Annabel imagined this is what Heaven was like. It had to be; everything was perfect in this meadow. The baby blue skies above her were clear and open with just a bit of brilliant sun peeking through, a soft breeze blew through her raven hair, and she could faintly hear a calm river quietly flowing in the distance. Fragrant flowers of every kind surrounded her, dancing to their own peaceful melody.
The young girl was lying on her favorite faded yellow blanket, humming a song, when she noticed two very curious caterpillars inching by. Pale pink and blue, they were by far the prettiest bugs she'd ever seen! As Annabel studied them, the thought she saw them… talking to each other!
"Silly Bel…" Annabel looked up though her mass of curly hair to see her beautiful mother, Rose - who seemed to appear out of thin air - grinning down at her with that flawless smile of hers. As the sun beamed behind her and the white sundress she donned swayed about with the wind, she could've been mistaken for an angel.
"Mommy!" The little girl giggled. "I'm not silly!"
"Oh, but you are, baby girl!" Annabel's mother cooed playfully. "You know caterpillars can't talk!"
Reading my mind again… Annabel noted to herself as she once again directed her attention to the little creatures before her, which were now trying their hand at rock-climbing. "They just don't talk around grown-ups…" she murmured, trying to hide her smile.
"Oh, I should've guessed! It's so boring being grown up! You just need to stay seven forever, 'kay? Don't you ever grow up…" Rose smirked as she joined her daughter on the blanket. Together they watched the caterpillars.
"Mommy?" Annabel spoke up after a few minutes of silence.
"Yes, Bel?" But Rose knew her daughter well enough to know which six words were coming next.
"Will you play with my hair?"
Getting her hair played with was among Annabel's favorite things in life. It was right up there with ice-cream and blowing bubbles.
"Of course," her mother smiled, because she secretly loved it, too. Anything that made her sweet daughter happy made her happy.
As her mother ran her fingers through Annabel's long hair, the sun's ray's seemed to intensify, and the meadow's sound's around her began to grow distant, as if someone was turning down the volume on a stereo. Bel just needed to close her eyes, only for a second…
The last thing she glimpsed before sleep took over were the two caterpillar's eyes gazing at her, looking as intelligent as a pair of human eyes would.
When Annabel awoke, she was alone.
"Mommy…" she whispered. "Where are you?"
The only answer she received was a croak from a frog nearby.
Annabel shot up and searched the clearing for her mother. She had to be here somewhere… behind a tree, buried under the tall flowers, anywhere! She was playing hide-and-seek. That was all…
"Mommy wouldn't leave me," she tried to assure herself, but it wasn't working.
The meadow that had once seemed so beautiful now felt like a nightmare. Everything was spinning, and the trees were closing in on her. She had to get out, before it was too late. They were going to take her, just like they'd taken her mommy!
Annabel didn't know how to leave, though! She felt completely and utterly helpless. The only solution she could think of was to sit down and cry her eyes out, so that's exactly what that little girl did until her deep green eyes were out of tears; dry and empty… and that's when she saw her.
Rose was running towards the river, black tears streaming down her porcelain skin. Her once-breathtaking dress was now tattered and torn and her limbs were covered in blood, yet somehow she still remained dreadfully beautiful, as she always was.
As Annabel watched in silent agony, she couldn't bring herself to speak, no matter how hard she tried. All she could do was watch and hate herself for falling asleep. This was all her fault.
Only a couple yards separated her mother and the river now, and Annabel couldn't bear to watch anymore. Frantically, she searched for the two caterpillars. Where were they?!
She finally spotted them, sitting on a large leaf that had fallen from the evergreen tree behind her.
They stared back at her.
"My mommy left me," Annabel whispered to them, her soft voice lacking emotion.
A chilling scream sounded through the meadow, but it was muted by the water, splashing everywhere. Silence.
Annabel went numb, she couldn't feel a thing. Where was she? Who was she? Why were these caterpillars talking to her?
"She loved you…."
"She didn't want to leave you…."
"Please forgive her…."
"She loved you…."
"My mommy left me," Annabel repeated, her chest was tightening up.
"She didn't want to leave you…."
"Stop." Annabel was suffocating, she needed to escape.
