The Time Has Come. Eek.

         It has come to that point where I have to decide where I want to go for college. Coming from an Asian family, this is a big deal for me. Although I want to make my parents proud, I want to be happy about the decisions that I’m going to make. Everyday is filled with so many things to do and study for. Because I am a senior, time has been flying since the first day of school. I’ve been studying really hard, drinking many cups of coffee and water, updating my calendar, and also ‘vlogging’ to see myself right now in the future. Although these videos are private and for me only, it’s honestly feels really good to talk to a camera about everything that is in my mind. I forgot to mention that these videos that I’ll be filming are for me to look at the day after graduation to see how much I have grown and changed and to compare myself now and in the future. I personally think it is a brilliant idea and actually really entertaining as well.

         Anyways, today I met a college professor who will be guiding me in this journey of finding the right college for me. I was nervous. The realization that my time will soon be up and there will be no more elementary school, middle school, or high school really freaks me out. But I am also extremely excited to finally live the life I always wanted to live. I might be over-exaggerating a little bit but I’ve been waiting to go college for so long and now that it’s time to apply, I’m feeling ambivalent. But you know, everything will work out and it will be good. Life will be good. Of course there will be MANY failures, mistakes, and flaws, but that’s how you grow.

         I’m just a mess today. So much is in my mind and my head is about to explode, so that’s great. Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. 

         Everything will be good. It will be good.

   

  “Every year, many, many stupid people graduate from college. And if they can do it, so can you.” 

                 -John Green

Listening to: “Champagne Supernova” by Oasis

 

Done :)

Just added all the final chapters of my novel. Hopefully it won’t be copied and used by others because I worked extremely hard on this. I have no clue why I posted it online then but whateves. However if you do like it and want to get me a writing contract…. 😉

Anyways, any book recommendations for the summer? I’m going to a used book store on Monday and I need recommendations…

Also thinking about starting a blog… 

Haven’t written in a long time and I feel lost. Gotta get back to writing soon..

19 days left until America. Hoping for the best.

Hoping for the best for you also.

xoxo.

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 16

It was a pretty view. I never really got to see how the park actually looked like because if was always full of people. The last bits of brown and orange crispy leaves were falling from the trees, making it seem like it was raining leaves and the wind was whirling around. Slowly, because of the cold, I felt numbness on my face. My nose was burning from the frosty air surrounding me. I looked up and stared at the clouds. The clouds were all blowing west. It looked like a cotton candy in the sky. The clouds were so fluffy and three dimensional, with light, pastel colors like lavender, pink, light blue, and a light-ish orange. Everything was so beautiful, but dead at the same time. How can something so beautiful can give me so much pain?

        The sky started to turn gray and the wind blew stronger. I should go back now, I thought. There was a crossway that led to a local coffee shop, so I decided to just get a cup of coffee on the way back.

        It took about 3 minutes, but I finally got to the crosswalk. The light was still red, so I waited for the light to change to green. When the light turned green, without any thoughts, I started walking. When I got to around the center line, I heard someone behind me.

        “Skylar,” it said.

It sounded just like Wren.

        “Skylar…… I miss you….,” said the voice.

        In shock, I turned around.

I screamed.

Wren was standing right behind me. Just right there. Standing. Holding out his hand, smiling. Blood was slowly dripping down from his forehead and his shoulder was dislocated.

In terror, I started backing away from him.

“Wren?” I yelled. Tears started rolling down my face. “What happened to you? Oh my gosh!”

He opened his mouth to say something. But there is no sound. No sound at all. He looked to my left and back at me and yelled, but with no sound. Confused, I look to my left.

        Time slowed down, but everything happened so fast.

        I watched in horror as a truck came toward me, and the lights blinding me. I heard metal screeching as I whirled through a haze of a different colored lights, and memories.

I heard screams but I can’t see where they were coming from.

Suddenly everything went black, and eventually the screams faded too.

        For a moment, I heard nothing but my heavy breathing. Am I alive? What happened?

        

        I gasped and opened my eyes. Pain traveled all around my body as I tried to sit up. Blood everywhere, voices in my head, glass shatters everywhere, I started to scream. I slowly fell back to lay down. The pain continued to travel around my body, and got worse every time I move.

        Then everything went black once again, but this time, there was no sound. No sound at all.

        I was in a humid black cloud, with nothing to see, nothing to hear, just this heaviness in my whole body, which was soaked from sweat. I tried to move, but I realized that I couldn’t. Instead, I slowly lifted my heavy eyelids and a strong fragrance of anti-bacterial cleaner filled my nose. My mouth was dry and I smacked my lips a few times, tasting blood in every smack. The room that I was in was bright. Too bright, making me want to close my eyes again. I was exhausted from… from what? In confusion, I tried to sit up, but someone pushed me down. I heard the beeping of a machine. Then someone called my name. A girl. Was it my mom? She called my name again. And again. I slowly turned my head towards the voice. A familiar face stared right back at me, but I couldn’t see. My vision was blurry. I blinked couple of times until I was able clearly see. It was Miranda. I opened my mouth to talk, but nothing came out. I tried to ask where I was, but still nothing came out. I cleared my throat, which made a strong sharp pain in my stomach. I thought I was about to shout but all that came out was a tiny whisper ‘What happened?’.

        A nurse came in with a cup of cold, iced water and gave it to me. I thanked her and stared back at Miranda. She had her hands on the bed, with a worried look.

        With the tiny voice that I had, I asked her again, “What happened?”

        “We should wait for your parents to come,” she said, completely ignoring my question. “Elvis and Robert might come too, if that’s okay.” I nodded.

        After a long silence between Miranda and I, my parents finally came in running through the doors.

        “Oh my gosh, are you okay?” asked mom.

       “So glad you’re still here with us,” said dad. Both of them were hugging me and holding my hand, making my body hurt, but I felt the love.

        “Hi guys,” I whispered. My voice was a bit better than before but it was still tiny.

        “How are you?” they asked.

        “I’m good. How are you guys?”

        “We’re good now, I think. Oh gosh, my body is shaking,” dad said.

        Miranda silently moved to the side, making more room for my parents. I was half listening to my parents because I was too busy trying to remember what happened. My parents just kept babbling and babbling about something going on at home, but all I could think of was the question why.

        “I think I want to sleep guys,” I finally said.

        “Oh. That’s fine. Yeah, you should sleep. That’s good for you,” they babbled at once.

        “Yes guys. Sleep. I’m kind of tired.”

        “Yes, you need to sleep,” said mom as she helped me lay down and lowered my bed.

        “I’ll call you guys when I wake up and you can come visit me later,” I said. They both kissed my cheeks, said their goodbyes to me and Miranda and left.

        “How are you?” I asked Miranda who was still sitting by me.

        “I’m good. I’m good. I’m glad you’re here,” she said.

        “Me too. Have you been here this whole time?”

        “No, I just got here before you woke up.”

        “Really?” I asked.

        “Yes,” she said.

        “You know you could just tell me. The puffiness on your eyes kind of tells everything.” I smiled.

        Miranda started crying. “I thought you weren’t going to wake up Skylar. I thought you were going to die… I couldn’t imagine losing another person that I loved. Not again.” She said as she shook her head.

        “No, Miranda. I would never leave you,” I said as I hugged her. Another nurse came by with a cup of icy water. “Thank you,” I said.

        

        Everyone was there- Elvis, Robert, Miranda, and mom and dad. It was time for the doctor to explain what happened and show us the result of the tests. We sat there waiting and waiting for the doctor to walk in the doors. All of us were silent, staring at each other with awkward glances.    

        There was a knock on the door, and a doctor came in.

        “Hello, I’m Dr. Majaid, your doctor for today. How are you doing Skylar?”

        “I’m doing fine,” I said, slightly smiling as my parents and friends shook the doctor’s hand.

        “That’s good. Do you need anything?” he asked as he called for two nurses.

        I shook my head.

“Alright, then. Shall we start?”

        “Yes, we should,” my dad said.

        Dr. Majaid sat down on his little rolling chair and prepared to show us everything. He gathered his hands and said, “Well let’s me just first say that I’m glad that you woke up. Your friend Miranda here has been here since the accident, a very sweet girl.”

        I smiled. “I’m very thankful for all of them.”

        The nurses came in with plastic wrapped tools. “So first, I’m going to explain what happened, as far as we know,” he said. “Wait actually, do you remember what happened Skylar?”

        “I—- I don’t actually. All I remember is that I was walking across the crossroad, and I turned around and saw Wren-“ I stopped. I haven’t told anyone about that and I wasn’t even sure if I remembered it correctly.

        “You saw Wren?” asked Robert, curiously. “But he’s dead. What do you mean you saw him?”

        I nodded. “Yes. I saw him, but as a ghost. He had blood dripping from his forehead and his shoulder was dislocated and he looked very very sick. He was there when the car came. I think he warned me or something like that. I can’t remember that part that well, but he was there, just not physically.”

        “Did he say anything or do anything?” asked Elvis. I haven’t heard him talk this whole time, but I guess this caught his attention.

        “He called my name. Yes, he called my name and said that he missed me. He was about to tell me something when the car came. And then this happened.” I explained.

        “You guys, we should let the doctor talk for a minute. I want to hear what he knows,” said my dad. Dad always had some kind of respect toward doctors. He trusted them and cherished their beings very much.

        Dr. Majaid laughed. “Thank you for that introduction Mr. Silversteen. Anyways, Skylar, you actually remember a lot from that day, surprisingly. It’s quite impressive. I didn’t know half the things you said, but most people don’t really remember that much from accidents. All I know is about the damage that the car accident left on you.” My parents gasped. “It’s not that bad. Don’t worry. Anyways, your body will be pretty sore for a couple of weeks because you have severe bruises on your rib cage area and the side of your leg, but it will heal. And also, your wrist is broken and that is why your wrist is wrapped around. We can’t put the cast yet, but we’ll get to that soon.”

        “Thank you doctor,” my mom said.

        “No problem. I’m just thankful that Skylar is still with us here. I’ll come back later to check on you,” Dr. Majaid said as he got up to leave.

        “Thank you,” we all said in unison.

        It was a long day. Finding out that I was in a car accident and the fact that I saw Wren, as a ghost, was just too much to handle. What did this mean?

        After my parents left, Robert stayed to talk to me about the phone. He was smiling.

        “I was going to wait for you to get better and out of this hospital but I decided that I was just going to tell you. Everyone knows except you.”

        “Well hurry up and tell me! From that smile, I’m guessing that the mystery is solved?” I said with my hopes up.

        “Eh, kind of. But after complaining to the police about their mistake and not telling us about the phone, which could’ve have solved everything from the beginning, they finally gave me the phone, which actually wasn’t broken into pieces. We searched through it and the last person he called, which was on that day he was with me, was his friend from England. Poor guy. I guess his friend passed away from drug overdose and Wren was really upset about that. And that friend of his was his best friend from childhood.” Robert sighed.

        I started tearing up. “So all this long, we could’ve figured out why he died by using that phone, but we suffered and experienced so much pain because we didn’t?”

        “Hey, but think about it. Each one of us- Elvis, you and your friend Miranda, learned something really important from this. Although we’re not that positive if it was 100% accident or not, maybe it’s something that fate doesn’t want us to know. Maybe that ghost that you saw was just a small foreshadow of your accident. Maybe that’s it.”

        “Well that clears things up nicely…” I said.

        I let out a deep sigh. Everything was over now. Although we didn’t figure out the full complete story of why Wren ran out of Robert’s house and drove into a pole, and we’ll probably never know, but some mysteries aren’t meant to be solve. I’m not sure if he wanted to run into that pole or if it was because he couldn’t see the road from too much tears in his eyes, but that’s the past now. I didn’t feel angry at him for leaving me, leaving us, like that. I didn’t know if I should feel angry or not. Robert, Elvis and I had our parts to blame ourselves and maybe we could’ve stopped Wren from leaving us.

        But we knew that he made us closer- Robert, Elvis, Miranda and me. And that was okay. He didn’t just leave me hanging and lost with no answers. He left me with three strangers who changed my life.

        It was official. We were done chasing a ghost, who left us with nothing but unanswered questions. We were done.

        

        It was another Saturday morning and I was at Miranda’s house. Two weeks had gone by since finding out the reason why Wren ran out of Robert’s house. I came to a realization that no matter how hard your life can get, life doesn’t stop for you and wait for you to get better. It just does nothing but goes on. It’s funny how when something terrible happens, time seems to slow down or even stop for some people, but in reality, it’s just the opposite.

        “Don’t you just love these old movies from the early 2000s?” asked Miranda.

        I nodded. “To think that this was only like five to seven years ago…”

        “I know right. It’s crazy… Be right back. I’m going to go get my mail,” she said as she went outside.

        Spring was coming back again. It was like a new start. The flowers were starting to bloom again, the bird were out, singing songs, and the chilly, winter wind was now gone. Everything was set perfectly. A new chapter of my life, and a new start of a season- it was perfect.

        “This is weird,” Miranda said as she walked back in the house.

        I looked up to see what she was holding. “What?”

        “I got an envelope from Robert. It says here that it’s for me, you, and Elvis. I’m going to invite Elvis over,” she said. I got up to see the envelope. It was one of those typical yellow package colored envelope. The post stamps were all the way from New York, which didn’t make sense at all.

        “Hey,” I said, giving the envelope back to Miranda. “The post stamp here is from New York. How is that possible?”

        Miranda looked at the envelope. “I don’t know. Hopefully it’s not what I’m thinking. Let’s just wait until Elvis gets here and we’ll open this together.”

        We sat patiently waiting for Elvis. I was worried about what was inside the envelope. Could it be money? Possibly a ticket?

        The doorbell rang and Miranda ran to answer it.

        “Hi guys,” Elvis said as he walked it. “What’s with this envelop thing?”

        I smiled up at Elvis. “Hi Elvis. Well Miranda just got this envelope from Robert and it’s all the way from New York. We’re not sure what it’s about, but hopefully something good…”

        “I have a feeling it’s something bad by the fact that he hasn’t been answering any of our calls,” answered Elvis.

        Miranda grabbed her envelope cutter and slowly, little by little, opened up the envelope. There was a folded letter in it.

        “What letter is this?” Miranda murmured.

        She slowly took the letter out of the envelope and slowly opened it up.

        “It’s a handwritten letter from Robert,” she said, looking up.

        Dear everyone,

It has been hard these past few months…

Growing up, I didn’t know that I was adopted. The person that I called mom and dad were just part of my family. Everything was normal. But one day, my mom called to say that she had something to tell me and later I found out that I was adopted. Finding out that you’re adopted when you’re over at least eighteen years old is extremely hard. You live and learn from these people that you used to call parents until you’re able to live on your own and then suddenly you don’t know who they are anymore. It’s terrifying. When I learned that about my biological parents, I also learned that I had a brother named When. I was frustrated at first. I didn’t talk to my parents, not biological, for almost two weeks. Then I got hold of Wren and it was like love at first sight, but family style. I realized that he needed me, whether he knew me since he was little or not. I developed this feeling of wanting to protect him and comfort him. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Wren and I were close. I was so glad that I had this brother that I never knew about. Although it did take some time to get use to my adoptive and biological parents, Wren was like a friend. When he came over, we did almost everything together. We were kind of like an old couple if you think about it. Hahaha. Anyways, what I wanted to write about is that I just couldn’t take it anymore. Everywhere I go, I remembered Wren and what we did and how much fun we had together. When he died, he took half my heart with him. Although I was okay on the outside, I was extremely hurting in the inside. I just couldn’t deal with it anymore. But don’t get me wrong, I love you guys. Elvis, Miranda, and Skylar- I love you guys so much. One thing I am grateful for after Wren’s death is meeting all of you. You guys really changed my life. Seriously.

And this isn’t your fault at all. Trust me. I guess you can say that I’m a pretty sensitive guy. I cried every night. I lost communication with my family and my close friends, David and Josh. I guess you can say I hit rock bottom.

So, I decided that I needed a change. It was a last minute decision but I just had to get out of Norview. Right when I was about to sleep, I got up from bed, bought plane tickets and then later packed up to move. Move forever. It was a quixotic move. But, I am doing a whole lot better here and I’m finally becoming myself again.

I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you guys sooner. I’m so sorry. The memory of Wren just haunted me every day and night and I just had to escape. I’m really sorry. I hope you guys forgive me and give me a call when you can. I miss you guys so much and I love you.

        Yours truly,

          Robert Turner

PS. I’m in New York by the way. If you ever come here, here’s my number 283-8500.

        “Is he serious?” I asked, staring at Miranda and Elvis who also looked confused.

        We all shook our heads. It was unbelievable- the fact that Robert left us like that unintentionally and didn’t even say bye or come talk to us about it. It was unbelievable.

        “I guess he couldn’t move on,” whispered Miranda. “He just couldn’t let go of the fact that Wren isn’t here anymore.”

        “I let it go,” I said.

        “But it’s different for everyone. For some people, letting go isn’t that easy. Their minds are set that way, like some kind of lock- it can only be opened if a specific key that matches the hole goes in,” replied Elvis. “And for Robert’s hole, he just needed a whole new lock.”

