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The story of Annabelle….
The fall of 1964 I should have died… my bones should have been dust. And my name should have been remembered through the years to come. If I had that fate there would have been proof of what I endured that night. There would have been someone to blame.
The fall of 1964 my skin was unwrinkled; my hair had no grey just a soft shade of brown. The color of an unfinished hardwood floor, my mother used to say. My green eyes were bright and vibrant then; not dull and cold as they are now. I was seventeen that summer, and I had such a beautiful spirit, I had all the hopes and ambitions in the world. Most would call me naïve, because I believed nothing would ever go wrong, I believed then that my life would always be as wonderful as it was in that very moment.
I was a senior in High school, and I wasn’t very popular, and to be honest usually went by unnoticed. Despite that I did have an amazing friend, a friend anyone would be lucky to have. Her name was Noelle, and even in my old age, where I’m lucky to remember what day of the week it is; I can still remember how we met. It started in fifth grade; I always sat by myself at lunch, and one ordinary day when I was eating my turkey sandwich a girl I had never seen before came and just sat right across from me. She was wearing an orange dress that reminded me of carrots, her hair was pulled back in a messy pony tail, and she smelt like cinnamon, but her eyes are what I really remember. They were the color of pine trees and they seemed to twinkle, but behind that, almost going unnoticed, you could see they held pain. When our eyes met, she finally spoke. “Hi I’m Noelle,” she said with such ease, something I used to envy. And that’s how it all began. From then on we were inseparable. It was like we had known each other forever.
We were complete opposites really; I was shy, and timid, while Noelle held herself in such a manner that you couldn’t help but stare in her direction. I would run from danger, and she faced it head on, but I think our biggest difference was she was so strong, always brushing pain off her shoulders, and I was so weak, carrying pain around like a heavy burden. Regardless she was my best friend, and I knew her better than anyone else.
I knew better than anyone that at times even Noelle couldn’t be strong. Noelle lost her father when she was eleven from a massive heart attack. He and Noelle were very close. And every year on June, 28th when the anniversary of his death rolled up, Noelle would shut the world out. She would lock herself in her room and, I was the only one she’d let in. She wouldn’t talk to me only stare off out the window. I could tell though she was trying so hard to make herself forget. Then like a ribbon around a bomb and without warning she’d always start to cry. She would take my hand squeezing it almost to the point of pain, maybe to make me understand the way she felt. I would then let her lay her head in my lap, and stroke her hair humming a soft tune until she finally let just a little of that grief go. Noelle didn’t tell anyone about her father. This was a hidden part of Noelle that she wanted no one to see; she hid it because it made her weak and vulnerable, it made her just like the rest of us. Noelle made me promise to keep her fathers death a secret too. So I did, because I loved Noelle, and I would do anything for her, no matter what.
On October, 27th, 1964 the small town I lived in was covered with fog. And like any other day I walked to Noelle’s house so we could walk to school together. I walked briskly past the trees, and houses. I remember feeling uneasy the whole way there, like someone was watching me. I was quite frightened because I could barely see around me with all that fog. I finally reached Noelle’s house, but she wasn’t sitting on her steps like she usually was. I looked around her front yard squinting to make out what was in the windows but all the curtains were drawn. I called out for her, but there was no response. Where is she?? I thought to myself ,“NOELLE” !I called out once more, still no answer. I looked up at her big white house at the second story window where Noelle’s room was, and in the corner of my eye I saw a face, but I couldn’t make out who it was, or if it even was a face at all, and as soon as I blinked the curtain was shut. I felt a chill go up my spine. The wind was howling around me and the air was suddenly colder. I felt a wave of fear come over me. Something just wasn’t right. I stood staring at that house, wondering if I really had seen something, and then against my better judgment I walked by myself to school, wondering the whole way where my best friend had gone.
