After the reception with her family in New York, Robin has arranged a visit for him and Annabelle to Blackwood. It’s almost six months since Annabelle has been in the home of Burt and Pearl Jennings with whom she had lodged for over a year.
These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:
After preparing herself to meet with Chris again, it was disappointing to Annabelle that he was not joining them for the dinner Pearl had cooked. Still she was deeply pleased to be back in the house where she had flourished. That was a home that had been a haven of peace and security. Burt and Pearl were everything she had always hoped family would be. Warm, kind, patient and supportive.
Robin’s parents had been lovely to her. But she was aware that they seemed from a different world, a world that still felt alien to her. Burt and Pearl felt so much more relatable. The discussion about who should give Annabelle away at her wedding had been answered by Robin. It was him who had suggested Burt Jennings as a father figure to Annabelle.
It was hard to tell who had been more pleased with the decision. To Annabelle it was a joyous occurence to be walking down the aisle clinging on to Burt’s arm. But Burt and Pearl had been deeply moved by the request from the Grainger’s that they be part of the bridal party. Having Burt and Pearl sat besides Annabelle at the bride and groom’s table had given them an experience that they thought they might never have.
It was clear how thrilled they were to have Annabelle and her husband back with them and to be staying as guests under their roof.
Robin tucked into Pearl’s chicken stew, savouring every mouthful.
Annabelle told Pearl, “Mealtimes are an adventure for Robin now. I am experimenting with recipes and trying to use the kitchenware we were given as wedding presents. He is very polite about my cooking, even though I know some of the meals I have made have been a bit strange.”
Robin glanced across at Annabelle, “She is a great cook.”
“Robin is becoming a great liar,” laughed Annabelle, “But I appreciate it. I am going to concentrate on not giving him food poisoning.”
The two couples talked all evening about the wedding. Robin showed Burt and Pearl photographs they had taken in Santorini on their honeymoon. Annabelle told them about the reception with her family the previous day in New York.
Burt fetched one of the Order Of Service booklets from Ralph Crabbe’s funeral service to show Annabelle. He informed them Ralph had been buried besides Barbara in the cemetery at the Episcopal church. Annabelle asked Robin if they might be able to go and lay some flowers at his grave. He squeezed her and replied “Of course.”
Burt also produced a shoe-box explaining that inside were a few items Ralph had told them he would like Annabelle to have.
Annabelle opened the box curious about it’s contents. Barbara’s dragonfly locket which had tiny photographs of Burt and Barbara within it was the first item she became tearful over. There were several more photographs of Barbara and Ralph, some of which were with Annabelle. There were photographs of the Blackwood Rambling Group with Annabelle and Ralph linking arms. Barbara’s Christmas pudding recipe was in the box, as were her knitting needles.
Annabelle picked up the small Bible with it’s worn pages that had belonged to Barbara. As she opened it up she noticed Barbara had underlined verses and written little notes in the margins. There were also lots of small heart shapes in the margins. Annabelle looked down one of the pages and read the verses that had a tiny heart drawn next to them.
♥ When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
There was also a letter addressed to Annabelle, that she realized was in Ralph’s handwriting. Already feeling emotional, she folded it and decided to read it when she was alone.
She snuggled closer into Robin. For the rest of the evening she had little to say, Annabelle felt a huge contentment as she enjoyed the company of those she felt most relaxed with.
The following morning after breakfast, Robin and Burt decided to take a trip into town to buy a few things Pearl said that she was running short of. Annabelle sat drinking tea with Pearl in their sun room.
The two of them reminisced about Ralph and Barbara. Pearl told Annabelle stories of their younger years that she had never heard before. Suddenly tears begain to stream down Annabelle’s face.
“What is it dear? Am I talking of Ralph too much? I know how close you were?”
Annabelle continued to cry, she became quite distressed and began to shake with emotion. Pearl put her arms around Annabelle and stroked her hair, “It’s ok dear, it’s ok.”
After composing herself a little, Annabelle began to speak, “I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry. It’s just so much has happened. So much has happened. Sometimes I can’t keep track of everything. It’s just overwhelming.”
“A lot has changed for you very quickly my dear. You’re a married woman now. All these changes can be unsettling. You’ve been doing so much travelling too. You will settle when you are in your own home.”
Annabelle nodded, “I feel so bad Pearl. I don’t know what to say to Chris. I don’t know what to do.”
Pearl looked thoughtful, “He is happy for you Annabelle.”
Annabelle shook her head, “Do you remember last year when he came over and invited us over to his home for a barbeque?”
Pearl nodded, “I remember it well.”
“Chris told me about himself. He had a hard time when his parents divorced. Please don’t say anything to him, but he told me he had a breakdown. He was very depressed and felt he had lost all hope. He was at college and under a lot of pressure with his coursework. He wanted to drop out, only he had no idea where he would go or what he would do. His sister Gina helped him a lot.”
Pearl was listening attentively, “He’s always seemed like a very sensitive caring young man. Perhaps that’s because of having challenges himself.”
“Yes, he is very caring, and he really does understand what it’s like to feel really low. I had never heard anyone speak so openly before about being depressed. I was amazed at his honesty,” Annabelle wiped tears away from her eyes with the handkerchief Pearl had handed to her. She continued, “He kept inviting me places and he let me ask him all sorts of questions. At some point, I started opening up to him. I started talking about things I had never spoken to anyone else about.”
Pearl’s face showed her sympathy, “I could tell you two were becoming close friends.”
“Chris helped me unlock the vault Pearl. He helped me understand what was going on inside of me. He opened the doorway to all sorts of things I had never been able to face before. If it wasn’t for Chris, well, I honestly don’t think things would be like they are today.”
“I am sure he wants you to be happy my dear.”
“When Robin came over here last year. It didn’t go very well at first. Chris helped me, he reasoned with me and helped me understand Robin’s point of view, even though he was kind of envious – he told me that later.”
“Christopher has always been very fond of you Annabelle. But you are a married woman now. It will be different – you will see.”
“After Robin left, Chris helped me so much. I can’t explain everything he did and said, but he supported me and helped me figure so much about my own challenges. I had never been able to face up to it, but I had a kind of breakdown in the past and depression. I just never felt comfortable admitting it or trying to understand my feelings. Chris helped me do that.”
“I didn’t realize quite how much he was helping you Annie. I thought you just enjoyed his company. He’s such a lovely young man.”
“I honestly don’t think Robin and I would have be where we are if it wasn’t for Chris. I owe him so much, but I don’t know how to be with him anymore. It can’t be the same as it was before. He’s been such a great friend. We can’t be that close anymore. I think he found it hard to be at the wedding. I didn’t mean to hurt him Pearl. He is the last person I would want to hurt.”
Pearl was about to answer Annabelle, when the doorbell rang. She patted Annabelle’s arms with her hands, before she went to see who was at the front door. On answering the door, Pearl was hesitant whether she should invite the visitor in or not, “I will go and fetch her Chris.”
Annabelle was still sat red faced and teary when Pearl returned. She couldn’t help but apologise again, “I’m sorry Pearl. I didn’t mean to get so upset.”
“It’s alright my dear really. You mustn’t worry. You have a visitor Annabelle. If you don’t think now is a good time, I can tell him it’s not convenient. But I am sure Christopher would be very pleased to see you.”
Annabelle pushed back her chair and jumped to her feet. She kissed Pearl on the cheek and turned to head out to the front door.
You can read the next part of Annabelle’s story:
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?