Mummy and daddy are arguing again. They do that alot. Luckily Ceci and I have each other. I don’t know what I’d do without her. She’s my best friend, my only friend and my twin sister. We don’t look alike though which is nice because I can be me and she can be her and we can’t get mixed up. I’m daddy’s girl and Ceci’s mummy’s girl. I don’t think mummy likes me very much. She doesn’t love me as much as Ceci which is okay because I know daddy loves me a lot. He tells me how much I look like mummy but Ceci looks like mummy, not me. Mummy and Ceci have beautiful hair like goldilocks and the biggest bluest eyes you ever saw. Ceci has ringlets and ribbons and pretty bouncy dresses. Mummy tells her she looks like little Bo Beep and it makes her happy. That’s when mummy isn’t sad and crying. She thinks we don’t see her crying, after she’s been angry with daddy. Daddy gets sad too, but he never cries. He hugs me and strokes my long boring red hair trying to make it curl around his finger to make it curly like Ceci’s.
Daddy has to go to work again. I miss him when he’s not here but Ceci and I can sneak out to the Secret garden and pretend we are anywhere else in the world. Mummy will be sitting by the water again making wishes; I don’t know what about, I hope it’s for something fun, maybe a puppy dog or perhaps a baby brother. We would love a baby brother. But mummy likes to sit me on her knee and brush my hair; she tells me she won’t have any more babies when I ask her. She smiles but her eyes are sad and watery. She says what daddy did was a hard enough decision. Maybe one day she will tell me what that means.
Daddy’s busy again, sat in his little office with other men. He keeps shouting at them. I’m glad I’m not them. Daddy never loses his temper with me. Mummy’s been drinking too many mimosa’s daddy said earlier. She’s gone to bed. But Ceci and I have each other. We’re not babies anymore. We can look after ourselves.
“Evie! Evie! It’s snowing, let’s go and make snow angels” says Cecilia excitedly pulling on her winter boots and heavy winter coat.
“Mummy will be very angry with us if we go out, well, she’ll be angry with me if we go out. She won’t like it if you catch a cold Cecilia” I reply sadly knowing mummy only loves Ceci. Mummy never gets cross with Ceci, only with me.
“Don’t be silly Evie. Let’s go. Get your hat and gloves on and let’s go. Wait, I’ve got a better idea. Let’s go ice skating on the lake!” shouts Ceci looking in the closet for her skates.
“No Cecilia, daddy will be very, very cross”.
“Spoil sport, go and ask him if we can, I’m sure he’ll say yes to you”.
“Ok, I’ll ask but if he says no that’s it” I reply resolutely.
I edge closer to daddy’s office; I know never to disturb him when the door is closed. But the door is always closed these days. Daddy is always busy. Too busy to play with us or telling us stories like he used to. I knock quietly hoping I’m not making him angry with me before opening the door with a creak. Eight pairs of eyes, one pair of perfectly blue are trained on me with total abhorrence, but not daddy’s. His eyes are full of love. They dance with delight every time he looks at me. I cower at the door until daddy walks over to me and scoops me into his arms.
“Evelyn sweetheart, daddy is really busy, do you need something?” he asks holding me closer to his chest.
“Ceci wants to play outside, but, but, I knew I should ask you first. Daddy please can we play outside? I ask looking up at him with big green puppy dog eyes.
“Wrap up warm, stay together and don’t play out too long, you’ll catch your death of cold out there today” replies daddy playfully.
“We’ll wrap up warm daddy and we’ll be extra careful, I promise. We won’t go on far. I answer with a big wet kiss to his cheek and jump down out of his arms.
All of the other men’s facial expressions soften witnessing the love a father and daughter can have.
I run out of daddy’s office to find Ceci and tell her the good news but I find the front door already open and leaves blowing in from outside. My she’s fast. She never waits for me. She makes me so angry. I pull my hat, coat, gloves and wellies quickly and race off after her calling as I go. This is typical of Cecilia, always joking, always hiding.
“Ceci, where are you? Ceci please. Cecilia! You’re scaring me. Where are you hiding?” I don’t see her anywhere and it’s too cold to call out for her. The wind nips at my face and catches the breath in my chest causing me to cry out in pain.