        We stayed silent for awhile.

        I understood him. I knew what he was going through, and the pain that he felt, but I didn’t understand why he had to leave so dramatically. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t just tell us about this and even possibility get help from us. We could’ve helped him with his sadness, because we were going through it too. We were all going through it together.

        “I think we should call him,” I said suddenly.

        Miranda looked up. Her hair was in a messy ponytail. She was wearing gray sweatpants with an oversized vanilla colored sweater. “We should.”

        Elvis turned around to grab the phone. He dialed the number that was written in the letter and then let the phone ring.

        It rang and rang and rang. There was no answer.

        

        Right when he was about to end the call, the ringing stopped.

        “Hello?” said a rasp, deep voice.

        “Hi,” said Elvis. “Is Robert Turner there?”

        “This is him speaking. Is this….. Is this Elvis?”

        “That’s me! Hi Robert.”

        “Hi guys. I didn’t know you guys would call this fast…”

        “Oh, well we just got your letter and decided to call. Are you really in New York?”

        “Yes. It’s beautiful here and I can now stop thinking about Wren. Well of course I think about him, but I’m not depressed by the thought of him. In Norview, everything reminded me of him… I just want to say I’m so sorry guys. I should’ve talked to you guys about it and I’m sorry.”

        “Its fine Robert,” Miranda said. “We’re just glad you’re doing okay in New York.”

        “I am. New York is absolutely stunning. Every day seems like a whole new world and although the people are quite rude and impatient, everything else is beautiful. Every corner has some kind of artwork that represents something and only the artist of that art work will only know. It’s just…. Perfection.”

        “I’m glad you feel happiness in New York,” replied Elvis. We all nodded in agreement. “Just remember to call us often and don’t ever forget about us!”

        “How can I forget about you guys. I’ll visit if I can and you guys can visit me too. Thank you so much for everything guys. I’m glad I get to have you guys in my life now. You guys are truly very important to me and who I am. Thank you.”

        “There is no need to thank us. It’s what friend do. Anyways, we all love you very much Robert. Call us soon,” I said, as  I hung up.

        I laid down in relief. Although Robert now lived quite far away from us, it felt like he was still here, in Norview. The distance between us wasn’t going to change anything between our friendship and I was positive about that. What we all went through together brought us together and created memories that we’re never ever going to forget.

        

        A writer once said,” Sometimes the hardest part isn’t letting go but rather learning to start over.” Maybe we’re just all starting a new chapter of our life.

CHAPTER 13-15

CHAPTER 13

        

The funeral was finally over. Wren’s death was now official. It was done. I walked over to the coffin that laid at the front of the church. Thankfully, it was closed. I didn’t know what I was going to do if it was open and saw his face, the face that I loved. I heard footsteps behind me and someone tapped me on my shoulder. It was Wren’s mother.

        “How are you doing sweety?” she asked. Her eyes looked exhausted and the pain that she felt was easy to see. There was a little too much powder beneath her eyes, probably to cover up her extreme dark circles. It seemed as if she aged a lot since I last saw her. The wrinkles on her face were clearly visible, and her cheekbones were shallow probably from not eating a lot recently. Mrs. Esters looked overly tired.

        “I’ve been better,” I said with a weak smile. I slowly reached for her hand and held it for awhile. “I think we have all experienced better days.”

        Her eyes became teary and she gave my hand a little squeeze. I let go of her hand and she wiped her tears. “Wren loved you very much,” she whispered.

        “He loved all of us, Mrs. Easters. He loved you too, so much.”

        I placed my hands on the coffin. A tear dripped down my face, and for a few moments, it was just the two of us- the guests had faded away, as well as his parents and it was just the two of us- two bodies and one beating heart.

        From a distance, I heard someone calling my name. Was it Wren? Was I hearing Wren’s voice? I turned around, searching for the owner of the voice and I felt another tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see that it was Elvis.

        “Oh, hi. Glad you could make it,” I said.

        “You too, Skylar. Are you feeling okay? It seemed as if you were a bit lost there…”

        “Yeah, I think I’m fine. What about you?” I asked, glaring back at the coffin.

        “Not so well. I couldn’t sleep last night. The thought that Wren was actually, literally dead was killing me and I just couldn’t sleep. Anyways, what were you talking to Claire about?”

        “I guess I wasn’t the only one who couldn’t sleep last night. Mrs. Esters just asked if I’m okay… She’s not a bad person Elvis, I hope you know that.”

        “I know. Just wondering,” he responded. He stared at the coffin, deeply focused and said, “That day was his day off and I made him work. If I could’ve just given him that day off, then he wouldn’t have to be in here and all of us wouldn’t have had to come here.”

        “Elvis, it’s not your fault. Things happen for a reason and if Wren hadn’t……” I choked. “If Wren hadn’t du-du-died, then we wouldn’t have met.”

        “I guess you’re right. He is just gone, Skylar. Just gone.” He sighed. “I thought I’d feel him looking down on us, smiling, but I don’t feel that. He is just gone.”

        “No he is not Elvis. You know that he’s not. He may be physically gone, but you and I know that he’s not gone because he will always stay in our hearts,” I said.

        “You’re right…” he whispered. “Skylar is right. I’m so sorry, Wren. I miss you so much man.” Elvis knelt down and put his lips to the coffin. “I love you so much and I’m so sorry… You deserved a better captain. No, screw that. You deserved a better friend.” I stood there, staring at Elvis talk to Wren’s dead body.

 

        Three months passed since the funeral, and Wren faded away like the November wind. No one talked about him anymore and no one cared. He was just another dead person.

However, Elvis and I remembered and talked about him every day. He was our best friend. I talked about his gorgeous smile, while Elvis would tell me stories about the trainee years of Wren. Although Wren wasn’t here with us anymore physically, we sometimes felt a presence of Wren. It was like he was there, laughing with us, but just invisible and silent.

        I couldn’t believe we still didn’t know why he died. It was still a mystery to us that we’ll never solve but I learned to move on. Of course it was difficult at first. I was depressed the whole time. I didn’t smile as much as I did before, and I just stayed in my room and watched the videos of Wren over and over again, until I fell asleep. That was how my every day went. I guess Miranda couldn’t see me like this anymore, so she talked me out of being a depressed girl and changed me. As cliché as that sounds, it was true.

        “What do you think happened to Wren,” I asked to Elvis.

        “I think about it a lot. I imagine all sorts of scenarios but none of them seem to fit the description that the police told me. Anything could have happened honestly, but….” He was silent. “But nothing fits. The only reason that actually fits his death is….. suicide.”

        “Don’t think that, please,” I said. “That’s impossible. That is impossible. Why would Wren commit suicide?”

        “I don’t know, Skylar. I really wish I was wrong, but according to the evidence that the police showed me, that’s what it seems like.”

        “Nope. That’s impossible,” I responded.

        “I know it sounds impossible but I told you. This is not my guess. This is according to the evidence that the police found. Maybe they could be wrong but for now, that’s the number one guess right now.”

        “If it is true, even though it’s not, why would he have committed suicide?”

        “I don’t know Skylar. But sometimes we get sad about things and we don’t like to tell other people about it, even our close ones. We like to keep it a secret. Or sometimes we think that our secret doesn’t matter to them- that it would be a waste of time. They just keep it all inside and let it haunt them.

        “It’s hard to believe that Wren had a secret. He’s so open with everything, like he knows how to tell a person how he feels really well. What could’ve been the problem?” I wondered.

        “Guess we’ll never find out,” Elvis said, staring out the window.

                                                                                                                                   

        I looked over the eulogy from months ago. It was a good speech, I had to admit. Everything in the speech was from the bottom of my heart and the descriptions went well with Wren. I logged into the computer and went over the videos of Wren. As I was looking at the videos, I realized that I didn’t get to watch on the video titled Please Listen. I slid the video in the slot and the TV screen went black. After a few seconds, Wren appeared on the screen.

        “Hello, to whoever is watching this. I’m pretty sure it’s Sky though. Anyways, hello. So I guess you can say that this video is kind of like a TOP SECRET video,” Wren laughed. “This is the story of my past that I never told anyone about. Oh gosh, I really hope that Skylar is watching this. Oh, if you are, watch it with Elvis. You probably know him by this point, right?” I pressed pause and called Elvis to come over.

        “Don’t press play just yet, okay Skylar?” he said.

        “Hurry. He said that he was going to talk about the past that he never told anyone. What if this relates to his death? Oh my gosh. I’m shaking. Hurry!” I said.

        Elvis was over at my house in less than 30 minutes. We went up to my room and got comfortable for the long video.

        “You ready to watch it?” he asked.

        “Nope but if this is going to help me, no us, in finding out the truth, then I am ready,” I responded.

        I pressed play on the remote and the video buffered. It started playing again.

        “Anyways, I can’t tell you everything right now but I’ll tell you some things that I’ve never told anyone before.” He swallowed. “Around two weeks ago, two weeks before we planned the actual dates for the France trip, I found out that I wasn’t the only one.”

        “What does he mean he’s not the only one?” asked Elvis. I shushed him.

        Wren continued. “One night, my parents were sitting at the dinner table and they told me to sit down because they had something to tell me. The look on their faces weren’t good, and I was a bit nervous for what they were going to tell me, but then they told me that I had a long lost brother. Can you believe that? I wasn’t the only child this whole time! And I’m 20! CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT??!?!? I was pretty mad that they haven’t told me this earlier, but they told me why. They weren’t sure whether he was alive or not until around two months ago when my long lost brother’s mom, the one who adopted him, called and asked to meet them. His mom wanted my long lost brother to meet his actual mom because she said he was ready, I think. Anyways, I think I’m going to go meet him soon! I’ll tell you his name in person because I want to keep it a surprise for now but oh gosh, I’m shaking… It’s just still shocking for me. Oh and how he’s my long lost brother is that my parents had him at a really young age, like seventeen, and they couldn’t raise him so they gave him away but they really want to see their first son. But anyways, I’ll tell you the rest later, in person. Or just call me if you want to know more,” he said as he raised his eyebrows and winked. “That’s my top secret. I’m so excited to meet this brother of mine! Bye!”

        The video ended. Elvis and I stared at the screen for awhile. Wren had a long lost brother?

        “Do you believe this guy right here?” said Elvis. “A long lost brother? Is he insane?”

        “Why didn’t Wren tell us his name?” I said.

        “Are you frustrated right now because I am? I don’t know why but I’m so mad right now.”

        “Think about it Elvis. Do you think Wren’s death has anything to do with him visiting his long lost brother?” I asked.

        “No way. That’s impossible. He just said he never met him or even heard of him before.”

        “Something is fishy with this video though.”

        “Let’s go over what the police told me about his death,” Elvis said as he pulled out a folder from his bag.        

        “What is that?” I asked.

        “I have all the paper sheets for the list of evidences that the police had. I kind of secretly got a copy of it.” I stared at him, motionlessly. “It’s a spy thing. Don’t worry about it.” He said. “Anyways, it says that the car that he drove had its lights on, but the front of the car was damaged greatly. Is that even possible?

        “Wait. I remember something. One morning, I had breakfast with Wren and I remember him being really distracted by something. He said he always had problems trusting people and that it was time for me to know the real him. Maybe this has something to with his long lost brother,” I pointed out.

        “That was probably when you didn’t know that he was a spy. That was what he was going to tell you I think. That’s why he made the videos remember?”

        “Oh. I guess. Hey, I’m just trying to help here. Don’t get so frustrated.”

        “Sorry, Skylar. I’m sorry. I’m just shocked that Wren didn’t tell me about this long lost brother dude. Maybe we should call him, you know, and ask if he knows a guy named Wren Esters and if he says no, then he hasn’t met Wren before.”

        “That’s a brilliant plan but we don’t even know the brother’s name!!”

        “Sky, you know who I am right? I’m the captain of a SPY CREW. We have done this kind of work before. Don’t worry about it.”

        “Oh yeah…..” I laughed. “It’s weird to think that you’re a spy. How do you do all that stuff? Can you teach me?”

        “I think my work may be a little bit too advanced for you, sweetheart.”

        “Hey, don’t mess with me. You don’t know what I could do,” I joked.

        “Right.” Elvis laughed. “Anyways, I’ll get back to you on this brother of Wren’s. Is there anything else that we have to watch?”

        “Can I see the papers?” I asked.

        “The evidence sheets?” I nodded. “I’m not sure if you can, but sure, whatever. But you cannot, I cannot emphasize on the CANNOT enough, lose this. There will be really bad consequences for you and me if you lose this, you got it?”

        “I’m probably going to be home every day, so you don’t need to worry. That was quite scary talk though.”

        “Hey! Thanks!”

        “No problem Elvis,” I said as I took the papers and placed it on my desk.

        After Elvis went home, I sat down on my bed to look over the evidence sheets. He was right. It did seem like a suicide. The details and the descriptions all made it seem like Wren committed suicide. But I knew, I knew that he did not commit suicide. Wren was better than that and if this lost brother had something to do with his death then we were at least 50% close to solving the mystery of how Wren died. Although we could turn in the videos to the police, these videos were meant for me and Elvis and I couldn’t just show it to the police because maybe Wren didn’t want us to know why he died, if he did plan all of this.

        As I was reading the papers, I noticed a book on my desk. It was the book As I Have Gone. I forgot to finish the book, I thought. For a second, I was going to call Elvis to get permission to read it, but I just decided to go on without permission.

        Time flew by as I read the book. The book repeated my life basically and it was interesting to read my life in words. As I further within the book, some lines were underlined and had little notes. What is all of this, I wondered. I continued to read and it was no longer about me anymore. It was about Joshua, the boy character in the book. I turned the page, toward the back:

He was obsessed with the thought that he wasn’t the only one- that there was someone else above him, who experienced and saw the world before him. He was shaken by the overwhelming news that the entire time, he thought that he was going to alone in this world, when he wasn’t. The spot was taken. “What is this?” he sighed. “Is there no end to life? Does it just continue on like this?”

        The whole passage was underlined in bleeding blank ink. There was another ink, in a bright piercing red color, which drew an arrow from “The spot was taken.” to a note on the side written in all capital letters:  CALL ROBERT.

        I decided to call Elvis, when I realized that he didn’t know that I was finishing this book, but then Miranda didn’t know anything about this book… But because Miranda was a girl, and she probably understood this kind of romance better than Elvis, so I called Miranda.

        “Miranda?” I said.

        “Hey Skylar! I haven’t talked to you since the funeral! How are you?”

        “I’m good! Sorry I couldn’t call. I was quite busy.”

        “It’s fine. I had my college application stuff to work on so I was busy too. What’s up?”

        “This might sound really really cliché but stay with me here. So before I met Wren some random man came up to me and gave me this book, which I found out the man was Elvis. The book was said to be a second part of a book called As It Continues, which I did read. But anyways, as I continued to read the second book, I found out that this book is about me and Wren. So the book is kind of like the ‘foreshadow’ of our relationship. I totally forgot about it for awhile until few hours ago and I found some lines that are underlined, but I don’t know who underlined it. Something tells me Wren underlined it, but… I don’t know… I’m just so confused right now,” I said. The phone was silent for awhile. “Hello? Miranda, are you there?”

        “Yeah, sorry. I’m just trying to make sure I got it. There’s this book that Elvis gave you and you found out that it’s a story about you and Wren, right?”

        “Yes,” I said.

        “And you found some writing or underlined lines in the book and you’re not sure who wrote in the book?” she asked.

        “Exactly. I think Wren underlined it but I’m not sure if he actually knew that this book is actually about us. I told him about the book, but I just can’t remember if I told that I was sure that the book was about us.”

        “If Elvis gave you the book, don’t you think he knows?”

        “Well, he said not to read it until he gave me permission but I just found the book today and I’m reading it right now without permission…”

        Miranda laughed. “Ohhhh, I see! But I’m not sure how I’m going to help you with this… I haven’t even the book before.”

        “OH yeah… You haven’t. Well I thought I could talk to a girl instead of Elvis because I mean he’s a great guy but I need to talk to a girl with these stuff that relates to love you know,” I said as I laughed. “Anyways, do you want to see the book? We could meet somewhere or I could come over, if that’s okay.”

        “Actually, you can come over,” she said. “I just cleaned my room so I’m ready for a guest to come over. I’ve been too focused on college, I haven’t had the time to invite people, but I could invite you.” I heard a smile from over the phone. It was weird how you could tell if someone is smiling or not through the phone just by the tone of their voice.

        “Sounds good! I’ll be there soon!” I said and we hung up.

        When I got to Miranda’s house, her mom greeted me and brought me upstairs to Miranda’s room.

        “Hey Sky! Welcome,” she said.

        “Hi!” I said, smiling. “Thanks for inviting me over.”

        “No problem! It’s clean, right?!”

        “So clean,” I said exaggerating. Miranda smiled and sat down on her beanbag.

        “So show me this book. Is it really about you and Wren? How is that possible?”

