chris on sofa1Annabelle has been chronically tired since she has been back in Blackwood. She has continued to attend counselling sessions and with Robin’s support and help and encouragement from her friends in Blackwood she is trying to set goals for herself. But her energy is still depleted.

Their good friend Chris is still Annabelle’s trusted confidant and when Annabelle wants to talk to Chris, Robin stays in the room next door, so she can talk openly to Chris while still feeling comfortable. What will she want to talk about to Chris in this section?

These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:

“I hear you are turning into quite the writer.”

script“Oh do you mean the letters to my family and Robin’s family? It’s relaxing. I think when I can take my time and think about what I want to say, it seems to go down better.”

“And you like your desk?” smiled Chris.

“Oh Chris, it’s beautiful.”

“Good, I’m glad you like it. What else have you been up to?” he enquired.

Annabelle clenched her teeth and gripped the ends of the chair arms, “You may be surprised to know that I have been doing a heck of a lot of sleeping. Can’t get enough of it.”

“Maybe it’s what you need at the moment.”

asleepAnnabelle raised her eyebrows, “I slept twenty hours one day last week. Rob went to work in the morning and when he came home I was still fast asleep in bed.”

“Twenty hours hey!”

“Yeah, Rob woke me up because he had made some stir-fry for dinner. I ate a little, had a bath and went straight back to bed and slept all night. He said he’s going to try and enter me into the Olympic sleeping team.”

“Have you talked about how much you’re sleeping with your Doctor or your therapist?”

“They say it’s not unusual with depression. I’m depressed. That’s what they’ve decided. I’ve been given a prescription for some medicine that they want me to take. But I said to Rob, I don’t want to yet. Not while it is still summer. Maybe in the winter when it’s dark and grey. But I might be a bit better by then.”

tabs.jpg“It’s your decision Annie. But don’t be scared of medication. I took antidepressants for two years. I wouldn’t have got anywhere without them. You’ve got a lot of people looking out for you, a lot of people you can trust.”

Annabelle nodded. Her face crumpled as she groaned, “I just don’t want to be a burden to Robin.”

“You are not a burden!” Robin declared as he leaned over his wife to kiss her.

“Hey, you’re not supposed to be listening in,” she replied.

“I’m not. I was just passing through to see if Chris wanted a drink.”

latte“Coffee would be great,” called out Chris.

“Belle? Do you want some of your mint tea?”

Annabelle hesitated, “Yes please. Robin I love you.”

Robin smiled at his wife. He silently mouthed, “I love you too,” before he departed for the kitchen.

“Robin is doing most of the housework, and our laundry and cooking for us. I am pretty useless nowadays. I just don’t seem to have any energy. Some mornings everything in my body seems to ache.”

“Could there be anything else going on Annie? Have they ran any tests? Blood tests or anything else?”

test.png“They have tested my pee and my blood. No surprises. I don’t have anything to worry about. Robin is making me take all sorts of vitamins because I am not eating meat. Everyone thinks it’s all psychological. They want me to keep going to therapy, keep setting small achievable goals for myself and they are hoping I will try the tablets they’ve prescribed me. Maybe I am a bit scared of them.”

“Like I said, it’s your decision. But we’ll all be there for you, no matter what you decide.”

“Chris, it’s Robin’s birthday next week, and I still haven’t thought of anything to get him. I’m so rubbish with gifts. Can you think of anything he might like?”

Chris smiled, “Besides a pool table in the dining room?”

giftAnnabelle thought about what Chris had said, “I could get him a pool table.”

Chris looked at Annabelle realizing he had taken his joke seriously, “Annie, he doesn’t want a pool table. He won’t really care about a gift. I reckon it would mean more to him to do something special with you. What about a night out together? Somewhere romantic?”

Annabelle frowned as Robin entered the room with a coffee for Chris and a mint tea for her. “I’m going to call my Dad Belle. I’ll shut the door for a bit, ok?”

As soon as Robin had shut the door, Annabelle began again, “Robin spends a lot of time with just me. I wonder if we could do something for him to relax?”

“We? I’m not sharing a romantic night with you two. I’m not into that kind of thing Annie.”

pg.pngThe humour was wasted on Annabelle. She stared blankly at Chris. “Do you remember when we went camping up near Piper’s Gorge?”

“With Tim and Amy O’Neill and the Mitchells?”

“I think that cheap tent I bought is still up in the attic at Burt and Pearl’s,” Annabelle thought out loud.

“You could afford a better tent. I bet Rob would enjoy camping with you. You could get all the geer and have a weekend camping together.”

