I woke up the next morning with the shining sun coming through the rough holes of the frayed curtains. I sat up in the bed and ran my fingers through my hair, hearing the noise of footsteps coming from the other side of the door. A yawn slipped my lips, and carefully I stood up and looked into the mirror. I saw how my black hair swirled down along my shoulders; I saw how my dark eyes were staring back at me. It made me feel a little uncomfortable. Suddenly, I heard a knock on the door and a familiar voice which made the discomfort slowly fade away.
Henry’s face was the first thing I saw, when the door opened. Slowly, I leaned myself up against the windowsill with the light shining behind me. Henry came into the room with a fine suit and tie which he was wearing. The innkeeper glanced around the room and then directed his gaze toward me and said, “I see you’re up, Miss Angel. I hope you’ve slept well.” His eyes were smiling at me, just as his lips were too.
“Thank you,” I answered low-voiced and still a bit shyly, just looking down my lap, “It really means a lot to me. I wouldn’t have known what I should’ve done, if I hadn’t had your help yesterday.” I scratched my head and replied smiling with enthusiasm, “Everything was a little messed up.”
“Yes, about yesterday,” Henry looked behind his shoulder, before he closed the door behind him. He walked over to the wooden desk in the corner with a lamp and a picture of a young girl on top of it. He picked it up and stared into it as a few tears began to fill his eyes. There was something about the whole situation and the way he continued solemnly looking at the picture in the silence, which made me feel concerned.
“Is that your wife?” I asked. There was a long pause without an answer, so I walked over to the bed and sat down on my knees. “She is beautiful you know. She almost reminds me of someone I once knew.”
Henry sighed and said, “Perhaps I shouldn’t be telling you this at all,” He took a deep breath and still looked at the picture, not wanting to meet my eyes that were shining of curiosity and ignorance, “You see, years ago… Well, I suppose it has now been decades ago actually, she was my daughter. I had once loved her with all my heart, as a father only could, and she was very beautiful. This picture doesn’t serve justice for who she really was though. But, for all the love I could provide, it would never prepare her for what was to come…
…It was during the summer, and to prepare for winter, I had to cut down trees for fire. The signs of the summer seemed to lead to the evidence that the winter would be harsh; so, I was out in the woods much more than normal. One day, however, a girl came running into the woods from the town. I can be honest that I had never seen her before, but she was heavily panting and bumped into me in her dead sprint. Quickly, she said ‘I’m sorry’ and darted away from the town out of my sight. As I came returning to the town, I began to realize just what had happened. Lying in the middle of the street lay a dagger impaled right through my daughter’s heart. The girl that ran into me in the woods…” Henry began to choke on his words as the tears were running very quickly down his cheeks. “I just… she looked like you, and for a moment, I actually thought you were her.”
A thousand of thoughts were running through my head, but the clearest of all was Henry’s comparison with some other girl. “I’m sorry, Henry, but I’m only sixteen,” I answered, smiling at the older man that looked at me with a saddened, crooked smile. I just remembered I was only sixteen years old; whether it was true or not, I had no idea. “It must have been a coincidence.”
He nodded and wiped his eyes, “Of course… I know. But you should know that you also look very similar to my beautiful daughter. When I saw you, I had never been more torn apart in my life. Enough about me though, are you still having trouble remembering everything?”
Something about his voice was very soothing to me. It was almost like he had a feeling that I just said sixteen spontaneously. I knew he only wanted the best for me, but telling him over and over again that nothing had come to my mind, started to annoy me a little. I did my best though to hide the evident annoyance by just shaking my head.
“Okay,” He said, sending me a smile. “Now get dressed. I will make you some breakfast and when you’re ready, we’ll go to the church. I’m sure Raguel can help us.”
He turned around and opened the door, and by his next step he was out of the room, which I had slept in last night. Just before he closed the door I realized one thing and shouted, “Sir?!”
“Yes, miss?” He peeked his head into the room a little.
“I have nothing to wear,” I mumbled, looking down at myself. The red dress with white patterns I had worn when I arrived to the inn yesterday, didn’t feel like they would be nice enough to go to the church. Once again I could feel his gaze at me, but when I looked up and met his eyes, it was a very comforting gaze.
“Eleanor will help you,” He smiled and nodded his head, before he went on speaking, “She will find you a beautiful dress to use, perhaps one that our daughter used to wear, and she will help you set your hair. Not that Raguel is a man who cares about such things, but it’s important to make a good impression. Don’t you agree?” With those words and a wink with his left eye, he closed the door and let me alone.
