“I stared out at the desolate gloomy hills. They were mostly a greenish, brown color, like what you would see in pea soup. To make matters worse, my mom had told me that it would probably be raining everyday here in good old Hartford, Connecticut.”
I stared out at the desolate gloomy hills. They were mostly a greenish, brown color, like what you would see in pea soup. To make matters worse, my mom had told me that it would probably be raining everyday here in good old Hartford, Connecticut.
“But you can always stay indoors and do arts and crafts!” my mother said brightly.
I nodded and hugged her. This sleepaway camp, Fairview Lake, was where I’d be staying for four whole weeks.
“All girls,” it boasted, “we raise strong girls! Get ready to learn how to take a stand in society!”
I felt this was unfair; I already was a strong member of society. I went to marches — the Women’s March, the Climate March, you name it. I glared at my reflection while getting out of the car; I never set much store by it. Why would you waste time looking at yourself when you could be saving baby seals? But now, as I prepared to meet a cabin full of strange girls, girls I didn’t know, I shook off those thoughts.
“So what if they don’t like you?” I asked myself. “You will only be here for four weeks, Emma, get a move on.”
Stealing one last hug from my mom, I ran up the walkway to the main house. I had a date with destiny.
“Hello, Hello!” a thin, bird-like voice greeted me from the dark interior of the main house.
It had ivy growing all over, and some of the window frames were broken, giving the appearance of gaping holes. I froze.
“Come in, come in! You must be our new camper.”
I stepped inside, looking curiously at the woman. She had thin, gray hair and looked like she was in her fifties. Nevertheless, her arms were muscular, and I was pretty sure she could bench-press me.
“Um… yes., I stuttered. “I’m Emma.”
“Well, it is nice to meet you, dear,” she said. “I’m Annabelle.”
As if in a trance, she leaned toward me. I wanted to move, but I couldn’t. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. It felt as if my mouth was nailed shut. I was terrified. She picked up a lock of my blonde hair.
“Such pretty hair,” she said softly, as if talking to herself. “When I was a young girl, I had hair like this…”
Five minutes later, I was hurrying along the main path, seriously spooked. Annabelle had apologized for scaring me and said, with a laugh, that old people like herself tended to stare at things… Which made me wonder… How old was Annabelle exactly? I had guessed fifty, but I was pretty sure I was wrong. At least I knew which cabin I was staying in; cabin two. My bunkmates were Lucky and Chase. But something stayed stuck in my head, and no matter just how hard I tried, I couldn’t erase what Annabelle had said from my mind.
“Oh, Emma,” Annabelle had called.
I had turned around, feeling a lump of dread settle in my throat.
¨Yes?” I asked.
¨It´s about your bunkmates, Lucky and Chase. They are good girls, but they have vivid imaginations. They like to make up scary stories,¨ she said firmly. ¨Whatever you do, don’t listen to them. Okay?”
¨Okay¨ I said, then turned and ran.
I was sure now that something wasn’t right, and I was going to listen to whatever Lucky and Chase had to tell me. I pushed open the door of my cabin, looking around. The bunk beds were made out of wood, and the cabin was dark, although it was mid-day.
¨Hello?¨ I called nervously.
A girl jumped off the bunk bed and walked toward me. She was taller than me, with extremely pale skin and heavy black eye makeup. She was wearing all black, and her hair was gelled into little, dark points.
¨Are you the new girl?¨ she asked in a deep, gravelly voice.
¨Yes,¨ I said. ¨I… My name is Emma.¨
¨Hmm,” she snorted. ¨Chase thought you were going to say your name was Annie.¨
She stuck out her hand. I shook it.
¨I’m Lucky,” she said, turning her neck so I could see a tattoo of a green four-leaved clover.
I nodded mutely.
¨Chase will be back from her class in a few minutes,¨ she said, circling me.
I fought the urge to tell her to get away from me. She stopped circling and stared at me.
¨I think that Chase will want to know — even more than I do — why the new girl looks just like Annie.”
“I honestly don’t know who Annie even is,” I said, annoyed. “Why is she such a big deal to you?”
Lucky flinched as if I’d slapped her. I walked over to the nearest bed and put my duffel down on it. I stared at her. She blankly stared back.
”Fine,” she humphed.”I’ll tell you who Annie is; but you cannot tell anybody else.”
“Why?” I asked curiously.
Another blank stare.
“Because Annabelle doesn’t like it,” she whispered.
