The girl who lived in the shadow

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3. Hana

09. 09. 2018.

I was dancing. My body was moving to the beautiful sound of the vampire waltz music. I was trying my best to dance to every move of the choreography, but I couldn’t. The pain in my body didn’t let me.

Charles had spun me around, his left hand gliding down my spine. I placed my hand around his neck, moving my fingers from his neck down to his arm until our hands didn’t lock back together.

I glanced away from Charles to the bench where Romana was sitting with her arms crossed.

Barbara, the girl next to her, leaned to her and whispered, “Is she okay?”

Romana shrugged still looking at me. “I don’t know. I’ve never seen her dance like that.”

My eyes moved from her to professor Black who was standing next to the record player, glaring me with her brown eyes. She looked unimpressed, and I know that I will get schooled as soon as the music will stop.

Charles lifted me up and I wrapped my right arm around his neck, holding tight. He spun me around a couple of times before slowly putting me down. I tried to push the pain away, but I couldn’t. It was still there.

The music suddenly stopped, and I looked at professor Black turning off the record player.

“Are you sure you are okay?” I turned back to Charles. “You are not yourself today.” He wiped off his sweaty blond hair away from his forehead.

I nodded. “I’m just exhausted. That’s all.”

“What did you do? Dig up a grave?” he joked.

I smiled sadly. “Something like that.”

“Is everything okay, Hana?” Professor Black asked. She stood in front of me, looking at me seriously. “The show is in seven weeks and you still don’t know the whole dance.”

“I’m sorry, Professor Black. It’s just...I didn’t sleep well, and...” She rose her hand in the air. “I don’t care if you didn’t sleep at all. You have to know the dance, or you will be replaced. Got it?”

I nodded. “Yes”

She lifted her head high in the air and looked at me with a smirk on her face. “Good. Now sit down.” She turned around to the blond girl sitting on the floor. “Margareth! You are going to replace Hana until she doesn’t learn the dance!” she yelled so hard that when the poor girl quickly stood up, her legs were wobbling like jelly.

Margareth slowly walked to Charles, and when Charles placed his hand on her hip, she jumped in fear.

I walked to the bench and took a seat next to Romana who gave me my bottle of water.

“Thank you,” I said.

“You are welcome,” she said back.

Professor Black turned the music on again, and the beautiful music had spread throughout the room in a matter of seconds. Margareth and Charles started dancing and everyone gasped at the beauty of their dance. They looked like two swans dancing in a lake. Every move they made was perfection.

“They dance like swans,” I commented.

“If you didn’t dance like crap, you wouldn’t be replaced by the priest’s niece,” Romana whispered in my ear. I glanced at her shaking my head.

When I first met Romana she was someone I didn’t want to hang out with. She was the opposite of me. She smoked, partied, and always got drunk. Me? I was never like that. My life wasn’t surrounded by smoking, partying, and drinking.

But how the time had passed, I started to like her, and eventually, we became best friends.

“It doesn’t matter. They look beautiful together,” I said to her.

She shrugged, returning her attention to Margareth and Charles. “Look at her. That blond bitch always gets everything.”

“Don’t call her like that. It isn’t her fault.”

She rolled her eyes. “Then you better don’t come to me crying after she takes your place.”

~ - ~

The moment I stepped outside of the school, I felt the breeze of the cold wind hitting my face. I loved the feel of the coldness on my pale cheek and the way the wind blew through my hair. For the first time during this day, I felt almost alive.

“You are going tomorrow, aren’t you?” Romana asked me.

I nodded, searching for my mother in the parking lot. “Of, course. I already said that to you ten times today.”

“I’m just making sure that my girl is going, and that she isn’t joking.” She rose her hands in the air.

I rolled my eyes and walked further through the parking lot until my eyes didn’t catch my mother sitting behind the steering wheel with a frown on her face. She was talking to an old man who was standing outside, leaning both of his glowed hands on my mother’s red car. She didn’t seem happy to talk to him. She looked rather uncomfortable.

“Who is that?” Romana asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t know.”

I walked to the car, catching my mother’s attention. She saw me from the corner of her eyes and she immediately smiled. The corners of her hazel eyes wrinkled, and the smile she gave me looked forced. Like she pretended to be happy to see me.

The man turned around and I immediately recognized him.

“What is Margareth’s uncle doing here?” Romana whispered in my ear.

I glanced at her and whispered back, “I don’t know.”

I looked back at the greasy blond man and the way he smiled at me. His smile was big, and he showed off his white crooked teeth. His blue eyes looked empty, almost gone. And his perfect ironed, black clothes were covered with mud.

“Hello, Hana,” he greeted me, glancing at Romana. “Hello to you too, Romana.”

I smiled at him a little. “Good day, father Dan.”

“Good day,” Romana said under her breath.

“How was at school?” he asked.

“It was okay, thank you for asking,” Romana answered for us.

“How was your day?” I asked him, trying to be polite.

