Chapter 37 – Thirteen’s a charm [D]
Friday, December 2nd, 2016
I’m nervously staring towards Amara and Edward in class, as they are listening to Cory, telling his part of our presentation about Thomason Baywick; clearing his name by using our History project to inform our class about the evidence we found. Mr. Brightwater has been working hard to inform authorities, and to let them check the evidence on credibility.
It’s all checked, it’s all considered credible and they’re now processing it to change history for once and for all.
Along with notes they’ve found in Elizabeth’s and Natasha’s belongings, including the diary that we retrieved back yesterday, they’ve been able to form the true story about the accidents in the woods, for once and for all clearing Thomason Baywick’s name.
I was never good at giving presentations. I’m way too nervous for these things. It’s usually Sid, Annika and Amara who do these things. But since Annika is still recovering at home, and Sid still hasn’t woken up, Cory and I were now the only two left in our group to do this.
And we clearly agreed we both wanted to state the facts out there, and since Mr. Brightwaters worked hard to help us change history, we didn’t want to let him down. We had to do the presentation.
“Natasha’s diary was the first evidence we gathered, in which she not only made it clear she was Baywick’s lost daughter, but also wrote down a testimony that proves Baywick’s innocence.” Cory holds up the diary carefully. “It’s been fact-checked by authorities, along with letters between Elizabeth Baywick and Natasha Miller that were retrieved in her personal belongings. The letters were written shortly before they fell out, and only a year before Elizabeth died.” Cory looks at me. “Remarkably, Natasha lived a long life for that time, reaching the age of 65, after doing numerous of things for the people in both Greenville and Miller Town.”
I take in a deep breath, taking the testimony of Natasha in hand – typed out on paper to not have to use the real, fragile, diary. “Natasha never stopped lobbying for her father’s innocence but was never believed by anyone as Thomason fell out of grace, considering the fact people believed him to be the killer. She wrote numerous of things about it in her diaries.”
Yes, diaries. We recovered four more of these diaries. Natasha kept writing in them until she was too old, sick, and incapable of writing.
“But this is the first entry she wrote, in which she stated his innocence, giving him an alibi for all six accidents.”
I read the entry aloud, while Cory hands copies out for people to go over after our presentation. Let’s say we really want everybody to believe we’re right.
“After Thomason was murdered, along with Jessabelle Conrad, Natasha moved permanently into Miller Town, helping Elizabeth to start the first school in the area, with the help and support from the local church. She was always operating in Elizabeth’s shadow, as Elizabeth was by then married to Anthony Miller, who, along with his father Carl Miller, now owned the land that belonged to Thomason, since Elizabeth inherited half of it. The other half, consisting of Hiker’s trail, the pits and the southern part of town, was inherited by Natasha.
But she gave it to Elizabeth, not wanting to be known for being the bastard child that caused people to hate her father.”
“Anthony and Carl Miller then set up the Mill – as we all know thanks to the presentation given by Amara, Edward and Kim.”
“Elizabeth, in secret, build the tunnel, and wrote about it in a letter to Natasha, so she could always go straight into the woods without encountering people, whenever she wanted.”
We tell more about Natasha’s projects to develop the town of Greenville, like the children’s home she poured her heart and soul into, and how she kept helping to further build Miller Town.
“Since we managed to proof Thomason Baywick to be innocent, and it has always been Natasha’s wish, authorities have agreed to rename Miller Woods soon, during an official re-opening of the Woods for public.” I gesture towards the presentation screen, where an invite becomes visible as Cory clicks on the laptop. “Miller Wood will be once again called Baywick Woods, and it will be opened again for us all to retreat away from society and enjoy nature, just like Thomason intended with the woods.”
“The cabins by the lake will be restored and will be managed by the relatives of Thomason and Natasha…”
“The Hayes family.” I smile sadly at the thought of Sid. But they inherited the cabins, since it all belonged to the family once, and was never rightfully bought from them.
“And we hope to see all of you during the grand re-opening.” Cory finishes the presentation.
We get a loud applause, lead by Mr. Brightwaters, who even stands up to bow for us.
“Well done, gentlemen. Very, very well done.” He smiles warmly and proudly at us. “This is why I love history…”
“I now understand why you do, sir.” I chuckle. “And why Sid always did.”
“It’s exciting, huh?” Mr. Brightwaters winks at us. “Time for questions, and then you’ll all be dismissed for the weekend.”
