Chapter 12 - Confessions

Joshua had a terrible headache. One eye was swollen shut, and bruises covered his body. As he got up, he understood how a steak felt after spending some time with a meat tenderizer. Despite the pain and fatigue, quitting wasn’t an option. They had to keep moving, no matter what.

He went outside to find Annabell drawing patterns in the ash from the fireplace. She looked up as he approached, but she didn’t greet him. The sour look on her face could have curdled milk, and she wouldn’t meet his eyes.

Standing up and brushing the dust from her pants she went over to the bags she had packed. Joshua noticed that she hadn’t touched his blue bag. A sturdy duffel he didn’t recognize, and a satchel was laying next it. Taking the duffel bag on her own back, she tossed satchel to Joshua. He fumbled by getting a hold, but still caught it. Without a word, Annabell turned and walked away, Joshua scrambled to get his bag and catch up.

They traveled in silence. Every so often Joshua grunted when a movement tweaked one of his injuries. He had noticed that Annabell’s hands were nearly healed, only a small scar left to indicate she’d even been involved. Her healing abilities hadn’t been a secret to him, but to see them in action still unnerved him a bit—if not a bit envious. The fact she hadn’t said a word about it, though, began to irritate him.

“So …” Joshua said to break the silence. Annabell glanced at him with raised eyebrows.

“You want to talk about it?” he continued and looked down.

“Not particularly, no,” Annabell said, quickening the pace. Joshua caught her shoulder and swung her around to face him.

“We have to talk about this.” The words came out harsher than he had meant them to.

“No, we do not have to talk about anything. I don’t want to talk about it, so can we please just leave it?” Annabell snapped, turning away.

Joshua watched her back for several seconds and sighed. Forcing his frustration down, he tried again. “How did your hands heal so fast?” he asked out loud, and she stopped stop cold in her tracks. Slowly, Joshua walked to Annabell.

She stared at the ground, shaking slightly. “Shouldn’t you be the one to answer that? You’re the one who says I have a fate and such.” Annabell sneered, her eyes still stuck on the ground.

“Actually, I’ve been meaning to tell you something for some time now…” Joshua started, but hesitated for a moment. He knew he ran the risk of shutting her off from him entirely if she took him wrong, but it wasn’t fair to keep quiet any more. The longer he kept quiet, the more upset she probably would be later.

“But, I need to know what happened back there first.” Joshua sighed. He tried to hide the fact that his stomach was twisting into a thousand knots. At least his voice hadn’t quivered.

“You were there. I don’t know what happened back there, at least not any more than you do. Besides, I thought you were the one with all the answers,” Annabell said in a low voice.

Carefully, Joshua circled around her. He knelt down a little, trying to see her face, but she only turned her head.

“But, I don’t—especially not right now. The thing is… something’s clouding my mind. I can’t recall anything. It’s like someone just erased part of my life. I need you to tell me.” He stood back up, looking at Annabell pleadingly. Slowly, she looked up.

“I can’t. I’m sorry,” she said and lowered her eyes again. The nervous energy pent up in Joshua wanted to explode. He balled his fists and exhaled loudly through his nose. He mentally counted to ten.

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