My Slice of Haven

Our Truth

Jason sat in the driver's side of his shiny green two month old Jeep tapping the steering wheel as he waited for the red light to flip back over to green. He was on his way out of Haven, a place he shouldn't have come to for a woman that wasn't his.

Before leaving he had announced to Poppi in front of Duke that he thought it would be best if they parted ways, however he still wanted to remain friends. Poppi had nodded in agreement and replied saying it was probably for the best and that he was a great guy and would find someone just as sweet to share a life with. The parting had been neither dramatic or one that left him with a feeling of closure though.

As the light flickered to green Jason felt an overwhelming sense of grief hit him liken to what one would feel over the death of someone truly cherished. Tears swelled in his eyes and poured down his cheeks.

Something wasn't right, surely this wasn't down to Poppi.

He turned the steering wheel feeling as if half of him were ripped away and slammed his foot down on the accelerator. But it wasn't him committing those actions, Jason could feel a pressure so strong it almost crushed his ankle.

"Stop!! Stop! Help!!" He screamed as loud as he could though no one was around to hear him cry.

But it was too late even if they had been.

Before Jason could let another crying plea for help out the Jeep slammed bonnet first into a light pole crushing the metal like it was tin foil. The force of the impact thrust him forth and the same pressure that had almost snapped his ankle as now pressing him forwards, forcing his throat against the tightened belt. He struggled and whipped his arms around wildly unable to break free of what was happening to him. Something was trying to kill him.

The flesh of his face turned a pale shade of blue.

Something had killed him

* * *

"Think Jason will be okay?" Duke asked, placing a cup of coffee in front of Poppi before sitting across the table from her with his own.

She shrugged. "I guess."

"You don't seem to be that concerned about it." He pointed out.

Poppi looked up from her cup with an irritation ticking at her features. "The reason I came back to Haven was because my dad is missing, so I think that takes priority over Jason. Jason who just left, remember that happening?" Every word she spoke was the born truth.

Duke rose a brow. "Wow I can see what he meant by you being cold. That was never like you. There was a time when you would have at least wanted to know."

"You two spoke about me?" Her fingers began to stir the teaspoon in her drink as she waited for it to cool enough to consume.

He gave her an uneasy lopsided smile. "Just a little bit."

"Listen Duke people change. I spent the rest of my teenage years in an all girls Catholic boarding school that I loathed where we were taught that everything right down to expressing an emotion was a sin. My dad sent me away from the friends I had managed to make and away from you when all I wanted was the opposite. I wanted to stay in Haven and grow up with you and have a life here with you where I could take care of my dad and whatever else. But that opportunity was taken away from me

So I apologise if those events had a hand in making me a little 'cold'." Poppi slumped back in the cafe chair and glanced out the sheet window next to them.

Duke was looking back at her with wonder. "You know your dad never said where you went to anyone."

"Vince Teagues knew where I was. He was the one who called me to tell me what had happened. As it happens dad trusted no one else to know where I was." Finally she brought the coffee to her lips and let the bitter liquid slide down her throat.

Slowly Duke nodded. "Okay well...I don't know what to say really." He huffed nervously. "The night your dad went missing Nathan brought out a stack of papers for evidence from the house and I spotted something with your name on it. So I stole it...I don't know why. It just felt wrong for someone else to be reading something written just for you." He dug around inside his coat pocket for a moment before producing an aged envelope. "Here." He slid it across the table.

Tentatively Poppi looked down at the yellowing paper and recognised her name written in her father's penmanship. "I don't understand. Why would he write this when he wouldn't even talk to me?" Again the pressure of tears stung her eyes.

"I don't know but what I do know is that it has your name on it and you should open it." Duke could only guess what was written in that envelope. There were so many skeletons hidden by the residents of Haven that it had him on alert.

A squirming in the pit of her stomach drove Poppi to pick the envelope up and slowly she opened it and pulled out three thin pieces of paper. Her eyes swept over the written words, not reading but only taking in the unquestionable fact that maybe this meant her father still did love her. She began to gently read out a loud in a whisper so Duke could hear what was written.

To my dearest darling Poppi,

Today is your sixteenth birthday and I only wish I was with you to celebrate it, so if I ever grow the courage to send this to you...happy birthday. Though I suspect you wouldn't want to know me and for that I am eternally sorry. I never wanted to send you away and if I could change that fact, believe me my sweet girl I would. I would give anything to be able to go back and stop myself from sending you away.

Those were bad times in Haven and I only wanted to protect you. When the Crocker boy came to our house after you had left and told me he wanted my blessings to openly court you, well I...I was sure I had made a mistake. But none of this is going to make any sense to you unless you know what I know and what the town of Haven knows. So enclosed in the following words are some family truths that I think you should know before something happens that leaves you in danger or worse.