Kim’s hand shoots up as soon as we look back towards the class.
“Kim?” I already know she’s one of the sceptics, that we came across earlier this week.
“If Natasha wrote all these things about Baywick, providing him of an alibi. Then why wasn’t it discovered sooner? I mean.. you’re teens, and you discover this, after 400 years?”
“There was a hidden compartment in her desk, where the diary was in that held the testimony. Sid found it.”
“But, how did he manage to find it, and not anyone else?”
“400 years ago, it was rare for people to be able to write.” Cory jumps in, sounding a bit annoyed by her. “So people didn’t know about her diaries. When you don’t know it’s there, you won’t look for it, right?”
“Then how did you know to look for it?”
“Because we’re curious teens,” I grumble in annoyance. “We were allowed to go through her stuff since we explained our subject for this project. And Sid just messed with the desk, finding a ledge and opening the compartment.” I shrug. “It was luck.”
It really wasn’t. But we can’t explain how it really happened.
“And once we found the first diary, and soon after the letters, we found the rest too.”
“I have a question…” Jack speaks up in the back of the class. “But it isn’t about Natasha, but… Thomason.”
“Yes?” Mr. Brightwaters encourages him to go on.
“How did you know about the basement? You caused the cops to find Baywick’s body. But how did you know?”
“Natasha wrote about it in one of the diaries. How it was still there, locked, but there.” I shrug. “Again… curiosity, Sid…” I loll my head back and forth.
“You couldn’t read about the missing children in those diaries. So how did you find out their location?”
“Sid did, and since he’s… not capable of explaining…” I mutter awkwardly, and a bit sad.
“That’s enough questions.” Mr. Brightwaters gets up from his seat, “The police will give out an official statement this afternoon. So, if you want to know more about the search, and the re-opening of the woods, you will have to contact them.” Mr. Brightwaters taps my good shoulder, and gestures towards the door. “I’m pretty sure you four will get an A for this project, since you actually changed history. Let’s celebrate the first ever A for this project by dismissing class a couple minutes early.” He winks at us. “I hope to see you all on Sunday, during the opening, and renaming of the woods.”
Saturday, December 3rd, 2016
They found many remains of children, but the identification process is still going on. So far, they have not identified Angie, which means she’s still present. She keeps switching her days, keeping us company one by one, making sure to keep Sid company when we’re in school.
She’s been trying to infiltrate his dreams, since that would be a sign that he’s doing okay, but so far hasn’t succeeded.
She every so often takes Annika and me on a trip, back to the woods, to spend time just sitting around in it.
And she once made us dream about happy times, spend in the company of Sid. But Annika and I both woke up upset. I wasn’t crying – yet – but Annika did. We agreed we don’t want to be reminded of it yet, because we only miss him more, and worry about his state more too.
I miss his stupid jokes, his childish humour, and I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I even miss him and Annika acting all clingy.
Because I know it makes Annika happy, and her being happy, makes me happy too.
And this night, Angie decided on taking us on a trip down memory lane. Not our memories, but hers. She shows us how she spent her summer in one of the cabins, she shows us how they went back in October, the week she spent there, that ended in her death.
And then, she shows us her parents, her older brother, and two younger sisters.
And how she saw them grief over her not coming home, added to the long list of missing children.
She tells us how she visited her family numerous of times to check in on them but stopped doing it once they started to move on.
She wanted them to move on, but it was also painful to watch.
She was never forgotten, and as soon as the letter about the search and recovery of so many remains reached her family, they came over to the police station for DNA.
It’s the first time in years Angie saw her parents, because we got a warning they responded, and Angie went over to see them.
They told the cops they want contact with us, since we made this happen, and I’ll meet them on Sunday, where they will be present during the re-opening of the woods.
They won’t re-open the woods entirely just yet. But they prepared parts of it, using gates to shield of the bigger parts of the woods, placing camera’s the always be able to check and provide safety.
The road towards the lake will be accessible during the day, and for now, that’s it. But they wanted to offer families a possibility to head over there to place flowers if they wanted. The woods will be closed during the dark, and they will survey the woods with guards for a while.
All for the safety of people.
And if everything goes well, they will open up more parts of the woods. They are planning on rebuilding the cabins by the lake, and they are turning Hunter’s Lodge into a memorial monument. By the time it’s ready, it will also be accessible for public during the day.
