The Fourth Year
Author's note: I wrote this when I was eleven, so the idea of the whole story is kind of juvenile. But I... Show full author's note »
PrologueI set myself down on the cold, solid wood. My right foot began to twitch beneath me creating a thumping sound on the wooden floor. The room I was in was dimly lit, creating an eerie effect. I look down at my light floral dress and smooth the wrinkles. After this day, I was sure I would be alone forever. My lungs could not breathe. Butterflies had been unleashed in my stomach.
The next room held my caretaker. I would never call her a mother no matter how much you paid me. She was always at work and was never home. I had always had my doubts that we were genetically related. Her hair was a beautiful blonde and mine, an ugly red. No one I knew had red hair. I always felt different and out of place.
School was always my worst nightmare. People teased me and called me names that my mother said to never repeat. She said that since I was only seven, it would shock people that I knew words like that. My teachers never notice me. I’m just the invisible kid who never says anything. Keeping quiet seems to be good for me.
The only sounds in the log cabin were the soft voices from the other room. Sometimes the wind would blow, and the trees would rustle too, but this just made the night feel colder. The only thing that seemed to entertain me were my feet, because that is all that my eyes followed. There was nothing else that seemed to interest me. I felt miserable. I could see my future standing right before my eyes.
Suddenly, the voices got quiet. No trees rustled outside and the house remained still. I glanced out the window, hoping to see something, but all I saw was my own reflection staring back at me. My face is not pretty. I have freckles everywhere and skin that is so white that on long hot summer days, my skin burns.
The bedroom door at the far end of the room opens. My eyes lay upon the silhouette of a man. He carried a small bag with supplies that were supposed to heal my mother, not kill her. I look up at him, hoping my tears have dried themselves. The darkness hid my red, puffy eyes.
"Liesl," said the doctor, "your mother wishes to see you."
My legs suddenly became heavy. These words made me cry even more. These words meant that my mother probably was not going to survive. A nervous feeling rushed inside my body. Each time I took a step towards the door, the floor grumbled beneath me.
I enter the room and took a look around. The room was fairly small in size. Though it was very dark, I could make out the yellowing pictures along the walls. I sat on a little wooden chair next to the bed. My mother’s face was very pale. Sweat drizzled down her forehead. The doctor closed the door behind us. My mother and I were alone. Her eyes watched me closely.
Reached over to her bedside table and felt around. She finally got her hands on a necklace and pulled it towards her. The necklace was beautifully carved. The image almost looked like a butterfly. The name Annika was engraved in it. This confused me, because my mother’s name is not Annika. It must have been my grandmothers.
"This is a necklace that has been passed down in our family for generations. Never show it to anybody," my mother said.
Her hand shakes terribly as she gives it to me. I run my finger across the butterfly. The wood it is made of feels rough in my hands. When I held it, I almost felt powerful. The butterflies hiding in my stomach suddenly emerged. This made me shake all over.
"Mother it's lovely, but why mustn't I show it to anyone?" I asked.
There was no response from my mother. Her eyes slowly closed. My mother lay on the bed, lifeless. Her lips became white. A northern wind came in through the open window. It crated bumps along my arms and legs. My eyes look back to my mother. Now, I would have nowhere to go but an orphanage. Salty water touched my lip. The fire in the hearth became a blur.