The cold murky water slowly swallowed the pale figure alive as she sank into a dark and distant realm. Her body was limp and calm as she accepted her fate. Visions of the past flickered by, the haunting smile of her dear sister fading away. Hot tears streamed down her face and into the icy water as her body began to sink under the burdened weight of pain. Every breath seemed louder than the last. The water continued to rise, soon blocking the passage of air into her mouth, and then the nose. The ghosts of the lake were pulling her into the hypolimnium, the cold dark bottom. The pain on her lungs was excruciating but no amount of pain is comparable to what she had already suffered. The world began to close in on her.
Two figures were approaching a town, both were dishevelled girls who appeared to have experienced a streak of bad luck. One girl was stomping ahead as the other shuffled behind.
“I’m bloody sick and tired of the way these people treat us just because they have money and power! Even the poor and powerless look down upon us! We’re below low! I’ve had absolutely enough of their teasing and physical abuse. God damn them!” cursed Edana. “One day I will rise to a position of power and they shall kneel at my feet! God save them when that day comes!”
Annis released a deep breath, “Sister, aren’t you tired? You’ve been cursing the townspeople during our entire journey.”
Edana relaxed her shoulders and glanced back at her sister, “I’m sorry, I’ll stop. I’ll talk about the good things then, happy?”
Annis smiled at her. Edana pulled out something from her dress and stretched her arm out for Annis to see, “This is all we’ve got left…” She withdrew it back and looked worriedly at the two coins on her grimy palm. “But I have a beautiful feeling about this town. This is the place that will bring us the luck and wealth we’ve been searching for. ”
“Sister, but are you sure it’s a good idea to lie to the entire town about our identity?” asked Annis, her forehead creasing into a frown.
“What happened to us when we were truthful towards all those previous towns? There must be some foreign substance in our blood that just doesn’t allow us to fit in with anyone. Time and time again we are rejected and forced to travel to a new distant place. Annis, no one else in this world is as kind-hearted as you and those who are are just pretending so they can take advantage of you. Don’t you remember Mrs Carbonnel’s servant girl?”
“But Edana, you’re kind-hearted. I do things wrong and get into trouble and you are always there to rescue and protect me.”
Edana stopped, turned around and smiled at her, “You’re my sister Annis, that’s different. I promised Mother I will take care of you before she passed away and I will do anything to fulfil her last wish.”
The two girls stopped in their tracks for they had arrived at the entrance of the town. Edana smiled at what lay ahead of her but then looked back and gave her sister a stern look, “Now remember who you are.”
The village was like all the other villages they had been to in the past, the only difference this time was Edana’s thinking. As Edana prognosticated, her plan was going to get her everything she had dreamed of.
“Okay, you go that way and introduce yourself to everyone you meet on the way. When the sun sets I’ll meet you in that lodging over there.” There was a slight pause. “When you enter, simply say you forgot which room you are in and ask for the room number,” instructed Edana with raised eyebrows. The determination in her eyes was flickering like a wild flame during a windy December night.
Annis nods and goes off to do as she was told. The two of them went around introducing themselves as ‘Edana’ and as the sun began to set Annis went to the lodging where Edana was waiting. Edana’s plan had worked perfectly; no one had seen them together. The fact that the two twins appeared in different places at different times confused the townspeople and caused disagreements among them. People were calling others liars and others were calling people delusional. The lodging owner saw Edana walk into the lodging twice but never once did he see Edana walk out. This new girl in town raised much suspicion and anxiety.
One full moon had come and gone and the guilt had begun to eat away at Annis’s conscience. “I don’t like what we are doing Edana, it’s just not right,” confronted Annis.
“The townspeople from the last place we came from tormented us and that wasn’t right. Yet they’re the ones in their bright warm homes, safe at night against the cold bitter storm that we had to travel in. Where’s the justice in that?”
“Yes, but now we have a warm lodging to stay at. Look at how beautiful and welcoming this place is. This place is the light at the end of our dark tunnel, our journey ends here.”
She saw the sad expression on her sister’s face and smiled calmly, “My plan is working perfectly, we are raising fear in the townspeople and soon they will surrender to us and will give us everything we’ve ever wanted.”