"She loved you…."
"No." All she wanted was some oxygen, some room to breathe.
"STOP IT! LEAVE ME ALONE!"
Annabel woke up sweating and screaming in her mangy bed at the Clarkton Foster Home, just as she had every night since September 21st, 1998 - the day her mother had committed suicide.
Groans sounded throughout the room she shared with three other girls. They'd grown sick of this.
"Oh, give it a rest, would you?!"
"Let me guess, another nightmare?"
"Hey Annabel… you okay?" This came from the only friend Bel had made here, Madison. She had always been kind.
She smiled sadly at Madison and looked down, embarrassed. "Yes, I'm fine."
"I'm here if you need me," Madison gave Bel a quick hug and went back to her bed and a peaceful sleep, something Annabel longed for. These days, she was beginning to think she'd never get her wish.
Annabel looked around the blank and desolate room. With its white walls covered in cobwebs and floors littered with dust, she wished she were anywhere else but here. Why did she have to end up in this place? This isn't where she belonged. She belonged in the cobweb-less house her and her mother had spent weeks painting together. She belonged in her own room, in her own bed with Powerpuff Girls sheets, in her own pink pajamas. This room made her sick. It was already filled with bad memories, and she'd only been here five months.
Annabel couldn't take it anymore. She tip-toed over to the only window in the room and devised a plan.
I'm leaving this place… Annabel thought as she jerked the locks open. Never coming back.
As quietly as she could, she slipped through the window, adrenaline coursing through her veins.
So this is what freedom feels like, she grinned for the first time since that day in September.
Now that she was actually free of the foster home, Annabel hadn't the slightest idea of where to go; she hadn't planned that far. She decided to walk to the park. Maybe then she could relive the days before her life wasn't a dark cloud of sorrow and pain… before every glance in the mirror wasn't a constant reminder of her haunted past.
Annabel took her time and meandered aimlessly for a while before she started towards the park, her futile attempt at coming up with more time before she had to return to her new home. She knew she couldn't avoid the foster home forever, it was inevitable.
The small flowers lining the sidewalk reminded Annabel too much of the beautiful flowers that had surrounded her in her nightmares, and it only got worse as she entered the park, which looked eerily like the meadow.
"Why did I come here…" Annabel whimpered, trying to hold back the tears that seemed to come so easily these days. She slumped down the nearest tree and tried to get a hold of herself - she had to be strong, she was all she had left.
A single tear fell to the cold earth just as a pale pink caterpillar inched by, an identical blue one just after it.
Annabel gasped and watched, perplexed, as they both came to a halt and looked straight at her, just as the two caterpillars had in her dreams had. They stared deep into her sparkling eyes, as if they knew her soul and everything it sheltered within its depths. Maybe they did.
Annabel scooped up the wiggling critters in her small hands and closed her eyes, slowly breathing in the spring air around her.
"I know it's you," she mumbled to them. "Y'all came to visit me." She paused for a few moments, collecting her thoughts as the bugs continued their intense stare. "You guys told me my mom loved me, and I believe that with all of my heart. I loved her, too. You said she didn't want to leave me, but I know she did. She was miserable in this world, always had been. Finally, you wanted to me to forgive her. I don't think I can do that. Maybe in time, once I've grown up and learned more about this world we live in, I'll be able to. As of now, all I can think about is how badly she broke my heart when she left. Not only did her actions drain the life from her, but they also drained the life from me. Did she think about me at all, when she decided to take her life? I'll never know now, and for now that's something I'm going to have to accept."
Annabel felt as if an enormous weight had been lifted from her heart. She was free. As she opened her burning eyes she discovered she now saw the bustling world in a completely different perspective, and perspective she liked.
The soft tickling in her palm knocked Annabel out of her reverie, reminding her of the caterpillars still in her hand. As silly as it sounded, these tiny angels might have been the key to her eventual happiness.
"Thank you," Annabel whispered.
She knew it was time to send them back. The caterpillars softly wiggled in her hand, spelling out "goodbye."
This was just a little something I wrote for school. I'm extremely proud of it, so I decided I'd share it with the small part of the world that will read it. :) Criticism is welcomed!