This is a short story, that I originally intended to be a full novel or a short novel but have written it in a short story format to get it out of my system because these characters just wont leave me alone.
I still believe I might work on a longer version of this story in the future but for now, I wanted to be more active on my blog and start posting more things on it about my writing and pieces of my writing so I’ll be starting with this one.
please ignore the title, I had no idea what to call this piece (it was originally titled “Twins Guilt story” then just “Guilt” but being a writer, I wanted to have a more fancier title to it LOL
so without further ado, here is my short story. I hope you enjoy it and please let me know your feedback
It was a sight straight from a gothic novel.
William stared at the dark manor in front of him from on top of his horse; the sun had yet to set and yet it seemed that darkness forever engulfed his once childhood home; it’s effect spreading across the exterior of the house and to the garden. The walls, unkempt and the windows, some broken but most were unclean and the green grass that he spent most of his afternoons had now yellowed, making it seem like a forsaken desert.
The once proud house of the Huntington family had gone from being one of the most talked of landmarks of London was now close to becoming a ruin.
He shuddered to think of what the interior looked like if the exterior was his horrid.
He dismounted from his mount; there was no sign of any movements from inside the house so he assumed that his brother did not keep any of the staff.
“I suppose the rumors were true that he wishes to be in complete solitude”
As he secured his horse’s ties against a worn out fence, He felt the hairs on the of his neck rise and he instantly knew that he was not alone anymore.
He turned to look at the young woman standing behind him, her face indicated that she was not older by seventeen and yet she was far from any young woman he had ever encountered in his twenty years on his earth.
Her face was as white as wax paper, her lips had a tint of blue but that was the only color that was evident on her skin. Her yellow hair was loose and the locks fell past her shoulders and till her elbow, contrasting with the black dress she wore.
She looked like death.
In fact she was death, or at least, death has already claimed her.
The first time he saw her appear in his bedroom days ago as he was waking up that morning, he was completely shocked to say the least. He became angry at whoever was playing that trick on him. It took him a while to realize that the woman in front of him was indeed who she claims to be.
Now, she wasn’t looking at him, her eyes were fixed on the house and he could see the sadness reflect in her features as memories must have begun to flood her mind as they did his when he first arrived.
“So John has been here the whole time?” she asked, not taking her eyes away from the house.
William shook his head “He never leaves, I haven’t seen him for over five years”
It may sound appalling, for someone that never visits family even though he lives a mere half hour away.
Their circumstances were different.
When the woman didn’t respond, William spoke again “do you really think this will work?” he asked.
The woman finally met his gaze, her ice blue eyes looked almost silver in the light as she fixed them against his own blue eyes before she nodded her head “it has to” she said, her voice hopeful yet William caught a hint of sadness and doubt in it.
He nodded in return before he proceeded to walk toward the front door, producing a key from his waistcoat and unlocking the door with ease.
The interior was even more depressing than the exterior.
Dust covered every inch of the hallway, the furniture left uncovered now completely ruined from the dust and parasites. He slowly entered the house, the woman followed silently behind him as they made their way down the hall. William kept his senses sharp, his eyes scanning for any sign of movement but nothing caught his attention.
He climbed the stairs to the next floor; the wood creaked under his boots as he walked carefully up and down the upstairs hallways, which was equally as unsanitary as the one downstairs.
Passing a couple of doors, William’s eyes caught sight of a faint light coming from beneath a door and walked towards it but paused in front of it, his chest suddenly felt tight and he had to struggle to breath. Closing his eyes, he took in a couple of deep breaths, his fists clutched as he followed before reopening his eyes and pushing the door open.
His eyes went immediately to the mirror image of himself huddled against the corner of the room, which was lit with only a single candle sitting on top of a side table
A clean table.
He felt emotions flood his very being at the sight in front of him.
His older brother, his older twin brother sitting in their sister’s room; looking like he was about to enter through death’s door any minute in front of him.
he wore a pair of soot covered shift and trousers, clearly worn from age and were three times too big from against William’s arms and waist. His hair fell past his boney shoulder and his eyes seem to be a million miles away as he rocked in place while murmuring something to himself.
William’s heart ached at the sight of his brother’s appearance. He really did look like he was insane
William felt like he wasn’t looking at his twin brother, It was like looking at the complete stranger.
At the same level as his brother’s unkempt and filthy appearance, the room that he was in couldn’t be more opposite. It was spotless, as if the years hadn’t aged his sister’s toys or furniture.
It was completely spotless and as perfect as he remembered.
“John” William murmured.
He kept his voice low and yet by how John’s head shot up in looked at him, it was as if William had shouted at him. William kept his eyes fixed on John’s bloodshed ones as he saw his brother start to come back to earth and realize that he had visitors.
He hardly ever had visitors.
“William” john spoke his voice horse and cracked “what are you doing here?”
“I came to see you” said William, as if it was a casual thing to do.
“I told you not to come here” said John, his eyes snapping back to the floor and he began to rock again.