“I don’t want any of the riches in the world. I just need you. These days I’m always by myself. We can never be seen together and you have no idea how lonely that makes me feel. I can’t make any friends here because I need to lie to them all.”
Edana continued to smile calmly and hugged her sister. “Come Annis, didn’t you say you wanted to learn to play that instrument? Now what was it called? Ah yes, the harpsichord.”
After an entire revolution of the seasons Edana had achieved what she wanted. In the past year she had ordered Annis to lie to the people about her past, to confuse them and create this mysterious ‘Edana’ character that possessed such power that could reach any corner of the town at any time. The fear spread like a plague and grew like a bubble which finally burst. She had scared the Lord of the Manor away and took over The Manor House. Edana succeeded in creating the unknown in which the townspeople all feared. They served her in hope that they will please her and that she would use her magic for the welfare of her people instead of harmful selfish reasons.
The Manor House had many rooms and each was luxuriously furnished. Edana had sealed and covered every window and locked every door which ultimately blocked out all sources of light and turned the place into a cold and dark place. Annis feared her new home; the darkness and every small echo of the night haunted her dreams. She was used to sleeping with her sister but their chambers were now separated by a long ghostly hall. No one else lived in the house for Edana worried that the servants could potentially discover the truth about their identities.
The only joy Annis found in her new life was the magnificent harpsichord in which she dedicated her time in learning. Edana would sit in the room every night and listen to her sister passionately play beautiful pieces of music. These were the only times when they would sit down and really enjoy each other’s company. One night, however, Annis decided to be open towards her sister.
“Edana, I don’t like this place.”
“Why?” asks Edana, her expression mixed with astonishment and slight irritation.
“I miss the times when you would tell me jokes in the dead of the night to make me forget my fear of the dark. I miss the times when you would assault a man because he tried to harass me. I miss the times when we would sit together for meals, sharing every bite.”
“Annis, what is wrong with you? You tell me you don’t enjoy this wealth and comfort?! Not even the respect you receive from the people? You are so ignorant! Many people will die for what we have. We are merely girls yet a miracle has struck us and you tell me you do not cherish such light in which God has shone upon us?”
“It is not God’s doing, it is our own. I do not enjoy this wealth and I do not agree with your definition of comfort. The respect you receive is not genuine, it’s out of fear sister. I will die for the times we used to have just so I can be myself and be able to tell the truth.”
“Are you joking? For the times we used to have?! What, when people kicked us and pulled our hair? When we were spat at and forced to eat off other people’s scraps? When we had no place to stay and had to live outside in the cold darkness of the night?! Tell me Annis, is that what you really want?!”
“If that means having the Edana I knew back, then YES!” Annis stormed out of the room, her last words echoing off the vaulted ceiling of the harpsichord room.
Edana ordered the townsmen to travel to the town she came from to seek revenge, commanding them to set the entire town on fire and cause as much pain and chaos as possible. The townsmen were kind people and without any hatred towards the other town they could not find the evil in themselves to do such a thing. But Edana threatened them stating that if they didn’t do as they were told then she would use her magic and wreak havoc in their town instead. This immediately raised fear and fuelled the action, their return with blood-stained clothes and hands brought much satisfaction to Edana.
All this was hidden away from Annis who was kept inside the Manor House, away and oblivious of what was occurring in the world outside. But it wasn’t just Annis who was oblivious of certain events, Edana was so engulfed in her new found authority that she overlooked what was happening in Annis’s life. One day she was searching in Annis’s chamber for a dress to wear to an important event and came across a journal with pink bulbs of flowers sticking conspicuously out of a page. Edana opened it up and to her disbelief, was confronted with Annis’s thoughts about some man called ‘Gimm’ who was supposably the gem of her life. Angered by Annis’s dishonesty towards her, she slammed the book and went in search of her in the house. Hearing music come from the harpsichord room she stormed in and smashed her fist onto the ivory keys.
“Edana, I can explain,” gasped Annis.
“I really hope you can!”
