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.”
“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.”
“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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.”
“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.