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Bilita Mpash: Adabella's Story
Author's note: This was written as a type of therapy for me. I had been going through some very difficult circumstances and this was my way of analyzing my feelings and emotions. My hope is this can help several others going through difficult situations; even when life seems bleak, there is always hope.
“Why aren’t you eating, Ada?” An elegant gray-haired woman sat across a simple dining table near a plain window. The sunlight streaming into the room emphasized the remaining blonde highlights in her hair, proving she had once been young. Her wrinkled right hand tapped on the table impatiently as she glared at the young lady sitting across from her .
“Finish your food. Your father works hard to bring food to this table,” she demanded.
Adabella looked down at her untouched hamburger. “I’m not that hungry today, Barbara.”
“Ugh! You’re never hungry!” She banged on the table. “You can be such an ungrateful child, Ada. Do you know how hard your father works in the mines just for you? And please don’t call me ‘Barbara’; I’m your aunt, for goodness’ sake.”
Adabella dared not look up at her aunt; she scratched at her right hand in her lap. “I’m sorry, my dear, dear aunt; I’ll eat just for your sake,” she said sardonically.
She raised her hands to grasp the hamburger but nervously stopped.
“Oh, what’s wrong now, Ada?” her aunt asked impatiently.
“Just need to go to the bathroom, that’s all.”
She rushed to the bathroom, hiding her hands behind her back. Her fingers were bleeding again. She locked the bathroom door behind her and ran her hands under the faucet.
Why do I always do this to myself?
She proceeded to scrub until all that remained was raw and inflamed skin. Adabella bent down beneath her sink and reached for the nail clippers that she kept hidden at the back of the cabinet. She clipped her nails as short as she could.
Maybe that’ll help!
“Ada, your food is cold!” Barbara yelled.
Adabella plodded back to the dining table and reluctantly finished her meal.
“Is your presentation ready for class today, Ada?”
“Yeah, I finished it last night. ”
“You should really be more grateful that I’m a professor at the college so you can go for free. Otherwise, no college for you! Of course, you could have gone to any college you wanted if you’d put that brain of yours to more use. I know you can’t be an idiot, Ada, because we share the same genes. You’re just lazy. How do you think I graduated from law school? Having a brain is just the first step; you also need to work hard to get things accomplished.”
Aunt Barbara’s tapping on the table grew louder and more rapid as she continued her rampage. Adabella began to scratch her right hand again, but she stopped herself.
“Barb—Aunt Barbara, I really should get going or else I’ll be late to class.” “Alright then. I’ll be back tomorrow at exactly two o’clock with lunch and dinner as always.” Barbara rose from the table. “Keep your windows closed, lock all the doors, and don’t leave your apartment after sundown, Ada.”
“I’ll be fine, Aunt Barbara; I’ve lived here for nearly three years now.” Adabella looked impatiently at the clock.
And with that, dear old Aunt Barbara left the apartment—without a hug or a kiss, of course. She had too much aloof dignity for such petty portrayals of love…if she even felt such an emotion.
“Oh, Ms. Mason, you decided to join us for class today. I almost believed you wouldn’t make it.” The professor chuckled.
“I’m sorry, I was held back by something.”
“It’s always something with you, Ms. Mason.” The professor looked at his roster. “Thank you, Josh. That was an excellent report. You’re next, Adabella.”
A tall, blonde-haired man gathered his papers and walked away from the podium. He smiled at Adabella as she minced toward the front of the room. Adabella blushed.
“Remember, you only have one minute to present your project, starting now.” The professor started a timer.
“My…” She cleared her throat and regained her composure. “My project is on the history of one very peculiar tradition in Malania, which sets us apart from any other country—the tradition of the white dress. A little over a century ago, Malan conquered the lands of Malania, and legend says he offered the land as a gift to the goddess Cecilia. Cecilia was so pleased with the land that she tore off a portion of the fabric of her dress and gave it to Malan. The fabric was to be given to every newborn daughter in the country, and she was to wear it until marriage. Upon her marriage, the fabric of all her previous dresses would be sewn into her wedding gown, and then the gown’s fabric would be passed on to her children. It was to be a never ending circle of tradition. The fabric symbolizes the untainted beauty of the earth. If the material was ever purposely damaged, then the consequences could range from incarceration to even death.”
The timer dinged and Adabella stopped.
“Okay, Ms. Mason.” The professor scribbled something on a sheet of paper. “Class dismissed. Don’t forget about the exam this Friday.”
Adabella was stuffing some of her papers into her bag when the tall man greeted her.
“So, are we still meeting up at your apartment tonight, Ada?” He smiled.
Adabella blushed again. “Come over at seven, Josh. My aunt definitely won’t come over after dark.”
“Alright; sounds good. See you later.” Josh walked away.
“Ooh, who’s the cutie?” A pretty brunette girl appeared behind Adabella.
“Hey, Eliza.” Ada smiled. “Ah, it’s just Josh; we’ve been friends for years.”
“Oh, ‘friends’…right.” Eliza smirked.
“Yeah, we just hang out. We’re friends, nothing more.” Adabella playfully punched her friend’s arm. “So, what are you doing tonight, Liz?”
“Tonight’s my shift at the hospital, so I’ll be stuck there from five ‘til nine .”
“How are you a nurse if you still have another year until you complete college?”
“My dad pulled a few strings, and I took some extra classes over the holidays.” Eliza laughed. “That, and I don’t have much of a social life distracting me, unlike you.”
“Ha, oh yeah; I’ve got quite the social life. I get to see my overbearing aunt every single wonderful day of my existence.” She snickered. “So, when am I going to see this mysterious father of yours?”
“Oh, you’ll meet him one of these days…”
“What, are you embarrassed by your family?”
“No, of course not. I love them. He’s just…he’s just so busy.”
The two friends walked up to a crossroad.
“See you tomorrow, Ada. Have fun with your friend.” Eliza gave Ada a quick hug and ambled away.
Adabella flopped down onto her couch and looked at her watch.
Two more hours until Josh comes over… This apartment is such a mess.
In reality, the apartment was virtually flawless. Every piece of furniture was in its exact place, if not off by a few degrees. There was no trace of even a speck of dirt or dust. The windows were free of any blemish, and the kitchen was thoroughly sanitized; even the aged appliances looked new. Every item in Adabella’s room was in its rightful place, and her clothing was organized by color and season. Yet, for Adabella, nothing ever reached perfection. As she lifted the vacuum from her closet, she looked down to see blood dripping from the handle.
When did I—
Adabella rushed to her bathroom and scrubbed her bleeding fingers once again.