        “Yeah, I’m not sure who wrote it, but the descriptions on this book are extraordinary. So anyways, someone wrote something here,” I said. “But it’s weird. Look. Page sixty-four.”

        I handed the book to Miranda, and she flipped to the page and then looked up at me. “Call Robert?” she asked.

        “Yeah, exactly. Who’s Robert? Oh…. Wait I forgot to tell you something Miranda.”

        “What?”

        “Well, there are video tapes that When gave to  Elvis to give to me after our France trip, but since that obviously didn’t happen, Elvis just gave the videos to me anyways. And in one of the videos Wren announced that he had a long lost brother that his parents told him about recently. It’s quite overwhelming, like everything is coming to me at once, but Wren has a brother. His parents had him at a really young age, so the brother was adopted by another woman and they just got in contact. But anyways, Elvis and I think that this long lost brother of Wren’s can help us or know about Wren’s death. Also, maybe this Robert dude is his brother.”

        “Don’t get so overwhelmed with yourself. You can never ever ever keep your hopes up like that. Nope, never. It almost always leads to disappointment.”

        “Miranda, did you not hear what I just told you? Everything fits into the puzzle. Elvis is trying to find this brother of Wren’s and we’re going to meet him. I mean, if he doesn’t know who Wren is then we can forget about him. I’m not trying to keep my hopes up to find why Wren died.” I sighed. “I’m just trying to do what I can to find out how Wren died. It doesn’t matter if he was murdered or something. I think his friends and family deserve to know that he is not the kind to commit suicide. He’s not that kind of person. He doesn’t deserve to be remembered as someone who committed suicide. He doesn’t,” I said.

        Miranda had a straight face. “Skylar, there is nothing wrong with knowing someone who committed suicide. People have deep secrets that they don’t tell anyone and just let it build inside of them. To this day, I have no clue why my brother committed suicide. Do you know how frustrating that is? Almost four years now, with no videos of him, no letters, no hints, just a rope and a visual image is all I have. I have lived with the title of the girl with the weird brother and no one realizes that my brother needed help. He needed love and strength. He’s remembered as the guy who committed suicide.” Tears started rolling down her cheeks. “I tried. I tried to find clues. In the movies, there is always some kind of clues that leads to finding out the reason for someone’s death or sometimes it leads to the fact that the person wasn’t even dead at all, just hiding. But welcome to reality, where everything is just the opposite of what you hope.”

        “Miranda…. I didn’t mean it like that….” I said.

        “I think you should go home, Skylar. I’ll just call you later,” she said as she opened the door. I left her house with nothing but regret and sorrow.

 

CHAPTER 14

       

For two weeks, I stayed home, thinking. I needed a break from everything but I surrounded myself with thoughts over thoughts over thoughts. I get a call from neither Elvis nor Miranda. My frustration grew, and my mind was never calm. Why did I have to think so much? Why can’t I just take out my brain for just two minutes? Just two minutes…

        I thought about what Miranda told me. She was right. I was being extremely selfish about the whole thing. All the worry that I had was for my satisfaction. But I couldn’t just leave Wren hanging like that. I can’t and I won’t. Never.

        After a few minutes, the phone rang. Concidently, it was Miranda calling.

        “Hi Miranda,” I said, hoping she forgave me for what I said.

        “Hi Skylar,” she said in almost a whisper. “I just wanted to call to see how you were doing and also apologize for sending you home like that. You came over because you needed help and I didn’t help you. I’m so sorry. I should’ve –“

        “Miranda, you shouldn’t be sorry. I’m the one that should be sorry. What I said was totally wrong. I understand what you were trying to say. You were right, to be honest. I’m so focused on the idea of trying to find out what happened to Wren that I forgot about what’s important to him. It doesn’t matter if people think of him as someone who committed suicide. I bet your brother was a great guy, who didn’t deserve to have lost his life, but look at you now. You’re all ready for whatever life is going to throw, while I’m just standing there, getting thrown around and hit. But I guess that’s who I am.”

        “No Skylar. You are also a strong girl too. The scars in our hearts take different time to heal. ” she said.

        I sighed. “Death is a hard thing.” I laughed.

        “It truly is. I never or ever will let go of my brother Skylar. We just have to try to think positively and believe that they are going to be with us whenever, wherever, and however.”

        “You’re right. It’s just that I’m the type of person who can’t stand unanswered questions, especially in situations like this.”

        “But you have to understand that that’s just life,” said Miranda. “Life is full of unanswered questions. There’s nothing you can do about it.”

        I sighed again. She was right. I was forcing myself to find answers to questions that might not even have an answer.

       I called Elvis to admit to reading further onto As I Have Gone, and thankfully, he wasn’t mad at all. He actually forgot about the book, just like I did. When I told him about the ‘CALL ROBERT’ letters on the book and also the many underlined lines, Elvis was shocked. He knew I only read to around page fifty and there was no way that the book was read by anyone, except Wren.

        “Maybe Wren took my book that time when we met up for the breakfast date,” I said one day.

        “How? How could he have took it and put it back so fast and why did he underline the lines if he didn’t want anyone to know that he had the book?” wondered Elvis.

        “Maybe he’s trying to tell us something, or maybe he knew about this book also. Maybe he knew that the book was based on us and since the book foreshadowed our lived, he knew that the book would tell him about his brother.”

        “How do we even know that his brother has something to do with his death?”

        “We don’t. I’m just trying to connect here. Did you find out the brother’s name?”

        “We actually found a lot of people who could fit into Wren’s brother ‘list’ but it’s not as easy as it sounds,” Elvis admitted.

        “Why not try to research the name Robert and see if there are any connections with the Esters family?”

         “Wow, that’s a good idea actually. Why don’t you become a spy?” he joked.

        “I’m secretly a spy too, Elvis!” I joked back. “Oh and what I also realized was that the book is based on life with Wren still living, which doesn’t make sense at all.”

        “Wren is still alive in the book?”

        “Well in the book his name is Joshua, but yeah. He’s still alive, moving and breathing.”

        “That’s really weird…” said Elvis, rubbing his chin.

        “Can we go to the lab or something?” I asked.

        “The lab? What lab?”

        “The secret spy lab, where everything can be searched in less than five seconds. That lab.”

        “Skylar, that’s only in the movies. It’s actually way harder than that. I think it takes less than twenty seconds, approximately.”

        “REALLY? So everything in the movies is a lie?”

        “Well, not everything. Why am I telling you all this stuff.”

        “Because you have too. Anyways, so you’re not going to take me to the spy place?”

       “Fine. But you can’t tell anyone that you came here or that you know someone who is even a spy, especially since I’m the captain.”

        “You really love that name ‘captain’,” I teased.

        “Hey, you don’t know how long I waited for this name. It’s who I am.”

        “Yeah, yeah, pick me up in five minutes,” I said.

        “Whatever you want boss.”

        The lab area was way different from the movies. It didn’t have those cool doors, and weapons hanging around, it just looked like a regular room.

        “Are you kidding right now?” I said. “Is this really it? You sure there isn’t like some kind of secret doorway or something because this is not right.”

        “This is it Skylar. I told you. Movies exaggerate too much, it’s so annoying. Anyways, the reason why it’s like this is because we want it to look like regular, plain old house so if anyone comes in here, then they won’t automatically assume that this is a spy lab. They’ll think that it’s just another house. Anyways, you can’t tell anyone about this. You don’t want to know what will happen to you… Especially since everyone knows who you are now.”

        “Hey, don’t scare me like that,” I said. The lab was seriously just like a regular house. A velvet colored couch was placed in the living room, as well as a coffee table and a shelf. There was no TV anywhere, which ruined the whole scheme of wanting the lab to look like a regular house. There was a kitchen, which had a myriad of water bottles and weird colored drinks in different cups. Elvis said they were used for experiments. When we entered one of the main rooms, a huge computer stood in our way.

        “You think burglars aren’t going think that this is a regular house, when there is an enormous computer right in the main room? Wow, Elvis.”

        “Well they won’t be able to break or take this computer.”

        “What do you mean? Burglars have their own ways you know.”

        “What makes you so sure?” he asked suspiciously. I looked at him and smiled. He continued, “This computer is made to stay in one place forever and it’s built with literally invincible materials. It’s a pretty impressive computer.”

        “Uh-huh. Whatever you say. Pretty cool place by the way. Only if I had a place like this.”

        “You just said –. Nevermind. Let’s get into researching.”

        “Sounds good. The name is Robert. I’m not sure where he lives, who he lives with, how he lives, etc. I don’t even know his last name.” I admitted.

        “That’s why you’re here, aren’t you?”

        I laughed. “Yeaaaaah, sorry.”

        There were a total of three thousand people named Robert.

        “How are we going to find the Robert that we’re looking for?” I asked.

        “Just wait. We’re not done yet. Be patient and wait for the magic to happen.”

        “Alright…”

        Elvis clicked some buttons on the pad that was in front of us. The search result changed and only five Roberts appeared.

        “Now we can visit these five Roberts and we have our answers!” yelled Elvis.

        “Wow…. How did you do that?”

        “Secret. I already told you too much.”

        “Fine.”

        We got in the car and drove to our first destination. It took us twenty minutes to find the actual place, but soon we found what we were looking for. The place was surrounded by old, rusty motorcycles that didn’t seem like they were even used. A light was on inside. Elvis opened the door and we were welcomed by an old, wrinkly man who was sitting by the counter.

        “Hello, welcome to Krusting Depot. What may I help you with?” said the old man.

        “Hello,” said Elvis. “We’re looking for someone named Robert?”

        “I’m Robert. Who are you?”

        “Oh, hello Robert. My name is Elvis and this is my friend, Skylar. We’re here to find one of our friend’s brother. Do you perhaps know a guy named Wren?”

        “Wren? I’m not sure. I don’t think I know anyone named Wren.”

        “Oh, you don’t? That’s okay. Thank you for your time,” Elvis said. I smiled at the old man.

        “I’m sorry guys. With I could’ve helped.”

        “No don’t worry about it. Have a great day!” I said.

        As we left the building, Elvis said, “Well we only have four more Roberts to meet.”

        “Sounds groovy,” I said sarcastically.

        Fortunately, it only took less than five minutes to get to where the second Robert lived.

        “That was fast,” I said to Elvis.

        It was a light blue colored house, with colorful flowers surrounding the house.

        “You sure this isn’t a woman’s house?” I asked.

        “I’m sure,” he said as he rang the bell. The doorbell rang on and on until we heard someone grab the door handle. The door opened and a young man, who looked around early 30.

        “Hello,” said Elvis, once again. “My name is Elvis and this is my friend, Skylar. Does Robert live here?”

        “Who are you?” he said, in his husky and raspy voice.

        “We’re here to look for our friend’s brother named Robert and we found you,” I said nervously.

        “How did you find me?” the man asked.

        “It took some work, but we’ll like to keep that to ourselves. Do you perhaps know a boy named Wren?”

        “Wren Esters?” he said.

        “You know him?!?!?!!” I responded.

        “Yeah. I guess so. How do you know him? Did he send you here?”

        “No. Sadly, he died a few months ago… That’s why we’re here to learn why and how he died.”

        “You think finding me was going to help?”

        “Well, what we found out is that he died while coming back from meeting you. That’s what we think, to be honest.”

        “Oh.” Robert was quiet for a second. “I’m sorry. You can come in.”

        “Thank you,” I said, smiling at Robert.

        “Well, you found me. I’m Robert, the long lost brother of Wren Esters. I’m not sure if I can help or not with this whole situation, but I’ll do my best to help you.”

        “Thank you. We’re just going to ask a few questions, that’s it.”

        “Poor Wren,” he said staring at a picture frame on the desk. “I only met him a few times. I didn’t know that that day was going to be the last. How do you guys know Wren?”

        “I’m his girlfriend,” I said.

        “I’m just a close friend of his,” said Elvis.

        “Well I’m very sorry for your loss. I’m not sure why didn’t know that he died. Maybe my biological parent didn’t want me to know after just finding out that I even had a brother. I only met him a few times, but I know that he was a real great guy.”

        “Thank you. He was so excited to find out that he found that he had a brother. He always talked about wanting a big brother,” admitted Elvis.

        “I guess. Anyways, what do you need to ask me?”

        “Oh yes. I almost forgot. So do you remember the last time that you saw him?”

        “Of course I do.”

        “Can you tell me how he was?” asked Elvis. “Did he look distressed, or worried, or bothered by anything?”

        “Oh gosh, I can’t really remember that… He looked fine to me… Do you guys know that he was you know… he worked for….”

        “He was a spy. We know,” said Elvis. “Actually, I’m the captain. I kind of trained him. That’s how I know him.”

        “Ohhhhh, sorry man. I didn’t know.”

        “Oh it’s cool,” Elvis responded. “Can you tell me anything about the last time you saw him?”

        “Actually, I remember something. Wren told me about how he feels uncomfortable about something but I can’t remember what he said it was…”

        “He felt uncomfortable about something??”

        What could that be, I wondered.  

        “Yeah, like he said he felt as if he was chased or watched by someone. I don’t think he told me who but that’s what I remember.”

        “Thank you so much, Robert,” Elvis said. “I think it’s time for us to leave. Time went by so fast!”

        “Alright, it was nice meeting you,” Robert replied. “I wasn’t at the funeral for my brother so all I could do is help his dear friends. Here’s my number, call me when you need me.”

        “Thank you,” I said.

        “Skylar,” Robert looked at me. “You just keep strong. He was a great guy and there is no way on Earth that he committed suicide.”

        “I hope so. Nice to meet you Robert and thank you,” I said as we walked out the door.

        “Well Robert is cool,” said Elvis, once we got in the car.

        “He is. What a sweet guy. I feel so bad. I wonder why he wasn’t invited to Wren’s funeral if his parents knew that Wren knew Robert,” I said.

        “Other people probably don’t know and Mrs. Esters isn’t the type of person who can deal with people talking behind her back, so that’s probably why. I feel like Robert’s not telling me everything though…”

        “Why? He says he can’t remember the rest of it. I think he told us everything he knows.”

        “We’ll see,” said Elvis as he started the car.

        

CHAPTER 15

When I got home, it was already past nine. I went up to my room, changed into my checkered pajama pants and a big, boxy white T-shirt. I couldn’t help but wonder why Wren looked scared and uncomfortable the day he went to Robert’s. Where was he before and who was that person that was watching him?

        I thought about why Elvis said Robert wasn’t telling us everything. If Robert did know more, why didn’t he just tell us? No matter how long and hard I thought about it, nothing came into mind. I couldn’t think of any reason that Robert would hide anything from us, unless he thought that we were lying about who we were… Or, Robert could have been uncomfortable with Elvis around, since Elvis did look quite scary.

        The fact that Robert did look at Elvis in a scared way did kind of match up to what I thought.  After thinking continuously, I decided to visit Robert again the next morning, but this time, without Elvis.

        

After a long sleep, I went downstairs to dad’s office room. He wasn’t there.

“Dad!!” I yelled.

“Here!” he said from the kitchen. I turned around and walked to the kitchen.

“Good morning,” I said, kissing him on the cheek. Can I borrow your car today?” I asked dad as he made himself some coffee. The cold had come, and everyone needed a cup of coffee in the morning to actually stay awake.

        “Where are you going today?” he asked.

        “Uhm, two things- first you didn’t answer my question and second, I’m going out to meet someone important,” I said as I turned on the TV to watch Rachal Ray.

        “Oh you are?” he asked again. I nodded. “Trying to be more productive I see.”

        “I guess you can put it that way. So can I borrow your car?”

        “Why not, go ahead,” he replied as he threw his car keys at me. “So why are you up so early in the morning, watching TV?”

        “I just had a lot in my mind, and I just wanted to chill and sit on the couch. Plus, I haven’t watched Rachel Ray for a really long time and I need to charge myself.”

        “Makes sense.” Dad walked towards me and sat down. “It’s getting so cold now. Winter is finally here.”

        “Dad, it’s been winter for awhile now,” I said, but by this point, he wasn’t listening to me anymore. “Whatever,” I mumbled.

        

        The weather was crisp. The leaves were had all fallen off the trees, leaving them just laying on the ground, creating a big trail of dead leaves. The frosty wind blew straight into my gray knit sweater, giving me the goosebumps. Winter was not my favorite season and the cold just made my body ache.

Driving to Robert’s house was going to be a twenty-five minute drive, so I decided to stop by the gas station and get some food. I grabbed a bag of chips, two chocolate bars, and a drink. I was probably not going to finish all of it, but it was better to have more than less.

After being stuck in traffic for half an hour, I finally arrived at Robert’s house. I walked up the stairs and rang the bell.

“Who is it?” said a woman’s voice.

        “Hi, sorry but is Robert there?” I asked.

        “He’s upstairs right now. May I ask who this is?”

        “I’m a friend of his brothers. I’m here to see him.”

        “Hold on a minute. What’s your name dear?”

        “My name is Skylar,” I replied.

        After a few minutes of standing in front of the closed door, I finally heard someone grab the door handle. The door opened and Robert was standing in front of me.

        “I’m surprised to see you here again. What’s up?” He said as he looked around. “Where’s your friend, Elvis?” he asked.

