Am I too lost to be saved?
“No, I will not tell her that I am sorry.” Annabelle’s voice was hard and cold, and she stood by her words. She was never going to beg Alice for forgiveness. Simone could almost hear how Annabelle shrugged her shoulders through the locked door.
“Please, Miss Annabelle, I beg of you to not blame her. She did not know,” Simone tried vaguely to make Annabelle understand, and put her hand against the door. She felt so sorry for Alice, who after Annabelle had stormed off, had locked herself in her room and refused to let anyone in, and it was so typical that this would happen, that John... Simone had hoped that he was long gone by now.
“No, I say. Do you not hear me?” Simone sighed heavily and pressed her face against the broad door. She did not want to argue with Annabelle, but oh, sometimes she just wanted to just throw out all her feelings, all her thoughts, and let Annabelle drown in them. Annabelle was incapable of forgiveness, and she could not forget either. Simone knew that Alice would never be fully accepted in Annabelle’s eyes again, and it was such a shame, because everything was just a misunderstanding.
“Annabelle, Miss...” Simone smiled sadly to herself, and gave up all her attempts to set things right. “You know what? I feel sorry for you. Not everything in the world is about you. You can never realize when you have made a mistake, and you can not forgive! Annabelle, I feel sorry for you.”
A silence spread between them, and Simone could hear Annabelle’s heavy breathing from behind the door. Simone shook her head, tired, before she left. She knew it had been dumb of her to say those things, but Annabelle had to know it.
“Goodbye, Annabelle,” she said calmly.
She walked slowly towards Alice’s room, a little unsure of her actions. Today was a bad day, and there was nothing Simone could do that would make it better. When she stood outside Alice’s room, she raised her hand to knock but was interrupted when she heard that Alice wasn’t alone.
“I can not do that,” she heard Alice’s usually soft voice say firmly, and then it fell silent when a darker, duller voice was heard.
“You do not know that! Do not be so stupid, Alice. And for God’s sake, do not speak so loud!” Simone could hear the seriousness of the stranger’s voice, the fear of being discovered. “No one can know that I am here!”
At first, Simone though that it was Adrienne, with her dark voice that sometimes could be taken for a man’s. But then she realized that it could not possibly be so, because the voice had no french accent like Adrienne’s. Also, Adrienne would never call Alice stupid. She was very fond of Alice, and Simone knew that she often wished that she could have raised her instead of Annabelle. But who else could it be? She fought against the instinct to open the door just a little, to see.
During the following seconds Simone just stood there, quiet, and leaned against the bare, white wall as she wondered what to do. She heard the stranger walking around in the room with harsh, determined steps. Who was it?
Suddenly she knew. John! It must be John. Alice had said that they would meet, right? Simone cursed herself for not thinking of that earlier. But then she became confused again, because John would never have to hide from the family, and if he was hiding, he would not have to worry about being discovered. There fell my theory, Simone thought hopelessly to herself.
Then she winced. A disturbing, frightening silence lay over the room, so thick that she felt it even though she was standing outside. All that was heard was a weak, grinding sound. The sound was familiar, and suddenly Simone realized that it was the sound of a window being opened. A muted thud explained that the stranger had left - probably by jumping from the window. Again she heard the grinding noise, and Simone assumed that the window was being closed. Rattling steps echoed from inside the room.
Simone felt an ominous headache beginning to take over her mind, and knew at once that she was in trouble, because what she felt was not a real headache. It was one of the premonitions that so often plagued her.
She opened her eyes when she understood its meaning, and had just enough time to turn around the corner, towards the stairs, before Alice’s door swung wide open.
A gust of wind shook the pale, empty trees outside the window. Annabelle could hear how the wind howled, a pained cry that made her think of her own misfortune, where she sat with her head placed in her pale hands and elbows leaning against the cool window bench made out of marble. She knew that Adrienne hated when she did that, because she always said that the elbows became wrinkled, something that did not suit a young lady like Annabelle. But right now Annabelle could not bother her troubled brain with further problems, and certainly not a problem like that.
She sighed deeply and leaned her head slightly to the side. A lonely bird sailed silently over the light gray sky. It looked very beautiful, and Annabelle wished that she could fly like that, too. Then she could fly away from all the darkness and the misery, leave everything behind, letting everything go. She could make her own life, she could start over. Away from the betrayal, the death and the war, and the darkness that followed her like a shadow.
The desire gripped her so tight that she for a second thought that she never would be released from it. This was something she wanted almost as much as getting her family whole again. The sad part was that none of her wishes could come true; they were both out of reach. Angel wings are the only wings I will ever get, she thought sadly, and I am not that sure I will get them either.
Annabelle would live her life here, in the empty corner of Virginia, which after the war would be completely destroyed. She would find a man, probably at least twice as old as herself, give birth to five children and raise them as good Christians, just like she herself had been raised. Her life was so predictable; nothing was left to faith. And that was the thing about her life that was so sad. Annabelle did not want to live a life like that, but she had no choice.
“I will never be free,” she whispered, and did her best to keep her rising tears from falling.