Part One: Chapter Two

Thanks to those of you who read the first chapter! I appreciate your interest, and I’m glad you enjoyed it (for those of you who replied that you liked it; I don’t know about the rest of you :P).

Onto Chapter Two!

Morning came with a dense, dingy fog in tow that completely engulfed anything outside of a quarter-mile radius. The neighborhood residents were disappointed, as fog near water meant temperatures and conditions unhelpful to playing outside. Aurora, however, almost felt comforted when she looked out her window that morning. She could relate with the fog, so cold and secretive and unwilling to let anyone in. She thought about how if you stand right where you think the center of the fog is, you’re suddenly not in it, but instead it surrounds you like an army cornering its next prisoner of war. It was manipulative, the fog.

Aurora opened the door to her bedroom and tentatively began to creep down the hall. She knew nothing of this house, or even where in SimNation she was, and it made her feel foreign and unwelcome. Thankfully, however, she quickly spotted Jake through the kitchen archway.

“Hey,” she greeted him, padding across the tile floor.

“Oh, hi,” Jake said, slightly startled as he looked over his shoulder at her. He lifted the large bowl in his hands. “I’m just making some waffles. You’re probably hungry.

Her stomach gurgled in confirmation.

She slid into one of the chairs at the dining table, suddenly very self-conscious that she was still in her skimpy nightgown while Jake was fully dressed. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen her in such a get-up before when he’d stayed over at her house in Bridgeport, but now that she was—strangely enough, a widow—it felt rather inappropriate. The fact that Jake was only 20 to her almost 27 made it all the more uncomfortable.

“Where are we?” she asked, trying to forget her discomfort.

“We’re at my grandparents’ vacation home in Barnacle Bay,” he grunted as he leaned over to put the waffles in the oven.

“Oh.” She didn’t know much about Barnacle Bay, other than it had a high volume of tourism traffic thanks to its tropical weather and long history of pirates. “Is it okay that we’re here?”

“Yeah,” he said. He kept his back to her because he needed to keep an eye on breakfast. “They never use it anymore since they’ve gotten too old to fly, and they’re leaving it to me anyway.”

“Oh,” she repeated. A silence heavier than the fog outside fell between them.

When the waffles were ready, they sat down together at the table to eat. Aurora quietly forked mouthfuls from the plate and stared down at the food with determination. Jake, however, had something to discuss.

“I talked with my mom today,” he began. “Well, actually, I talked. She just cried.” His face adopted a very bitter, pained expression as he thought about his mother’s anguish. “Anyway, she’s dealing with the police. I told her everything we know, and she’s going to tell them. Unfortunately, we don’t know very much, but cops always have a way of figuring things out.”

Aurora’s stomach tumbled with sudden nausea. “Great,” she choked out. Her knuckles were slowly whitening from the unnecessarily tight grip she had on her fork.

He started to eat as he continued to talk. “They know we were there. I guess that makes us automatic suspects, but I told her to let them do what they needed to do to investigate us and to do it fast, because I don’t want them wasting time looking into our stories when the real murderer is running around out there.”

Aurora didn’t reply, she just began shoveling her food into her mouth. When her plate was clean, she cleared her throat. “I don’t want to press charges,” she said.

“I don’t think we can sue the cops for making sure we didn’t do it,” Jake said flippantly, digging away at his waffles.

She glared, irritated at his misunderstanding. “No. I don’t want to press charges for Wes’s death.”

His fork dropped with a clatter to the floor. Aurora looked down at his now empty plate, afraid to look him in the eyes.

“What the fuck are you talking about?” he demanded. “Why the fuck not?”

She withdrew a bit, putting her hands up in an unconscious effort to protect herself. “I just”—her voice came out hoarse and nervous—“I just don’t want to think about it more than I have to. They’re going to want me to testify, and I’d have to see whoever did it, and I’d have to tell the police over and over again about seeing Wes’s dead body… I don’t… I don’t…” She shook her head to finish her thought, unable to vocalize it.

Jake got up from the table without a word and picked up both their plates to wash. Aurora stood up too and looked in the general direction of her room, afraid to see his face. “I’m going to go get dressed,” she told him quietly.

“Aurora,” he said. He voice was gentle but very firm. “I understand this is hard. But you and I have a responsibility to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else. How would you feel knowing you could have prevented another person’s husband from being murdered? Or another person’s sister?”

Tears came to her eyes, and she swallowed hard against the pain. “You’re right,” she admitted, her voice cracking. Then she repeated, “I’m going to go get dressed.”

In her bedroom, she broke down. Her pillow sufficed as a proper muffler to her wracking sobs to prevent Jake from hearing until she had gotten it out for the moment. Then she stood up, wiped her eyes, and retrieved her outfit from the dresser. It was nearly empty, having only five of her outfits in it, but it had no gun. She checked all the drawers just in case.

She had a prodding voice in her head telling her that she was going to get found out and thrown in jail. Logically, she knew the voice was probably right. The blood was on her hands. As if expecting to smell that pungent, rusty scent, she lifted her hand to her nose and inhaled. It smelled like waffles and butter. Oddly, this fact made her feel a little better, as if that was one piece of evidence that had been washed away.

Aurora was sitting at the computer in the late afternoon when she heard a knock on her door. “Come in,” she invited.

Jake walked in. “I’m going to take a walk around town. Do you want to come?” he asked.

