Angelica opened her eyes and wondered where she was.
She was lying down on a soft bed of grass under the cool shade of the trees. She got up and noticed that she was wearing a white dress that reached past her knees. Her long brown waist-length hair was loose and slightly curled at the ends. She wondered why in the world she was here, and what had happened while she was asleep. She stood up, brushed the grass off her dress, and surveyed her surroundings. She gasped as she realized what was before her.
It was the most beautiful meadow she had ever seen. The skies were the clearest shade of blue. The clouds looked as fluffy as cotton candies. The sun shone brightly. The wind was in her face. She took a deep breath as she walked on.
The posies were beautiful. The sunflowers were blooming. Roses were in every color she had imagined. Name the flower, and it was there. They all bloomed, regardless of the warm summer air. The trees were swaying peacefully, as if they were dancing to a tune she couldn’t hear.
She let out a cry of joy as she ran down the hill. Being the clumsy sixteen-year old she had always been, she tripped and rolled on the grass. She laughed. She didn’t mind that the grass clung to her dress anymore, or that she was in the middle of a place she never knew. It was something new for her.
She was about to take a nap when she heard a voice. She knew that voice. Desperately, she looked around if someone was there. No one was there.
The skies grew darker, until they were a bloody shade of red.
The wind began to grow steadily stronger, and she could see the smoke thickening, obscuring her view from the meadow.
The grass died, revealing nothing but cement underneath.
A cold wind blew from the north.
Gunshots were heard.
NO. IT CAN’T BE.
“Angelica! You idiot, why do you have to be so deep in your sleep? Can you hear me?”
She opened her eyes and saw her older sister’s olive eyes focused on her. She got up as she realized that she was asleep all along. The cries of war were all she could hear from outside the small musty shack they had occupied to keep away from those who wanted to claim their lives. Angelica felt disoriented for a moment before she had realized why they were hiding here, with their dresses torn and blackened from the soot and with knapsacks on their backs.
They were still in the midst of a war against the French in the middle of 17th century England.
Images raced in her head, finally fixing on a memory that had made her realize that her life had changed from a pleasant dream to a cruel reality.
Her parents were members of the Parliament, so they lived in a luxurious mansion at the far end of town. They were one of the only people who bothered to make time for their daughters even when they were up to their heads in arguments about every little thing in England. She could vividly remember the cool breeze that she breathed in as she waved at her parents, who would usually just watch her and her older sister bicker at one another. Fights between them didn’t last too long, since one of them would usually start pushing the other to the grass. They would end up laughing and hugging. After that, both sisters would return to the mansion, where the whole family would have tea and talk about every little thing they thought was special. She hadn’t expected their normal lives to stop.
It was at that fateful night that everything began spiralling down to her personal hell.
Angelica and her sister had both been enchanted by the stars that slowly came out that night, so they asked permission from their parents if they could take a moonlight walk and enjoy the breeze. Being the loving parents they were, they had consented. The two girls had only walked for a few minutes when they heard a loud explosion coming from the direction of the mansion. Both had started running back when they saw a group of people clad in blue uniforms and bearing a flag. They both held their breath as they saw that it was divided into three colors: blue, red and white.
It was the French.
The girls had panicked and hid behind the nearest tree. They saw that four of them were dragging two lifeless bodies out of the rubble. It was after they left that she realized from her older sister that her parents weren’t going to come back for them. They wouldn’t hold them tightly and assure them that things were going to be fine.
They were alone.
Their loving parents were gone, even if they didn’t deserve the cruel murder. Their friends were nowhere to be seen, most probably lost among the debris of their home. All she remembered from that night was her older sister dragging her shocked self to the destroyed mansion and scavenging for whatever supplies were essential and running away from their unseen enemies. They managed to run for miles before they settled in another town up north.
They didn’t wear their colourful gowns anymore. Both had opted on darker coloured dresses that served as camouflage from their enemies. Selling most of the possessions from the mansion had given them enough money for some of the more important provisions like food and water. They bought weapons, which thankfully, wasn’t useful at the moment. Their petty fights didn’t matter anymore, and talking about anything asides from the war seemed useless at that point in time. As if by mutual agreement, Angelica and her olive-eyed sister had agreed on keeping more silent for the sake of their survival.
