The Memory of Simon Battle

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Chapter 3

When Cassidy woke up the next morning, she briefly believed she was back at home. She could smell food cooking, and she instantly got the picture of her mother making breakfast at home. Usually Cassidy just ate cereal or shoved some waffles into the toaster, but occasionally she would walk downstairs to find scrambled eggs or pancakes. She’d always loved those mornings.

She rolled over and opened her eyes. Very briefly, she was confused, but then everything came back to her in a rush and she remembered where she was. She glanced at the clock to see that it was nearing 8:00, a little earlier than she had planned on getting up. The smell of breakfast, however, quickly helped her make up her mind and she threw back the covers. She grabbed a sweater from her backpack and was in the process of zipping it up when she walked out into the living room.

She quickly glanced at the couch where Steven had slept. He’d neatly folded the blanket and put the cushions back in order, which Cassidy found slightly amusing. When she turned the corner she expected to see him in the kitchen, but instead all she saw was a plate of scrambled eggs sitting on the table. Curious, she walked up to the table and noticed that tucked underneath the plate there was a folded piece of paper. She picked it up. Her name was written across the front, as if it could have been addressed to anyone else. Cassidy stared at it for a moment before opening it up.

I hope you find this before the food gets cold. I thought I’d make you breakfast, to show you how grateful I am that you let me stay the night. I’ve gone to town. While there I’m planning on getting some more food to stock up the cottage a bit. I’ll be back around dinnertime.

I know that you might change your mind about letting me stay, so by all means, if when I come back this evening you’ve decided that you’d rather not have me around, I’ll leave without giving you any trouble.

Once again, thank you.

- S

Cassidy read over the note a few times before putting it back down on the table. Her stomach growling drew her attention back to the food, so she sat down and pulled the plate of eggs towards her. They were still warm, so she gladly dug in. While she ate, she wondered how long ago Steven had left. She hadn’t heard him moving around that morning, but she did tend to be a heavy sleeper so that wasn’t unusual.

When Cassidy was finished eating, she went to the sink to wash the dishes by hand. There was no dishwasher in the cottage; her grandfather had never wanted one. She knew she would have to get used to doing the dishes herself. She poured and quickly drank a glass of milk before washing it too, all the while wondering if Steven was going to think of getting some juice. Then she grabbed an apple from the fridge and walked back to the living room to stare out the window.

She watched the water sparkle as it reflected the sunlight and the seagulls as they flew around the cliffs. Just as she finished her apple, a little sailboat went by in the distance, probably to go fishing. Cassidy decided that she would spend the day outside, exploring the area around the cottage. She wanted to walk down to the beach. Mostly, she wanted to go up the cliffs, where she knew her grandparents were buried.

She went back to the kitchen and made herself a very simple picnic lunch by cutting up some slices of bread, vegetables and cheese. She also set the kettle boiling so that she could fill her water bottle.

Back in her grandfather’s bedroom, Cassidy changed into a pair of jeans and a light blue t-shirt. It looked much warmer than it had been the day before, but she still decided to take her sweater in case the wind chilled her. She dumped the rest of her clothes onto the bed so that she could only take what she needed. She shoved her sweater back into her backpack, as well as her camera and notebook. Returning to the kitchen, she removed the kettle from the stove and put it back in the sink to surround it with cold water. While waiting for it to cool, she packed her lunch in the few plastic containers she had brought with her. Then she filled up her water bottle, put it away, and slung her backpack over her shoulders.

Habit made her lock the door as she left, even though she remembered her grandfather once telling her that he never bothered to lock it except when he was leaving the island. She was a little worried about Steven coming back and being locked out, but then she remembered that she had found him inside the cottage in the first place. If he could find his way in once, surely he could do it again.

She started walking down the terraced hill. Where the terracing ended, a gentle, grassy slope led down to the water, where it gradually turned into sand. As she stepped out onto the beach, Cassidy pulled her camera from her pocket. There was a lot she wanted to take pictures of. As she wandered along, she took pictures of shells, rocks and the waves. She took a few good pictures of seagulls. Further along the beach, she came across an old set of lobster traps. One had nearly entirely fallen apart; the other was still barely standing. She took pictures of them, as well.

After taking her fill of pictures for the time being, Cassidy sat down on a group of large flat rocks which were filled with little tide pools. In the tide pool near her she could see colourful little plants, and a tiny fish circling around. Instead of taking a picture, Cassidy pulled out her notebook and did a sketch of the whole tide pool. It had been a long time since she had last done a real sketch; most of what she drew in university was mindless doodles at the side of her notes. Since she had her notebook out, Cassidy also wrote some jot-notes about the beach. It would make a wonderful setting for her book, if she ever came up with an idea.

