Hold on, little girl; the end is soon to come
Annabelle proceeded to walk into the silent darkness alone. She walked silently, trying to figure it out. She had to fix it, all of it, but how? It all came down to her, but she was sick of the feeling that spread in her body when she thought of that. She never wanted this; she never wanted to be a part of it at all. Walking in the quiet darkness made her insane; no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t think. She was too tired, tired of it all.
It was beautiful, though. The glimmering stars in the dark, oblivious sky, and the thick silence. The soft wind, the swaying of the tall trees and her heavy steps was all that was heard. Sometimes, if she listened carefully enough, she could hear the wind whisper her name, and it felt like Killian was there with her.
“Oh, Alice,” she said aloud, to the still darkness, “do you feel the cold wind?” Annabelle shook on her head. “It’s a shame,” she said then, “that the wind gets so cold, when the sun’s rays have gone to sleep.” She raised her eyebrows and sighed. She didn’t understand it herself then, how lonely she actually was; how empty her body echoed.
“I know, Alice,” she continued after a while, as if she thought she could hear the girl’s voice speak to her, “I understand.” Annabelle pursed a little on her mouth, and lowered her gaze. “Alice, I’m sorry. I did things I shouldn’t have done, bad things. I let you down.” She raised her eyebrows again, as she continued to speak. “I hated you. Now I find it hard to go on with my life without you. I’m so sorry, Alice, that this had to happen to you. That I had to happen to you.” Annabelle took a deep breath, as she fervently wished that there had been someone there who could hold her hand.
“I miss you, Alice. I want you to know that.” The glittering stars smiled at her, and she embraced the darkness. A cold gust of wind made the treetops dance.
“I know, Annabelle.”
She came out from the darkness just when the pale new moon took the sky in its violence. The moonlight made her ebony hair shimmer, like the thousands of stars that brightened the black sky. Her chest was adorned with a dark scar, reaching from one shoulder to the other. The dress she wore was the same as before, dirty, full of tears and dried blood. She smiled vaguely, but her green eyes were still dull; empty and dead. She reminded Annabelle of a broken doll.
“I know, Annabelle,” she repeated, with a gentle, careful voice. Annabelle did her utmost not to run up to her friend. It was something that held her back.
“Alice,” she whispered. “You came back.” At first she was a little hesitant, because she had been so sure that Alice had died. Her body hadn’t shown any signs of life. Annabelle had seen her die, and she knows what death looks like. “How?” She breathed, when Alice gently sat down on the ground next to Annabelle. Annabelle reflected her movement. She feared deeply that the girl would only smile at her, and quietly whisper: ”You are hallucinating, Annabelle. I’m not really here; this is merely the shadows created by your own memories. I still lie where you left me, with a gaping wound in my chest. I’m dead." But Alice didn’t. Instead, she looked down to the ground.
“I died. The only thing I remember is how I fell, and the feeling of being free. Oh, and I heard them, Annabelle. Mother, father and Matthew. Mother whispered my name and Matthew laughed... Oh, Annabelle, I never thought I would hear him laugh again!” She paused, and Annabelle thought at first that Alice was crying. It took a little while, before Alice again began to speak.
“I flew over the woods; I saw my own dead body. I saw you. I tried to talk to you, but no words left my lips. Everything was so quiet, so still, and suddenly everything got so white. The white dazzled me, and I could no longer see. It hurt. Then, suddenly, I awoke, and found myself where I had fallen. You were gone, so I went to find you.” She turned her head up, and the look in her eyes was dead cold. As if she lost her soul, thought Annabelle. The dull, green eyes turned to Annabelle. “Now I’ve done that,” Alice said in a whisper. Then she closed her eyes, and her face contorted with pain.
“It hurts so much,” she whispered, “it hurts so much...” Annabelle looked sadly at her friend, and suddenly wished that she could take all her pain herself. For everything Alice had done for her, she felt that it was time to give a little back. Annabelle gently patted Alice on her shoulder.
“It will be fine,” she promised, and tried to smile, “I’m here for you, Alice.” Alice didn’t even try to control her uneven breathing, but instead saw right into Annabelle’s eyes; into her soul.
“I left them,” she whispered. “My family. I left them again.” And that was the first and last time Annabelle would ever see Alice cry.