Without warning, she turned and headed for the door.
“Hey!” I said, jumping up. “You said you would tell me!” I cried, frustrated.
“I said i would tell you; I didn’t say when. If you want to ever learn anything, kid, you should set the terms. See you at dinner.”
She calmly sashayed away, ignoring my furious glare. After a minute, I followed her.
Lucky was out of my line of vision by the time I got to a sign that said Mess Hall. Sighing, I followed the arrow that pointed to the mess all. Wait… What was that? A path, smaller than the large path to the dining area branched off, leading deeper into the woods. I deliberated between the two, rocking back and forth on my heels.
“It will only take five minutes, Emma,” I scolded. “You will be back just in time for dinner.”
I plunged into the woods, feeling thorns rake my arms.
Looking down the path, I saw what I thought was a house. I walked towards it, and then, discovered that it was a shed. It had gray clapboards, which seemed all that was holding it together. Somebody had painted KEEP OUT, in black, on it. There was a large, gaping hole in it, and there was something brown inside. A rock? A head? Snap! I jumped. It was just a twig… Right? Another snap, and I was running.
The mess hall was warm and bright, and I had finally met Chase. She had been angry with Lucky for letting me go off on my own. What if I had met a bear? While she was chastising Lucky, I took this opportunity to ogle my cabin mate. She sported cocoa-colored skin, a nose piercing, and what I was pretty sure was a wig. The auburn-colored curls were tilting alarmingly on her head. I picked at my salad, worrying. What if that had been a head? I glanced over at Annabelle. She was chatting animatedly with the other cabin, the Harriet Tubman Cabin. Each of the cabins had a name of a female leader; we were the Rosa Parks Cabin.
“Emma!” Chase sounded irritated, and I guessed this wasn’t the first time she had said my name.
I blinked at her. “Yes?”
“Where were you?” she hissed. “We all know you weren’t in the latrines; I saw you running through the the forest. What were you doing in there?? We aren’t supposed to go there; if Annabelle had found you, you could be in SO much trouble!” She stared at me, breathing heavily.
Lucky was reading a book, and her eyes flickered from page to page, but I was sure she was listening in.
I smiled at her slowly, then pointed at Annabelle.
“Oh, it’s time to go!” I said.
Annabelle was calling all the cabins to order.
As we slowly ambled through the dark woods, I turned around to grin at Lucky and Chase. They were wearing identical expressions of frustration; I still hadn’t told them where I had been and what I had been doing.
“I’ll make you a deal,” I said.
“I will not make any deals with you,” Lucky answered immediately.
Chase looked disappointed.
“You haven’t heard what I’m offering.” I smiled, confident that they would want to know.
“Okay,” Chase said. “What are your conditions?”
“You tell me the Crazy Annie story when we get back to the cabin. You will have to tell me the story first, or I won’t tell you mine,” I said happily.
Chase glared. I stared at Lucky for a long moment. She stared back.
“Okay,” Lucky said finally. “But I get to tell the story,” she added.
Five minutes later, we were sitting in a semi-circle, on the roughly hewn floor. It was more than a little eerie.
“Fifty years ago, at this camp,’’ Lucky began, “there was a lovely young girl called Annie. She had multiple personality disorder, so those who were jealous of her called her ‘Crazy Annie.’”
I shivered, and Chase wrapped an arm around my shoulders.
“She had been coming to Fairview Lake her whole life and so had her steady boyfriend. They decided to have their wedding at the camp, although she was only eighteen, and he was only twenty. The theme of the wedding was daisies, because they were Annie’s favorite flower.”
Lucky paused as lightning flashed, and tree branches shook. It sounded as if somebody were outside. Tap. Tap. tap. Lucky resumed her story.
“On Annie’s wedding night, there was a storm like this one. She could not find her groom-to-be, or her best friend, the maid of honor. She decided to go looking for them in the cabins. And she found them.”
Lucky raised her eyebrows, and after a moment, it sank in.
“Angry that they had been cheating on her, Annie ran away, leaving a suicide note, that she had signed ‘Love, Annie’. One year later, the former best friend and the former husband had the same wedding. Late into the party, the guests realized that they couldn’t find the bride or bridegroom, so they went looking for them up by the cabins. They looked at the trees, and there were bloody daisies hanging off the trees. In the meadow, the bride and bridegroom were lying stone dead with freaking DAISY CROWNS around their heads. Their throats were slit and painted in their own blood, was a huge heart. And, under that heart…” she stopped and swallowed, “were letters painted in blood which said ‘Love, Annie’.”
