Anna under the Stars
I remember one cold winter night. The fire danced merrily forming into many different shapes and I was laying peacefully in the crook of my father’s arm, looking up into his bearded face, his blue eyes twinkling like stars. His eyes always reminded me of stars, even now though I was only six years old. I was a very alert child and noticed many things like that. We were in an over-sized white chair nearly being suffocated by a variety of blankets and pillows which covered our feet and nestled against our cheeks. There were to steaming mugs of hot cocoa resting on a desk nearby, marshmallows floating on top and melting into numerous different shapes. A bible rested on my father’s knees halfway covered by the blankets. I was mesmerized as he read the words that were lined up in columns on the fragile pages and I listened intently and took in all that he said.
“Remember Anna, God is always with you and always will be. Do not be afraid.” Then he kissed me lightly on the forehead and we both went to bed, forgetting our hot cocoa with the steam still rising up from it. I wish everything could still be that way, just how it used to be when I was the tiniest wee bit of a child, safe in her home with her father, mother and God. I wish I never had to experience what happened two years from that very day.
“We must go Anna. Everything will be alright. Just remember to pray and we will be back before you count to three.” I looked straight into his eyes and saw him and my mother walk off with my baby brother in their arms. I closed the door and collapsed on the floor crying and Granny had to work very hard to stop the tears from flowing from my eyes. After probably an hour I felt myself getting extremely drowsy as I struggled to keep my eyes open. I took one last look across the room- Granny rocking back and forth as the chair which she was sitting in let forth horribly high-pitched screeching sounds- the fire crackling in the fire place, almost looking as though it was about to come out- the snowflakes falling slowly like silk outside of the foggy window- the bible open on a cherry colored desk…
I woke up and immediately felt like I was in a furnace. There was a strong smell of smoke in the room too. I brushed my short and straight brown hair out of my eyes, rubbed them rapidly and looked around me. I was in a furnace. I was a timid child and always had been and seeing the house on fire around me and granny nowhere to be seen I was at a loss as to what to do. My muddled emotions overcame me and I began sobbing wildly and running out of the house into the freezing snow. I was blinded by my tears as I ran forward, swaying as though I was drunk, and my heart beating so loudly I was sure people could have heard it for miles around. We lived quite far out in the country with no neighbors anywhere near and I knew that unless Granny really was alive and could call somebody no one would notice our house was on fire for a long while. The snow was coming down very thickly and occasionally a fierce gust of wind came and nearly blew me over. Once I did fall over- my foot catching on a thick tree root that was poking slightly out of the ground. I fell on my face and felt my mouth fill up with snow which I wouldn’t have minded if I had been expecting it. Instead I must have looked like a raging bull, running around madly, trying to get it all out. However I finally saw that I was nearing the end of the yard so I dragged my tired feet, making clear impressions in the snow though they were quickly covered up by each fresh torrent of snow flooding down from the sky. Just when I believed I was ready to merely fall over with exhaustion and die- well scratch that out- when I did fall over it was against an old rotting oak tree that stood right at the end of our property. When I felt that thud on my head, realizing where I was I was able to use just enough strength to right myself once more and grab one branch shooting out from the main trunk and pull myself up into it. I was in quite an uncomfortable condition as the tree was arched on one end sloped on one and full of jagged out-shoots on the two others putting me in exceedingly uncomfortable predicament. But despite how uncomfortable, wearied and sorrowful a situation I was in I still found it inside me to pray. My legs wrapped tight and twisting around the tree trunk I closed my eyes and began to pray. And to slowly fall back asleep…
When I woke up the snow wasn’t coming down as hard as it had been last night. There were a few bits and pieces of half-burnt chairs laying out in the yard and I knew someone had come at some point in the night. Either everything valuable had been burnt or taken somewhere else for my eyes did not catch on anything that my parents or any others would consider to be worth saving. I sighed, propping myself up on one hand. God suddenly began telling me something. My parents had already left.