        “He’s not here today. I decided to come by myself. Sorry, I didn’t call… I didn’t have your number and it was quite urgent.”

        “That’s fine. Come inside,” he said as he opened the door wide. I walked it. The place was the same as yesterday, not that I expected it to change within a day.

“You can just sit on the couch over there,” he said pointing to the red couch.

        “Alright. Sorry once again for coming without calling. I must have surprised you.”

        “Oh no, it’s fine but why are you here? I’m just curious on why you came, without Elvis.”

        “Well, I thought about what you said. But I feel like you left some bits out, which is okay but I just want to make sure you told everything.”

        “What do you mean you feel like I left some bits out? I told you everything that I know,” Robert said, shaking his head. “Do you want anything by the way? We have coffee and tea.”

        “I’ll have some tea, thanks.”

        “So what do you mean you think I didn’t tell you everything? I’m confused. Why would you think that?”

        “I don’t know. Sadness sometimes makes you go crazy. This is just a thought, but I think you were kind of afraid of Elvis. Am I right?”

        “Why would you say that?”

        “Just by how you acted and how you froze in front of him. And your hand were quite shaking when he talked.”

        He laughed. “To be honest, you’re right. I admit. I have some history with spies from the past and I get scared sometimes. I’ll admit it.”

        I giggled.

        “What? Can a big man be afraid of a spy? You have never seen what spies can do. It’s unbelievable.”

        “I bet. So I’m just wondering but did you tell everything that you know to us?” I asked.

        “I’m pretty sure I did. Wren didn’t really tell me anything. We technically  just met remember!” he said as he handed me the cup of tea. It was a china cup- white colored with light flowers drawn near the mouth area.

        “There is this video that Wren told Elvis to give me before he died, and in that video, he says that he’s extremely happy that he has a long lost brother. There are more evidence that proves you guys were close but I just can’t tell you. But I’m sure that there is somehting you didn’t tell us,” I said.

        Robert was silent,

“Fine.” Robert sighed. “I’m not sure if this information is even going to help you, to be honest. This is just my theory, from connecting to what he told me. I could be wrong, or right.. I don’t know. I couldn’t sleep last night, after you guys came over because I was busy making a theory- a theory that actually is relevant and reasonable.”

        “Is is plausible?”

        “I think so, to admit. It isn’t terribly likely, but it is plausible,” he said as he put his cup down. He sighed once again and put his hands on his knees. “So this is how that day went. It was another regular day for this guy. But around eleven o’clock, my sleep was interrupted by the doorbell. It is usually unlikely for someone to ring the doorbell, but it happens once in awhile, so I got up to open the door. Obviously because I had just woken up from my sleep, I was still pretty tired and dragging myself downstairs. I was walking pretty slowly, but I guess the person outside my door was in a hurry because he or that person kept pressing the doorbell. I finally got to the door and realized that it was Wren, after looking through the peep hole. Just a reminder that this wasn’t the first time he came over. Anyways, as soon as I unlocked the door, Wren opened it before me and ran in. He first yelled at me for not opening the door fast enough and then yelled at me for being a slipshod brother. Now, don’t forget that I was still half asleep. I sat on the couch and closed my eyes for a second, and I fell asleep. All I remember from then on is that his phone rang, and Wren started crying. I remember hearing him cry, basically to the point of wailing. Then he stomps and my door opens and he leaves, slamming the door.”

        “The police said that he was driving,” I added.

        “He usually drives over to my house. I don’t think he liked riding the public transportation.”

        “Well than what do you think happened next?” I asked.

        “Well, obviously the person he was talking to on the phone bothered him about something, because you know Wren, he never gets mad at things easily. That’s what I liked about him; although he was my brother, he was just the opposite of me, which I am very thankful for,” he said. “Anyways, he gets in the car, starts the car, and drives off. I guess on the way to wherever he was going to go, and in a flash, he does something wrong. I have no clue if he couldn’t see the road because of all the tears in his eyes, or if he just wanted to end it right there, or if it was just an accident.”

        “That’s absurd…” I whispered. “Who was he talking to on the phone? What made him so mad?”

        “Sweety, if I knew, then this mystery would have been already solved… I wish I knew just as much as you do. He was my brother for god sakes! A long lost brother that I never knew I even had. But I know for a fact that he was really upset since he left my house like that,” he said quietly. His lips started to tremble and drops of tear started to fall down from his eyes. “I wish I could’ve gone to his funeral. It was the least I could do… No, I should have been awake, asking him what the problem was. This all leads to my fault”

        “You said you didn’t know about it. He probably forgave you already,” I replied.

        “He’s lucky. He’s lucky that he has someone so kind and caring. Wren talked about you before and how he loves you so much and how amazing you are. He was right about everything. You are just what he told me,” Robert said, smiling.

        “Thanks,” I replied, smiling back at him. I sighed. “You know what I hate? I hate the fact that Wren would just leave me- leave us, hanging like that. Who could have been on that phone that made him so mad that he drove like a coward? I try to tell myself that it doesn’t matter anymore. That he is just dead, but I can’t. I would rather wonder about what happened to him than get answers that I know I can’t live with, but I just can’t let go of the fact that Wren is just dead. There is no time-travel machine; there is no marble that shows you what happened with Wren. There is nothing but frustration and unanswered questions that haunts me every single day.”

        “I know. I know,” Robert said, his voice suddenly edgeless. He sat there on the couch, with nothing but emptiness, just like me. Just like Elvis. Just like his parents.

        “But you know what,” I whispered. “Whether or not my mind explodes, I’m going to find out everything. If Wren knew what he was doing, then he fooled us. He lied to us about who he was and I hate him for that. I mean, I can’t even live a normal life anymore. My daily life consists of either eating or thinking about Wren and that probably goes for Elvis and you too.” I sighed. “We found a little note that said ‘CALL ROBERT’ in a book and that’s how we figured out the history of Wren’s past and some videos that he sent, but I guess we still have more to find. But you did help a lot, Robert. You helped quite a lot actually.”

        “No I didn’t. I really wish I could just tell you what happened, but I don’t know. I just don’t know.”

        I understood how he felt- lost, confused, frustrated, and upset. But at the same time, felt okay. It was an ambivalent feeling that led us to nowhere. How were we going to find the truth? Was this fate trying to tell us to just give up on this search?

        The next week, I received a call from Robert, telling me that he found a witness who was drove by when Wren crashed. I told him I would meet him at a café nearby his house soon. My hope rose and thousands of thoughts popped in my head. I wondered what the witness was going to say and the description of Wren’s accident. Robert wasn’t allowed to ask the police officers who the witness was for some reason, so he decided to find the witness himself and surprisingly, he did a fantastic job with that.

        When I got to the café, Robert was already there, sitting next to a stranger, who I guessed was the witness. I slowly walked up to them and shook the stranger’s hand. It was warm, a bit sweaty.

        “Hello, my name is James Paterson. I bet I was the person you’ve been looking for this whole time,” the stranger said, looking straight into my eyes.

        I slowly sat down next to him. “Yes. Nice to meet you, James. My name is Skylar, I was a close friend of Wren’s,” I said softly. James was quite attractive. He was wearing a long, thick designer coat in the color of dark indigo, with a black scarf around his neck. His hair was neatly brushed, without any baby hairs sticking out. He had a strongly defined jaw line, and a perfectly shaped nose. It seemed right to say that James looked like a model.

        “Robert here told me you were his girlfriend,” he responded.

        I awkwardly stared at Robert and then back at James. “Yes, I am Wren’s girlfriend.”

        “James said that he could tell us everything that he told the police plus some more details,” Robert said.

        “That’s great. Thank you so much for coming during this cold weather. Do you want some coffee?” I asked, pointing to the counter.

        “No,” James said. “That’s fine. I had some coffee right before I got here. Thank you though.”

        Robert took off his gloves and placed them on the table. “So tell us about that day.”

        “Firstly, before we get into that, I want to say that I’m quite impressed on how fast you found me. Not sure how, don’t really want to know, but it’s quite impressive.”

Robert smirked, “Thanks man.”

James laughed. “Well anyways, to start off, I was on my way back home from visiting an old friend of mine. It was around ten, almost eleven at night. I remember driving past the outlets by the street where I passed by what I found out was Wren’s car. I was quite tired, so I didn’t really pay attention to the other side of the road. I think right when I passed his car, he smashed into a pole. I heard the big noise and when I looked at my mirror, I saw smoke coming out of his car. I turned my car around to check if the person in the car was okay. By the time, I got to the car, he was already dead. I tried everything that I could possible do. I tried to get the seat belt unbuckled, tried to get him actually out of the car, but there was nothing that I could’ve gotten to get him out of that car alive. The car crushed his chest badly. The car itself was greatly damaged and the man in the car was badly hurt, so the first thing I did was call the ambulance.”

        I winced at the thought of Wren bleeding so much that he actually died . “Did he say anything at all?” I asked.

        “He was long gone by the time I got there,” he said, shaking his head. “Long gone…”

        “Was there anything in the car?” Robert asked. “Anything at all?”

        James itched the back of his head. “Well, I remember there was a bouquet at the passenger seat, and his phone next to him, but that phone was crushed into tiny pieces.”

        “His phone was there?” I asked.

        “It sure was. But like I said, it was crushed. I’m not sure if the police still has it or not.”

        I remember that Robert told me that Wren ran out of Robert’s house after talking to someone on the phone. I guess Robert remembered the same thing because his eyes widened.

        “Was it a blue phone?” Robert asked slowly.

        “I honestly can’t remember what color it was, but I think it was blue. The phone was really big though, I remember that.”

        Robert placed his hands on his knees and made a fist. “The police knew,” Robert said. He suddenly got up, grabbed his coat and stomped out of the café. Everybody stared to see what all the fuss was about. I just sat there quietly, next to James.

        “What just happened? Did I say something wrong?” asked James.

        “No, you did the exact opposite. I think the questions that we had are going to be answered now,” I replied.

        “Oh…. That’s good.” whispered James.

        I sat there silently, holding my coffee. Did the police really know all this long? Did they even fix the phone? Why didn’t they tell us about Wren’s phone? Why?

        After thanking James for his time and the information, I ordered another cup of coffee and followed Robert out the door.I knew it was going to a long night, with many new questions that were waiting to be answered.

        “Robert, wait up!” I yelled, trying to catch up to him.

        “They knew, Skylar. THEY KNEW!” Robert screamed out.

        I sighed. “They probably have their reasons, Robert. They’re the police officers. They know what they are doing.”

        “No. Not this time. They are wrong this time. There is no reason. No reason at all, that’s why they better answer me when I get there.”

        “They’re the police, Robert. It’s not going to be that easy to hear what you want from them,” I said when I finally caught up with him. “And can you slow down a bit? I’m literally running while you’re walking.”

        Robert just kept on going. He put his hood and stuffed his hands in his pocket and just kept walking. The closer I got to him, the faster he walked, making it impossible for me to catch up to him.

        “Fine. Do what you want. But just know that the police won’t tell you anything, no matter how much you ask.”

        “There are always ways,” I heard him mumble.

Although I didn’t walk next to him, I was behind him, just in case he’d do something he will regret and followed him to the police station.

        After a five minute walk that seemed like forever, we finally got to the police station. Robert opened the door with so much force that the door swung back too far. Everyone in the police station turned to look.

        “I’m looking for anyone who is working for the Wren Ester’s accident,” Robert said with his voice firm.

        “Well, we actually kind of all work together on everything,” said the police officer by the counter.

        “Then I’ll talk to you,” said Robert. “My brother Wren died in an accident. The police say that it seems like a suicide while those who knew him say that it’s not a suicide. I just talked to one of the witnesses of the accident and he said that Wren’s phone was there. I was with him before he died, and he left my house, crying and screaming to someone on the phone with him and I heard that the police has Wren’s phone. That phone can help all of us in this search. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE TELL US ABOUT THIS PHONE?”

        Robert put this fist on the counter as he spoke.

        “Sir, please calm down. Everything that we do is for a reason. Can you come sit here and slowly explain everything again?” another policeman asked.

        Robert closed his eyes, took and deep breath and walked toward the policeman. I just stayed where I was while Robert talked to the officer. I was mad alright, but making a scene in the police station just didn’t seem right to me. After standing there for two minutes, I quietly left the police station and just started walking. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. I just let my legs do the walking, without thinking.

        After awhile, I realized that I was going to River Park, the place where Wren and I went all the time. To my surprise, there was no one at the park I was as empty as it could get. I never realized how lonely the park looked when there was no one there. I have always been there when it was crowded with people, but to see the park vacant was an unusually sight. It made me feel uncomfortable, and created chills down my spine. Why is no one here?, I wondered. I decided to walk around the park because there was two parts of the park and I thought that maybe all the people were at the other side. I put my hands in my pocket, and started walking, wondering what the police said about the phone and if Robert was okay.

        

CHAPTER 11-12

CHAPTER 11

 

After the emotional breakdown at the café, I went straight home and slept. Sleeping was my second stress reliever. Reading was the first, but I didn’t feel like reading at all. I had to tell my parents the news but I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t even sure if the word would even come out. When I tried to bring up the subject, my words got tangled up and nothing came out. Finally after forcing myself to bring up the conversation, I got the nerve to get up and walk over to them.

      When I went down the stairs, both of them were watching a documentary about Abraham Lincoln.

      “Mom, dad, can I tell you guys something?” They nodded in unison. “So, uhm… I’m having a very, uhm… difficult time saying this… The truth is.. uhm….,” I took a deep breathe. “I found out today that Wren died last week.” I started getting teary again. “He was alive this whole time. The police aren’t sure what killed him because there was no trace of any kind of evidence. They think it was a suicide but I’m pretty sure that that’s not it. He wouldn’t have just walked out like that and let us suffer.”

      “Oh my goodness…. I’m so sorry Skylar…. Are you okay?” Mom and dad were in shock.

      “No. Actually I’m not okay,” I closed my eyes. “The whole things is numb to me right now. I’m not… I just can’t believe I be able to see him anymore. I can’t see his face smiling, I can’t hear his voice, I can’t hug him when it’s cold. I can’t tell him stories and he can’t tell me stories.… All I’m left with is a necklace that I gave him, an aching heart, and millions of unanswered questions that are never going to answered.” I stuffed my face into the couch pillow and started crying again.

      Mom walked up next to me and hugged me tightly. It was nice to receive a hug.

      “I’m so sorry. I really am,” said mom. “I know this wasn’t supposed to happen…”

      Dad just sighed and quietly walked to the kitchen.

      “Is dad okay?” I asked.

      “He’s fine. He’s just not really good at dealing with death. You can talk to him later.”

      I nodded. I was still shocked from the news of Wren’s death. What bothered me the most was that no one knew why he died or how he died. I was paralyzed with the unknown. I was stuck in a 5 feet steep hole with no way to get out, with no help at all.

      I just sat in my room, staring at the ceiling. There wasn’t a thing in my mind. My mind was frozen as well as my whole body. I stared into space. I stared at the clock. I stared out the window. But absolutely nothing was in my head. Time ticked as I thought of nothingness. There was nothing I could do but either cry, or literally do nothing.

      While I was staring at my desk, dad came in with a cup of coffee.

      “You can’t just sit there and do nothing Sky,” he said as he placed the cup on my desk. “I know how you feel right now. I do. But just sitting here is not going to help you at all. Wren loved you very much. He probably wants you to forgive him for leaving you like that and move on.”

      “I will move on once I know why and how he died. I have to know.”

      “Sometimes it’s good to not know. Maybe that’s what he wanted you to know.”

      “Well there are promises that are made and you cannot just break a promise that easily,” I said. “And I am going to find out who did this and kill that person. I will. Just watch me.”

      “Skylar, Wren is dead. Do you not get that? He didn’t just die because he wanted to break a promise with you. Death happens, whether it’s an accident or not. Good people die a lot, so does bad people.”

      I stayed silent. He was right once again. Wren didn’t want to die, probably. Somebody killed him. I just knew it. But I couldn’t tell my dad about Wren’s past and how he was a spy. I just couldn’t. I sighed once again. “You’re right dad. This is really hard dad. I’m just really having a hard time with this. I want to blame someone but I guess there is no someone. His death was probably an accident and I need to deal with it,” I said, sort of lying.

      “I know how hard someone’s death can put you in. When one of my best friends died from a car accident before you were born, I thought I was going to die as well. You’re actually handling Wren’s death way better than I handled my friend’s death. You are one strong girl, just know that,” he said holding my hand. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “You will learn from this incident and become someone so wonderful. And for right now, it is okay to cry and scream and release what you are holding inside. It is okay. Do you hear me?”

      I nodded. The tears started rolling down my face once again.

      “I love you so much dad,” I said, hugging him tightly.

      “It’s going to be alright. Everything will be okay…” he whispered above my head.

      I waited and waited for a text message from Elvis. After he had told me about his past and Wren’s, he wasn’t the same person anymore. Every move that he made became mysterious, but somehow I felt protection. Maybe it was the fact that he was the captain spy, but I felt comfort when I was around him.

