Author: Araina Richardson PM
Once upon a time, a girl named Geraldine ran off to San Francisco with her "prince" and lost everything. Now, years later and bitter, Geraldine discovers just how deep her prince's betrayal ran, and she steals his child. Now the child, Anne, is a teenager and the past catches up to Geraldine and Anne in the form of a tall, mysterious man and his two children.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Supernatural/Horror - Chapters: 20 - Words: 67,398 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 05-02-13 - Published: 06-24-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3035656
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Somehow, Harold easily weasels his way into Geraldine's good graces. Perhaps it's because he has two kids of his own, and immediately wants to schedule play dates. As Geraldine likes to say, one can never have too many friends, and she's always eager to help Anne make more. Anne's excited for school to start anyway, and she's sure she's going to make lots of new friends there.
Two days later, Anne is outside, using a stick to draw hopscotch grids in the dirt of the driveway. She wishes Danny didn't think of it as a girls' game and that Nichole didn't think it was for babies. She's about to drop the stick and go inside to bug Geraldine when a shiny black car pulls up. It's dusty and being driven by Harold, and she wrinkles her nose before she can think better of it.
He doesn't notice, which is good, because Anne doesn't need another lecture from Geraldine about being polite. Not that she gets that many of those. If anything, she hears the one that Geraldine gives to Nicole when Nicole is being a spoiled brat. Those she hears quite often. Harold pours himself out of the car, his long, lanky legs unfolding in a way eerily reminiscent of a spider.
"Hi Anne, having fun? Looks like it. Hey, I want you to meet my kids," Harold's smile should be comforting, but Anne sees oil in it. She takes a step back, uncertain. "Don't be shy, they want to meet you too! We just moved here in June, so they haven't had a chance to meet many kids. I think you'll get along wonderfully."
The passenger door and the back door on the driver's side opened and two kids climbed out, a boy and a girl. The boy looked like his father, but his features were softer, not nearly as sharp. His eyes were the same dark blue, but weren't as intense as his father's. He smiled shyly at Anne, but the girl bounded over and immediately introduced herself.
"I'm Nina," she gushed. "Dad says I should compliment people when I meet them. You have pretty hair." She reached out and lifted a lock of Anne's hair. Anne attempted a smile and hesitantly pulled the lock of hair out of Nina's fingers. Anne took in Nina's appearance and tried to think of a return compliment. Nina looks to be the same age as Nichole, with long, thick black hair and dark blue eyes like her father. She's wearing a dress that kind of looks like Geraldine's kitchen curtains, so Anne decides to compliment Nina's eyes. Nina grins, but trails a hand to her own hair like that wasn't the compliment she wanted. Anne remembers that for later when it's time to exchange compliments again.
"And this is Loren," Harold says, pushing his son toward Anne. He cuts a glare at his dad but gives Anne a smile. He doesn't immediately compliment her, either, and Anne is a little relieved at that. "Ok, kids, play. I'm going to go visit with Geraldine." Harold quickly makes his way into the farmhouse, leaving Anne alone with two kids who are, for all intents and purposes, complete strangers.
"How old are you?" Nina asks – the absolute most important question one child can ask another.
"Eight," Anne answers. Nina fixes her with a look of superiority that would rival Nichole's. They should be friends, Anne thinks.
"I'm eleven," she says, verifying that she is the same age as Nichole. "Loren is nine. Do you go by Annie?"
"No," Anne responds, deadpan. "It's Anne." For a second she wonders why she doesn't go by Annie, but no, she's never been called Annie, except maybe by Renee. Anne doesn't like it. Annie doesn't suit her.
"Anne, Annie, Anna Banana," Nina sing-songs, bouncing around. Her brother comes forward and puts a hand on Nina's shoulder.
"Hey, Anne, nice to meet you," he says. His eyes are green and they sweep over Anne's hopscotch grids. "You wanna play hopscotch?"
Anne decides pretty quickly that she doesn't like Harold, not one little bit, but his kids are okay. There's something off about Nina, and Anne can't figure out what it is exactly. Geraldine says she's just shy. Anne isn't so sure. There's a strange light behind her eyes and sometimes she's just mean. Once she even makes Nichole cry.
Harold often brings his kids over to play with Nichole and Anne, spending the time talking to Anne's grandmother. Anne still doesn't trust him though. He always stops talking whenever she enters the room, and if he thinks that Anne doesn't notice then he is seriously underestimating the child. It is Loren who finally confirms her suspicions about his father.