Annabelle was half excitement and half foreboding, “Chris, I can’t do it on my own. Will you help me please? It would be nice if we invited some of the rambling group to come, like last time. Tim and Amy are really sweet. It would be so good for Robin to meet some more people a bit closer to his age. Do you think we could make it a surprise? Please, would you help me?”

trip1.png“I’ll help you Annie. I think it’s a great idea. I can send a few texts round to see if anyone is free the weekend after next. Let’s look at tents online. We can get all the camping gear and hide it in my truck and surprise Rob at the last minute if you like.”

Chris helped Annabelle as he promised. She chose a huge “storm-proof” tent, and other items that caught her eye for the camping trip. She purchased them on Chris’s phone and they were delivered to his home. Chris heard back from some of the rambling group. He sent an email to everyone who said they were up for a weekend camping to explain it was Annabelle’s surprise for Robin’s birthday.

trip2.pngHe received eager replies affirming that people were keen to meet Robin and to see Annabelle again. Jeff Mitchell said he would bring his guitar up as he remembered Annabelle had got everyone singing on their last camping trip together. There were promises of beer. Tandy Coleman offered to make a cake. She asked Chris if Annabelle had already arranged a birthday cake for Robin. Chris was really pleased for Annabelle that it looked as if the camping trip would be so successful.

And it was a success. The following Friday evening, Chris turned up at the home of Robin and Annabelle and before long the three of them were heading up to the campsite near Piper’s Gorge were five other tents were already up and a campfire was smoldering. The members of the Blackwood Rambling group who had gone ahead, gave a cheer as Chris stopped his truck and the three emerged.

trip3.pngRobin loved that evening. It was just what he had needed. A night of laughter and excited conversation, music and singing. Jeff Mitchell managed to coax Annabelle into singing, although she was very reluctant at first. She sang the song that Robin and she had danced to at their wedding as Jeff played the chords. “How long will I love you?” Chris felt that familiar twinge of envy, while she was singing. But was genuinely pleased for both Robin and Annabelle that they were enjoying themselves.

After a few hours, Annabelle was fast asleep leaning upon Robin. Despite the laughter and chatter, she was overwhelmed with tiredness. After almost an hour of her slumbering in that position, Robin thanked everyone for the surprise and said that he ought to take Annabelle so she could sleep properly.

Silhouette of Couple Standing during NighttimeHe carried her over to the new tent that Chris and Tim had erected for them. Once there, he had to put Annabelle down onto her feet, so he could unzip the awning. She opened her eyes and realized what was happening. She was so sleepy, her words came out a little jumbled, “It’s your party, you go back, I’ll be ok, you go.”

“I want to be with you,” he kissed Annabelle softly, “How long will I love you? As long as stars are above you, And longer if I may” he whispered.

Annabelle clasped her husband’s hands, “I’m sorry I fell asleep.”

“Shhh. Tonight was perfect. Thank you for a such a great surprise.”


Another part coming soon…

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:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels 



Annabelle and Robin are trying to settle back in Blackwood after the huge knock to her confidence. How is her recovery going?

These are the previous parts in Annabelle’s story:

“Do you have to go to work?”

morningRobin turned over to his wife, “Yes,” watching the sad eyes Annabelle displayed, Robin then added, “No, I don’t have to go to work.”

Annabelle gazed at Robin, “I don’t want to be on my own.”

“Are we going to do this every morning Belle?”

Annabelle looked pained, “I miss you when you aren’t here.”

“You can always come with me, you know that. It’s going to be a beautiful day. Come and watch me work.”

“Where are you going to be?” she asked.

Garden, Grass Cutter, Gardening, Grass“Just round the corner, Len and Phillipa Booth’s place. They said since Len hurt his back, the garden is getting out of control. There’s a lot to do. I’ll probably be there for a few hours.”

“I like Len and Pippa.”

“I know you do. They like you. Why don’t you come? Don’t be shy.”

“I just feel so tired.”

Robin’s gaze showed his sympathy to his wife, “I’m going to go and make some coffee and some breakfast. What would you like?”

“I’m not hungry Robin.”

shower.pngRobin frowned a little. He pushed himself up out of bed and walked through to the kitchen. While he was waiting for the coffee machine, he rubbed his hands over his face in frustration. When he returned to the bedroom with two mugs of coffee and a plate of buttered toast, Annabelle had fallen back to sleep. She didn’t stir as he sat on the bed and started munching toast. After showering and dressing, Robin kissed the forehead of his sleeping wife and told her he was heading to work.

It was almost three hours later when Robin heard a wolf-whistle and turned to look at the house. Annabelle was sat next to Philippa Booth holding a glass of lemonade in her hand. He strode over to the decking, “Hey Beautiful.”