Why can’t I ever stop?
She punched her sink in frustration. The skin on the fingers of her right hand was completely raw. Barely any skin remained that wasn’t scarred. She attempted to clip her already short nails and then wrapped her right hand completely with bandages.
If this doesn’t stop me, I don’t know what I’ll do.
Adabella returned to the living room and continued her scrupulous cleaning. She repositioned each piece of furniture until everything was aligned with the wall at a 90-degree angle. Once finished, she collapsed onto her couch and drifted off to sleep.
Adabella had been having the same dream every night for the past year.
It always commenced with her submerged in a vast ocean. However, she wasn’t subjected to the normal laws of the universe and could breathe just fine. Her eyes were a hybrid of those of a fish and a gecko. She could see every delicate detail with unbelievable clarity, and the myriad colors exploded as hidden jewels, revealing their every dimension. Adabella stretched her arms out into the warm, crystalline water and pushed them back gently to her sides. She kicked her feet and swam, keeping her eyes focused before her—never behind. For as far as she could see, there were miles of vibrant coral reefs holding thousands of minute fish. She could feel the touch of a plethora of fish kissing her bare feet. It was like swimming through a cloud of feathers. Beneath her swam a Greenland shark; but not once did it attack her. She then swam through a pod of dolphins, which moved aside as if to greet their returning queen.
This was her sanctuary, her escape from the world. Here there were no worries, no imperfections, and everything treated her with respect.
But this dream was different from the rest.
At the bottom of the ocean, the pale sand fell into the mouth of a black trench. Adabella swam down to investigate the intruder. Irregular waves of cold water shocked her muscles as she fell into the hole. The rock walls whispered about an untold danger that lurked in the trench, but Adabella ignored the warnings. After twenty feet of falling she felt a tickle on her body and there appeared a massive glowing orb. There was a black slit splitting the emerald-green and yellow orb in half. Then the orb blinked-it was an eye.
Adabella awoke to knocking.
How long was I asleep?
She rose up and unlocked the door to her long awaited guest and resumed her seat.
Josh shut the door behind him and sat down on the loveseat across from Adabella, stationed near a miniature library and a worn typewriter.
“Did your aunt buy these books?” Josh asked as he pulled out a bulky novel with old, red binding.
“No, I’ve accumulated my own stockpile of books whenever I had some money for myself; not that I have had much to myself recently.” she drifted off into deep thought.
“How are you Adabella, you’ve looked tired.”
“I’m fine… really.” Adabella attempted to give a reassuring smile.
Josh put down the book and looked at her.
“Oh, stop Ada; we’ve been friends for years now.” Josh smiled. “I know something’s bothering you, just tell me. Maybe I can help.”
She shook her head and sat down at her typewriter. There was a hefty stack of typed pages sitting next to the machine. Adabella ran her fingers along the pages.
“What are you writing Ada?”
“May I read it? I’ve always enjoyed your stories.”
“No?” Josh rose from the love seat and stood next to Adabella.
“I’m still writing the story Josh,” Adabella laughed. “I can’t allow you to read an unfinished work; where would the fun be in that?”
“Well then, so how much longer until you finish?”
“I don’t know.”
“How don’t you know; don’t you have an ending in mind?” Josh chuckled and braided his friend’s silky, long brown hair.
“Yes, except I don’t know what the ending will be.”
“Aren’t you just an enigma today Ada.” josh laughed again.
“Think about it Josh; all you need is a beginning to write a story and then you just keep on typing. You keep typing whatever comes to mind until, eventually, a story unfolds. You can never foresee the ending; you just have to diligently write until the ending presents itself to you. After all, isn’t that how life works? All our life consists of is a compilation of ever-changing memories. As you grow older your settings change, friends change, even you change. When all that’s familiar becomes new then we regenerate into another story, just with the same character-sorry I’m beginning to ramble now-but be honest, would you be able to discover the ending to such a story?” Adabella turned around to face a smiling Josh.
“I’ve always wondered what goes on in that beautiful, brilliant head of yours,” he lightly caressed Adabella’s rosy cheek. “but something is still bothering you Ada.”
“It’s just my aunt as always. I can’t understand what goes on in her head-why is she so cold and distant? It’s almost as if she resents or hates me.” Adabella paused. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful to run off into the unknown; just leaving all your troubles behind and never having to look back? I can’t stop thinking about it; the concept just sounds so nostalgic.”
“Adabella, I’ve been thinking lately.”
“Oh really, you’ve actually been thinking! That’s amazing, should I contact the newspapers?” Adabella laughed and playfully punched Josh in the arm.
“No Ada I’m being serious.” Josh insisted.
“Alright then, continue with your idea-I’ve had enough rambling today.”
“What if we could leave?”
Adabella’s complexion paled.
“What if I told you there may be a way for us to leave this country and go wherever our heart’s desire?” Josh took Adabella’s hands into his. “But what if that freedom came at a price?”
“Josh what are you talking about?”
“As I was travelling home last week I met an old friend of mine. As we caught up, he confided in me that he found a well-paying job in an underground market, the black market.” Josh hesitated. “They’ve been doing some research and they discovered that our country owns a very precious fabric, a fabric that cannot be manufactured in any other country in the world. It’s the same fabric used to make your dress. That fabric can be sold for upwards of five hundred dollars just for a small strip. I wouldn’t normally suggest this idea, Ada but what if we sold some of the fabric from your dress. It wouldn’t be much, and you wouldn’t even be required to keep your dress once we left the country.”
Adabella didn’t say anything.
“What do you think Ada?”
“I-I don’t know Josh, it’s illegal and-“
Josh looked so earnest it almost broke her.
He’s doing this for me, for my dream and just as he said; we wouldn’t need the dress outside of the country’s borders.
She could feel her cheeks growing warm as Josh continued to stroke her hand;
“Josh, I understand what you’re saying, but are you being realistic? If the authorities catch us then we will never have a chance at freedom.”
Adabella looked into Josh’s eyes. He had the clearest blue eyes, but they began to look--tainted, turbid.
Josh tightened his grip on her hand, “Oh come on Ada, I would never willingly put you in a harmful position. The piece will be so small I doubt anyone would notice; my friend even promised to give us some faux white fabric in exchange to make the piece look less conspicuous.”
“Where we’re going, you won’t even need your dress… think about it, you’ll never have to see your aunt or father again.”
The last words echoed in her head. “I don’t know Josh, this doesn’t feel right.”
“What’s not right Ada is that as long as you remain here you’ll never discover the true happiness that you deserve.” He whispered in her ear.
Is just a little fabric so wrong?
