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Lonely People Ch.1
My mother had died giving birth to me, the year was 1864. My sister, Abella, resented me for that. I didn’t see my father much. He was a fisherman. The summer I turned seventeen he disappeared, lost at sea. I was forced to stay with my aunt Alexandra, in the small town Black Leaf Falls. The town was in the far north, it was a place where the sun hardly showed its face. Here, in this town, is where I had met Leon.
My sister Abella was madly in love with him. She would go into town, just to see his face. I had heard so much about him, but there was no face to match the name. One day Alexandra had sent me into town to pick up a package from her husband who was away for business in Oxford. That was the very first time I had seen him.
He was a tall man, with black curly hair. His eyes were of the darkest green. He was standing across the street from me, staring. I tried my best to avoid his gaze, but I was never good at succeeding in what I intended to do. I looked upward, and before I had realized it, he was standing in front of me. He smiled at me and with a swift movement, he was walking beside me.
“Are you lost?” he asked with a rich deep voice.
“I haven’t been into town since I’ve moved here, I’m just a little unsure as to where I’m heading,” I admitted in a weak voice.
“Well where are you going?” His voice showed great enthusiasm, I didn’t even have to see his face to know that.
“The post office,” I answered quickly as I flashed a glance over my shoulder. It felt strange; I thought I was being followed.
“Well please, allow me to show you the way,” He grabbed my right shoulder to stop me. “But please, allow me to introduce myself first, I am Leon Smith,” He said with a small bow.
“I’m Cecilia Willows,” I replied with a modest tone in my voice. He grabbed my right hand and pressed it against his warm lips.
“It’s so good to finally meet you,” He mumbled, I could feel his warm breath.
“Do you know someone of my family?” I asked curiously, no one in town even knew I existed.
“I have met your sister, Abella, is it? Well she mentioned that she had a younger sister,” He motioned for me to follow him as he walked.
“I see,” I never thought fond of my sister. She was a shell of a person to me, never showing kindness or anger, never showing any affection of any sort.
“How long have you been in town?” He asked me in rushed breath, I didn’t realize that I was in my own thoughts and neglecting his question.
“Well, I’m not really sure. I think it’s been about two months now,” I looked up at the sky. The sun was sinking behind the church steeple.
Leon did a shallow laugh, “And it took you that long to finally come into town? What have you been doing, copped up inside that house all this time?” His voice was astonished that anyone could stay away from humanity for that long.
“I wasn’t copped up inside,” I said sarcastically, even I couldn’t help but laugh at my own shyness. For some reason it felt so unnatural to talk to Leon.
“Well then what have you been doing?” He said peering down at me through his curly hair, a grin crawling across his face.
“Walking,” I said, a smile spread across my face, I was relieved that he laughed along with me.
We talked of small things for the most part of the walk. Leon had lived in Black Leaf Falls all of his life. He was the son of the town butcher. He had a younger brother named Logan; he was only seven years old. We finally reached the post office when the sun was almost completely down; time passed so quickly when I was with him.
“I’ll wait for you outside,” He held the door for me to go inside.
“Oh no, that’s alright, I know my way home,” I forced myself to smile. It had been far too long since I had someone else’s company outside of my family.
“I really don’t mind,” He said looking down at me, it made me almost feel like an infant again. Like one of the monsters you hear about when you’re a child was going to carry me off into the night, never to be seen again.
“Its fine, you go home and take care of your brother,” I said bowing my head so he couldn’t see my disappointment.
“Alright,” He said slowly, studying my posture, “You be careful walking home, it’s dangerous to be out too late at night in this town,” His voice sounded shaken.
The post office was warm, and the glow of the oil lamps made the walls appear to be painted orange. I could smell wax being melted to seal letters of mark. The package was smaller than I expected, only about the size of a pocket watch. I slipped it into my coat sleeve and walked off into the night.
The cold air was bitter in my lungs. I rushed down the empty streets, holding my arms to my chest. I could hear men laughing in the bars across the street, cheering about the game they had hunted earlier that morning. Then, I heard something else. Foot steps behind me, getting closer by the second.
I made a sharp turn down an alley. This was a place I was not familiar with, I was wrong; I didn’t know my way home. This town looked so much different in the dark. The shadows danced along the walls like demons preparing to attack at any given moment. I could feel my heart beat race as the blood in my veins started to boil. The footsteps kept getting closer.
I took my chances with another alle way, and found myself on the main street of the town. A sigh of relief spread all across my body, I knew where I was. Street lamps lit the way through the misty fog that started to arise from the south corner of the town.
“That must be where the river is,” I mumbled to myself as I studied my surroundings. The footsteps burned my ears again.