It had been a year, and they were still together. Angelica wouldn’t let fate take her sister away from her. She couldn’t let their special family bond go to waste. She couldn’t let Death claim her life now.
She turned towards her older sister, whose auburn hair was tied loosely into a bun. Her olive eyes were still looking at her with worry and fear. Angelica knew better than to take the message as something else. They had to leave the small shack and move somewhere else.
It was some moments before her older sister finally got up and picked up both knapsacks from the floor. “Let’s go Angelica. We better look for another shelter. I have a feeling that this place isn’t going to last long.“
How long they ran, she didn’t know. All she remembered was speeding by bodies strewn across the streets. It seemed like luck was on their side. There wasn’t anyone around, so they took the risk of exposing themselves to what could possibly be the line of fire.
Angelica was out of breath and was getting tired of running, which wasn’t a good thing as she got even clumsier when she was fatigued. Her foot caught on one of the uneven pavement and her older sister held on tightly to her to keep her from stumbling. They could hear gunshots, and they both ran faster. They were a few miles from the town when they found a secluded cottage that was slightly torn down at the far side of the road. Out of relief, the girls got in. It was dark and filled with so much debris. The dust didn’t help either. They both inspected the area. It was more than safe for now.
Both girls were exhausted and hungry, so they sat down and had a quick meal of stale crackers and water. Angelica couldn’t help but remember their meals back at the mansion. There was a lot of talking and laughing during that time. She closed her eyes to relieve the memory and could feel tears stinging her eyes. A hand was placed on top of hers. Angelica’s eyes snapped open and she could see her sister stare at her. The auburn haired girl began to talk.
“Angelica, you know, it’s amazing we’re still alive. And well, although no one else is left, at least we have each other. Don’t worry; we’ll get out of this situation. Then we’ll somehow get back what we once had.”
She smiled at her older sister. Being the stronger one, her older sister was always the one to keep her head in game. Even if neither could predict what would happen, Angelica always thought her sister was hopeful, even if she always felt the gravity of the situation that they were in.
Angelica took a reluctant peek at the windows and held her breath.
It was them.
They would take away their freedom, like everybody else. She trembled at the thought of seeing herself being whipped and beaten for trying to escape the cruel life they were giving her. Tears started to form in her eyes once again. She would rather die than be held captive.
Her older sister stared at her for a moment, then dragged her to a room in a far corner of the room and opened a trap door hidden underneath the torn cloths.
Angelica stared in shock at what she saw.
“I chanced upon this while we were looking around. I didn’t think that we’d need this, so I never bothered to tell you. “Her older sister explained.
“Well that’s great! So come on, let’s get in there before those men try to get us. “ Angelica said in anticipation.
“But… It’s only good for one.”
The soldiers were pushing their way inside the cottage.
“Get in there Angelica, “her sister continued. “I can’t risk you getting killed. I know how sensitive you are to these situations, and I would rather you be safe in there than killed out here. “
“What about you?”
Her older sister gave her a watery smile. She slipped a knife and a gun out of the folds of her dress. It was obvious what she was had intended to do.
She would get killed.
“You can still hide! They wouldn’t notice it anyway! Or maybe we can go out the other way or something… ”
“It’s too late anyway. They know someone’s in here. And if we did try to escape, we wouldn’t even reach half a mile before they shoot us down“
Angelica’s blue eyes had widened in shock. It was finally time for the weapons to be of use. But it would only be useful to one.
“Don’t even start to argue, Angelica. I knew that something like this was bound to happen. Now get in there, or I’ll have to force you down there. ”
Angelica didn’t move.
Her sister pushed her down the trap door. Dragging a beaten-up sofa, she placed it on top of the door. Her older sister knew that it wasn’t heavy enough, so Angelica could escape even if she wouldn’t be able to make it out of the battle she was about to face. It was a good thing Angelica wouldn’t see her tears. The brown-haired girl would assert herself even more if she realized that she was afraid.