Annabelle smiled, “Pippa called and asked me if I wanted to come over. I made you a wrap for lunch.”

lunch1.png“I was just thinking of taking a break. A wrap hey? Sounds good. Are you going to have lunch with me?”

“I’ve already eaten.”

Removing the baking parchment Annabelle had used around the wrap, Robin grinned, “Falafel. Did Annabelle tell you she has decided to be a vegetarian Pippa?”

Philippa Booth looked at Annabelle with a fond expression, “Really dear, that explains why you are so very slim these days.”

Annabelle looked awkward, “There’s a deli over in Winchester I really like. They sell all sorts of olives and mezes. I really like the stuffed vine leaves they sell.”

breakfast.png“Oh those stuffed vine leaves are great, just as good as the ones we ate out in Greece. We bought a tub of them yesterday.”

Annabelle pulled a face, “I ate them for breakfast Robin.”

After swallowing the mouthful of falafel wrap he was eating, Robin asked, “All of them?” In response to Annabelle’s nod, he added, “Good girl. This wrap is great Belle. Thank you for making it for me.”

After his lunch break spent chatting with Annabelle and Philippa, Robin declared he was going to finish off clearing up the cuttings from the morning’s work. He hauled wheelbarrows of sacks filled with cuttings out to the front of the property and stacked them on the drive.

garden.jpgHe was pleased to see on one of his wheelbarrow runs that Annabelle was kneeling on the lawn next to Philippa with some gardening gloves on, pulling out weeds from the flower bed.

A short time later, he saw that Annabelle was helping Philippa to bed some new plants she had bought earlier that morning. It was very pleasing to Robin to see his wife smiling and enjoying working alongside her friend.

At around three o’clock that afternoon, Chris pulled up in his truck outside the Booth’s driveway. He started to help Robin load the sacks of garden waste onto the back of his truck. After they had finished, Robin went to ask Annabelle if she wanted to come with them when they dropped off the garden waste at the recycling center on the road up to Green Bay.

Annabelle thought about it for a moment, “Pippa said that Len would like to show me his paintings.”

laterRobin kissed his wife on the cheek, “We’ll be back in just over an hour. Love you.”

“Good day Rob?” asked Chris, as soon as he had turned the key in the ignition of his work truck.

Robin nodded, “She was working in the garden with Philippa Booth. She looked like she was enjoying it. And she made me lunch. She’s not done that for a while. She’s definitely getting better.”

“It could be this heat you know, I mean, as well as everything else. Is she drinking enough water?”

pt.pngRobin turned to Chris, “She drinks peppermint tea and lemon water – lots of it. She’s nibbling food when she feels like it. I still can’t get her to eat a proper meal with me. But she’ll kind of graze on a handful of nuts or seeds or a little bit of salad whenever she does feel hungry. I still don’t think she’s eating enough.”

“If she’s not eating enough, she’s not going to have much energy.”

“Yeah, but this is all psychological Chris. You know that as well as I do. She can’t get over what happened.”

“The car crash?”

“Not the crash. It’s the way she injured herself she can’t get over. She’s completely shaken by it. She doesn’t understand how when she was at the happiest stage of her life, with everything going well, happily married and happy with splitting our time between Blackwood and a couple of months with my family in England, how she could give in to harming herself and worse than ever before. She’s totally lost her confidence in her power to fight it.”

burn1“Nothing else has happened since then though has it? I mean she hasn’t done anything like that again?”

Robin sighed, “She’s not hurt herself, no. After her counselling session yesterday, she told me she’s scared of the responsibility of being alive. I didn’t know what she meant. But she explained she feels overwhelmed with all the possible terrible consequences any of her mistakes could cause. She’s afraid of doing anything that could hurt someone else or cause damage.”

Even Chris felt alarmed by the thought of what Annabelle was wrestling with, “She’s still chewed up with guilt?”

“I feel so sorry for her. It could have been anyone who left that gate open. We’ve all done it. Why did it have to be her? You know, I yelled at her when I found out. I shouldn’t have yelled at her like that. It was the shock of seeing that car smashed up.”

Chris tried his best to reassure Robin, “I’ve been angry with her in the past. Do you remember how I reacted after that trip we took to New York? When I saw that photograph Dean Mathers had posted of her, I was shocked and I lost it with her. You told me how sensitive she is with guilt.”

guiltsRobin nodded in agreement, “It’s not just the accident and the self-harming, it’s everything. She won’t admit it but I’m sure it’s guilt that’s made her decide to become a vegetarian. She feels guilty about the thought of animals suffering. She feels guilty about anything and everything. I’m worried to let her watch television on her own. She seems to have taken the whole responsibility for climate change onto her own shoulders, as if she is the sole reason for global warming. And that bloody pastor at the church. I don’t know what he said to her, but I’ve told her she’s not going back there.”

