Annabelle’s story is still giving me lots to think about at the moment. It has surprised me how much I am enjoying it. Here is the next part and these are previous posts:
Annabelle found Pearl’s reaction to the letter very helpful. Pearl Jennings was so calm and composed and steadied Annabelle’s fears. “He is coming all the way here Annabelle. That is very promising. That is what you must focus on. Don’t be anxious about whatever it is he wants to talk to you about.”
Burt and Pearl had suggested that one of their neighbours would be happy to have Robin stay over night especially as he would be out all day with Annabelle. Annabelle suggested offering some money to whoever might be willing to provide accommodation for Robin, but Burt and Pearl suspected that any of their neighbours would be more than happy to help out. Annabelle also had the idea of asking Ralph Crabbe if he could accommodate Robin in his spare room. After all Robin had met Ralph before.
She kept on recalling how withdrawn Robin had become when they had moved out to Blackwood. Hardly anybody even knew that they had been living out on the Cricklebrook Road. Robin could not face people. His nerves were shattered. Annabelle was doing everything for him. But he was provoked continuously by any noise she made. He seemed to have lost all enjoyment in life, he hardly ate the meals she prepared for them. He would shout at her over trivial matters. Annabelle would be in floods of tears and sometimes found herself screaming back at him. Robin didn’t seem to want anyone to know about the strained relationship he and Annabelle had. He didn’t want any attention, just to keep a low profile in this new town full of strangers.
Robin had become used to Annabelle screaming. Her moods since she had left hospital in England had upturned Robin’s life. He had given up work to help with their daughter. He had supported Annabelle through her grief when their baby Lucy had died, barely allowing himself to grieve at all. Her distraught sobbing was unbearable. He would hold her in his arms and try to calm her down, “Shhhh, everything is going to be alright Belle.” Sometimes she would settle in his embrace. Other times she would push him away, vehemently demanding, “How?”
They had left England, and had moved with Annabelle back to New York so that she could be nearer to her family and friends. Then, several months later, realizing that she was only becoming more unstable in New York, he had moved to the first country town where he could find somewhere to rent. He hoped the peace and quiet would help them both.
Annabelle didn’t argue with Robin about leaving New York. They had flown out to Appleton. Then a taxi had taken them out to Cricklebrook, to meet the owner of an old house on the road that led to Blackwood. He drove them over there and showed them around, before handing over the keys. The house was plain, but had all of the basic ammenities. Neither of them had ever even heard of Blackwood. Neither of them knew anyone in Wisconsin. At first he thought that might be a good thing. He craved peace.
But his mind darkened rapidly. The woman he loved was becoming a burden to him. The love was still there, but he felt he had lost control. They would argue fiercely about such little things. Sometimes it ended with them sleeping in different rooms. But those nights he would lie wide awake, thinking about everything, and feeling highly alert to every noise from the house, wondering if Annabelle was going to harm herself.
Other times in the heat of an argument he would grab her and pull her close and start to kiss her hungrily. The emotional turbulence seemed to heighten the intensity of passion between them. There was never any dampening in the hunger they had for each other’s physical affection. The more emotionally wound up they were, the more ardent their sensuous moments became. Those nights which ended in Annabelle’s naked body entangled with his were the nights he would fall asleep with the comfort that while he had her close, things would get better, she would get better. Surely peace would return at some point.
The new day would bring more friction, more yelling, more hurtful words. Between them household chores were virtually neglected.
Robin just didn’t see his own descent into depression. It came so quickly and paralysed him. He did not want anyone to know how miserable the life he shared with the woman he loved had become. The overwhelming feeling that he was trapped, cornered and the despair that there would be no improvement. He knew he needed help. But what he felt he needed more was to be removed from the situation that was strangling him. He loved Annabelle so much, but the change in her personality and moods since the car accident when she had received major trauma to her head, had tested him. The tremendous grief over the loss of their daughter, it was blackening everything. He just longed for some relief. If he could just go away for a while for some sort of respite. He didn’t know where he wanted to go.
But over time he became convinced that right now he needed to be with those who knew him best. He had tried to discuss his mental health with Annabelle. She could not accept that he wanted to be away from her. He called his parents being more honest with them than ever before in his life. On hearing about his state of mind, they too felt urgently that he should return to England. But before he had to find somewhere for Annabelle. The advert in the newspaper for a live-in carer to start immediately had been his answer. He remembered pleading with Annabelle that she had to give this a try.
She was so mournful about the thought of Robin going away without her. They had watched the sunset up on Blackwood Hill and every time she had become tearful he had smothered her face in tears. He had held her tightly in his arms as darkness descended and noticing her shivering had stroked her arms and legs. In the darkest part of the night he had expressed his passion for her making love tenderly and gently, intent on Annabelle having exquisite memories of pleasure. When Robin had reached England, his parents were surprised that Annabelle was not with him. But as soon as they realized how ill their son had become, they focused on helping him.
Meanwhile, Annabelle had improved steadily once her mind and emotions were focused on supporting Barbara Crabbe in her illness. Somehow, empathising with the challenges that someone else was dealing with, had lifted her from the quagmire of her own trials. When Barbara died, she realized that everyone expected her to move out of the home of Ralph Crabbe. She was able to pick up jobs ironing and cooking and doing odd-jobs for other residents of the town. The Jennings, who were good friends of the Crabbe’s invited her to start lodging with them. When she had first told Burt and Pearl about her relationship with Robin, they had told her that it was best not to tell Blackwood folk that she had been living with a man unwed. Blackwood was so different from New York.
