The hands on the clock had already passed each other, deciding that it was in everyone’s best interest to announce it was finally 5:00. The sound of a House Wren sang from the clock and everyone in the office began packing up their things to go home to their families. Well, everyone except Harvey and I.
“How’s the writing, Dickinson?” Harvey smirked from his cubicle across the office and wheeled his chair across the dark green carpet towards me. “Or should I call you Plath...” he paused, leaning on the corner of my cluttered desk and accidentally crumpling a copy of today’s Briar Creek Harold with his elbow. “Frost?” He placed a quick kiss on my forehead.
“Not too great,” I frowned at the words in front of me, turning the computer screen towards my friend.
Harvey pulled his thin framed glasses out of his front pocket and squinted at my mediocre work on the screen. If anyone could help me out, it would be him. He put his hand lightly on my shoulder as his brows furrowed in concentration. He scratched the hint of stubble attempting to grow on his chin and cocked his head.
“Maeve, it’s beautiful. You should keep this one.”
“You think so? I just wonder if it’s too-”
“You say that every time. It’s always too something. I think it’s too great and I won’t listen to your arguments on this one,” he squeezed my shoulder and rolled back to his desk with a wink.
Even after eight years of always having to say the same things, Harvey never failed to support my poetry and offer his help. It was never my dream to work at The Briar Creek Harold, but it was his. This job was perfect for him. He always said he wanted to tell stories and write about all of the perspectives he could. He loves this work and obsesses over finding answers for the community in all of his articles. I, on the other hand, just needed the money and he’s the one that got me this job after all. I was skeptical at first because living together and working together didn’t seem ideal in my mind. I didn’t want to grow tired of each other, but somehow we never do. Seeing his stupid face every day is what I wake up for.
“Are you both staying late again?” Our boss called from his front office.
“Of course,” Harvey and I both responded in sync from behind our computers. We almost never got home until dark.
“You know we don’t pay you overtime to do this, right?” He laughed and turned out his lights, leaving Harvey and I under the dim, flickering bulbs above us.
“You’ll never believe what I found today,” Harvey looked at me with his excited, but tired, green eyes. I raised my eyebrows. “I think there’s something weird going on with these disappearances around town, Maeve.”
“Disappearances? You mean that older couple? That was years ago. You’re not even on that article!”
“Sh! I’ve just been doing some personal research. I think they’re more than just disappearances. I’ve linked it to some mysterious deaths too- and whoever is doing it isn’t just keeping it in Briar Creek. There’s the disappearance of the couple here, but I’ve been looking at other newspapers nearby and it looks like there are similar circumstances in neighboring towns.”
“That’s odd,” I remarked, tucking a strand of my light brown hair behind my ear. “How do you know they’re not just coincidences?”
“There’s something so similar about them.”
He was always so intense with his work- going the extra mile and always putting the puzzle of the story together. Sometimes it wasn’t even the one he got assigned. Harvey reached for the Marlboro box sitting beside his keyboard and pulled out a cigarette.
“Really, Davis? I thought you quit two days ago,” I rolled my eyes.
“What? The place already reeks of it. It won’t hurt anybody!” He smiled, pulling a lighter out of his baby blue shirt pocket and touching the flame to the end of his cigarette.
“Two weeks ago, a couple disappeared together from their home. Sure, it was mysterious, but so far, no one had been able to find any evidence of foul play.” Harvey reached into the file cabinet next to his desk and revealed two manila folders stuffed with various papers. “There were two deaths in Aderhold Falls: one three years ago and another three years before that. There’s something going on. I think they’re connected and there’s something else going on,” he took a drag from his cigarette and looked at me for a reaction.
“What makes you think that?”
“Well, the first death was of a perfectly healthy girl around our age. There was nothing wrong with her and the coroner didn’t even give a cause of death. The second was a man in his forties who had heart problems before, but still, no cause of death. No heart attack. Nothing. And that’s not even the weirdest thing... when I spoke to the people who found them, they said the homes were disturbed- chairs knocked over, some broken glass- but there’s no mention of it in the police reports at all.”
“So, it’s like someone’s trying to cover something up,” I remarked.
“Exactly,” Harvey leaned back in his chair, a proud look spread across his face, and took another drag of his cigarette, blowing the smoke too close to my face.
“Jeez, Harvey,” I coughed, “You gotta quit that.”
“You know you say that at least twice a day? I don’t smoke in the house and I’ve gotten it down to only two a day now. I’ve tried way to many times to quit cold turkey. I’m accepting failure now,” he leaned in and gave me a peck on the cheek, the cigarette smell invading my nose. I would never tell him this, but I secretly love that smell. It reminds me of him.
“Well?” he inquired, looking between my eyes and the papers scattered recklessly on his desk. “What do you think?” I scrunched my eyebrows together and brought my thumbnail to my lips. He could very well be onto something, but if he is, this could be dangerous.
“Well... Number one, like I said I don’t know much, but I think you might be onto something here,” I paused, gently taking the cigarette from between his pale fingers and crumbling it into the ashtray on his desk, “and number two, I think we need to go to our thinking place.”
“To the thinking place we go,” Harvey stated, pulling on his jacket.
My mind drifted back to our first time there again. The first time he picked me up at my house. The first time I heard him sing. The first time I felt something for him that wasn’t just an appreciation for his friendship and good literary taste. That long drive to somewhere that’s so special to us now.
