3: Broken Things

Finn led us to his room, the steps groaning in protest beneath our feet. Beside me Max brushed his hand against mine and I took it, strange, almost like he’d been abducted by aliens and they’d left an identical copy of my brother behind, but had gotten his personality all wrong.

“Max? You okay, kiddo?”

He feebly nodded his head and squeezed my hand. “It’s just cold,” he whispered.

I nodded in agreement. The air was a bit chilly in contrast to the warm temperature outside. “Do you want to go play outside and wait for us?”

He cocked his head to the side and looked upwards in thought. After a few seconds he nodded and took off running down the stairs.

“Stay in the yard,” I called. “And don’t go anywhere but the yard, understand?” He flashed me a thumbs up and disappeared out the door.

“Boys,” I muttered.

I headed towards Finn’s room where the shuffling of his footsteps filtered through the open door. A smile spread widely on my lips as I saw the various movie posters that littered the walls of his room. It was a complete 180 from the bare walls I saw yesterday. He had managed to make the room his in less than a day. It was more than I could say for myself.

“I love what you did to the place,” I said as I walked in, my eyes racking the space. There was a pile of books on an old dark cherry wood dresser, the wood worn and jagged under my fingertips. I smiled as I saw two of my favorite books in the pile. A bookshelf was set up in the far side of the room next to a half built telescope, facing the drawn windows. I could only imagine how beautiful the stars and planets looked up close, glistening in the night sky.

My feet carried me to his bookshelf where the only books staked on the wood finish were comic books. Grabbing an issue of Spider-Man I flipped through it, smiling at the thought of Max completely falling in love with his collection. I never would have panged Finn to be a closet nerd. He seemed more like the jock type with his strong lean built and tanned skin. But he was full of surprises. What more was there to Finn Rowan?

“Ah, here it is,” he muttered as a slew of rustling followed. I made my way back to him and sat down on the edge of his bed, running my hands over the soft patch worked quilt draped over the royal blue duvet.

“Did your mom make this,” I asked thoughtfully. “It’s really…” The words died on my lips as Finn’s back became rigid like he was preparing for an unseen attack. I peered around the room, my brows furrowing in the process as nothing remotely physical had changed in the atmosphere. It wasn’t like a cute little kitten had materialized out of thin air. That would render anyone speechless with awe.

Finn ran a hand through his hair, and let out a long dragged out breath, taking a seat next to me. His eyes remained trained on the papers in his hands, offering nothing but a focal point. His eyes were hazed over, lost in a distant memory.

“Finn?” I reached forward and touched his forearm. He flinched and immediately I retracted my hand, taken aback by the sudden detachment. We were fine just a couple of minutes ago, what had changed? Was it something that I had said? I just asked about his…

“Oh,” I whispered. The proverbial light bulb in my head flashed as I realized what had caused Finn to withdraw so easily. His mom – something had happened to her. I had wondered about where she was yesterday after just meeting Mr. Rowan. Finn hadn’t said anything about her and I thought she was back on the mainland looking over the last of their belongings before they reached the dock in a few days. I

“She made this before I was born,” he said softly as his fingertips delicately brushed the quilt. “She…died a couple of months ago from Leukemia.” I bit my lip, wanting to reach out to him and take him in my arms just like I would Max when he was upset. His jaw was clenched as he continued.  Anger quickly replaced grief, and the bitterness in his voice made me cringe against the headboard. “It’s the reason we’re here. Dad wanted a new start for us like it was easy to just pick up and leave.”

I’m sorry, I said silently in my head. I barely knew Finn, but those words wouldn’t console him – they never consoled anyone. It was just something people said like it was their fault for the tragedy set on another. Unfortunately, they were also the only words that rose to mind.

“It’s really pretty,” I finally said, my fingertips dancing along the edge of the material. My creamy tanned pink skin was a vast contrast to his fair golden one underneath the warm hues of color the quilt was made from. Our hands were only a few inches apart; the burning feeling to take his hand in mine prickled my fingertips with each agonizing second that ticked by.

“What’s the story behind it?” I asked lightly, hoping that it would avert him from the dark aura that had settled over him.

A sliver of a smile formed on his lips as he turned to face me. “I’ve had it ever since I could remember. She made it during her pregnancy with me. It was one of her favorite past times besides just lounging around and reading, while Dad was off at work on some contracting project.

