What is it that has upset Annabelle so much. How will she endure the next six weeks until she is with Robin again?
These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:
Annabelle did keep herself busy. Thanksgiving came and went. She started to think ahead to Christmas. She knew where she wanted to be for Christmas, but she felt extremely anxious about it. It was three weeks before Christmas when she finally plucked up the courage to ring her parents. Annabelle’s father answered the phone with a hello. As soon as she greeted him, he called out, “Annabelle’s on the phone Carol. I’ll pass you onto your mother Annabelle.”
“Hello Annabelle,” uttered her mother with a cool voice, “is something wrong?”
Annabelle maintained an upbeat tone, “No, everything is fine. I just called to see how you are?”
“We’re all fine. Becky has won a prize at school for her artwork. It’s going to be featured in an exhibition. Little Oliver has chicken pox. Your Dad can’t go near him because he never had it as a child, We don’t want him to get shingles. How about you? No more problems since the accident?”
“Everything is fine mom. I was wondering if it would be ok to come and spend Christmas with you and Dad.”
“If you really want to. We can make space for one more around the table. I’m sure nobody will mind. Just try not to upset anyone Annabelle. There won’t be room for you to sleep here though, your nephews are flying in from college and they are going to share your old room.”
“I don’t mind sleeping on the sofa Mom.”
“Oh no, your Dad won’t like that. he likes to watch TV until late.”
“Well then, I can stay in a hotel.” suggested Annabelle.
“That’s a good idea.”
“Ok, well, I’ll look at flights and hotels and book something. Shall I just come down on Christmas Eve, would that be alright?” asked Annabelle.
Her mother’s voice became high pitched, “That’s when we’re picking the boys up from the airport. It will be quite busy then. It might be better to come on Christmas Day. We’re having dinner at 2pm. Because of all the little ones everyone will have to left by around eight o’clock.”
“That sounds great Mom.”
“Ok, well we’ll see you then. Don’t come too early because it will be chaos in the kitchen and your Dad want you getting in his way. “Annabelle heard the phone disconnect before she’s even had chance to say goodbye. A lump of pain sat in her throat. She walked towards a bench nearby and sat down, staring into space for ten minutes feeling a dread at the thought of being back with her family for a whole day.
It didn’t take much for her mind to suddenly revert back to it’s state when she had been a teenager at home. The profound loneliness was always lingering. Still she kept on reminding herself not to take it personally. That’s just the way they were, the way they had always been. She had not been with her family for Christmas for ten years. She suddenly realized that nothing would have changed. It was unlikely that there would be much reaction to her addition at the dinner table.
Annabelle scrolled through the contacts on her phone. Her finger hovered over Robin’s name, but she hesitated for a moment. She scrolled back up to another name and pressed call. After a few rings she heard a voice she was longing to hear, “Hey Dean, can you talk?”
After a half hour conversation with Dean who updated her on their plans to tour Europe she felt much better. It felt good to be on good terms with Dean again. She told him she had booked flights to Switzerland in January. Dean worked out they would be in Germany by the 8th of January. He reminded Annabelle of the first time the band had played in Hamburg. Annabelle could remember it, she could not laugh as much as Dean at the memory of the antics after their shows.
She also told him she was going to be with her family for Christmas. Dean laughed and told her she should ask the doctor for some kind of medication that would get her through the holiday season with them. Annabelle admitted that it might only be Christmas Day alone she would be with them. She asked if he had any plans to be in New York. Dean said that was unlikely until they came back from their European tour. He asked her what she thought of the new song that had just been released. Annabelle asked which one. Dean reminded her he has sung it at Madison Square Gardens. Annabelle realized she was likely to provoke Dean if she admitted she had not even heard it. So instead she told him how touched she was that he had dedicated it to her and how proud she was that he had performed solo.
After their conversation, she started to check the internet for the new single from Mildew and finding it she played it on YouTube. It was very much a love song. In the very first verse she realized Dean had written the song about her. The words: “the woman is still a child, who needs to be held and told she’s a good girl” she felt wrap around her heart. As she listened to the words, tears trickled from her eyes. She had really needed that. It felt wonderful to be loved.
Within weeks of their break-up, which was over four years ago, she had abandoned all hope of Dean taking her back. He had made it quite clear he didn’t want to hear from her at the time. Seeing Dean in New York had helped her to recover from the huge sense of failure and rejection that had haunted her. After meeting Robin and sensing his adoration of her, she had become elated and re-energised. She never wanted to go back, long ago she’s accepted there would never be a future with Dean, but it felt wonderful to be loved all the same. He still loved her, but in a different way, maybe he loved the memory of the good times, or the loyal support she had given him, but that trip to New York had confirmed some kind of love.
She thought of Chris. She knew he cared, she was so grateful to him. But the attraction she had felt to him always made her feel guilty. At times he was extremely handsome, and the look in his eyes, he was hopeless at disguising his feelings for her. There were too many times that they had been so close to each other that something could easily have happened. She’d wanted it to. It was hard to accept his kindness without feeling ashamed of herself.
Still, he had provided a security net for her that she hoped she would be able to fall on if Robin ever let her down. Before he came to Blackwood, Annabelle had started to think Robin had abandoned her. But now, she felt convinced Robin had no intention of ever abandoning her. In telling her the truth, he had won her trust. She could forget all of his errors in London, because she regarded him as her rock.
