The Darkness Behind A Shadow

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Chapter 2: Questions Unanswered

In her foster parent’s cottage, she stands in her bedroom, looking at her reflection in the mirror. Staring back at her is a slightly malnourished, frail girl with brown, glassy eyes. Her curly auburn hair has an uncontrollable sense to it as it sticks out in several different directions. It contrasts with her now pale skin, and if it weren’t for her freckles, she would have the skin tone of a ghost. She has lost count of the amount of tears she has shed, but there is still no avail. They keep falling, like autumn leaves from a branch. Wiping them on her lavender nightgown sleeve, she turns her attention towards the window, and peers at the dark, star filled sky. Maybe, her mother is watching her, and maybe, she could guide her on her next step.

“Elena!” Nick shouts, thundering through the house, looking for his older sister.

Nick is a carbon copy of their now dead father, Micheal Henry. Nick mirrors his built body and tall height. As he paces around the house looking for Elena, he pulls through his silky, jetblack strands in distress. His chocolate brown eyes search the area as he hopes his sister has not gone to Central Park once again to be alone. Because, as Nick knows with experience, she only goes down there to wander for hours when she is upset. And, knowing she has not been eating proper meals, this only adds to her younger brother’s stress.

“I’m in here Nick,” Elena croaks as her throat dried like a date from the constant crying. As Nick enters the room, she hastily dries her tears so her brother would not suspect anything. She doesn’t turn around, but watches the door open through her dresser’s mirror.

Right when Nick enters, he scowls.

“Quit wiping your tears. You are not tricking anyone. I seriously don’t get why you are sitting here wailing. For God’s sake, all of your tears could have made a pond by now! You are the one who ended it despite my protests. I honestly do not understand what exactly you are crying over now,” Nick exclaims. He releases a harsh breath then leans against the door frame awaiting Elena’s reply.

Elena looks at her sibling with a baffled expression.

“Well jeez, I don’t know Nick. Maybe it’s because I was kidnapped a week ago by God knows who. Or maybe, it’s because I have no idea how Spencer reacted to that letter. Or maybe, it’s because I have no clue of what the motive was behind the kidnapping. Or maybe, it’s because I have no idea who the kidnappers were. Or maybe, it’s because I have no idea if or when the kidnappers are going to strike again. Or maybe-”

“Okay, okay, just relax,” he interrupts.

“I get it. It’s been tough. A lot is still unknown but I reported it to the police. They’re investigating and doing everything they can. But it will take time, especially with the lack of evidence and no clear suspect. If only Ms. Kuttler hadn’t gone to visit her demented sister. If only you were not alone in that house,” Nick says with clear frustration laced in his voice.

This detrimental event has taken a toll on not only Elena, but Nick as well. His days are constantly filled with worrying for his sister’s health. She already has a load of academic stress, and this only made things worse. But then again, when does a kidnapping make anything better?

“Nick, you can’t blame Miss Kuttler. She does have foster kids, but she also has a family. She has every right to go and visit her sister no matter how much of a witch she may seem,” Elena states blandly as she grabs a comb from her dresser drawer. She advances to comb her beasty hair.

Elena and Nick have been staying with Ms. Kuttler for the past three years. Following their parents’ death, Elena and Nick stayed with the Becketts for some time as instructed in their parents’ will. But, after Maria Dominguez, their foster-care advocate, investigated the Becketts’ suspicious behavior, she decided that it was time for them to get a new foster parent. Still clueless about exactly what suspicious behavior was occurring, the siblings reluctantly agreed, and Ms. Dominguez proceeded to put them under the care of Ms. Kuttler. Despite her old age, she gives the teenagers the kindness and care that they deserve. But, Ms. Kuttler’s family members do not take much of a liking towards the kids, so they stay behind while their guardian visits her family members. Because of this, the Henrys spent some holidays with just each other. However, they did not mind as much after the death of their mother and father. The holidays were not as joyous and festive anymore.

“Well, whatever. I guess there is no point in blaming anyone since it isn’t getting us anywhere.”

“But, what exactly did you write in that letter?” Nick asks.

“You know, just for him to forget about my existence, that we’re moving-”

“Wait, wait. Hold on. You told him that we were moving? We aren’t, are we? We can’t move! You’re going to Columbia University, right?” Nick says urgently.

“Well, I was thinking, instead of going to Columbia, I could go to Binghamton and come visit-”

“No! Now, you are taking it way too far! I get it, you want nothing to do with Spencer or this marriage. But, seriously? Sacrificing a FULL scholarship to an Ivy League school to go to a SUNY school! You can’t just do that! And, plus, what about me! Did you think about how this will affect me, or did you only think about yourself? I’m not staying with Miss Kutler and her crippling neighbors without you! God, ignoring a forced relationship is one thing, but sacrificing a dream is way too far, even for a person like you. God! I’m starting to think you are losing your goddamn mind! For my sake, or at least yours, stop making rash and hasty decisions,” Nick yells with anger laced in his voice.

