My Slice of Haven


Poppi had dark ginger hair and fair skin marked with pale freckles across her nose, cheeks and down her arms and legs. She preferred her hair to be cut to her shoulders and layered to frame her heart shaped face. The way she dresses was simple and it was sweet. Knitted cardigans, cowboy style boots and coffee stain coloured floral dresses that hugged her waist, skimmed her hips and stopped just before her knees.
These were the things the young woman focused on as she drove her beat up 'Bug back into a town she thought she would never see again and all on her twenty-seventh birthday. The news had reached her the night before from Vince Teagues who by his telling was the only person in Haven to which her father Thomson Amber, had given her whereabouts to.

Her fingers rubbed the side of her temple as the 'Bug came to a slow stop outside of the house she had spent the first fourteen years of her life in. Poppi switch off the engine and exited the car pocketing the keys into her grey knit cardigan and looked up at the two story house with it's dirty white walls and dark wooden trimmings.

"Poppi? Poppi Amber?"

She turned to where her name was being called and recognised the old man staring at her. "Vince."

"Oh my, you've no idea how much you look like you're mother now you're a grown lady." He patted the side of her arm as she came to stand by his side.

Poppi smiled at the comment, her only memories of her mother known as Lily Lee Amber were from photos and old 35mm film movies. Lily had passed away due to her trouble not long after Poppi's fifth birthday, but everyone had told her she died in a terrible car accident. "Has there been any progress with my father's disappearance?"

Vince shook his head. "There were no signs of forced entry or suggestion of an attack inside the house. The police are factoring in that your father may have just left."

"No, dad wouldn't leave Haven. This is where he met my mother and built a life with her, you don't just up and leave that behind without telling someone. He loved her dearly even after she passed away. I grew up surrounded by her photos and he would recount time and time again about how they met in high school." She thumbed her chin. "Something else happened here."

"Well you might just be right about that one. I didn't know your father as well as some people here did but I know how much he adored your mother and you. Here, I've got a spare set of keys he left me." Vince dropped them into Poppi's hands and clasped her fingers shut around him. "I think that' the reason he trusted me with your location. At that time thee weren't many people to trust."

Poppi looked at him confused but thanked him any way before Vince made his good-byes and she walked down the gravel pathway towards the front door. It smelled of dirt and earth as she pressed one hand against it while unlocking it with the other. The heavy door swung open into a silent house. Her green eyes began to search the opening before stepping it.
It was like the house had been stuck in a stand till or a snow globe for nothing had changed. Not a single thing was out of place.

"Damn." She whispered to herself and closed the door behind her. There was a thin coat of dust beginning to settle over the mantle above the fire place and one the photo graphs that stood centre on the coffee table. But Poppi found herself stuck gazing at the fireplace and the longer she did she found it began to pluck at something deep in the back of her mind that she couldn't seem to remember.

The buzz of her cell in her pocket grounded her back to reality. "Ahoi hoi." She answered without looking at the caller I.D.

"Hey babe, it's me. Listen the boss said I can take a few days if you need me to come to Haven for you?" It was the man calling himself her boyfriend on the other end. Poppi herself wasn't keen on the term or the idea of having a boyfriend, however she had found herself fitting into the slot of being in a relationship over the past several months. The only other person Poppi had been close to in that sense and actually wanted to be called girlfriend by was before she left Haven.

"Jason, I didn't look at the caller. Sorry I just...I'm inside my dad's house. Uh the cops are starting to think he just left, but something isn't right." Her reply was distant as her legs began to move her towards the staircase leading to the second level of the house where her room used to be.

"Sorry to hear that, I will leave in the morning okay?"

"Um no that's okay. I don't know how long I will be here but let me just get my head right and I will call you back. I want to go down to the station and push for something more than the jammed up theory they have going." With that Poppi mindlessly clipped her phone shut and began to ascend the old creaky stairs.

