By Olivia Raymond
“No one will believe me, so why bother?”
She’d be punished if she went back home, that much was for certain. And, the young girl, now woman, couldn’t find it in her to care past the apathy that had settled and taken root in her heart. It wasn’t her home anymore.
Little Annie wandered around the edge of her town alone. The sun sank low, skimming the uneven ground of the ghost town. It had once been a beacon of hope, a fountain of youth and prosperity for the salt of the earth. Hard workers who labored with their hands in the early dawn, only to fill their stomachs with their hard earned cash turned into liquid gold come night fall.
That was no longer so.
Golden curls bobbed restlessly around a heart shaped face and pouty red lips. Her face was a shadow of it’s former self. Swollen in some places, eyes puffy and red… faded black-blue bruises lined it and trailed far below her dresses frilly collar. Bruises much the same color of her eyes.
Eyes that no longer shone with happiness merely reflecting the lost potential of her surroundings, so dim and daunting and meek in comparison to her own grief. Eyes that no longer pinned, nor dared to dream and wish for the wishes she’d been told to want with a feverish obsession.
A vision in faded white ripped and torn, stained, imperfect. A sweet little girl of only eighteen standing no more than 5’3.
Little Annie wasn’t so little anymore.
Turning an unremarkable corner, Little Annie was struck with the desperation of her situation as she made it up the muddy hill towards the town’s sole train station. Without a penny to her name and only the cloths on her back, along with a brass locket around her neck, she was without material possessions or a place to return to once night fell. All sorts of scum would come to prey when they caught wind of her weakness. But, what was worse she wondered. Being mistreated by those she expected evil from…? Or from one she’d trusted beyond any reason or nagging doubt?
Once on the platform awaiting the low whistle of an incoming train, Little Annie saw something that caused her to surge forward in pain, pausing.
He was a giant of a man came her first thought and then she found herself face to face with the Devil himself.
He sucked in a breath and sighed it out all the same. Irritated. The word drifted into her mind much as the Traveler had, with his threadbare two piece suit and an obvious chip on his shoulder even a child like her could see.
With eyes a peculiar blending of muddy brown dirt, and the golden rays of the sun, He skimmed the surface of the worn out city and seemed to see something He did not like. Not like she could tell clearly. His owlish glasses so thick she doubted even he could see out of them, obstructing rather than helping his vision, covered his eyes. Something told her that He was glaring. As sure as it would rain tomorrow she knew too that He was glaring, at her.
Tightness squeezed her throat shut and shuttered the natural beating of her heart. Little Annie’s spine went rigged, as a breathing attack hit her, leaving her gasping and hacking up half a lung. Low, itchy, urgent and hot. Unreachable and unbearably hot, all those emotions and feelings swarmed inside of her as her breathing became more labored, ragged, uneven.
She doubted she could outrun him. His limbs were gangly yes, giving him the appearance of a daddy long leg spider. Much like a spider who wove a web of deceit wherever it went, she had the sneaking suspicion that there was something hidden underneath his unassuming appearance.
On a lonely dirt hill with patchy grass, haloed by the faded sunlight carrying the hopes of a dead-end town, young Annie Kellenberger knew she was face to face with an enigma of a man, who could prove every bit as dangerous as the nasty scar twisting its way down his chin.
An unspoken promise, an unreadable threat. It was in his heated gaze for at some point she realized, He’d removed those owlish glasses long since. So too had He removed his suit jacket revealing long arms, thick with muscle that shouldn’t be there. She longed to touch but didn’t dare to.
There was something impish in the way he smiled at her then, slow, lazy, not quite reaching his twinkling eyes like golden halos, muddy stars.
In seconds she was beside him on those lonely rails, as he wove a tale much more exciting than any intricate gossamer could have been.
“Can I interest you LittleLady, in my story…?”