Hearts for Bullets

Anna lost her brother at the age of 10. Ever since, she's been seeing his ghost. Her parents do not see him, and send her to a mental institution.

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6. I'm sorry.

Anna sat on a little chair. A clock was ticking silently in the background. She just looked at Alice at the other side of the table, reading her diary. The room was obnoxiously silent. Anna just sat there, awkwardly, waiting for Alice to put down the book at talk once again. “Interesting...” Alice mumbled.

Anna was nervous. Did she do something wrong? “What is?” she asked.

Alice didn’t say a thing. She just continued reading. Anna’s palms were sweaty, and she crinkled her toes. Her heart was pounding. She didn’t think Alice would read the diary. Anna had written about Erica, and how they talked through the wall. Was Anna going to get in trouble? Or Erica for that matter? Anna didn’t want to be the reason why her friend got in trouble.

After a few minutes Alice put down the diary. She sighed deeply, and looked at Anna. Anna was afraid to say anything. Was she in trouble? After a few seconds of silence, Alice opened her mouth and started talking. “Well, you write some... Interesting... things...” she started. “Firstly, I would like to praise you for your English skills. They’re very impressive for an 11-year old.”

Anna smiled. “Thank you.”

“Secondly, you shouldn’t talk to other inmates.” Alice then said. “I won’t tell any of the doctors, but you should keep to yourself. You could get in trouble if any of the others find out.”

The grin on Anna’s face disappeared. She didn’t understand. Why couldn’t she talk to the others? “But why not?” Anna asked.

Alice looked at Anna with a serious expression. “All the girls here are... special... You may have been taught you should be friendly by your parents, but the reason why you and the others are locked in here is because...” Alice said, but stopped abruptly. “Well... You are not like the others, and it tends to scare others...”

Anna was even more confused than before. “You are here, because you see your brother.” Alice said. Anna nodded understandingly. “Well, everyone have their own reason to be here. Erica is here because she... She hurts herself, and sometimes others. Also, she can’t always control herself. Sometimes, to Erica, it’s like other people tell her what to do, but... In her head. Do you understand?”

Anna didn’t quite understand, but nodded anyways. “But then who tells her what do to, and why are they in her head?” she asked.

Alice sighed. “I think that’s enough questions for today.” she said. She opened a drawer in the desk, pulled out a letter and handed it to Anna. “Your parents mailed this to us.”

Anna grabbed the envelope. “Who is it from?” she asked.

“It’s from your mother.” Alice replied. “She asks if she can come visit you.”

Anna smiled. Her mother actually did care about her. “Of course she can!”

“It’s... A bit more complicated than that, darling.” Alice said. “I understand you want to see your parents, but it’s not that easy”.

Anna looked down. “Oh...” she said.

Alice got up and hugged Anna. “It’s okay. You can cry.” she said.

Anna sat still for a few seconds. She was silent. Her lower lip quivered. She then burst into tears. Alice tightened the grip around Anna. Anna tucked her face in Alice’s shirt, and wrapped her arms around her. She was warm, and she smelled nice. Alice took a napkin from a dispenser on the table, and wiped away the tears. “Your mother wanted you to read the letter.” She said. “She had some important things to say.”

Anna sniffled and pulled her head away from the woman’s chest. She looked at the envelope in her hand. She nodded slowly. “I’m sorry...” she said, bowed her head and cried a bit more.

Alice was confused. “Why are you sorry?” she asked and lifted Anna’s head.

Anna looked Alice in the eyes. They were a beautiful blue colour. “For being such trouble...”

Alice smiled. “You’re silly.” she said. “You’re not any trouble. In fact, it’s my job to talk to you once a week.”

Before Anna had a chance to say anything, someone knocked on the door. It opened, and one of the guards peeked in. “I’m here to lead Anna back.” he said.

Alice nodded. “Read the letter, okay?” she said to Anna and hugged her.

“I will...” Anna said and tightened the grip around the letter.

Anna got up and followed the big guard back to her cell. After being lead in, she sat on the bed for a few minutes. Her face was still a bit wet from crying. She looked down at the letter. It was a bit curly from the iron grip Anna had had on it. She opened the envelope, pulled out a piece of paper and started reading.

Dear Anna.

You have to understand something. I didn’t send you to the asylum because I hate you. In fact, I still weep a bit each evening because you’re not here. I miss you so much. I would like to visit you one day, but it’s not sure the asylum will allow it. If they do not, I will explain something to you right here, right now.

The people at the asylum are not bad people. They may not always treat you nicely, but they’re doing what they can. All the tests, the questioning and the examinations, they’re all just to help you.

Also, your father and I didn’t want to send you away, in fact we love you very much and wouldn’t want a moment without you in our lives. But we had to. If we did not, I’m not sure what would’ve happened to you. You could’ve gotten worse.

Many things have happened while you were gone. Jeanette has gotten a boyfriend and your father has been promoted. Jeanette was in London to visit her boyfriend a while ago. When she game back, she said she saw the asylum inmates. She said they were fascinating. I obviously don’t know if you were amongst them, but Jeanette said everyone were wearing beautiful dresses. However, she did say something about them having short hair. Is it true? Did they cut your hair? I hope not. I always loved your long, curly golden locks of hair.

 

I hope you are not mad at us. We’re doing our best, and what we think is best for you. I’m praying each night for you to come home. Please behave, okay?

Love,

Your mother.

Anna put down the letter on the table. She wasn’t mad at her parents. She just wanted to go home so bad. She shed a tear. The asylum made an entirely wrong picture of how it actually was. Anna didn’t like it at all, and she certainly wasn’t wearing a beautiful dress. However, she wished she did.

Anna heard a sound coming from behind her. It was Erica knocking on the wall. “Anna? Anna, are you there?” she asked.

Anna was silent. She didn’t want to get in trouble for talking to Erica, nor did she want to be rude. Anna didn’t know what do to. She just knocked back and put her mouth up against the wall. “I’m here... Please, I don’t want to talk.”

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