Poppi traced the deeply polished handrail with her slender fingers and soon found herself walking down the bedroom halls, the last room was the bathroom but the one before that had been the most familiar to her. She turned into the open door of what had been her bedroom and again not a single thing had changed. A droplet of pity fell inside her chest as Poppi began to think about ow lone her father had must have been after sending her to that boarding school. It was such a big house to be alone in.

The posters of the grunge rock bands of her teenage years still clung to the walls and her bed was still made with the same pale cream bed covers she had preferred so much. To the far end of the room was a glossy white writing table which had been neatened in her absence. In amongst the piles of paper and books was one special book that was kept under lock and keys. Her hand ran over it's purple material cover with a saddened smile. All her deepest and darkest secrets were kept in that book. Poppi still even had the key attached to a thin silver chain that hung around her neck. She contemplated opening it but instead decided that what was in there was best kept within the pages however her eyes noticed the corner of something hanging out from the bottom.
Tugging on the edge it soon slipped out as an old photo taken just before she had left. Poppi looked down at the polaroid film photograph and felt her entire chest begin to plummet to her toes. Staring back at her were the happy smiles shared by two happy teenagers. It looked as if the boy in the photo was the one with his arm stretched out with the camera to take the photo while his other lanky arm sat around the teenage girl's arm.
Her arm. Poppi was the girl in the photo and she remembered that afternoon so well. Quickly she stuffed the photo into her pocket with her phone and exited the room.

Poppi hadn't seen that face in thirteen years, not even on the day she had left Haven did she get the chance to tell that face she was being made to leave. It would have sent her father into a fit of anger to know his daughter was secretly dating the Crocker boy, Duke.

Never had she known why her father had such a hate towards that family. But what she had known was that Duke had loved her and she in return had loved Duke. Perhaps she still did and as Poppi made her way away from the house with the intention of going down to the police station she found herself starting to wonder if Duke was still living in Haven? And if he was, what would she do about it? Nothing probably. What could she have done? They were so young and silly back then telling one another that they were forever. A chuckle came from her lips as she thought of the crazy things they had promised each other.

These thoughts had taken her all the way to the station where she parked across the road and eventually got out of her car. Again there wasn't much about Haven that had changed, perhaps it was the entire town that was stuck in its own snow globe.

Detective Nathan Wuornos had just come into the station with a file in his hand when he looked up at the young woman who looked so out of place but also was someone he recognized. "Can I help you ma'am?"

Poppi's attention was caught by the detective and as her eyes locked with his they widened. "Nathan? It's Poppi Amber."

Nathan squinted his eyes before the recognition finally hit him at the woman making her way towards him. He remembered her as the only Amber child but had just seemed to disappear one day, like it seemed her father had just done. "You're hear about your dad?"

She nodded tucking her hands back into her cardigan sleeves. "Vince tell me you think my dad just up and left town?"

He began to nod. "There were no signs of forced entry or a struggle inside the house and no one reported anything suspicious the night of his disappearance. So yes we have to take into account that he has left Haven."

Poppi remembered Nathan as the kid Duke liked to bully but she was a couple of years younger than the others so that is all she could remember really. There weren't many kids in Haven that were her age who wanted anything to do with her and that is how she fell in with Duke. He had shown her a friendly smile and a chat after seeing her sitting alone with face deep into a book. "My dad didn't just leave, something happened to him Nathan. There is no way he would have left his life here behind. It's all he had left."

Nathan didn't want to rule out any possibilities but the case was looking like it was closer and closer to going cold. "Well maybe that's why he left. You might remember your dad as the guy who had all these great memories in Haven but after you left we all saw what happened to him. He wasn't the same man Poppi, he was...darker."

Her tongue tutted and her brow arched. "I don't know how you to made it to detective Nathan Wuornos. I remember you getting beat up by Duke and you never tried to defend yourself so I am thinking you're still the same weak kid and this is just going in your 'too hard basket'." Spitting the last words Poppi didn't leave room for Nathan to reply and turned on her heel marching out of the station and back to her car.

Poppi slammed her driver's side door shut and shoved the keys into the ignition. "If the police don't want to help me I will find my father on my own."