      I laid on my bed, staring at the ceiling, repeating the conversation I had with Elvis when he told me that Wren was dead. Nothing seemed realistic. The whole story seemed made up like it was some kind of fairy tale. A terrible fairy tale.I tugged the sleeves of the gray sweater I was wearing. Although I wanted to wear Wren’s sweater, it had gotten to the point where the smell of that sweater was unbearable. Sadly, I had to wash it.

      All night, I was awake by the silence, and was terrified. The fact that Wren’s physical body was not available anymore still did not stick into my head. When I imagined his warm soft arms, trying to reach me, his body slowly started to fade away as he got closer to me and vanishing by the time he got to me.

      As I thought of him over and over again, mom came in.

      “Do you want to come downstairs and watch some TV with us?” she asked as she sat down next to me.

      “Do I have to? I feel safe right here, inside my bed right now.”

      “Well you can’t just lie here all day. I think you need to escape from everything right now. It’s too cold to go somewhere but we can watch something funny on TV or watch cook shows if you want.”

      I groaned. She was right. Why were parents always right? It was like they had a manual book on how to be right all the time. “I guess. What time is it?”

      “It’s almost 12. So are you going to come down or stay here?”

      “I’ll go down. I do need to catch up on my cooking shows,” I admitted.

      Mom held out her hand and smiled. I grabbed her hand, and smiled a weak smile, to show that I was still alive, just in case she thought that I was going to die too.

      

      It was actually nice to sit down with the family and watch cook shows. Normally, dad didn’t enjoy cook shows, but because of what I was going through and to make me feel better, he sat down right next to me and watched.

      “Now tell me why you enjoy watching this? You can read this off of a cooking book!” he complained.

      “It’s entertaining. I love to visually see what the outcome of the food is and also see the process of cooking it. It’s kind of like a puzzle. You first start with so many different ingredients  and one by one you mix them together and create something amazing.” I said.

      “I know that. I love cooking but not cooking shows. I just don’t get them. Not entertaining,” dad admitted.

      “I think you’re just weird dad.” I laughed. It felt good to laugh, even just a tiny little giggle.

      After watching almost ten cooking shows in one seat, I got up to go to the bathroom. I looked at myself in the mirror and realized how messed up I looked. “I can’t believe mom and dad had to see me look like this and deal with my. I’m so sorry mom and dad…” I thought.

I looked like a complete wreck. My hair was thick with grease, shining uncontrollably, my eyes were swollen from crying too much, and the discoloration of my face was absurd; in short, I looked like a drunk potato, if that’s even possible. After staring at myself, and feeling disgusted, I decided to hop into the shower. I really needed it and showers always helped me relax. Especially baths, but I didn’t feel like taking one.

      It was the next morning when the doorbell rang. It was unusual for us to have guests, especially in the mornings, which made this odd. I looked through the peephole and saw that it was Miranda, a girl I used to go to school with. I guess you can say that she was the only one who didn’t take advantage of me and actually enjoyed talking to me. However, I never considered her as someone I would call a friend. In surprise, I opened the door.

      “Miranda! Hi….. Haven’t seen you in a reaaally long time…” I said.

      “I’m so sorry,” she said as she came up to me and hugged me.

      It was first very awkward at first, but seconds later, I realized I really needed a hug from someone that was not my parents, so I hugged her back.

      “What exactly are you sorry for?” I asked.

      “Wren. I heard what happened. I’m terribly sorry…” she sighed. “How are you doing?”

      “I’m doing okay, I guess. How do you know about this?” I asked.

      “Are you kidding me? Everyone in town knows but they don’t seem to care. It’s so rude of them… You’re so lucky you don’t have to come to school anymore and have to deal with these obnoxious kids,” she said. Ironically, she was liked by everyone at school. People worshipped her. However, even through all that, she wasn’t embarrassed to talk to me at all and I enjoyed her company as well.

      “You can say that again,” I whispered. “Well, thank you for coming. I appreciate it.”

      “It’s no problem. Look, I know we aren’t that close, but I know how you are right now. I know that inside, you’re dying right now. I don’t know why I’m telling you this, maybe because I feel like I can trust you, but my brother died three years ago. We didn’t know why he died for a few months until we found out that he committed suicide.” I saw tears in her eyes. I didn’t know Miranda was going through such a hard time since I was ignoring everyone when I went to school.

      “I’m so sorry…” I said. It was the only thing that came out of my mouth.

      “It’s not your fault…” she sighed. “Can I come in for a little bit?”

      “Uhm…….. sure?” I said. I never really had anyone my age come over to my house before and I didn’t know how to respond.

      “Your house is really nice. It’s so comforting.”

      I let out a small giggle. “Thanks I guess. Do you want anything?”

      “No thank you. So what have you been up to since school ended for you?” she asked as she slowly sat down on the couch.

      “I’ve been reading books, as usual and kind of obsessively hanging out with Wren before all this happened…” I said.

      “I always admired how much you loved books, to be honest. I tried reading books before but I just can’t… I can read tons of magazines in one day but it’s not possible with books.”

      “I can recommend some that you might like you know,” I said, letting out a small grin.

      “Really? You can do that for me?” I nodded.

      “Wow, thanks! I’ll try my best to complete the book.” I smiled. Then there was a moment of silence. We didn’t really know what to say to each other. We weren’t that close, actually, we didn’t talk to each other at all, except during class about classwork.

      “Skylar,” she said. “This might be a little personal but.. how are you really feeling?”

      I stared at her. She looked at me with her soft eyes and closed her eyes. “When my brother died, no one was there for me at school. The people that I thought were my friends didn’t really seem to care that my brother committed suicide. I was so hurt. That’s why I left school for a semester. I couldn’t deal with being in school and acting like everything was okay when it wasn’t.” Tears rolled down her face. “My brother was my best friend. Ever since day one, he was my peanut to my butter, my missing puzzle piece. I guess I was too selfish to even realize that he needed me more than I needed him. I didn’t even know he was going through such a hard time. I didn’t know he took sleeping pills every night. And the scariest of all, I didn’t know he had a gun in his drawer, waiting for it to be used.” Miranda started crying harder.

      “I’m so sorry Miranda…. I bet your brother loved you so much. It sucks you know. Finding out that the your loved one passed away. I don’t even know how to deal with this right now to be honest. I’m a total wreck. My mind always goes blank, I see darkness all the time, and I just can’t control my body anymore… I can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you to find out that your own brother committed suicide… It’s even worse than not knowing why he died. I’m so sorry Miranda… I’m so sorry…” I started crying too.

      “No. No. I bet it’s hard for you too. Not knowing why he is dead. How frustrating would that be? Everything about death is so ridiculous.” Miranda was crying so hard, that it was hard for me to understand what she was saying. She stopped talking for a second and just cried. “I’m so sorry. I can’t believe I’m just breaking down in front of you. I thought I was over this since three years has gone by, but I guess not….”

      “Of course not. You love him. But sometimes you need to cry, no matter how much time has passed. And Miranda…?” She looked at me.  “You’re actually the first person I’ve talked to since Wren died, other than my parents and it feel good to talk to someone who understands me. Thank you.”

      “Oh gosh.” She laughed. “There is nothing to thank me for. I’m just being a friend.” She smiled. “Anyways, enough about me and my brother. How are you holding up?”

      “I’m honestly not doing that great. Everything is a blur and I can’t stop thinking about him. It just seems so unreal like I’m going to wake up one morning and find out that he wasn’t dead. That this was all a joke. But no matter how much I wait for that to happen, it never does.”      

      She nodded. “I honestly don’t know what to say, Skylar. I want to make you feel better and I want to say something that can help you, but I just can’t. I just can’t. But I want you to warn you that it’s going to be very hard from now on” She sighed. “I really don’t want to tell you this, I don’t but the truth hurts… But I promise you one thing. You are going to find an end point to this hardship and move on. You will find out what happened to him and you will learn to let go. I am sure of it. You’re a really strong girl and I’ve seen you struggle while in school, and look at you now. You’re happy and free. Of course Wren will always be in your heart and in your mind, but you will learn that he is in a better place too. He won’t be in this chaotic world anymore, and now, he gets to protect you and watch you from above. I know that my brother is with me every day and everywhere I go because I could hear his voice and I could sense his touch. Maybe it is true that everything happens for a reason. With my brother watching me from above, I never felt stronger before because I know that he is there all the time, protecting me. And soon, you will realize that too. Trust me.”

      I was silent for a moment. I didn’t realize how brave and strong Miranda was. She went through much harder things than me and the fact that she was always on top of her game amazed me. I stared into her eyes and saw the pain I have never seen before.

      “Why are you looking at me like that?” she said, laughing.

     “Sorry,” I smiled. “It’s just that what you said was kind of like a punch in the face. I guess you’re right, you know. Maybe everything does happen for a reason…” I sighed. “I’m just frustrated, you know. I just can’t find the reason for this happening, like what’s the reason?”

      “That’s what I thought too. I actually became more closed and insecure about everything. I cried randomly and I stopped talking to people. I just kept everything to myself, and my thoughts started building up inside my head, leaving terrible terrible trace marks so that’s why I got a therapist, but then I learned a whole new purpose of life. It was to help other and be happy. Most people don’t believe me when I tell them that I have a dead brother because I’m always so unbelievable happy, but it’s true you know and I’m happy because I learned to let go. I now have a purpose to live. It’s to make my brother proud. I even met God on the way, and He helped me deal with all this too. So I guess you can say that my brother’s death helped me find who I am and what I am living for.”

      “And you think I will too?”

      “Honestly, I never met Wren and I don’t know about him that well, but I bet you will. I bet that your reason for living is going to be different than mine, even better, but I know for a fact that you will be extremely happy and strong as you learn to move on.”

      “My dad said the same thing to me, but somehow, you make it sound way better,” I admitted.

      “Don’t compare me with your dad! I bet what your dad told you is way better than what I said, but I’m just trying to help,” she said. “I have to go now, but it was really really nice talking to you. It really was.”

      “It was nice talking to you too. And thank you so much Miranda. I really mean it.”

      “Honestly, I’m glad I and thankful that you even allowed me to go inside your house and talk to you, even though you don’t really know me. I want you to call me whenever you need me, okay?” she said as she wrote down her phone number on a sheet of paper.

      “I definitely will, Miranda,” I said as I took the paper. “Thank you so much. I mean it.”

      “No problem. I am always willing to help a friend,” she smiled. “Good night Skylar.”

      “Good night! Make sure to be careful!” I yelled.

      Even though Miranda and I weren’t close, she called me a friend. That really warmed my heart. I’ve never had a close friend before and I was excited to see what our new friendship would lead us to.

      I went into my room, and saw that a text message was waiting for me. A text message from Elvis. It said:

      I’ll meet you tomorrow at your house. I have something to show you. Is that okay?

      My parents weren’t going to be home tomorrow. So I replied back with the house address.

    Early in the morning, after my parents left, the doorbell rang. Knowing that it was Elvis, I opened the door right away.

      “That was fast,” he said.

      “I was expecting you. So what do you have to show me?”

      “There you go again being all impatient. Can you just wait and let the guest enter your house?”

      “Oh, yeah sorry,” I said smiling, and I let him in. He was carrying a medium sized box that had the label MESSAGE TAPES on it.

      “What is that for?”

      “These are tapes that Wren recorded when he was still alive but didn’t contact you. He said he was going to give them to you when you guys returned from France, but since it won’t be that way, I decided to just give them to you. I think this may answer a lot of your questions and maybe help you.”

      “Have you seen these tapes?” I asked.

      “Of course I have. I’m the one who actually recommended that he should do this in the first place.”

      “I see. Do any of them talk about like a warning or something for his death?”

      “I don’t think so. I didn’t really listen to them with interest, to be honest. Well, some of them are videos of him talking, but I’m not sure if they work though and the rest are voice recordings.”

      “Did you watch the videos?” He shook his head.

      “I tried to. I really did, but I think most of the videos are meant for you, obviously. But he did talk about me for the ones that I watched and none of them talk about anything else than you and how he’s a spy.”

      “Oh, well thank you for all these tapes. I really appreciate it. Do you want something to drink?” I asked.

      “Actually yes! That would be nice.”

      “Do you want water, tea, coffee, or juice?”

      “Can I just have a cup of cold water?” he asked.

      “Sure,” I said as I walked to the kitchen to get him the water.

         When I got back from the kitchen, Elvis had already put the video in the video player and started watching them.

      “Didn’t you say these were for me?” I asked.

      “I brought you the tapes didn’t I?” he said, not even looking at me.

      I sighed. “I guess…”

      The videos were about 30 minutes each, and by the fifth video, Elvis was sleeping.

      “You can’t just call asleep Elvis!” I yelled. “My parents can come in any second!!”

      “Okay! Okay! I’ll go now. I’m tired anyways, tell me when you find something interesting,” he said as he closed the front door behind him.

      I took out the video, placed it with the other videos and tapes and took it all to my room. It was safer and more comfortable to watch it alone in my room, rather than having my parents see it when they came home.

      At first the videos were entertaining. To see his face, his smile, his eyes, and to hear his smooth, deep voice again was great at first, but the videos started to get really boring. I didn’t mean to fall asleep and skip some parts but there was just too much to watch and listen too.

      After watching around ten videos, I was exhausted. It was already past eight and my parents weren’t home yet. I got up and walked over to the kitchen to get some water. As I went down the stairs, my parents came in, holding a small box with holes on it.

      “What that box for?” I asked.

      Both of them looked at me with great enthusiasm. “Guess what?!” mom said in a more excited tone than usual. “WE GOT YOU A DOG!”

      “You what? Are you serious?????” I said as I ran toward the box. It was real. There was scratching noises in the box and a quiet cry. “You guys got me dog!! How?”

      “Well, one of my co-worker has a daughter who works at an animal pound and he told us that this guy right here had one more day to live, so I decided that after all the death talk we’ve all been having, we should try and save this little guy before he dies too,” dad explained.

      She was a little tiny terrier, the size of my regular sized teddy bear. “She’s sooooo cute!” I squealed.

      “She is all yours. I know you didn’t know that we were getting a dog, but we know that  you’ll take care of her, meaning that you’re cleaning after her mess, okay?”

      “Fine.”

      “We’ll other than that, congrats on your first dog!” they said.

      The terrier was adorable. She was almost four, quite small for her age, and she was cute as a button. I hugged my parents and kissed them on the cheeks. “What should I name you?” I said as I brought the dog up to my room to play with her. She squirmed in my arms, trying to get out. I let her go and placed her on top of my bed. She started sniffing the bed and after about two minutes, she laid down. I turned on the laptop that was next to me to search for names that I could name her. There were many choices that were available but the name Sugar really caught my eyes.

      “Did you decide on what you’re going to name her?” asked dad as he came through the door.

      “I’m not sure. I was just looking up names that I could name her. What do you think of the name Sugar?” I asked.

      “Sugar is cute. But why don’t you think of a name that relates to how you’re feeling. Maybe name her Happy because you want her to bring happiness in your life; that’s kind or cliché, but you know what I mean.”      

      “I guess. But I have to think about it then. I’ll tell you what I’ll name her tomorrow.”

      “Take your time. There is no need to rush.”

      “Alright. Thank you so much again!” I said while petting the dog.

      “She is a sweetheart. I’m glad we brought her home.”

      “Me too dad, me too.”

      After observing every move of my new dog, I decided to watch some more videos of Wren. There was only a couple left and I wanted to finish the videos up so that I can finally listen to the voice recording tapes. I sat down next to my new dog and started continuing the videos.

      “This message is for Skylar,” said Wren all of the sudden, in the video. “Hi, Sky! This long long tape is probably making you tired and sleep I bet,” he smiled. My heart melted from the smile and my heart started pounding faster. “I’m not sure if you’re watching all of these videos but I hope you are or did. I just want to say that since I’m going to give you all of these after our France trip and I am going to guess that our trip is probably going to be the best time of our lives. Well, I should say it was the best time of my life, since you’re watching this after the trip.”

“Sadly, the trip didn’t happen,” I thought. He continued to talk, “Anyways, I have something really important to tell you… Skylar, I haven’t been 100% honest with you but there was a reason. But I’m going to tell you know because I believe that you should always be true to the one you love and you’re my love. To be honest…” Wren let out a long sigh and swallowed. “To be honest, I’m a secret spy. I have been a spy for awhile now and that’s the whole reason that I am here, but after I met you, I basically gave up my job for you, but I have to work sometimes. Hopefully that’s okay with you. I know you’re freaked out right now and you want to talk to me right now but please just listen first for a second okay?”

      “I already know Wren. I know,” I said to Wren on my TV screen. “I know.”

      “I am the same person that I am right now, even before I told you that I was a spy. I truly am. Everything that I said to you, and every moment that I had with you was really me and is going to be me. I personally don’t want you to leave me because of what I do. I really don’t because I am the same person. But if you want to leave me, I’ll try to understand. I hope you can understand because I don’t want to lose you. I’m sorry I kept this a secret for a long time, almost a year now. I’m so sorry. That’s why I wasn’t there for awhile before we left for our France trip. I was working, as in spy work. Anyways, you know the truth now. Call me,” he said. Then he covered the camera with his palm and the video turned off.              

