Annabelle Summers was the cutest girl in the whole wide world. There was nothing that could compete with her cuteness; at least nothing in the little town of Northville could compete with little Annabelle Summers. Her hair was golden and always braided up into two little ponytails that bobbed along slowly behind her and she was always gleaming with a smile, and despite the prepubescent teeth that were missing, her smile always brought peace and happiness to all of the town folk. She was the most inspirational little girl in the town, possibly all of the world to all of the people in the little town of Northville.
She was born into a rich family, but she was never spoiled. She was taught good makers, to respect her elders, and to find the happiness of each day and to never let the bad of the world get her down. She was always given what she wanted, but she was never spoiled from it, she was thankful for everything her parents gave her.
The Summers family vied on the top of a hill, over looking the little town of Northville in a large two-story house, the largest house in the town. Annabelle’s father, Nathan Summers, was the owner of a small Walnut plantation, where he gathered, dried, and sold Walnuts nation wide. The plantation has been in his family for over a decade, and brings in much of the family’s fortune. Summer’s mother, Velma, doesn’t work and earn an income, but she spent time with Annabelle and went out and adventured with her. The two of them loved Annabelle with all of their hearts.
All of them lived happily on the top of the hill, looking over their sweet little country town. They spent their time watching the sunsets slowly drift down offer the Earth each day, laughing and reading in the warm summer nights on their front porch, and exploring the nooks and cranes of their country hillside. Everything was perfect; there was nothing to bring any of them down. They were a celebration of life and happiness.
Annabelle Summers and her mother Velma went into town to pick up groceries one day. As they were walking down the street, hand in hand, gossiping about the adventures to come, a small box caught the eye of little Annabelle as they passed the old antique shop. She stopped her mother in front of the store window and pressed her face up against the glass to peer in at the small jewelry box on the other side. It was a faded pink jewelry box, with scratches of age engraved into the wooden pattern. The sophistication of the box led the onlookers to think at first that it was not a box meant for little girls, having such an intricate swirl design along the rim of the box and the painting on the box was that of a master painter, with the silhouette of a woman outstretched in a dancing position and grape vines that wrapped all around the box with luscious ruby red fruit scattered about the box. But at the same time, it’s worn and tattered state no longer held its formal sophistication, but was now something to hold old memories and valuable keepsakes.
Annabelle tugged at her mother’s blouse,
“Please Mommy, can I get that box? Oh please, I have never wanted anything more than that box.”
Her mother smiled at her eagerness. Annabelle never asked for anything for the shear pleasure of having it, there was always a justified reason for Annabelle to have something. So hearing that she “Of course, dear, you can have it.”
So the two went inside and asked the clerk for the jewelry box in the window.
“That one,” the clerk responded, “that jewelry box once belonged to the world famous dancer, Elena Rose. She danced everywhere around the world for people to see: New York, California, Italy, Spain, England, Australia, everywhere! And she danced so beautifully, people said that God himself gave her perfect legs so she could inspire hope for anyone who saw her. And she did.”
Annabelle’s eyes widened with the thought of this box belonging to anyone famous. The old clerk-woman crossed to the box took it from the window, being gentle in her actions, and placed it on the front counter.
“When you open it up,” the woman said, “you can see her dance.”
The clerk-woman opened the box slowly with the tips of her fingers, and up from inside the box sprung a small wooden figurine of a ballerina dancer. It spun slowly on the tip of her foot while a small music box played the first part of The Nutcracker Suite somewhere from inside the box. The ballerina itself was worn and its colors faded, but somehow it was still full of life and carried a sort of mystical spirit that engaged Annabelle in its wonder.
“She’s beautiful,” Annabelle said.
“I’ll tell you what,” the clerk-woman said, “you can have her. She isn’t doing any good sitting all cooped up in this place. Treat her well though, she is very delicate. Almost like a flower, so be sure to give her plenty of attention.”
“I will! I promise!” Annabelle gently took the small jewelry box from the clerk-woman and held it close to her all of the way home.
Night and day Annabelle sat beside her jewelry box and repeatedly watched the little ballerina inside spin around and around. The little figurines beauty mesmerized her. She would imagine the little ballerina coming to life, stiffly walking down off of her tinny little pedestal and dancing a mini recital on her bed. She could see her taking one of her other dolls and having the two figurines dance together, then another, and another, soon creating a whole stage full of stuffed bears, glass figurines, and other small toys dancing together on her vanity. She would go and picture all of this whenever she had the time away from her parents. Once, her mother walked in on her dancing in her room to the music of the jewelry box, and then many times after that as well. That little ballerina was the only thing that little Annabelle Summers ever thought about.