“Guilt has always been a problem with her. She’s still talks a lot about guilt.”

“It’s controlling her now. She’s not enjoying life Chris. It’s hard to see her like this again,” Robin was grave in expressing his concerns.

“This is what she was like after your daughter died?” enquired Chris.

tears annie“This is what she was like even before we lost Lucy. No energy, no enthusiasm. I guess the difference is she kept going physically because she knew Lucy needed her. She kept getting up in the night whenever Lucy cried. She did everything right. But within herself she just kind of shrivelled up. She lost her spark. There was this weird emptiness inside her. I do worry that she’s going to end up the same way. The difference this time is she doesn’t have to push herself. I reckon she’s sleeping for a minimum of twelve hours every day with all the napping she does, sometimes more like fifteen hours or more.”

“It really does sound like depression Rob.”

Robin nodded, “She is depressed, yes, no doubt about it. It’s a part of the Borderline though, I’m sure of it.”

“How about you? How are you coping?” Chris asked.

“Of course I worry, but not like I used to. For a start, Belle and I are two different people now. I have something I can relate to to understand some of what she is going through. She is so sweet. She doesn’t throw the kind of tantrums she used to. She’s just knackered almost all the time. But It’s great to have support Chris. I don’t feel alone with it. You, my parents, Nick and Anna – just knowing that there’s a team who know about Annabelle’s situation, it makes a huge difference. All the information about Borderline Personality Disorder too, it really helps. I try not to voice what I’m thinking to her because she still hates the idea of being labelled, but she matches everything I have read, and it helps me to see what is going to help her and what isn’t.”

walkes.png“I got the impression that when you were in Wales she was doing a lot of walking. She doesn’t seem keen now.”

“We were isolated up there. Perhaps it was what she needed for a short while. It was just the two of us really. The only other person she saw regularly was that fantastic therapist Margo. We saw people when we were out and about, and we had brief chats. I knew we had to get her back with people who loved her.”

“I thought she might want to start walking with the rambling group. They all love her you know.”

“Now she’s back here, she seems to feel more anxious about people. This is the very best place for her right now. I am sure of that. But this fear of life, this fear of making mistakes or causing damage, it’s holding her hold back. She’s becoming shy of people. All this worry and anxiety is robbing her of energy and enthusiasm. The psychological is affecting the physical. She even gets tired just walking into town.”

helping.pngChris tried to be upbeat, “So it was great that she was gardening then.”

“Really great. Great to see her looking happy. Pippa has been amazing today. Everyone here is. This town is just what she needs. Everyone is kind and encouraging. They like her. And because most of her friends here are over sixty, she can keep up with them. I kind of wish people would stop commenting on how much weight she has lost, but other than that, it’s all good.”

“This is a great town. It’s been good for me too. Although, the lack of young blood has its drawbacks.”

“If you’re talking about your dating life then no comment,” grinned Robin, “How about that waitress over in Winchester?”

“No comment.” replied Chris.

presentRobin laughed, “Annabelle loves that desk you made for her. Almost every day she will sit at it to write a letter to someone. She writes to my mother, to Anna, to Dean and to each member of her family. She wrote a sweet letter to her nephew Oliver yesterday and drew little pictures all over it.”

“So are things going well with her family?”

“We haven’t seen any of them since that reception in New York last year. We were ringing her parents every few weeks for a while. But since she started writing letters when we were in Wales, they have started calling her. Not just her parents. Her siblings and some of their kids have called to thank her for the letters they received.”

Chris was impressed, “That’s gotta be a good thing.”

dean nyc1“Yeah of course. She doesn’t feel she can cope with visiting New York to see them. But she seems to be enjoying having more contact with all of them. Mathers calls her too. He is still on the list of people she writes too. She’s been sending him photos, and he’s telling her everything him and the band are up to. Although I’ve told him to be careful in what he says to her. I still don’t know why the hell you called him that night Chris.”

“She was going out of her mind when we couldn’t get hold of you. I couldn’t get signal in the hospital. I kept leaving the ward to go outside to try to ring you.”

“But Dean was in bloody California – what could he do?”

