Quietly, softly, like a sigh from the sky, snow started falling again.
Bonnie didn’t notice it at first, too immersed in her sketch, bent over the desk as her hand moved over the thick paper of her sketchbook.
The yellow table lamp spent just enough light for her tired eyes, but when inspiration struck, there wasn’t any time to waste; there only was a pencil to grab and to sit down, pinning the pictures in her head down to the paper in lines and shadows.
She had woken up from a nap with Nala sleeping curled into her side, the fluffy, red cat only all too happy to sleep next to the heat of a warm body, but the cat hadn’t been able to sleep for much longer.
Throwing off the blankets and facing the cool air in her bedroom, Bonnie had fumbled for her drawing utensils and sat down at her desk, keeping hold of that fading picture in her mind with an iron grip. Whenever a dream blessed her with an image, she needed to make immediate use of it or it would be lost forever, sinking to the bottom of the lake of forgotten impressions in the depth of her mind.
Now, brows furrowed in concentration, a necklace took shape under her pencil. It was one of those old Victorian pendants, looking like a white brooch with the face of a pretty lady carved into it.
Painstakingly, Bonnie outlined the cascade of curls, the delicate nose, the smiling mouth, just the hint of a smirk on those lips, a dimple where one corner had risen higher than the rest.
Beautiful, she thought, exhaling in satisfaction as she leaned back for a moment, studying the sketch in front of her. The warm light of the lamp gave the woman softness, a sense of comfort going off her not-yet-plastic features.
Yawning, Bonnie straightened, stretching her back with a wince when it protested. That’s what she got for hunching over her sketchbook like that.
“Hey,” she smiled at Nala when the cat meowed and stroked around her legs. “You still want to cuddle? Not enough yet?”
Of course not. If you asked Nala, it was never enough. In Nala’s own opinion, she deserved all the pets and snuggles in the world, haughty like an Egyptian goddess.
Stroking down the soft fur, Bonnie realized how cold her fingers were, and stiff from drawing.
Glancing out of the window, she noticed the snow sinking down onto the silent landscape, almost invisible in the early darkness of the grey November day.
“No wonder it’s so cold,” she grumbled, rubbing her hands. “Let’s go and get a cup of tea,” she told Nala, and off they were.
The house was quiet as Bonnie left her room and entered the short hallway, which was really more of a small platform in front of the wooden stairs descending down to the ground floor in rectangular twists.
The smell of their dinner still filled her family’s cottage, the rich scent of the dark sauce her mother had made wafting through the rooms and creeping through the cracks under the doors. Delicious. Just the smell was enough to have Bonnie’s stomach grumbling.
“Just a tea,” she sing-songed to herself, scurrying down the stairs in her thick plush socks, drawing her oversized sweater over her fingers.
Down on the ground floor, she slithered over the tiles until she came to a stumbling halt in front of the tea cupboard, giggling quietly.
“Bonnie? Is that you?” her mother’s voice rang out from the adjacent living room, and Bonnie rolled her eyes in exasperation.
“Who else would it be?” she called back, grabbing two tea bags of Chai tea and taking a moment to breathe in the spices: cinnamon, cardamom, and a hint of honey. All in one tea bag. She loved it.
The door to the living room opened, and her mom’s head appeared in the doorway.
“You never know,” her mom smiled, cheeks bunching up.
Bonnie’s mother – Helen Parker – was a very warm person, soft and caring, but quirky and fiery when she wanted to be. She spent her Sunday’s reading on the couch next to Bonnie’s father Sean, who pretended to watch TV as he fell asleep directly after lunch, sometimes well into the afternoon.
“In all that time, was it once not me you heard making tea in the kitchen?” Bonnie teased, grinning up at her mother.
“There’s always a first time~” Helen sing-songed, and it was so similar to the way Bonnie often sang her words that everyone could immediately tell they were family. “What were you doing?”
“Taking a nap,” Bonnie replied, briefly distracted by filling her huge tea mug with hot water. “And now I’m drawing.”
“Ah,” Helen said, leaning against the doorframe and watching her daughter. “Has sleep given you inspiration again?”
Nodding, Bonnie carefully picked up the full mug, making eye contact with her mom. There was something knowing in Helen’s eyes, always. Gentle, knowing, in harmony with herself and the world. It had given Bonnie much reassurance growing up, to be raised by someone so deeply rooted in warmth like her mother was.
