7 years later
(Burgess, December 16th, 2012)
She put the daisies on the frozen ground, in front of the big grey stone and sighed.
“I miss you J..” she whispered, and lay her hand on the surface that had been having its fight with wind and weather. The letters were still readable, and her eyes, and fingers, followed the golden, crumbled structures.
“Here lies Jeremy Goodwill.
A beloved son and brother, taken away far too early.
12/1-2001 – 14/1-2006.”
She sighed again and sniffed.
“It’s really not fair, you know; first you, then mom. You all leave me. And for what? You’re probably in heaven having a great time, while I’m stuck in hell on earth. I need you. I don’t know how much longer I can stay around here. No one ever talks to me. It’s like I don’t..”
her voice cracked, and she had to swallow a couple of times before she could continue;
“It’s like I don’t even exist anymore. I’m just a shadow.”
While she had talked, tears had started making their way down her red cheeks. She didn’t even try to hide it. She was sad. She had been for a long time. She was lonely, though surrounded by people all day. Her new parents gave her everything she wanted, but they couldn’t really ever give her what she needed. Sure they did love her, but not quite enough and not quite in the right way. She was more like a doll they would dress up and show off, to friends and foes. They were not her real family, and she knew that. She loved them, of course she did, or, at least she pretended to, when they had guests. They had taken care of her, when everybody had seemed to give up on her. She had been so closed since her mother had passed away, and no one could really figure out what was going out in her mind. Sometimes, she didn’t even know herself. What she did know was that her imagination and beliefs was far more intimidated than most of her age, but when you had been through, what she had, then who could really blame her for seeking peace in her imagination, where everything was perfect for her, and she never needed to worry about anything else, than waking up.
She got off of the ground and looked at the stone with sad eyes. Her mom didn’t have a stone, as she had not had money in any banks and Charlie never found out where she hid their money. Therefore, Charlie couldn’t afford a big stone for her mother too, but she had gotten help to get a nice burial for her instead.
“I miss you both terribly..” she mumbled, as she looked into the ground, and then turned around to leave.
She walked towards the wooden gate that made it for the entrance to the graveyard, and didn’t look back. It would take her forever to leave if she looked back again, and she knew it. Had she just looked back, she would have seen the shadow behind the tree, not more than 10 feet from her; A shadow that watched her every move, with a curious interest.
She slammed the door in the hallway, to let Mr. and Mrs. Dreason know that she was back home. She never called them mom and dad, cause that would be a lie.
“Charlie, is that you?” Mr. Dreason called from the living room. Who else would it be? Charlie thought to herself but bit her tongue before the words escaped her mouth. Instead, she took of her shoes and coat, before entering the big room, where Mr. and Mrs. Dreason had been sitting all day, she believed. If they hadn’t, they would have returned to where she had left them; Mrs. Dreason in front of the TV, that was turned on and showed the lamest reality shows (That Mr. Dreason would call a waste of time and Charlie never argued that) and with a magazine in her hand, where she tried to find out everything about the celebrities and anything that could make her seem more interesting at the next trip to the hair saloon, and Mr. Dreason behind the computer, where he would spend hours after hours on work. He was a salesman and could always be found either by the computer or by the phone, having a heated conversation with a new interested buyer.
“Hello sweetheart!” Mrs. Dreason said, having just lifted her head to see if it really was Charlie who walked in. As she talked, her eyes again found the magazine.
“Where have you been?” Mr. Dreason said with a strange I-really-don’t-care-much-right-now-voice, and he still had his eyes glued to the screen in front of him.
“Nowhere,” Charlie bit him off, and walked through the room, into the hallway on the other side and made her way up the stairs, to her room. She didn’t need to tell them anything about what she was doing. They didn’t even care about her anyways, so why bother trying to act like they did?
She threw herself on the bed with a huge sigh. They didn’t care about her, so she didn’t care about them, simple as that. Luckily, she had so much more to care about, books, for example, and looking at stars and at the moon. Oh, the moon. When it was full, she would sit up for hours on hours watching it. She always tried to find The Man in the Moon, but she had never found him.
She turned around to lie on her stomach, and dragged her pillow to lie underneath her chin. She looked out through the window; it was far too early for the stars to come out, and even too earlier for the moon to show. She sighed again. It was winter and close to Christmas but not much snow yet.
“Don’t you dare not showing this year,” she mumbled into the empty room. “Don’t you dare letting me down like everybody else.”
She sat up and looked at her walls. They were covered in pictures of star collections and paintings of mythical creatures and texts about the same. The words “Old King Winter” stood out in the middle, just underneath the name “Jack Frost”, which hung on the wall just above her bed. She let her fingers run over it, just like with the stone on the graveyard.
