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Historical Fiction Sad Teens & Young Adult

I look around me, the city that until minutes ago was bustling with people and a few cars is now in complete shambles. Even the sky is weeping for her misfortunes. My once always pampered face is drenched and dripping with water. My unshod feet which once had never touched a hard floor are now bleeding from walking for who knows how long? The pain I feel in my legs is keeping me from forgetting I’m not dead. But you know what’s funny? None of these even hold a candle to this hole in my heart. A million questions in my head:

‘Where am I going?’

‘What am I going to do from now on?’

‘Will I die?’

‘Wouldn’t that be better?’

‘Why am I alive?’

The only answer I have is: ‘I don’t know’.


I was born as the only daughter of one of the richest men in the small yet greatly established city of Paraiso. He owned 7 factories in the outskirts of the city which produced inks of the finest qualities used by nobility. We were as respected as the aristocrats even if we were not one ourselves. I was the object of jealousy for hundreds of young girls. Loving parents, rich friends, a life in a mansion and majestic clothes-- the perfect dream life, even i thought so. Little did I know, wealth and social status could be swallowed up by darkness anytime.


How did I become so pathetic? The story rolls back 2 years-- when I was still the naively innocent 14 year old girl who had yet to see the terrors the world veil. The day was as normal as it could be. I was woken up by the sweet yet stern voice of my mother who insisted that she found absolutely no trouble in walking up and down the stairs everyday to wake me up and that it was too trivial of a job to leave it to the maids. I washed up, clothed myself and ran downstairs to the dining hall. My father yelled, “no running in the staircase, Abigail!”, hearing my stomps from his dining chair. “Good morning to you too, dad!”, I replied back paying no mind to what he just said. He rolled his eyes and continued with his breakfast. Mother just silently smiled at the events and asked me if I had a good sleep, to which I answered I did. And then I realized something was odd.


“Dad, don't you usually wait until I come down to have breakfast? Now that I see, you’re all dressed up too. What’s the occasion?”


“Oh I didn’t tell you? I’m leaving on a business trip for 4 days”.


“Whaaaaat? But my birthday’s in 5 days! Are you sure you’ll be back before that?”


“Of Course hon. There’s no way I’m missing my baby girl’s birthday?”


“Sir Winston, your luggage has been packed and the car waits outside. Everything’s been made ready for your departure. Please make haste, sir. We can’t afford to lose the last train.”, interrupted the butler.


“You heard the man, I’ll be leaving now.”, he said as he got up and wore his leather coat the butler brought him. He noticed me sulking in the back because of his sudden trip and said,

“Don’t pout, when you open your eyes in the morning of your birthday, I’ll be there and with your birthday present too”, ruffling my golden locks. He hugged me and mom and kissed our foreheads bidding us goodbye. The rest of the day went by as usual ending with my mom lulling me to sleep. Four days passed and it was my birthday eve. We had our dinners and headed to my chambers. Mom tried to sing me to sleep but failed since I was way too ecstatic about the next day.


***

I opened my eyes, looked out the window and saw the sun peeking out just a little and yet decided to go back to dreams until mom herself comes over to wake me up. And she woke me up, indeed. Not with her usual sweet yet stern voice but a horrified screaming weep. I ran downstairs and saw my mom crouched down, crying uncontrollably while the telephone hung from its wire. The butler and a few of the maids consoled the lady of the house while some cried with her and the rest whispered behind them. Baffled at the miserable situation, I stood there as a silent bystander for some seconds, prior to hearing a few leaking words from the maids’ gossip: “sir. Winston...... train…… crash…....poor madam”. As much as I in my heart was in denial, my head started putting all the pieces together without my consent. That was the first time I wished I had been born a bit more dim-witted. December 16th which would normally be the happiest day for my entire family became the most melancholic one. The day once known as my birthday is now my father’s death day. The time of the year when I was usually dressed in my most majestic attire, that time I was in pitch black. My mother who always wore her brightest smiles then wore the gruesome veil, we who usually stood around a tea table with all kinds of delicacies, stood around an empty grave. Most people who we considered our close relatives didn’t even turn up for the funeral and those who did were very eager to get past the door. There were people whose most prioritised worry was their investment in the business. Some whispered sweet lies into our ears only to trash us behind our backs. 


The gullible me back then failed to see the poisonous lies dripping from their words: “we are here for you, dear”, “our doors will always be there for you to walk through”, “do not hesitate to ask for help, our arms are always open wide for you”. I completely trusted their sugar coated words. The day ended with us seeing off our “friends” and “relatives” with a forced smile.


