"That's ridiculous!" I protested wholeheartedly while pacing back and forth. "I know that Raguel can be strict sometimes, but you're just crazy to come up with something like that." I looked back at him and rolled my eyes; I'll admit that he was kind of cute, but he definitely wasn't very bright.
"I said that they were just rumors!" He retaliated quickly and sat down on a nearby stump, which used to be used for splitting logs with an axe. "So, let me ask this again: 'Do you want to hear what the rumors are?'"
"Oh..." I stopped and felt sorry for being so quick to accuse him like that. I gave him a crooked smile and continued softly, "Yes, and... sorry; I just forgot. Right, so go on; I promise I won't be so abrasive this time." I walked over to Ben and leaned against the old schoolhouse with my arms crossed looking down toward his lap.
"Well, some of the townspeople suggest that Raguel isn't really who he says he is." Ben glanced up to make sure I wasn't going to interrupt him this time. Once he saw my gentle expression, he went on, "I was told that a long time ago, Henry lost his daughter in a murder, which I think you know that much, yeah?"
I nodded and kept on listening, "Well about a week before the murder, Raguel adopted this young girl. He said that the young girl reminded him of his once lost love, who left him and Canlagos years before. I don't really think there was much more to it than that. Anyway, Isabella and the adopted girl got along very well with each other. Some say that they were almost like perfect twins because the girls smiled and laughed simultaneously almost every time. So, later on the week, Raguel was planning to go up to the town in the North for 'special reasons', as he said it, on that Sunday. So, without the pastor to give a church service, the town was just going to have a day to themselves without church. That's when..."
My jaw dropped when I heard him say, "Someone came and murdered Isabella outside of Henry's house. The adopted girl quickly ran into the woods... but she ran North and as fast as she could. That same day, both of the girls were pronounced dead; Isabella's body was able to be found lying in the garden, but there was not body to bury for the other, adopted girl."
"And..." I tried to hold back the tears from flowing, "And what about Raguel though?"
"When he returned on Monday to look over the evidence, as our pastor is supposed to do, he did not pray or give a prayer to bless them. He only stared at the dead girl's body in a withdrawn manner; some say that he looked at the body as a heartless murderer would. He did, however, take the bloody dagger out of the wound, and where he put it... no one knows. The dagger had never been seen before. It was just incredibly unique in its features and steelwork; so Raguel assumed that if another man should come by with a dagger that looked alike, he would be guilty of the relentless murder. Of course, some would just say that this story is far from the truth, because after the murder... Raguel never missed another sermon from then on even if he is intensely sick. Sometimes I even feel bad for the old man. And at every closing prayer he gave from that day, he whispers at the end. No one hears what he actually says, but some say he is still making up for the forgotten prayer on the day he saw the evidence."
I gave an emotionless sigh, "You can't just blame Raguel for something that was just a coincidence. Even if you don't believe it was him, you shouldn't just go around spreading rumors."
"But you asked me to tell you," he chuckled nicely. I turned around and started walking off toward the center of town until he shouted out and came running after me, "Hey, where are you going?"
"Oh I don't know... wherever I guess. Do you want to hear the rumors of where I might go?" I winked at him, and I could tell he grasped the hint that I didn't want him to follow me around. I then turned around and walked away, hearing his footsteps go the other direction. A part of me wished that he was going to be stubborn so that I could tease him even more (while being polite of course).
I came to the center of the town where there was a snow-covered well in the middle of the square. I could see that it wasn't used for a long time, and it probably served for more like the town's decorative peice. As I walked up closer to the well to get a better look, I saw that at its base there was a inscribed, limestone plaque. I knelt down to the plaque and dusted off the snow, which was almost happy to fly into the wind once again.
IN MEMORY OF:
Isabella and Evangelina,
Two of the greatest girls Canlagos will ever come to know.
May you rest in peace.
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.'"
I sat there for a little while contemplating about the story Ben told me. While I looked around, I saw a frozen dandelion. I plucked it and placed it as neatly as I could on the commemorative stone. Quickly, I stood up and looked around. My hand slid hesitantly across the top of the well as I decided to walk away. My eyes glittered with mixed feelings; it was sad, but the square was so pretty when it was covered in white. All of the nearby buildings looked like they did since they were built, with a little bit of wear. It was a much better sight to see than when I fist came in panting and struggling to get a breath.
I then looked up into the wooded hills. "I guess I'll have my own little adventure," I said to myself with a wide grin on my face. I then started to plot out my entire adventure. I stood in the chilly wind while I thought about this. Finally, I looked up and saw a small path which led up to the top of a hill and beyond. I put my hood over my head and skipped along the path. Once I reached the top, I felt like a goddess of winter would probably feel. I smiled at the thought of this and then admired the snow that was lying all over the place.
I heard a startling rustling of leaves near me and looked quickly toward the direction it was coming from. It was a porcupine darting away to climb a tree; I guess I wasn't the only one who was alarmed in the woods. I continued walking farther along the path and deeper into the woods. I almost ran into the white birch trees, which were camouflaged in the winter so well, but luckily I wasn't that clumsy. Then abruptly, every now and then another creature would run and rustle the leaves; what a shame! They should know the proper manners as to how to treat a goddess of winter, such as myself.
The snow was beginning to lightly come down from the heavens now, and as each snowflake touched my cheek, it melted away as if it had never felt loved before. Little by little, the melted snowflakes had finally made it appear that I, their queen, was crying in the snow. I wiped my eyes and began to wander off the path into an oddly open area in the woods. There in the middle of the open area, I lied down to make a snow-angel while enjoying the sight of the whitened clouds above me. I watched the snowflakes come dancing down and being drifted by the wind.
I gazed imagining what it would be like if I were a snowflake that needed to have faith in the wind to take it to a better place. I wondered how that would feel, even if it was just for a moment's pause. I guess I already did know what this feeling was like. When I came to Canlagos, I didn't know what was going to happen; I just trusted that somewhere in the small town someone would be willing to take care of me. So, I suppose already had felt what a snowflake must feel like every day. Oh the relief that a snowflake must feel when it touches the ground! For when it lands, it finally has a place to call home... just as I had felt when Henry had taken me in. I was made a friend in a stranger's land.