Give me therapy, I'm a walking travesty
The sun rose, wandered across the sky and then hid again behind the darkening horizon before William woke up. He sat up quickly, and immediately felt his lungs getting pressed together. Briskly he put his hand to his mouth, and when he felt how the blood painted his hand red, he had to take a deep breath. Then he turned around and saw the sleeping girl, leaned against the big tree, like she had been watching over him.
“Annabelle,” he whispered, and the taste of hope almost made him smile. Quickly, he wiped the blood off his hands, and rose. “Hey,” he said a little louder, and patted her gently on the cheek. She opened her eyes at once, and her kind face was shaped into a smile when her eyes met his.
“William,” she smiled, and he fought hard not to make his lies shine through his face. He should tell her before it was too late; he had to. A hesitant frown formed between his dark eyebrows, and Annabelle tilted her head slightly to the side. “What happened, William?” She said, as if suddenly the memories came rushing back to her. “You’re alive! Oh, I could’ve sworn you were dead!” She held out her arms to him, but then came to think of the disease he suffered from. Her arms fell back to the sides, and instead she gave him another smile, slightly sadder than the first one. “How did you get here? What happened?”
If William had known Annabelle as good as Simone did, he would’ve understood the doubts growing within the girl. William threw a tired look to the house somewhere beyond the meadow, and sighed deeply. When he again met her gaze, the shine in her eyes had disappeared.
“I have something to tell you, Annabelle,” he said, and lowered his gaze, because all he saw when he looked at her was the lies he had built up to protect himself. Annabelle opened her mouth to say something, but William interrupted her.
“I’m not who you think I am. I’ve never been.” When he saw how the trust in her eyes got crushed, he shook his head sadly. “I have lived a life of lies,” he said, and when Annabelle once again tried to say something, he yet again interrupted her, “where the only true thing has been you. But I can no longer keep up this false facade, although I only ever did it to protect myself.” He stretched out his hand, and she took it, doubting whether it was the right choice or not.
“My name is not William Smith; it never has been. The name my parents gave me was Killian. Killian Crane. William Smith is nothing but my shield, protecting me from my past. There are many bad people in this world, Annabelle, and most of them want me dead.” Annabelle shook barely visible on her head, and was reminded once again that the only person she could trust was herself.
“Everything you said earlier, about your siblings and your mother, was any of it true?” Killian nodded, and the look in his crystal eyes was honest.
“It was true, Annabelle. I promise it, you have my word.” Annabelle frowned, and looked with despise at the boy.
“Why did you lie?” she asked out loud, hard, but eased up a bit when she saw the look in his eyes. Her face became softer and her voice kinder. “Why?” Still with his eyes caught in hers, she took a few steps closer to him. “I can handle the truth, Killian. No matter how dark and bitter it is, I can handle it.” She smiled faintly, and fragile hope began to take form within her. “I’ve been through a lot lately, and the thing that brought me through it all was my hope and my faith. I refuse to believe that this is all fake and that your life is a lie; I won’t listen. I have hope, and I will never stop believing.” He snorted, and then shook his head.
“No. I lied to you, Annabelle, do you hear that? I’m no better than they are.” Annabelle swallowed, and then took a few steps backwards.
“What are you talking about?” she asked, and suspicion began to spread inside her. He opened his mouth as if to say something, to take back the words that just left his mouth, but she interrupted him. “Do you mean Alice? I understand that she doesn’t like you, like I do, and that you don’t like her that much either, but Killian, don’t destroy this.” Annabelle felt the hope within her shatter, and tears rose in her eyes. God, she was sick of crying. Killian looked at her in surprise.
“You know?” His expression changed immediately. “Then you understand! Oh, Annabelle, we must leave at once! Let’s just leave everything behind and disappear, before they understand that you know!” He reached for her hand, but she didn’t take his. Without even looking him in the eye, she said: “How do I know I can trust you?” Quickly, as if he had burned himself, Killian pulled away his hand.
“You don’t,” he said, after a moment of silence.
“You get one more chance,” the girl said, and took his hand, for it seemed like the right thing to do. Then she came to think of something, and turned quickly towards him. “Mrs. Ericsson,” she breathed, as the terrible pictures in her head came right back, “I can’t leave Alice, not now. Killian...” He said nothing, but she could see in his eyes that he understood.
Once back at the house, Annabelle felt how her heart started to beat faster and faster. She pressed Killian’s hand softly, just to drop it the next second to open the door.
“Alice?” she yelled into the building and thanked God in a silent prayer that her voice didn’t betray her. Soon she heard the girl’s harsh steps coming towards them.
“Oh, god, Annabelle!” Alice exclaimed, exhausted, and embraced the girl without even throwing a glance at Killian. “I was so worried,” she whispered after a while. “We must bury her before the body begins to decompose.” Annabelle nodded, and then looked away towards the boy next to her. In the house’s dim light she could see how sick he was.
“Mr. Smith,” she said, careful not to use his real name, “go and rest; I have to do this myself.” He swallowed and looked for a second like he was going to protest, but then nodded in agreement. Alice still looked only at Annabelle, who took a deep breath as if to prepare for what was to come. When Killian had left them, Alice began to talk.
“I've put her body out in the back, so we should hurry before the animals take her.” Annabelle could hear the pain hiding behind Alice’s words, how bad she felt, and therefore she put her hands on the girl’s small shoulders.
“I’ll help you, Alice, you know I will. Just show me where she is lying.” Alice nodded in silence and lead Annabelle through the wide-open door.
The funeral was held on the same afternoon, when the sun lay hidden behind the trees and the birds had stopped their singing. It was just Annabelle and Alice there, dressed in their cleanest clothes, though both stained with dirt and blood. In her right hand Annabelle held a red rose, which they had taken from the rose bush that grew wild on the backyard. It was a quiet funeral, where Annabelle and Alice respectively prayed for the deceased and then let the wind’s whistling song be the only thing to be heard.
The rose in Annabelle’s hand was placed on top of the soil after the two had helped each other to close the grave. They were standing right by the edge of the meadow, for the cottage’s backyard was already full of buried bones, and the two girls had no desire to bury Mrs. Ericsson in the same soil as a dozen other unknown soldiers. The meadow was, however, also slowly filling with soldiers’ bodies, since there wasn’t any place left in the backyard, and they had new soldiers coming in almost every week; even more often when a battle had been close.
After the prayers, Alice and Annabelle stood silent for a moment, both with their cheeks dry.
“Alice,” said Annabelle then, suddenly, breaking the silence between them and the forest. “She liked you.”
Alice turned slowly towards the girl, and took her hand. She said nothing; there wasn’t anything worth saying. Instead, she nodded, and pressed her friend’s hand softly. Annabelle smiled vaguely, and for a second she thought that she saw a smile, fragile and hidden in the girl’s right corner of the mouth. She said nothing more, but instead let the silence speak for itself.
They stood there, hand in hand, and waited together for the sun’s warm glow to completely disappear behind the horizon.