As the time passed on, little Annabelle Summers was not so little anymore. She grew up to be a beautiful and stunning young woman with a gorgeous smile and big, blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds. Everyone in the town predicted that she would be beautiful one day, so it came as no surprise. All of the boys wanted to be around her, all of the girls wanted to be her, and all of the people in the town knew that she had a bright future ahead of her.
Although she had grown up to become stunningly beautiful, nothing had changed within Annabelle Summers. She was still sweet and kind, the most polite of her age as always, always respectful to her elders, and she still had her pink jewelry box. Just like the shopkeeper said years ago, she took special care of it to ensure that it would never ruin. Every night she would open it and let it lure her to sleep as she watched the wooden girl slowly spin forever to the music. She was still engulfed in the magic of the jewelry box. Whenever she became frustrated or unnerved, she would take it out and listen to it, and it would bring her back down again.
Annabelle Summers wanted to be a dancer. She started taking dancing lessons soon after she got the jewelry box and never stopped taking lessons since. Her dancing skills were so developed that she was going to New York to attend the worlds best dancing school and become a professional dancer. She dreamed of one day dancing on a stage with a group of other professionals and performing n front of millions of people all over the world, just like her dancer in the box, and she believed that this school was the place that would take her there. Her parents believed she could do it, they were so incredibly proud of her, and they knew the dangers that lead in such a life, but they believed in her. They knew that their little girl would be bale to take the blows and keep moving forward. Everyone in town believed in her, and was happy to hear that there would be someone as successful as Annabelle Summers that had grown up in their small little town of Northville.
Soon the day came where she had to say goodbye to her quite little town to move away to New York and pursue here destiny. Her parents, old and humble now, enveloped her in their arms, with tears rolling down their cheeks, telling her to do good and never give up and never loose sight of her direction. Annabelle Summers smiled and nodded her head, wiping way her parents tears, telling them that she would be great one day and that they had no need to worry, she would make them proud. Her parents smiled, embraced for on last time, and watched her walk down the front walkway for what seemed like the last time. Annabelle stopped, turned and rushed back inside the house. He parents stood on the front porch in a moment of confusion, and the Annabelle rushed from downstairs back to her parents with her jewelry box in hand.
“Here,” Annabelle sad, “take this and take good care of it.”
Her mother smiled wide against the edges of her cheeks.
“Of course” and she took the jewelry box from Annabelle’s hands.
They all smiled at each other and embraced again, and then her parents watched her walk down the walkway towards town, make her way down the hill, and then slowly climb into the cab that would take her to her destination. The sun fell peacefully like a burning ember slowly dying out as the little black and yellow cab drove off boards the big city. The town went quiet as they all drifted off into their slumber, thinking of the future that was in store for their favorite neighbor. And the tiny wooden ballerina spun gently in her circles as Velma and Nathan Summers looked on and thought of their wonderful daughter. Everything seemed to anticipate the future of Annabelle Summers, but everything knew that it would be a bright and happy one.
A year later Nathan Summers walnut plantation was starting to slump its way out of business. The walnut industry was slowly growing, more opportunities for other people started to open up, and Nathan’s old-fashioned work style was not able to keep up. Not only that, but his orchards were starting to slowly die out and wither away. Everything about the Summers family business was slowly slipping away.
Velma started to grow sick. She was getting old, and her body wasn’t able to support her young spirit anymore. She saw many doctors, all kinds of specialists, but no one knew what was wrong, all they knew as that what eve she had was slowly killing her.
Nathan tried to uphold the family business, but there was no more time for it. He was taking care of Velma, and because he was aging to, it was no longer possible for him to support both his dying wife and his family business. The company went out of business quickly, but the Summers were not worried. The company had brought in plenty of money before the crash, and the two of them together had saved up enough money for Annabelle to remain in school, and for them to pay the cost of living. It became a matter of keeping family close and staying together for each other.
Annabelle was well informed of all of the mishaps of back home. Nathan and her stayed in touch throughout all of this, and though Annabelle was crushed to hear all that was happing and wished to come home immediately, her father told her not to work and to stay in New York and finish her dream. He said that her being able to accomplish all that she wished for would do the family good. And Annabelle did.