As she wrote, the wind picked up slightly. Cassidy pulled on her sweater and decided that it was time to move on. As she was standing up, she noticed a piece of blue glass which had been smoothened by the sea. She picked it up and turned it over in her hand, slightly surprised at how beautiful a piece of garbage could be. She tucked it into her pocket as she hoisted her backpack.

When she reached the place where the beach suddenly soared into cliffs, Cassidy had to search for a moment before she noticed the zigzaging trail which was nearly entirely covered by long grass. Upon reaching the top, she found herself looking down onto the beach, so she once again pulled out her camera to take some pictures. The viewpoint also gave her a better opportunity to take pictures of some of the little sailboats she could see out on the water. As she turned and walked along the cliff’s edge, Cassidy let herself get lost in the sounds of the waves crashing against the rocks and the seagulls’ sharp cries. Despite her distance from the water, the sounds seemed almost louder than they had on the beach.

Cassidy was still following the worn little trail through the tall grasses. Every once in a while she would startle herself by kicking a stone and having it clatter against another. The path was covered in them. It was heading towards the highest point of the cliffs, where Cassidy could see two stones standing side by side. As she got closer, it became clearer that they were tombstones.

The tombstones sat at the top of the cliffs, where they could look over both the sea and the cottage. When she reached them, Cassidy spun around slowly, taking in the view. The sparkling water, the gently rolling hills, the little cottage in the distance. Then she turned her attention to the tombstones. Cassidy pulled out her camera to take close up pictures of both of them and get the epitaphs. The stones were almost identical in size and shape, although one had been worn down over the past eighteen years. The older stone was also coated in greyish-blue lichen.

The stone was her grandmother’s. The name Cassandra Acres was still fairly legible, along with the dates, so Cassidy knelt in front of it to take the pictures. Then she moved over slightly to look at the second stone. The words were still sharp, and crisp, and it was very easy to read George Acres. Cassidy took pictures of it as well. She was glad the villagers had buried her grandfather next to his wife’s grave, despite the extra work it must have been.

Cassidy sat down near the tombstones and rummaged in her backpack for her lunch. She opened up the plastic containers and placed them on the ground in front of her. After having a quick drink from her water bottle, Cassidy began to eat. She also began to talk. She knew that it might have been a strange thing to do, but it felt right to talk to the tombstones as if her grandparents were really there with her. She had the feeling her grandfather had often walked up the hill to talk to his wife. With that in mind, Cassidy started talking about things that had happened in her life recently. As she talked, she realized she was getting more comfortable with the idea and more relaxed. She ended her story by explaining how she wanted to write a book and was hoping that the island would give her some inspiration.

Just as she had finished explaining her ideas, a seagull landed near her and took a few cautious steps forward. Cassidy ripped off a piece of bread and tossed it near the bird’s feet. The seagull snapped it up instantly, and looked at her expectantly. Cassidy laughed and tossed him another piece. She was done eating by then and had finished most of her food. She put away the leftovers, but tore up the rest of her bread and spread it over the ground for the seagull to eat. A few more had started circling, so she knew they would be down soon to join in the feast.

Cassidy got to her feet and put on her backpack. Before leaving, she gently ran a hand along the tops of both tombstones and promised to visit again soon. She decided then that instead of walking back to the cottage the way she had come, she would continue along the cliff side and come up to the cottage from behind. She could see the trail she had been following earlier continuing, so she started to follow it.

The path gradually led her away from the cliff and down into the hills. Cassidy walked slowly, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the sounds of wildlife. The talk with her grandparents had put her into a very tranquil state, and she wanted to cling to it as long as possible. Occasionally she heard rustling in the grass which was probably a rabbit or groundhog. Once she got closer to the trees little birds flew overhead, chirping to each other.

Eventually, the path lead her back to the cottage, although she came at it from behind. She pulled out the key as she walked around the cottage to the front, but stopped before unlocking the door. Instead, she made her way across the porch to carefully sit down in one of the old rocking chairs. She pulled her notebook from her backpack and started to write more about the scenery she had explored. She especially made sure to describe the two tombstones in detail, even drawing little sketches of them at the bottom of the page. She didn’t notice how quickly the time was passing. When she finally did look up long enough to pay attention, she realized that the sun was just beginning to set.

Grabbing her things, she got up and went to unlock the front door. She walked into the cottage and put her leftover food into the fridge before going to the living room and dropping her backpack on the couch. She wasn’t hungry yet, so she went to her grandfather’s bedroom to get the book she had started reading before. Cassidy settled herself onto the couch to read for awhile, where she could keep an eye on the beautiful sunset.

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