***

More than half the maids quitted and men who planned to invest backed off because “a woman” became the business head. Taking up on the opportunity, a new ink factory emerged and our factory labourers left one by one and started working there. Even the nobles started purchasing their inks. Those who wished for our downfall started spreading outrageous rumours, most of which I feel disgusted to even talk about. “The Winston household is doomed now”, they said. Two weeks passed. My mom never knocked on those supposedly open doors. I back then wondered why she didn’t. Now I understand there would've been no response even if she did. She started burying herself in work not because she wanted to prove herself but because that was the only way for her to take her mind off things. Now that I think back, it was probably her attempt to fill the hole in her heart. 


I had a hole too, only her’s was deeper and darker. I was delusionally believing that my “family” and “friends” cared about us but she did not. I heard their “goodbye” while she heard, “good riddance”. I only saw their sweet gestures and hugs while she noticed them searching our pockets. She was robbed off her sweet kind genuine smile and was left with the fixed portrait smile which she only showed to her clients. Mom no longer lulled me to sleep nor did I hear her sweet yet stern wake up call. Work became her world, and darkness became mine. We both strived towards filling that hole only to make it even deeper knowing we can’t. Mom’s tears died. She became no better than a walking corpse. There were once days where she did nothing but cry all day and was mocked for being weak minded and idiotic. And when she stopped crying and sank her head in documents, she was ridiculed for being heartless. 


Months passed. And I little by little started to understand my so-called family and friends once they began to openly display their hostility and felt like the most brainless person for actually trusting them. The worst part was having to still talk and smile with them as if nothing’s wrong while their mouths threw honey dipped daggers since we couldn’t afford to antagonise them. My mom, slowly but surely started breaking. She ate no more than a meal per day. All she did was work and became a living skeleton but refused to take any kind of therapy and said that it’ll only be a waste of money when insisted. And as for me I would sometimes help her with work. All our conversations were always related to work and nothing else. We no longer behaved like mom and child, she was the employer while I was the employee. She often fell sick and the interval between her fevers started becoming shorter and shorter until one day, there she was, in her deathbed.


 After 22 months, I saw her eyes well up.“I’m sorry. I was the worst mother wasn’t I? Not being your strength when it mattered the most”, her voice was trembling. I could hardly make out her words. “No matter what happens, just know that both me and your father love you so, so much and wish for nothing more than your happiness. Abigail, I know it will be hard, trust me I do. But don’t become like me. Never let the darkness devour you. It doesn’t matter what you do… just… be happy.” She placed her hand on my cheek, “listen my love, we wanted to give you everything and we sincerely thought we did. It was already too late when I realized we didn’t give you the chance to make true friends. Make it your quest to find your own people, those you do and can trust. People who make you want to treasure and never let go of them. Find folks who love you for who you are and not for what you have because....”.


I can’t remember any more than that since I was screaming and crying, letting it all out so hard I didn’t pay proper attention to her. I didn’t even bother to change into a black dress, no one told me to either. A funeral service was held with just the butler, a few servants, the priest and myself. Nobody else even bothered to turn up. Atleast, this time the grave wasn’t empty and I didn’t have any need to see people off with a forced smile. The next day I received news that folks didn’t show up because apparently they were attending the funeral of my aunt’s puppy. I laughed hysterically at hearing the news. The servants most likely thought I had lost my mind. Well, they wouldn’t have been wrong. Even I was able to tell I wasn’t in my right mind.


Two months passed. The business was at the brink of bankruptcy. All the servants quitted. It was the day of my father’s death anniversary. I decided to go pay my parents a visit. It was a long way but I still walked, and didn't bother to wear my slippers. I sat down in front of the grave not even having the energy to cry. Just staring at the gravestones with my lifeless eyes, devoid of all emotions.


 And out of nowhere, I felt the ground tremble a little. Five minutes later it trembled again, except this time it wasn’t ‘a little’. The earth quaked like a rattle in a child’s hand for almost 8 seconds! I survived since there was nothing nearby that could fall on me. I got up and ran all the way to my house and found nothing but crushed big chunks of rocks and wood. ‘Splat’ a drop landed on my feet. In a few minutes the rain started coming down. Until two years back, I was living like a princess. Now I stand deprived of everything I called my own-- Loving parents, rich friends, a life in a mansion and majestic clothes-- the perfect dream life.


