Ann’s fingers tapped impatiently on her desk.
As the clock slowly ticked every second for Ann seemed to expand into hours, then those hours seemed to expand into eternity until Ann felt that no time had passed at all. Her teacher yapped on and on.
Ann’s eyes wandered out the window, staring at the gorgeous sunny weather where the insects buzzed in a heated frenzy and the sky seduced her with its gorgeous sapphire blue.
Ann found her feet tapping, our young lass couldn’t wait for the bell to ring, for her freedom to be given. With the ending of this class, it would also signify the beginning of the Summer holidays. The start of relaxation, days of doing nothing but sunbathing on the trampoline she had in her garden, eating creamy ice-cream or sucking flavoured ice lollies to her heart’s content. Ann couldn’t wait for Summer where she could lazily chatter with her friends, go shopping, be free to take matters at her own pace without the pressures of homework, studying or exams. Yes Summer, to Ann the very word itself gave off a refreshing scent that relaxed her. Ann wanted to grab her Summer by the coattails and jump into his welcoming embrace.
She looked away from the window towards her teacher, it seemed like his senseless speech was coming to an end. She could feel it, and not just herself, everyone in Ann’s class sensed it. Students sat up straighter, grabbing their bags, their legs positioning themselves to sprint towards the door. Their eyes inadvertently staring out the window with fervour. Ann felt the tension, it made her gulp. The sticky heat caused her long black hair to stick to her neck, her uniform wet with sweat. She began loosening her tie.
“It’s sad that this is the last day I’ll ever be teaching this class. I hope this has been a fun lesson for you all. Soon you will be moving on to bigger and better things, whether that will be employment, higher education, or an apprenticeship. No matter what you do I wish you all the best. I hope everyone has an amazing holiday and at the same time you are all safe and careful.” Babbled the teacher. “Now I’ll see most of you at the upcoming graduation but for some of you, this is the last time. I wish you the best on results day. I want you all to know that it has been an honour to be your teacher…” Despite the tear-jerking and lovely speech being given all Ann heard was ‘blah blah blah’. Her eyes were focused on the clock. ‘Damn it’ she thought to herself, ‘only one more minute to the bell rings, can’t he just let us out early for crying out loud. I can already hear people running in the corridors, just let us go already!’
It was as she thought these exact words that her teacher, who was now crying, said, “Okay all of you just go.” A second after a shrill bell rang throughout the school and through Ann’s classroom. At that moment most of the students, including our protagonist, heartlessly ran out. She rushed through the corridors weaving between the chatting teens or pre-teens, straight into the overwhelming heatwave outside, and she continued running desperately until she was at the entrance of the school, near those black steel gates.
There she halted.
She stood next to the gates waiting. Stood there as rows upon rows of students walked past her or cars drove by. Ann stood there even as her friends called out to her, she refused to leave with them. Her eyes were continuously darting as she searched for someone, and then he came.
A male student walked out of the building surrounded by many other peers. There are a variety of characters all chatting and cheerful, yet among them, he stood out. There’s this frivolous air about him. With a glance, you can tell he’s popular, especially with his tall height, and handsomely sculpted features. Nicholas, that is the name of the boy Ann waited for. He caused her heart to pound erratically, her eyes to light up, and her fists to clench. Step by step with his envoy of peers as he walked ever closer and closer towards her, Ann found her face becoming red. As he walked past the gate for two seconds his eyes connected with hers. For our Ann, these seconds pleasantly felt like hours, however in reality seconds are only seconds and quickly the moment passed and he was gone. Ann slumped and leaned against the gate.
“I blew my last chance… Yet again I couldn’t talk to him…I’m such an idiot. You’re such an idiot Ann…I’m such an idiot.” She said to herself over and over. Ann stood outside the gate for a longer period, even though she no longer had anyone to wait for. It was only when she saw the school caretakers with their large keys starting to lock up, did she move.
‘Right’ she thought to herself, ‘I was heading home.’ She pulled her rucksack closer to her body, and as bitter frustrated tears cascaded down her cheeks she turned out the gate onto the street beyond.
Our dear Ann walked down the mismatched pavement of which was all shades of grey, she found herself wandering aimlessly. There is a saying that home is where the heart is, perhaps that’s the reason why Ann could not find her way home while her heart was in disarray. You see Ann had a very common youthful worry. This worry is love. Since the day Ann had begun school, going back to her nursery days, there had always been one boy that she had kept her eyes on. He was Nicholas, he was beautiful, kind, intelligent and sporty and was the type of person that would always be surrounded by a crowd of people. Nicholas was someone that many people loved. In contrast, Ann, although a very pretty girl; with clear soft skin, long silky black hair and large emerald eyes of whom had many secret admirers, was also a very shy and introverted individual. She wasn’t outgoing and only had a small set of close friends, her quiet nature prevented her from ever approaching Nicholas. For years she watched him from far away, admiring him, however now she could no longer do this. Summer signified the last day of Secondary school and the last day of her ever-seeing Nicholas. She had thought that today she could gain the confidence to finally approach him but instead all she could accomplish was looking at him from afar, as usual.