“What in bloody hell are you doing? I’d rather fight by your side, you know! God, if only we had enough time to practice, then maybe we could’ve shot something or at least practiced sword fighting. You idiot!Please let me out!” Angelica desperately tried to move the door with all the strength she could muster. It was definitely moving, but it would take a while.
“Sorry, little sis.”
At that moment, five soldiers came in. Her older sister spun around and shot the first one down and slashed the chest of the second. She received her first scratch on her arm from the third, but she continued to shoot him down anyway. She was busy parrying the strikes of the fourth one when she heard a gunshot.
Pain lanced through her gut.
In anger, she shot the fourth one.
She fell down as she tried to stanch the bleeding. The fifth one was smiling crazily at her. His sword was drawn, and he was about to pierce it through her chest. It was all going
There suddenly was a loud bang. The soldier turned around and was shot in the chest. The auburn-haired girl saw that Angelica had managed to get out. She was also in tears.
“Why? Why did you think you could do it alone?!” She kept sobbing as she desperately tore a strip of cloth from her dress to stop the bleeding. Her sister was breathing heavily as she spoke.
“Did you think…that I wanted you dead? I only wanted…the best... for my baby sister.” She gave Angelica a reassuring smile and resumed speaking.
“You know…I was scared of facing death… but maybe it’s the thought of falling down for my family that makes me confront it with courage. I want you to be safe… Promise me you’ll be stronger. I know you are. Take a train from here or something… Do whatever it takes to keep safe… Can you do that for me?”
She clasped her younger sister’s hand.
“I promise… I love you sis…” Angelica finally said. Her voice was cracking as she said those words.
“I’ll always be here for you… Don’t worry“
Her older sister exhaled for the last time. Angelica sobbed loudly, despairing over the deaths of her loved ones. She was more frightened than ever. She felt hopeless.
She was alone.
Angelica found some blankets and wrapped her sister’s body in them, then got out and dug a deep hole and buried her sister. She cried some more and spent a few more days in that state. She couldn’t eat. She couldn’t sleep. She was constantly awakened by nightmares which reminded her of reality.
It was finally after a week that Angelica managed to pull herself together. She tucked her gun in the folds of her dress. She cut her long brown hair to her shoulders and tied it into a ponytail. She definitely felt miserable, but life wasn’t going to let that stage pass before it threw something else at her. Too much death had surrounded her now. She began to transfer the provisions in her sister’s pack to her own. She was so busy thinking about how to get out that she almost didn’t realize that she was holding something soft. She pulled out the object and gasped as she realized that it was a small rag doll.
The doll had long auburn hair tied into pigtails and was clothed in a blue dress. Her mind flashed back at the time she and her older sister got into one of the biggest fights they had. It took three days before Angelica made up her mind to apologize. She knew that there had to be something that came with the apology, so she made a rag doll. It wasn’t of the best make, but once she had given her older sister the gift while mumbling an apology, Angelica was surprised as she was engulfed in a tight hug.
“Of course I forgive you, you dummy!” Her older sister said.
“I hope we don’t fight like this again. Going days without talking to you makes me sad. ” Angelica said while tears streamed down her face.
“We’ll try not to. But how about we make a deal? “Her older sister said as she beamed at the brown-haired girl. Angelica nodded before her sister continued.
“If ever I’m gone, just try to look for this doll. Imagine it’s me! And it will say ‘be strong, Angelica’ and you will, because I say so. “She said with a smile.
Angelica was brought back to reality and she realized that she was crying again. She rubbed the tears off her face, and finished packing then got out of the small cottage.
The sun had begun to shine and a cool breeze blew in from the North. The landscape seemed a bit refreshing for Angelica as she walked on. In spite of the death she had received, the doll had given her strength to keep moving forward. She looked up at the skies and imagined her family looking down at her, watching her and guiding her. She’d be fine. She’d make it.
She walked on.