I ended the last part of Annabelle’s story with her in the middle of an intense conversation with Robin. As Robin said, “drink was only the start of it.”
These are previous posts in Annabelle’s story:
“I’m listening, I’m not quite understanding everything. Just take your time Robin, we’ve got all week. You don’t need to rush if it’s too hard.”
“Belle. This has been tearing me apart for so long. And now I’m here, gadddd, you’re looking so beautiful. And you seem well. You seem happy. I don’t want to damage whatever it is that has gone on in you to make you so happy again. You were so unhappy for so long. I’m scared I’m going to ruin that for you.”
“I feel like there’s some great monster lurking in the shadow. I can’t tell you if I am going to be upset by whatever it is you have to say, because I have no idea what it is. I’m confused right now Robin. You were completely silent for two whole months. Before that, I only heard from you once every couple of weeks, just the odd text message. I don’t know where you have been, but it felt like I had lost you. Now that you’re here, I want to feel as if you are being open with me, not hiding something.”
“I need to tell you. So much has happened. There is a lot I need to say. I will explain more, as much as you want me to explain. But the bullet-points are cigarettes, weed, vodka, cocaine, please don’t look at me like that Belle, it get’s worse.”
“Worse than cocaine?” Annabelle couldn’t help but raise her eyebrow. Her disgust was evident.
“I owed money, I started going to a couple of casinos in Mayfair, and lost a lot. I’ve been beaten up, they make it clear what happens if you don’t pay up when they tell you to, the dealers, that is.” Robin’s voice was just a hoarse croak by this point, “And, well, eventually my Dad pulled the plug, after I spent a night in prison. He said I was on my own. I’d completely wiped out my accounts. He wasn’t going to give me a penny. I’m still in the red. But I’ve been working in Switzerland. Claudia talked her Dad into helping me. She said there was no way anyone would employ me for any kind of job because of the state I was in. I’ll tell you more about it, but I’ve stayed clean the past few months and I’ve been working for three months now. I’m actually enjoying it.”
Annabelle’s head was reeling. “Ok,” she stood up from the bed and took a few steps forward. “But why? Sorry, I’m lost here. You ended up in Switzerland. Claudia has helped you. That’s good. But before that, I don’t understand, what were you thinking?”
“I wasn’t. I wasn’t thinking. I wasn’t feeling either. I was determined not to. It seemed to be the only way to turn my head off. I didn’t mean for it to get so out of control.”
She took a deep breath through her nose and slowly exhaled, “what about women?”
Robin hesitated to answer. He rubbed his forehead with his hands, “Yes. There were…”
“Robin, I thought you were going back to England to be with your family and friends and that you were getting help, not ruining yourself. Not ruining everything.”
“When I was on my way to England that’s what I was going for. But being there, being in London, it’s just so easy to find trouble. I never had a rebellious stage when I was a teenager Belle. I saved it all up until I was thirty-eight.” Tears had started to stream from Robin’s eyes as he spoke, “I just wanted to escape my own head. But once I was hooked on drink and drugs, it was so easy to make stupid decisions. And it almost felt like the more I hurt myself, I don’t know, I felt as if I deserved punishment. I wanted to hurt myself more and more.”
Annabelle looked at Robin with wide eyes. “I used to feel that. I felt so bad about what I used to say to you. I felt like a failure because I couldn’t bear Lucy crying all the time. When we lost her, I felt as if I deserved punishment. You kept on telling me it was not my fault. But it was overwhelming, I couldn’t fight it. I had to hurt myself to stop the pain.”
Robin was still sat on the bed, while Annabelle was stood up near the window. Their eyes were locked together, both searching for a sign of understanding.
“I don’t think I understood that back then Belle. I didn’t understand why you were so down after Lucy was born, why you were always crying. I couldn’t understand what you were doing to yourself, you injuring yourself, you so so beautiful, but you were leaving yourself with bruises and scratches and bite marks. I couldn’t understand why. I just thought it was after your head injuries. But I think there was more to it. Maybe it is an illness, but it is something that has a cause. You were pushed to the edge by everything that happened to you. I get that now. I’ve had a taste of that myself now.”
“A taste? Sounds more than a taste Robin. But why didn’t you tell me? You always made me think everything was going well in England.”
