Tomorrow never dies
“Shall I sing for you, Mr. Crawford?” Annabelle said friendly, but with a trembling voice, as she tried not to turn her eyes away from his. The soldier nodded slightly, and she saw how bad he was suffering. Annabelle cleared her throat and looked away, out through the window. The sun spread a warm, soft glow and the sky was as blue as the girl’s dress, with the clouds as white as her apron.
At first she thought of singing Katherine’s favorite song, the one she used to sing when the little girl was about to sleep, but instead chose the song Charlotte had sung to her for what seemed so long ago, when she had been scared.
Do not let your fears take you
For there is always a tomorrow
No matter how far away it seems
It is always there
Waiting for the sun to rise
Here she had to take a pause, for the memories from her childhood had grown too strong. She took a few deep breaths, and then smiled an apologetic smile.
Like the morning sun’s first rays
Like the birds sweet singing
Do not let fear take you now, my friend
For there is always a tomorrow
Oh, the sun will rise again
After Annabelle had finished the song, the soldier only looked at her. His pale, sick face shone with a very strange light, so bright that Annabelle had to take a deep breath.
“Thank you”, he whispered, only to close his eyes the very next second. Annabelle let the shadow of a smile dance on her lips before she rose from her chair.
“Alice”, she said, fairly quiet, because she didn’t want to disturb the sick. “How is Mr. Smith? Shall I sing to him, or is he better?” Alice, who was just about to clean a soldier’s wounded leg, took a deep breath.
“The medicine you gave him this morning doesn’t seem to help. His body isn’t responding to the treatment, and we don’t have enough to give him another dose.” Alice opened her eyes and looked at her friend, as she smiled a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Sing to him, Annabelle.” Then she lowered her face again, towards her patient, who grimaced in pain. “Just breathe”, she murmured, as she grabbed a scissor, which lay on the carved oak table next to the soldier’s metal bed. Annabelle took several deep breaths, and then went out of the room.
Mr. Smith had been like a family member to the Ericsson’s, after his parents had passed away when he was still just a child. He had moved in with the Ericsson’s, because no one else wanted to take care of him. Therefore, Mrs. Ericsson had chosen to take care of him more than the others, when he had come back from the war.
Unfortunately, he was suffering from a deadly disease. Mrs. Ericsson had been very clear with the fact that he shouldn’t be treated as a stranger, but as a close friend. And even though the old lady said nothing about it, they understood that it was very important that he was kept alive. A promise that now was very difficult to keep, as he just got worse and worse by the day, without any of them knowing what disease he suffered from, and more importantly: how to cure it.
Annabelle swept with her hands over the dress and the white apron - though now it was more red than white - as if to make it look a little more elegant. Then she raised her hand, pushed the door open and entered. The room she stepped into was one of the biggest rooms, and it had both a little table and a wide window, from which the sun’s rays spread a warm, soft glow.
Annabelle quickly drew a deep breath, but immediately coughed when the sick, hot air filled her lungs. She swallowed a few times before she quickly walked over to open the window, and fill the room with fresh, new oxygen. Then she smiled faintly at the sick man, as she headed towards him, her steps calm and quiet.
“Mr. Smith?” she asked gently, because she didn’t want to wake him if he was sleeping. The man slowly opened his eyes, and blinked a few times, when her face filled his view. His face was pale and wounded, and his crystal blue eyes seemed unusually dull. Annabelle took his left hand and patted it gently. “How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do for you?” Mr. Smith opened his mouth to say something, but was interrupted by his own coughing.
Quickly Annabelle brought a white handkerchief to his mouth, and held her hand over it. Then she nervously turned her head down until the man’s coughs had faded into silence. She quietly turned her gaze back towards the man and removed the handkerchief from his mouth, slowly and carefully. She almost got a shock when she saw that the white handkerchief no longer was white, but shining red. Blood.
She immediately felt the ground beneath her beginning to sway and quickly closed her eyes, still with the handkerchief in her hand. After a few seconds, when she re-opened her eyes, she found that Mr. Smith was looking at her. She immediately opened her mouth as if to say something, to explain herself, but he was faster.
“Annabelle, I presume?” His icy blue eyes glittered faintly in the soft light and Annabelle saw for the first time how young he was; not a day older than twenty. Mr. Smith turned his head down and sat up, so that the two ended up in the same height. When he opened his eyes again, and caught her watching him, the girl drew a deep breath and nodded.
“Amelia has told me about you, you know.” Annabelle felt herself blushing when he mentioned Mrs. Ericsson’s first name, and got the feeling that he knew a lot about her. “Promise to take good care of her, when I’m gone.” The man looked at her, his eyes filled with understanding and grief, and Annabelle quickly shook her head.
“What are you saying? You won't die, not yet, not now!” Even though Annabelle really wanted to believe her own words, she knew how wrong she was, even though she didn’t dare to admit it. The man’s body was embraced by a pale light, just like many other dying soldiers, and she knew that the disease would take his life soon.
Suddenly she thought of something that her father had used to say: The people who stand the closest to God are the ones that he brings home first. He smiled vaguely at her, sad but honest.
“I can see when people aren’t telling the truth, Annabelle. It’s like some kind of a gift that I have.” Annabelle turned down her head, looking at the floor, and then rose to go. She refused to admit that he was dying; it didn’t feel right. He was special somehow, she could feel it. She wasn’t going to let him die.
“I’ll come back later, Mr. Smith”, she said in a loud voice as she went to the door and tried to avoid looking at him.
“William. Say William, please.”