I decided I needed to write this post before I publish my next post…there was too much of a gap! In the last post I mentioned Annabelle’s decision to write to her ex-boyfriend Dean. Well, now here she is talking more about her plans with Chris.
These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:
After Annabelle had told Chris that she intended to write to her ex-boyfriend, Chris found himself becoming concerned. When his sister Gina called him to confirm Chris was going to be visiting her in Chicago at the end of the month, Chris asked her, “Gina, Why didn’t you tell me about her ex?”
Gina was happy to explain to Chris, “The guy who beat her up? Oh I didn’t get chance to ask her much about it. She told me about him while Pearl had gone to fetch more tea. I don’t think she wanted Pearl to hear what she said because Annie changed the subject as soon as Pearl was back.”
“Her ex beat her up?”
“I think that’s what she said. It sounded serious. She said something about them arguing and him snapping in a rage an hitting her. It sounded as if she pretty much fled from him.”
“I wish you’d told me that before Gina.” sighed Chris.
Annabelle continued to attend her appointments in Tayford. Every week Chris would drive her over there and the two of them would spend some time together afterwards finding a new place to eat in between Tayford and Blackwood and then walking through late autumn scenery. After briefing him on what she had got out of her CBT session, Annabelle would tell Chris more and more about her life.
She explained to Chris the age gap between herself and her older siblings and described herself as “an accident”. She recalled that as she was starting school, her parents were becoming grandparents for the first time. Her mother was so excited about the new baby. Her father never got excited about anything except sport. She described arguments over money they used to have, arguments which became fierce. She described the occasions when she had felt like she was causing stress to her parents, and feeling like a burden. She became very emotional when she related how she seemed to have a knack for being clumsy and breaking things, and how she hated being yelled at.
“They were not bad people Chris. But I cannot remember feeling loved, or wanting to be at home. I would come home from school and grab my bike and stay out until mom called me in for dinner. After dinner I would usually go to my room and do some homework and fall asleep. That was life for as long as I can remember. There were kids at school I was friendly with. I liked playing out with them. But I had a habit of losing my temper with one of them and falling out. So I ended up being a bit of a loner.”
Chris looked at Annabelle who had her hands deep in her coat pockets and was looking down at the leaves she was kicking, “Is thinking about the past helping you to make sense of why you began self-harming?”
“Perhaps. I still don’t really know why I started Chris, or where I even got the idea from. I do remember one day really not wanting to go to school because I hadn’t finished some homework that was due. My teacher had already given me an extension. But I hadn’t wanted to sit down and write this stupid essay. It was such a boring subject. I got of the shower and I began to bang my head against the wall over and over.”
Chris let out a gasp, “It really gets to me sometimes Annie. I find it really hard to imagine you struggling like that.”
“I hated studying. You know how hard I find it to concentrate. You’ve had to help me with this stupid business studies course. I would have given up long ago if it wasn’t for you supporting me.”
“You should have had more support when you were a kid. You didn’t tell your parents how you felt?”
“Nope.” Annabelle shrugged her shoulders, “I did ok in some subjects, and not so well in others. But I didn’t get in trouble at school. Probably because I didn’t have friends to get in trouble with. So my parents never had anything to whinge at me about. I just floated through school, longing for it to end. I’d started to hurt my arms and my legs. So I used to skip gym classes so nobody could see what I was hiding. I did it for years Chris. And I got away with it. Nobody made a fuss. I used to go to the same park for three years and I never saw Dean until I was seventeen, although he said he’d hung out there, either on his own or with mates, for years.”
“This is your ex that you are talking about?” checked Chris.
“Yeah. He let me hang out with him. He became my best friend. Then we became lovers.”
“And then he turned violent?”
Annabelle’s expression became concerned, “My ex was not a violent person Chris. Our relationship ended because of one incident that occured after a lot of arguing. I think he was getting tired of me. I was causing him a lot of stress because I was self-harming so much. He hated it. We argued a lot because I refused to go to a Doctor.”
“So he wanted you to get help too?” asked Chris.
“Oh yes. Dean tried to be supportive for a long time. He really did, but it wore him down. He started to say he couldn’t go on like we were unless I went to see a Doctor. I think I knew I was going to lose him. I can’t explain exactly when but I started to tell that we had distanced ourselves from each other emotionally even though we were still together all the time. I think I started to sabotage things. I provoked him more and more. I was so scared of the secret he held about me self-harming. But I had power over him in other ways. The power we had over each other started to cause resentment. I kept on pushing him. One night he snapped. It was an awful moment, but at the same time, it provided the excuse we both needed to end something that was making us both miserable.”
Chris was listening to Annabelle with a very serious expression, “Violence is never justified Annie. You don’t need to defend him.”
“I know I don’t. I am not trying to defend him, I am trying to tell you what happened. I thought he was going to reject me and I sabotaged our relationship before he actually broke things off himself. Him snapping ended what was becoming a very toxic situation between us. I am just trying to explain that I don’t have any reason to be nervous around him. It had never happened before and I know he would not ever try to harm me.”
“I still feel uneasy about you wanting to see him. Have you heard anything back since you wrote to him?”
Annabelle turned to Chris and grinned, “Yes. He called me a couple of days ago. He is happy to meet.”
“Right. So you’re going go ahead with this. Have you told Rob?”
“I will do. I wanted to ask you first though. Would you come with me?”
“Did you think I was going to let you go alone to meet someone who hit you?” laughed Chris.
“Please try to forget that ever happened Chris. It is not something he will be comfortable with others knowing about. It us not who he is.”
Chris nodded, “Ok. Where are you going to meet him?”
