I have been working on more of Annabelle’s story. But I thought I should turn my attention to poor Chris for a moment. These are previous posts in Annabelle’s story:
Gina Ward knew when there was something wrong with her little brother. She had always felt closer to her younger brother than her older two. And through the years she had become the family member Chris could lean on the most, especially as adults. She had kept a worried eye on him since his college days. He had become majorly depressed when their parents had divorced. It was a tough time for all of them, but Chris was the youngest of the four siblings, he was eight years younger than Gina.
Gina had noticed the signs for years. It wasn’t just the arguments. The arguments stopped and instead there was a chronic state of silence between her parents. they could barely tolerate each other. She could see her parents had become emotionally distant. Once her father had taken up drawing and was always trekking out to the countryside with his art materials and her mother had started to spend weekend’s away with various friends, Gina suspected something would happen. But she was immersed in her career in Chicago. It was a bustling city. She had dated a very good looking colleague named Nick. He had got her through the worse of her sadness over their parent’s divorce. But she knew Chris had been pretty much alone, and the news came at a bad time, right as he was cramming for his exams.
It was Gina who had insisted that Chris see a doctor. But his depression was not going to go away over night. Whenever she visited, she grew more concerned about how much weight he had lost and noticing the amount of empty bottles in his trash can, she lectured him. He may have been irritated by her, but she felt gratified that it was because of her being the best sister in the world that he had turned a corner and started to get his life back in order. She pressed him to sort out his finances. She felt the debt was like a heave chain binding him. That burden was draining him. In the end the idea to leave the city where rent was so high and move out to the sticks seemed obvious.
And as well as helping Chris to clear his debt more quickly, she felt that being out in the countryside was really good for him. He enjoyed working as a joiner. And the benefits of physical work were clear. He was eating more and his arms and torso had become muscular and toned. He was often working outside and whenever she saw him she noticed how bronze his skin was becoming, which suited him. In fact she had teased him a lot about what a stud women would find him. He didn’t talk about his love life. She didn’t expect him to. Her older brothers never had either. But it would be nice to think of him finding a nice girl. She was optimistic that there would be more chance of him settling down with someone in a country town than in the city.
In fact when she had stayed over in Blackwood and gone to a barn dance with her brother, she noticed that one young woman was the object of Chris’ attention all evening. She recollected Chris had introduced her to a very pretty slim woman with wavy golden hair and fantastic boobs – typical eye candy. What was her name? Annette? Amelia? Something like that. That girl had turned out to be very friendly, she had chatted for some time to Gina and had clearly made it her mission to make sure Gina had plenty of dance partners that night. But Chris didn’t seem to receive such warm conversation from her. In fact she remembered Chris being disappointed when he had asked her to dance, but she told him she had promised that next dance with an older man named Larry who was trying to dance with a walking stick. Chris had sulked for the rest of the evening.
Gina smiled as passed the “Welcome to Blackwood” sign and noticed the quaint town houses. This was a better place than the stress of the city. Cheerful gardens and bright store fronts made the town so picturesque. After pulling up outside the house her brother had been renovating, she prepared herself for the bossy big sister act. As she was walking up towards his porch, she checked the trash cans, a couple of empty bottles of beer. No spirits. That was a good sign. At least he wasn’t drinking.
“It’s a woman isn’t it?”
“You haven’t mentioned having a girlfriend, so I don’t think it’s a break-up. That means you either had a one-night stand and someone is pregnant…or it’s unrequited love. Is it someone who you like who doesn’t return the interest?”
“Gina! Come on! I said it isn’t a woman.”
“Is it the blonde with the boobs you introduced me to at that barn dance last summer?”
“Damn! Are you psychic?”
“Because she was clearly not that keen on you back then. She hardly spoke a word to you. Is she still playing hard to get?”
“Oh thanks Gina – I needed that. And anyway you are wrong, she and I have been hanging out for the last couple of months, almost everyday.” Chris raised his voice as the kettle on the stove let out a piercing whistle.
“So you do have a girlfriend?”
“Tea or coffee?, asked Chris, “No. I have a friend, who is a girl.”
“And has great boobs, tea for me.”
Ignoring Gina’s synopsis of the object of his affections, Chris poured water into two mugs and stabbed the tea-bags in them, before adding just a splash of milk into both mugs. He passed one over to Gina with a smile, “She has the most amazing smile in the whole town. And an amazing body. But she is such a wonderful person. She’s like…I don’t know, she’s like dessert – applie pie or chocolate fudge cake. Or some kind of beautiful flower, or just something that makes you feel great.”
“Aaaw little brother is going all poetic! You are serious about this one aren’t you?”
“She’s the one Gina. I have never felt this way.”
“That’s fantastic. So why are you down?”
“I messed up. I think I have ruined it.”
“How exactly did you do that?”
Staring into his mug of tea, Chris muttered, “I kissed her.”
“OK…last time I heard, kissing was a healthy part of a relationship. How was that a bad thing?”
“She’s involved with another guy.”
“Woah! Chris! You were trying to steal her from some other guy? Are you trying to make a name for yourself in Blackwood? Do you want to get beaten up?”