“I remember when I was a kid…” he chuckled, the vivid memory unfolding right before his eyes. “She’d sneak into my bedroom and wrap the quilt over my shoulders. When I got older and Mom fell sick it was the thing that kept me close to her on long nights where she was staying at the hospital. It sounds stupid-”

“No,” I interjected. “It’s not.”

He looked up for the first time since he’d begun to tell me about his mom. Somehow, along the way, his eyes had slowly crept downward again at the forgotten pieces of papers. His gaze was penetrating when our eyes met; capturing me in their swirling depth of understanding. They were mesmerizing pools of aloe leaves that resided deep in the forest of the isle.

“Is it…is it really that bad being here?” I asked softly. I liked Finn, but if he was just pretending to be something that he wasn’t then I couldn’t be his friend. From what he’d said before it sounded like he loathed being here and I wasn’t going to emotionally invest in a friendship – much less put Max’s feelings on the line – if all Finn wanted was to have people around to pass the time here.

His eyes flickered with amusement as the traces of grief and sadness faded. “It’s not as bad as I thought it would be.”

An effortless smiled pulled at my lips as we ventured back to safe ground. Finn scattered the pages on the bed meticulously and upon closer examination I saw that they were letters with dates written in a black intricate scrawl. Signed at the bottom of each letter was the name Elizabeth Wittaker.

“These are just some that I’ve read last night.” Finn handed me the first one and I took the frail and crumpled brown parchment, cautious of its delicate state.

“I think their journal entries.”

I nodded in assent, reading over the letter’s content.

1822, April 16th

Mama and I went into town today where I ran into a dashing stranger. His name is William Kensington – the son of Harold Kensington – who owns a steel mill in the city, at least, that’s what Mama’s friends whispered about at afternoon tea. Mama has already begun to chide my behavior when we met him in the morning; says I wasn’t using my asset and catching his eyes like a well-brought up girl ought to have done.

She’s right in, I suppose, every way except when it comes to what my heart wants – or what I want for that matter. At the moment, I couldn’t care less about William Kensington. My heart belonged to no one but myself and Lila, my best friend, and the only person I was certain I loved. She was my sister, not of blood, but of friendship. She was also the only person I trusted with what I found in the attic two nights ago.

Sometimes, I wonder if Mama will ever change her ways. Her marriage to Papa was arranged, and often I wonder if Mama secretly hates Papa. Even if she despised him, my feelings for him would never change. He was always away on business in the city, but when he came home the air in the house changed to a breathable and carefree atmosphere.

I missed him so very much.

It’s only a matter of days until his return and with that I’d have a few days off to myself without Mama breathing down my neck every second. Lila and I could go off town in the afternoon and spend it in the market, helping old Mr. Lenson. He’d give us free apple fritters in exchange for our service.

It would be simple, but wonderful all the same.

                        – Elizabeth Wittaker

“I think their my ancestors,” Finn said, searching through the box he’d heaved onto the bed.

“How would they be your ancestors?” I asked. “They could have been the last people who lived in this house. Let me see the other letters.”

Finn didn’t object and let me skim through the other letters that talked about her life on the Isle more than a century ago. The last letter that Finn had read was one where Elizabeth confessed her love for William – or Will as she called him. She hadn’t told him yet. She’d only told Lila given by what she wrote. It made me smile at how her preconceived notions of the elite man turned out to be false. It was like a love story unfolding right before my eyes, and knowing that it happened right here on the Isle made it that much sweeter and believable.

I found myself wishing that I could met a dashing stranger just like Elizabeth and undergo a blooming romance. That’d be terribly romantic and if I counted my lucky stars…well, maybe it could happen.

Yeah, right. Who was I kidding?

Wishes on stars wasn’t an exact science that was proven to be correct.

I was only deluding myself.

“I’ll see what else I find tonight. It wasn’t much, but I thought it was interesting.”

“Me too,” I said. A thought occurred to me as Finn collected the pieces of papers and began to pack them up. “Hey, you never answered my question.”

“Which one?” he asked, as he stood up and lifted the box. His arms flexed by the physical exertion underneath his t-shirt, and I quickly drew my eyes away.

“How is Elizabeth your ancestor?”