It came upon me abruptly, making my head swirl in every which way. And I ran. I opened the small latch on the metal gate, closing it behind me as the sound of metal banging against metal resounded around the whole yard. You would guess that I would be crying after finding out that I was thought dead and was left behind but I was not. I was too worried to cry, too filled with so many mixes of feelings that not even the tiniest tear could drop down from my eye. So I just walked down the road with snow that looked like icing on a beautiful big cake, my feet making traces along the delicious thing, showing that I had been hear. The white snow peppered my dark brown hair, and making traces on the blue of my sweater. My cheeks and nose were a dark red from the ice cold weather that I was in, not even dressed properly, but I continued on aimlessly, with no destination except for home, the home that didn’t exist. That road seemed endless and it got deeper and deeper as I went, tripping me more often than not. This beautiful snowy collage that I was part of, a masterpiece, must have looked ever so wonderful to anyone who saw it, that is, if they knew not the story behind it. The grief hung over me like a grey cloud, occasionally letting out torrents of rain and pushing my sorrow even more. Truthfully, I believed the road would never end. And I thought God was ever so far away.
Four years had passed since the morning when the truth had dawned upon me. Everybody thought I was dead and my parents moved to a different country though no one knew exactly where. I guess I should have been content with what I had. I had been picked up by a rich family after two weeks of grimacing at eating apple cores from trash cans and they gave me food and somewhere to rest my head, not to mention protection and clothes fitting for the season. But I wasn’t. The fact that I knew that my family was still out there somewhere was pounding in my head. But after a few years and many tears the remembrance of my family was almost entirely gone. The people who I lived with told me I was their child and had always lived with them and I slowly began to believe it. There was no one to tell me otherwise, no proof of another family and how was I to know that being a member of the Alrinch family wasn’t merely a dream. That is what I was led to believe and that is what I did believe. So I continued on with my life, sweeping floors, washing dishes, folding laundry, scrubbing walls, organizing rooms, wiping tables and dusting bookshelves. I practically ran the whole house for them. Then I had to make breakfast, dinner, snack, supper and dessert and I did not get my fair chair. I watched them take five separate plates heaping over with fruits, meats, cheeses, cookies, cakes, veggies, breads, soups and jams well I got a smaller plate than the six year old and wasn’t even allowed seconds. Well, so maybe they weren’t the nicest people who could have taken me into their home but they provided me with what I needed and as I had begun to forget my family I began to get happy where I was. However one day as I was walking along the kitchen floor I slipped on a ship that young Jonathan had left on the kitchen floor. It flew out from under my feet and I lay sprawled out on the floor. But the glass which I had held in my hand at the time of the fall had a crack running straight down the middle. At the noise that this had made Mrs. Elliot came running into the kitchen fearing that one of their cats had snuck inside and was causing this trouble. Yet when her eyes rested upon me and the broken glass (which she had gotten for twenty-five cents at the thrift store and almost never used) she began yelling all sorts of words at me which I knew not their meaning though I was sure they were meant to offend and threw me into my room, locking the door and saying I would not “come out or eat or drink for two days!” Suddenly the door opened and I was sure she was having mercy on me but instead she had come to fetch the glass which I was still holding in my hand.
I had never really taken the time to look around my room, in spite of the fact that it was so cramped I could hardly help but see and run into everything. Now, however, I was going to have two whole days in what
I always had thought was meant to be a storage closet (judging by the size of this room and the size of all the others) I decided to make a thorough investigation of it and perhaps find some source of entertainment or at least some way to be useful. In one corner of the room was my bed. The mattress was old and worn and I might as well have been sleeping on the floor but the blankets were plentiful and provided me with great warmth so I was happy for that (though the pillow was flat.) There was a bookshelf that was so tall that there was probably a centimeter between it and the ceiling and it must have caused them great trouble to get it in here. It was therefore evident that they had toiled hard to bring it into here and get it in the exact place and position it was now in so you would think that there would be so many books that you could not fit one more on it. Books of fairy tales, adventure stories, volumes of history and poetry, field guides, slim drawing books, mysteries, and ever so much more that would provide an endless amount of time of entertainment and joy. But the only book on the entire bookshelf was a four-hundred page book on housecleaning. They had removed every book that could actually provide education and entertainment and left me with one book that had nothing good to it. I scowled and searched the rest of the room, finding nothing that would be of any interest whatsoever and soon thumped down onto my bed in despair. Then like a lightning bolt flashing across the sky and idea struck me. I had to escape. I fit my fingers over the rusted window edge and forced it open with a squeal and a squeak. A gust of air hit me in the face and I almost stumbled backwards in surprise but came to my senses before I fell. Then I ran over to the window and began inspecting things. The screen was held on tightly by an overload of screws, screwed in many odd places that had no patterns to them at all. The material the screen was made out of however was considerably old and therefore quite battered and not very sturdy at all. And I had a plan. I looked in the direction of the bookshelf, my eyes scanning the empty shelves until they met the book. I looked at it with contempt, dashed across the room, yanked it from its shelf and with all my strength hurled it out the window. As I watched it tear through the screen a smile spread across my face so large that it nearly reached up to my tiny nose but it was so large for a good reason. I had just accomplished two magnificent things, getting rid of that hideous thing that is not worthy enough to be called a book and tearing the screen. Speaking of the screen… there was quite a large drop from the window to the ground. I now remembered that I had gone through at least three staircases to get to my room so it made sense that it was such a long drop. But it was more than inconvenient, that’s for sure. It could make this whole endeavor turn into a catastrophe. It would take ever so much time to put into word all the thoughts and schemes and feelings that were running through my head so I will skim past all of that. “Trust in God” was pounding through my head though I wrinkled my nose at the thought of it saying, “I believe God exists, I just don’t believe he is who we think he is.” And then I felt inclined to jump. And jump is what I did.