“Please Cecilia, it’s not funny anymore. I want to go in, my chest hurts” I cry. Still searching as fast as the wind will allow me, tears freezing on my face as fast as I can cry them. I head towards the lake. She couldn’t have reached the lake yet; she wouldn’t have started to skate without me. Would she? I look for signs of her in the distance. Nothing. I look back towards the house and see daddy standing in his window looking out at me. I pretend not to have seen him and continue to call for Cecilia.
“Ceci. We need to go inside, please Ceci please. Daddy will be cross with-” I stop mid-sentence noticing Ceci’s footprints leading down towards the lake. I can’t believe she went down to the lake without me. I’m going to be so angry with her. I still can’t see her. I scour the water’s edge for a trace of her sitting in wait for me. Nothing. I walk towards the little jetty hoping to find her there, still nothing. I look further out in to the lake and notice the cracked ice, it was fine earlier. We wouldn’t have come out if it was cracked. I notice something bobbing in the water that I recognise, but what is it? It’s not a duck’s head or a reed, it’s pink and soft looking. Oh my gosh I know what it is, it’s Ceci’s bobble hat.
“CECI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” Oh my gosh Ceci, I’m coming. DADDY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” I scream for daddy as I pull off my coat and reach the water’s edge closest to the cracked ice and bobble hat. There’s no time to wait, I have to go in after her. It’s not deep, I can do it, I can find her. She must be caught on something or she’d get out. I have to help her. I slowly step closer and closer to the broken ice trying to peer into the water to below. It looks cold but I know it’s not deep. I hear voices behind me running from the house towards the lake.
“Evie no, Evie don’t” but too late, I take one too many steps towards the cracked ice and it crumbles beneath me. The cold hits me first, it takes my breath away, my heart begins to pound as I start to panic and gasp for air. I’m scared, I want to cry, call out for my daddy but the current has pulled me under. I try to stop flailing my arms and focus on the water and try to fight my way out. I can’t see Ceci. Where is she? Why didn’t she wait for me? I can’t breathe. My arms feel heavy trying to fight against the current in my coat. I need to find the surface, but I can’t see it anymore. The current has taken me; I feel the water enter my lungs as I fight for a breath. With one last look above me, I see a pair of bright blue eyes looking at me through the ice, I recognise him from daddy’s office earlier. My father is on his knees, pounding on the ice with his bare fists whilst the man looks on. What can I do? There is nothing I can do, except float away with the current. Darkness descends upon me, I cannot hold on any longer. My arms are too heavy and my legs can no longer tread water. This is it. This is death. But wait, what is happening? I feel the sensation of wind nipping at my cold face, my hands being rubbed, my clothes being removed.
“Help her, please, help her. Help them. For the love of God help them” pleads Rupert.
“Your God cannot help you. Where is He? Is He here? Did He hear your pleas? No Rupert. She is dying. She will die without question. And the other is already dead. I cannot bring back the dead. But I can save Evelyn. She can live and be strong and have a future, but it will come at a cost, a sacrifice to you. Are you prepared to fulfil that when I come to collect? Without question?
“You’re asking if I’m prepared to make a deal with the Devil to save my daughter’s life? Whispers Rupert as he strokes my frozen cheek. “I would make it one thousand times over to save my daughter’s life. You can have whatever it may be, but please, return her to me, return our child to us, death cannot have her yet”.
“I wouldn’t go as far as calling me the Devil Rupert. And our child, really?” questions the blue eyed stranger thoughtfully.
“Please, no more questions, give her back to me, save her this pain and suffering.
The Stranger kneels next to my cold, wet body struggling to stay alive. My heart is still pounding hard in my chest, but my mind wanders, recalling lost memories of Ceci and I playing. I feel heat coursing through my body, every cell firing being brought back to life. Hot fiery air being sent through my lungs and a taste of blood in mouth.
“It is done. I will come for the favour to be repaid. I am sorry for the loss of your other daughter. Take care of this one, she is very valuable to me now.
I feel my father pull me into his arms. Pulling me so close I can feel his own heart beating as though free from his chest. I can hear him whispering, to himself, to me and to God. He is sorry for not listening, for not being there for us. For not getting to Ceci in time.
“My darling Evelyn, I will never leave you alone again. I will protect you. For love of God I will protect. May the Heaven’s above send you a guardian to protect you from what I have done.
But it is what I have done that needs forgiveness. I’m sorry Ceci, I’m so so sorry. This is all my fault. I should’ve just gone when you wanted me to. Now I have no one. Now I am left all alone.