The prospect of going out in public frightened her immensely. She had an irrational feeling that she would be recognized by some random Barnacle Bay resident for her crime, or that the island police would realize it was her and corner her somewhere with guns drawn. She shook her head in response.

Jake looked at the computer screen and saw what she was looking up. “Yeah, it’s all over the Bridgeport news,” he said. “Mom says it’s the talk of the town. Apparently Emmy”—Jake was the cousin of the famous actress Emmy Starr—“is livid. She thinks her latest movie shouldn’t be taking a backseat to a headline about the double homicide of two 22 year olds.”

Aurora said nothing. Jake stood there for several long moments more, then turned around and closed the door behind him. Aurora didn’t move until she heard the front door shut too.

She didn’t want to look at the Bridgeport headlines anymore, as they were making her sick, so instead she typed and clicked around until she found something about Barnacle Bay. The site listed plenty of places on the island that were “had to see” spots, and there was also a brief history to read. She clicked into the island’s “Community Room” and found herself prompted to make a username and password.

Once in the chat room, she was almost immediately bombarded with greetings and questions about how she’d found the island’s chat. She was just about to click out, for fear that she would give away too much, when a private message box popped up on her screen apologizing for everyone’s nosiness.

They don’t have much else to do on such a small island besides butt into peoples’ lives,” the message read. Aurora typed back an understanding response, and the two began chatting animatedly. She found out he was a native islander named Ahmed, and that he had a passion for cooking. Night had fallen by the time she realized she was hungry and said her goodbyes to Ahmed.

As she stood up, she realized this might be the only way she could socialize anymore. Pain washed over her again, and she closed her eyes, but then she took a deep breath and tossed her head back, unwilling to go to that place of depression another time today.

She was walking down the hall to the kitchen when something caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. She turned her head to look out the window and saw Jake standing on the front porch, strumming gently on his guitar. Through the wall the sound was muffled, but she could still slightly hear the sad, sorrowful notes that he played. Her heart began to break where she stood, and for a moment, she thought she would collapse on the ground in a shattered heap.

Getting a grip on herself, she walked outside by him. She knew he heard her close the door and approach him, but he didn’t turn around or stop playing. She realized he was singing quietly to himself, something she couldn’t hear from inside the house.

“You brought your guitar,” she commented when he’d stopped singing.

He continued to play his sorrowful tune, but over the music he murmured, “I had to. For Shannon.”

Aurora nodded in silent understanding, a gesture he didn’t see. He plucked the strings a few more times, but stopped suddenly in the middle of a riff. She realized his hands were shaking, and the porch light caught the crystal sheen of tear traces on his face.

“Jake,” she whispered.

He carefully put his guitar on the ground, tears flowing freely down his cheeks now. Aurora stepped forward and repeated, “Jake.”

He stood up, and she pulled him against her. His hands buried in her hair, and his sobs became loud and harsh. She hugged him tighter as he shook with the kind of pain that only loss can bring. She shook too, from the knowledge that she was the cause of this pain for someone so good. And yet, she said nothing.

“My big sister,” he wept into her shoulder. “She was so full of life. She was only 22, you know? There was so much for her left to do and see.”

“I know,” Aurora whispered. But she couldn’t help thinking that one thing Shannon had gotten to do was Wes.

And then, Jake pulled back, lifted his face to hers, and pressed his mouth against her lips.

At first, she accepted the kiss. In so much pain and guilt, it felt like a saving grace to have such a moment of intimacy. And Jake was so good, and so kind to be helping her while he helped himself.

But then Wes flashed through her mind. Wes on his motorcycle, offering her a ride without asking her name first. Wes on their wedding day four years ago, looking at her with proud, hungry eyes.

And Wes on top of Shannon, that same look she’d thought was hers being given to Shannon. Wes’s dead body lying on their bedroom floor, still tainted with the fingerprints of another woman.

Tears spilled from her eyes without warning, and she wrenched back. “I can’t,” she gasped. “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Jake closed his eyes in regret and understanding. Aurora wiped away the tears rolling from her eyes with her thumb. “I shouldn’t have,” Jake apologized. “I’m sorry. I’m just so upset.”

“I know. Me too,” she murmured, though for an entirely different reason. “I’m going to go to bed.”

“Yeah.” He nodded.

She went into her bedroom and turned off the light. Without changing into her pajamas, she crawled on top of the bed and curled up. Her crying shook her body with fierce bitterness, and she couldn’t stop it no matter how hard she tried.

Finally, she wept herself into a troubled sleep.

Jake had just walked into his bedroom when his cell phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Jacob. Get out of that house now.”

“Mom? What’s wrong?”

“Get away from that girl, Jacob.”

His mind flashed back to the kiss they’d just shared on the porch, and he wondered how on earth his mother would know about that. “What are you talking about?”

“The police found something, Jake. Her fingerprints are on that gun.”

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~ by lilrunningback on June 14, 2011.

5 Responses to “Part One: Chapter Two”

  1. What an interesting continuation. I’ bookmarking it, it’s that good 🙂

  2. I love Barnacle Bay, so happy that you’re writing it while using it, especially seeing how I don’t have BB myself. I was pretty sure they’d find some clue leading to Aurora seeing how it’s titled ‘what I’ve done’. Can’t wait to read the next update xD

  3. Ooooooooh I loved this chapter. It was awesome! I’m excited to see what happens next!

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