The feeling that I was falling to my death pounded through my body, forcing fear upon me more than ever before. Suddenly, even as I was falling to the ground I caught sight of a tree branch and I jumped in the air, pushing my body towards the tree. My hand went up and I felt my fingers catch on a small twig which was shooting of the main branch which I had been aiming for. I heard it begin to crack and I pushed my body forward, kicked up against the tree trunk and as I began spinning through midair after having let go of the branch I dived down and got both my hands securely around the tree branch. My two brothers Nathaniel and Jonathan had been playing with the hose in the earlier hours of the day and as they were such rambunctious little things they could not keep the hose in one place for the slightest amount of time and it soon went crazy and began spraying in every which way. This resulted in, though the weather was dry, the tree branches being wet and slippery, and the green moss that was along the tree branches acting like a sponge. I had to get a very tight grasp on the branch so that I would not lose my hold and then I swung myself up nice and square so that all of me was on the right side of the branch. I took a few deep breaths, giving myself time to fully take in all that had just happened which amazed me a lot because I had no idea whatsoever that I was so acrobatic. However, I was pleased of the fact as it would surely aid me in my endeavor to escape from these people. These people? Why had I just called my family these people? Did I even know what family meant? I shook myself out of the trance quickly. Of course I knew what family meant. They lived in the house I was escaping from. I suddenly felt guilty but only for a moment. For some reason I knew there was nothing to be guilty of. The rest of the way down the tree was quite a mess of bumps, jolts and falls. I had to catch myself nearly a million times from falling and when I was only about three-quarters of the way down my knuckles were bleeding badly and my the bottom half of my clothes was quite soiled. Then I heard the door open. I really believe that my heart skipped a beat. They were going to see me. Just as I saw the chubby face of Nathaniel turn towards me I let go of the tree.
My body landed with a crash in the middle of the bushes, almost silently and I felt myself get covered by the shrubs that were surrounding the tree which I had recently jumped from. I was surprised that I wasn’t in a million pieces right now as that had been a very long fall. However, I had hardly even felt anything when I crashed against the ground. It seemed like forever until my family left but finally they had left, though it was already almost dark. I sighed and picked myself up slowly as if I was waiting to realize five of my bones were broken though none of them were. Then I started walking down the dirt road. The sun was quickly setting and I hastened my footsteps a little though not much. I looked down at the ground as I walked and suddenly the real things that I was seeing disappeared and other sights began taking their place. In front of my eyes I saw a girl who looked like the younger version of me and she was walking down a road too, her eyes pointed to the ground. But the road was covered with snow in this picture, unlike my case now. For a moment I started to remember something but then it all disappeared and I was back on my own road. Everything was gone. Whatever that memory was had hidden itself from me. Then again I felt drawn to a place. It was a field behind a barbed wire fence. Recalling how acrobatic I had been earlier I ran up to it and jumped, my arms and legs flailing high in the air until I felt myself land amongst some yellow weeds, with their heads hanging down to the ground as if they were mourning for something. I realized that it was very dark and I cautiously lifted my head up to the stars. And floods of memories began pouring in, my family, fire, snow, being taken in, told it was a dream, escaping. But the most prominent memory; no, this wasn’t just a memory; was God. I felt myself overcome at first but then extremely joyful. I stood under the stars, staring up at them. As I stood there God told me something. You are going to find your family. And as I stood there under the stars, I knew that I was because God always tells the truth.
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