Annabelle took a deep breath before she answered at a very fast pace that Chris found hard to keep up with, “Well, this is the thing. The only time he is going to be anywhere near here for a long time is next week. He’ll be in New York for a few days. But he has a very tight schedule. They have sound checks and interviews and all sorts going on before what is going to be one of their biggest concerts to date.”
Chris looked at Annabelle with a blank face, “Annie? I’m lost here. Your ex is going to New York for a concert?”
“Exactly. Anyway, he arrives in New York next week, and he said the only time he can spare is the day he arrives. So we need to be there the same day. Once their flight has landed, they are heading straight to the hotel. He’s suggested meeting there. He should have some time that afternoon, but he’ll be out that night and the next day will be crazy for him. The day of the concert even crazier.” Annabelle started to wave her arms as she described how busy her ex would be once he arrived in New York.
“New York? We have to go to New York? That’s nowhere near here. It would be a thousand mile drive.”
“We will fly Chris. It will be much quicker. I’ve already checked and there are flights available next week.” Annabelle looked at Chris pensively, “Well, you said you had always wanted to see New York?”
“Sure I have. It would be awesome. Are we going to have time to look around or is it all about you seeing this guy?”
“We won’t go all the to New York so I can spend an hour talking to Dean and then travel all the way back again. We can have some fun looking round the city after I have seen Dean. We will need to stay over Chris.”
“At your parents home?” suggested Chris.
“No way. We don’t get on at all. Dean is taking care of that. He is going to pay for he flights too.”
“Your ex is going to arrange accommodation in New York, for you and me?” Chris looked baffled.
“Sorry Annie, this is all a bit weird. He plays guitar. In a band?”
“Yes, he plays in a band.”
“Is this a band I will of heard of?”
“Yes Chris. You have a few of their albums.”
Chris’ eyes began to widen, “You borrowed one of their albums when Rob was here.”
Annabelle looked very awkward, “Yes.”
“I’ve had your ex-boyfriend’s albums sitting on my shelves all this time and didn’t realize it. Annabelle, why on earth have you never told me?”
“It’s not a big deal Chris. To me they are just a bunch of lads who don’t want to grow up and have been lucky enough to get a break in the music industry which means they can carry on being jerks for as long as they like.”
Chris started to type something into his phone and as images appeared on the screen, he scrolled down them. “That’s you isn’t it? You are in loads of photos with him.”
Annabelle blew air out her lips in annoyance, “That woman there is not who I am now ok. Just forget who he is, please.”
Chris was still taken aback by what Annabelle had told him. “Am I going to meet Mildew?”
“Chris, please don’t make a big deal out of them. They are nothing special. Dean was just a guy who I met when I was seventeen. He played guitar and wrote songs, I thought he was cool. As I’ve told you, he and I hung out and he became my best friend. When they got their deal and started touring, I tagged along. By that point Dean and me were inseparable. But a lot of things happened that I regret, and I want to straighten a few things out with him.”
“You are such a mysterious person Annabell Riley. I’m sure you once told me you don’t have secrets, but that was a lie.”
Annabelle shook her head, “You never asked.”
“I don’t think I did. But that’s because the only person you have ever talked about is Rob.”
“You said to me once that we hide what we hate about ourselves. Well, I hate what I was becoming when I was with Dean. When I met Robin, I loved the person he helped me to be. I want that again, desperately. I want to be the woman Robin fell in love with. That was a wonderful feeling.”
“Is this trip to see Dean supposed to help?”
“I don’t know. But what I do know is that I owe Dean a lot. There are some things I would like to say to him. Things I should have said long ago. I don’t know if it’s going help all that much. But that’s where I am in my head right now. These CBT sessions are sending me right back to where it all started. And I can’t stop thinking about everything I put Dean through.”
“Do whatever it is you think you need to do. But don’t beat yourself up, I mean emotionally, or in any other way, damn, I don’t mean it like that,” Chris sighed, “I’m tired Annie, I’m not making sense because I am still trying to make sense of everything you’ve said.”
“You and me both Chris.”
“I’m going to support you no matter what,” smiled Chris, “I wasn’t expecting anything like this.”
“I’m so glad I have you. I couldn’t do any of this if I didn’t.”
“You know I love you Annie.”
“I know you do. I love you too. But I love Robin more though, and I know how hard that makes it for you.”
“Right now, it’s probably harder for him. I am the one who gets to hold your hand while you are in need of someone to trust. He wishes he was here with you. He hates being so far away.”
“I think so. What makes you say that?”
“Because he calls me at least once a week. Usually the day after we have been in Tayford. He’ll call you tonight, and then tomorrow he’ll call me and be asking all sorts of questions because he is worried about you.”
Annabelle couldn’t help but smile, she let a few tears trickle down her face, “I feel so loved. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so loved in my life. Maybe for a short while with Dean. but nothing so pure. I am so grateful for you and for Robin. And for Burt and Pearl and Ralph. Blackwood has the best people on the planet.”
“Come on heart-breaker, it’s getting cold. Let’s head back to the car.”
That weekend Chris drive up to Chicago to visit his sister Gina and he told her all about the plan to go to New York with Annabelle.
“Wow! She is really into you Chris.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“There is no way she would be asking you to fly across the country with her if she wasn’t serious about you.”
“Nah, you’re wrong. She is really wrapped up with Robin. I don’t know Gina, I feel as if she thinks I’m her brother. She is telling me all sorts about the challenges she has had in the past.”
“She trusts you. Trust is 90% of what love is all about Chris. The rest is hormones. I don’t know, you and her all alone in New York, you just don’t know what might happen.”
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?