This is Story Eight in my 38 Stories Project.
Submitted By: Matthew Lester
Word Count: 1000
Setting: Butterfly Valley, Turkey
Limbs splayed in every direction. It was a soft landing, on her back on some dense undergrowth. Her face was intact but for the blood tracking from her nostrils. In this respect she was easier to digest than the other one, whose face was smashed beyond her husband’s recognition.
“You know Arif, when I gave you my number I wanted you to send me your inside knowledge about Fethiye. Tours, restaurants, sightseeing. Not bodies.”
“Sorry. But this one is Australian too, it’s crazy. Melinda… March.” He spoke slowly, the name foreign in his mouth. “The boyfriend is here. He told us she’s doing big on Instagram too. Just like the other one.”
“You got her phone?” I pulled on gloves, looked around for the device. The young cop pointed at a ziplock bag.
“It’s completely fucked.” He said the expletive easily. I searched quickly in my own phone. Melinda March. Milly March Method. Four hundred thousand followers. I scrolled. It was almost identical to smashed face Farah’s feed. Yoga poses, sunrises, chia seeds.
Her last post was the day prior, a selfie, looking meditative in flattering light with an avocado smoothie.
So, so saddened to hear of the tragedy with my beautiful friend Farah Ling here in Butterfly Valley on Tuesday. I just heard the police have ruled it an accident. No pose is worth the risk. If you’re coming out to beautiful locations take care! They can be dangerous! My thoughts are with Farah’s family back in Queensland.
A single butterfly emoji finished the caption. I snorted. “Profound. What was she doing up here if not yoga? Was old mate with her?” Arif narrowed his eyes at me. “The boyfriend.”
“Oh, no. He said she was alone. She wanted to pay her respects.”
“To Farah? And then dies exactly the same way? Just falls off the same spot?”
“Exactly. It’s not making sense.”
I walked around Milly’s body as best I could in the lush foliage. It was chilly in the shadow of the cliffs. Arif had his uniform jacket pulled tight around his shoulders. We met at the boat ramp. He speaks perfect English because of his American mother and interjected to help when he heard me struggling to express my need for a romantic island hop of some kind. I explained to him about just finishing a huge case in Australia. “My wife is about to leave me if I don’t spend some quality time with her. You know what police life is like. Can’t catch a break.”
A week later and I’m abandoning Jenna in the middle of an authentic Turkish breakfast to view a body at Arif’s request. Farah’s fall looked like open shut suicide until we found her Instagram page, dominated by scenic headstands in expensive lycra. I helped the Turkish police break the news to her husband, who was on a dive tour, and did some paperwork for their correspondence with DFAT. I thought that was it.
Now there’s Milly.
“Arif? How many of these influencer types do you think are in Fethiye this week?”
“Hard to say. They’re everywhere now. I think we are a big target.”
“Yes. I saw two of them fall off a jetty fighting over the place in front of the sun. You know, for a photo. Right into the water in their clothes. I had to give them a warning.”
I waited for Jenna to start snoring that night and opened my laptop. I searched for Milly and Farah again and discovered they did have a kind of friendship. “So we agree they know each other?” Arif looked sleep deprived when we discussed it the next morning.
“Only online, it seems. They lived in different states. They weren’t friends but they were supportive of each other and both had problems with another yoga girl, but don’t mention her name.”
“We saw that too. Something about copying designs for pants?”
“Right, leggings. And copying other ideas without crediting them, recipes, that sort of shit.”
We returned to the clifftop. Senior cops on Arif’s team spoke to me in Turkish and he translated. My phone pinged. Jenna. Where the fuck are you?
A group congregated in the spot where we thought Farah and Milly performed their final downward dogs. Cameras on tripods. People in caps holding coffees and reflectors. In the centre, hands on hips, a woman with masses of hair wearing skin-tight leggings of orange, black and white. Her crop top matched. The print was reminiscent of a butterfly wing. I glanced down at the passenger side of a vehicle parked where we were standing. There was a clipboard with a schedule of some kind on the seat.
Jersey Tiger Launch Shoot
Butterfly Valley, Fethiye, Turkey
Another text from Jenna. I am going to set fire to your laptop if you don’t respond. I started furiously searching Titsiana Jacobs while we retreated out of sight. Yogi. Active wear designer. Wellbeing influencer. I typed “controversy” after her name. A forum thread six pages deep.
Can’t say much because I don’t have time to go to jail for defamation but Titsi did not come up with the Jersey Tiger butterfly active wear design. FL and MM pitched me the drawings and planned a trip to Fethiye in Turkey to launch the range. Supposed to be this rare creature type concept. Funniest part is you get those fucking butterflies in London if the weather’s right. They’re as common as a cold. If that’s not irony? Anyway, watch this space. Tits is ruthless, would throw anyone under the bus.
Or push them off a cliff?
Titsiana raised her arms as if they were wings. An assistant released a kaleidoscope of Jersey Tigers around her. She posed. Camera shutters went off like cicadas. A lone butterfly drifted over, puppet on a string. It landed on Arif’s arm and he smiled.
My phone blipped again, but I switched it to silent without reading the message.
Thanks for reading.
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