Softly a cool, gentle breeze rustled through the trees. Reddish-brown leaves fluttered gently in the wind, coming to rest softly on the surface of a gentle, quiet creek. Nearby, little Annabelle danced gaily in the leaves. Her little brother Johnny stood nearby and watched hesitantly.
"Johnny!" little Annabelle cried. "Dear Johnny! Come play with me!" Little Johnny joined his sister, and together they danced in the leaves merrily, their laughter wafting gently on the breeze. Every day, little Annabelle and little Johnny danced together in the leaves, laughing joyously.
One day, little Annabelle and little Johnny were playing together in the barn. They climbed up to the hayloft, but Annabelle tripped and fell to the earth. The lantern which she was holding smashed, spilling burning kerosene all over the floor of the barn. "Annabelle!" Johnny cried, clambering down the ladder after her. Crying for help, Johnny grabbed Annabelle and began dragging her toward the barn door.
Just then, their father heard Johnny's screams. Running into the burning barn, he grabbed Johnny and Annabelle, and carried them quickly outside. Once they were safe, he ran back in to save the horses. By now, the barn was engulfed in flames. No sooner had their father let the horses out, than the burning barn collapsed, burying him beneath the flames.
Just then, the children's mother also came running. "George!" she cried, for that was the children's father's name. When the fire died down, the children and their mother pulled away the charred pieces of wood and found the father, scorched and lifeless.
"Father!" Annabelle cried, tears streaming down her cheeks. "I'm sorry!" but her mother slapped her hard across the cheek.
"Shut up!" the mother snapped. "This is your fault! You shouldn't have been playing in the barn!"
"But she …" Johnny began to defend his sister, but his mother slapped him too. She then seized them both by the hair and dragged them thereby to the house. She dragged them both by the hair up the stairs to the attic. Opening the door to the attic, she flung both the children in one after the other.
"You are both horrible, naughty little children!" she cried. "You must be locked away and never let out!" She slammed the door to the attic and locked it tight, and there the children remained, day after day, month after month, year after year, for several years. Each day, as their mother shoved scraps of food under the door for the children, she cursed at them bitterly, blaming them for their father's death.
The attic was continuously cold, and never was there any light. The children were always alone, they were always afraid, and every day their mother told them how much she hated them for what they had done. So much cold! So much darkness! So much loneliness! So much hatred! So much fear!
At last, Annabelle could bear the pain no more. "Johnny!" she cried. "Sadness tears apart my soul! I can not live with this pain! All I want is to die, so that my torture may be ended, but you are my only friend in the world and I can not bear to be without you. Johnny, please die with me! If our lives are nothing but pain, let us at least die together in peace!"
"OK" said Johnny. "Let us die in peace." Little Johnny then tied a strip of cloth gently around Annabelle's neck, and thrust a short stick through it with which to twist it tighter.
"Wait!" cried Annabelle. "Promise me Johnny! Promise you will die with me!"
"I promise." said Johnny. The two little children then hugged one-another dearly one last time. With tears streaming down his face, Johnny began twisting the stick round and round, tightening the strip of cloth around Annabelle's neck. Soon Annabelle could no longer breathe. As her lungs burned for air, panic overcame her and she struggled, clawing frantically at the cloth which was tightened around her throat, desperate to breathe.
Gaping with terror, little Annabelle knew that death was upon her. Little Johnny held her close and patted her gently upon the back. "Don't be afraid, Dear Sister." he whispered softly. "Soon you will be at peace." Soon, Annabelle went limp and her struggles ceased. Soon after, her heart ceased to beat. Not long thereafter, her body grew cold.
Little Johnny laid Annabelle's lifeless body down on the floor gently, and untied the cloth from her neck. Sobbing hysterically, Johnny leaned over and hugged Annabelle's lifeless body tenderly. "Don't be afraid, Dear Sister." he sobbed. "No one can hurt you now."
Little Johnny then stood upon a chair, tied one end of the cloth around his own neck and tied the other end to a rafter in the roof. "Don't worry, Dear Sister." he sobbed. "I'm coming to you." He then jumped off the chair, intending to hang himself, but instead the cloth which he had tied around his neck snapped and he fell. As little Johnny fell, he struck his head upon the floor and was knocked unconscious.
Not long ago, the local sheriff had heard of the two children being locked permanently in the attic, and while little Johnny was unconscious, the sheriff and his deputies came to the house and discovered little Johnny and his dead sister, both locked away in the attic by their mother. Seeing that Johnny was alive, one of the sheriff's deputies carefully lifted him up to carry him away.
Just then, little Johnny awoke and saw himself being carried away from his dead sister Annabelle. "Wait!" he cried. "Please don't take me! You don't understand! I have to die with her! I promised!" Little Johnny sobbed bitterly as he was carried away.
Later, the mother was sent to prison for having kept her children locked in the attic. It was decided that given the circumstances, Johnny couldn't really be blamed for the death of his sister. Johnny had no other family, and so he was sent to live in an orphanage with many other children. Every night, he heard little Annabelle's haunting voice crying "Johnny, Dear Johnny, please come to me!".
Many years later, the mother, now an old woman, was let out of jail, and returned to live in the same house in which she and the children had lived before. Some time thereafter, Johnny, now a grown man, came to visit her. He found her in the old barn, which had been rebuilt after the fire, and confronted her.
"Do you know what you did to Annabelle?!" he demanded. "Do you know how much you hurt her?! Do you know the pain you caused her?!"
"I did what had to be done!" exclaimed the mother. "You were terrible little children and you needed to be locked away! Otherwise you would have burnt down everything!" Enraged, Johnny seized an axe and struck his mother therewith repeatedly until she was dead.
"That's for Annabelle!" he spat. He then went into the old house and dowsed it with gasoline. Lighting the house on fire, Johnny ran upstairs to the attic where he and Annabelle had been imprisoned by their mother.
"Don't worry, Dear Sister!" he cried. "I'm coming to you." As the house was engulfed in flames, Johnny drew a revolver and shot himself through the temple.
A short time later, a cool, gentle breeze rustled through the trees. Reddish-brown leaves fluttered gently in the wind, coming to rest softly on the surface of a gentle, quiet creek. Nearby, little Annabelle danced gaily in the leaves. Her little brother Johnny stood nearby and watched hesitantly.
"Johnny!" little Annabelle cried. "Dear Johnny! Come play with me!" Little Johnny joined his sister, and together they danced in the leaves merrily, their laughter wafting gently on the breeze.