Josh waited a moment for Adabella to regain color in her face. Once she seemed to have calmed down he retrieved some scissors from his shirt pocket.
Adabella didn’t reply.
Josh reached down to the bottom of her dress and cut off a small strip of the delicate, refulgent, untainted fabric.
“Just remember Ada darling, we’re almost home.” Josh smiled.
Adabella’s right arm trembled.
He took out a white square of cloth from his pocket and gave it to Ada before walking to the door.
“Let’s just keep this our little secret Ada.” and with that Josh left.
Adabella looked down at her dress, she couldn’t determine if her mind was playing tricks on her, but it seemed as if the dress had lost some of its luster. She sewed on the faux fabric.
Josh was right-no one will notice
She took a shower, trying to divert the attention from the horrible feeling she had.
Oh, I’m okay; I’m going to be fine.
Her legs trembled as she felt the warm water sweep over her body.
Why do I still feel so disgusting, but yet so-so calm?
She then lumbered toward her small library and took out Tolkien’s The Hobbit, but even that seemed to have lost its luster.
Daily tasks became increasingly difficult to complete. Josh kept coming and with each visit he became increasingly profligate. He affectionately showered Adabella with vain gifts while promising joys to come before he snipped away at her dress; always sure to leave a shred of cheap white fabric to make up for the gap. She often fantasized turning the scissors to his faultless throat before remorse shooed the will-o'-the-wisp away. She was so confused; this wasn’t the same gullible, sweet Josh that she had loved for the majority of her life. This Josh was so different. With each snip of the scissors, more of his old characteristics sank away into the deep, dark abyss of his once clear blue eyes.
But Josh isn’t doing anything wrong, it’s all my fault. He loves me.
Adabella couldn’t stop seeing her dress losing its luster with each cut. Not only did her dress grow faint but so did her perception on life. The brilliant thoughts and images that manifested themselves in her reveries were now no more than a heap of old, rusted tools with no master. She continued to write, but her words lost their eloquence and grace.
Each day became more monotonous except for her attempts to hide her disheveled dress. Eventually, as the weather grew colder, she donned a long sweater and scarf. The new sense of fashion attracted no suspicion as many others followed her lead.
Adabella had lost her ability to dream since that evening with Josh. There was no more sanctuary, nowhere to hide. She couldn’t determine if she actually slept or if she merely fell into a trance like state at night. During one of those nights, after a month of healing, Adabella tore off her bandage and scratched at her right hand again. She could not stop her habits and that realization just stressed her more.
I feel like I can’t do anything anymore, like I’ve lost control. Why do I feel so tired and numb?
Her aunt grew more overbearing, snapping at Adabella for her inadequate intelligence, manners, and disdain at eating her aunt’s food.
“I’ve done everything I was asked to do and will continue to do so Adabella, even to my death unless instructed otherwise, so for goodness’ sake, couldn’t you venture to be a more delightful child by doing what I asked of you.” her aunt said on a particularly frustrating day.
Adabella would merely bite her tongue and diverted her attention to her hand. The word “child” grated on her ears and she didn’t understand what duty her aunt spoke of.
Each day the temptation of locking her aunt outside when she knocked grew stronger. But what good would such an action do! Barbara had ensured to make her own copy of the keys.
Her moods shifted often and she couldn’t understand why. Most days she shuffled between irritability, frustration, depression, confusion, restlessness, and anger. But on a few, special days she almost felt happy.
But what frustrated Adabella the most was her friendship with her dear Eliza grew more distant. It was as if each snip at the threads of her precious dress also snipped the cords of their friendship. Adabella isolated herself from Eliza even though she knew she needed that friendship. When Liz persevered with her attempts to speak to her friend, Ada would become hostile.
I’m so sorry Liz… what’s happening to me? I feel like I’m losing my mind.
Then the first semester ended, and all the students gleefully returned home to celebrate the holidays except for one.
Adabella’s heart stopped when she returned home. Her door was open and she knew who was inside. Her arms trembled and her breath shortened as she gingerly stepped inside. Josh looked up from his book and smiled at her. She forced a smile in return and mechanically sat beside Josh.
“I got something for you.” Josh said.
“Really” Adabella feigned excitement.
Josh stood up and clasped a costly diamond necklace to Adabella’s neck.
“Oh, thank you Josh, it’s beautiful-”
“Wait, close your eyes.”
Adabella complied and was led by the hand to an unknown destination.
Adabella was standing where her small library had stood. Now it was a massive collection taking up the majority of the wall. There were enough books to take years to read.
“How do you like it?” Josh inquired. “I never did forget about your love of books so I bought you all the classics and a few personal favorites.
Adabella stood silently; she attempted to command control of her emotions, but to no avail. Her lip quivered and her eyes filled; a single warm tear glistened down her cheek.
“What’s wrong?” Josh took Adabella’s hand, but she snatched it back.
“Adabella what’s wrong with you? Did I do something wrong?”
“No Josh, you did nothing wrong. I love it.”
“You’ve always been such a bad liar.” Josh threw a few books on the floor.
“It’s just—Josh when are we going to leave?” Adabella pleaded. “You said we were going to leave this country as soon as we could, but it’s been weeks now.”
Josh stopped and stood in front of Adabella; his mien softened and he even gave her a slight smile. “We are going to leave Ada, I promise.”
“Really, then why are you doing this?”
“These gift, why do you keep showering me with gifts rather than saving the money for us to leave? They’re all wonderful and I appreciate you thinking of me, but I don’t need any of this, I don’t want any of this.”
Josh was silent.
Adabella clenched her teeth and left the apartment. She desperately wanted to cry out in frustration, but she didn’t need the unnecessary attention.
Adabella didn’t feel the blistering cold. She couldn’t feel anything. She traipsed into an empty park. The light of the moon reflected off the snow, it all seemed so calm. She sat down on a swing. Her father used to bring her to this park when she was a child: he would sit on the bench while she played.
I wonder what he’s doing.
When Adabella was only five years old her mother abandoned the family. Adabella discovered several years later that her mother had been seeing another man. Her father took the abandonment hard. He was a good honest man and never resorted to drinking or drugs to lessen the pain but he did work a lot. He loved his daughter though and would try to find time to spend with her. Oh, how Adabella loved seeing her father! He would attend every play, recital, meeting, and activity that she was involved in. He took pride in her blossoming intelligence and beauty.
But something happened when she turned ten. Her father received a letter in the mail notifying him that his ex-wife committed suicide. By the next month he left to work in the mines, leaving his daughter with his sister. Even to this day she could never understand why he left so abruptly.
I suppose there are things we will never understand in this life.
