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Lay your weary head to rest

“Annabelle? Annabelle, I want to talk to you about something.” Her mother’s voice sounded calm, but Annabelle knew Charlotte very well, and knew that it was just one of her many facades. Annabelle rose slowly, because she was not in her best mood and this did not make it any better.

“I am coming, mother,” the girl replied with fake politeness, as she sighed deeply. She could no longer act false, and she hated to not get what she wanted. With as calm steps as possible, Annabelle walked down the broad marble staircase and then continued into the kitchen.

As she let a charming smile play on her lips, she sat down by the wide oak table, where her mother patiently waited. Charlotte brushed away nonexisting dust from her dress skirt before she started to speak.

“Your behavior is unacceptable,” she said, with eyes fixed on the white laces that so beautifully adorned her dress’ sleeves.

“But mother, I-” Annabelle tried to sound as innocent and sweet as she could, even though the emotions bubbling inside her were like a volcano before its eruption.

“No buts,” her mother interrupted her. “You have behaved in a very indelicate manner; in a way I can not allow. It does not surprise me that it began first when Alice arrived.” Only now, Charlotte looked at her daughter, who no longer understood the meaning of their conversation.

Annabelle started to feel embarrassed when Alice’s name was mentioned, but hid it well by twisting her hands under the table.

“Therefore I have decided, since your father is not present at the moment and I am the one making decisions in this family, that you and Alice will go away for a while.” Annabelle thought she saw a small smile play on her mother’s lips. She said nothing, for it was useless; she knew that her mother would not change her decision and that nothing could make her change her mind.

“I have asked Adrienne to prepare a meal for you two to eat on the journey, and the horses will be saddled at sunrise tomorrow, ready to go. You will be away for a long time, so Simone will help you pack your things.” With those words, Charlotte left the table, and her heavy footsteps echoed deep within Annabelle as she walked away.

"Dear Diary," Annabelle began. There was so much that she wanted to write, that she could not decide what to begin with. ”I do not know what I am going to do. Mother have decided that I, along with the awful Alice, will go on a journey early tomorrow morning. I do not even know where! Father would never have made me do this! I miss him too much sometimes, and the thought of him right now, perhaps lying dead in a mass grave in the north, haunts my mind every day." The sound of Simone’s bright voice made Annabelle quickly hide the diary under the bed’s mattress, a very bad hideout, but Annabelle did not have time.

“Miss Annabelle, your mother sent me to pack your clothes. Would you be so kind as to let me in?” Annabelle noticed a tired tone in Simone’s usually so cheerful voice, and her heart was crushed inside her body, when she thought of how their friendship really had been tested since Alice had arrived. All evil was Alice’s fault, the girl thought as she replied to Simone:

“Come on in.”

It took a second or two before the door was opened and Simone entered. She curtsied slowly before she quickly hurried to the wardrobe. Annabelle said nothing when Simone started packing her dresses, pants, scarves and hats, but instead let eyes look out through the window. The sky was still gray, but little brighter. It did not rain; Annabelle actually thought she saw a glimpse of the sun’s faded February rays hide behind a gray cloud. It gave her hope.

“Miss Annabelle?” The warm, slightly stressed voice echoed in the room while a pair of arms patted Annabelle a little carelessly on her shoulders. “Miss Annabelle, you need to wake up!” Slowly Annabelle opened her eyes, only to gaze into Simone’s familiar face. She looked tired and washed-out, when she tore away Annabelle’s soft blanket.

“Simone,” said the newly awakened girl sleepily and raised her head from the pillow, “what are you talking about?” Simone curtsied, and then shook on her black-haired head, as she went with hasty steps towards the closet. She opened the carved mahogany doors and began to pull out the few of Annabelle’s dresses, which were not already packed in the large trunk.

“Simone,” Annabelle repeated, and let out a deep sigh before she got up from the bed. “What is going on?” Simone shook again on her black head, while she laid a dark blue dress on the bed. She took out Annabelle’s black horse riding shoes and the her white knee socks. Then she turned her eyes to Annabelle, and when she spoke, there was no longer any friendship or love in her voice.

“Miss Annabelle is going on a journey,” she said tired, “along with Alice.” Then she held out her hand to Annabelle. When Annabelle made no gesture to take it, Simone sighed, a little stressed. “You are already late! You must hurry up.” A skeptical frown stretched over Annabelle’s face. Then something happened.

“Oh,” Annabelle said quietly, stroking a dark brown curl back behind her ear. “Well, it is not like I can do anything about it.” She took a deep breath and let Simone lace her with the corset she had in her hand.

After that, when Simone was about to put on the elegant dress on the girl’s slender figure, Annabelle realized something.

“Where is your bag, Simone, with your clothes?” She asked curiously, for there were only two large trunks in the family; one was Annabelle’s, and the other one Alice had borrowed.

“Miss Annabelle,” said Simone, a bit hesitant, and made a stiff bow around Annabelle’s waist.

“Yes,” Annabelle breathed, because the dress and corset sat unusually hard. Then she got a distrusting expression on her face. “What is it that I do not know about?” Annabelle eyed the black-haired figure who was just about to dress her legs with the white knee socks. “Simone,” she said, and her voice was threatening.

“I have no packing, Miss, because I will not come with you.” Annabelle blinked, and looked for a moment as if someone had slapped her in the face.

“But you must follow, Simone,” she said, then, when she had recovered from her friend’s words. “I could never be able to go by myself, with only Alice as my company! And I could never survive without you, Simone, for who would help me with - well, with everything?” Simone gently turned her head slightly to the side, trying to see if Annabelle was serious, if her words were true.

“Oh, Simone, you must come with me,” Annabelle continued to beg, and grabbed her friend’s shoulder. Simone only looked at her without answering, because she did not know what to say. Yesterday she had been so sure that their friendship had reached its end, mostly because of Annabelle’s behavior, but now she did not know what to think.

“Please,” Annabelle whispered, because Simone’s silence made a dark anxiety grow within her. Then Simone took a deep breath, and looked straight into her friend’s eyes.

“Miss Annabelle, I can not do that, I really can not.” Then she stood up quickly; so fast that stars flashed before her eyes, and walked with steady steps towards the door. Once there, she turned to Annabelle. “Have fun on your trip, Miss Annabelle. Take good care of yourself, and we will see each other soon again. I will be waiting for you here at home.”

Then she turned towards the door so quickly that her ebony colored hair flew around her head. Without another word, she opened the door and walked out, while Annabelle herself bent down to put on her shoes.

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