Books · creative writing · Writing

The Secrets We Keep Chapter 1: Ghosts

Keep in mind that this is NaNoWriMo writing so it hasn’t been through any editing yet. Also there is supposed to be a nightmare before where this chapter is starting but it’s really bad and I’m not even going to post it here. Let me know what you think!


I shoot up from the floor in a cold sweat and take a few deep breaths before looking around the dusty room. Sighing I stand from the ground and start walking toward the door of my bedroom. It’s been 10 years since my mother’s death and I still have these nightmares. I peek into the other bedroom to see my sister sleeping soundly and so I keep walking quietly past her door and into the kitchen. I sigh again and lean against the counter. This isn’t exactly how I imagined adult life would be but I guess the only image I have in my mind is my parents before the murder. They were always so happy and there were never any problems, no fighting or arguments. I push myself up from the counter and open the old wood cabinets to see if we have any food left. Yet another sigh escapes me as I realize that we only have enough food left for today.

“David?” I hear my sister’s small voice from behind me and I close the cabinet before turning toward her. She stretches and yawns before rubbing her eyes.

“Hi. How did you sleep?” I ask her. She smiles sleepily at me and then frowns when she looks at my face.

“Are you okay? You look pale.” She says. I just smile and shake my head.

“I’m fine. Are you hungry?” I ask and she nods before yawning again. I turn back around and feel my face fall expressionless again as I open the cabinet and pull out the last two cans of soup. I remove the lids and put them in the microwave as is. It takes about four minutes to heat up both of our food and then we sit on the floor of the kitchen to drink the soup. After a moment of drinking her soup Lizzy stops and looks at me again.

“Did you have a nightmare?” She asks and I feel my body tense up at the question. She knows that I’ve been having nightmares since that night ten years ago and she also knows that she’s not supposed to bring them up.

“You aren’t supposed to talk about my nightmares. Nothing more to remind me of that night.” I tell her and she quickly nods before going back to her food. I feel my phone buzz in my pocket and I pull it out to see a message from a restricted number. I feel a small smirk tug at my face as I open the message and read it.

‘I have found you. You will not run any longer.’ My father is the only one who would send a threat like that. I roll my eyes and put my phone back in my pocket. I stand from the ground and throw my empty soup can into the trash cabinet under the sink. Lizzy does the same and follows me out of the kitchen. She stops in her room and I walk back to mine to get ready for work.

“David?” I hear Lizzy again and I turn around with my shirt off. She has a frown on her face and she isn’t looking at me.

“What’s wrong?” I ask her. She looks at me with watery eyes.

“Do you have to leave? I don’t want to be here alone.” She starts crying. I smile and walk toward her until she’s in my arms. I give her a squeeze before stepping back.

“The day will go by so fast, you won’t even notice that I’m gone. Why don’t you go watch the TV while I finish getting ready for work.” I tell her. She nods with a smile and runs back out of my room. We don’t have cable but the TV still at least has the static which is something that Lizzy finds very entertaining as long as the volume isn’t turned up. I pull my uniform shirt out of my backpack and put it on along with some khaki slacks. I walk to the bathroom and look into the old mirror to fix my hair and the collar of my shirt before walking out to the living room where Lizzy sits mesmerized by the static. I walk behind where she’s sitting on the floor and give her a kiss on the head.

“Bye, Lizzy. I’ll be back in a few hours. Make sure not to let anyone inside the house while I’m gone.” I tell her. She just nods and I walk to the front door and unlock it. The air outside is crisp which isn’t surprising since it’s fall in Illinois. I turn around and lock the door back with my lock picking set and then set on my way to the bookstore. It’s about a 20 minute walk from where I live.

I reach the door of the shop and open it. The bell chimes to inform the employees that someone is walking in the door and they all turn and nod at me realizing that I am not in fact a customer. I quickly make my way through the shop to the back where the employees go to take breaks and see my friend Tom sitting in front of the TV, engrossed in whatever he’s watching. I walk over and see that the TV is on Investigation Discovery, or the murder channel. That’s what we usually watch here for some reason, I find it a little unsettling that it’s the only thing we watch. I sit down next to Tom and watch the screen as a new show starts.

“They say blood is thicker than water, but sometimes your deadliest enemies, are your closest relatives.” The narrator starts and I get shivers as the family tree runs down in blood and the title appears under the picture ‘Blood Relatives’. The screen switches to a picture of a beautiful garden in front of a small house as the narrator picks up the story.

“Galesburg, a small city just north of Peoria in Illinois, is a quiet and happy place. Home to many colleges and historical landmarks. The population is just 32,000 and everyone knows each other. It seemed like a happy place where there was no fighting, so it was the last place anyone expected a murder to occur.” The narrator pauses again to give a suspenseful effect and I feel my body tense up. I don’t want to hear this but I can’t stop watching.

“Meet the Sutton family. A seemingly happy couple with two young children. There was never a single argument heard from their house and their son was always seen playing in the front yard. So why then would a tragedy come on this family in the shape of a murder?” Another suspenseful pause giving viewers time to think about the rhetorical question. Tom leans over to me with a questioning look on his face.

“What do you think?” He asks. I shrug my shoulders and look away.

“Maybe they just weren’t as happy as everyone thought they were.” I say quietly before turning my attention back to the story. There are actors moving around and talking, reenacting the life of the family in the days leading up to the murder.