Poppi looked up from the papers, her cheeks stained with tears. "I don't know if I want to read any went to see my dad?"

Duke nodded. "That's when he told me he sent you away because you were scared of me. He said you had already told him about us and you were too scared to say no to me and break up with me. So that's why you needed to go away."

Gently she folded the pages closed and slipped them back into the envelope before tucking them away in her cardigan pocket. Poppi wiped her cheeks and sat forward with her face resting on the back of her clasped hands, elbows on the table. "Well we know that's not true and doesn't make a lick of sense. I am starting to think he told you that out of his own hate for your family."

"You should read the rest of what's in the letter Poppi." By now Duke had a sneaking suspicion of what was in those pages.

"Later, I don't think I am ready for that just now. I was thinking of going to see Vince Teagues today to see if he can help me look for dad." Poppi seemed to be pulling back those feelings exposed during the reading of the letter and tucking them back inside.

What school she had gone to, Duke didn't know, but it looked like it had messed her up in the emotional management department and that could prove to be dangerous. "Okay, did you want me to come with you?"

She shook her head. "No it's okay. You've got stuff to do, can't just uproot that because I fly back into town."

"Sure...I want to see you again though." And that was the truth. Duke had missed Poppi, even as he grew older he had missed her and wondered what had become of her. Though there was another reason he wanted to see her again. If she was emotionally compromised and the letters contained what he thought they might...well Duke knew he was the only one that could help Poppi manage what was about to come and turn her life inside out.

Poppi met Duke's soulful brown eyes and wasn't able to deny him that. "How about you come by the house tonight? We can go over the letter's together?"

He nodded with a small smile tugging at his lips. "I can make us some dinner?"

Nodding in reply with her own smile through the anguish written into her features. "Sounds like a plan."

* * *

Vince Teagues was a man who preferred the art of sketching over that of photography, which is adopted brother Dave Teagues preferred over sketching. And that is what he sat doing on the porch of his rickety little house when Poppi walked down the driveway.

"Hey Vince." She said announcing her presence.

He looked up from the sketch pad and spotted her standing at the foot of the four stairs leading up on top the porch. "I was wondering when you would drop by." He placed the pad and pencil aside and beckoned her to ascend into the house. "Nathan said you had been by to the station and was less than impressed. I told him that wasn't surprising and that you were right. There is something more to your father's disappearance."

Poppi looked around taking notice of the seventies decore and abundance of old relics placed in their assigned spots.

"Dave, my brother, and I were at the house the night of your father's disappearance-"

That was something Poppi had heard too many times already. "It seems that there were a lot of people were at the house that night. What am I not being told?" Again that odd irrational irritation crept into her veins.

"Who else have you spoken to?" Vince asked as he rustled around in a cardboard box sitting beside a desk adorned with an ancient typewriter.

Poppi pulled her arm over her chest and began to mindlessly thumb at her left wrist. "I spoke to Duke, he said he was there too. He gave me a letter my dad had written to me on my sixteenth birthday but had never sent it."

"Did you read the letter?" The sudden confession of a letter sparked his interest severely.

"Only part of it, Duke and I are going to go through the rest of it tonight. So why were so many people there that night? Nathan said that nothing out of the ordinary had happened." Something defiantly felt off at that moment.

Vince hummed to himself. "That's not totally true. I didn't want to say anything when you got here and I don't want to say anything now until you've at least read the letter. I just hope Duke can explain everything to you well enough to be understood, you've been away from Haven for so long." He sighed. "But still you should know...the night of your father's disappearance the thing that drew us all there...well...we saw a dark cloud forming above the house. It wasn't anywhere else in the sky to be seen, only over your father's house. None of us knew what it meant though."

Poppi didn't understand and she took a step back as the reply settled around her. None of this was making sense. "A dark cloud? What dark cloud? Like a storm cloud?" Her mind was trying it's best to process the information and make some kind of sense of it.

"We all helped to look for your father...Duke even went out on his boat in case your father had fled by water. But we found nothing what so ever. That night was a mystery to us all, but I did find this and it only seemed right to store it away for when you would return." He handed her a thick folder bound in twine and stamped 'Private'. "It's probably something that you should look over before reading the letters. I am sorry there is nothing more I can give you child."

Reaching out Poppi slowly nodded still confused and took the folder. "It's okay Vince." She tucked it under her arm. "If you can think of anything else...let me know." Stepping back Poppi turned away from the house.

What in the hell was going on in Haven?