The whole day at school I watched outside waiting for Noelle to show up, and laugh at me for being so worried. But it didn’t happen. So many things ran through my head that day like, what if she was hurt from a car accident. Or sick with pneumonia? It was just so strange for Noelle not to tell me she wasn’t going to be at school she always called. Always. As soon as school got out, I ran home anxious to call Noelle to see if she was home now. I barged through the front door nearly tripping over my cat Elvis to reach the phone. I dialed Noelle’s number, but it just kept ringing, and ringing. I tried again, but still it just kept ringing. Startled, I heard my mother calling from the other room “Sweetie is that you???”
“Yeah mom” I replied. My mother entered our living room wearing her white cotton dress holding a dishtowel; she placed it on her shoulder, and smiled at me. “Well, Ann, how was school today?” she said “It was fine, but Noelle invited me to her house can I go?” I lied I couldn’t tell my mom I was going to Noelle’s house to investigate; she’d never let me go then. I stared at my mother nervously praying she would say yes. “That would be fine. Just make sure her mother drives you home. I don’t want you walking in the dark.”
“Ok, mom. I will,” I said, as I grabbed my coat and headed for the door. I nearly sprinted to Noelle’s house trying to beat the setting sun. Darkness started to finally set when I reached Noelle’s door. The house still looked dark, like no one was home still. I reached for the door knob, and it turned. The door wasn’t locked! The inside of the house was dark, and I reached for the light switch. When light hit the room I suddenly couldn’t catch my breathe the white leather furniture was all lying on its side. The cushions were ripped and thrown all over the living room, All the glass table lamps lay shattered on the floor, all the picture frames with Noelle and her mother were broken, but still hanging on the brown wooden walls. My mind was racing who would do this?? What if Noelle’s been kidnapped or even worse killed?
I know now I should have left right then, but I didn’t. I stayed and pushed myself to go upstairs to Noelle’s bedroom. I walked up the stairs very slowly listening for any abnormal noises, but I heard nothing only the sound of my own uneven breathing. Noelle’s bedroom door was to the right of the stairs, and the door was shut. I opened the door slowly, and walked inside. I saw Noelle. First her legs and arms were tied with rope. I could barely make out her face in the dark, but it looked bloody, and bruised. I thought she was dead. I wanted to scream, and cry out for help, but I couldn’t I was paralyzed with fear. Whoever did this was probably still in the house I could feel it, but I still couldn’t move. I stared at Noelle’s poor face, and in that moment all I wanted to do was help her, and save her. I fell to my knees suddenly over come with grief. I buried my face in my hands, and started to sob. “No please, NO! “ I sobbed. I looked at Noelle once more, but her eyes were open, and filled with fear. She was still alive. She was staring right at me, and she started to shake her head furiously, her eyes were filling up with tears. She kept trying to talk, but her words were muffled by the rag in her mouth.
I crawled towards her, “Noelle! Oooh thank god you’re alright” I chocked out as I pulled the rag out of her mouth. I started to pull at the rope that tied her, but it wouldn’t come lose. Noelle started to shake, and sob. I could barely hear what she was saying “
Anna. Anna, please, you have to go please” she cried
. “ Shhh, shhh Noelle. I’m going to get you out of here, ok? Everything’s going to be okay”. I said as I tried harder to untie the rope. It was tied so tightly it was ripping open my skin. I looked at Noelle, “Noelle I have to go get a knife, I need something to cut this rope”. Her eyes grew darker “He’s going to kill you Annebelle”. Her words were suddenly cold. Her fear seemed to be washed away, and instead she was calm. My heart started to pound hard against my chest
“What is wrong with you? No one else is in this house anymore, don’t you think they would have already killed me by now?” I stood up, about to go downstairs for the knife, but then the door slammed behind me. I didn’t turn around too afraid to meet my fate. I heard a mans deep voice behind me, “Well, well, look what we have here. You must be Annabelle”. I felt tears streaming down my face, and my whole body started to shake. I looked at Noelle. She tried to smile, but couldn’t. “I’m sorry “she choked out. I was so confused, and scared I kept praying over, and over again in my head this was just a dream, but it wasn’t.