“It’s a necklace this time,” Bonnie told her, feeling excited just thinking about it. “A Victorian one, I think. With a pretty lady smiling up from it, the brooch carved so beautifully. What material is that, by the way?”
Her mother hummed, a thoughtful expression settling on her face. “Shells, I think. You mean this white carving?” At Bonnie’s nod, her mother repeated, “Yes, it should be shell.” She paused for a moment, and then asked, “Are you drawing the face free hand or…?”
“No,” Bonnie called out, already half out of the kitchen again, just lingering long enough to answer. “I can still remember it. Very fine features, delicate. She’s beautiful.”
“Is she?” her mother teased, and Bonnie could feel herself blush.
“She is,” she replied nonetheless, fleeing the kitchen and her mom’s gently teasing smile, taking care not to spill any hot water over her fingers.
It was well into the night, the world outside Bonnie’s room pitch black, when she finally leaned back with a sigh and studied the finished drawing in front of her.
Who are you? Bonnie wondered silently, lips drawing up into a fond smile for no discernible reason. She didn’t know why, but every time she looked at the woman smirking up from the paper, she could feel her heart squeeze; it almost felt like longing.
Snorting, Bonnie shook her head and pushed back the chair, rolling her eyes at herself. It was just like her to develop a crush on her own drawing.
Deciding that it was late enough for today, she started to get ready for bed, trying to be as silent as possible, to not stomp too much as she crept down the stairs to the bathroom. Of course, that didn’t stop her clumsy elbow from knocking her brush to the ground, but luckily, her dad snored loud enough that noise like this wasn’t too bad. Hopefully.
When she finally crawled back into bed, smiling to herself with an exhausted feeling of accomplishment, the last thought before falling asleep was the image of a young lady; the lady on the pendant.
Bonnie’s creative, sleepy mind gave the woman color and life. The woman smiled at her, being softly illuminated by the flickering light of candles, a cascade of dark, gleaming curls falling around her heart-shaped face.
‘I’m sorry,’ the woman smiled, and it gained a regretful edge. With a pang in her chest, Bonnie inhaled, whimpering even as sleep pulled her under. ‘I’m so sorry. I’ll come and find you in another life.’
Heart heavy and sore, Bonnie lost hold of any conscious thought. But the feeling didn’t leave; that feeling of being the sacrifice that had to have been made.
Blearily, Bonnie blinked awake, staring at the ceiling in incomprehension, slumber not quite wanting to let her go.
Turning her head, she looked at the small mount that was Nala curled against Bonnie’s side.
An incredibly fond smile creeping over her face, she reached out and stroked Nala’s fur, who emitted a high, short purr and started to move, stretching and padding over to Bonnie’s face.
“Hey,” she chuckled, petting her cat, enjoying to be so loved. “Slept well?”
It took her some internal convincing, but eventually, half an hour later, she threw back the blanket, hissing when the cold air hit her, immediately grabbing the blanket again and burying back under it.
“It’s goddamn freezing,” she grumbled, brows furrowed. “Why is it so cold? It’s November!”
She purposely didn’t think about the fact that she could have turned on the heater – that was beside the point.
After another round of further convincing, she faced the new day, shuddering and hurrying to throw herself into a thick pullover and plush socks.
“You could think it’s already winter,” she ranted, cursing for good measure, and stepped towards the window to glare at the white landscape.
Her displeasure was somewhat dulled by the glittering beauty of the landscape in the late morning light, golden sunbeams having replaced the dull grey of the day before.
I guess it’s kind of beautiful, she conceded, eyeing the play of light and shadow appreciatively, trying to pinpoint why a snowy landscape looked so aesthetically pleasing despite its lack of colors.
That was when she noticed something dark lying in the snow below her window. Squinting, she tried to determine what it was, thinking it might be branches or, in the worst case, a dead mouse, but it was too thin and light for that. The sun illuminated it just enough to be noticeable.
Bonnie stood there wondering for a few seconds, debating whether she should go and have a look, when her mom called for breakfast.
Well, whatever it was, it could wait. First: food. Bread rolls and ham and homemade strawberry jam. All the good things in life.
It was hours later, when Bonnie trudged around outside and called for Nala to come inside for her cat food, when she remembered to take a look at the thing under her window.
There hadn’t been more snow falling, which was why Bonnie could see very clearly, with her steps slowing and breath hitching, that there were footprints in the snow. They seemed to appear out of nowhere and lead to the wall directly under Bonnie’s window – which, granted, was on the first floor, but she felt a shiver run down her spine nonetheless.