Smiling sweetly she entered into some dream phase, “He’s a baker. He’s honest and caring and kind-hearted. He came to me one day and gave me freshly baked bread in attempt to console me because he had heard horrible rumours going around that I was a witch and that no one liked me. He really is such a kind man and I’m so grateful to find someone to talk to. He loves me and I love him!”
“Do you know what you are doing?! You’re putting both of us at risk! If he finds out that we’re twins he’ll tell the townspeople and they’ll burn us!”
“He loves me, he won’t do that.”
Edana made a horrifying yell which echoed throughout the house. “I forbid you to see him!”
“Edana! I respect the fact that you have done many things for me in the past and that’s why I have cooperated with you in this insane idea about the two of us being one person but we’re not one person. I have my own life you know. No one even calls me Annis anymore, not even Gimm!”
Annis slowly began crying angry tears. Edana saw her fragile sister hurt and changed tones.
“Annis, you have to listen to me. If I say you can’t see him anymore then you can’t. Like you said, he doesn’t even call you Annis, he calls you Edana. That’s me! He doesn’t love you, he loves Edana!”
“No he doesn’t!” screamed Annis, “He loves me and if I tell him my real name he will still love me!”
“You wouldn’t dare!”Edana changed back to her chilling tone.
“I do and I’m going to find him right now!” cried Annis.
Edana moved her hand swiftly towards a pile of envelopes as Annis headed towards the door. Annis was stopped by a sharp pain on her back and staggering, she turned around. As she did she found her sister’s hands covered in blood. Looking down at herself she saw the end of a knife protruding from her chest as blood poured out of her wound and soaked her dress. Her entire body was trembling and she collapsed onto the puddle of blood.
“How could you Edana!” cried Annis, “For all the things you have done I still loved you! Why?”
Edana collapsed onto the floor next to her bloodied sister and hugged her whilst in tears. “Why, O why did you have to threaten all the things that I have? Why did you have to say such words?”
Annis’s breathing became irregular, her chest was moving violently with every breath she made. And then it all stopped. The last tear dripped out from her eye and lay motionless on her red cheek.
Edana could not find the strength in herself to confront the lifeless form of her dear sister. Instead she ran out of the room, changed out of her bloodied clothes and headed for the important event that she had been invited to. She decided the only way to control her emotions was to lie to herself and pretend that nothing had happened. To prevent herself experiencing a mental breakdown she whispered repetitively that her sister was healthily waiting at home for her. As she stared feverishly at all the faces around her while she walked past, she bumped into the last person she ever wanted to see.
“Edana! I never thought I’d see you wandering out here alone,” smiled the jovial man. “Are you on your way to do anything important? If not I would love to finally show you my family and my bakery shop.”
“Are you alright Edana?” he looked innocently into her eyes. “You don’t need to worry about what my family thinks about you. If you don’t want to see them then you don’t have to. This love is between the two of us and I will do anything for you.”
Edana felt her heart suddenly droop under some mysterious weight and begin to ache. She was silent as Gimm’s expression made an unexpected change.
“You’re not Edana.”
She looked to the side.
“You’re not Edana,” he repeated, “Who are you?” He stood back.
“I am Edana.”
“Well you’re not the Edana I know.”
She looked down, took a deep breath and looked at him. This man may be dumb enough to fall in love with a girl whom the public perceived as a witch but he knew exactly who he was in love with. Annis was right. He did love her. The brick wall she built around herself finally crumbled.
“The one you’re in love with is Annis, my twin sister.”
Edana didn’t know where she was heading but, poisoned with remorse, she needed to escape. Wandering out of town, she arrived at a dim, peaceful lake. She looked into the water and whispered into the cold bitter air, “Who are you?”
The deep and everlasting regret began to sink in. The anxiety in her was building up, visions of the townspeople’s blood and her sister’s blood scarred her vision. As the sun began to set, some mysterious force began to pull her towards the water, drawing her into the coldness. Floating in the centre of the lake, she stared up into the blackening sky. The cold murky water slowly swallowed the pale figure alive as she sank into a dark and distant realm. “O blessed sleep,” were her last words before the light in her eyes slowly died away like the light in a captured firefly.