      “He had everything planned. He was going to tell me about being a spy and why he was missing for a long time but nothing matters anymore because he is dead,” I thought.

It was a lot to take in. The fact that Wren trusted me enough to tell me about his job, specifically his secretive spy work, was unbelievable. If only he was still alive…

CHAPTER 12

It was seven in the morning when I received a call from Elvis, saying that Wren’s funeral was going to be on the upcoming Sunday. He asked if I could write an eulogy for Wren, which I was wanting to do. I realized that it was really happening. Wren was now official gone, gone from the physical world, gone from my hands, and gone from everything else. He was nothing but gone.

      I had couple dreams about Wren now and then but the dream that I was having recently were not the kind of dreams that anyone liked.

      We are on a merry-go-round, laughing with each other about something I can’t remember. His hair, his beautiful, luscious hair, blows in the wind. But something flying away while the wind blows. His hair. His hair is slowly falling out of his head, kind of looking like a dandelion when someone blows on it. His deep, dark brown eyes starts to turn black, until I can no longer see the white part of his eyes anymore.

      “What’s happening,” I scream. “What’s happening to you?”

      He ignores my question. “I’ve missed you so much, Skylar. I’ve missed you.”

      “What happened Wren?” I ask. “What happened on the day you died?”

      “I have to go. Its calling me.”

      “Who’s it Wren? Wren? What happened and who is it?”

      “I wish I can stay…” he says. He slowly grabs his chest and opens it, letting out red butterflies.

      “What happened Wren? WHAT HAPPENED?!” As soon as I scream, he starts shrinking and shrinking into some kind of gulp. It splats on my leg and drips down. It starts smelling like rotten cheese and milk. I look up to see him, and he’s gone. Just like that.

      I woke up screaming, to see Sugar staring at me with her wide eyes.

      “Sorry Sugar. It was just a nightmare,” I say as I lean to hug her. I had slept for five more hours after receiving the call from Elvis. It was now almost one. The sun was up high in the sky and the house was silent. There was only a couple days left until the funeral. It was going to be my first funeral and I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I wondered who was going to be there. His family? His friends? The spy crew? My family? Who else?

      The days seemed long and painful without anything to do. A part of me wanted to stay in bed and finish up the videos once and for all, and a part of me wanted to go to town. I looked out the window and saw that the wind was blowing uncontrollably, making the trees shake with force. The sky was turning gray, considering that the weather channel said that it was going to rain this afternoon. I better just stay in my bed today and write my eulogy, I thought. Sugar was still sleeping by me. I listened to her soft, short breaths and saw how calm and relaxed she looked, making me feel sort of jealous. But then I remembered dad telling me about Sugar’s rough past with her previous owners and felt bad for comparing myself to her. I guess literally everyone has a rough patch once in their lives.

      It started to pour cats and dogs when it got to around four PM. The sound of the rain kept me calm and thoughtful. Most people liked to read during these kinds of days but personally, I didn’t. After reading tons of books in all kind of scenarios, I found out that the rain actually distracts you while you read because it makes you feel down and depressed, while reading when you had free time made it easy and more enjoyable for you to read.

      I took out a sheet of paper and a pen. A eulogy for Wren, I thought. What was I going to write? It couldn’t be directly to him because that would be way too personal and it couldn’t be too blunt and straight-forward… I had to combine those two and somehow make it work.

After staring at the blank sheet of paper, I picked up my pen and wrote Wren Esters, I miss you. I couldn’t think of anything to else to write. Remembering the fact that Miranda said to call her whenever she needed help, I grabbed my phone and dialed my number. The phone rang and rang and rang. After about the eighth ring, she finally picked up.

      “Hello?”

      “Hello, is this Miranda?” I asked.

      “Yes, who is this?”

      “This is Skylar.”

      “Oh! Hi Skylar! What’s up?”

      “Well Wren’s funeral is this Sunday and I have to write an eulogy but I never wrote on before and I don’t know what to write. I’m guessing you wrote one for your brother at his funeral, right?”

      “Yes, I did. It’s not really that difficult but I could help you with it. Do you want to meet somewhere?”

Although it was still pouring outside, I decided that I needed to get out of the house. “Sure, can we meet at the library in an hour? Is that okay?”

      “Sounds good. See you then,” she said.

      “See you!” I responded.

           

      After hanging up the phone, I went out of the house to go to the cafe. It was a bit early to go to the library so I decided to stay at the café until Miranda came. I ordered my typical Americano and sat down. My favorite seat in the café was the one by the window. There was a mini table and a chair. It was meant just for one person, so I sat there whenever I had a lot in my mind. I would look out the window and observe the people that passed by, imagining their lives- where they worked, who they like, their love life, what makes them happy, etc. There was just so much to think about when you just take the time to think. I remember someone once telling me that over thinking is a sign of intelligence. I guess it’s true in some ways.

      I was almost done with my coffee when Miranda came running in the café.

      “Sorry, I’m late,” she said, staring at the clock.

      “It’s fine. It’s only two minutes; don’t worry about it too much. Thank you so much for coming.”

      “No problem! I remember I needed help on making my eulogy sound professional and touching at the same time. Let me just tell you that my eyes were literally about to fall out of my eye socket from researching too much. I would rather help you than let you experience what I experienced.” She smiled. “You ready?”

      “I think so,” I said and we walked out the café.

      The library was full with children. It was nice to see these little kids being introduced to the most wonderful thing on Earth- books. But because of these children, the library wasn’t as quiet as I like it to be. Kids were running around, screaming in one corner, a baby was crying in the other corner, two toddlers were laughing hysterically at something in another corner; everything was just so insane.

      “It’s extremely loud here,” I said in a complaining tone.

      “I know… Goodness. Do you want to go upstairs? I think it will be way quieter,” she responded.

      “I think we should do that because it is just way too noisy. It’s like a playground,” I laughed.

      

      Fortunately, the upstairs was quiet. There was an information station in the middle of the second floor of the library. Large, brown desks and bookshelves surrounded the information station; it was basically a place for young adults and adults to sit and study or do whatever they want that required silence. We took the table by the back and sat down.

      “Let’s get started,” Miranda said. She took out a notepad and a folded paper, which was probably her eulogy for her brother.

      “I’m sorry I’m like basically making you go through your past, especially since it’s your brother’s death. You know you could just tell me if you feel uncomfortable sharing something, it’s really fine,” I said. I felt rude for making her find all these stuff that she used for her brother’s funeral.

      “To be honest, I usually feel really uncomfortable talking and sharing stories about my brother but I trust you. And also you need help. Although the reason of the death is probably different, I know what you’re going through and I think it would be extremely wrong for me to not help you after all that help from when you went to school.”

      I laughed. “You’re right. But really, thank you.”

      “It’s my pleasure. Now let’s get started, shall we?” I nodded. “Can I read what you have written so far?”

      “Yeah, but it’s not that great. I don’t even think it makes sense to be honest.”

      “That’s okay. Think of this as like the rough draft. You can make edits and on Sunday, you’ll have one of the best eulogies out there.”

      After writing and writing for around 2 hours, we were finally done. It was around one and a half pages long and I had put everything I wanted to say. Just staring at the paper made me feel satisfied. It felt appropriate to invite Miranda to the funeral, and when I did ask, she gladly accepted. Having a so-called friend was better than I thought it was. I had always thought that friends were distracting and a waste of time, but Miranda proved me wrong. She showed me that a friend can help you on so many things, in so many levels, such as fashion opinions, family drama, friendship drama, etc, especially, on things she has experienced before.

      That Sunday, I got up after five hours of sleep and showered. I couldn’t fall asleep because of my over thinking, once again. No matter how hard I tried to sleep, I couldn’t. I was too busy thinking about Wren, the funeral, the eulogy and people were going to respond to it. Because of the personal subjects that I wrote on the eulogy, I was a bit worried about if I should read it or not.

      I put on my black dress that I had for 2 years now. Although it was a bit old, Wren had always wanted me to wear it, so I thought the dress was perfect for today. Today is your day Wren. Hope you’re watching, I thought.

      “Skylar, are you ready?” mom yelled from downstairs.

      “Almost. Is it time to go?” I yelled back.

      “Yeah, almost. We should leave soon. Hurry up!” I hurried.

      

The funeral was at the church Wren occasionally went to. It was a white sumptuous little church with various large, elegant windows that lead toward the entrance of the church. Tall pointed towers rose from the roof. The tallest tower had a cross symbol at the very top, that towered over the whole building. By the time we got there, the church was already surrounded by Wren’s family and friends.

        “Are you here for Wren Esters?” a guy asked my dad, and my dad nodded. We were led to a large room with rows of chairs. I felt a tear fall on my face. It was amazing how many people showed up for him. Although I didn’t know who half of these people were, those who knew about Wren and I came up to me saying that their “sorry for my loss” or that “He was a wonderful man”. These words did make me proud of Wren but each word broke my heart, piece by piece.

        As the funeral introduction ended, it was my turn to make a eulogy. I slowly got up and walked up to the podium. My whole entire body started shaking. It was uncontrollable. My face became hot and my heart started beating fast.

        “Hello,” I said as I took a breath. “For those who don’t know me, my name is Skylar Silversteen. I guess you can say I’m just a regular girl who loves to read, which is how I met Wren. I was once at a library and Wren came up and that was the beginning of our relationship. As you all know, Wren was a great guy. It isn’t a lie to say that he was loved by literally everyone- his parents, his friends, including me. I loved him dearly. There wasn’t a dull moment with Wren. His beautiful smile, his warm heart, his incredible talent, his sparkling eyes- all of these may just be a feature of his face, but to me, this is who he was. He was the shining moon in the pitch black night sky, the peanut to my jelly, the paper to my pen. And yes, I know that these are very cliché and odd for a 19 year old to say,” I said. Laughter rose from the audience. I smiled and continued on. “However, it’s true. This is not just for me. His parents probably agree with me and his friends will probably agree too. To be honest, Wren was my first love. I never thought that I would ever meet someone so perfect like him and it is heartbreaking to lose the one you love, especially since he was also my best friend. But I will admit to one thing. Every since Wren’s death, I have been stronger. I have met some great people on the way and I am sure that I will keep them in my heart until the day I die.” I stared at Elvis and Miranda and smiled right at them. “It isn’t everyday that you meet these kinds of people. And I promise that with all our love, we are going to get through this together. My love and admiration for Wren will never stop; in fact it will keep growing every day. We are so lucky to have experienced his incredible personality, especially his beautiful, beautiful heart.Whether you knew him personally, or as just a kind stranger, I want to say that Wren has become part of us, of who we are, and in our hearts, and that is where he will stay forever and ever. So thank you. Thank you Mrs. And Mr. Esters. Thank you Elvis and the rest of the crew. Thank you Miranda. Thank you to those who set up this funeral. And thank you to those who used their precious time to come in memory of our beloved, Wren. And a last thank you to God and a quick prayer to protect and love Wren as much as we did. Thank you.”

        A loud roar of clapping rose from the audience. I walked down the podium and walked back to my seat. Mrs. Esters turned around.

        “That speech was beautiful Skylar. Thank you so much. Thank you,” she said. She closed her eyes and squinted to release the tears that have been waiting to come out.

        “I just did what I can, Mrs. Esters. He was a beautiful guy. Thank you for giving me a chance to make a eulogy. It is something I will never forget.”

 

CHAPTER 9-10

“Hi, I’m looking for Elvis Jones?” I asked quietly, with my head down.

“That’s me,” he replied with the most confident voice ever. “You made it on time. Good job.”

“Thanks? I didn’t know your name was Elvis.”

“Well it is,” he shrugged.

“Aren’t you going to tell me?” Elvis looked confused.

“Are you serious?” I sighed. “Why did you give me the book and what does the book have to do with me?”

“You are one impatient and annoying girl,” he murmured. “Listen,…..”

“Skylar. The name is Skylar,” I interrupted.

He continued. “Listen Skylar. I know you want to know everything about Wren and why he’s gone but you have to wait. I might tell you but you have to stay quiet.”

“What? I didn’t even ask about Wren… HOW DO YOU KNOW WREN?” I yelled. “Where is he? You need to tell me!!”

“Crap,” he said silently. “I get why they can’t trust me…”

“Let me repeat. How do you know Wren?” I said more firmly.

       “Okay, listen Skylar. It is never safe to yell out his name like that. Or even mine. You have to stay chill or they will hear, you understand?”

      “Who’s ‘they’?” Only if you show me Wren.”

      “Not now. You’re not even supposed to know. It’s all my fault…Skylar,  I will tell you someday but for now, you really need to watch your mouth. Oh and just in case, do not say your name out loud too. They might know you since Wren talks in his sleep. That retard….” he murmured.

      “What are you talking about?”

      “I have to go now. I’ll tell you the rest later. Just watch out!” he yelled as he started walking towards the door.

      “You’re leaving already? You didn’t even answer any of my questions!”

      “You know way too much right now. That’s bad and dangerous. I’m terrible at this. I’ll message you when I have time and we’ll meet again. Make sure to remember what I told you and keep quiet at all times.”

      “Fine,” I whispered and Elvis ran out. “Maybe he’s a secret spy,” I joked, trying to make myself feel better.

      After the short meeting with Elvis, I decided to get some hot coffee and visit the mall that was nearby. It wasn’t often that I went to the mall, but when I did, it was for certain purposes and the purpose today was for new shoes. It was a random thought that interrupted my mind but back when Wren was gone, he always used to say that he was going to buy me new shoes and throw away my ripped up and very worn classic converse, but I just couldn’t throw away something that had been with me for 3 years, although it was just a shoe. But somehow, today, I wanted a little bit of change.

      When I walked in the mall, I went straight to the nearest shoe store. I didn’t have enough money to buy anything else other than shoes, and fortunately, I didn’t even want to. Shopping wasn’t something I absolutely enjoyed ever since I was little, unless it was for books. It was hard to think that I wasn’t a gregarious person. The shoe shelf had everything- from high boots to flip-flops but I just wanted some plain, comfortable sneakers that matched everything. After skimming through the shelves full of shoes, I finally grabbed a white sneaker with one big star on the side of the shoe. It was simple and casual, just how I like it. Once I got home from shoe shopping, I fell back asleep from the sound of the rain that started to pour right when I got home.

      The next morning, I woke up from the realization that if Wren was around, it would have been our 6 months anniversary. Although we had only known each other for a short period of time, it felt like I had known him my whole life. Not having him around was like not having your dog of 11 year around anymore. It was complete hell.

      “Mom,” I said as I walked down the stairs. “I’m going to go get something to eat. I feel like eating something junky today. Do you need anything?”

      “I don’t think so. Do you want me to go with you or are you fine?”

      “I’m fine. I’ve done this plenty of times mom. You know that.”

      “I know. Things change though,” she said, sighing. “Just call me if you want. I’ll be close by, working. Again.”

      I grabbed the door knobs. “I will. Enjoy work!” I said, thinking of what she meant by ‘things change’.

       Even after months without Wren, I was not used to not having him around anymore. I always thought about calling him, wondering what would happen, if anyone would answer. But then I remembered Wren telling me that I can’t call him anymore, that I won’t be able to see him every day. It all still didn’t make sense. Why did he have to just randomly disappear, leaving me all alone with questions that will never be answered directly from him? He promised to be back for our France trip but it seemed as if the plane ticket was never going to be used. People used to tell me that as time goes on, everything gets better and that I would learn to let it go. But I knew that letting go wasn’t an easy thing to do. Reality sucks, I thought. It wasn’t like in the movies, where there was a happy ending. Every second got worse than the last. My point is, where is Wren when I need him the most?

      My grandpa died when I was younger. He had cancer, something that I was not aware of until I was in 5th grade. Every time I went to his house, he had the record player playing an old, jazzy song and we used to dance together. I never knew he had cancer, or was even sick at all because he was always so happy, but little did I know, he was dying little by little in the inside. It’s scary how easy it is for people to hide everything about themselves by just a smile. After finding out that he died, I was completely lost. My grandpa was my best friend and losing him was a wreck. I was a wreck. I never experienced the feeling of having a loss one, before grandpa died and I didn’t know how to control the pain that I felt. I’ll always remember the day I was at the ER when my grandpa passed away, one of the nurses came up to me and told me about the time her grandpa died and how confused and lost she felt also. She told me that death happens to everyone, included myself, which was really hard for me to believe since I was so young. Since that day, pain has been my worst enemy. Although I was bullied and disliked by the students in my school, I didn’t feel pain. I just felt lonely. I learned that there is a massive difference between feeling pain and feeling lonely. Pain was felt emotionally and physically. It made my whole body ache and tremble; I literally felt pain in my heart, tearing it apart, one by one so I can feel every single tear. On the other hand, loneliness was just a thought to me. It didn’t hurt me physically or even emotionally. The thought of being lonely surrounded me but it didn’t hurt me at all.