It got better. Days passed by, and over time Alice got better. Her green eyes remained empty, but Annabelle had known that since the beginning. The girl had died, and death had left its mark. Although Annabelle was happy that Alice had returned, it was one thing that she couldn’t let go. If Alice could come back to life, why hadn’t Killian done it too? Annabelle gasped in pain as she thought of Killian and those she had lost. Why not father?
She leaned slightly forward to gently pat the horse’s white head. She and Alice had been lucky enough to find that their only horse hadn’t gone away, and so now they were yet again on their way home.
“I shouldn’t have come back,” said Alice suddenly, and Annabelle turned her head towards her.
“Don’t say that,” she said, trying to hide the weakness in her voice. She refused to see the truth behind Alice’s words; she didn’t want to think about the fact that Alice wanted to leave her alone. “Enough about that.” Alice swallowed.
“Alright, Annabelle. I won’t talk about it anymore.” Alice didn’t say anything more that day, which made Annabelle remain silent as well. However, she couldn’t quite let go of one thought, that constantly echoed inside her. Why not Killian? Why not father?
The next day would be the last day on their journey. The sun was hidden behind thick, gray clouds and shadows followed them just like they had done before. When Annabelle looked up at the sky, and the big, gray clouds, she came to think of a game she had often played when she was younger, and the war just had begun. The game had been very simple; she just turned her gaze upwards, to the sky. If the sky had been blue, whatever shade, it meant that the Yankees would win the war. However, if it was gray, she had seen it as a sign that the South finally would get to declare their states as a free country.
Annabelle had stopped the game pretty quick, though, for the sky had almost always been painted in blue.
“What do you think will happen when all of this is over?” The question hung silently between the two girls for a while, before Annabelle filled her lungs with air and answered.
“We will live in peace,” she said, without seeing Alice in the eyes. “We will live with those we love, and we will die of old age with a long and happy life behind us.” Alice turned to Annabelle.
“What if I can’t live in peace, then?” Annabelle noticed that Alice was serious, and sighed deeply.
“Then you’ll have to settle with just living, Alice. Many people don’t even get that.” The sun’s rays warmed not nearly as much anymore, and the two girls knew that darkness would soon come crawling. They traveled in silence for a moment, before Alice again began to speak, just as monotonous as usual.
“What is the meaning of life, Annabelle?” When Annabelle first didn’t respond, she continued. “Answer me honestly.” Annabelle took a deep breath, and the cold air made her feel calm.
“To live, I think. Learning to live to the fullest, surrounded by the people you love.” She smiled gently, and looked at Alice. “To be brave. Once life is over, you’ll regret all the things you never dared to do, rather than the things you actually did.” Alice nodded understandingly, but looked as if she couldn’t understand the meaning of Annabelle’s words.
“But what if we no longer have anything to live for?” She said then, calmly and thoughtfully, as if every word was carefully chosen.
“Then you find something worth living for. I know there’s something out there for you, Alice. There’s something out there for all of us; we just have to find it.” Then she lowered her voice. “Someone wise once told me that it’ll get better, Alice. And believe me, it truly does.”
Suddenly, so much pain rose inside Annabelle when she looked at the girl next to her, that it was hard for her not to close her eyes.
She’s just a child, she thought, just like me, forced to grow up too quickly. Annabelle suddenly felt an injustice so strong that it made her dizzy. None of this is fair. None of it. She’s just a child, and she has seen her family burn without being able to do anything. She has been abandoned, injured, killed - and she is still just a child. She has lost her soul, Annabelle said to herself, she is dead.
Her thoughts were abruptly ended when she suddenly felt a stinging pain inside. Her lungs ached with darkness, and she had to cough. Red blood colored the hand that she brought to the mouth, and she tried in vain to breathe. She was well aware of the symptoms, she knew what she was suffering from, yet a feeling of unreality crept up on her. She couldn’t be dying, not now. The thought of being so close to home, to her happy ending, was clouded in gray mist and numb darkness. She couldn’t go home. What if she infected Katherine?
Annabelle may not have been good, but she wasn’t evil. She couldn’t risk her family’s well being just to get to spend her last moments with them; it wouldn’t be right. She gently drew a deep breath, a weak, trembling one, and then cleaned her red hands on her pants. No one would notice the blood there, as it slowly melted into the dirty fabric. Then she returned her thoughts.
Alice died. I don’t know her anymore. She is so empty, so lonely, so closed. The girl who came to return wasn’t the same that left. It hurts me, but I have to admit - if only to myself - that it would have been better if she never had come back. No matter who resurrected her - God, Simone, or she herself - she should have remained dead.