“It was good, thank you for asking Hana.” he smiled. “I was just asking your mother about why didn’t you come to Sunday’s service this week.”

I looked at my mother who glared at me from her car. “I was sick, and I’m sorry for not being there.”

Father Dan glanced at my mother then back at me. “I hope it wasn’t anything serious.”

“I’m fine now,” I said.

The car door opened and my mother stepped out. “Girls,” she said in a low tone. She nodded to the car and looked at me with a frown on her face. “I’m sorry, father, but we need to hurry.”

Romana and I sat in the car and watched my mother speaking to father Dan.

“It’s okay.” He looked at me over my mother’s shoulder. “Don’t forget to come to this Sunday’s service.”

“Don’t worry, we will be there,” my mother answered.

Father Dan nodded his head and walked away. My mother waited until he disappeared between the cars before entering back into the car.

“What did you two talk about?” I asked her.

She turned the car on and sighed. “Nothing you should worry about.”

10.09.2018.

I wiped off the fog on the mirror with my right hand and looked at myself through the small visible piece of mirror. My face was, like always, pale as ice and my green eyes were standing out under the dimmed light. My collarbone was sticking out, and I could easily see my ribs showing.

And just like my body, my mind felt exhausted too. I felt exhausted from the pills that I’m taking, and also from all the hard training I did for the show. I wanted to make sure that I finally learned the whole choreography.

I wanted to stay at home, lie in my perfectly made bed and draw something, but I promised Romana that I would be there. And I can’t break a promise.

Opening the bathroom cabinet, I took out my bottle of pills with my shaky hands, and when I tried to open the bottle, the whole bottle spilled all over the sink.

“Fuck,” I said under my breath.

What was wrong with me? Did the nerves eat me so hard?

I took one of the remaining pills from the bottle and put it into my mouth. I turned the water on, cupped my hand, and waited for it to be filled with water before I siped the water from my hand. Swallowing the pill, I picked up the fallen pills and threw them into the toilet.

I walked out of the bathroom into my bedroom where my already opened closet was waiting for me. The black dress that my mother choose for me was hanging from the door with the matching black shoes lying on the floor.

I threw the towel on the floor, standing completely naked before putting some black underwear on. Taking the dress off the hanger, I slowly slid through the tight material until I finally zipped it up. After that, I sat on the floor and tied my shoes. They were shining, and I knew for a fact that my mother would kill me if I ruined them tonight.

I stood up from the floor and caught Mona staring at me. Her blue eyes were staring at my green ones. They were telling me how much she missed me.

I miss you too, I wanted to say, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t talk to her again. Mother wouldn’t allow me to.

“Hana, it’s time,” my father yelled from downstairs.

“I’m coming.” Before I turned the lights off, I grabbed my bag, and jacket from the chair and wished Mona good night.

As I was walking down the stairs to the living room, I saw my father already waiting for me on the couch with a phone in his hands. He was texting someone and he seemed happy. I wonder if he was texting mom or someone else.

“Dad,” I called him. He looked at me and quickly locked his phone so I couldn’t see the name of the person he was texting.

“You look beautiful, Hana,” he said in a thick Croatian accent. “I think I should go with Romana and you. There will be boys, and I don’t want some drunk hooligan staring at my daughter.” I laughed at his comment.

My father, Mario Petrovich, born 24.09.1971. in Novi Marof, Croatia was the first generation of a Croatian sheriff in this small town named Raventwon. Today was his day off, but that didn’t seem to stop him from driving his daughter to a party in his police car.

“I’m going to be fine.” I kissed him on the cheek when suddenly my phone buzzed in my hand. It was Romana.

Where are you? We are going to be late. - R

I quickly replied that we were on our way.

“Who is it?” he asked.

“We have to go. Romana is waiting for us.” I locked my phone and threw it into my bag.

He walked to the kitchen and grabbed his car keys. At that moment, I realized that mom wasn’t home. She was usually watching her Turkish series when she would correct her tests.

“Where is mom?” I asked dad while we were walking down the path to his car.

“She is at Natalia’s. They are preparing the history exam for Monday.”

~ - ~

Romana was already waiting for us when we turned into her yard. She was standing in her skin-tight, red dress and black high hills. Her blond hair was curled and her brown eyes were popping under the heavy makeup. She looked nothing like an eighteen-year-old, and I guess she was meeting her mystery man.

“Hello, Mr. Petrovich,” she greeted my father, winking at me.

“Hello to you too, Romana,” he greeted back.

“Are you ready?“I asked.

“I am, you?” She leaned into her seat, smiling like an idiot.

“Yes,” I lied.

~ - ~

The drive was quiet. My father would sometimes glance at Romana who was only staring at her phone. She was probably texting her mysterious boyfriend that I never knew much about except for his age. According to her, her mysterious boyfriend was in his late 30′s or even early 40′s.