He set the box down by the window and turned to me, lips parting to explain. But at that moment we heard an ear splitting holler coming from the window.

“FINNNN! ROSSSSEEEE! Are you guys coming or what? We’ve got snakes to kill and people to save!”

I shook my head and ran a hand through my dark reddish-brown locks.

“We should go before he decides to kill us off.”

Down in the backyard, Finn and I were pulled into one of Max’s safari adventures. We had to duck and dive whenever Max informed us of a deadly batch of snakes ahead. Finn was an expert sword wielder as he hacked off dozens of imaginary snakes on Max’s military command. I on the other hand had died at least twice only to be animated back to life by a simple injection of magical beetle juice.

“Is there anything ahead, Captain?” Finn asked very seriously.

“No, solider. Stand down.”

Finn obeyed and flashed me a dazzling crooked smile. Max would have scowled him if he saw Finn smiling. There was no time for smiling on a dangerous mission such as this. Heat rose to my cheeks as I realized the extent of the risk he was taking.

“Wait,” Max said, putting his hand up to stop our advancing. “Ready your weapons and take cover.”

Finn and I dropped to the ground, my elbows digging into the warm soil. Finn took cover, readying his mock rifle – which consisted of his index finger and thumb – and took aim at the unseen threat in front of him.

Max went on ahead and took out several of my old dolls from his backpack, placing them ten feet away from us on the ground. He rushed back to us, his eyes wide with urgency and wild bewilderment.

“We’ve been infilitrated!” he shouted. “Shoot to kill!”

Finn frowned and said, “They are just innocent girls.”

Max shook his head. “Don’t be fooled, solider. They are dangerous. One look and they’ll have you under their spell.”

Finn gave a curt nod and fired the onslaught of succubi (as Max informed us they were called) and killed every last one of them. I honestly didn’t know where he got his imagination from. The thought occurred to me to start monitoring what he watches more carefully because it could not be normal for a six year old to know what a succubus was. Where in the world would he even get that from? It couldn’t have been from those badly made cartoon network shows that he loved. I needed to show him what good cartoons were before his brain turned to mush.

We stayed out all afternoon, battling evil gnomes and rescuing a little wren that we’d found abandoned by one of the oak trees in Finn’s backyard. It had a broken wing and with delicate hands Finn took the blue ball of feathers in his hands inside. We followed him, Max silent and watchful as Finn took a Popsicle stick from the kitchen cabinet and placed it on the damaged wing. He then proceeded to wrap white gauze from the first aid kit around it.

“How did you learn to do this?” I asked in awe.

“My mom. She liked to take damaged things into the house and heal them as a sort of hobby.”

“Will she be okay?” Max measly asked.

Finn smiled, opening his cupped hands to reveal the little wren safely tucked inside. “She will. If I remember…there’s a small cage in the attic – want to go get it for me?”

Max grinned, nodding robustly. “Which way do I go?”

“Go upstairs and it will be the last door on your right. The cage should be right near the entrance.”

“Okay, I’ll be right back.” He dashed out of the kitchen, his heavy footsteps resonating through the house.

When Max was gone I turned to Finn and saw the careful precision of his thumb stroking the small bird’s back absentmindedly.

“Have you considered being a doctor?” I asked, hopping up on the counter.

He shrugged. “Not really. All I’ve ever been good for is football and that’s Dad’s plan for me; going to some prestige college with a football scholarship.”

I had a feeling that we were treading towards shaky ground again, so instead of asking more about his dad’s plan for his future I suggested a trip to the cemetery.

It sounded morbid, I know, but there was a very pressing matter to attend to.

“Don’t you want to see where they are buried? The Isle was founded in the mid 1600’s. Their bodies would be buried right in Elision’s Cemetery.”

He thought pensively, looking at me while I smiled, trying to goad him to come with me. “Alright,” he said at last. “When will we go?”

The smile that turned on my lips must have been mischievous because Finn raised his eye brows, trying to predict my next words.

“Tonight,” I said, just as Max crashed into the room with a frightful look on his face.

A/N: Hello everyone! I hope you guys are enjoying the story! Just wanted to say that I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS to the photo above. All components that it took to make the graphic belong to the rightful owners. It is purely for creativity! 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how your liking the story so far! C’mon…I don’t bite! xD Hope everyone is having a wonderful day! ♥

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