What Happened in 1870, Italy

Gwendolyn Lawrence
What Happened in 1870, Italy Gwendolyn is going into fifth grade at Trinity School and loves dance, books, stuffed animals, hippos, and art. Her favorite book EVER is Lord of the Rings.

“She saw a glint of shiny leather-a bound spine, some parchment pages. A notebook? A diary? But who owns it?”

Italy, 1870

Annabell sighed. It wasn’t fair that she had to be stuck inside while almost every other child in the kingdom was playing outside in the warm weather. She was restless. She couldn’t sit still. So she decided to evade all responsibility and run outside, dodging supervision, if only for a few seconds. About two minutes later she was taking the secret passage under the palace and was at the edge of the palace grounds, running furiously as her nurse, Florence, shouted after her.

Exasperated once again, she yelled, “Stop at once, young lady! That is no way for an heir to the throne to behave!”

Annabell was heir to the throne of Italy, since she had no brother, only two younger sisters, and her mother, the king of Italy’s great love, was dead, and heartbroken, he would not marry again. Annabell was also her father’s favorite, so if she died from one of the many causes of death to the children of Italy, the whole kingdom would be plunged into mourning. With that thought, the last that she would ever think, looking back toward Florence, Annabell ran out of the gardens and into the street. A carriage came to a sudden halt, but not soon enough.

* * *

Italy, 2015

Annabell sighed. The sticky, hot day was doing nothing to spoil her want for adventure. She wanted something with death, drama, long-ago royalty and maybe even some romance. Phooey. Fat chance. Being the daughter of the president in a historical country, they still lived in the palace, so maybe there was a secret passage other than the one leading from one of the bedrooms to the courtyard that she could discover. Or she could abandon her doubtful idea and simply explore the already-found secret passage.

She started off toward the bedroom, which she had learned from her tutor was the room of the Annabell she was named after, who she had been told had died in 1870 from an unknown illness. She started down the corridor, wishing that instead of the modern electric lights (which pretty much ruined the mysterious atmosphere) there could be oil lamps instead. Walking along the corridor, watching her shadow fade and strengthen as she walked through the electric lights, something exciting happened for the first time in her ten-year-old life.

She saw a glint of shiny leather-a bound spine, some parchment pages. A notebook? A diary? But who owns it? Annabell wondered. She picked it up, because of course that’s what you do when you find a diary hidden (Or lost? Annabell wondered) in a secret passage! Annabell opened the diary. Of course, with her luck, it was blank. Disappointed to almost-tears, she searched the corridor for any other exciting clues or treasures, but none came up. She walked back to the dead Annabell’s room, wondering if writing in a possibly old diary was defacing historical property. Deciding it was up to her, and that there was nothing special about it besides the fact that it was old and had a beautiful shiny green cover, she took out a pen and wrote down the date:

July 15, 2015.

Annabell didn’t know what to write next, when, instead of her blue ballpoint script, black, hastily scribbled crayon surfaced on the page:

I’m so sorry.

She didn’t know what to believe now. It could be some kind of computer screen that wrote back, and it was glitchy, so that was why someone had tossed it into the secret passage to forget about it. But what happened next made her doubt that.

This is Annabell.

Annabell? Annabell thought. The dead one?? This couldn’t be possible.

I’m sorry for what I did.

What did she do? Annabell wondered.

Of course you know.

But she didn’t! What could dead Anabell have done?

I should have just written in this diary like my father suggested.

What did you do? I don’t know, she wrote.

I died. I was the heir to the throne. My soul has been trapped here, blind.

Annabell was kind of amazed at how regretful dead Annabell was.

But it’s not your fault you died. It’s not your fault you got sick.

I wasn’t sick! Don’t you know I was run over by a carriage?

No! I was told you died from an unspecified illness.

Lies!!!

Italy, 1870

“The people will be outraged if they find out that Her Highness Crown Princess Annabell tried to run from the palace and died in the attempt!” The King cried out.

“Your Majesty, we could tell them that Her Highness died of an unknown sickness,” said the adviser.

“Yes,” The King said, his voice heavy with grief. “You have my permission”.

Italy, 2015

Annabell couldn’t believe it. What would she do now?

Please free me!

Annabell wasn’t sure she had read that right.

How?

No one wrote back. Annabell thought about it. She knew from instinct that Annabell had to get rid of her regret to be free from the diary. Annabell wasn’t quite sure how to do that. Maybe if she buried the diary with Annabell’s body, then her soul would be reunited with her body? She decided to give it a try. Annabell knew that her parents would never let her out of the house to go to the royal graveyard. Maybe she could pull a dramatic escape and leave in the middle of the night? Since she had no other pathetic options, she realized she had to give that one. For the rest of the day, she tried to keep herself busy and not think about the escape.

* * *

12:53 a.m.

Annabell’s bedroom was in a tower, so she pulled a dead Annabell and went through dead Annabell’s bedroom and into the secret passage. A minute later, she was out in the courtyard and making her way through the gardens to the graveyard. She felt like a character in a mystery book. She had an excuse ready for the guards: “I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to take a quick walk.” Annabell hoped she wouldn’t have to use it. Thank her lucky stars, she passed unnoticed. When she got to the graveyard, she walked among the gravemarkers, eager to find dead Annabell’s, bury the diary next to her coffin, and then get back to bed. This was freaking CREEPY! She stopped near the grave stone that said:

Here lies Annabell Gallini

April 3, 1860-July 15, 1870

Died at ten years old from an unknown illness

Loving and adventurous daughter and elder sister

May she rest in peace.

Annabell took a moment of silence for her namesake, and then began to dig. She dug a deep, rectangular hole, and placed the book inside it. Annabell then covered the book back up again. Having sudden inspiration, she dug up a rose and replanted it on top of dead Annabell’s grave. She slowly walked back to the palace, thinking about all she had done. She went back to bed, relieved and satisfied that her work was done.

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