Anna Weston was awkward.
Always had been.
Always had that black cloud swarming about her head.
Ever since anyone could remember.
Ever since that day.
The day of the incident.
That's what her family and the town refer to it as ~ the incident.
It happened years ago when Anna was four and still trying to figure out this gift. Some say she was born with it; others felt she taught herself that kind of darkness.
Anna couldn't quite figure it out herself. She knew not what it was or where it came from or why it had chosen her. But Anna knew she was different and tried desperately to hide it. Had done a good job of it too, until that day. Well, until that night.
That night she had been shunned from everyone and everything, her family made sure of it. They felt an obligation to the community to protect it, no matter the cost to their own daughter.
Anna was, after all, different;
Her classmates heard rumors of her abilities; her sacrilege.
They feared her presence among their classes and locker rooms.
Kept a close eye on her in the hallways.
The school board banned her from most school activities, such as dances and social gatherings and sporting events and her very own graduation. The Principal even failed to mention that she should be the valedictorian. She was, after all, smarter than all of them put together. Anna knew it. And what was worse was that everyone else realized it too.
The teachers resented her knowledge; secretly hated having to teach her what she already knew;
Classmates loathed her for being astute; for acing every test given; for her brains and raw beauty. Anna was growing up to be quite the looker.
Dinner was always served to Anna in her bedroom~ which was little more than a cubby-hole in the attic. Anna would listen with great intent at the popularity of her sister; at the laughter that poured from the supper table she was not permitted to sit at; at the smells of warm bread and succulent meats that she never got to see be created into a meal. She was only given leftovers - unwanted scraps of fat and gristle; half-chewed pieces of cold, hard bread ~ sometimes with the mark of leftover lipstick stained on its crust.
At night ~
Her father and mother would visit her, both heavily armed with rosary beads and garlic.
They were barely able to look at her as they completed the task of chaining and binding her to the bed.
She would laugh ~ out of spite and sadness, knowing that the shackles they bestowed upon her would not-- could not -- contain the energy she held; the energy she could use to summon her friends from the dark side. She laughed, demonically at them, these people she had to call family.
It wasn't till after they left her room, that she permitted herself to sob.
She would cry into the wee hours of the morning, cursing her own self, wanting nothing more than to be treated like a human being.
Just once to be in the limelight;
Just once to be admired and respected.
Or simply loved by another.
Even her own, older sister, Emma, was forbidden to speak to Anna since the incident. She was taught to fear her; loath her; wish her dead. Her whole family shunned her for something that wasn't even her fault. They all lived in tensions, afraid that she would summon Them again; Afraid she would try and offer up another sacrifice ~ maybe succeed this time around.
For this gift;
For this damnation.
Anna was sad and sorry.
Sorry for it all.
Sorry for scaring her parents;
For being different;
For being bad.
But it wasn't her fault and she didn't know how to turn it off; didn't know it was wrong;
And surely she couldn't be held accountable for something that happened in her youth!
But she was still paying some sort of price; still being hated by those who were to love her.
She thought back and cursed the one known as Dark Heart; those voices; the shadows. She knows now that it was wrong. But how was she to know then? She was only a child. A four-year-old conduit of some darkness she did not know how to fight. She remembers it clearly. Too clearly.
That night ~
She crept into her parents bedroom with a steak knife that had been left in the kitchen sink. She crawled into bed between them, slit her own wrists (horizontally) and chanted some peculiar language that sounded more like music than anything else (her mother later stated). Then, Anna held her bleeding wrists above their faces, ordering them to drink the blood of the Dark Heart.
Needless to say, the Weston's never felt safe again. That is until the day that Anna graduated from Dudleyville High. It was also the day Mr. Weston handed her a suitcase full of her belongings, a bundle of fifty dollars bills and ~ with a clear conscious ~ wished her well on her way out the door.
Anna was completely alone now. And quite comfortable with it. She shrank into the shadows she knew all too well, and although she came and went as she pleased, she knew she wasn't in control of her self. She only had to suffer her own temporary existence. And then, one day ~ soon ~ she would be called to offer her body as a gift to the Darkest of Hearts. So, she moped around town; cursing her fate; killing her time between data entry and old movies.
And then, one day, about six years later, she got the call.
Her sister was to be wed and her presence was requested ~ and she was certain ~ objected profusely by Emma and her parents. But they eventually succumbed to the pressures and charms of the priest of the ceremony, who assured them that family was the skeleton key to the House of Righteousness.
The reverend should have done his research and taken the family's accusations seriously. For even though the ceremony went off without a hitch, the reception was to be most memorable.
Even to this day, the people of Dudleyville won't speak of it. But the rumors about that night have made the town iconic and renowned for its dark aura that the townspeople still insist lingers today.
That evening, after the ceremonial wedding of Emma Weston to Joseph Dudley, things turned rancid. At the reception hall, a succulent dinner was served; the finest booze was distributed; and the merriment of guests abounded among the walls of the Dudleyville Town Hall.
It was about two hours into the celebration that Anna became giddy. She licked the last of the bubbles from her champagne and stood up.
It was time.
She walked out onto the dance floor. The guests fell silent.
Anna never danced. She was way to self-conscious for that kind of attention.
She had spent her last 25 years trying to become invisible.
She preferred books over people; music over conversation; and hardly ever left her cat, Griffin, and their one-bedroom apartment.
