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There's a bad moon rising

Time seemed to move too slowly, and the sound of the rain against the window didn’t make things better. It was as if the forest was wrapped in some kind of misty veil. Luckily, Simone had packed both the poetry book and Annabelle’s diary.

Annabelle couldn’t figure out how Simone got hold of the diary, much less that she even knew Annabelle had one. She got cold when she thought about it. Simone must have read it, and then she knew about all the things that Annabelle had written about her. There were many things regarding Simone who astonished Annabelle, things she never had the courage to ask about. Meanwhile, Annabelle was very grateful that she had her journal, and hoped that Simone wasn’t all too mad at her, about the things she had written.

Carefully, she opened the pale brown diary, and a scent of home struck her. She smiled faintly, as she browsed between the yellow pages. She let the memories haunt her for a while, as she sat curled up in her bed. Then she took the pen, dipped it in a small bottle of ink and began to write.

"Dear diary“, she began, and smiled somewhat to the familiar feeling the pen and the paper gave her, ”you’ll never guess where we are. I can give you a hint: We are deep, deep in the woods. The rain never seems to end! This is my third day here, and actually, I think I like it. Besides the raining, of course, and that Alice is here too. Mrs. Ericsson, the master of the house, is quite nice. However, right now she is sad, because yesterday she found out that her husband and three sons has died in the war. I suffer with her, for I understand how she feels. But there’s nothing I can do about it. The war will only continue to take lives, and even though my father’s and my two brothers’ names didn’t appear on the list of the lost, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t wounded, or perhaps dead as of right now. Oh, my heart hurts when I think of them! I miss them so much my body aches, and I don’t know if I can keep smiling any longer. I feel lost inside myself, so terribly lost. But I still hold on to what I once promised: I will my get family back together, even if the only thing that remains of them is the ashes of their bodies."

Annabelle sighed deeply when she finished her text; she didn’t know how much longer she would be able to keep up with everything. Then she closed her diary and placed it gently on the old bedside table, before she brought out the poetry book.

“Alice”, Annabelle whispered, when the two girls lay in their beds next to each other, awaiting the darkness of the silent night together. She was careful not to raise her voice that much, because she didn’t want to wake Mrs. Ericsson, who had fallen asleep right after the poor dinner. “Are you awake, Alice?” When she didn’t get a response, Annabelle took a deep breath and closed her eyes.

“I’m awake, Annabelle”, she heard Alice’s voice answer her. “I can’t sleep.” Annabelle smiled faintly.

“I was just wondering”, she whispered back, “if you remember that time when you said you would meet John?” Annabelle hated herself because she said his name, when she had fought so hard to leave it in the past. The name alone made her heart seethe with anger, and her face was twisted in a grimace. Then she heard Alice draw a deep breath, as if someone had given her a hard blow to the chest.

“John,” she whispered, and her voice was uncertain, as if she wasn’t quite sure what she would say next. “I’ve met him many times. But that time, I didn’t meet him, no.” Her words were soft, yet tough, and for a moment, they took the words out of Annabelle’s mouth.

“So you mean,” Annabelle said then, when she had calmed down, “that you and John knew each other even before you came to us?” The room was completely hidden in darkness, but Annabelle thought she could see Alice nod.

“We knew each other before, you’re right, Annabelle.” Then she heard that Alice turned around in her bed, like a sign that their conversation was over.

“How?” Asked Annabelle, while her heart was beating hard against her chest, and the thick air suffocated her slowly. She never got any answer.

Days passed, days that became weeks that turned into months. Spring came with its flowers and sweet birdsong, and the short, dark evenings were suddenly shimmering in pink, and lasted until the sun awoke.

The war came closer and closer, but never seemed to really reach them. Letters from home, however, became rare, something that made Annabelle worry. In the last letter she had received, which arrived a few weeks ago, said that everything was fine and that the war hadn’t reached the family or Richmond yet. Even though it was good news, Annabelle knew straight away when she saw her mother’s handwriting, that something was wrong. She could feel it; her worries grew like black weeds within her, poisoning her senses, numbing her body. She knew that she had to go home.

