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Save me from the nothing I've become

“Would you look at that, it fits you perfectly!” Annabelle made a solid bow with the blue hat band under Alice’s chin, which made the girl look like a little doll. Alice smiled, embarrassed, and her dimples made her look even more beautiful. Then she spun around, just to hear the dress dance and to see the dress’ skirt whirl around her like the petals of a flower.

The dress, a delightful creation in light blue chiffon with white lace and ruffles along the skirt, had been a gift from Annabelle’s father to Annabelle, and was still considered quite new. The hat that Alice wore was one of Annabelle’s favorites, and even though it stung in her heart, she had to admit that it looked much better on Alice, than it ever had on her.

“You really think so?” Alice’s forest green eyes looked questioningly into Annabelle’s (for the moment) calm and mature ones.

“You look beautiful, my friend,” Annabelle smiled as she leaned forward and straightened the bow. Then she bit her lip, and laid her arms lovingly around Alice’s bare shoulders. “Come on now, let us go downstairs. Mother is probably wondering what we are doing.” Alice nodded happily, and followed Annabelle down the broad marble staircase like a little puppy, unable to make her own decisions.

“Simone!” Annabelle’s impatient voice echoed through the house’s white walls. When Annabelle did not receive an answer, she stomped angrily on the floor, just like a little child who did not want to go to bed. “Simone?” she repeated, then, after having tried to calm herself down and wait patiently. Sweeping footsteps made Annabelle spin around as she stood beneath the stairs. Her dress danced around her legs, and the dark brown curls swirled around her head.

“Florence?” Annabelle said, surprised, for she had expected to meet Simone’s dark eyes. Florence, a slightly older woman from Louisiana, also one of the family’s slaves, was busy scrubbing the floor. She gave Annabelle a quick glance.

“If you are looking for Simone, she went out.” Florence shook on her head, and muttered something to herself in french, before she continued with her work.

“Oh,” Annabelle murmured, somewhat surprised, somewhat curious. That Simone loved nature and being close to it was no secret. But without her? Her heart hurt, but she knew that the bond between her and Simone was stronger than that. And yes, it could very well have suffered from a blow, but it was still there, and it was going to mend itself; it always did. Annabelle took a deep breath and shook her head so that the curls danced.

“Alice,” she then said happily, in an attempt to maintain her false facade, as she did not want to show the unjust anger and jealousy that grew within her. “I'll see if I can find Simone, would you be so good and stay here?” A faint smile was reflected on Annabelle’s pale lips, when Alice nodded happily. It had not really been a question, but more of a command; a command to follow. With a quick jerk of her head, Annabelle disappeared out through the door, but it was first when the raw wind swept along her already rosy cheeks, that she felt something she knew her mother would have called sympathy.

“There you are!” The sound of Annabelle’s clear voice made Simone turn around. Her voice had a sharp undertone, which made Simone insecure. Annabelle was hidden under the big oak tree, which had its watchful place near the Sutton’s estate. Simone attempted a smile, as she felt her cheeks beginning to turn red.

“Here I am,” she said, and held on to the skirt of her pale gray dress. She knew that Annabelle wanted something; she could feel it in her presence. She walked towards her friend. “Miss Annabelle,” she said when she reached the girl, and her words were hard and obedient, when she raised her head to meet Annabelle’s hazel eyes. The oak shaded Annabelle’s face, and made her look rather sad.

“I just wondered where you went,” Annabelle said, and her voice startled Simone by being soft and friendly. Simone was not quite sure what she saw, but it seemed like a smile was playing on Annabelle’s lips. Suddenly Simone felt pride in her heart, a feeling that quickly spread to the rest of the body - but as fragile as a pale pink rosebud on the summer’s first days. It was something, though.

“Oh, I - I just wanted to take a breath of fresh air.” Simone nodded, and could not help but let the little spark of hope in her heart reflect in the shape of a smile. Then she laughed, and was so surprised by herself that she immediately put her hands to her mouth, eyes widened like a child who had been caught doing something bad. Annabelle raised her eyebrows, but Simone saw how wild her eyes sparkled.

She was glad to see Annabelle happy, like the girl she had been when Simone first got to know her. She wondered if maybe Annabelle had let her jealousy go, and actually saw Alice as the innocent girl she was, a girl who had had many difficult moments in her life, but still saw life in a positive way. Simone had learned to never really rely on Annabelle’s charisma, or on her body language, but she had also learned to love Annabelle despite her flaws, for it was the flaws that made Annabelle a real person.

“Miss Annabelle,” said Simone, then, a little absent, because her gaze was fixed on the gray, quivering sky above them. “I think there is a storm coming. Shouldn't we go inside?” It was not often that Annabelle let Simone tell her what she should and should not do, because Simone was still her maid, but now Annabelle nodded, for even she saw that the dark sky up above did not look promising.

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