Cassidy set her phone’s alarm to ring the next day to ensure she’d wake up while Steven was still in the house. He’d dozed off the night before while she had been reading, and she’d left him on the couch. After making sure the fire was properly out, she’d retired to her grandfather’s room, where she wrote everything she knew about Simon Battle down in her notebook. The journal hadn’t contained many facts, but Cassidy felt she had a good idea of what kind of person Simon had been.
Something Steven had said earlier had given her an idea, and the night before Cassidy decided that she wanted to go to town and visit the library. They would have old newspapers there and would certainly have more information about Simon’s murder. She also decided that she would walk into town with Steven, even though he insisted on leaving so early in the morning.
When her alarm went off, she got up and got dressed quickly. She packed her backpack with everything she needed and went to the kitchen. As she suspected, Steven was already there. He glanced over when she appeared.
“What are you doing up so early?”
“I’m going to the library,” Cassidy replied. “And I wanted to walk into town with you.”
“Oh, sure,” Steven said. “I was just finishing breakfast, anyway.”
“I know,” Cassidy said with a smile. The smell of bacon had wafted throughout the entire cottage. Sitting on the table were two plates, each holding scrambled eggs, some bacon, and a piece of toast. Cassidy dropped her bag by the door and sat down in front of one of the plates. “So you like to cook?”
“How can you tell?” Steven asked. He placed a glass of orange juice in front of her before sitting down at the table. “I guess I do. At least, I find it fairly easy and it’s a good way to repay you for letting me stay.”
“I appreciate it,” Cassidy said. She dug into her breakfast, and the two of them ate in silence. When they were both done eating, Cassidy gathered the dishes and put them into the sink. At the same time, Steven got to his feet and pulled on his coat. Cassidy glanced at the dishes, then back at Steven. “I’ll do them later,” she decided. She grabbed her own coat and slung her backpack over her shoulders. “Ready?”
Steven nodded and gestured towards the door. “Ladies first.”
Cassidy smiled as she walked past him and pushed open the door. Once he was outside, Steven stepped aside so she could lock the door behind them. She slipped the key into her pocket and they started down the path. For a while they walked quietly, listening to the waves crash against the cliffs and the seagulls call overhead.
It was Steven who finally broke the silence, as they entered the town. “So what are you looking for in the library? Anything in particular?”
Cassidy nodded. “I’m going to see if there are any old newspapers with articles about Simon Battle. I think I’ll write about him. Or base something on his story. It’ll be a great start.”
Steven didn’t look convinced. “Are you sure you want to write about death? Seems a little morbid.”
Cassidy shrugged. “I guess, but it’s interesting. And a ready-made plot. Sort of. Anyway, I’m going to get out a couple books, too, so I have something to read. Could we meet up for lunch?”
“I’ll be busy,” Steven said. “But-“
“You’ll be back for dinner?”
“Exactly,” he smiled slightly.
“What exactly are you doing in town all day, anyway?”
“My job.” Steven didn’t elaborate; seemingly distracted by a building they had just walked by. “If you’re still in town at lunch, try this place out,” he said, nodding towards the building.
Cassidy eyed the building. It had a very welcoming atmosphere, as did most places in the town. There was a patio surrounded by a little iron fence, each table had a little vase of flowers. The wooden sign hanging up looked old, but well cared for. “The Battleground,” Cassidy read. “That’s an interesting name.”
“It’s got good food,” Steven said. “Well, here’s the library. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Ok,” Cassidy said. She hesitated before walking through the big double doors and watched Steven walk down the street. Only when he was out of sight did she push open the doors and walk in.
The library was bigger than she thought it would be. It smelled like books and she instantly loved it. The woman sitting at the desk welcomed her with a smile, which Cassidy returned before losing herself in the aisles. She decided to look for some novels first, since they would be easy to find. Sure enough, not long afterwards Cassidy had picked out a few books she wanted to borrow. Since it was early, and she had no reason to get back to the cottage, Cassidy sat in one of the big armchairs and read.