“Jack Frost..” she whispered, just as Mrs. Dreason’s voice called her down.
“Charlie, dinner’s ready!”
“Not hungry!” she called back.
“Charlie, you didn’t have either breakfast or lunch. Come on down and get just a little bit! We can sit in the couch and watch ‘Win and lose’ together!”
One of your stupid reality shows, no thank you! Charlie thought to herself, but got up from the bed and, as slowly as possible, made her way downstairs to get some food.
Just as she had left the room, a breeze, from the open window, lifted some of the papers from her desk and spread them out over the floor, in the form of a snowflake.
Later that evening, Charlie was lying in her bed, listening to music on her mp3. Her eyes were closed and her foot moved to the beat.
Because of the music, it took her a while to notice that it had started snowing outside. She realized that it had gotten particularly colder in her room and she sat up to close the window.
At first she didn’t see it, but the she gasped and her eyes were wide open.
“You came!” she whispered and jumped out of bed to run downstairs, grab her shoes and coat and run outside, slamming the door behind her.
She laughed and danced around with the glittering snowflakes that kept falling faster and closer.
She spread her arms out and released a sound that must have been a middle thing between a laugh and a cry.
“I knew you wouldn’t let me down!” she said into the night and sat down on the stair leading up to their front door.
The streetlights made the snowflakes look like falling stars and Charlie was happy again. Happier than she had been since the last time she saw snow.
She could feel snowflakes land on her cheeks, but they melted away almost before touching her. Her cheeks were red and her nose was not slow to follow their lead.
As she sat there on the stairs, and watched the world go from boring grey to living white, her eyelids got heavier and heavier. She leaned towards the railing as she drifted off to a restless sleep.
A sudden sound woke her up. She opened her eyes and looked around. The snow was still falling endlessly, and her feet would soon be covered in snow, if she didn’t move. She felt herself shake a bit from the cold, but shook it off.
She wanted to know what had woken her up. It wasn’t a known sound, like a car or something that fell. She would have slept from that.
“Hello?” she asked into the night. The streetlights were still on, but she couldn’t see anyone. The snow didn’t help in that case either.
She stood up and brushed some of the snow off of her legs and stepped down on the garden path, with a hand resting on the railing.
“Is there anyone here?” she asked again, and took a step forward. Her eyes ran over the empty street, back and forth and back again. She still couldn’t see anyone.
“Must have been an animal..” she mumbled and was about to turn around when she saw it; footprints!
They were on the garden path and stopped right in front of her.
“What the..” she started, but shut her mouth when she heard a crack nearby.
“I know you’re here! Show yourself!” she said, her voice only shaking very little.
This time, the person showed. She gasped and took a step backwards.
From the shadows a boy, not much older than her, appeared. His hair was all white and his skin was pale as the snow. His crystal blue eyes watched her from a distance and they looked just as surprised as she felt.
She looked at him, from the hair, down to his blue eyes and then down to his clothes; A blue hoodie, a pair of brown, short pants and on his feet; Nothing.
Charlie lifted her eyebrows in surprise over his bare feet and looked at his face again. First now, she noticed that, in his hand, there was a long wooden staff with frost all over it.
She opened her mouth to say something, but regretted and shut it again.
He took a step forwards and Charlie panicked and turned around, ran up the stairs, crashed open the front door and slammed it behind her, her heart pounding up in her throat. She quickly locked the door and hurried up into her room, taking no notice of the Dreason’s weird, asking looks that she could feel on her neck.
Up in her room, Charlie went straight over to her window, to look out in the front garden. The Pale boy was nowhere to be seen and she sighed heavily. Maybe it had just been her imagination playing games with her. For all she knew, it could have been a dream. She had slept down there, on the stairs.
But those eyes! They seemed so real and not like anything she had seen before.
She placed herself in the windowpane, so that she could keep an eye out for any movement out front. The window was still open and the roof protected her room from being covered in snow. The wind made the snowflakes dance up and down and up again, before letting them fall to the ground and join their friends.
Charlie cuddled into her duvet and sighed relieved.
She was safe here, even though she hadn’t been truly scared by the boy. He had been a stranger and he had surprised her, causing her to panic a bit. But he hadn’t seemed neither dangerous or like he wanted to hurt her.
Now that she thought it through, he had seemed very surprised, like it had been him and not her, who had just seen a stranger in his garden in the middle of the night.
As the time went by and the snow took off a bit, Charlie admitted to herself, that it was about time to get a bit of sleep.
She closed the window and threw herself into the bed, dragged her duvet up around her ears and fell asleep in a heartbeat.
Little did she know that a pair of crystal-blue eyes looked at her through the window still filled with a curious wonder.