“Everything seemed fine with the family. The husband, Jacob, never worked late and always came home exactly on time and the wife, Abby, stayed at home with her two children doing housework while she waited for her husband to get home. Then one day everything changed. Jacob started staying later at work and forgetting to pick up his son from school. Was the murder the result of an affair? Maybe Jacob was trying to cover up that he was being unfaithful to his wife. He would snap more and more when he got home and they talked about him being late, until finally he had enough. One night in early November 2006 screams were heard from the usually quiet house. No one can quite explain what may have happened that night but we all know for certain that the family met an untimely end.” Yet another suspenseful pause and I can feel my chest tightening as I listen to her dramatic retelling of the nightmare that is my life. My body starts shaking slightly as she continues on.

“Abby’s friend Tammy Burns was at home the night of the murder and heard her awful screams.” The narrator stops and the lady, Tammy, appears on the screen looking upset. She looks off to the side of the camera probably at an interviewer.

“She was the nicest person I had ever met. I just don’t understand why this happened to her.” She sniffles and takes a tissue from the box on the table in front of her. She watches the interviewer and then shakes her head. “No. She never left the house on weekdays and if she did she had her kids and was going shopping with them. I feel like everybody would have known if she was having an affair. If you ask me I think Jacob was forcing her to stay inside the house and threatening her.” She says. I scoff out loud at that statement and Tom looks at me with a raised eyebrow.

“She’s saying that Abby had some type of Stockholm Syndrome. I think she had all of the freedom that she wanted but she never did anything with it because she loved her husband too much to hurt him.” I spew my thoughts and then quickly shut up as Tom looks at me with both eyebrows raised this time.

“You say that like you know this story.” He tells me. I just shake my head.

“Nope. Well I mean I’ve seen it before but I don’t really know the story.” I explain. He nods and turns back to the TV as a police officer comes on the screen in the same room as the Tammy lady was with the interviewer. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks.

“We received the call at about 11 p.m. on November 5, 2006 and I will never forget what I saw when I walked into that house. I knew Abby from when she was younger before she met Jacob and she was a good girl. I can’t see her ever wanting to hurt the man she loves but I could say that Jacob wouldn’t have given it a second thought. You could see it in his eyes when he went out with her around the town. He always smiled at his son and daughter but he looked down on Abby and it was very obvious. I can honestly say that I am not surprised that he did this to her but the way he did it is just disgusting.” He finishes. I roll my eyes and try to keep my verbal reactions to myself so as not to prompt any more questions from Tom. The narrator comes back on and the screen switches to two children smiling, one just barely walking and the other running around playing. I swallow the lump in my throat and slump down in my chair with my arms crossed over my chest.

“While we would like to blame it all on the father as the main suspect there is still one person who possibly could have committed this horrible crime. The Sutton’s 10 year old son, David. He seemed normal on the outside but some people say that he had some issues. He was diagnosed with ODD when he was only 5 and it supposedly got worse as he got older but there were no signs that his disorder ever progressed to the level of being Conduct Disorder. He was a happy boy but he also seemed to be going through personality changes in the year before his mother’s murder. Could it be because he was finally snapping and letting his conduct disorder show? Or maybe his parents were fighting and he was acting out. We will never be able to know because soon after the murder the two children disappeared.” A brief suspenseful pause and I roll my eyes. Yeah, right, we disappeared, or they just stopped looking. It’s not that hard to find a person, especially if they have no means of leaving the country. I take a deep breath and stand up from my seat having heard enough of the story.

“Aww. It’s just getting to the good part. They’re going to reveal whodunit.” Tom says. I heave a sigh while raising my eyebrows.

“Right. I would like to see what they think they figured out.” I tell him before waving and walking out of the room to start work restocking shelves with books. It’s a boring job since not very many people come to this shop, probably because there are better name brand shops like Barnes and Noble close by but we do get some business occasionally. I’ve heard it’s because we have some rare gems that can’t be found at the big bookstores but that doesn’t really matter to me as long as the store can make money and in turn I can make money. My six hour shift comes to an end quickly and because it’s the second Tuesday of the month it’s payday so I walk to the back of the store and wait in line for my cash, I explained to the boss that I don’t have a bank account so he agreed to pay me in cash. I stand in front of the boss and watch him count out four twenties, three fives and ten ones before handing it to me.

“There you go kid.” He holds it out in front of me. I take it slowly trying to hide my excitement at finally being able to hold money again. This much would be enough to get me and Lizzy out of town and food for at least the next month while I get a new job.

“Thank you, sir.” I nod my head and he nods back before I turn away and practically run out the door to get home as fast as possible. I show up to the house in a record 10 minutes and use my lockpicking kit to get in and quickly lock the door back once I’m inside. It’s very quiet inside the small house and I take that to mean that Lizzy is sleeping. I walk through the house quietly until I come up to her room and find her curled in the corner breathing slow and steady in a deep sleep. I walk into the room and kneel down beside her before gently touching her shoulder causing her to jump awake. Her eyes are wide and scared until she sees me and then she takes a breath.

“You scared me. Don’t do that.” She whines. I smile at her and she smiles back.

“We need to pack and move on. Can you get all of your clothes in your bag and be ready in the next twenty minutes?” I ask her. She nods with a determined look on her face. I smile at her again before standing up and walking out of her room. I feel a smirk form on my face as I pull out my phone and go back to my father’s message and start typing.

‘Too late. We’re already gone and you won’t catch us so easily this time.’ I respond. The phone clicks as I lock it and I grab my backpack which already has all of my clothes in it and quickly pull out my hoodie and jeans. I change in a minute and leave my work uniform on the floor, I won’t be needing it anymore anyway. Once my backpack is filled again with all of my belongings I zip it up and head out of my room to see Lizzy sitting in the hallway waiting for me.

“Are you ready?” I ask her. She nods and turns around so that I can see her packed bag. I nod with a smile before pulling out my lockpicking kit as we walk out the door of the old house. Once she steps out I close the door and lock it back. We begin our walk into town toward the Amtrak station. Guess it’s time to be on our way again.


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