She settled that she would head over to Ralph Crabbe’s house to ask him how he felt about having Robin sleep in his spare room for a few nights.
Not long after Annabelle had left the Jenning’s home, Chris pulled up outside. He had not been able to think about anything else for the last couple of days. He had tried to call Annabelle’s mobile phone several times and left a couple of voice-mails. That was in addition to several text messages that had also remained unanswered. The night before Chris had rung the landline at the Jennings household. Burt had delivered the message that Annabelle was very tired and had already gone up to her room to sleep. Now he stood outside the Jennings front door with a bunch of flowers to try to appease Annabelle.
When Pearl answered the front door she greeted him warmly, and invited Chris straight in to the hallway, offering him a drink. She commented on the flowers. Chris looked rather embarrassed saying they were for Annabelle and asking if he could have a word with her.
“You’ve just missed her Christopher. She will be out for the rest of the evening.”
Chris looked sullen. “Could I leave a note for her Mrs J?”
Pearl poured hot tea into a cup, “Of course you can. Is everything alright Christopher? You don’t seem yourself today.”
“Did Annabelle mention what had happened?”
Pearl hesitated, she wondered if Chris was aware of the contents of the letter he had seen arrive for Annabelle, “Are you talking about the letter she had from Robin? Because that is all she has talked about all day.”
Chris looked up at Pearl Jennings with his eyebrows knotted in pensive tension. “Was it good news?”
“Yes, for the most part. Annie will probably tell you all about it when she sees you. You might try calling her so that you don’t miss her again.”
“I have been trying to call her Mrs J. She doesn’t seem to want to speak to me.”
“Oh. That’s odd. Well, perhaps that is because she is so excited about Robin’s letter. She is probably just distracted, she forgets things all the time. I am sure she will be in touch to share her news.”
“I’m not so sure. I think I made her angry.”
“Angry? How’s that dear?” asked Pearl feeling rather puzzled.
“Well on Sunday night, I went after her. And, erm…well, something happened. And I think she is mad at me now. She has not answered her phone or any of the messages I have sent her. I feel terrible. I just lost control for a moment, but she doesn’t seem to want to talk about it.”
“Annie hasn’t mentioned anything at all about you Christopher. What happened? Why were you provoked with Annie?”
Chris was finding it really awkward to explain how he had left things with Annabelle, “No, it wasn’t like that Mrs J. I wasn’t provoked, not exactly. I was just afraid of what that letter would change. I guess I was afraid of losing her. She was so excited by that stupid letter, and I could see in her eyes that nobody else mattered. I could see that I didn’t matter at all to her. I felt like I was about to lose her. I went after her to try to tell her I was not alright with that. She wouldn’t listen.”
“Christopher, it’s been a long time since she heard from Robin. She has been very anxious about him. Surely you know from all the time you have spent with her that Robin means the world to her.”
“I know Mrs J. I guess I have been kind of envious. It doesn’t seem fair. I have always felt this guy, Robin, has been selfish. He’s abandoned her to go off take care of himself. But she is still so devoted to him. I just wanted her to look at me, just to give me a chance to…well, I don’t know, to try and make her as happy as she makes me.”
“But I told you Christopher, there is so much history between them. They had a baby daughter together. They were planning to marry, before so many challenges came their way. They have been wrapped up with each other for some years now. I know how much Annie enjoys your company. She values your friendship and all of your help with her coursework. But as far as her heart is concerned, there is only one man in the world. I am sure you must have seen that.”
“I just hoped. Yeah, I have been an idiot Mrs J. Annabelle just wanted to go and read her letter and I was holding her back. I felt as if I had to tell her how I felt before she opened the letter for some reason. It felt like it was my only chance. I was just so frustrated. I kissed her, and she completely freaked out.”
“Oh dear, oh dear. She hasn’t mentioned any of this to me. Annabelle is a good girl Christopher. She wouldn’t want to play with your emotions or lead you on, I am sure of that. I can only imagine that if she is not answering your calls, it is because she wants to make it very clear that she cannot return your affections.”
“I realized as soon as I saw her face. She was angry with me Mrs J. But now I feel terrible. I’ve risked losing one of the best friends I’ve had. I wish she would talk and let me apologise properly.”
“I’ll have a word with her Christopher and tell her how you feel. But it might be best if you don’t keep ringing her. If she is at all angry then let her settle down. But I honestly think that at the moment, her head is just full of her Robin.”
Claudia poured two glasses of wine and passed one over to Robin, “You will call me as soon as you arrive?” which sounded to Robin more like and order than a request, “And don’t wait too long until you tell Annabelle. She needs to know the truth.”
Staring into his wine glass, Robin expressed his agreement, “I know Claudia. I have been thinking about how to break the news. I can just imagine her face. I don’t know how I am going to cope with her being upset again.”
“But you have to tell her Robin. It’s the right thing to do. And going in person is the right thing to do. She will respect you more for that.”
“Yes, I am convinced of that. It won’t be easy though. To be honest I am scared of how she will react. She doesn’t need to hear this.”
“These things never are easy. But darling, you can’t keep hiding away, it is long overdue.”
You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story here:
Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:
I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?