Her thoughts started to dwell on Robin. How she longed to be with him. She had not told him anything about the money yet. When she came back from New York she had hesitated as to whether she should tell him on the phone or e-mail him. She had wanted to ask Chris first. She was sure Chris would be discreet. He’d been discreet about everything that had happened in New York.
But then the appointment at Leaston had ruined everything. She’d walked out of the Doctor’s office feeling devastated. She was determined never to go back down that road again. She felt as if the therapist had completely betrayed her. At first he’s been positive. He’d told the Doctor about Annabelle’s exuberance and joy and described her personality as captivating. He had explained her qualities of loyalty and humility despite some of the challenges in her relationships. He had told the Doctor how much progress Annabelle had made with CBT.
But then his tone had changed and he had used expressions like irritability, sensitivity, tendency to become distracted, impulsiveness, capriciousness, fear of abandonment, recklessness, disassociation, a distorted sense of herself, emotional isolation, intropunitive and emotionally vulnerable. He had repeated things that she had told him thinking they were in total confidence to the Doctor, who was a complete stranger. Annabelle had sat there in disbelief and full of rage. Then the Doctor had said something to Annabelle which had completely infuriated her. Annabelle had walked out insisting there was no way she was going to continue with CBT. She had turned her back on the idea of professional support. It had completely robbed her of all the joy and hope that her discovery in New York had created within her.
Still, it was still there, the money was still there. She couldn’t wait to tell Robin that she had more than enough money to cover all of his debt. Then they could be together. She needed that. It was becoming obvious to her that she couldn’t stay in Blackwood forever.
After she came back from New York, it was clear that the gossip instigated by that photograph Dean had posted was probably more damaging to her life in Blackwood than if she had lived in a busy city. Three of her clients had called that week and said they no longer needed her help with ironing. They were perfectly polite, but for all of them to make their decision at the same time was no coincidence. At first she had been grieved at the realization they were rejecting her because they thought she was a loose woman. Dean’s photograph, presented through the interpretation of the likes of Jenna, had led some townsfolk, who had liked her before, to drop her abruptly.
Annabelle had found it hard to go into town without noticing that some of the younger residents of Blackwood were staring at her. She’d passed Jenna, Amber and Margo and had received their snide comments and questions without batting an eyelid. Annabelle cared about Dean far more than the opinions of those who did not really know her. A sense of gratitude for all that Dean had given her buoyed her up, meaning she was not vulnerable to gossip.
At times she wondered if Burt and Pearl had heard anything. Right from the start they seemed unsure of why Annabelle had needed to go all the way to New York with Christopher Ward. She had made sure Chris explained they were in different rooms. But it clearly was not something they were entirely comfortable with. And they had both questioned her repeatedly about the state of her arm which seemed to be taking a long time to heal. She no longer felt that Burt and Pearl were a source of unconditional love. She’d broken some of their ideals, she knew it. It felt as if she was tarnished in their eyes. It broke her heart dwelling on the thought that their fondness towards her seemed to have cooled.
If Annabelle had not been so upset by what had happened in the office with her therapist and the doctor, perhaps she would have realized that Burt and Pearl were just very busy preparing for Christmas and winter. There was a lot of work to do.
They had been surprised that Annabelle had made other arrangements for Christmas. It was disappointing to them Annabelle wouldn’t be there. She was such a joyful presence and they had long regarded her as a member of their family. It was Pearl who felt it the most. She had always wanted children. Annabelle had been like the daughter she had always hoped for. But all these trips away that Annabelle was taking. Three trips in as many months. Pearl was starting to realize that Annabelle was going to leave them at some point, probably to be with Robin, and it stirred up a sense of grief at the imminent separation from the young woman who had won such a firm place in Pearl’s heart.
Things seemed to be falling apart from Annabelle’s perspective. She felt as if everything was spiralling out of control. It was not the first time she had experienced that feeling. She started to prepare herself for what she was convinced to come. She was going to have to leave them all behind. It was time to run away before they rejected her completely.
She already felt guilty because if the feelings she had for Chris at times. Now she found herself pushing him away. She wanted the friendship to cool. She was going to leave Blackwood behind. She was going to leave Chris behind. This was a place that been so good for her, but now the shine had vanished. She was ready to leave Blackwood and those she had been close to. She was going to abandon them. Abandon them before they rejected her completely. She couldn’t face the rejection of people she had grown to love. So it was better to leave before that happened.
She longed to be with Robin again. He would understand everything. And she’d be able to use the money lying dormant in the bank account she’d only just learnt about to pay off his debt. He might never leave her again after she was willing to hand over so much money to him. What was that money worth to her? So long as they could be together. She didn’t care where. Just so long as they were together. She needed his love so much.
The weeks passed slowly. She took her time over writing personal cards to each one of her family to give to them with the gifts she had bought. She sent a few e-mails to people she used to socialize with in New York wondering if any of them would reply. She bought a guide book on Switzerland and read it avidly. She asked Pearl to teach her as much as possible in the kitchen. She visited Ralph every day, her heart prodding her with the guilt at the thought of abandoning him.
The words of that Doctor in Leaston taunted Annabelle. She wished she had never seen that woman.
You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story here:
And here is an extra for you:
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?