He was met with only silence. Elena moved away from her dresser and pulled Nick and herself onto the bed. She looks at Nick directly in the eyes as she confidently speaks.

“Nick, you know there is nothing more I want to do than to stay with you and go to Columbia University, but I can’t risk him finding me here,” his sister says with calamity.

It is times like this in which Nick is most frustrated with Elena’s decisions. She always treats herself as if she is not worth the good that comes into her life. And, when she comes head to head with a problem, she finds a route to escape and never turns back to it again. Nick sighs but speaks his next words with hard emphasis.

“Elena, you had your way when you refused to listen to me and sent Spencer that letter. Now, you seriously have to look at yourself. You’ve wanted to go to Columbia University since you were three years old. Don’t you think sacrificing that dream is a rash decision?”

His older sister takes a few minutes to contemplate what her brother said. It’s true. She has always admired the program offered at the university, making it her dream school. And, it would make her feel more at home knowing she was following in her parents’ footsteps. More importantly, she would still have Nick’s presence everyday. Just the thought shifts her mood towards joy.

“Fine. You win. I was stupid. You’re smart, and I’ll stay here you douche,” Elena laughs and smiles widely.

Nick mirrors her smile.

“Thank God. I was beginning to think your last two brain cells stopped working,” Nick scoffed with humor in his eyes. He was proud of himself for eliciting a true smile on her face for the first time this week.

As Elena playfully rolls her eyes, Ms. Kuttler barges through the front door.

“Hey, kiddos! Guess who decided to come home early just for you,” says their legal guardian.

“Or maybe it was because your little witchy relatives ate the rest of the sanity in your brain,” Nick mutters under his breath.

“Nick, cut it out,” sighs Elena as she slaps him on the shoulder lightly, and gets up and heads to the kitchen.

Their cottage is located right outside the city. It has two floors with two bathrooms, three bedrooms, a large kitchen, a cozy living room, and a tiny dining area. It is not much, but Ms. Kuttler prefers this way of life in which she only lives with what she needs. But, if you were to ask Nick, he would tell you that she lives here because she has an eye out for Walter Young, a sweet old man next door, the only elder that Nick prefers to tolerate in this neighborhood.

As Elena enters the kitchen, she groans as once again, Ms. Kuttler has brought home her sister’s famous broth. To the elder Henry, it smells like sewage water, and tastes like vomit. The elderly woman rubs her face as she sets her eyes on Elena’s typical reaction. She then proceeds to lightly slap her on the arm after putting away the food in the fridge.

“Oh honey, the broth is not that bad. Not only is it made out of fresh ingredients, but also my lil’ sister Hannah poured out the love of her heart making it for you” Ms Kuttler states angelically.

“Oh, how kind of her. She personally took time out of her day to pull some of the poison out of her heart to add into the broth. Should we write her a thank you card for her generosity? Oh, wait. It didn’t really cost her anything because she has an endless supply,” states Nick with disgust as he strolls into the kitchen.

Ms. Kuttler throws a hard glare his way as Elena punches him in the arm after telling him to shut his mouth.

“Nick, you have made it known plenty of times that you despise my family members, and I have never forced either of you to ever visit them after that one time. So, I expect you to refrain from talking negatively about them. Yes, they may have been rude to you, and I have made them all apologize to the both of you. But, at the end of the day, they are my blood and family. So, would it kill you to be a little nicer?” Ms. Kuttler asks, sadly.

“You know me old Kuttler, I don’t change my ways,” admits Nick with a smirk on his face.

“Just like your father,” she heaves.

“Yep, you know it.” He winks. “Anyway, there is no need for you to prepare dinner for us or warm up that foul broth because Elena and I were just about to head out for dinner,” he affirms as Elena sends a questioning look his way.

“Were you really? Because, Elena is in her nightgown. It’s really no trouble. I could prepare some pasta for both of you. It would only take me about thirty minutes” remarks Ms. Kuttler as she senses the lie in Nick’s voice.

“Nah. It’s a casual dinner. And plus, Elena was just about to change when you came. So, we’ll be on our way. Don’t wait on us. We are going to be home late. Enjoy your evening and that lovely broth your sister prepared for you.”

Nick gives her a sly smile as he takes his sister’s hand and drags her back to her room.

“Nick, what are you doing? Where are we going?” Elena probes as she heads to her wardrobe to grab a pair of dark blue jeans and a yellow top along with her jacket.

“Um, were you daydreaming for these past few minutes? We are going to get some food” he echos loud enough for Ms. Kuttler to hear as she walks down the hallway to her room.

Elena curls her lips into a frown. She moves closer to Nick who is leaning against her closed door.

“Where are we actually going?” She whispers.

Nick’s chocolate eyes intensely stare into Elena’s hazel ones.

“To get you some answers.”

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