Without you, I feel nothing
Annabelle’s feet clattered hard against the dark wooden floor. She was about to go to Mrs. Ericsson’s room, to see if the old lady really was in bed as she had promised. She smiled a little to herself as she walked, while the tears rose in her eyes. She hardly knew herself anymore. All she wanted was to go home again, to see again Katherine. Was it really that hard?
She sighed deeply, when she finally stood outside Mrs. Ericsson’s closed door.
“Ma’am?” She called out, her voice a little hesitant, as she leaned against the door with one hand cupped around her ear, to listen if she got any response. She didn’t; silence was the only thing her ears managed to perceive. She shook her head slightly, and opened the door.
“Mrs. Ericsson,” she began, but stopped herself when she saw the sleeping woman. Annabelle turned her head to the floor, embarrassed, as she quickly turned around and walked out again. Once she got out of the room, she gently closed the door and sighed with relief when it slid back without giving off not even the slightest sound.
Just when she was about to walk away, she thought she heard something from behind the closed door. A muffled cough, or a silent cry for help? She furrowed her eyebrows suspiciously and leaned towards the door again. Nothing. Annabelle shrugged on her shoulders and walked away.
Through the small window, Annabelle could see how the moon with its pale glow lit up the dark forest. She smiled a little and laid down on her side, gazing at Alice in the bed next to hers. It was strange, but Annabelle’s hate towards the girl had lessened considerably since the two had arrived to Mrs. Ericsson’s house. Annabelle had realized that Alice actually cared about her, and that she only wished her well. It hurt Annabelle when she thought about how she had treated Alice before, when they still had been at home. Annabelle took a deep breath.
“Alice?” She whispered, a little hesitant. A deep sigh was heard, and Annabelle swallowed a little, embarrassed.
“I’m awake, Annabelle. Is there anything you want?” Annabelle could almost hear Alice rolling her eyes, and it crushed the girl’s already broken heart. Quickly she closed her eyes. Perhaps, Alice had had enough of Annabelle’s behavior, and had decided to treat her as she herself been treated. Annabelle felt tears rising within her, and swallowed hard to keep them down. She couldn’t be alone in the darkness anymore; she was drowning, and she needed someone to pull her up. She needed someone to talk to, and she had hoped that it could be Alice.
Fast, she drew a deep breath, filling her lungs with fresh, new air. Then she tried to smile, even though she knew that Alice couldn’t see her. The smile was vague and pale, but it stopped her tears from rising.
“No, Alice. It’s nothing.” Annabelle took another deep breath and closed her eyes, ready for the dark oblivion that was sleep.
“But I have something I must tell you, Annabelle.” Alice’s voice was low, but steady. She wasn’t afraid anymore. Annabelle clenched her jaw, and prepared for the worst. “I know you have been talking to Mr. Smith. Though I don’t know what he has told you, I beg you, Annabelle: Don’t listen to him. Don’t believe a word that he says. Don’t trust him. He’s not good for you, Annabelle, he’s dangerous. Please, say you understand me?”
Annabelle didn’t know if she wanted to laugh or cry. She didn’t know anything. What had happened between Alice and William?
“Alice,” she began, almost begging, but got no further before Alice interrupted her.
“Don’t ask why. Just do as I say, for once.” Annabelle opened her mouth to protest, but again, Alice managed to interrupt her. “Good night, Annabelle.”
Then, as a sign that their conversation was over, a dark cloud covered the moon, preventing its pale light from lighting up the sky. The room drowned in darkness.
The girl took a few deep breaths before she hesitantly raised her hand to knock. Tell me he’s awake, she prayed silently to herself.
Since the two had gotten to know each other, they had begun to spend more time together and Annabelle had to admit that she liked the company Mr. Smith offered her. She felt her soul drawn to him, and she deeply appreciated that he treated her as an equal and not like a woman or girl. The two could go for hours over the meadow, and continue deep into the vast forest beyond. She never remembered what they talked about, other than memories and hilarious stories from their childhoods. They had much in common, she and William, and she was sincerely happy that she had found a new friend.
The sun had barely risen; behind the tall trees a bright pink sky shone, but no sun. When nothing was heard, Annabelle gently pushed the old door wide open. The room was hidden in darkness, and with uncertain, quiet steps she walked in to the room.
“Mr. Smith”, she whispered, still walking, “are you awake?” Cautiously she let her hands search for the wall, and she smiled a little as she could feel the cold contours of a window. Quickly she pulled apart the dark gray curtains and the golden morning lit up the room. “William?”
A deep sigh made Annabelle turn around, and suddenly she found herself face to face with him. His ice blue eyes saw straight into her soul, and she felt her heart skip a beat. “William, you scared me”, she whispered, and for a moment, she got lost in his eyes. She could hear how he gasped, searching for the words he wanted so much to say.
“Annabelle”, he whispered, “we need to talk.”