Drops of water began to fall on the ground, almost as if the heavens were crying in pity for Ann, the summer humidity turned into grey clouds and a damp nauseous smell permeated the air. Startled Ann quickly searched through her rucksack and pulled out her umbrella. As she opened it up and looked at her surroundings she suddenly realised she was lost. Somehow and at some point, she had ended up at a crossroads, the way behind and in front looked the same and there were no signs indicating her whereabouts.
‘Where on earth am I!!!’ she thought, slowly starting to panic.
“Do you need my help?” asked a deep and sultry voice. It was clear and loud and Ann heard it above the sound of the rain, almost as if it was whispered in her ear. She jumped in fright and looked left and right but she saw no one.
“Down here, love.”
Ann found herself glancing down. There she saw a young-looking man, he was sitting in the middle of the road getting soaked in the rain. When our dear Ann saw him, her heart couldn’t help but quicken slightly. For he was the most gorgeous person she had ever met, even more, beautiful than Nicholas. His skin was so fair that he looked like snow, his hair was platinum in colour, he had long eyelashes and those eyelashes framed stunning almond eyes. His lips were plump and pink and all his features were perfectly symmetrical. Perhaps it was his hair or eyes but to Ann, this man seemed almost celestial.
As their eyes met he gave her a wide smile. “Ann, do you need my help?” he asked.
Ann was so mesmerised by his appearance that it took her a few moments to realise that he said her name.
“You know me!?”
“Well of course, do you not know me, Ann?”
Ann found herself at a loss, she could only shake her head in response and stare, she couldn’t remember ever meeting him and was certain that she would remember someone so stunning if she had.
He made a sad expression, his lips pursed and his brows furrowed with irritation. Then he sighed, “I guess that is only natural, most mortals never remember a trip to the otherworld on the night of Samhain.” As he said this he slowly got to his feet, as he stood all the rain magically stopped, as if he was controlling it.
He walked up to Ann and cupped her face in his hands and stroked her cheeks. “My beloved you have been crying.” He softly purred. “You shouldn’t cry.” He wrapped his arms around her and hugged her.
Ann was shocked, surprised, thoroughly taken aback. A man she had never met before was telling her nonsense and had hugged her. In this type of situation, she should have felt terrified and ran, for all she knew this man could be dangerous or had some perverse ulterior motives, however in his embrace Ann felt warm and comforted. She found tears spilling from her eyes and she held him tighter and hugged him closer.
Ann and the strange man held each other for a long time. It wasn’t until she heard a happy jingle from her pocket did she hastily withdraw from him. She rustled in her blazer and pulled out her mobile phone. It was her Mother.
“Why aren’t you home yet? Do you know it’s five ‘o’clock? I thought your school finished early today, why aren’t you home yet?”
Ann had to hold her phone away from her ear as her mother barraged her with questions, “Is it really five…sorry, Mum. Mum. Mum! Calm down, I just got lost along the journey. I’ll be home soon. I stayed at school a bit longer…umm to talk to the teacher and then it was raining and I got a bit lost…Don’t worry about it. I’ll be home soon…Yes, I am hungry, so please leave dinner for me. Thanks, Mum, cool I’ll see you soon.” Ann hung up the phone sighing.
“Pffft”, she heard a snigger, the strange man was laughing. “Your mother and yourself have a lovely relationship now, that is good.” He stated and continued to chuckle.
Ann blinked, she had never told a soul about her past issues with her Mother. When she was young she had told her Mum she could see fairies and had spoken to Gods. Her mother had thought her crazy and in her younger years, she was constantly put through therapy. After that, she could never feel comfortable around her Mother or tell her honest feelings for a long time. Their relationship had gotten better though.
Ann felt scared because she had never told anyone about that. How did he know? She began to wonder if she actually had been close to this stranger.
He flashed her a mischievous grin and grabbed her hand. “I should re-introduce myself as we walk home together.”
“W-w-w-w-w-w-w-walk h-h-h-home t-t-t-together?” Ann stuttered, her face scarlet.
“I know the way.” He claimed and pulled her along with him as he confidently strolled in a random direction. Ann helplessly followed him, intrigued.
As Ann walked with the gorgeous stranger she noticed the sky transition into a purple hue, the clouds came lower until the ground itself was covered by a cooling mist. The streets transformed into a forest. Soon they were walking past trees heading up a steep mountain.
“My name is Abarta.” He whispered, his words were carried by the wind into her ear.
As Ann heard these words shock filled her eyes. “Abarta! You can’t be.”
“I told you I’d come back for you.”
His grip on her hand tightened.
“Forget your mortal worries, forget that boy, Nicholas. Forget your mother. I am all you need”
A spell was cast each time he said forget. Ann could no longer remember Nicholas or Mother. Nothing mattered anymore. Ann felt herself tire out, her head heavy. Her phone dropped somewhere along the way.
As they walk deeper into the mist Abarta said, “Do not worry Ann, I will look after you. All of us have missed you so much.”
We did miss our dear Ann. As Abarta took her to the Otherworld, we watched her each step. We whispered to each other in joy. This time we will keep our Ann, we said to each other.
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