Don't you dare forget the sun, love
"She keeps saying the same words over and over again: ‘They are coming’. I don’t understand anything and it drives me crazy!"
Annabelle’s words were written fast and rather carelessly, because for some reason, she had the feeling that time swept past her all too fast. She had the feeling that she must do something before it was too late, but she couldn’t get a grip on what. It was a horrible feeling, and no matter how she tried, she couldn’t shake it off.
”Who are they, and why are they looking for me? And when, exactly, are they coming? What do they want with me? Damn you, Simone, always speaking in riddles!" She frowned angrily, and then closed her diary. She couldn’t do it anymore. Why did everything have to happen to her? No matter how hard she fought, she always ended up losing. She had lost too much now; too much for it to be worth fighting anymore.
She sighed deeply, and felt how tired she was. John had promised to keep watch that night, so she could get some sleep. Annabelle couldn’t help but feel grateful. Slowly, sleep came creeping upon her, making the girl more tired every second, making her eyelids increasingly difficult to keep open. She closed her heavy eyes, and the peaceful sleep slowly brought her deeper and deeper into the world of dreams.
It was late in September, when John one day suddenly wanted to talk to her. She nodded softly, and let him take her for a walk out in the garden. It was quiet out there, and it was getting cooler; you could tell that fall was about to arrive.
“Annabelle”, he said quietly when they reached the last oak tree, that stood and shone in all its splendor just where the family estate came to an end. He spoke slowly, but stressed; he had nothing to hide from her. “We have to leave. Alice is still in Mrs. Ericsson’s cabin, alone, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of her. We can’t let her stay there anymore; it has already been too long.” Annabelle looked up at him with her eyes gloomy and dark. Then she shrugged her shoulders.
“You can go if you want. I'm going to stay here with my family.” She sounded so determined and confident in herself that John couldn’t help but sigh.
“Please, Annabelle. Come with me; I promise that we will return here as soon as possible, hopefully with Alice. Annabelle, she would never have left you there this long!” Annabelle hesitantly cocked her head, and saw deep into his eyes. She had hoped to find some kind of love there, or happiness, but all she could see was darkness. The green eyes were so full of darkness, that she had to turn her gaze away.
She remembered Killian’s eyes, which always had had an extraordinary light, full of hope and love, in to the very end. Not even when he died, had he for a second given up his hope, or the love he felt for her. The idea broke her heart, and it hurt so badly that she had to swallow so that her tears wouldn’t rise. She hoped that she forever would hold on to the joy of life that he had had, and that his love would never leave her. They were so different, John and Killian.
John saw the doubt within her, and furrowed his eyebrows.
“What if it was your sister, Annabelle. What if it was Katherine.” Annabelle forced herself to look into his eyes again, hard and cold.
“Don’t you ever mention Katherine again, John. I would never have left her in the first place, like you left Alice.”
Then she turned around and walked towards the white brick house with big steps, happy that she didn’t wear a dress, because it certainly would have stopped her from leaving him as dramatically as she did.
“Annabelle?” The girl opened her heavy eyes, and then took a deep breath. It hurt to breathe.
“Yes, mother?” She asked, and got up from her place by the window in the great hall. It had been so nice to just sit down for a while, with only herself as company, so that Annabelle almost had fallen asleep. She coughed, and hoped that the pain in her chest would soon disappear. It had hurt all day, and if it didn’t disappear soon, she would begin to get worried. Her thoughts went back to Killian, and to his early symptoms. The only thing she remembered was that he hadn’t seemed particularly ill at all the beginning; Mrs. Ericsson had had to convince the girls about his then unknown disease. It was later, when he started coughing blood, that they really understood that he was sick.
Annabelle took a deep breath. She couldn’t be sick; it all sounded so impossible. At the same time she also knew that if she actually had the disease, there would be no hope for her. She thought for a vague second if she would tell anyone about her worries, someone like Charlotte or Simone.
However, the more she thought about in it, the more she realized that they would become even more restless than her, and at the same time treat her as if she certainly was ill. And she didn’t want to be treated like that; if she was sick, she wanted to be sick with honor. She refused the idea of spending days in bed, knowing that her time was running out, without being able to do anything about it. If she was going to die, she was going to go down fighting. She swallowed and took a deep breath, struggling to get enough air.
“What was it that you wanted, mother?” Annabelle walked over to the woman, who stood in front of one of the large windows. The dark curtains behind made her look so small. Charlotte shook her head, and Annabelle could see that something was bothering her.
“It’s John, darling”, she murmured, looking up at her daughter. “Why can’t you be so kind and go with him, and bring Alice here? We are not going anywhere; we will be waiting for you to come home.” Annabelle watched her mother under her dark eyelashes.
“I just came home”, she said, quietly, “and now you want to send me away again?” Charlotte opened her mouth to say something, to protest, but Annabelle closed her eyes, as if to gather strength, and shut out her mother. She didn’t like to show herself this weak.
“Why does everyone care so much about Alice?” she screamed then, in a sudden burst of anger, and opened her eyes. “Am I not enough?” Her mother gently put a comforting hand on Annabelle’s pale cheek.
“It just doesn’t feel right, Annabelle, leaving the girl somewhere far away, with no way back, with no home or family”, she murmured. “And don’t you ever think that you aren’t enough”, she continued, “because right now, you, Katherine and Sam are the only ones keeping me alive.” Annabelle turned away her head from Charlotte, and swallowed.
“You want me to go back and retrieve Alice because it doesn’t feel right?” She took a deep breath, and felt how her body screamed for sleep. “Nothing is right anymore, mother. The war is coming and the only way for us to escape its wrath is to hide; to escape. We must save ourselves.” Then Annabelle raised her head. “But if you want me to bring home Alice, I’ll do it. I pick her up and bring her home and then we run away. Far from here.” Charlotte gave her a vague smile, a smile which this time reached her eyes.
“Get Alice, and we will run. We can go over the oceans, if you want. We can start all over again, Annabelle. Just get Alice.”
The next morning the sun shone warmly behind white clouds, and Annabelle and John said goodbye to leave. Simone stood on the edge of the small crowd of people that slowly said their goodbye’s, for a dark sense of concern had during the morning started to grow within her. An unpleasant feeling, which made her believe that it would be long before they got to see Annabelle again. If they ever would see her again.
She looked at how Annabelle bent down and carefully took her sister in her arms, whispering goodbye, and then put down the little girl again with a pale smile. “I'm coming back, Katherine, I promise”, Simone heard how she whispered. When Annabelle then looked back at Simone, she just nodded quietly.
Goodbye, Annabelle, she thought in her loneliness when she saw her best friend disappear further and further away. Simone couldn’t do anything to get rid of the pain, which stubbornly refused to let go of her heart, but she could at least hold back her tears.