- - - - - - -
Harvey continued to sing along as we drove and I began to get impatient to know where he was taking me.
“So are you going to give me at least a hint?” I pressed.
“Not one,” Harvey smiled at me before shifting his focus back to the road. His hands firmly grasped the steering wheel as he made a turn onto a dusty back road.
“How do I know you’re not going to take me to the middle of the woods and kill me?”
“I guess you’ll just have to trust me,” he smirked.
We drove in comfortable silence for a few miles, music playing lightly in the background as Harvey bopped his head along and threw in the occasional hum. With a final turn of the steering wheel a field of wildflowers came into view.
“Well, this is it,” Harvey parked the car on the side of the road as my eyes took in the scene. His thumb brushed against my arm, making my heart leap. “What do you think?”
“I love it,” I remarked.
It was breathtakingly beautiful. As we made our way into the field, the sun was lowering to kiss the colorful earth underneath it and crickets were just started to murmur in the trees nearby. Harvey pulled a blanket from under his arm and laid it on a patch of dirt in the middle of the flowers, gesturing for me to sit down.
“Milady,” he said as I carefully lowered myself onto the ground. He sat next to me and looked at me expectantly.
“What?” I questioned with a smile.
“You know I don’t bring many people here, right? And by many, I mean I have never brought anyone else here. It’s kind of my special writing spot.”
“Harvey Davis, are you trying to tell me I’m special?”
“I shouldn’t have to tell you that,” he stated matter of factly. My breath hitched in my chest.
What did that mean? I had never had a boy tell me that I was special in any fashion before. I was just an insecure, lonely high school girl and that was about it. I didn’t know how to respond to him so I nervously changed the subject and we ended up getting into a jovial argument about who was the best classic sci-fi writer- it was definitely Ray Bradbury, but we agreed to disagree. Harvey started making stupid jokes like usual and we laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. Harvey leaned back on his elbow, laughter still spilling from his lips, and ran a hand through his hair. The sun dropped closer to the field, the golden glow dancing around in Harvey’s green eyes. The way he looked at me made me want to melt into the ground. A tense silence found itself between the two of us and I found him taking me in with his sun dance eyes. I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. I was captured. I felt like now was the time to ask him why he brought me here, but before I could even think of the words I wanted to say, he interrupted me.
“Dance with me,” Harvey commanded. He stood up, offering a hand to me before pulling out his phone and ear buds.
“You know I’m no good at dancing,” I softly protested, but timidly put one of the headphones in my ear.
Harvey pulled me closer to his body, the familiar smell of vanilla and cigarettes enveloping me. He was just close enough that I could feel the warmth from his chest but we weren’t touching. His hands cautiously touched my waist and I audibly let out a quiet gasp. No one had ever touched me like this and I simply hadn’t allowed myself to think of Harvey touching me this way.
“Is this okay?” he asked quietly, his breath fanning over my face. I nodded nervously. I laced my fingers behind his neck and looked up at him. Looking into his eyes made the scary feeling in my stomach go away. His curls sloppily fell to one side and his pink lips curled into the smallest smile as we began to sway back and forth to the tune playing through his headphones. I placed my head on his chest, moving with him and listening to the music as the sun completely disappeared into the field.
Harvey began to softly hum along to the music. In this moment I felt so deeply connected to him. Something about the sultry vibrations of the melody meeting my ears was so welcoming. My cheek rested against the black silk fabric on his shirt as I let myself melt into him and the music.
That body don’t wanna hold it it no
You’ll loosen your dress, you’ll pull at my neck and we’ll
Break what can’t be broken.
I repeated the last lyrics in my head and began to panic again. Break what can’t be broken. I could feel my heart beating in my throat. I couldn’t risk losing Harvey. I pulled away to look at him again and realized his face was only inches from mine. We shouldn’t do this. I wanted to do this. Heat rose from my feet into my chest as he pressed his forehead to mine and my thoughts silenced for once in my life. Time stopped as we both made a silent decision together. All of a sudden his mouth was moving against mine. He was soft against my lips, gentle but aching. I could feel him holding back a type of hunger that was radiating from his body language. Something about how he was holding me made me feel fragile. I wasn’t fragile. I buried my hands in his shirt collar and pulled him closer. He tangled his hands in my hair and every part of him invaded my senses. His mouth was a hurricane, pulling me in more and more until I just wanted to drown. It was raw and beautiful and I began to question if it was even reality. I pulled back and he looked at me, completely vulnerable. Something behind his eyes fell apart.
“I never want you to go,” he whispered, his thumb lazily tracing a pattern on my cheek.
“I-” I began to speak, but his phone rang, cutting my words off. He looked at his phone screen, confused.
“Hello?” Harvey answered and held his eye contact with me as the person on the other line spoke urgently. He knitted his eyebrows together and a scared look crept onto his face. It was then that I saw something break inside of him. I would remember this moment for the rest of my life. “Okay, I’ll be there soon,” he said, ending the call and looking at me indecisively.
“Is everything okay?” I carefully asked.
“No-um... it’s my mum,” he turned around, hiding himself from me. “She had a seizure and they’re taking her to the hospital.”
Harvey turned around, surprised.
“No, you don’t have to. I can drop you off.”
I picked his keys up off the ground and placed them in his hands. He gave me a grateful, yet hesitant look.
“You said you didn’t want me to go. I’m not going. You can’t change your mind now, Davis.”