The Memory of Simon Battle

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Chapter 6

The creaking of footsteps above her pulled Cassidy’s attention from the journal. She glanced at her watch and realized that hours had passed by. She’d been so engrossed in her grandfather’s life that she had read almost an entire year’s worth of entries, and was nearing the day she was born. She picked up an old envelope from one of her piles and carefully placed it in the book. Then she collected everything she liked – the old photos, the handwritten letters and the newspaper clippings – grabbed her notebook and camera, and walked back upstairs.

As she’d expected, Steven was in the kitchen. He was starting to pull things out of the fridge, but Cassidy stopped him. “Hey, I’m making soup, remember?” She dropped her pile onto the table and walked over to him.

“Right, sorry…” Steven was holding a bundle of celery, and he didn’t put it back. “Can I make a salad?”

Cassidy sighed, and couldn’t help but smile. “Sure.” She pushed the refrigerator door open a little wider so that she could see past Steven and into the fridge. He moved out of her way as she reached in to start picking up the things she needed.

They fell into a comfortable silence as they each made their respective part of the meal, easily avoiding getting into each other’s way as if they’d been doing it for years. Steven finished first, tossing the last of his chopped vegetables into the salad bowl while Cassidy was still waiting for the tomato soup to heat up. She had a bowl of cut up vegetables beside her, as well as an assortment of herbs.

Steven stuck the salad bowl into the fridge and set the table. He started washing the cutting board and knife, and by the time he was done that the soup was nearly finished. Cassidy was stirring it lazily, not really paying attention to it. Her eyes were on Steven.

He noticed her gaze and looked up to meet it. “What?”

“I’m just wondering why you’re here,” Cassidy explained. “You told me that my grandfather said that you could always come to the cottage if you needed to get out of the village. So why did you need to get out?”

He shrugged. “Family problems. I was caught up in the middle of it and didn’t want to be. When things calm down I’ll go back.”

He clearly wasn’t going to go on, and Cassidy didn’t want to press him. “Soup’s done,” she announced instead.


After dinner, Cassidy sat on the couch, watching Steven over by the fireplace. He’d rearranged the old, charred pieces of wood, and added in some new ones. The fire was just starting to catch, the little sticks and pieces of paper were already up in flames. Those little flames licked at the sides of the larger chunks of wood, and while Cassidy watched the edges turned black and finally caught.

Steven dusted his hands off on his pants and backed up, sitting beside Cassidy on the couch. For a moment nothing happened, the crackling and popping from the fire were the only sounds in the cottage. Then, without really knowing why she did it, Cassidy reached out and took Steven’s hand. If he was surprised he didn’t show it, and his fingers tightened around hers.

Cassidy suddenly remembered the journal. “Oh, guess what I found today?” She pulled away from him in her excitement and climbed off of the couch. She went to the kitchen, returning a moment later with the battered journal in her hand. “Look, it’s my grandfather’s journal.”

“Any good stories in it?” Steven asked.

“Not yet. It’s mostly been just normal, everyday stuff. But I was about to reach the day I was born.” Cassidy sat back down on the couch, tucking her legs underneath her. Steven surprised her then by draping one of his arms on the back of the couch. It wasn’t quite like if he had put it over her shoulders, but it was as close as he could get without touching her.

“Do you want me to read it out loud?” Cassidy asked, pretending she hadn’t noticed his movement.

“Sure.”

Cassidy adjusted herself, getting comfortable and purposefully moving a bit so that her knee touched Steven’s thigh. She opened the book, putting aside the envelope she’d used as a bookmark, and began to read.

April 21st

Cassandra and I took a stroll along the beach today. She is very nervous about Elizabeth’s pregnancy and needed a distraction. Feeding the seagulls is always relaxing. Cassandra is convinced that Lizzie’s baby will be a girl, and I certainly hope so.

The baby is due any day now. Part of me regrets that we live in such a remote location. For all we know, the baby might be born already and we simply haven’t heard the news.

April 24th

It’s a girl! We received the news today. She apparently takes after me, dark hair and eyes. She’s very healthy (eight pounds), and apparently very loud! Lizzie and Tim named her Cassidy Margaret Acres, after Cassandra and Tim’s mother. Cassandra has been crying happily since we heard, and I’ve felt a few tears come to my eyes, as well. We’re already planning a trip in a few weeks to meet her. If there was ever a good reason to leave the island, this is the one!

April 25th

News always seems to come in pairs, good and bad woven together.

I walked into town today to visit the bakery, when I was hit with the terrible news. Simon Battle has been killed. The poor boy was found in a back alley by Frederick Greenwood while he was going to the port to open his shop. No concrete information has been released, the police are looking into his death, but rumour has it that he was stabbed in some sort of robbery or bar fight. I knew Simon well, and I don’t believe that he was the type to get caught up in a bar fight. I certainly hope the police will uncovered the truth soon.

It is strange. I’ve had a few friends die over the past years; it is an unfortunate side effect to age. But Simon was only twenty-five years old, still a child, really, and he always seemed so youthful and full of energy. In fact he often made me feel younger. He was always interested in my stories and had a few of his own to share. I will miss him dearly.

Cassidy stopped reading. “Wow, a murder? That would make a great story.” She glanced up at Steven. Somehow during the reading she had managed to move herself closer to him, and was more or less leaning against his side. “Have you ever heard of…” she paused to glanced down at the journal, “Simon Battle?”

Steven looked pensive for a moment, and then he nodded. “The name sounds vaguely familiar.”

“Did the police ever figure it out?”

“I don’t remember.”

Cassidy looked back down at the journal. “It’s so sad. I mean, interesting, but sad. My grandfather had already mentioned him a few times in the journal. They liked to go out for coffee together and take walks along the shore.”

“Does George write about him again?” Steven asked.

Cassidy skimmed the next entry, and flipped through the next couple of pages. “Yeah, here it is. The day before he and my grandma came to visit me for the first time…”

May 15st

Cassandra and I went to Simon’s funeral today. It was a very solemn affair – funerals always are in such a small village. Everyone knew him in some capacity, so almost the entire village was there.

His father said a few words and I bristled. They did not get along, and I suspect it was another argument between them that led to Simon being out late the night he was killed. One of Simon’s old teachers spoke, as well as a few of his friends. I would have liked to say something, but I didn’t know what to say. Simon was almost like a son to me, and I’d like to think that he saw me as a sort of father figure. But how to put that into words?

Simon was buried at noon. I’ll make sure to visit his grave whenever I’m in town. I’m sure he’d appreciate the company. Maybe I’ll tell him some more stories.

Cassidy stopped reading at the end of the entry. She could feel tears pricking at her eyes. The story was so sad, but she wanted to know more. She could write about Simon Battle, ideas swirled in her mind.

“Why don’t you read the next entry,” Steven commented quietly, after a moment of silence had passed. Cassidy was a little relieved to hear a slight waver in his voice which meant the story had gotten to him, as well. “When George and Cassandra visited you? That’ll be happier.”

Cassidy nodded and looked back down at the page.

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