Ever since I was a little girl, I have always been obsessed with martial arts and the art of combat. So as soon as I was old enough to engage in physical combat, I took part in every form of martial arts my dad would enroll me in.
I loved every minute of it and I was good, very good. When I had a competition it was very seldom that anyone could beat me and if someone did it only happened once. I was meticulous about correcting the mistakes from my losses to ensure a flawless victory the next time I met up with that opponent. Our next battle would ultimately end with that person being mercilessly pummeled, due to my over zealous and competitive nature.
One thing I learned about myself was that I had an intense blood lust, and it was through that learning that I quickly realized I had to be disciplined enough to control all aspects of my temper. So as I progressed through martial arts training, I learned to harness the viciousness that resided within me, but it was through sparring and competition that I was able to release the animal lust I had for combat.
By the time I turned seventeen, I had become a second-degree black belt in karate. Though only a second-degree by official rank, I had the knowledge, tenacity, and viciousness of some fourth-degree black belts with only formalities hindering my advancement. Eventually it got to the point where I felt that I couldn’t advance any further with karate, so I began to study the ancient art of Ninjitsu and pressure point control. I was vehemently obsessed with learning all the different ways of inflicting pain upon anyone who might decide to get on my bad side.
Carmen, my sister, thought I was a nutcase. We were only two years apart and she just couldn’t understand why I would want to waste all of my free time fighting when I could be shopping. I didn’t understand that either, but different as we were she was still my best friend. We did everything almost everything together when I wasn’t training.
My sister was the most beautiful, kind, and sweet person I ever knew. She would give anyone the shirt off her back if she thought they needed it. I can’t tell you how many times she would make us late on various occasions because she would see a homeless person on the street and would just have to find the nearest fast food restaurant to supply a meal. There was never a time that I can remember that she wasn’t doing something for someone else.
I remember when we were little, I always thought of Carmen as my very own little baby doll. I would always try to dress her up in my baby doll clothes and pretend like I was rescuing her from ninja, who were sent to kidnap her. When she was finally old enough to go to school with me, I would sneak out of my class everyday to go down to her classroom to check on her to make sure that she was happy and that nobody was picking on her. No matter how sneaky I thought I was being, somehow she could always sense my presence and would look up and wave at me. That was the bond we had; we always looked out for each other. If she was in a fight, I was in a fight, and if I was in a fight she was trying her best to be in a fight- even though she knew that I probably had everything under control and was enjoying every second of beating the crap out of whoever was stupid enough to actually pick a fight with me.
We grew up in a loving home with the best parents a kid could ever ask for. We never wanted for anything. My father made a great living as an electrical engineer, my mother worked for the city as a legal clerk, I was in my second year of college, and Carmen was a senior in high school on her way to college with a full academic scholarship. Our house was almost like the Waltons. My mother had dinner on the table promptly at 6pm every night and there was hell to pay if the whole family wasn’t sitting in their assigned seats ready to eat when the last piece of silverware hit the table. Our dad spent most of his free time doting on Carmen and me showing us how ladies were supposed to be treated. From the time that we could walk, my daddy made sure we knew that we were his princesses, thereby raising our standards and expectations for the world and any future suitors who thought they might be brave enough to step through his door and ask permission to date one of his daughters. Yes, our lives were perfect until one day my sister didn’t come home. I was twenty and she was eighteen.
Carmen was nothing if not responsible, so when my mother found her bed empty and untouched the morning after she had gone out to a birthday party with her friends, it was an immediate cause for alarm.
“Don’t panic,” I told my mom, “she probably decided to spend the night at Jasmine’s house because it got late. She probably didn’t want to wake anybody by calling the house phone. Just check the voicemail on your cell to see if she called.” I heard myself saying the words, but even as they were spilling forth from my mouth, I didn’t believe them myself. I knew my sister like the back of my hand and she would never stay out all night without calling our parents to let them know.
I had a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach that something wasn’t right, but I didn’t want my mother to worry so I continued to falsely reassure her that the occurrence was surely a brain fart on Carmen’s part and she would come bouncing through the door at any second. Slowly but surely the seconds turned to minutes and the minutes turned into hours, and still no word from Carmen.
By the time my father finally made it home my mother was on the brink of hysteria and I was in a silent state of inner turmoil. While my parents contacted the police, I called all of Carmen’s friends but none of them had heard from her since the night of the party. Jasmine said that she wasn’t really feeling the vibe of the club so she decided to leave the party early to go home and get some rest. They said their goodbyes and that was it.
“Did anybody walk her to her car?” I yelled, vehemently into the phone.
Jasmine hesitated briefly and muttered a weak “no”. I didn’t wait for her to say another word before I slammed the phone down and tried to keep myself from throwing up. I knew right then and there that my little sister was in trouble. My mind urged and pleaded with me to be optimistic and think only good thoughts, but the realist in me knew much better. My heart knew without a shadow of a doubt that my sister was never coming home again.
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