Every now and then he would send a gift but never a letter. The beautiful father/daughter relationship had vanished. What point is there to a father when he is never seen? Several times Adabella wanted to send him a letter to tell him that she didn’t long for money, but he had withheld his address from Adabella and Aunt Barbara.
She barely remembered his face.
She looked down at her dress, three fifths of the fabric was fake. Without her coat and scarf the authorities would arrest her in a matter of minutes. Adabella rose from the swing and lay down in the snow covered field. She shrouded her dress with the shimmering snow. For a few moments the universe regained its beauty. Her dress was revived and some color returned to her bloodless face. Adabella even smiled. She looked up at the clear sky. The moon was gone, allowing the night sky to reveal its full glory. Adabella saw no black; she only saw dark blues and turquoise swirling with hints of violet, green, and crimson. Within the myriad of colors there burst forth the terrible, coruscating fire giants. The giants claimed their rightful place in the sky and reflected their glorious countenance in the snow and on her dress.
But then the snow melted and she was left shivering.
How long have I been outside?
Adabella looked at her gold encrusted watch; she had been outside for more than an hour.
She rose and put on her coat and scarf once more and silently returned home. Her apartment was empty. She turned on the lights; all the new books were thrown on the floor. For once, Adabella ignored the mess and went to her room to sleep.
Adabella awoke the next morning to knocking. She looked at her clock-it was two. She tried to get up to answer the door, but her body felt too weak.
I must have caught a cold.
“Adabella let me in!” her aunt yelled.
Adabella tried to reply, but coughed instead.
Eventually her aunt opened the door with her keys.
“Where are you Ada?” She snapped.
She coughed again and weakly said, “I’m in here Aunt Barbara.”
“Oh dear, you look terrible.”
“I’m sick; I must’ve caught a cold.”
“I’ll cook you some soup, try coming to the table if you can.”
Adabella slowly rose from her bed and put on some slippers. She sat down on the wooden kitchen chair.
Her aunt placed a bowl of soup in front of her. She didn’t touch the food.
“Well eat.” her aunt commanded.
Adabella remained silent.
“Are we really going to have this fight again Ada? Why do you always insist on never eating your food?” Barbara glared at her niece.
“Why?” albeit weak, Adabella returned the glare.
“You need to ea-”
“No, why do you dislike me so much Barbara?”
Her aunt was surprised by the question and sat pensively for a few minutes.
“I don’t dislike you Adabella.” Aunt Barbara said in a more gentle tone of voice but still far from affectionate.
“You’re right, you practically hate me.” Adabella retorted.
“No Ada I don’t hate you, I’ve never hated you.”
“Then why do you treat me so cold, with so much disdain?” Adabella demanded. “All I ever wanted from you was affection, but you never gave me that and furthermore you always undermine me. I have manners, I’m clever, hardworking, and I would always be obedient to you. But then I realized that you would never acknowledge me so why should I acknowledge you as my aunt. So now just tell me, what did I did to you?”
Aunt Barbara sighed and paced around the table a few times before answering.
“Adabella,” her aunt started. “When my brother entrusted your well-being to me I promised him that I would provide for all of your general needs, including food, clothing, shelter, and a proper education. I have kept that promise to this day-”
“That’s not my question -”
“Wait,” her aunt commanded. “stop interrupting me.” The elegant lady stood near the window where the streaming sun would highlight her once youthful hair. “What I did not promise was an affectionate relationship.” Barbara tapped on the window with a trembling hand. “Affection has always been a sore topic for me...I cannot prevent you from making your own judgments concerning me, but I assure you that, albeit austere, I never hated or disliked you.” Aunt Barbara emphasized the last words.
“What happened?” Adabella asked.
“Clarify your question.”
“Why are you like this? What happened to you?”
“Love is a tricky matter Adabella, just- just be very careful with whom you choose to share your heart with.” Barbara stopped tapping the window. “Now please finish your food Ada.”
Adabella ate her soup silently as Aunt Barbara continued to stare out the window. A violent chill ran through her body.
She looks exactly like me, only older. Is that really who I’m becoming?
As she collected her belongings to leave Aunt Barbara finally spoke:
“Adabella you are indeed a beautiful, brilliant young lady with much potential. The only reason I never acknowledge your positive characteristics is because I believe you still have so much more potential.” And then Aunt Barbara quietly left the apartment.
It had been a week since Josh had visited Adabella and she hated herself for it.
Why do I push away the people I love? I shouldn’t have yelled at Josh. What is wrong with me, why am I so worthless?
And then she heard the ever familiar knocking.
Adabella opened the door, smiled, and gave him a strong hug. Josh smiled, but seemed distant.
“What are you doing here so early?” Adabella inquired.
“I heard you were sick.”
She blushed, “Oh yeah, bu-but I feel better now; it was just a stupid cold.”
Josh nodded and looked at the ground.
“I got some breakfast; are you hungry?”
“Yeah, just put it on the table.”
Josh quietly took out the food from a bag. Adabella observed him closely. His eyes were nearly black, his face white, and he seemed so serious-almost conflicted. There was barely a trace of his old light-hearted self.
“Are you ok Josh?” Adabella quietly asked.
Josh pulled out a chair for her. The two sat down and ate.
“One week.” Josh finally responded.
“One week until what?” Adabella asked.
“-Until we leave.”
Adabella stopped eating and sat quietly.
“What, did you change your mind about leaving already?”
“No, you just caught me by surprise.” Adabella gave an earnest smile and lifted her eyes only to notice a black eye.
“Josh what happened to you.” Adabella gasped.
She then realized he was covered in cuts and bruises.
Josh chuckled. “I was only in a fight.”
“Who is this?”
“Who did you get into a fight with?”
“That doesn’t matter, all that matters is that we’re leaving in another week.” he replied.
There was a long pause.
“I just need a favor from you Ada.” Josh gave her his irresistible smile.
Adabella blushed, “What do you need?”
“I just need one more strip of fabric Ada, just one more strip.” Josh begged. “Then we will be able to leave this country for the rest of our lives.”
“Are you seriously going to deny me a strip now, now when I need it most?” he attempted to suppress his outrage.
When did he grow a temper? In all the years I’ve known him he would never raise his voice.
“Josh there’s barely any more fabric for you to have. I-I’m sorry.” Adabella’s breathing quickened and she grew faint.
“’I’m sorry.’ That’s all I get?” Josh’s face grew red. After all we’ve been through you won’t even help me this last time! Some people, some really bad people found out about my business and tried to kill me Ada! I-we need to leave this country.” Josh yelled.
Adabella scratched at her hand.