A strange sense of foreboding crept through her as she bent down, looking for the dark lines she had seen from her window.
When she realized what it was, she stared for a second, before her heart jumped and fluttered.
There, in the snow, draped over the clear outline of a footprint, lay the necklace Bonnie had drawn yesterday.
No way, she denied, shaking her head, but her hand was already reaching out for it. It can’t be.
Brushing over the white carving with her thumb, another shiver trailed over her arms and back, creating goosebumps.
“How is that possible?” she whispered, still staring.
How could she have dreamed of and drawn the very same necklace she had now found in the snow?
“Mom?” Bonnie asked when she helped washing the dishes after dinner that day.
“Have,” she started, and then paused to think. “That necklace I told you about… do you have one like that?”
Giving her a curious glance, her mother shook her head. “No, I don’t. Why are you asking?”
And there went the only possibility of the footprints having been Bonnie’s mom’s, who had coincidentally lost the very same necklace Bonnie had told her about.
“I… I know that sounds super crazy, but I think someone has lost the exact same necklace I drew yesterday. Under my window.”
There was a soft thud as Helen Parker put down the pot she was drying with more force than intended, making Bonnie give her a nervous look.
“You’ve found the necklace you’ve dreamed of?” her mother clarified, sounding alert. “How do you know someone lost it?”
“Uh… there were footprints under my window. They ended in front of the wall directly below it, and the necklace lay there in the snow.”
An unusual frown drew Helen’s brows together as she scrutinized her daughter.
“Have you slept unwell recently? Or felt overly anxious?”
Taken aback, Bonnie shook her head.
“I don’t think so? I,” she blushed, thinking about her overactive fantasy conjuring the image of that pretty lady and the heavy emotions that had hit her out of the blue. But her mom didn’t need to know that. “I’ve slept normally. I’m not insomniac or something.”
“Can you show me the necklace again?” her mom requested, brows and mouth still pulled into a frown, and Bonnie nodded, flitting up into her bedroom and handing it to her mom when she returned.
“It looks exactly like the one I drew. I swear, I’m not making that up-”
“No, no, I know, darling,” Helen murmured, turning and studying the pendant in her hands. Then she looked up with an inquiring gaze. “Would it be okay to leave it to me for a while? I want to see something.”
“Uhhh,” Bonnie said, completely confused. “Sure? What do you want to see?”
“Ah, just… if I will dream of the necklace lady, too, you know? And if I still sleep well when I have it with me.”
Bonnie stared at her, even though that wasn’t the strangest answer she had gotten from her mother so far. Sometimes she was convinced that Helen Parker was a witch – or very, very superstitious. Or maybe both.
“You want to see… what, if it’s magical? Or haunted?”
Helen smiled, her eyes crinkling with the familiar warmth, closing her fingers around the pendant and kissing her daughter on the cheek.
“You never know. Better to stay careful.”
With that, she vanished into the direction of Bonnie’s parents’ bedroom to put the necklace away.
When Bonnie went to bed that evening, she noticed that the threshold of the entryway was lined with salt, and a small sachet dangled from the wooden railing of the staircase.
Very, very superstitious. And probably a witch.
That night, Bonnie dreamed of the woman again.
Unlike the night before, she instinctively knew that the woman was a witch – a dark witch – and that Bonnie had loved her with all her heart, once. And that the woman had betrayed her, had broken her heart and left her behind.
‘There was no other way,’ the woman explained, remorseless.
Her thick, black hair was put into two long braids this time, falling down left and right over the front of her dress. The ornaments on the belt looked Celtic.
‘You used me,’ Bonnie somehow replied, voiceless and devastated, aware of how much pain this woman had brought her, even though she couldn’t remember. ‘I loved you.’
‘And I loved you,’ the dark witch exhaled, coming closer until they stood face to face.
She was beautiful, so beautiful. Her face was expressive and charismatic, the delicate bones and elegant features betraying the power and determination one could only see lingering in the smile and eyes.
‘But I promised I’d find you,’ she murmured, raising her hand and holding Bonnie’s chin, coming closer still. ‘I promised; and now I have.’
The press of her lips was familiar and shocking at the same time, enough to jolt Bonnie out of sleep.
Jerkily, she sat up, her fingers subconsciously chasing the feeling of the kiss.
When she touched them, her lips were as cold as the snow that had silently started to fall again.