“He is not even around. He left her to go off and get over a nervous breakdown. Almost two years ago. But she is totally wrapped up in him. She doesn’t get how badly he has treated her. She was hanging out with me, but she didn’t want anything to happen between us, she made that quite clear. And I respected that. But I kind of lost it one day, and I kissed her.”
Gina looked at Chris sternly, “And she didn’t want that?”
“No, not at all.”
“Ok, end of story. No means no. don’t push it. Just accept she is not interested and move on. Try a dating website or, or join a gym, women at they gym are always checking out the guys there.”
“But we were friends, we have been really close these past couple of months Gina. It’s not like I was some guy in a bar trying to pick her up. We were really good friends.”
“Well, if you two are as close as you think, surely she would get over it. I am sure even if she was a bit embarrassed or didn’t want that attention she will get over it. So long as you accept that no means no. Sometimes you can be too intense. She might be frightened by that.”
“It’s not as simple as that Gina. I chose the worst possible moment to kiss her. And she hasn’t got over it. She won’t answer her phone or respond to any messages I have sent her. I have been over and left a note to apologise and left flowers. The couple she lodges with told me she thinks it’s best that we don’t see each other.”
“Oh dear! Do you hear yourself? What did I just say about you being too intense? You need to back off Chris. If she wants to be sure that you understand that “no” means no, sending her flowers and harassing her with messages is not going to give that impression.”
“I don’t know what to do Gina. Do I just wait and do nothing and hope she starts speaking to me?”
“Maybe, maybe not. It’s hard when I don’t know this girl to be sure. But if you give her the impression you are obsessed with her, she is not going to let her guard down. So maybe you do just need to wait a while before you try speaking to her.”
“But how long? I hate her ghosting me like this. I just wish she would let me talk to her.”
“Be patient Chris. You need to be careful, real life is not like the movies. Try not to get a court order taken out against you for stalking her. If she has strong feelings about what happened, you might need to let them settle before you do anything. Let her cool down. If she is as nice a person as you think she is, there might come a point when she will see things from your point of view. If she wants to be friends with you, let her make the first move.”
Chris still looked really glum. “Have you eaten today Chris?”
“I had coffee.”
“But no food. It is really hard to think straight on an empty stomach. Well, I am hungry. I have driven all the way down here to check up on my little bro. I need feeding. Come on let’s pick up a pizza or something.”
Chris nodded. “Food would be good. There’s a new Chinese restaurant that has opened up on the high street. We could eat there, or I have a take-away menu somewhere. We could pick up some thing and bring it back here if you like.”
“Let’s get take-away. I’d love some spring rolls.”
After calling the Chinese and placing an order to collect, they jumped in Chris’ truck and headed into the town centre. That evening, while eating their Chinese banquet for two, Chris told Gina all about the friendship that had been developing between him and Annabelle before he had kissed her. Gina listened to her brother and felt a mix of sympathy for him and concern that he had not been reading the signals Annie had sent out. It was clear to Gina that if a woman insisted on arranging for chaperones everywhere they went, she had no romantic interest. But this was her brother acting on emotion. He was a man of deep feelings. He could be impulsive at times and make rash decisions. Maybe this Annabelle had overreacted to him kissing her. But she surely would get over it, if she believed that Chris would not do that again.
The brother and sister chatted until the early hours of the morning. Gina could tell that Chris was enormously frustrated about the situation with Annabelle. It was a long time since she had seen her younger brother in tears. He was perplexed and wanted to do something to regain the friendship that had become such a big deal to him.
Gina kept on telling Chris he needed to hang out with other friends and not be so focused on this blonde bombshell. Several times Gina asked Chris if he thought he could really commit to a platonic friendship and be sure he would not try to make a move on Annabelle again. Chris always looked awkward on that point. But he claimed that he would rather have a platonic friendship with her than not be a part of her life at all. The thought of her avoiding him and not speaking to him at all made him feel very gloomy. He even mentioned he didn’t think he could stay in the same town as her if she was going to shun him.
Just before Gina confessed she needed sleep and headed up to Chris’ spare room, she made a suggestion that seemed to make Chris brighten a little. “Would you like me to try to talk to her? She might be more comfortable hearing about the way you feel from a woman.”
Robin was not looking forward to the journey ahead of him. He would have to catch the train to Zurich International Airport, and then wait for his flight to Amsterdam and then on to Detroit, before the final flight to the airport in Appleton where he would see Annabelle again after twenty months away from her. Twenty months was a long time. He had never intended it to be this long. But life had got in the way. Now he had so much he needed to confess to Annabelle.
The mix of feelings in his heart made him quite tired. She was a beautiful woman, full of life and excitement, when he met her, she had become the mother of his child, and he had made many changes, giving up his career and his home for the sake of her mental health. Finally he himself had needed help with his own desperate feelings. But he had never intended to be away from Annabelle for so long. When he left her, he had no intention of causing so much trouble for himself, making his life so complicated, so that now, his reunion with Annabelle was going to be so extremely bittersweet. He had an idea that the mix of feelings was going to keep him wide awake throughout the journey. But he was convinced that it was time to tell Annabelle what had happened, no matter how she would react. She would be there waiting for him at Appleton Airport. Just less than seventeen hours of travelling ahead of him.
Another part coming soon…
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?