“Noelle, please tell me what’s going on, please” I cried out. Noelle looked away. I was suddenly kicked in the back, and fell hard on the floor. Pain shot up my legs; my face fell against the scratchy carpet. I tried to get up only to be kicked multiple times in the side I screamed. “Stop it! Stop it! Don’t hurt her dad just let her go “Noelle screamed. My vision was starting to go fuzzy from all the pain, but I made out Noelle calling this man dad. The man started to speak his voice was unemotional “Shut up Noelle you caused this, and now you’re going to have to learn the hard way”. I looked up at the man, his face was badly burned, and he had scars covering his face and neck. His black hair was cut short. His dark eyes noticed me staring, and I quickly looked away.
“Noelle tell her who I am, or I will.”, he said. Noelle wouldn’t meet my eyes, only looked down at her toed up feet. She started to whisper, her voice barely audible. “He’s my father; he murdered seven people twelve years ago, back when we lived in Texas. Me, and my mother had no idea for the longest time. I know it seems crazy, but when I was young he was such a great father. I know in his own way he loved me and my mother.” Noelle started to weep, and tremble. “ We lived a normal life, I don’t remember much, but I remember my father going to work at a factory every single day, and always coming home with a smile.”
“Then one day when I was about eight I remember hearing about a brutal murder on the news after school one day. A young women was walking home from work when she was stabbed multiple times, her body was left in a ditch. Then every few weeks it would happen again, and the only thing that linked these murders was that all the bodies were branded with an X. For months the murderer’s were all the town talked about. My mother and I never suspected a thing until one day we were cleaning out the garage, where my fathers spent most of the time. Then there laying in the back of his toolbox was a brander with the letter X. My mother didn’t think anything of it at first, just thought it was a silly coincidence. Later that night at dinner my mother jokingly brought it up to my father. That’s when it all fell into place my father suddenly lunged at my mother, grabbed her by the throat and screamed that he had to do it, he had to kill all those girls because they deserved to die. My mother somehow got away from him, and he fell to his knees, and begged her to try and understand he would never hurt his own family. “
“My mother grabbed me, and told me to run, but I was so scared I couldn’t get myself to move. I just sat there, and watched it all happen… My father started screaming, and went towards my mother again. That’s when she grabbed the hot cooking pan on the stove, and hit him across the face. She grabbed me and we ran. We got in her car, and left our lives behind, we drove, and drove until we had to stop. We changed our names, and started a new life thousands of miles away. June 28th, the day I told you my dad died is actually the day we left.”
My head was throbbing, and my eyes started to burn. I couldn’t fathom anything Noelle had just said. I grew up with this girl, I knew her fears, and dreams. She was my best friend how could I not have known she was hiding all of this from me. Noelle’s voice interrupted my thoughts. “ No one can know about us Annabelle. My father is going to take me and my mother away. Somewhere no one will know who we are”.
“Jesus Noelle! I cant do that. He’ll kill you… don’t ask me to do this please I cant” I sobbed tears were running down my face, and I could hardly make out Noelle’s face, but she was smiling at with desperation in her eyes. Her father had his back turned away from his with his hand on the wall looking out the window. I looked at Noelle once more. She looked me straight in the eye, she was pleading with me. If I didn’t do this I would die, and so would she her father would cover everything up. No one would ever believe me if I tried to tell the truth. I said those three little words that changed everything forever “I’ll do it.”
After that, I don’t remember much of that night. I just remember Noelle’s father dragging Noelle away. That was the last time I ever saw them. I don’t remember how I got home, or how long it took the bruises on my ribs to go away. When anyone asked me what happened to my best friend it took all the strength I had to simply tell them she moved.
As the years passed, and as time kept moving it grew harder, and harder to tell anyone what really happened. But to me it all seem like yesterday when all of it happened, and although there are just some things were better off forgetting I can’t. No matter how hard I try to stop the murmuring whispers in my head, or erase the images of his face from my mind, I cant. As I’ve noticed through the years, at all seems to come back to me when the night is quiet, and all I can hear is the sound of the soft wind blowing outside my window. The screams, and the blood of that night, or the chill that went up my spine when I knew I was too late. All come rushing back, Ill carry the weight of all that blame on my shoulders for the rest of my life; I guess that’s why its almost comforting to know my times finally almost up.