According to her letters, Annabelle was doing great in school. She was learning from actual professionals, and she was learning more things than she ever imagined of learning. The environment was tough, and the teachers were mean, but she was making the best of it. Also, Annabelle said that she had found a boy in the big city of New York, Daniel Raquel. He didn’t attend her school, but the two ran into each other in Central park when their bikes collided. He went to help her up, and Annabelle claimed it was love at first sight. She really liked him, and she said that one day she would bring him back home to meet the family. Other than that, in all of her letters to her father, there was nothing other than happiness. It was the one thing that kept Nathan and Velma going.
But one day the letters stopped.
At first her father just thought she had gotten really busy or a new opportunity had opened up, but week after week, not a single letter had come in. Almost five weeks passed before he herd from Annabelle again. By that time her mothers help was at its worst point and her father was working to the bone to keep her healthy, but it was getting to that point where the was almost nothing he could do.
When the letter arrived in the mail that day, Nathan’s hope soared high once again. When he got it, he rushed back into the house and strait to Velma, who was lying, dying, in her bedroom. Nathan waved the letter in front of her face. Velma was barely there, but when she saw Annabelle’s name written on the corner of the letter, a little bit of her came back, and she was able to smile again.
Nathan carefully opened the letter with his weak and tattered hands, and then slowly pulled out the letter. He slid his reading glasses over his coarse old eyes and started to read the letter.
Velma watched semi-consciously, and she saw as he read the later, the wrinkles of his face grew deep and his face grew solemn. She wasn’t fully sure, but she thought that she felt a teardrop hit the covers of her bed.
Nathan looked up from the letter and gazed out into nothing, lost in somewhere far away where the words of the letter echoed against his mind.
Velma, with what little energy she had left reached out for the letter, but before she could reach it, Nathan tossed the letter on her lap, and slowly walked out of the room, without making contact, as if he just witnessed the death of all his hopes and dreams.
Velma reached out and took the letter from her lap, and slowly brought it up to her withered eyes to read.
Dear Mom and Dad,
The school dropped me from their program. I was dancing in during rehearsal one day and I fell and broke my leg. The doctor mended it, but he says that it is so bad that I will never be able to dance again. There is nothing for me to do here in New York or anywhere else. I am coming home.
And then the letter slowly fell to the floor out of Velma’s lifeless hand.
Annabelle Summers and her father returned home from Velma’s memorial. Nathan was slowly wheeling her daughter back up the steeps of their home. Their eyes were tear ridden and their heads hung down, and neither on of them said anything to the other.
Nathan picked up Annabelle from her wheelchair and rested her over his shoulder. His body shook and his knees nearly buckled, but he was able to lift up the wheelchair up onto the porch, and then place Annabelle back into her seat. He rolled her into the house and rolled her into the living room.
She didn’t say anything, but he knew that she wanted to be here, and wanted to be alone.
He walked out of the room, and Annabelle finished crying. She went to wipe away her tears, but her bruised eye stung to the touch, so she just let the tears run down her face.
She looked up at her living room and remembered the taste of her younger years, the times when the world was innocent and all was easily forgiven. It was a sour flavor to her now, a bitter taste that shot an envious shock through her body. She flinched.
When she flinched, she caught something out of the corner of her eye sitting on the small end table on the other side of the room. It was hidden beneath some old newspapers and tissues, but it was there, just hidden beneath the surface. She rolled herself over to it, tossed away the trash and there it was.
Her jewelry box.
She started at it for a long moment, trembling with a hidden sadness deep within her. She reached out and opened the box, tears running down her face, and up popped the tiny wooden ballerina. She sputtered out a tiny bit of tears when the Nutcracker Suite started to play and the little wooden doll twirled around on her tiny pedestal.
Annabelle Summers sat staring at her old jewelry box for a long moment, tears burning her eyes, and then, with a swift and solid movement, a sudden crash as she swung her arm across the top of the end table, throwing the small box across the room and down onto the floor, where is landed, broken in different pieces.
The music box clanked out only one or two notes before it slowly sputtered out into silence.
Annabelle Summers didn’t look to see, but she felt the small doll looking at her from across the room, crying out for help and a reason for her unexpected violence, but the two sat together, broken, in silence.