Annabelle has chosen not to be at the Mildew concert at Madison Square Gardens. Where will she be while Dean and his band are performing? The clue is in the title.
These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:
Annabelle waited impatiently for the train while she was standing on the platform for the Gun Hill Road train. She checked the time on her phone every few seconds. She knew it would take around half an hour to reach her destination. When the train finally came speeding towards the platform, she felt a swell of fear mixed with joy filling her chest.
She sat down and tried to remember what it was that Dean had asked her two days before. She should have written his questions down somewhere. She tried to keep her focus. How was she going to start the conversation? What if they wanted to bring up other subjects?
She became distracted by staring at other passengers. People looked tired. It was Saturday evening, but these passengers looked as if they may have been working all day and were heading back to the Bronx to their homes. She thought about what it must be like to have to ride the subway five days a week, sometimes six, when you have been working long hours.
A moment of clarity came into her head provoking a smile on her lips. That’s what millions of people do day in and day out. They commute to work, five or six days a week to be able to afford to pay their rent, their bills, their healthcare. That’s what her Dad had done for forty years to care for his family. What was it Dean had said? Love comes in all sorts of colours, shapes and sizes. Perhaps her father was not a warm man, not at all affectionate. He had never wanted to spend time with her, or draw out what was in her heart. But he was reliable, faithful. He had never failed to provide what his family needed physically. That had meant long days at work in office he worked at in city. Daily commutes on the train. He had probably sat on a train like this feeling exhausted countless times.
Annabelle thought about how easy she had it in Blackwood. She would walk to the homes of her clients. She worked between ten to twenty hours a week depending on how much work her clients needed. That was enough to cover the amount Burt and Pearl asked of her and still leave her with enough to save. And she had saved, Ever since she arrived in Blackwood she had carefully saved her money. She could easily afford the plane ticket to Switzerland in January. She was just waiting for Robin to confirm the exact dates he would have absent from work before she booked her flight.
When the train arrived at Intervale Avenue, Annabelle left the train and walked out to the street outside. She headed towards Bill Rainey Park. It reminded her of one of the songs on Mildew’s first album “Murder in the Park”. She had always disliked that song. The lyrics were about a shooting in the park and in the last verse there were clues as to who Dean had been writing about. “He always hated my guts, so I spilled his guts, who needs a father anyway?” It was popular at live shows because of the guitar riffs on the track. But Annabelle had persuaded Dean to drop it from their concerts.
Annabelle arrived on Kelly Street. There was so much that was familiar to her. Memories flooded her mind. She took a few deep breaths. She was absolutely determined to focus on her objective and resolute that nothing would put her off.
She bounded up the steps to the front door of a house she had not been to for a couple of years. She knocked on the door. Within a few seconds the door opened and a man stood there looking at her in astonishment, “Oh hello…you could have called…Carol, Annabelle is here… Well, hurry up and come in then, don’t want to let the heat out.”
A woman came rushing through to the hallway. “Oh hi Annabelle. I’m going over to Andrew’s house to babysit while they’re out. Shall I put the kettle on for you?”
“No it’s alright mom. I’m not thirsty. I can always make one in a bit, if Dad wants one.”
“Ok, well see you then. Nice to see you again love.” and with that Annabelle’s mum stepped out into the street and was gone. Annabelle felt a gush of pain come into her heart. They had not spoken in two years, and that was all her mother had to say to her. She tried to brush it off. Her father had already left the hallway. She suspected he would be sitting in his armchair with the television on. She walked into the room to find exactly that. There was a football game on the channel he was watching. His eyes were fixed to it. As Annie entered the room and sat down on the sofa, her father raised the volume on the television.
There was a lump in her throat. Why should she be upset? She knew she should not take it personally. Nothing had changed. It had been the same since she could remember being alive. Wrapped up in their own little ways, expecting Annabelle to be content with her own routine. Her mother more excited to be a grandparent than a parent. Her father always tired after work and wanting to focus on his hobbies. It wasn’t personal. They just didn’t see it from the point of view of the child who was starving for something other than the food and other essentials they always made sure she had.
Annabelle sat silently with her head turned towards her father who was still completely transfixed by the men running around the field chasing a ball. A wave of disturbing emotion passed through her mind and she instinctively started to scratch at her left arm. Her arm was so tender with the bruises Dean had accidently inflicted that the pain shocked Annabelle. It snapped her out of the frame of mind that had descended upon her.
“Dad, I need to ask you a few questions?”
He father looked at her with irritation. “What now? The game’s on.”
“I don’t have long Dad. I need to get back to the city. It’s really important. Please can you turn the sound down just a few minutes.” pleaded Annabelle.
Her father made it clear that he was peeved, and he dramatically prodded the volume setting until the television was completely muted. “Well?” he asked Annabelle.
“Well, the things is, Dean said…oh Dad how are you by the way? Is everything ok here? You and Mom are both well aren’t you?”
“Yes, we’re fine. You Mom has to have a new crown on her teeth next week. But everything else is fine.”
“Oh that’s good. Well, the thing is that Dean asked me what is going on with the apartment. I didn’t know what to tell him. He said I should ask you.”
Annabelle’s father stood up and put the remote down on the little coffee table next to his armchair. He shuffled into another room just off the hallway. Annabelle sat waiting, feeling slightly perplexed at the scene. Her Dad returned with a filing box and a lever arch file. “This is all the current stuff in the file.” The box is for anything older than a year.” He sat down and turned the volume back up.