I gasped. I had been expecting Annie to have been victimized. I had even been feeling some kinship towards her. It couldn’t have been easy to have been constantly be called crazy, and then to be cheated on (not that I would know). There was a knock, and we all gasped. I jumped up, ran to the door and pulled it open… Then I screamed like I never had before… Because lying on the doormat was one perfect daisy. A figure stood on the doormat with the daisy. Annabelle.
“What do you want?” I yelled.
She turned and ran. I chased her through the winding path behind the shed. Hiding with the help of a tree, I watched her sprint into the meadow and begin frantically digging for something. Whatever it was, she didn’t seem to be able to find it. I picked up the daisy and headed back to the cabin. I’d look tomorrow.
“What is it?” Chase asked.
She saw the daisy, and her eyes grew rounder.
“Emma… Where did you get that?”
I held the daisy at arm’s length, trying not to hyperventilate.
“It’s nothing,” I gasped. “Just, just some stupid kids playing a stupid prank.”
With that, I threw the daisy into the rain darkened woods as hard as I could. I didn’t sleep that night.
The next morning, I ran to the pay phone and inserted two quarters. I only had enough for one call. Oh well, it would have to do. With the memory of the fresh, white, perfect daisy in mind, I dialed.
“Hello?” that familiar voice asked, in confusion.
“Mom,” I gasped. “Mom, you have to come pick me up. I hate it here.”
“What’s wrong?” she asked, clear concern in her voice.
I had her where I wanted her.
“My bunkmates are… strange,” I said, thinking of Lucky and Chase.
“All girls are strange, Emma, love. In fact, you could be described as a little strange yourself, what with the greenpeace thing,” she laughed.
My mom isn’t what you would call outdoorsy.
“They told me a really scary story. Please, Please let me come home,” I begged, losing hope.
“Isn’t that what camp is all about?” she said interestedly. “It looks like everything is fine, Ems. I don’t know why you called me.”
“SOMEBODY LEFT A DAISY IN MY CABIN!” I yelled, starting to lose it.
“Wow, Emma, it sounds like you have a secret admirer. No need to yell… is everything okay?” she asked. No, everything was not okay.
“You have ten seconds left on this call,” said the recorded cell phone voice. “To call back, please insert two more quarters.”
“Hello?” I said. “Mom? Mom?”
But she was gone.
Without thinking, I ran to the meadow, where Lucky had told me that the two lovers had been killed. I began to dig, digging where Annabelle had been and throwing up lumps of dirt. I didn’t quite understand what I was looking for, only that I would need it. Now that I knew that Annie was Annabelle… was I just going to wave whatever I found in her face and hope that she would confess? I had known who she was from the moment she had laid the daisy on the doormat; I had seen her slender figure holding an umbrella. We had locked eyes for a minute, but then she had disappeared into the rain.
Something brushed my fingers, and I pulled at it. It was a heavy silver ring with something that looked like rust. Blood.
“Maybe this was Annie’s fiance’s ring?” I murmured to myself.
“It is,” a voice said behind me.
I jumped, still clutching the ring. Annabelle — no, Annie — was looking down at me. I screamed; I felt like I’ve been screaming a lot since I came here.
“I’m not going to hurt you, you don’t need to worry,” she said softly. “Your friends, Lucky and Chase have already called the police, and I’m sure they will here shortly. Resourceful girls, aren’t they, Emma?” I nodded, feeling like a fish out of water.
She reached down and plucked the ring from my fingers, examining it.
“You know, Emma, not a day goes by when I don’t regret what I did. I killed the two people I loved most, and now my story will be recovered.”
She paused and looked down at me. “Which is why I want you to write it… the story of Crazy Annie.”
I nodded again, then looked up. Two figures were racing across the meadow, towards us: Lucky and Chase. Police cars were pulling up behind them. Annabelle stood up and dropped something heavy and silver into my palm.
“Goodbye, Emma,” she said.
I stood up too.
“Goodbye, Annie,” I said, waving as she walked towards the officers.
That was the last time I ever saw Annie alive. She died several days after, in prison. Fairview Lake is now run by Marcy, a cheerful, happy, older camper. I would like to say that I am a better person. I have two good friends, Lucky and Chase, and I can finally understand Annie better. I’m back in New York now, thinking of Annie. I have her ring — the heavy, silver thing she gave me — on my dressing table.