I still felt the coldness when I looked out the window. The snow that glinted ever so elegantly and the sparrows that were singing in harmony with each other left me with the feeling of uncertainty. I still couldn’t remember anything. I didn’t remember how I had come here; I didn’t even remember why I was here. There was still only one thing that kept running through my head: June 7th… June 7th…
With help from Henry’s wife, Eleanor, I sat at the dinner table half an hour later. Wearing a checkered white and black dress that had been their daughter’s, I sat at the chair and looked at the family. They were not really talking, and I had an idea why. Eleanor seemed like nice lady when she had helped me find the checkered dress and the white shoes, but I can’t say I agreed with the color choice. It was fitting for the occasion though.
“It’s nice to have you here, Angel,” She said, as she chewed her eggs, “I won’t ask you how you got here; Henry already told me.” She sent me a smile; afterwards she looked at her husband and said, “So, what have you planned to do, darling?”
Henry swallowed his mouthful and made sure to wipe his mouth, before he finally looked at his wife and answered resolutely, “I’ll take her to Raguel.”
“Are you sure, darling?” She looked at him in shock, not wanting to believe what she just heard. Eleanor looked to her husband and noticed his eyes stayed firm and asked again, “You want to take her to the old pastor, who is nothing but an old man with his Holy Bible?”
“If anyone knows what to do, it’s Raguel. You know that, Eleanor.”
“And what if the old man can’t handle with her?”
“Well, she could live with us at the inn. After all, we do have an extra room she could use and plenty of clothes which seemingly fit her nicely. Don’t you think?” Henry looked at me and smiled proudly.
“But why the old pastor?” She repeated. After that, no one said anymore. I saw how Eleanor sent sulking looks at her husband, who was practically ignoring her and more involved with his breakfast. I smiled at the beautiful relationship the two had made together through the years.
Once Henry finished eating, he arose from his chair, pushed it in, and went to grab his heavy, long coat. He grabbed another coat, which was exceptionally large for me, and put it around my shoulders. “This will just have to do for now,” he said to me. “Eleanor, I should be back by noon. Come then Angel.”
I looked to Eleanor and saw how she had her arms crossed and how her glare was set upon Henry. Henry then put me under his arms, and we walked outside. I could again feel the chill of winter embrace me as soon as we walked along the sidewalk. Everything looked so new to me. The white snow blanketed the small town with a perfect swirl at every corner. I felt like dancing if it weren’t so cold. The flowers looked like they were frozen in time, just waiting for the heat of spring so that they could bloom, and the trees were eager for the summer breeze. It was as if each second passed was in longing for forever, for spring was just a step or two away.
The only thing I heard was our footsteps against the asphalt. Finally, as Henry promised, we made our way to the church. It was very neatly built with a stained-glass window above the two large, wooden doors. When we crossed the street and halted in front of the church, I felt how Henry looked at me, and when I finally forced myself to look back, he said firmly, “I’m sorry about Eleanor. No matter how she made Raguel look, he’s a fine man. He really is.”
I nodded my head, not saying a word.
“Let me talk to him first before you come in. I will have to explain to him the whole situation,” He suggested, and I just continuously nodded, “Meanwhile you can look around. It won’t take long.” With those words, he patted me on my shoulder and went inside the church.
I felt lost. Completely lost. Not remembering anything and standing alone outside the church, that I had never seen before, made me feel useless. I was standing in my own thoughts and was but a moment from panicking, when I heard a voice near my ear.
“Hello,” a boy with blue eyes and brown hair was practically breathing down my neck. Quickly, I turned around and stepped a little farther away while he continued talking, “I don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. My name is Benjamin, but you can call me Ben if you want. What are you doing with the innkeeper here at Canlagos? You see, Henry is fine and so is his wife. I suppose you’ve met Eleanor? Well, they’re great people, always ready to help others, but the last couple of years there had been some rumors.”
It was like he never stopped talking. I didn’t even realize what he was actually saying after a while. It went so fast, and my mind slipped the words the second I heard them. I was more concerned about when Henry would come back.
“Again, your name is?” He asked.
“I’m… I’m,” I sighed. “I’m Angel,” I finally introduced myself, not wanting to meet his blue eyes again. It seemed that every time I did, he had another story to tell.
“Angel,” Ben stopped for a moment then complimented, “That’s a beautiful name. I will look forward to…“
He didn’t get the chance to say anymore luckily. The doors to the church opened once again, and Henry waved his hand for me to come in. By his side was who I assumed to be the pastor, Raguel; the second I met the pastor’s soft, brown eyes and saw how he looked at me, I knew that this was not the first time I had seen him.