“How do I know you’ll keep your word and bring me with you?”
Josh laughed, but it was a more sinister laugh. “Adabella’s always looking at the simplest matters.” Josh rose from his seat and kneeled before her. He ran his hand over the remaining magnificent fabric.
Adabella was sleep deprived, fatigued, and overworked. Outwardly she looked fine, but within she had a buildup of emotions from years of accumulation. Josh’s last words broke something within Adabella. The dam that had been restraining the outflow of so much frustration, resentment, and anger ruptured. Adabella pulled herself away from Josh.
“Josh stop!” Adabella expostulated. “Look at this, look at my dress you can’t have any more fabric! You’ve ruined the entire dress. It’s hideous; I have to hide every time I go out in public!”
“Are you really trying to blame this on me, little Ada.” He glared at her and smirked. “Since the beginning, you’ve been letting me rip that pretty little dress of yours. You’ve practically invited me to you wanted this. So you’re going to run off now and go get the authorities, well too bad for you; who would ever listen to you!”
“Josh,” Adabella stared at her dress, she didn’t know how to respond.
Did I really agree to this, is this really all my fault?
“Please come here Ada.” Josh approached her and stroked her hand gently. “One more strip of fabric and we can both leave here forever. You’ll never have to face your aunt again.”
“… No.” Adabella pulled her hand from Josh. “It’s about time I stop running away from my problems.” She strode toward the door
Adabella began to turn the knob when Josh kicked her hard behind the knee. She let out a sharp cry and fell to the ground.
“Oh no Ada you can’t run out on me this time.” Josh climbed on top of Adabella, effectively pinning her to the floor. “It’s too late for me. I need this fabric and if you won’t give me a small strip, then I’ll just take the whole thing.”
“Who are you?” Adabella cried.
“What are you talking about my darling?”
“You’re not the same Josh that I’ve known for so many years.” Adabella trembled. “Josh promised he would never hurt me and Josh always kept his promises.”
“I don’t care who you say I am because I know who I am.” He laughed. “And I know what I need; I need your dress my dear.”
Josh, or the impersonator, threw the scissors he held across the room and took out a knife from his shirt pocket. As he prepared to cut Adabella’s dress he loosened his hold on her right arm and she elbowed him in the nose. The blow bought her enough time to rise, but the pain in her knee brought her to the ground moments later.
“No Josh, Josh please don’t hurt me! Please Josh!”
“C’mere Ada!” The man grabbed her hair and slammed her head hard into the wooden floor. He did it again and the third time Adabella passed out before she could feel it.
Adabella had finally returned to her blissful habitat. She extended her arms and propelled herself with her legs. She was swimming again. She swam toward a gentle whale shark and took hold of its dorsal fin. The freelance pilot fish surrounding the massive creature bathed Adabella’s body. The creature swam toward the deep trench. She let go of the fin at the trench’s entrance as the sublime creature disappeared into the darkness below. She then looked up at her world, but to her horror the once beautiful and vibrant creation had changed. Deep red, thick blood had enveloped the surface and was seeping down. Everything the blood touched died. As the virulent blood drew nearer Adabella panicked and swam into the mysterious trench. The cold water pricked her delicate skin and she had trouble breathing. It was too dark for her to see. Her heart beat fast and loud until the large, horrible, demonic eye appeared. The terrible creature stretched its body and snatched Adabella with one of its long tentacles. She struggled to free herself until she too was enveloped by the blood.
Adabella heard an owl hoot outside her window and the upstairs tenant vacuuming. Then the pain hit her all at once: in her head, her back, and her knee. She groaned weakly into the floor. She slowly began to sit up when her eyes caught sight of her dress laying on the floor.
It was completely ruined.
All that remained of the previously magnificent dress were the dregs of pawned fabric. She looked down at the floor and saw a thin puddle of blood surrounding her body. Her nose and upper forehead were bleeding and she couldn’t see out of her right eye. She crawled toward the bathroom mirror and stood with the support of the sink. Adabella couldn’t recognize her own face. More of it was bruised than not. There was a huge bruise over one eyebrow and pooling an ugly purple around her eyelid, her cheek, even part of her nose. Her forehead and portions of her cheek were congealed with blood. Her lips were chapped, and a dark red scab extended from her lower lip. She struggled to turn around only to see that her back was cut up from some of Josh’s failed attempts to cut the dress off. That was where the majority of the blood had been coming from.
“Aughh!” The pain in Adabella’s knee came back as she tumbled to the floor; her head felt as if it would explode. She heard footsteps running toward her door and then everything went black.
The harsh glare of a hospital light greeted her unprepared eyes. She lifted her head to see a plain white room with a heart monitor to her right and an IV unit to her left. The IV connected to her arm. Vision from her right eye was still impaired from swelling; albeit considerably less so. She couldn’t remember how she had arrived in the hospital room and the past week’s events were all fragments; a puzzle consisting of the border but no body.
“Ms. Mason is awake.” A nurse standing out of view notified the doctor.
A stout man appeared moments later at Adabella’s door, “Hello Ms. Mason how are you feeling?”
It was a pointless question. Although the pain had dulled due to the effects of some drugs; the pain in her back and knee still remained. The sharp pain in her head made her groan. “Do you have any pain relievers?”
“Well, I do; but I need you to answer me some questions,” the doctor took a seat to the right of her bed, blocking the heart monitor. “It will only be a few questions, but they are important. Do you believe you are able enough to answer them?”
Adabella nodded her head.
“What’s the last thing you remember?”
“I,” Large chunks concerning what happened with Josh were gone. She just has fragments of impressions, visions, sounds, and smells that made sense, but couldn’t connect to an entire story.
“Let’s go a bit easier on that head of yours.” the doctor gently pushed some stray strands of hair away from her stitched wounds. “Were you involved in an accident?”
“I-I don’t think so.”
“So,” He paused before continuing. “were you assaulted?”
“No, I-I don’t think you could consider what happened assault.” some memories were flooding back but still not enough. “No, he would never assault me.”
“I need to know who ‘he’ is.”
Adabella closed her eyes and turned her head, “A friend of mine.”
“I need to know how you received these injuries Ms. Mason.” The doctor persisted.
“I don’t know; nothing is adding up in my brain, ok!” Adabella yelled. “All I know is my head feels like it’s about to burst open and your sitting there like an idiot refusing to help me! I can’t even remember who you are and when you came into this room!”
“I understand you’re in pain, but if you want the medicine you need to answer my questions.” The doctor gently placed his hand over hers.
Memories flooded back as she felt the nauseatingly familiar touch on her hand. She seized her hand and clutched the cover of the mattress.