It's nearly September, and Anne is sitting on the steps to the door that leads into the kitchen, upset because Danny's just told her that he's going to be leaving. He had only come to visit during the summer, after all, while his parents divorced, and now he has to go back so he can go to school. Loren finds her there, looking dejected, and sits beside her.
"What's wrong?" he asks; his face so concerned, so genuine, that Anne nearly starts to cry.
"But I thought he lived with his grandpa, up there." He points up the hill.
"I guess his parents want him back."
Loren gives Anne a small, sad smile. "Well, isn't that the way it should be? Shouldn't parents want their kids?"
Anne nods, not wanting to talk about it anymore. Through the open kitchen window Harold's voice comes wafting out, followed by Geraldine's laugh. Anne's scowl deepens, and she angles her head in the direction that the voice is coming from.
"My dad creeps you out, doesn't he?" Loren asks her. Anne smiles. The bluntness of the question amuses her, and so she is just as blunt in return.
"Yeah, he does," she says. "He always looks at me, and he won't talk when I'm around. He reminds me of a spider."
"Sometimes," says Loren, his voice nearly a whisper, "I don't think he's a very good person. He thinks you're special, you know," says Loren.
"Special how? What do you mean?" asks Anne, confusion edging into her voice.
"You know, like you can make things happen or something," he explains. "But if you can…don't show him, okay?"
Anne nods. She has no intention of telling that man anything about herself. In fact, after this conversation, she's more determined than ever to avoid him. Loren nods in return, and then both of them are quiet, each one lost in their own thoughts, looking out at the road.
"Sometimes," she confesses quietly, "I draw things. And sometimes, it's like what I draw turns real."
"That's kinda neat," Loren says. "Don't ever tell my Dad. Or Nina."
"You believe me?" Anne can't help her tone of disbelief.
"Of course," is Loren's reply. "Why would you lie?"
"Anne, honey, what do you want to be for Halloween?" Geraldine asks on a Saturday about a month later. She's standing over the sink peeling apples for the pie she's going to bake and Anne and Nicole are sitting at the table, shelling peas. "What about you Nicole? Any plans for Halloween?"
"I'm gonna be a vampire queen," Nicole responds haughtily. "I've got a vinyl cape and plastic fangs that glow in the dark. They're cool." She turns to Anne. "You should be a vampire too."
Anne frowns. "I don't want to be a vampire. Can I be a princess instead?" she asks, her eyes flitting between Geraldine and Nicole. "I'd be Rapunzel, but my hair isn't long enough."
Geraldine looks thoughtful.
"You can be Rapunzel," she tells the child. Anne beams and Nichole scoffs.
"Whatever," Nicole mutters, taking out her aggression on a defenseless snow pea. "Vampires are cooler."
The next Wednesday, after school, Geraldine has a surprise for Anne. She's gone to a beauty supply store and bought several packages of bright blonde hair extensions. Anne is overjoyed when she sees them; now her Rapunzel costume will be complete. Come Halloween, Geraldine carefully weaves them into Anne's hair, turning her own waist length braid into one about ten feet long.
A knock sounds on the front door and Geraldine answers it, only to find Nichole standing there in full vampire regalia. The eleven-year old girl is wearing a Wal-Mart quality costume which consists of a long, ragged dress. Over that she wears her winter coat for warmth (Candy must have insisted), and on top of the coat is layered a cheap vinyl cloak. The false teeth are much too big for her mouth and look a little ridiculous. Still, Geraldine smiles as she holds out her paper grocery bag and says "Trick or treat!" Geraldine grabs an apple from her hanging fruit basket and Nichole sighs. She reaches up and takes out the plastic fangs and drops them into the bag.
"An apple?" she asks, looking into the bag. One of her eyebrows is raised, and the corners of her mouth are turned down.
"Yes, it's better for you than chocolate," says Geraldine. It's just an excuse; she hadn't bought any candy since she planned on taking Anne trick-or-treating. "Come inside, Anne is nearly ready to go. We're just waiting on Harold and his kids."
Nichole bounces in, barely waiting for Geraldine to finish the invitation. She runs into the living room, and looks at Anne.
"I like your dress," she says with sincerity, in reference to the dress that Geraldine had turned into Anne's costume. It's old-fashioned, very frilly and works perfectly for a princess costume. Anne smiles at the compliment and smoothes the material with one hand.
"Thanks," she replies, almost sheepish. She's used to getting random compliments from Nina, but not from Nichole. "I like yours too."