“Will I finally meet the guy?” I asked. She glanced towards me, shaking her head.

“He isn’t ready yet.” She sounded angry.

I glanced at my father who was acting like he didn’t hear our conversation.

“We are here,” he said.

He was right, we were here.

The party was in the forest, not far away from the main road. The road into the forest was already filled with cars, and the music could be heard from a mile away. I guess that the party has already started.

“Call me if something happens,” My father said before I got out of the car.

“I will.” I shut the door behind me. Romana and I waited until my dad finally drow off.

“What is that on your back?” she asked, trying to touch the burned scar on my left shoulder.

I quickly turned around and grabbed her hand before she had a chance to touch me. “It’s nothing you should worry about.” I smiled. She looked at me confused before she nodded her head.

“Anyway, are you ready for tonight?” she asked. The truth was, I wasn’t. I never liked those things, but maybe, just one time, I could let my guard down and finally have some fun.

“Yes.” It was an answer that I practiced throughout the whole drive.

“Let’s go.” She grabbed my arm and pulled me to the forest.

People were already dancing around the fire, drinking, smoking, and making out. I see why Romana always liked those parties. She was like those people, while I, on the other hand, wasn’t.

“Hi, Romana.” A guy approached us. His blond hair and blue eyes made him look familiar. I could swear that I’ve seen him somewhere, but I couldn’t remember from where.

“Hi, John.” She hugged him. I felt like an idiot standing there, next to them.

“You know Hana,” she introduced me.

“Of course I know Hana Petrovich. You are the sheriff’s daughter.” He turned towards me, a small smirk playing on his lips. He certainly knew who I was, but it’s a shame that I didn’t know him.

“Yes, I am.” I faked my smile. His eyes traveled down my body and went back to my eyes.

“Go ahead, enjoy the party. I will find you later.” He tapped me on the shoulder before he walked off to some guy.

“He likes you.” I looked at Romana who smiled at me.

“How could he like me when he doesn’t even know me?” I laughed.

“Doesn’t know you?” She frowned. “You two know each other since you were kids, Hana.”

“If we knew each other, I would have remembered his name.”

~ - ~

An hour has passed since I arrived at the party, and I was still sitting next to the fire with a bottle of beer that I haven’t even touched. I was bored. The couple next to me was making out, their tounges were fighting for dominance. And to top it all off, Romana left me. She said an hour ago that she was going to grab a drink, and yet, she still didn’t return.

I shouldn’t even come here in the first place. This was a total waste of time.

I checked my phone. It was almost midnight and she still wasn’t here.

The music got louder. In a second, the speakers went dead, and a high pitch sound came from them.

Dropping the bottle on the floor, I covered my ears. My head started to hurt and my eyes were getting blurry.

“What did you do?!” someone screamed.

“It was an accident,” another one answered. A moment later, the two guys started a fight while the rest of the people started surrounding the two guys, enjoying the fight. My eyes were searching for Romana. She was nowhere to be found.

Standing up, I tripped over an empty bottle, almost falling into the fire.

“Woah. Are you okay?” I remembered this voice. It was John. His hands were the ones that stopped me from falling into the fire.

“Yes, thank you.” I straightened myself up. He was still holding me, his strong hands wrapped around my chest, a place that I didn’t like to be touched.

“Here is some water.” He gave me a cup, and for a moment I considered if I wanted to drink it or not.

“Relax, I didn’t put anything in there,” he said.

I smiled a little. “I didn’t mean to accuse you, I just...”

He placed his hand on my shoulder. “You are the sheriff’s daughter. It’s normal for you to be suspicious about everything.”

His answer made me relax and I drank the water from the cup.

“Thank you,” I said, giving him the empty cup back.

“Are you sure you are okay?” he asked again, but this time looking at me with worry.

“Yes, thanks for asking. I’m searching for Romana. Did you see her?” I moved his arm from my shoulder.

He shook his head. “Not for the past two hours.” I thanked him once again for the water before I started walking through the crowd, trying to call Romana.

The person can’t answer you right now, please leave a message or call back later.

“Where are you? I’m worried sick here. I’m going home. I don’t feel well. Call me as soon as you get this message.” I ended the call and decided to call my father next.

The person can’t answer you right now, please leave a message or call back later.

“Hi, dad. Can you please come to pick me up? I don’t feel well. I will wait for you where you have left me.” I ended the call and put my phone back into my purse.

The music was getting lower as I walked deeper into the forest, searching for a way to the main road. My head felt heavy and I started hearing footsteps behind me.

“Is that you John?” I turned around and there was no one there.

The footsteps started again, but this time from the left side. My mind was starting to panic and I started to run. I tried to run away from it. From the shadow following me. I didn’t know where I was going. I could bearly even see.

From the corner of my eyes, I saw a shadow behind a tree looking at me. He was wearing a raven mask and a white coat.

I screamed, but it was too late. The shadow has already grabbed me and I fell into internal darkness.


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