“Ms. Mason can you hear me?” the doctor inquired.
Adabella nodded her head.
The doctor said something else but his voice was drowned out by Josh’s,
Since the beginning, you’ve been letting me rip that pretty little dress of yours. You’ve practically invited me to-you wanted this.
Adabella turned away from the doctor and grabbed her head, shuddering.
I just need one more strip of fabric.
She curled up into a ball, grabbing her legs as the IV in her arm slipped off.
If you won’t give me a small strip, then I’ll just take the whole thing.
Adabella covered her ears with her hands and shut her eyes, trying unsuccessfully to block the incessant flood of memories.
I don’t care who you say I am because I know who I am, and I know what I need; I need your dress my darling.
It’s ok Adabella, you’re safe now.” The nurse who had been in the hallway was in the room bent over Adabella. “Shh; just breathe, you have to breathe. Shh, come back home Ada.”
Adabella couldn’t make sense of what the nurse was saying until she heard herself gasping and whimpering. Her heart monitor was beeping rapidly. Her hands clawed at the mattress as if she would be sucked into the vortex of memories if she didn’t hold on.
“I-I can’t-breathe.” She gasped out.
“Yes you can.” The nurse assured. “Just take a big breath and hold it.”
Adabella took as big of a breath she could hold in her aching body and released it moments later. Her heart rate dropped down considerably as the paroxysm faded. She looked at the nurse sitting beside her; it was her friend Eliza. Adabella’s face paled.
Does she know about my dress, what is she going to do?
“I don’t know what happened to me.” Adabella said.
“Don’t lie, you were remembering weren’t you.” Her friend said.
“I, I-uh,” Adabella couldn’t stand the idea of her friend knowing the truth.
“You don’t need to hide the truth from me.” Eliza was about to grab Adabella’s hand again, but stopped not wanting to trigger more memories. “I saw your dress, it’s ruined. None of the precious fabric remains. Just tell me what happened, I promise nothing will happen if you tell me the truth. You trust me don’t you Ada?”
“It’s not his fault; none of this is his fault.”
“That wasn’t Josh, it couldn’t have been Josh. Josh only wanted to help me, Josh loved me.” Her eyes drifted into the distance. “Josh would never have hurt me, that man must have been somebody else.”
“What did Jo-what did this man do to you Ada?”
“He would tear the fabric off of my dress. I never told him no, it’s my fault; I never placed the boundaries or spoke up but...”
“Go on Ada.” Eliza said.
“But the holes grew bigger.” She blinked her eyes to keep the tears from coming. “And it became way too obvious, so I tried to stop Josh from taking any more fabric-“
“And that’s when he hurt you.”
“I shouldn’t have tried to stop him-he simply wanted to help me.” She glanced at her hands.
“No, he didn’t Ada--he was never helping you.” Her friend insisted.
“But I loved him.”
“Do you care about me Ada?”
She nodded her head.
“Well, what if I was telling you that this man was just trying to help me so he tore my meniscus, cut my back up, and bashed my head just for my dress. He took the most sacred thing I had and it was all because this guy loved me and wanted to help me. What would you tell me if our roles were switched?”
Adabella couldn’t respond. She tried to picture sitting next to Eliza with bruises and cuts staining her beautiful face. Furthermore, having to restrain herself from comforting her friend for fear she would trigger more memories and see her suffer another panic attack. If Josh had even torn off a single piece of her dress she would have gone ballistic. But what made Eliza so different from herself? Adabella held her head.
“I would tell you that this wasn’t your fault… that he used you and that he never cared for you.” Adabella’s voice broke.
“So do I have to repeat what you just told me?”
Adabella’s lip quivered and before she knew it, she found herself crying so hard she was gasping for air. Her body went numb as the tears fell off her face and onto the covers.
“Just let it out Ada,” Eliza sat on her bed. “Let everything out.”
“But I can’t believe that was really Josh! She gasped in between cries. “Josh was my best friend, this guy was a stranger and he used me. I’m so stupid for letting him use me like that.”
“Oh my dear, dear friend, you are not stupid.” All barriers between the two friends collapsed as Eliza reached out to hug the crying Adabella. “He used you and anyone could have fallen for it. You need to tell the king Adabella.”
Adabella stared at her friend in wonder. “The king, how am I supposed to tell the king?” Adabella blubbered.
“The king is my father, Ada.”
“Yes, the king is my father and you need to tell him what happened.” Eliza firmly stated.
“I-I couldn’t Liz.” Ada cried into her friend’s shoulder. “My dress is ruined Liz, you of all people should know the consequences for something like that.”
“But this wasn’t your fault.” Eliza insisted. “You need to have faith and trust me.”
Ada nodded her head and hugged her friend tightly while clutching her dress. She sobbed for a long time on her friend’s shoulder. Although the pain in her body was strong the pain she felt emotionally was overwhelming. Exhausted, Adabella finally yawned.
“I’m going to go get you some pain relief Ada.”
After injecting the morphine Adabella drifted off into a deep sleep as the pain in her body drifted away along with the rest of her senses.
They say a side effect of morphine is vivid and peculiar dreams. If there had been any doubt in Adabella’s mind about that before, it was surely cleared up now. She was back in her ocean; her once sublime sanctuary where she could swim for hours on end without worry, but that had all changed. The water was opaque and turbid from the blood and all signs of wildlife had disappeared. The once lurid coral had decayed into lifeless, white limestone. All beauty and carelessness of the old world had died from the blood and all that remained was fear. What made the dream so much more different than any of her previous dreams was the realism. Her senses were heightened and every inch of her body could feel the sting of the cold water. Her eyes burned from the increased salt level in the water and every time she opened her mouth she could taste blood. No longer was this a sweet dream, it was a nightmare. She extended her arms and pushed the water behind her as she was accustomed to propel herself forth, but she couldn’t kick her legs without a pang of pain. After three more failed attempts, she allowed herself to sink. There was no trench anymore; the whole ocean had become a dark, unending hole. As Adabella fell deeper into darkness, her heart beat swift and loud awaiting the terror that lurked below. She waited for the monster to appear and swallow her whole, but to her horror it came from above. Its silhouette likened that of a centipede but magnified to the size of a whale. It swam like a snake sneaking toward the vulnerable eggs in a mother bird’s nest. Its head was the most repulsive feature-its jaws extended to double the size of its body revealing the razor like teeth all topped off with the trademark glowing eyes. The burning orbs seemed to pierce Adabella’s very soul. Her body betrayed all commands to flee. She prepared herself for the coming of the monster.