“John, you cannot go on like this” William began to come into the room.
“Stop!” John’s harsh caused William to stop.
William saw that John was looking at his boots; his eyes flickered to them and saw them covered with dirt.
“You cannot keep doing this John” William tried to reason for this “do you think any of us wanted you to waste your life away? Dear god John what would mother say if she saw you like this?”
“Mother is dead” said John, squeezing his eyes shut and pressing his palms against them “I drove her insane and I killed her … just as I killed …” he drifted off.
William saw tears leak through John’s eyes as his shoulders began to shake; memories of the mistake that John made 10 years ago were still as raw and fresh as if it had happened yesterday. William had to fight back his own tears at the sight of how much his brother suffered each and every day of his life.
“You did not kill our mother, for heaven’s sake John, you were a child” William tried to reason.
“I did! I did kill our mother, I killed Annalise! I killed them all” John cried out.
“No one knows that”
William saw john’s body tense and was frozen for a few moments before he spoke again ““you and I know that” john lifted his face from his eyes to stare at William “you know I pushed Annalise in the river, which drove our mother insane before she took her own life”
“It was an accident John, you did not do that on purpose… We were playing-“
“And yet you took the blame” john interrupted “you told father that you accidently pushed her into the river. You took the blame for everything”.
John was right, John did accidently push Annalise into the river during their game of catch. John had tried to dive back in and go after her if William hadn’t stopped him. Her body was never found and their father had demanded who was responsible and William never seen their father his angry before or John that terrified.
So he did the one thing that he could think of to protect his older brother from his father’s wrath
He told his father that he was the one who accidently pushed Annalise in the river.
And he had paid dearly for that lie, physically.
But John paid for it emotionally and mentally. He tried to convince his father otherwise but his father was convinced that John was the liar in order to defend his brother and brushed any argument that john had that day.
Till this day, John was punishing himself for what he had done while suffering at the guilt that plagued him all these years.
“I was protecting you”
“You didn’t have to protect me!”
“You always protected me when we were younger, why couldn’t I protect you”
“John, will you listen to me?” asked William.
“You have nothing more to tell me” said John, dismissively.
“But I am not the one who wishes to speak to you”
“I have someone with me”
“You brought someone with you?!” John’s voice now was full of anger as he glared at William, his voice rising with each sentence he spoke “I told you time and time again, I do not wish to see anyone. I want to be kept alone!”
William felt the woman appear next to him before he heard her say John’s name but he did not turn away from John. He saw John’s face become stark white, his eyes wide as he stared at the woman in complete shock, his jaw opened up and down yet he couldn’t form the words to say anything.
William wasn’t surprised that John recognized the woman; she was the mirror image of their young mother.
“An-Anna … Annalise?” John managed to say, his expression didn’t falter as he simply stared at the woman.
Their sister who perished in the river 10 years ago.
William saw Annalise offer John a small smile and nod from the corner of his eyes before stepping back. Giving his siblings their much needed space.
He had his closure with Annalise days ago; now it was John’s turn to fight his demons.
Annalise stepped closer to John, which he immediately recoiled back as he stared at her in horror.
“John, it’s me” said Annalise.
“I-it can’t be…. Ho..how could you be..” John stuttered, shaking his head slowly in disbelief “you … You are …d-d-d-dea …Dead”
“I am dead” Annalise tone was sad.
“I have not moved on John” said Annalise as she walked closer to her brother.
“I don’t understand”
“I stayed behind, I couldn’t go knowing you will remain in his state” said Annalise “You have to move on John”
“I cant move on, not after what I did to you” John murmered as he lowered his head, another wave of guilt surely crawling on top of him.
“You cannot continue like this” Annalise crouched down in front of him.
“If you wish to make amends to me, do not waste you life away here .. In his old house, cleaning my old room” she said, he eyes scanning her clean room “I want you to move on and live your life, have a wife and children, a daughter with my name” she grinned, trying to lighten the mood a bit.
John did smile, slightly but it was progress before he looked up at his sister’s blue eyes. He then lifted his arms to wrap around his sister’s waist, only to have them go right through her. Looking up at her in confusion, Annalise just offered him a sad smile before leaned closer and wrapped her own arms around her brother, though he couldn’t physically feel it, John’s expression portrayed the comfort that her phantom arms gave him and he leaned slightly in her embrace, whispering “I’m sorry” to her over and over again.
“I’ve forgiven you a long time ago” murmured Annalise.
Her statement seemed to give John the comfort he needed as he closed his eyes. Annalise looked back at William and offered him a smile and gave him her silent request. William smiled in returned and nodded his head. He watched in astonishment as the color began to come back to Annalise’s cheeks. Her dress, as if washing away black ink, lightened until it was stark white and her hair looked shiner, healthier…
She now looked like an angel.
William stared at her for several moments before his breath hitched when he realized that she was slowly fading away. Her smile grow and she mouthed ‘I love you’ to William before she disappeared right in front of his eyes.
– Fatma Al Bannai