The only reason she was here ~ had to be here ~ was because of her sister. And she was hoping to be accepted before she had to go. She wanted to finally be part of the crowd;
Part of something normal.
Just once to be accepted as human.
But she wasn't.
And deep-down she knew she never would be.
But she had to try. And this was, of course, her last chance.
And so what if everyone there refused to speak to her.
Who cares if they only spoke about her in hushed tones.
She thought she'd give them a show anyways.
One last sentiment before she brought down the house.
The wedding band played and she let the music take hold of her;
Others, who were on the dance floor at the time, took notice and slowly cleared the floor, giving way to her solo performance. It was an amazing routine ~ breath-taking by all accounts. Her family gasped; Emma cried out for her to stop. Others just watched in silence. Some women whispered among themselves with a green tongue; others couldn't look away. The men at the reception - groom included - salivated, unable to hide their want.
All who were there that evening still remember it.
Anna spun around and around the hardwood floor.
She was graceful;
She danced with the elegance of an angel in flight;
She spun an intricate step of all genres of dance, from ballet to hip hop to folk;
She truly rocked the Town Hall as though it were the performance of her life.
And it was.
The band encouraged the affair and played to her movements. They howled a beat that was somewhat of a cross between rock-n roll and a tribal march. But after about an hour, they too needed a break.
The spell had been broken.
Or so they thought.
Still, Anna continued to dance as if to her own music ~ a music only she could hear.
But a faint tune was gathering; gaining sound among the whispers.
And within minutes, the band's music was replaced by another melody - a darker, more callous tune - later described by some of the guests as a sort of jewelry-box-music, and it rang loudly throughout the reception hall.
All eyes returned to Anna as she dominated the dance floor, sweat rolling off her gyrating body.
She was in a trance now, becoming one with music and oblivious to the crowd gathering, that now began to seep concern ~ not really for Anna, but for themselves.
Anna's dance exuded a rhythm from deep inside of her.
It needed to escape.
It had to be released.
Along with her curse.
Words formed and spewed from Anna's lips.
A chanting of some long-ago verse.
And she had no idea she even knew the words.
She ripped off her magenta-colored bridesmaid dress.
The crowd gasped.
No one looked away.
Covered in nothing but her own sweat, Anna swung her body to and fro, possessing every movement with grace and ease. She twirled around the dance floor like a pinwheel on the wind.
She was hovering just above the floor ~ in a twist spin ~ when the first bone broke.
It jutted out of her calf.
Her screams told the tale of how excruciating the pain was to her.
A few ran to her aide;
tried to soothe her;
Somewhere someone called for help.
But she wouldn't let anyone near her.
She wouldn't stop dancing.
Maybe didn't want to stop.
Maybe couldn't stop even if she tried to.
So, she kept on twirling.
Another bone protruded from her thigh.
Blood sprayed across the wooden floor.
She stumbled a bit, yet, she continued to dance. The tune changed slightly, to accommodate her limp and the jewelry -box-music picked up a pace that invoked Anna to perform a solo tango. She was dragging her one leg to the other side of the room, when the next bones broke.
It was both the left and right humerus that sprung out of flawless skin in her upper arms, like a set of wings put into motion.
The crowd - all but a handful - ran from the reception hall, screaming of the terror that they couldn't even trust that their eyes had seen.
Later, many would even question what they saw and shrug it off as one too many 7 & 7's.
But a few brave souls hung in the reception hall a little longer, only to snap some pics and video on their phones for future evaluation. Images that later would be too obscure and too out of focus to make out.
By now, Anna's face was beginning to distort, her face rippling like a wave.
She was beginning to lose consciousness.
Her body had betrayed her;
It was no longer her own;
She had no control over it.
It was being sacrificed to the Dark Heart and she could do nothing but dance and comply to its musical tyranny.
And she was okay with that.
At least someone wanted her.
The minutes rolled by, with that tinkle of eerie music that controlled her. It forced the rest of her skin from her body. It melted and trickled off her bones like wax off a candle.
She was, literally, a walking skeleton. Or rather, a dancing one. And her skin lay upon the floor like a discarded pile of clothes.
Next to it, blood and tissue gushed like water and formed a neat pile up along side of the skin.
Anna and her bones clanked on dancing to its own private, primal tune.
Her jaw bone opened and from it came a yell so excruciating that even the hounds of hell whimpered in their dwellings.
Her screams rocked the room; shook the tables to their sides and broke every last glass and bottle in the joint. The last of the onlookers ~ whose shock finally jolted them free ~ bolted into a mad dash for the exit.
She laughed a horrendous, evil clown laugh. A laugh so deep and twisted it shattered the windows, bathroom mirrors and fractured Anna's own bones into fragments. These fragments crumbled. Bone dust sprinkled to the floor like glitter.
The music stopped.
If you ask anyone in Dudleyville ~ to this day ~ most still hold their silence about the incident at the Town Hall that night of November 12, 2001.
Others, who spoke openly about the events have long been forgotten by some freak accident or untimely death.
No video or picture from the reception has ever been recovered.
The rest of the people in town remain silent.
The people of Dudleyville know how to keep a secret.
The Weston family buried the dust remains of Anna in the local cemetery.
Once buried, they never stepped foot near her grave again.
A keeper of the cemetery grounds insists that he hears a kind of jewelry-box-music emitting from her grave site whenever the moon is full.
~written by: Deevious~