I jerked my head back to see who my stalker was, and to my surprise, it was not a man nor an animal, but a child.
I froze where I stood. A child? Out at this time of night?
“Excuse me, are you all right?” I called in a horse voice; I couldn’t tell if the child was a boy or a girl, it hid in the shadow of the blacksmiths tent. “Are you lost?” I called out one last time, as if I could be of any help if someone was lost.
My stomach suddenly felt ill at ease. There was a bitter smell in the air. Sulfur, I thought as I pulled my hands up to my face, trying to shield my senses from the rotting smell.
“What is your name?” I tried calling out, but there was no answer. I walked toward the shadows, “Are you still here?” I whispered slowly.
There was a ripping noise, almost like the sound of an animal being skinned. A cracking noise followed, it sounded like a bones breaking. The smell of sulfur grew greater as I approached the shadow.
Then suddenly, something pulled me around my waist, forcing me back into road. It caught me off guard. Whoever it was, I didn’t hear them come up from behind me, and I didn’t feel their arms slide around my waist until they threw me back into the road like I was some sort of rag doll.
I was caught gasping for air, the sudden jerk of my body sent shudders down my spine. My head span, searching for a face. There was no one. There was nothing. My body sank onto the cobble stone. I couldn’t comprehend with what had just happened. Then, I heard my name.
“Cecilia?” It was Abella’s voice, “Cecilia what are you doing? Alexandra is worried about you,” Her voice showed signs of disgust directed at me. Abella was fascinated with Alexandra, and she knew that I had upset her in anyway; she would never forgive me for it.
“I’m so sorry,” Was all I could force myself to say and I helped myself stand up and regain my composure. I knew that Alexandra wasn’t really worried about me, but she was worried about the package I was carrying.
“Let’s just go,” Abella said with a smug look on her face, it made her look like a pig.
“Yes, let’s,” I whispered under my breath while I glanced back at the shadows as I raced to catch up with her.
Abella and I walked home in silence. Her eyes seemed to be focused on some place so far away that I couldn’t see. Abella could be beautiful, of that I was certain. But she had the constant look of scolding on her face.
Her hair was a strawberry blond and reached her elbows. It was beautiful the way it curled around her face. Her eyes where a rich brown, just like my mothers, so I’ve been told. Her facial features were round, and her voice was like a soft melody when she hummed. It was strange, how could I see so much good in a person who looked at me as if I were her own personal slave?
“Cecilia, who was that man you where with?” Her voice was sharp and it pierced my ear drums.
“What man?” I tried to keep my voice calm, but panic soon over powered me. Had she seen who pulled me from the shadows?
“He was holding you around your waist, Cecilia, don’t play coy with me. I know that you knew he was there, how could you not? Now tell me what you two were doing.” Her tone was sharp. I felt like a child again, being scolded by the wicked step mother.
“I’m not really sure,” I swallowed my tongue and prepared for the worst.
“Well let’s just hope that you don’t become the town wh***,” She hissed at me as I staggered beside her. My pride was shot down yet again.
Alexandra raced to great us at the door, her arms open wide to embrace me, and I knew well enough that it was a halfhearted gesture.
“Did you—“She started off, but I pulled the package out of my sleeve before she could finish, “Oh, thank you so much Cecilia!” She grabbed it carefully with her two hands cradling it like it was a small child.
“Me and Abella had already eaten supper, there are some left over’s in the kitchen if you are hungry,” She called back to me as she hurried back the hearth. Of course, she had gotten what she wanted; now I was back to my normal status of a servant.
“No, I’ll be fine,” I lowered my voice as Abella walked past to go join Alexandra. No doubt to inform her of what she had seen of me in the road and the stranger.
I walked slowly to my room. The hard wood floors creaked under my ever step. I lit the oil lamps along the walls and began to dress into my nightgown. The room smelled like lilacs from the garden outside of my window. Soon even my clothes began to smell that way. I washed my face carefully and brushed my knotted hair. I studied myself in the mirror.
It was strange, how differently I and Abella looked, even though we were only two years apart in age. My hair was shorter than hers, and it was a dark brown. My eyes were a pale blue, and freckles danced across my face. I had a thin frame, when hers was round and luscious. My skin was also pale in comparison to hers. I’m not even sure if people thought of us as sisters when we were together.
I looked down at my hands, they were shaking. My mind was racing with thoughts about what had happened. Who was that child? Who was that man? Why did he pull me away from the shadows?
“Tomorrow,” I promised myself as I laid my head down to rest, “Tomorrow we will see.”
Slowly I closed my eyes and the darkness closed in. My heart rate slowed and my breath became shallow. Soon, there was nothing.