      When I couldn’t handle it anymore, I called Wren, after several months of just waiting for his call that was never going to come. His phone rang seven times and then went to voice mail. Honestly, there was a side of me that was expecting When to pick up the phone, whenever the ringing stopped. “You’ve reached the voicemail of… Wren Esters,” he said in the deep, mysterious voice I’d fallen for. “Leave a message.” Before the phone was able to make the beep sound, I hung up. There was no point of leaving a message when Wren was never going to hear it. But a sudden thought came upon me, that if he is alive somewhere in the world, he can listen to a message, but he just can’t pick up the phone. So I called again. The voicemail machine picked up and repeated the whole process and finally it beeped. I swallowed.

     “Hi, Wren. I wasn’t sure if you could pick up the phone, so I decided to leave a message. It’s been months Wren. Where are you? The plane tickets are still with me if you want to travel to a place where no one knows us… I just miss you so much,” I said. A tide of tears rolled in, then I was pissed off. “WHY CAN’T YOU PICK UP YOUR FREAKING PHONE!” I yelled.

      The phone beeped. “If you want to hear your message, press 1. If you want to send your message, press 2. If you want to delete your message, press 3,” the voicemail machine said. I pressed 3. I couldn’t send that to him. I waited for the phone to beep again so that I could leave a new message.

      Beeeeeeeeep. “Hi Wren. It’s Skylar. I’m leaving a message. Sorry it took awhile for me to leave a message. I lost my phone and I found it today,” I lied. “Anyways, I miss you! It’s been months and you haven’t called… I’m just sitting here wondering where you are and it you’re alright. You can’t just leave me and not call. I’m not okay right now…” The tears started falling again. “I can’t do this anymore. It could be one letter. Even a random number. I just want to know if you are here. I just want to know if we can even go to France together. You promised Wren. YOU PROMISED!!!!!” I wailed.

      By this point, my parents came running into my room.

      “Sweety, are you okay? What’s wrong?” they asked in a worried tone.

      I shrugged. I didn’t have the energy and the might to raise my head and look at them. I was a mess.

      But they kept asking me what was wrong, as if answering them was going to make me feel better and solve everything, until I got up and hugged both of them.

      I fell asleep in my mom’s arms, after crying on her shoulder until the tears weren’t physically able to come out of my eyes anymore.

      

      A couple days later, I got up around noon and walked over to the cafe. After ordering a cup of coffee, my phone rang. It was Wren’s mother. I had totally forgotten about the missed call from her until now. I picked up.

      “He……….hello?” I whispered into my phone.

      “Is this the phone of Skylar Silversteen?” she asked in an annoyed voice.

      “Yes. Hello, Mrs. Esters.”

      “I don’t have time to talk to you right now but have you heard from my son recently?”

      Something told me that she didn’t know that Wren was gone for more than five months now. “Oh yeah!” I lied. “We talk on the phone a lot. There is no need to worry. Not that you should worry, I mean yes I have heard from him. Is there something wrong Mrs. Esters?”

      “No.” she said bluntly. “There is nothing wrong. It was nice talking to you,” she said, and before I got to reply, she hung up.

      “That was really odd….” I thought. It was unusual for Mrs. Esters to call me randomly and ask me that question. Before I could even think about another thing, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

      “We meet again.” The familiar voice forced me to turn around. It was Elvis.

      “Hi…. Why do we always seem to meet here? Do you live by here?” I asked in curiosity.

      He looked nervous. “Nope. This is just my favorite café. Who was that you just talked on the phone with?”

      “That is for me to know and for you to… not know. Why do you ask?”

      “It better not be Claire,” he murmured.

      “Who’s Claire?” The name sounded familiar. “I don’t think I know a Claire….”

      “Claire is my girlfriend. She calls every girl I talk to and since you’re a girl, I was guessing she called you,” he said. I shook my head.

      “Nope. Not Claire then. Actually, it was my boyfriend’s mom.” I admitted.

      His face became pale. “What did she ask you?”

      “Nothing big,” I lied. “I don’t even know you that well. Stop asking these questions, it’s really freaking me out…”

      “What. Did. She. Ask. You?” he asked more clearly.

      “She just asked me if I have talked to Wren recently. She asks me that all the time,” I lied again. “You look really pale right now, are you okay Elvis?” I whispered, remembering him telling me to not say our names out loud.

      “What did you say?”

      “I said that I did talk to him… I had to lie for personal reasons, okay? Are you okay?”

      “WHY WOULD YOU SAY THAT?!” he yelled. He dropped his cup and ran out the door.

      “What was his problem?” I thought.

      I repeated the conversation that I had with Elvis in my head. The way he acted to my answers seemed very suspicion and weird. It was as if he knew Mrs. Esters. The thought of Mrs. Esters brought the attention to her first name. Wasn’t her first name Claire?!?!?, I thought.

      How did he know that that was her first name?

      How did he even know her and that I was talking to her on the phone?

      Again, Elvis left me alone with a myriad of questions that were still yet to be answered.

 

CHAPTER 10

 

      Two days later, I received a letter from someone with the name James Modstill from Georgia. I didn’t know anyone from Georgia and even when I tried to return the post box, the mailman kept telling me that it was for me. After repeatedly getting the same answer from the mailman, I gave up and took the mailbox to my room.

      Dad walked by. “What’s that you got there?”

      “I don’t know. It’s from Georgia and I don’t know anyone from Georgia but the mailman keeps telling me that it’s mine.” I complained.

      “Don’t tell your mom but before you were born, when I received random packages that weren’t mine, I opened them. Sometimes you find some really cool things!”

      “Isn’t that illegal, dad?” I asked.

      “It’s not if it’s random.”

      “I guess,” I said and laughed. He always knew how to make me feel better.

      “You want to open it?” he asked.

      “Why not.”

      “Tell me what it is after you open it!”

      “I sure will dad.”

      I ripped out the tapes and slowly opened the box. Inside of the box was another box. Inside that was box another box. Inside that box was a book. It was the same book as the book As I Have Gone, the book that Elvis gave me. There was a little post-it note that said “The book that you have is not the real one. There is no need to read that honestly. This is the real book. It has all the answers you are looking for. Read it and call me. And make sure you read only the first chapter. If you keep reading, then something bad will happen to you. Don’t believe me? Then go on but don’t come crying to me. Until then…”

      As I jumped onto my bed to read the book, I realized that the package was from Elvis but it didn’t make sense how the package was all the way from Georgia.

      I opened the book, and started reading the first chapter. It was exactly the same thing as the first book Elvis had given me, which was a bit confusing. When I finished the chapter, I thought I read it too fast and read it again. After 3 hours of reading the first chapter over and over again, I finally decided to call Elvis.

      The phone rang. He picked up.

      “You got my package,” he said.

      “I read the first chapter millions of times, but it did not answer any of my questions.”

      “You really need to learn how to be patient,” he said. “Do not touch the book or even think about opening the book until I tell you to do so.”

      “Okay, fine. Hey, what happened the other day? Why did you run away like that?”

      “Remember how I told you to be careful when you say my name or even your name?” I nodded. I guess he somehow knew that I was nodding because he continued on. “Well you really need to be carefully who you talk to. I can’t tell you right now but whenever the topic of Wren comes up, just always hang up. Always. It’s best for you right now.”

      “I’m guessing you’re not going to answer me if I ask you why, right?”

      “I’m really sorry. I can’t answer you right now,” he said with a big sigh. “Oh and stop calling me Elvis. Call me Noah from now on and I’ll call you Sam. That is our names from now on when we are outside. You got it?”

      “Yeah.”

      “Okay then. I have to hang up now. Be safe and I’ll message you when you are allowed to read to the next chapter.”

      “Alright.”

      “Bye,” he said and he hung up. It seemed as if everyone was hanging up on me now instead of me hanging up on them. “Next time I’ll hang up first,” I thought.

      A week after receiving the package from Noah, aka Elvis, I got another call from Mrs. Esters. Remembering what Noah told me, I didn’t pick up the phone. It seemed like forever for the phone to stop ringing. Finally when the phone stopped ringing, I messaged Noah.

      She called again. Didn’t answer, but what should I do?

      I received a reply within seconds.

      Nothing.

      That’s it? Nothing?

      

      Yup. What do you expect? GTG bye.

      With nothing to do, I ran downstairs.

      “Mom, do you want to go somewhere right now? Like the park or something?” I asked.

      “I’m soooo sorry but I’m really busy right now. Ask your dad,” she said without even looking at me.

      “Daaaaaad!” I yelled.

      “In the kitchen!!” he said. I walked over to the kitchen. He was making himself a sandwich.

      “Seems like you’re not doing anything. Do you want to go to the park with me?”

      “Sure! That sounds good.”

      “Alright!”

      “Let me finish this sandwich first and I’ll be out,” he said as he shoved the sandwich into his mouth.

      “Call me when you’re done!” I said, running up the stairs. When I got to my room, I changed into a plain white t-shirt and denim jeans. As soon as my dad called to meet him at the car, we were on our way to the park.

      The park was somewhere I used to go a lot with my dad when I was younger. It was basically where all my childhood memories were at. However, since I was older, we didn’t play at the playground anymore. We walked around and observed people, talking about things we miss and to catch up.

      “So why did you suddenly want to come to the park?” he asked.

      “I just wanted to remember the childhood for a little bit. Everything seemed so stress-free back then…”

      “Of course. You weren’t introduced to reality yet. You were still little and thought that everything was colorful and happy.”

      “I miss that….” I sighed.

      “It’s all part of growing up though. You learn to deal with the bad things in life, and in return there are good things like a hot cup of coffee and reading books,” he said. “As much as you wish it was, life isn’t a vending machine. You don’t get to choose the future, the present and the past. Imagine how messed up the world would be if everybody chose what they wanted. It would be worse than now, even though that may be hard to believe.”

      “It sucks. It sucks when you lose someone you love. The worse this is, I don’t even know if I lost him or not. There is just no connection. I just want a direct answer.”

      “I liked Wren very much too, Sky. The most important this was he made you happy and that made your mom and I very happy. After all the stress you’ve been through, you deserve happiness. Unfortunately, happiness isn’t something you can force. But with Wren, I was able to tell that happiness came by naturally. Wish I knew where he was too.”

      “Just one answer is all I need to slowly move on but I’m just stuck. I’m stuck in the middle of nothing. I can’t even answer my own questions and when I do, there is the question what if that just drives me nuts.”

      He nodded. I slowly leaned toward his shoulder to rest.

      “I understand how much Wren loves you, but just know that a father’s love for his daughter is bigger than the boyfriend’s love for the daughter. I promise that you will get through this and become a strong, independent lady,” he said.

      My old man. He always knew what to say.

      A few days later, I received yet another text message from Noah.

      Go ahead and read the next chapter. Just the next chapter. Do not go on. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

         Still the book didn’t answer any of my questions. I just couldn’t wait anymore. Months and months without any answered questions at all. It just seemed like there was no answer in the first place. It was all just a joke.

      Even though, I wanted to go on and finish the book, I had to get Noah’s permission first.

      I called him and on the second ring, he picked up.

      “You can’t just call me like that!” he said.

      “You know what. I’ve been waiting and waiting for answers but you gave me none. Not even one. You don’t know how frustrating it is to lose someone like that. It would have been fine if he just died but he didn’t. He disappeared without any trace. All I got was a phone call from him and that was it. I don’t know if he is still alive or not but all I asked for you was to give me answers on how you even know him and if you’re even trying to help me or not. I’ve been lied to many times and I don’t care if you’re just someone here to prank me. I’m going to read the book whether you want me to or not!” I yelled. As I was about to hang up the phone, Noah yelled.

      “Don’t hang up yet!!!” he said. “I know this is hard for you right now. I really do. But before you get to read the book, I need to meet you. I think it is time for you to know something.”

      “What? What is it? Is it something bad?”

      “It’s something I have to tell you in person. Meet me at the café in 30 minutes.”

      “Okay,” I said and I hung up. I didn’t know what he was going to tell me, but I had a feeling that it was not good at all.

      When I got to the café, I saw Noah sitting alone at the table near the window. He looked really nervous and worried, which bothered me. I realized I wasn’t ready to know the answer. Slowly, I walked up to him.

      “You know actually, I’m really sorry. I’m not ready. I have a feeling I know what you’re going to say and I’m just not ready. I’m really sorry.”

      “Skylar,” he said. “Nobody is ever ready to know the truth. That’s why people lie. But you really should know this.”

      “I can’t….” I sighed. “I don’t want to know what happened….”

      “I won’t tell you right now then. I’ll just tell you about me and who I am. You deserve to know that at least.”

      I nodded and sat down on the chair that was in front of him.

      “Hopefully you don’t freak out after knowing more about me. Anyways, when I was in my early 20s, I was introduced to this company called The Observiors. I desperately needed some kind of job and this job had high payments, which was why I decided to join. At first I thought it was a moving company, just like how you think I’m guessing, but it wasn’t. I was then put into major training. It was harsh. I had to wake up everyday at 5 in the morning, run 7 miles and then fight. It was the same every day and –“

      “What do you mean fight?” I asked.

      “What do you think? We didn’t used weapons. We used our hands and learned to kill people. It was not what I expected and it was a challenge. But I grew up in such a horrifying place, and I was up for anything that included money. After two years of training, I found out that this company that I thought was a moving company was actually a spy company. The top guy there decided that I was the right one to become the captain. It was weird at first because I wasn’t even aware that such thing existed but I started to enjoy being a spy. I meant many new people and had connections to everything. At this one meeting, I met Wren. His name back then was James but I decided to change his name to Wren. He was a trainee and oh was he up for any challenge. Back then, he was extremely skinny and scared of everything.” He laughed. “The more I got to know him, the more I began to like him. He was a great spy. You won’t believe how quickly he moved.” He sighed. “We trained him hard. He was a tough guy. He wasn’t that skinny boy anymore. He had muscles and logic, and even charisma. Wren was perfect to us. He was the role model for everyone in the team and everything was great. Then he came to visit his parents here and then met you. It’s funny how he got you heads over heels for him that fast. We knew he had charisma but you have to admit, that guy was impeccable. Anyways, then he started to miss some training practices and that was fine at first. But after the first month of knowing you, he said he wanted to give up being a spy. Being a spy for him was extremely important in his life and I wasn’t too sure that that choice was right for him.”

      “Wait,” I said. “But you gave me a book even before I met Wren. That doesn’t make sense.”

      “Oh. Right, well that’s kind of part of training to become captain. You basically know people. That’s all I can say to you. Sorry, it’s top secret.”

      “Oh.” I didn’t know what to say. “Please continue.”

      “Yeah. So anyways, we didn’t want him to give up being a spy so I just told him that we would call him when he needed him. He was able to live his life as a normal person with a spy background. But somehow, something didn’t go right,” he sighed.

      “What do you mean?”

      “Everything was fine. We contacted each other, even after he stopped contacting you. By the way, there was a reason he couldn’t talk to you, just understand him and forgive him. It’s our fault. But Skylar…… last week, Wren was in a terrible accident.” He swallowed hard and tears started rolling down his face. “The police found his body on one of the roads by the woods. I’m so sorry…”

      My heart dropped. This wasn’t the answer I was looking for.

      Tears started to roll down my face as well. “What do you mean Elvis? What do you mean you found his body?”

      He started crying harder. “He’s dead, Skylar. He’s dead.”

      My whole body felt numb. I bit my lip so hard to see if this was just a dream. Clearly it wasn’t. “How?”

      “That’s the thing Skylar. We don’t know how. There was nothing going wrong. He was going to go back to you today. That’s why I’m telling you today.”

      “But you said he was your best spy.” I wailed. “He promised he would be back. He promised….. he promised that he would go to France with me! HE PROMISED!”

      “He promised many things to me too. We can’t imagine how hard it would be for you. I’m so sorry. I should have told you sooner. I don’t know why I waited until today. It was dumb for me to do and –“

      I didn’t hear his excuses anymore. I felt like throwing up. I got up and ran out, gasping for air. It was like someone was choking me. His hair. His voice. His sweet, sweet smile. They all appeared in my head and suddenly disappeared, just like what he did to me. The fact that he was alive, breathing and talking this whole time was unreal to me. Why didn’t he call me then? Why did he have to leave me hanging like that?

      I should’ve looked for him when he called me. Obviously when someone you love is in danger, you look for them. After a moment of being mad at Wren and Elvis, I realized all of this was my fault. If I had searched for him or call him even if he told me not to, maybe this wouldn’t have happened. What broke me the most was how Elvis didn’t know how Wren died, which just left more questions that were never going to be answered. That was if for us. I didn’t even have the chance to hug him goodbye and I didn’t have someone to talk to besides my parents anymore, and most importantly I love my first and only love.

      Maybe this was just a joke. I just wanted to write a book. Why I have to fall in love and cause trouble. I realized that love was a dangerous thing, but without it, there was no such as the world. Although I knew that I had love shown toward me by many people surrounding me, but I specifically needed love from Wren. I needed his hug.

