794. I said to myself as I blew away the excess dust from the tally mark I had just finished carving on the wall. 794 days I’ve been down here. The air smelled wet, and dense, like a muddy puddle near a sewer drain does just after a long rain. There were no windows. Just a vent that sometimes blew hot air from the outside, or maybe from an air conditioner, it’s hard to tell. Twice a day, light would radiate through the vent, just enough to dimly illuminate the horrific environment I was trapped in. Once at midnight and the other at noon. I knew this because every time the light would shine in, I heard the faint sound of a giant clock bell being rung in the distance. I had been down in the dark so long that even the dimmest of light was too much for me. It was as if I had been staring directly into the sun without blinking.
Making that small tally mark everyday was not as easy as you would think. The walls were made of solid concrete, as was the floor. I used a steel rod, one from the small vent that had fallen out somehow, maybe from the prisoner before in an attempt to escape. As I pulled my arm away from the wall I let out a loud sigh. My breathing was heavy and my frail arms were tired. Carving into that concrete was the only physical thing I did, and it had been this way for almost three years. That was pretty much all I could do. My arms were cuffed at the wrists to a chain that came out of the concrete, as were my legs, at the ankles. The metal was thick, heavy, and cold. It smelled like the rust of an old car being pulled from the ocean. My legs were just as frail, and were always shaking. Like an elderly woman, I leaned my arm back so that my hand lay flat on the wall to help support my body weight as I slowly sat back down on the cold, hard, floor. And thus was my entire day. I didn't eat, or sleep, there was no need. If I did close my eyes for a while, it was only in effort to see something different in my imagination; or in hopes that when I reopened them, life would be as it was three years ago. If only I could be free again. I often thought to myself. I'd never let my keeper down again, I'm much smarter now.
In order for you to understand me, you first have to understand how I got here. Even more important, you have to have an understanding of my keeper, Annabelle; what a sight to be seen. Everything she touched radiated, glowing like fireflies in the darkest of nights. Anyone who met her, instantly fell in love. She was a creature unlike any other. Her skin was flawless, and felt like the finest, hand-threaded silk. She had long, thick, auburn hair that glistened and smelled like fresh jasmine. Annabelle's smile could warm even the coldest of hearts– and it did. But we'll talk about that later. Sometimes you could catch her outside, tending to the garden, singing to the flowers. Her voice was angelic, even when she was just speaking. If you were lucky enough to get to speak with her, you quickly discovered that she was also smart. Her beauty was breathtaking, sure, but her mind; her mind is what made her irresistible.
The years went by and Annabelle grew older, her beauty growing with her as well. Every boy who laid eyes on her wanted her for themselves. But their love was not sincere, and only caused her heartache. Smart as she may have been, when it came to love, she always listened to her heart. But her heart, she said, seemed to lead her blind every time. The first one was the worst, as first loves often are.
Like most girls not yet tainted by the lies of men, she hung onto every word he said; every promise he made; every lie he spewed from his mouth, mistakes she would not make again. The pain she felt in her heart when he left her, was unbearable, unlike anything she had ever felt before. Not only had he taken her innocence; he nearly crushed her faith in love. Everyone told her to give it time, her heart would heal, and it did, eventually. But she never forgot the lies and deceit. Love; it seemed just wasn't in the cards for Annabelle. Time and time again, she would give herself to another, refusing to give up, but time and time again, she would be made a fool. Each boy claimed they were different than the last, promised that they would never hurt her, and each time she believed them.
Annabelle's heart had begun to darken. She vowed to protect what was left of it for the rest of her life. Never again would she let her heart endure such pain; or so she thought. Boys became men, and Annabelle became a woman, still as beautiful as ever. Surely a grown man can not be as cruel and manipulative as boys were, she would often think to herself. Perhaps I shall give love another try. So once again, she found herself letting down her walls and giving someone new a piece of her heart. And once again, she found herself with torn down walls and a piece of her heart missing.
The walls she could repair, and she did just that, this time higher, thicker, sturdier.
Her heart, however, could not be mended as easily, if at all. It was missing far too many pieces. Darkness filled the holes where the pieces used to be and ice began to form around what wasn't missing. Out of the cold and darkness, a rose bush appeared. Beautiful black roses were always in full bloom; they were breathtaking, but like her heart, they were guarded. Razor sharp thorns protected the roses and covered every inch of the walls she had repaired.
“Only a fool would try to make his way to my heart”, she said aloud in a sinister tone. So. What does any of that have to do with my incarceration?
Well, Annabelle did everything she could to protect her cold, dark, heart from being touched by man again. But she forgot about the parts that still live, healthy, beneath the ice and darkness. You see, deep down at the center of her beating heart, is me. When Annabelle built that impenetrable fortress around her heart to keep the pain of man out, she trapped me in. I live in the deepest, warmest part of her heart. I never thought she'd hurt me, I trusted her as she had all the men that hurt her. It seems as though I have been forgotten. Left here to wither away. If only she would remember me.