I’m not sure if I would ever start to feel comfortable to head over to Hunter’s Lodge, but since they will take the new Lodge down and place a memorial statue over the basement, I guess it won’t be the same.
But it will be the place where Baywick and Jessabelle will be buried; as Natasha said they would’ve wanted to, in the woods, surrounded by nature.
Thomason was never a fan of big crowds, so I can’t imagine him being buried on a cemetery full of others.
And as I am accompanied by Annika and Angie during a dream, spending time watching over the lake, the whole world suddenly shifts, and I wake up with an annoyed groan.
“Mom!” Annika whines as she pushes herself up. “We were playing two truths and a lie with Angie!”
Mom chuckles and smiles, tapping on the light, causing me to pull the pillow over my head. “I’m still not sure if it’s normal for a brother and sister your age to sleep in the same room voluntarily…” She smirks, and Annika and I share a look before we shrug both.
“Why did you wake us up?” I whine, pushing myself up, wanting to turn the lights off again.
“Sid just woke up.”
It causes both of us to shoot up right, instantly both whimpering in pain, Annika because of her neck, me because of my shoulder. “He’s awake?”
“the fool woke up after… thirteen days in coma.” Mom rolls her eyes at the coincidental fact Sid was in a coma for thirteen full days. “And it also happens to be his birthday… as if he knew.” She smiles. “His mother called and asked us to come over. He refuses to go to sleep, wanting to see you two.”
“Then why are we still here?” Annika exclaims in shock, already dressed in one of Sid’s way too big sweatpants and a sweater of her own.
I dress up quickly too and follow Annika downstairs excitedly.
Sid woke up!
“Angie?” I call, turning to not find Angie behind me. “Where did she go?”
“She disappeared as soon as she heard he was awake.” Annika giggles. “I guess she missed him too.”
“I’m going to kill him if he ever even dares to think about getting hurt again.”
“I’ll help.” Annika agrees with a nod. “I’m gonna protect him like he’s my baby.”
“Now, you two… calm down, because Sid still needs to rest and all the energy you two have right now isn’t going to make him sleep.” Mom gestures for us to calm down a bit. “Now, let’s go.”
We follow her outside, finding dad already in the running car, and sit in the back seat in silence. I guess we both don’t know what to say, but I can feel Annika’s relief, feeling it myself too, but knowing she was blaming this on herself.
Sid saved her, and it almost cost him his own life to do so. He poured his energy into her with that kiss.
But I guess there has been some energy left in him, enough to recover. Even though he took thirteen days to recover far enough to wake up.
“Oh, no!” Annika suddenly calls out. “I don’t have a birthday present for him!”
“We’ll get him a present tomorrow.” Mom looks back with a smile. “I’m sure he’ll understand you didn’t think about getting him a present, seeing all that happened.”
“He needs to know the woods will re-open, and that they found the children, and Baywick and Jessabelle…” I start to sum up, being cut of by mom, sending me a warning look.
“And we will tell him in time, but let’s keep subjects light, for now. Tell him you’re both fine, and how you’ll be there for him every step along the way of his recovery. We agreed with his parents that it might be too big of a shock for him to hear two people gave their lives for him right now.”
“He’s still weak, and we don’t want him to feel guilty or shitty, because his discoveries caused a lot to change. He should be as proud of himself as we all are proud of all of you.”
We nod, both understanding why we can’t tell Sid everything right now, and sit in silence for the rest of the ride.
We follow mom and dad through the empty and silent halls of the hospital, towards his room. It’s the only room with a light on, even though it’s only a nightlight.
Sid is in the bed, still surrounded by machines, but wide awake, and his head slightly elevated.
He’s smirking because of Angie, who keeps pretending to kiss him over and over again.
“Hey!” Annika whisper-screams at her. “That’s my man, excuse me.” She waves Angie off, and leans over towards Sid, who instantly turned to her, staring at her with eyes full of love. “hi there, handsome.”
“Well, hello there, cutie,” he hums happily, allowing her to kiss him – maybe a bit too long, but I get it.
“Hey, dipshit.” I greet him with a smirk, causing him to laugh. “How are you feeling?”
“As if I’m re-born.” He nudges me gently as I lean over to hug him in a brotherly way. “Get it… reborn, since it’s my birthday…”
And then, the three of us fall into a fit of laughter.
“Damn, I missed your stupid humour.”