Annabelle and the Lost Room

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The room, fifteen years ago or so, would have been a beautiful shade of yellow, with white crown molding and maple wood floors. Its windows would have been wide and long, and would have given the room a feeling of being open as well as bright, for the afternoon sun would fall through the diaphanous curtains in such a way that it could have been described as ethereal, fifteen years ago. But now, fifteen years later, the room had turned into something different. The beautiful shade of yellow was slowly peeling away from the walls, and the white crown molding was falling apart. The maple wood floors were buckling from the water damage that happened two years ago when a pipe burst. The windows were rusted shut, and the once diaphanous curtains were now a dull and soiled brown. Yet the room still held the feeling of love, of loss, and of regret. The room still held the memories from fifteen years ago.

Today, however; a girl of seventeen enters the room in a uniform. She goes about, picking up the trash that was left over from years previous, and she has a rag in one hand and cleaning supplies in the other. She twirls while she cleans; humming her own song she dances to her own beat. She makes her way over to the dresser where she carefully, with great tenderness, wipes the dirt and grime off of the mirror. She smiles at her reflection.

The girl’s nametag reads Annabelle, and she looks to be around the age of seventeen or eighteen, maybe even younger. Yet she has creases around her eyes as if she is used to worrying. Perhaps she is used to that dreadful emotion of fear. Perhaps this is why her eyes have lines of age around them. And she carefully peels away the layers of dust that years have laid to rest upon this place. She’s awakening this little home. She’s awakening the memories. And as if by chance, as she twirls once more around the canopy bed, her foot catches on a box, and she stumbles and falls onto the maple wood floor. She’s not a clumsy girl. She is used to grace and poise and she is used to catching herself at a moments notice. The fall surprises her.

The box that she stumbles upon is a black wooden box with a heart carved into the top. She cannot express how she feels about this box and wishes that she could place it back underneath the bed. But chance brought it to her and she is a firm believer in destiny, so with a deep breath she places her hand under the side of the box and pulls up.

Inside the box are white and black photographs as well as some in faded color with names and dates written on the back in loopy handwriting, Annabelle smiles despite herself at the first picture she touches. It is of a young woman, around the age of seventeen or eighteen though she could be younger, and she is smiling. You can tell it is a real smile because the corners of her eyes are wrinkled and she seems to be genuinely content. She’s smiling at the photographer. She’s smiling at the person whose smiling at her. And she’s happy about it. The writing is smeared as if by water but Annabelle can make out the words Me and Him, written in the loopy handwriting.

The second photograph Annabelle pulls out is that of the same girl, her face slightly obstructed due to water spots, smiling once more and a man kisses her cheek. It’s snowing. At least, it looks as if it’s snowing due to the white blotches placed around the photo. On the back she can read Him and nothing else.

The third photograph is of the two of them once more. This time they aren’t smiling, they aren’t kissing, they are just staring into one another’s eyes. And on the back in the same loopy handwriting is says love.

She’s eager for more. A young woman around her age, stuck in a room that could once have been beautiful, would of course want to know the end of such a romantic tale. She would of course want to know why fate would bring her these photos, only to be so cruel to not give her the final setting of the beautiful story. All of the twelve photographs that are left, she counted, were destructed by water stains and splotches. The beautiful story was left untold. With a sigh Annabelle gets up and places the box and photographs away. She kicks it back under the bed where fate had brought it to her. And she continues humming and cleaning away years of dust and dirt and grime.

Yet she continues the story in her mind. She continues thinking of the young woman with that man and her loopy handwriting and how it was me and him and love. And she continues until she reaches the end where there’s a dress of white and tables covered in beautiful food and silverware and singing and laughter and champagne. Until later when she reached the part of the story where there’s a beautiful new born and pink blankets and cries of delight. Until finally the very end. A happy ending.

And that’s the best part about stories that you finish by yourself: they always end up being happy. But if walls could talk, this place, which once had such beauty, would tell a tale of regret and sadness and bitter yet never ending love. Fate has a funny way of playing with your mind and as Annabelle continues to clean this room so that maybe, one day, it can be as beautiful as it was fifteen years ago, fate is at work, weaving together a new tale, for this old room, a room that once was a beautiful shade of yellow with white crown molding and maple wood floors. Whose windows were wide and open, and when the sun shone through its diaphanous curtain the effect was often ethereal.





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