The plans to leave the little red house hidden in the deep forests of northern Virginia grew more and more within Annabelle each day. She knew that she had to go home, but she couldn’t leave Alice, all alone, with Mrs. Ericsson, who kept getting worse and worse. The old one was weak and had to stay in bed from morning to night; the girls had to take care of her and the house all by themselves. It was tough, and even though Annabelle didn’t like Alice, she realized that it wouldn’t be right to leave her with all the work. Moreover, Charlotte would become mad with rage if Annabelle came home without Alice, because her mother cared for the girl, maybe even more than she cared for Annabelle.

So Annabelle hadn’t really a choice. She had to stay and take care of Alice and Mrs. Ericsson. She had to put aside her plans to return home. But she was going home, she really was. Just not right now.

An early morning sometime in May, Annabelle woke with a sick feeling in her stomach. Her head ached and her legs almost folded themselves underneath her when she tried to walk. Something was wrong; really wrong.

Quickly, she went to the kitchen, where she found Alice sitting by the table with a newspaper in her hands. The long, white candles that stood on the table burned beautifully and gave the ghostly shadows life on the walls. The girl was wearing one of Annabelle’s old dresses, something that usually would have made Annabelle go mad. But she couldn’t scream at the girl now, because the dress was ugly, worn and full of stains. Instead, she hurried forward to see if the magazine carried some news about the war.

Just when she put one hand on the table, to take the newspaper from the girl, Alice turned to face her. The girl’s face was pale and sick, and the usually so sparkling eyes were dark and empty; something inside them were lost. The cracked lips were closed, but Annabelle still had the feeling that Alice wanted to say something to her. But no; her lips remained closed. Alice didn’t say a word. The familiar face just looked at her, for so long that Annabelle realized that something was wrong.

It was when Alice turned her head back to the newspaper, that Annabelle found out what it was. A cold scream rose from Annabelle’s throat, a scream so loud that it should have disturbed Alice. But it didn’t. Annabelle stumbled backwards, with her heart pounding hard, because it wasn’t Alice who sat by the old table. It was Annabelle.

When the girl by the table then opened her mouth to speak, it was Simone’s voice that came out of it, the same beautiful, french voice that Annabelle had heard so many times before. The voice spoke so fast that Annabelle couldn’t understand any words, and the language sounded neither french nor english. Latin, Annabelle thought, and cursed herself for not learning more about the old, foreign language.

The girl by the table suddenly rose, and turned her gaze to Annabelle. Simone’s voice still echoed throughout the room, even though the girl’s mouth was closed. Suddenly the candles were blown out, and the room disappeared in darkness. Annabelle took another few steps back, and let her hands search for the wall behind her. She could feel the girl breathing right in front of her.

Simone’s voice still echoed along the walls of the room, quickly and without words. Suddenly the lights flared up again, and Annabelle saw herself standing in front of her. She drew a deep breath and tried to make her body to stop shaking; her heart pounded so hard that Annabelle thought it would beat its way out of her chest.

“Please”, she whispered weakly, “Simone...” She couldn’t bring herself to say anything more, because she was too afraid.

“Annabelle.” The voice that came from the girl’s mouth was calm and collected, and Annabelle got the idea that it was Simone who stood before her. “Annabelle, you must listen to me”, suddenly the voice wasn’t calm anymore. “We don’t have much time, they’re-” A heavy thud made the room vibrate with evil, and Annabelle winced.

“Annabelle, you are in grave danger, you have to-” Another thud was heard and Annabelle swallowed hard, so that she wouldn’t scream. “Run! You can’t trust anyone, the darkness is coming-” Then she heard a scream, and Annabelle felt her legs fold underneath her. The candles were dramatically blown out, and again, the room bathed in the dark.

“Please, Simone, I beg you, please”, she breathed, trying not to cry. But Simone was no longer there, and Annabelle was alone in the dark.

“No”, she continued, her voice vibrating with fear, “don’t leave me, Simone, please...” The darkness made her fall to her knees, and she had to force herself to breathe. Suddenly she felt her eyes begin to drip, and she raised her hands, as if to shelter herself. Annabelle didn’t have see what it was that came from her eyes; she knew at once that it was blood. “No...”

But it was too late. A piercing pain spread through her head, cutting its way into her brain, right before she was embraced by the darkness.

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