It will eat me soon and everything will be over.
But the sea monster chose to play with its food and grabbed her by one of the dreadful centipede-like legs. It brought Adabella close as if to examine its prey. As if the monster were not horrible enough, in the reflection of the glowing eye Adabella saw Josh laughing at her.
She became a deathly white.
The reflection reached into his shirt pocket revealing a knife. He stabbed the eye of the monster and exited the looking glass. Free, he swam toward Adabella and pointed his knife toward her heart not without first holding her bloody, right hand.
“Hello my darling.” He smirked. “I suppose it’s time to finish the job.”
“You already took the entire dress Josh.” Adabella barely whispered.
“Oh, but everyone knows the heart is the true trophy.” The impersonator smirked and kissed her.
Adabella tried to scream, but the nightmarish leg gagged her.
He lifted the knife and plunged it into her heart…
Adabella let out a blood curdling scream. She couldn’t remember where she was and how she had arrived at the hospital.
“Shh, shh Ada.” Eliza held Adabella down to try to calm the panicking girl. “Just go back to sleep.”
And so Adabella fell back to sleep, but she dreamt no more, only reentering her trance-like state.
The next few weeks in the hospital passed in a blur. Adabella remained taciturn after the night with Eliza. She fell into a delirium and would lose herself in space for hours. She never wrote, she couldn’t convey her feelings into words. Something in her was broken, something that not even a hospital could fix. She felt detached from the world, floating around aimlessly without a goal. Eliza made sure to sit with her friend even when she grew hostile and lashed out at Liz. When Adabella was connected with the present world she was constantly jumpy from the slightest sound, particularly that of snipping. Finally the hospital dismissed Adabella after she healed from the majority of her physical injuries; mental and emotional were beyond the hospital’s control.
The same day she was discharged Eliza brought her friend to visit her father, the king.
The road toward the palace consisted of cobblestone which painfully jolted Adabella’s wheelchair. Her head already began to ache and they were not even in the palace yet.
“Are you okay Ada?” Eliza asked. You’ve hardly said a word these past weeks, would you be willing to speak today?”
Adabella nodded her head. “I’ll be-fine-do you have my-my medicine?”
Her voice was hoarse from weeks of idleness.
“Yes, does your head already hurt?” Eliza inquired.
“I’ll give you your medicine when we arrive at the palace so the effects will last longer.”
When the two friends entered the palace they were surrounded by several servants greeting the young princess, but Eliza shook them all off insisting she could manage herself.
When they were alone Eliza spoke:
“I’ve never been able to accustom to men wanting to aid me in tasks that I can do myself. Being a princess never has suited me.”
“How haven’t you accustomed to a title you’ve been faced with every day of your life?” Adabella inquired.
“Life is just strange like that.”
“Liz I can’t do this, I look so disgusting.” She pulled at the awkward, foreign fabric on her body.
“You look beautiful Ada, you’ll be fine.”
Finally the two entered through the doors of the king’s throne room.
The room was more massive, larger, and more ornate than any room Adabella had ever seen. The ceiling was encumbered by a plethora of paintings. Each painting had its own story, but they were all connected to each other. The golden walls were accented with the finest gems. But it wasn’t overbearing as some may suspect, it was all very fitting.
“Hello daddy.” Eliza curtseyed to her father who had been staring out of one of the three large windows that made up the wall on the far side of the room.
“Hello my dear, pardon me for not hearing you enter.” The king smiled and then glanced at Adabella. “Is this the friend that you had mentioned to me?”
“Yes, father, this is Adabella.”
Adabella awkwardly sat in the wheelchair not knowing what to do. She could not curtsey and it was painful to nod her head. “Hello your majesty.” She quietly said.
“Eliza, why don’t you wait outside as the two of us get to know one another?” The king smiled.
Adabella looked at her friend with panic; she did not want to be left alone with the king.
“Do not worry Ada, remember, although he may be a king; he is first and foremost a father.” Eliza then left the room.
“My daughter is quite fond of you Adabella; she tells me many things about you.” The king smiled and strode across the room.
She had been nervously scratching at her fingers again, but stopped when the king held her right hand.
“Your hand is so worn; the skin is never allowed to heal.” He mused.
“Don’t be ashamed, we all have our habits and idiosyncrasies, some of which are a bit more complicated to break.” The king put down her hand and wheeled Adabella toward the three windows.
“To spare you the pain of recounting your tale Eliza told me about your situation.” The king said. “It seems like your friend has already left, but we were able to locate the black market he was working in. We retrieved much of the fabric before it could be smuggled out. I have you to thank for that and in exchange for your help I have a special gift for you Adabella.”
The king handed her an elegant, floor length dress made from the refulgent fabric that had been stolen from her.
“Go and put it on, there is a changing room nearby.” The king insisted.
“I’m sorry, but I cannot accept this gift.” Adabella eyes brimmed with tears. “I don’t deserve such a gift. It was my fault that the fabric was stolen in the first place and I don’t see how my actions could possibly have helped you sir. And…” Adabella’s voice faltered. “Oh sir, I plead with you to not punish Josh for what he has done. I can’t possibly understand how he could be aware of his actions. I’ve known Josh for several years and he was never like this. Just punish me instead.”
The king knelt down and gently wiped away the tears staining his guest’s bruised face.
“Oh my dear, you have been through so much in your short life. Of course you don’t deserve such a thing as this, but that is why it is a gift. I insist that you have it because you do deserve a second chance. Your actions did aid us in that we were able to put a stop to the illegal black markets and prevent other young women from going through your situation. As for Josh--” The king hesitated. “We must all suffer the consequences for our actions. I cannot speak for Josh but maybe he wasn’t aware of his actions; matters such as money and lust can corrupt the mind beyond recognition and I fear that may have been your friend’s undoing. But do not fear my dear; he will be in safe hands once we find him.”
“How?” Adabella earnestly inquired.
“Your friend is not only a danger to himself, but there are also groups of very dangerous men looking to do him harm; his life is in danger and I don’t believe he is quite aware of how much danger he is in. Restraining him would actually be saving him. Now enough of that; would you mind trying on your dress now?” The king clapped his hands.
A servant was called and Adabella went off to put on her new dress. The moment the soft fabric touched her body her world changed. Everything seemed to not only regain its previous luster and beauty, but also seemed to have gained some in the process. Even the pain of her injuries dulled, so much so Adabella attempted to stand. She was directed to the king.
The king had migrated outside, at the roof of the palace. He was admiring the sunset.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” He asked.
“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a more dazzling sunset.” Adabella answered in reverential awe.
