures, but there was no danger of anyone stealing them away. Of course she had been threatened once or twice, someone saying they’d come and steal her dolls from her. Anna had been terrified a first, so she bought a gun. It had been so reassuring, especially after all those stories she had heard, there were no she was going to risk someone taking them away from her. And, after making sure they were safe, if she just so happened to be at the same bar as them, and someone, there was no telling who really as they’d get along so famously, struck up a conversation, what was the big deal? Nothing that was what! No one would ever know and when she told them where she worked, they might mention they had stopped by one day and she would exclaim it was a great coincidence, maybe joke that someone up there obviously wanted them to be friends, then they would all share a laugh. She sighed to herself, already she knew everything would be so perfect, she didn’t even need to meet them to know that.

When the day was over Anna gathered her things and left quickly, calling out a quick goodbye to everyone as she went. No doubt they were going to go have a few after work drinks in the bar next door. Sometimes they invited her, but Anna never went, she and the other girls didn’t really have much to talk about. She could never keep up when they were talking about all those reality TV shows and celebrities, such things bored her. None of the other girls liked dolls, she knew that much so she never mentioned them, but beyond that Anna didn’t really have time for much else. She had to care for her collection, catalogue them, note their condition, make any repairs, bid on new clothes and accessories, buy more dolls, hell she even started to make her own original creations, it was almost like a second job. Though obviously much more important than her first.

As she sat into her car she decided, she would take a long route home, clear her head a little. She turned on the radio and hummed along as she pulled out her spot and into the street.

Anna slowed her car and pulled in at the side of the road. There appeared to be some kind of trouble with her car. She wasn’t worried though, she knew that if she just let it rest for a while whatever was wrong would fix itself. Besides, in all of the coincidences possible, she just happened to end up outside the house of her friends Barbie and Ken. The house wasn’t as big as she remembered, wasn’t as nice either, but that was fine. She knew they were rich, but they were philanthropists, they wouldn’t want to spend so much on themselves. She glanced at the time wondering if she should knock in for a visit, but she knew they were going to be having dinner soon, so she didn’t want to disturb them. She would just wait for her car to be better. Maybe people watch in the mean time. Some woman was out in the garden raking, she was short and dumpy, obviously the maid or something. Her dark hair was pulled back into a messy ponytail, she wore grey sweat pants and a t-shirt and there was not a lick of make up on her. Shameful how some women felt comfortable leaving the house like that, even if it was for dirty work. The door to the house opened and Anna held her breath, this was it. A short man stepped out, he was balding, with ugly brown hair combed over his scalp, he wore thick glasses and was dressed in a pair of brown trousers and a shirt that looked a size too big. Anna frowned at the man and the woman, she would never employ such sloppily dressed people.

“Hey, Barbs, the dinners ready.”
“I’ll be in in a second.”
“Ok, but it’ll get cold.”
“I said in a second.”
He hung his head slightly and went back inside, Barbs shook her head angrily. Anna couldn’t breath. There wasn’t enough air in the car, there wasn’t enough air in the world. These weren’t her friends, they weren’t her friends at all. What had they done to them? Why were they so ugly? Why were they not madly in love?

Anna shook her head, no, this wasn’t right, they were imposters. That was it. Imposters. After a few minutes she picked up her courage, she needed to do this for Barbie and Ken. She waited until the woman went back inside then she got out of her car. She needed to see what was really going on, then, when she figured it out she would go straight to the police.

Anna stood on the doorstep, mind racing. The man opened the door, “Hello?”
“Hi, I’m sorry but I was having car troubles, I was wondering if I could use your phone? My cell phone died on me.”
“Yeah, of course, c’mon in. Myself and the wife were just sitting down to dinner. If you’re hungry I’m sure there’s plenty there.”
“Ken, Who is it?”
“This woman’s car broke down outside, she wanted to use the phone.”
Anna stepped inside and looked around. The house wasn’t dirty, but it wasn’t exactly clean either. Everything seemed so messy. This wasn’t the house she remembered, with its gleaming floors and countertops. Something had definitely happened here.
“Well, the phone is through there in the kitchen.”
“Thanks.”
Anna moved through the house, feeling like she was in a nightmare. This wasn’t right. None of it was right. She picked up the phone in the kitchen and counted to five. Then she started talking, at one point she paused and asked for an address, then she hung up the phone.
“They said it would be about half an hour.”
“Well, you’re welcome to wait here if you like.”
“Thank you, that would be lovely.”
“Ken, get her some food, I’ll set you an extra place at the table.”
“Oh, really don’t go to any trouble, I’m usually a late eater anyway.”
“It’s no trouble at all, sit, sit.”

The food was a dull affair, roast beef and mashed potatoes. Not the extravagant dishes she had here before. They were poor imitators, particularly when they didn’t even recognise her, the real Barbie and Ken’s oldest friend. She looked around the room discretely, wondering what the couple had done with the baby. Almost on cue a baby started crying. The imposter woman stood from the table and went into the next room and came back a few seconds later, carrying a beautiful baby. It was then that Anna knew what the couple had done. They had killed the real Barbie and Ken in order to take their baby. Their beautiful baby. She kept herself calm and made small talk while she waited for her moment.

“It’s been a while, maybe you should ring and check up on that tow truck?”
“Yes, that’s a good idea, they should be here by now.”
The impostor woman had put the baby into a high chair. Anna stood and went into the kitchen, she stood at the door for a second to listen.
“I think we should ask her to leave.”
“You can’t do that! She’s stranded.”
“I don’t care, she keeps looking at me weirdly, I don’t like it. She should have been gone by now.”
“Ok, when she comes back we’ll say we have to go out somewhere, maybe go for a short drive. Jack always sleeps better after a car ride anyway.”

Anna took a deep steadying breath, they were onto her, but it didn’t matter now. She steadied the gun in her hands and stepped into the dining room, she fired in quick succession. The first bullet caught the man in the throat, his eyes widening in surprise before he slumped over blood gushing onto the table, the second hit the woman in the arm. The woman started screaming, Anna stepped closer and fired again. This time it hit where she was aiming, the woman’s chest. The baby was crying, but that was ok. She put the gun back into her purse and picked up the baby, rocking him gently. She would make sure he never knew of the awful ordeal he had been through, no doubt watching these people kill his true parents. She grabbed a few baby things to keep her going for now. Before she left she started a small fire, it would destroy evidence that she was here. She felt a pang in her chest, her friends would never get the justice they deserved, but if the police were involved they would take the baby, and if that happened he would end up in foster care, she knew that Barbie and Ken would want her to raise their son, after all, she was their best friend.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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