I look around me, the city that until minutes ago was bustling with people and a few cars is now in complete shambles. Even the sky is weeping for her misfortunes. My once always pampered face is drenched and dripping with water. My unshod feet which once had never touched a hard floor are now bleeding from walking for who knows how long? The pain I feel in my legs is keeping me from forgetting I’m not dead. But you know what’s funny? None of these even hold a candle to this hole in my heart. A million questions in my head:

‘Where am I going?’

‘What am I going to do from now on?’

‘Will I die?’

‘Wouldn’t that be better?’

‘Why am I alive?’

The only answer I have is: ‘I don’t know’.


I am just walking and walking. I suddenly look around me and realize that I’ve just walked into a forest with half the trees leaning on one another due the earthquake that just happened, the sky is dark.I feel exhaustion and desperation to fill this massive hole in my heart. Every story I read had a fairytale ending. Mine? I imagine not.


Wait! I see something! Is that… fire? Curiosity is invading my kingless mind. I walk towards that blaze, slowly and steadily. I feel warm and hear… songs? Just what kind of deranged human being is singing joyfully right after a catastrophe? I want to find out. I start walking towards it. No. Maybe, I shouldn’t. What if they’re ghosts? Or bandits? As much as I want to run away, the song is too sweet, it makes me want to stay. Well, maybe going a little bit closer won’t hurt. There is something about that melody that’s drawing me in, like a moth to flame. 


Before I know it, I’m already here. I can see around five people sitting around a bonfire. Some seemed my age while a few younger and one in her twenties. Who are they? Their smiles and laughter are different from my “friends”. I feel a familiar tickle inside. Right… just like back then, when I used to laugh around with my parents. Just hearing that song seems to fill this hole a teeny tiny bit. I want to step in and sing along but, can I? What if they’re bad people? What if they accept me now and throw me away after realizing I’ve nothing to offer?


“Ahhhh… a ghost!”. It's a young girl’s voice. They stop singing and look at me completely stunned.

“Oh… hi!... erm… I’m Abigail Winston…”

“Hello, Abigail! Would you care to join us in our song?”, says the young lady who looked to be in her early twenties.

My body is moving on its own. I walk and sit beside her. They continued singing and after quite a while, I joined in.


It’s been about five minutes and tears started flowing down my cheek. “See! you made her cry by calling her a ghost!”. Said a boy who seemed around my age to the young girl.

“What? hah! She probably cried after seeing your horrific face”. While this is happening the young lady puts her arms around me, gently patting my back without saying a word which is making me cry even more. 

***

Now I’ve finally calmed down. I look around and see those five. Those two are still quarrelling while the other two who seemed to be twins watch them entertained and the young lady just smiles at them gently with her hands still on my shoulders. Watching them brings a smile to my face that is not a business one. I look diagonal to me and see a crashed down little cottage. One of the twins tell me that it got destroyed in the earthquake. They all start telling me their stories which are just as tragic as mine. Now suddenly, I remember my mom’s words, “ Find folks who love you for who you are and not for what you have because....”, and the rest was, “that’s the only way to fill this hole in your heart”.

***

Now that folks, is how Abigail found herself a new true family that became just as precious as her old one. Their little ‘cottage’ was rebuilt and years later became a shelter for many little homeless kids. But, that is a story for another time.


August 27, 2021 16:27

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4 comments

Courtney Moore
23:07 Sep 01, 2021

The message in this story is very heartwarming. I’m glad she was able to find her true family. You took us through a roller coaster of emotions. There were a few grammatical errors. Capitalization that didn’t need to be there and run-on sentences. I enjoyed the story though! Great job!

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Jedidah Joan
00:47 Sep 02, 2021

Thank you, Courtney! About the grammatical errors... I figured there'll be some. I'm a beginner when it comes to writing. Hopefully, I can improve myself in future. Thank you for pointing it out. I'll work on rectifying it! Again, thank you for your valuable feedback.

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Jude S. Walko
03:14 Aug 31, 2021

I loved everything about this story. It's kind of timeless. I was imagining the 1906 San Francisco earthquake for some reason. There's something about your writing style that feels Edwardian or Victorian, like some of the greats. Either way, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the message of "you can't take it with you", was a very nice morality play wrapped in an intriguing tale. Thanks for sharing.

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Jedidah Joan
13:17 Sep 01, 2021

Thank you very much for your kind words, Jude! It means a lot. This is actually my second story so I'm not quite sure if I have a consistent "style" yet. I'm really glad you liked it! Your comment made my day!

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