Nichole just grins and puts the too-big fake plastic fangs back in her mouth. "You a-most weddy to go? How mush candy d'you thing we'll get?"
"Oh! I almost forgot my necklace!" Anne exclaims, jumping up and running up the stairs to her bedroom. Nichole follows her. Anne quickly retrieves and puts on her necklace, just as she hears a car pull up outside. Walking over to her window, she lifts up to open it and leans out. She sees Harold and his children climb out of their car. Nina looks like a plump ballerina, and Anne can't tell what Loren is supposed to be. He's dressed all in black, which, when coupled with his black hair, makes his already pale skin stand out in stark contrast. Anne leans out her window and calls down to him.
"Hey Loren! What are you supposed to be?"
"Oh!" he calls, startled by the question as well as by her appearance in the window. He runs back to the car while his father and siblings walk around to the door. He retrieves a scythe from the back seat (plastic, of course) and then pulls the hood up on his sweater.
"Oh, I know," says Nichole, her voice clear. She must have taken out the teeth again. "You're the grim reaper, aren't you?"
"I guess," says Loren. "It's really just supposed to be Death."
Anne wrinkles her nose.
"Hey, what are you supposed to be?" he calls to Anne. Anne smiles.
"She's Juliet!" cries Nichole before Anne could reply. "And you should be Romeo!"
"I'm not Juliet," calls Anne. "I'm Rapunzel!"
"Let down your hair!" says Loren, laughing. Anne picks up the braid and lets it topple out the window. It doesn't reach the ground, but Loren can reach up and touch it. He pulls on it tentatively.
"Don't try to climb it!" exclaims Anne. "It's attached to my real hair. You'll hurt me!"
Loren lets go of the braid and runs inside to join them.
After the trick-or-treating the parents confiscate the bags of candy the children collected, so that they can examine each piece for tampering and also so the children won't gorge themselves on candy on a school night. The sun has set, but the lights are on outside, and so the kids are sent out to play while the parents sit around talking and readying the candy.
"Let's play hide and seek!" suggests Nichole, much to the excitement of everyone else. Loren is deemed "it", and so hides his eyes and begins to count to thirty. Anne runs in a direction different from everyone else. The first person found is always "it", and she hates being "it". She runs around to the back of Nichole's house and looks about for a place to hide. She finally sees a place where the aluminum siding is loose on the base of the house.
A perfect hiding spot, she thinks, pulling the aluminum back and wriggling under the house. They'll never find me here! The aluminum snaps back shut and Anne is bathed in complete darkness.
Time passes, and finally Anne hears the others calling for her. She waits a little, gleeful that no one has discovered her hiding spot. Finally she grows bored with waiting, and as she doesn't want to frighten her companions, she starts to climb out from under the trailer.
Pain shoots through her right shoulder and she cries out. She pushes against the aluminum siding and the pain grows worse. Anne grits her teeth and pushes harder against the siding, forcing her way out. The aluminum gives way, and she stumbles out into the half-light of the moon. She looks at her right shoulder. It's covered in blood, and her dress is torn. Tears begin to fall from her eyes, and she bites her lower lip to keep from sobbing. Her eyes glaze over with pain and she hurries around the trailer toward the voices she heard calling for her.
It's Loren who sees her first. His face takes on a look of horror as he runs over to her. The others follow closely behind. Anne looks at them as they advance on her in concern. Her gaze falls on Nina, and she shrinks back. The other girl doesn't look concerned as much as she looks interested in the blood falling from Anne's shoulder. Loren seems to notice this too. He turns and pushes her away. She stays, sulking.
"What happened?!" exclaims Nichole, looking at the wound. Anne shrugs.
"I was hiding under the house and something cut me. I think it was the metal," Anne's voice is very soft; she's still trying not to cry, but tears are forcing their way out from her eyes. Loren pushes Nichole aside, same as he did to Nina, so he can look at it.
"I can help," he says. He puts his hands on the wound, shutting his eyes. He looks as if he was deep in concentration. Anne feels the area begin to tingle as the pain fades away. Loren's breath begins to come in little gasps; beads of perspiration appear on his brow. He keeps his hands there for a few minutes, as his skin grows paler from his exertion. Finally he removes his hands and staggers back a few steps, trying to catch his breath. Anne looks at her shoulder.
The cut is healed.
Author's Note: Just wanted to say thank you to everyone following this - you all make my day whether you leave a review or not. Thanks for sticking with the story!