Upon us all, a little rain must fall
To the young girl’s delight, John was not seen the next day. He went with his father to Richmond, according to Simone, who was Annabelle’s eyes and ears when it came to news. Although Annabelle didn't care about either John or his father, and was happy that she didn't have to see him, her thoughts were filled with anxiety and remorse when Simone had told her the news. Richmond was not a safe place anymore.
“Do you know when they will return?” Annabelle did her best to make her voice sound stable and calm, so that Simone wouldn't know of her involuntary concern.
“Oh, they didn't tell me that.” Simone lowered her head, sad to disappoint Annabelle. She suspected that Annabelle’s feelings for John O’Malley weren't as cool as she claimed them to be. They were at least lukewarm, Simone thought, but promised herself not to say a word about it to her friend.
Days turned into weeks, and the anxiety grew as black, poisonous weed within Annabelle. Every morning she would wake up early with her heart pounding hard in her chest, while it was still dark outside, after having dreamt about the war. Death haunted her; in her thoughts, her dreams - it followed her wherever she went.
She used to dream of her brothers. She was above them, hovering, when she saw death arrive. She saw their fate written in their sunken, brave eyes, and prayed that God would receive them with open arms. Dean and Sam were blasted to death by a grenade, which came flying from behind. Dean saw it coming, and his dirty face went blank when he realized what was going to happen. He screamed loudly, trying to drown out all the other sounds. He screamed at Sam, that he should run away, save himself.
Sam ran. But not to get away. He ran towards his brother. Seconds later, it all went black, and Annabelle screamed. Gunsmoke obscured her vision, but didn't stop her cries. She screamed and screamed, tore her hair, her eyes, prayed that God would take her too. She wanted to disappear, wake up, anything. But she remained in the dream, and when the wind carried away the dust, she saw Sam’s crushed body; burned, destroyed, dead. Dean lay right next to him, and his body was just as broken, just as empty as his brother’s. Their eyes were blank, and Annabelle refused to see.
Again she prayed to God, prayed that he would let them find peace. Then, suddenly, she noticed everyone around them. The ground was covered with people. There was blood everywhere; there was death everywhere. She suddenly realized where she was. The Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of them all, it seemed. Or? She caught a glimpse of a city behind the clouds of dust, and the smell of death came over her. Blood and death; it haunted her. She was suddenly filled by a surreal calm, spreading through her body like poison. A calm that stopped her from screaming again. It was then she saw death itself.
When she one night dreamed of her father, she only remembered how real the dream had felt, not what had happened. Fragments and pieces of the dream were still there; images of hospitals, blood soaked clothing, the cries of the dying. And father. His glossy, empty eyes, drained of life. He was out of reach; she was insufficient. She couldn't do anything.
These dreams were Annabelle’s secrets. No matter how heartbreaking the dreams were, she promised herself not to talk about them to anyone. She didn't even tell Simone, of the horrors that haunted her at night.
Every morning Annabelle sent Simone to find out whether or not John O’Malley and his father had come home. It never took long before Annabelle caught a glimpse of Simone’s black scalp outside the Johnson’s estate. Simone never brought good news, and Annabelle would have given up, if she hadn't been told on an early November day by the Richard’s coachman that John and his father were on their way home. Apparently they took the way through the forest, because it was better than going on the road where they could get too much attention from both yankee soldiers and simple thieves. St. Rose was a small community, but rich and difficult to find.
It was not until the cold arrived to the estates and the frost killed all things growing, that the clatter of horses woke Annabelle early one morning in December. What she had dreamed was indistinct and blurred - there had been war and violence, but she hadn't seen her brothers or her father. She had only seen ruby red, gushing blood, and heard chilling screams that still rung in her ears.
She quickly got out of bed and rushed to the room’s window. Two horses had almost vanished behind the oak grove in the northern corner of the Johnson’s estate. They were ghostly black, and Annabelle got the feeling that the horses didn't belong in the neighborhood; there was something wrong with them.
The first thing that she thought of was that it was patrolling confederate soldiers, because when she thought about it, she might have seen a gray jacket, and she immediately felt calmer. Then she came to think of the fact that it might as well be yankee soldiers, because it was difficult to see in the dark and the jacket could as well have been dark blue. She tried to calm herself down by taking deep breaths and long steps back to her warm bed. As she lay in bed, she pulled up the pale blanket all the way up to her chin, and the second she closed her eyes, she was once again back in her dreams.