The library got busier as time passed. By the time Cassidy got tired of reading, about two hours after she’d sat down, there were many more people there. Nearby, in the children’s section, she could see some kids with their parents. A baby was sleeping in a stroller while his mother looked through big picture books. A few teenagers were sitting at a desk looking over giant history books. Older men and women were browsing the shelves leisurely or sitting in the armchairs like Cassidy was.
Finally, she decided to get to work. Carrying her books in one arm, she walked up to the front desk. “Excuse me, I was wondering if you had any old newspapers?”
“Of course, in the archive room,” the woman replied. “Why do you ask?”
“I heard about a death that happened, around twenty years ago,” Cassidy explained. “I was hoping to learn more about it. I’m trying to write a story about it.”
The woman smiled brightly. “It’s lovely to hear about young people being interested in the past. Come, come,” she got to her feet and briskly led Cassidy to another section of the library. “Here they are. Feel free to look around, but make sure you put anything back in the right place. More recent papers are on the computer, but for twenty years ago you’ll need the originals. You can use the photocopier if there’s anything you’d like to take with you.”
“Thank you!” Cassidy replied. The room had so much promise; she was excited to get started. When the librarian left, Cassidy put her backpack and books down on the little desk next to the computer and pulled out her notebook.
Among all the boxes, she finally found one labelled the right year and month. Settling on the floor, she started to flip through the papers until she got close. When she found the paper for April 25th, she pulled it out. It didn’t mention Simon Battle anywhere, but she stopped when she saw her grandfather’s name. She grinned when she read what the tiny box said.
George and Cassandra Acres
announce the birth of their granddaughter
Cassidy Margaret Acres
Cassidy put the paper aside so that she could photocopy the little announcement. The paper for the 26th was more promising. Simon’s name was right on the front page. She quickly found the article.
DEATH SHOCKS COMMUNITY: SIMON BATTLE
Early yesterday morning, the body of Simon Battle was found in an alley near the port. Cause of death is as of yet unknown, but police are looking for any evidence. First impressions imply a mugging or bar fight gone wrong. If you know anything that may help, call the police.
Simon Battle was well known as a kind young man. Friends and family say it is unlikely that Battle provoked a fight that may have caused his death.
We will be following this story over the next few days and reporting on any developments in the case.
The article was short and didn’t tell Cassidy anything she didn’t already know. She flipped through a couple more papers until she saw his name again.
IN MEMORIAM: SIMON BATTLE
The case of the death of Simon Battle has gone cold. With no new leads, the police have decided to put the case aside unless something new is discovered.
Simon Battle was young, only twenty-five, and yet many of us knew him well. He graduated highschool at the top of his class. It was commonly believed that he would leave the island in search of a more exciting future, but instead he remained. He was a common sight around town.
“He was always such a smart boy,” Battle’s father told reporters. “We were surprised when he decided to stay here with us. In a few years he would probably have left for the mainland, but he was content to stay where he was for the time being.”
Battle’s funeral will be held on May 15th. All are welcome. There will be a dinner service afterwards at the family’s restaurant, The Battleground, to remember and celebrate Battle’s life.
There still wasn’t much information to work off of, but Cassidy decided to photocopy the article anyway. At the end of the article there seemed to be a picture of Simon. Cassidy unfolded the paper to get a better look and dropped it in shock.
Simon Battle looked exactly like Steven.
Cassidy paced the porch of the cottage, clutching a pile of photocopies in her hand. It was dark, Steven would be getting back soon. She didn’t know what she was going to say to him. She didn’t know what to think. After the initial shock, she’d tried to figure out why they looked so similar. Maybe Simon was Steven’s uncle – but then why wouldn’t he say anything? Every possible reason she came up with, she instantly pushed aside.
Cassidy stopped pacing. Steven was walking up the hill, smiling. “Were you waiting for me?”
Instead of answering, Cassidy marched down the hill to meet him. She held up the picture of Simon Battle. “Explain this.” She demanded, sounding angrier than she intended. She was just so confused.
Steven said nothing for a long moment. Cassidy lowered her hand, crossed her arms, and made it quite clear that neither of them were moving until he talked.
Finally he sighed. “Cassidy… I am Simon Battle.”