The girl who lived in the shadow

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17. Hana

16. 09. 2018.

It was in the middle of the night when I smelled something burning. It was a smell of burning paper and something else. Something I couldn’t figure out.

I rolled to my right side, checked on my phone what time it was, and I saw that it was almost four in the morning. I took a deep breath and stood up from my bed. I needed to find out what was that awful smell.

My feet were bare as I tip-toed down the stairs to the living room where I found my mother standing in front of the burning fireplace in her nightgown and bare feet. She watched how the fire was destroying two pieces of black fabric. She took a small wood in her hand and moved the clothes a little so that she could throw a black notebook on top of that. The fire consumed the black notebook in seconds, and almost five minutes later, the notebook was almost turned into ashes.

“Are you going to just stand there?” she asked.

I took a deep breath and stepped forward. “I didn’t mean to stare at you,” I whispered.

She turned around and looked at me from head to toe. “You smelled something burning.” Her voice was cold. It was so cold that it brought chills on my spine.

“I wanted to check if everything was all right.” I walked to her and stared at the burning fire in front of me.

“What did you burn?” I asked.

“Some old things,” she answered, “You don’t have to worry about that, okay?” She turned around, placed her hand on my shoulder, and smiled.

“I understand,” I said. My voice was so low that I couldn’t hear it.

“Good. Now go back to sleep. Today is going to be a big day for you.”

~ - ~

I was standing in my kitchen, chopping vegetables when I heard someone banging on my balcony door. The fear of Margareth’s killer finding me went through my mind, and I started to panic. Somehow he found a way to go past the police, and now he is here to kill me.

I reached for the knife and started running to the main door. The loud banging suddenly stopped, and then I heard someone calling my name, “Hana! It’s me, Romana.”

I sighed and walked to the balcony door. I saw Romana standing with a broken umbrella in her hand. Her jeans and shoes were dipped in mud, and her body was shaking from the cold weather.

“Are you just going to stand there with that knife, or are you going to let me in?” she growled.

I blinked a couple of times before finally coming back to my senses. I unlocked the door and let her in. “Why aren’t you answering your phone?” She threw the umbrella on the floor before pushing me with her hands. “I thought something happened to you.” Her breath was shallow and her big lips were trembling.

“It’s in the kitchen. I must have forgotten to turn on the sound,” I whispered.

My eyes went through her face, making me wonder what caused her unrecognizable behavior.

“You better have it turned on.” She reached for me and hugged me while I stood there like a statue.

“What happened?” I asked, but she didn’t answer. Instead, she asked, “Where are your parents?”

“My mother is at school, and my father didn’t come since yesterday.” I watched her untying her muddy shoes and walking to the kitchen. “Do you have something warm to drink? I’m freezing.” She went through my kitchen cabinets, searching for the tea.

“You are freaking me out Romana. Tell me what happened.”

Romana stopped what she was doing and turned around towards me. “Haven’t you seen the news?”

I shook my head. “You know that I don’t watch it anymore. It makes me sick.”

Romana looked down and said, “Roman is dead.”

I narrowed my eyes. “The junky Roman?”

“They’ve just found his car at the entrance of the town.”

I took a seat on the kitchen counter, trying to process things. I can’t believe that the only person who knew the person that attacked me that night was now dead. “How did he die?” I asked her.

“They say that he lost control over the car and ended up crashing into a tree in the church’s forest.”

“How do you know that?”

“Your father told mine and then I overheard him and my mother talking about it.”

“Oh.”

“How are you feeling?” She walked to me and sat next to me. Her hands were placed on the kitchen counter and her eyes were full of warmth. She is worried about me more than she usually was.

“I’m fine,” I answered, but I don’t know how should I feel. A part of me was sad that he died, while the other part is happy because he was one of the reasons that his happened to me.

“He was a junky, but he used to be our friend. It’s normal to feel sad,” she said.

I glanced at her and saw her giggle. “Remember how he used to call your mother?”

“Evil creature.” The memory of him saying that to my mother made me smile. He always disliked her. To him, my mother was the scariest woman he ever met. I don’t blame him for saying that because I have the first-hand experience of my mother’s bad temper.

“Do you think he suffered?” I asked.

Romana stared at me for a moment. “I think everyone suffers when he is at the edge of dying.”

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