Annabelle opened the file and saw letters, maintenance check reports, estimates for work to be done, invoices from tradesmen, rent invoices and all sorts of other paperwork. It all seemed to be in date order. She looked at the filing box and saw the hanging files were labeled into maintenance, rent payments, insurance and other sections. Her father was meticulous with anything like this.
“So is everything alright with the apartment at the moment Dad?”
Her father shrugged. “Yes, as far as I know. They let us know whenever there is a problem. Are you thinking of moving back in or something?”
“No, no. It’s just…well I might at some stage think about selling the apartment. I asked Dean how he would feel about it, and he said it is mine to do as I please.”
“You’d get even more than he paid for it now. You’ll be Lady Muck you will be. You have to give the tenants plenty of notice though. You can’t just rush into something like that.”
“No, it won’t be straight away. I’m not certain when it will be. But I’m glad Dean is alright with me selling it.”
“Doesn’t matter what he thinks. It’s all in your name.” her Dad pulled a face of scornful indifference at the mention of Dean.
“What about the rent the tenants are paying at the moment Dad? Where is that going?”
“There should be statements in there Annabelle. All the details are on the statements.”
Annabelle flicked through the file until she came across a statement. Her eyes scanned the account number and her own name on the account and then down to the total. She gulped. “How much rent are they paying Dad?”
“It’s just under $10,000 a month.”
“You are kidding!”
“For a two bed-roomed luxury apartment in Manhattan, with those views from the balcony, all that space and your own sauna. I think that guy thinks he has a bargain with that place. He is very happy there. The agency suggested a rent increase a couple of times, but I didn’t think it was worth the risk of losing a tenant.”
Annabelle sat looking down at the total figure on the statement. “So all this money in this bank account – is it mine?”
“Well, yes of course it is. Everything to do with the apartment goes in and out of that account. Rent goes in, and all the overheads come out, for the last three years.”
“It’s just a lot more than I ever imagined Dad.”
“Well, there you are, that’s what being on the property ladder does for you. He set you up properly there didn’t he. Can’t say much else for him.”
Annabelle had memories bouncing around her head of all the arguments and screaming matches that her parents used to have about money, “Do you and Mum need any money Dad?”
Her father turned towards her and looked at Annabelle, “It’s your money girl. We don’t need charity.”
“I’m not saying that Dad, it’s just that it’s much more than I will ever need.”
“Don’t be stupid. You could buy a house in a small town with the money you’ve earnt from the rent alone. If you sell the apartment, you can buy a whole street. Just don’t rush into anything. You’re always erratic going off here and there, can’t stay in the same place for longer than a year. Just don’t rush into a decision and end up throwing all that money away.”
“How can I access the money in the account now Dad? Is there a card or a chequebook or do you do everything online.”
Annabelle’s Dad took the file from her and flicked through to a page towards the back. He took out a blank piece of paper and started to write numbers and passwords down. “Do not do something stupid Annabelle. You haven’t got a clue about these things. There needs to be a reserve in that account to sort any maintenance issues or insurance payments.”
“I’m not going to rush into anything. I just wanted to understand what has been going on. Should I be doing this? You have been looking after all the paperwork to do with the apartment, should I be doing it?”
“You’d lose everything! You’re hopeless with this kind of stuff. Just leave it here. There’s not much to having a look at a letter, and punching holes in the side so I can file it. It’s not a problem. Have you finished looking at it for the moment? I’ll put it back in the other room.”
Annabelle was still quiet with the astonishment she felt. As her Dad came back into the room, she felt a surge of gratitude. “Thanks so much for looking after all those letters and statements Dad.”
“Well someone had to do it. Is that everything Annabelle, I want to watch the game.”
Annabelle nodded. Her father turned up the volume again. Annabelle had lost her father’s attention again. She thought to herself that if she rose up and left without saying goodbye he probably wouldn’t even notice. “Dad would you like a cup of tea?”
“Yeah go on then, just a dash of milk, half a teaspoon of honey and half of brown sugar.”
Annabelle rose up and went into the kitchen. She filled up the kettle with water and switched it on. She opened the fridge to find the milk, as she was reaching down to grab it she couldn’t help but see the remains of a colourful iced cake. Gazing at it she saw the number 70 in the icing. Annabelle suddenly made the connection. It was her mother’s birthday cake. Annabelle realized she had forgotten all about it. She had been so wrapped up in her own concerns in recent weeks, Robin, the CBT sessions, the trip to see Dean, she had forgotten about her mum’s 70th birthday. The family didn’t really make much fuss on these occasions, except for the grandchildren, but 70 was quite a big event. Annabelle felt ashamed of herself.
Once Annabelle had prepared the tea, she took it through to her father who was still avidly following the game. “Just put it there on the table Annabelle.”
“I’m going to head back into the city now Dad. Thanks so much for everything. I’ll be in in touch again.”
“Righto. Make sure the door is closed properly on your way out Annabelle. Give it a real good pull.”
Annabelle put her hand on her father’s hand. He looked at her with confusion, “Thanks for everything Dad.”
“You better get going before it gets too late. Remember give the door a good pull, otherwise it doesn’t catch properly.”
Very soon Annabelle was sitting on a train heading back towards Madison Square Gardens thinking about everything she had discovered looking through the paperwork for the apartment Dean had bought for her. She kept thinking to herself, “That’s more than enough money to cover all of Robin’s debt.”
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?