      I didn’t understand how the feeling knowing Wren is dead  and not knowing Wren is dead was floating around in my brain, acting like nothing is going on when in reality, everything was wrong. After breathing normally again, I went back in the café. Elvis had his head down laying on the coffee table, with the face of a lost father.

      “I’m sorry for that break down,” I said. “At least he doesn’t feel pain anymore.”

      “I guess,” he said. It must have been hard for him, as a captain to lost his best spy and expect everything to go as planned.”

      “Don’t worry about us…” he said, and I closed my eyes tight, letting every inch of my body genes up.

      “How can the police not know how he died though?”

      “They’re not sure if this was a suicide or if it was an accident. Of course I think this was an accident, but all the evidence right now is proving that he committed suicide.”

      “He couldn’t have done that. He’s not that kind of person! Where did you get all these evidence?” I complained.

      “Trust me I know. I argued with them a little too I guess every person has their own deep secret.” He sighed. Elvis’s eyes were puffy from previously crying. It was never fun to see a man cry. When men cried, then the reason why their crying was always upsetting and sad. Women cries all the time, which is why you don’t really feel pity for them.

      “Are the police still trying to find more evidence or did that conclude at that?”

      “Of course more evidence. They were going to put her body away but I let her out like this for a long time. The police said that he was just dead when they found him. No cuts, no blood, no toxics, no alcohol, no nothing. That’s the worst thing- having nothing wrong with you when you die.”

      “He must have felt so lonely and scared,” I said as I teared up in thought of Wren. “I wasn’t there when he most needed me. But he wasn’t there when I needed him. He wasn’t there when I need him the most. When it felt like there was nothing I couldn’t do but die. That’s how bad it was but he wasn’t there.

      “Skylar, don’t get mad at him. He doesn’t deserve to be angry at. I know that his is hard for you right now, but I really need you to stay focused right now. Don’t be mad at him. Be thankful that he can now lay down without being judged by how I folded the blanket next to me. We’re trying our best right now and searching for anything that can help with this incident.”

      He was right. I was being selfish and arrogant right now and I couldn’t be mad at Wren. It wasn’t his fault. “You’re right,” I said, wiping my tears away with my sleeves.

      “Anyways, I want to give you something that we found in his pocket.”

      “What is it?”

      It was the necklace with my picture on it.

      “I guess you were in his heart the whole time,” he said smiling.

      Slowly, tears rolled down my face as I stared down at the necklace. I tried to imagine him taking out the necklace and looking at the picture of me, wanting to be with me as much as I wanted to be with him, rubbing the charm with his thumb, remembering all the times we had together. Then I realized that I wasn’t the only one suffering from missing him. He suffered as much as I did or yet even more than I did. While I had my parents to lean on, he was all alone, left to deal with it alone.

      After the emotional breakdown at the café and finding out that Wren had died, I went straight home and slept. Sleeping was my second thing to do when I wanted to escape reality. Reading was the first, but I didn’t feel like reading at all. I had to tell my parents the news but I wasn’t ready. When I tried to bring up the subject, my words got tangled up and nothing came out. Finally after forcing myself to bring up the conversation, I got the nerve to get up and walk over to them.

      Both of them were watching a documentary about Abraham Lincoln.

      “Mom, dad, can I tell you guys something?” They nodded in unison. “I found out today that Wren died last week.” I started getting teary again. “He was alive this whole time. The police aren’t sure why killed him because there was no trace of any kind of evidence. They think it was a suicide but I’m pretty sure that that’s not it. He wouldn’t have just walked out like that and let us suffer.”

      “Oh my goodness…. I’m so sorry Skylar…. Are you okay?”

      “No. Actually I’m not okay. The whole things is numb to me right now. I’m not… I just can’t believe I can’t see him anymore. I can’t see his face smiling, I can’t hear his voice, I can’t hug him when it’s cold… All I’m left with is a necklace that I gave him, an aching heart, and millions of unanswered questions that are never going to answered.”

      Mom walked up next to me and hugged me tightly. It was nice to receive a hug.

      “I’m so sorry. I really am,” said mom. “I really liked Wren too….”

      Dad just sighed and quietly walked to the kitchen.

      “Is dad okay?” I asked.

      “He’s fine. He’s just not really good at dealing with death. You can talk to him later.”

      I was still shocked from the news of Wren’s death. What bothered me the most was that no one knew why he died or how he died. I was basically just paralyzed with the unknown. I felt stuck. It was like I was in a 5 feet steep hole with no way to get out, with no help at all.

      I just sat in my room, staring at the ceiling. There wasn’t a thing in my mind. My mind was frozen as well as my whole body. I stared into space. Time ticked as I thought of nothingness. There was nothing I could do but either cry, or literally do nothing.

      While I was staring at my desk, dad came in with a cup of coffee.

      “You can’t just sit there and do nothing Sky,” he said as he placed the cup on my desk. “I know how you feel right now. I do. But just sitting here is not going to help you at all. Wren loved you very much. He probably wants you to forgive him for leaving you like that and move on.”

      “I will move on once I know why and how he died. I have to know.”

      “Sometimes it’s good to not know. Maybe that’s what he wanted you to know.”

      “Well there are promises that are made and you cannot just break a promise that easily,” I said. “And I am going to find out who did this and kill that person. I will. Just watch me.”

      “Skylar, Wren is dead. Do you not get that? He didn’t just die because he wanted to break a promise with you. Death happens, whether it’s accidently or not. Good people die a lot, so does bad people.”

      I stayed silent. He was right once again. Wren didn’t want to die, probably. Somebody killed him. I just knew it. But I couldn’t tell my dad about Wren’s past and how he was a spy. I just couldn’t. “You’re right dad. I’m just really having a hard time with this. I want to blame someone but I guess there is no someone. His death was probably an accident and I need to deal with it,” I said, sort of lying.

      “I know how hard someone’s death can put you in. When one of my best friends died from a car accident before you were born, I thought I was going to die as well. You’re actually handling Wren’s death way better than I handled my friend’s death. You are one strong girl, just know that,” he said holding my hand. He looked straight into my eyes and said, “You will learn from this incident and become someone so wonderful. And for right now, it is okay to cry and scream and release what you are holding inside. It is okay. Do you hear me?”

      I nodded. The tears started rolling down my face once again.

      “I love you so much dad,” I said, resting my face on his chest.

      “It’s going to be alright. Everything will be okay…” he whispered into my head.

 

CHAPTER 8

It was 10 AM when I woke up the next morning. The sun was out again and the birds were chirping. I got up and saw sticky notes everywhere and noticed that the book was on the floor. I guess I fell asleep while working, I thought.

      “Dad? Are you home?” I yelled as I walked out of my room. I was tired of sitting down and taking notes all day.

       “I’m home. Good morning, Sky,” he said as I walked into the kitchen and kissed me on the cheek. “What’s up?”

      “Morning to you too. You wanna hang out today? I have nothing planned.”

     “Uhhhhhhhh, yeah sure. I don’t think I have anything today,” he answered.

      “You sure you don’t have anything today?” He shrugged. “C’mon, Dad!”

      “Alright, alright!” he laughed as he finished making breakfast. “Where do you want to go?”

      “Can we go hiking?” I asked.

      “Are you serious? You want to go hiking?” I stared at him. “You never go hiking or even like hiking!”

“Hey! I’m just busy all the time. But I’ll give it another try today. Maybe I’ll like it… You never know!”

“I mean it’s fine with me. I was thinking about going hiking later anyways.”

      “Yes! I’m not sure why but I’m quite excited. I’ll go get ready now.”

      “Alright. Be ready in an hour. I’m going to go make us a little snack for us to eat there. Okay?”

      “Okay!” I replied as I went back up to my room.

I changed into my gym clothes, packed whatever necessities I thought I will need,and went down to see what my dad was making.

      “Mhhh. All the food looks so good; It smells nice too.”

      “A special snack for a special time with me and my daughter,” he added. It was nice to see him so excited for the hike. I guess he really missed having son-daughter time, I thought.

      We packed our foods and some water bottles and headed out for the door. The weather was impeccable. It wasn’t too hot or too cold. It was just right, except for the slight chilly wind. Other than that, it was a perfect day to go hiking. We got in the car and rolled all the windows down. Dad turned on the radio and some old 90’s music started to play. It brought back so much memories of when I was younger. Music was my second favorite thing when I was younger (To be honest, food was my first). Adults who knew me always used to say that I was going to be a singer when I grew up, which obviously did not come true. However, my love for music has continued.

      “Just you and me, Sky,” dad yelled over the wind, smiling like a little boy. “This brings back so many memories.”

      “It does. Gosh, I love this right now. It feels like I’m in a movie,” I replied.

      Dad laughed. So I laughed.

      As we nodded our heads to the radio song, a random throwback popped in my head. It was when I was with Wren, in his car, and we started singing to a 90’s song.

“I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing or even if you’re okay but I just want to tell you that I miss you. I hope you’re okay, Wren,” I said in my head as I smiled toward my dad.

      I looked out the window to see the view. The sun was dancing around with us to the music and there wasn’t a single cloud in the sky. The trees seemed to sway to the music with the sun. I closed my eyes. I took a deep breath to empty my mind. “Skylar, just for one day. Lets stop thinking and enjoy this moment with Dad,” I said to myself.

           When I opened my eyes, we were at the Meadow Hike Trail.

      After getting our bags and hiking tools, we did a quick mini stretch.

      “It’s always important to prepare and stretch out your body,” my dad said.

      Once the stretching was done, we started walking down the trail. Everything was just great. The setting was tranquil and it was nice to be away from the distracting noise of the city. I was able to clearly hear the sound of the wind blowing and the crunching of the branches that I stepped on.

      “How do you like it so far?” he asked.

      “I’m actually really enjoying this extraordinary beauty of the outdoors. It really helps silence the world that is right next to us. And I can really take in some fresh air!” I answered.

      “Wow, this is the first time you actually like hiking. You’re not lying to me right?”

      “No Dad! Why would I do that?”

     He laughed. “I’m just teasing. I’m just glad to know that you will be coming with me every time I go hiking now.” He winked.

      “What? What do you mean? I never said that.”

      “I need company and you’re enjoying this so why not?”

      “Actually dad, I think my leg is starting to hurt,” I joked.

      “I’m just kidding. Just come with me when you need to escape from whatever you’re going through. That’s what hiking is for.”

      “Thanks, dad. Really.”

      “Anytime kiddo. Now stop slowing down and keep moving! Let’s goo!”

      After two hours of hiking, we finally completed the hike trail and decided to head back home. The afternoon sun took all of my energy away and I was exhausted.

      “Whew,” I said, panting. “That was a long hike. I think I’m going to go to sleep after I take a shower,” I said.

      “That wasn’t so bad. I have to do some work anyways, so you can do that.”

      “It was really fun though. I really really did enjoy this.”

      “You can say that again,” he smiled.

      Just like I said, when I got home, I took a quick shower, and fell asleep. As dinner time came by, Mom woke me up. She was wearing a black blouse, with one of those professional white pants. She even glammed up her look by adding a color necklace.

      “Why are you dressed so nicely mom?” I said in my sleepy voice.

      “We are going out for dinner tonight.”

      “We are? Where?”

      “My boss’s wife invited us for a dinner, including you and dad. So get up and get dressed!”

      “I just woke up though…” I said but she was already out the door. “UGGGHH!” I groaned.

      I stared at my old wooden closet that I had since I was young. It was too far away from where I was laying down, and I didn’t want to get up. Using all the energy that I had left, I pulled myself up and stomped toward the closet. “MOM! What should I wear?” I yelled.

      “Wear the mustard colored sundress that you own!” she answered back. I took out the  simple, knee-length, mustard-colored sundress, and paired it with sheer black tights and black creepers. I looked in the mirror after wearing it and realized how nicely the clothes complimented me. ‘Why didn’t I wear this for Wren?’ I thought.

      “Hurry!” yelled mom from downstairs. I ran down the stairs and left the house once again.

      

The dinner wasn’t anything special, not that I expected anything from my mom’s boss, Mr. Dowsen. He was a short, and chubby man, who didn’t smile that often. He kind of reminded me of a gnome that my aunt used to have in her garden when I was younger. Although the man himself didn’t have the looks, his wife, Mrs. Dowsen, in the other hand, was gorgeous. She had an hour-glass figure that stood out, mainly because she only wore skin tight dresses. Her skin glowed in the light and so did her ring. However, what bothered me that most was her loud, squeaky voice that pierced my ears whenever she talked.

My cheeks were hurting from fake smiling too much during dinner. It wasn’t that I didn’t like Mr. and Mr. Dowsen. They were just quite weird and made obnoxious jokes that weren’t even funny.

Waiting for everyone to finish up their dinner, I quietly pardoned myself and walked outside to get some air. It seemed like these days, I just couldn’t stay still for a long time anymore. I had to be up and moving for my mind to settle down. It was a very chilly night. The wind was blowing so hard, making it difficult for my eyes to stay open. When I couldn’t deal with staying out in the wind, I ran to the nearest café and ordered myself a hot Americano coffee. Fortunately, the coffee warmed my body within seconds, and I slowly relaxed. I looked out the window and watched the people that were passing by. It was something I used to do with Wren a lot. We used to people watch together and guess what they do, where they’re from, why they’re here, and make up bunch of random stories about people we’ve never even seen before. Suddenly, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. As soon as I turned around, I realized that it was the man who gave me the book As I Have Gone on the day I went to the book club meeting.

      “I didn’t expect to see you here,” he said smiling.

      I quickly gathered my things and replied, “Hi, nice to see you again… I was just about to leave.”

      Before I could even reach the door, he grabbed my wrist and pulled me back.

      “Excuse me? What are you doing?” I yelled.

      “Hey, can you calm down for a second. People are starring. I’m guessing you remember me from the night at the café by the library.” He grinned. “How is the book so far? Did you even read it?”

      “I’m starting to but I don’t think the book is my type. Why did you even give it to me in the first place?” I asked.

      “Remember, you’ll need it in the future… You really need to finish the book if you want to know… nevermind,” he whispered. Slowly, he turned around to leave. “Actually, I have to go…”

      “If I want to know what? What are you trying to tell me?” I asked. I was curious now.

      “Actually, I really should go. I don’t feel comfortable right now,” he said with a worried look as he stared at the people in the café.

      I walked to the front of the door and leaned against it. “I’m not going to let you out until you tell me what you know about that book you gave me and don’t say you don’t know anything because that would be a total lie.”

      He sighed. “Fine. But not right now. You can message me later and we can meet some other time.” He ruffled the inner pocket of his jacket and took out a small sheet of paper and wrote down his number. “Never call me. Only message,” he whispered and he was out the door, walking against the wind and leaving me behind with a piece of paper that could possible answer all my questions.

      We got back from Mr. Dowsen’s house, and then while my parents were downstairs walking television, I looked at the paper the strange man gave me. The paper was a receipt from a company called The Observiors, with the the name “Elvis Jones” and a number, which was probably the man’s name. ‘I’ve heard of this company before…,’ I thought. Where did I hear this from…?  As the clock ticked, I wondered if I should message Elvis Jones. My mind said I’m going message him while my hands said nope, you’re not going to message him. I didn’t even see mom come to my room, but she came in and sat down on my bed. She asked me what the paper was for, but I quickly came up with a lie and told her it was just trash and pretended to throw it in the trash can.

      “Are you going to sleep?” I asked mom.

      “I think so. I might read a few pages of a book first though. Anyways, good night!” she answered.

      “Night!”

      After a few minutes of checking if mom and dad were both in their room, I pulled out the sheet of paper from the trash can and finally messaged him.

      Hello. This is the girl you gave the book to. Can we meet tomorrow?

      I received a text message from him two minutes later.

      Yeah. Meet you at the studio behind the café at exactly 1 PM. I don’t have much time. Be there or be square. Don’t reply.

      ‘What is this guy’s problem?’ I thought. I had never been to the studio behind the café, but I heard many rumors that is was where the stoners and drug dealers were and was really dark and scary. Basically, it was a place where no one ever wanted to go. But for my own sake, I had to go. It was the only way to find out what he had to say to me.

      After hours of worrying and thinking and imagining, I finally fell asleep, and missed an important call.

It was a call from Wren’s mom. No matter how many times I tried to call back, the phone machine only repeated itself saying that this phone number was not unavailable in this country. I opened the window and looked at the clock and saw that it was 11:30, in the morning. “I should really get ready,” I said to myself quietly. I wore all black clothes- starting from a black hoodie, black jeans, and even to black socks. It seemed to perfectly fit how I felt- nothing. When the time came, I left the house and walked over to the café. I didn’t know what answer to expect from Elvis. Did he know about Wren? Does he know When? How does he know Wren? Does he know where he is? Is this just another joke?

So many thoughts popped into my head and I was ready to just explode. “I can do this,” I said as I walked to the studio. To my surprise, the studio wasn’t what I expected at all. It was dark, but wasn’t dirty or filthy at all. The studio was just vacant and cold inside. As I bobbed my head to look for Elvis, I heard someone’s shoe clicking the floor. Slowly, I turned around and saw Elvis, glaring at me with his hands in his pocket.