“I couldn’t. Shame perhaps. Guilt. Guilt over what I was doing. Guilt over leaving you on your own. I thought you would go back to New York to be with your family. But then you seemed to be telling me that you liked Blackwood and that people were nice. You seemed to be doing a hell of a lot better than I was. I didn’t want to pull you down with me.”
Annabelle stood in the doorway with a hand on the frame. She seemed to be struggling to breathe properly. “How many women?”
“Baby don’t ask me that.”
“How many? Were they friends?”
“Belle, I don’t know. A few. No, they were not friends. I met women when I was out at clubs. It was always them who started things Belle. I wasn’t looking for anyone. But that’s what it’s like at these places. People wanting to hook up with someone.”
“Like the night you met me?”
“No, no way! Don’t even think that. Belle, when I met you, before I even met you, my heart was racing. As soon as I saw you I wanted you. I’d never felt that way before, or since. I didn’t want any of those women in London. But when I was there, and I’d had a few drinks and some woman was all over me. It just happened Belle. I just let it happen. It didn’t mean anything.”
“Sex doesn’t just happen Robin. Two people have to be seriously into each other. Removing clothes, touching each other. You can’t say it just happened.”
“But it did. It feels like a blur. Most of the time I was pretty drunk. I know it’s horrible for you to hear Belle. At the time, I didn’t stop it. I let it happen. I wanted you, but you weren’t there. They were there. I guess in my head, I was thinking of what I wanted to be doing to you.”
“You’re making me sick. Please don’t say that.” Annabelle was trembling as she stood with her arms clinging to the door frame. Her legs buckled and seemed to give way beneath her. “I need some air.” She turned to leave the room.
Robin flew across the room and grabbed her arm, “Belle, please, let me explain.”
“I can’t even look at you. Let me just go. I just need to go right now.”
Chris had been sitting on his sofa with a book open. He found it impossible to read while he was aware of the two voices upstairs. He heard their voices becoming louder. As soon as he heard someone running down the stairs he stood up from his sofa and headed back towards the kitchen. He didn’t see who had opened the door, but saw it slam shut behind them. Chris went to the window and looked out. He saw a pair of checked pyjamas making their way across his front garden and out towards the road. On hearing a noise behind him, Chris swung around. Robin stood there looking exhausted.
“I had to tell her the truth. She needed to know.”
Chris had no idea what to say to Robin. “I’m going after her. She can’t walk through town dressed like that.”
“I’d really appreciate it if you would look after her. I don’t think she wants to see me right now. Chris, Belle is very, she’s vulnerable. I’m scared of what she might do, do to herself.”
Chris grabbed the keys to his truck. As soon as he had left, Robin fell back into a chair. He knew what he had told Annabelle would hurt her, but he couldn’t avoid it any longer. It was wrong of him to have hidden it from her for so long.
It didn’t take Chris long before he caught up with Annabelle. He had lowered the passenger door window and he called out to her.
“Annabelle, jump in.”
“No Chris. I just want to be on my own.”
“Annabelle, I’m not asking. I’m telling you to get in the truck.”
“You can’t tell me what to do.”
“I’m going to pull over and come round and make you get in. I’m warning you Annie. Get in.”
Annabelle turned round with a look of fury on her face. She put her arms on the door and bent her head through the window. Her face was white and damp with tears, “what gives you the right?”
“I’m being a god-damn friend. Now get in the truck, so that the whole of Blackwood doesn’t see you falling apart. I thought you didn’t want people making it worse for Rob than it already is.”
Annabelle seemed to admit defeat by the sigh she let out. She opened the door and collapsed into the seat, slamming the door behind her.
“You already owe me for busting my front door, are you going to break up my truck too?”
“Please don’t say anything Chris. Just drive please. I want to go home. I didn’t sleep last night. I didn’t shower this morning. I want to get out of these pyjamas.”
Chris pulled away from the curbside again and headed over to the home of Burt and Pearl Jennings. He kept on looking over at Annabelle, but she kept her face turned away from him. He was debating what to say while he drove. When they arrived, he said to Annabelle, “go and shower and get dressed. I am going to talk to Burt and Pearl. I owe them an apology for causing embarrassment last night. I will wait for you. You need to be out in the fresh air. I’ll take you wherever you want, alright. You don’t have to talk, but if you want to I’ll listen.”
Annabelle didn’t reply. She climbed out of the truck and opened the front door and headed straight up to her room. Chris followed her through the front door and headed to the kitchen calling out for Burt.
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?