“I feel as if there are never any words to describe the complete beauty of a sunset; words such as dazzling, brilliant, outstanding, exceptional, enrapturing, blissful don’t have the impact I want them to convey.” The king mused. “Once in my travels I met a man who introduced me to a phrase I believe comes to par with the vividness of such beauty; ‘Bilita Mpash’. He said it was the opposite of a nightmare; he described it as ‘a legendary, blissful state where all is forgiven and forgotten’.
Where all is forgiven and forgotten…
Adabella smiled. She hadn’t felt so genuinely blissful in eons.
“Oh, aren’t you beautiful my darling.” The king gave Adabella a tight hug. “Would you like to stay in the palace for a while?”
“Excuse me sir?”
“Oh you’re much too proper Adabella.” The king laughed. “Would you like to stay here in the palace with me and Eliza? You may continue your normal affairs and your college classes of course. It would be our pleasure to have you here.”
Adabella blinked in disbelief.
“Sir, I don’t know what to say.” Adabella said.
“Say yes.” The kind insisted.
Say it Ada; say yes.
“I’m sorry sir, but I believe its time I returned home.” Adabella finally answered.
The king seemed disappointed. “I understand my dear, but please don’t forget that our gates will always be open to you.”
He gave Adabella a kiss on the forehead and called for Eliza to escort her home.
“Thank you so very much for your kindness my king.” Adabella attempted a curtsey.
“As I said my dear, it was and always will be my pleasure.” The king then bowed and waved goodbye.
Adabella continued to retain her smile as the two friends travelled to her apartment. They said little until Adabella finally asked something that had been on her mind:
“Who found me that day I was brought to the hospital?” She asked. “Before I blacked out I remember there were footsteps running to my door-was it you?”
“No, it wasn’t me Ada, how has no one told you?” Eliza stared at Adabella and smiled. “Ada, it was your aunt.”
“Are you sure? It must have been after dark when I was brought to the hospital.” She quavered.
“Yes, it was definitely your aunt, she was hysterical with worry.” Eliza chuckled. “She was so frantic we almost tranquilized her.”
“What?” Adabella looked toward her friend.
“She loves you; your aunt really does love you.” Eliza paused. “She refused to leave your side in the hospital. She would hold your hand and watch your breathing. It wasn’t until you began to regain consciousness that she insisted she needed to leave.”
She loves me.
Tears began to run down Adabella’s face, but this time they were not dismal tears.
“Are you sure you want to stay here; it’s not too late to change your mind Ada.”
“I’ll be fine Liz.” Adabella gave her a reassuring smile.
“Alright then, goodbye; I’ll see you soon Ada.” Eliza turned to walk away.
“Liz” Adabella called out.
“Thank you, thank you for everything.” She then stepped inside.
Someone had cleaned her apartment. The blood was gone and all was in its rightful place.
It must’ve been Aunt Barbara; she did make her own keys after all.
Adabella smiled and sauntered to her room. She carefully removed the delicate dress when all of the pain and emotions of the past months bombarded her once again. She felt alone and scared. The King and Eliza were far away in their wonderful palace and it was too late to travel. Adabella curled up in her bed and forced herself to sleep.
Adabella was back into her world, her nightmare. She was without light, and could not determine if she was still in the trench with the petrifying sea monster-with Josh. The cold water greeted her body as an old friend would. It entreated her to dance with it as the two fell deeper into the darkness.
Oh, how easy it seemed to simply shut her eyes and allow the water and darkness to swaddle her to her rest.
Soon she couldn’t breathe and she unsuccessfully commanded her legs to move. Adabella was at the end of what she could do, there was no more strength in her enervated body.
Our life is no more than a series of moments accumulating to this supposed grand finale… When did I fall this far down?
Adabella’s lip quivered.
Why, why did he hurt me...I loved him and I thought-he-he loved me, didn’t he? But why did he have to hurt me like that? I-I trusted him. Why me- WHY DID THIS HAPPEN TO ME! It was mine, the dress was mine. It was my purity and he took it away like it was nothing. That was mine to give away and-and-but I-I thought… I thought he would be able to make up for all of the previous hurts. My mom, my dad, my aunt, but he just hurt me again. What is love anyway, love just hurts. I’m so scared, I feel so alone and I hurt inside. Something is missing and no matter how hard I try I can’t fix it. But I loved him, why did I love him? Why am I so stupid all the time, what’s wrong with me? I hate myself, I hate myself, I HATE MYSELF, AND I HATE HIM, I HATE THIS STUPID, HORRIBLE LIFE! I’m just a worthless, old, broken clock. That’s all I am…
I am nothing.
She could taste blood running from her nose and her head was pulsing.
My life, my series of moments; what moments will people remember-this one? My story is finished, the ending has presented itself-all I have to do is just turn the knob.
Adabella closed her eyes, bit her lip, and entered the void of darkness.
Her eyes shot open, her head was swelling and her lungs cracking.
I need air!
Adrenaline poured through every vein and muscle of her body as she kicked her left leg. Then she kicked her right, her left, her right, her left. She moved her arms clumsily; her hands groping for the water. She was swimming. Adabella looked down to the sea floor and then to her right at the barren rock walls of the trench-but then, for the first time, she looked up; and sure enough there was a glimmer of light.
She swam for the surface, leaving her world-her series of moments behind.
I’m so close.
Adabella frantically kicked forward drifting in and out of consciousness. Her arms reached before her, feeling for water, but finding air. The thick water broke before her face and her eyes met an explosion of dazzling azure light.
Adabella had gained the surface.
The previous beauty of the world paled in comparison to the majesty of the world above. She filled her lungs with the blessed air and made for land. The sky was a dazzling deep sapphire, but with more dimension. She could see the microscopic drops of white light reflecting off each other and into her eyes. She could see it everywhere. Even the dullest objects had a refined sense of beauty to them. When she arrived at land she lay down on the pure white, warm sand. Just after she had settled herself, she heard scuffling behind her. She strained her head back to see. There, standing behind the worn Adabella, were all of the people she truly loved. They were all cheering for her! Eliza, her aunt, and her father were all in the crowd. But one person in particular shocked Adabella. A worn, smiling, clear-eyed, tall man stood at the front of the crowd. It was the old Josh.
The crowd split into two as the king walked down to receive the much awaited guest. He stretched forth his hand to receive hers and she, unashamedly, offered her healed hand.
And that’s when, for the first time in her life; Adabella knew everything would be okay-she may have lost her past world, but she now had found real peace in a real home. Her story had regenerated itself into a new narrative. She couldn’t foresee the ending but, after all, what’s the fun in foresight when you already have a…