“At four in the morning, I was shattered Rob. I didn’t know who else I could tell about Annabelle hurting herself. But she told me to ring Dean and to ask him to try to contact you. It meant I could close my eyes for a couple of hours. When he couldn’t get hold of you Dean told me that I was going to have to tell your parents. He seems to think a lot of them. Annabelle was so upset about me telling your Mum, but Dean spoke to her and convinced her there was no choice.”

arresst“Dean has a funny way of being helpful when it’s really important, but I still think he’s an imbecile. You know he was arrested for driving while intoxicated last month. Annabelle doesn’t know. She doesn’t seem to use her phone or laptop anymore, so somehow she’s avoided finding out about it. Honestly though, I’m not really happy about the two of them being in touch so often.”

“He does care about her a lot though,” Chris defended his favourite musician.

“I value that. I value what he has told me about when she struggled in the past and what seemed to help her. But still, she is delicate Chris. Dean could knock her back so easily.”

“I think she knows him well enough by now surely.”

Cake, Coffee, Food, Drink, Table, CouchRobin contradicted Chris, “He calls her a brat Chris. A brat – Belle? I mean, that’s the last thing she needs right now.”

“She’d have laughed about that in the past.”

“She would have. I’m sure she has. But no matter what I tell him, he doesn’t seem to understand how different she is since January. I don’t think she does laugh nowadays Chris.”

“Rob, I know Dean might not use the gentlest words with Annie. But I think she will overlook that. She knows, I’m sure she knows that he loves her in his own way. She needs all the love she can get at the moment. That’s what is going to help her get better. A lot of love and reassurance.”

lucy blueRob nodded, “This is just as bad as when she had postnatal depression. And the sad thing is, she’s been scared of this happening to her again. She doesn’t want to have another child, because she has been fearing this kind of depression. But she’s here again, just a shell of the person she normally is. Always tired. Shy of life, scared of life.”

Chris was determined to be encouraging, “But she’s trying. Stay positive. Today was a good day. More days like today is what she needs.”

“I love her Chris, I don’t like the thought of how much she is hurting. I could bloody kick myself when I think that last time she was like this, I left her here on her own because I didn’t know what to do anymore. I’ve learnt a hell of a lot about life and about love since then. I’m not going to let her down.”


Another part coming soon…

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:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels 


After one of her worst incidents of harming herself, Annabelle spent a couple of weeks in hospital before at the suggestion of his father, Robin took Annabelle up to the family’s holiday cottage in North Wales. Just over three months later Robin and Annabelle are returning to their home in Blackwood, Wisconsin.

These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:

blackwood.jpegAnnabelle was glad to be back in Blackwood. It felt to good to step back into the house Robin and her had lived in happily for six months the previous year. The white walls and exposed floorboards she had enjoyed happy months at the start of her marriage, seemed so pleasant and soothing to her.

They had only intended to be in England until the middle of February. Twelve weeks later than planned, they arrived back at their home in their Wisconsin home. Annabelle was relieved to be far away from the memory of the car crash outside the Grainger’s estate in Berkshire. Despite what everyone had kindly said, and despite the helpful counselling she had benefited from both in Reading and up in North Wales, the memory of that day and the guilt that ensued were hard to battle with.

fi and anBurt and Pearl were thrilled to have Annabelle back in Blackwood. They had missed her. Chris and Robin had discussed Annabelle’s situation and had decided it was best for Chris to answer any questions from The Jennings by saying that Annabelle wasn’t well. Pearl became excited, jumping to the conclusion that perhaps Annabelle was pregnant. Chris didn’t add any information to what he had already shared.

But when Annabelle and Robin arrived at Burt and Pearl’s home, she was so much thinner than when they have last seen her, Peal abandoned the idea that she might be pregnant. “How are you feeling Annabelle?”

“I’m well thank you Pearl.”

cakes.jpeg“Christopher told us you had become ill when you were out in England. I’m glad you are better now,” Pearl hugged Annabelle, “But we need to fatten you up Annie. Would you like some cake?”

Annabelle felt a little self-conscious, “Thank you Pearl, I would love some cake.”

Robin answered a lot of the questions Burt and Pearl asked. He told them they would wait until Annabelle was feeling stronger before she responded to any requests to take up the ironing jobs she had before. He said he was eager to pick up gardening jobs again and was pleased when they said they would spread the word amongst their neighbours and friends. Robin encouraged Annabelle to tell Burt and Pearl about their anniversary party just before they had left England.

teesAfter the doorbell rang, Burt went to answer the door. He returned to the sunroom followed by Chris, who had just finished work. As soon as Annabelle realised he had entered the room, she leant forward to place her tea cup and saucer down and stood up, smoothing her hands over her dress to neaten it.

Robin had already bound over to Chris to shake his hand. Annabelle stepped forward and nervously looking at Chris, she raised her arms. He responded immediately and the two shared a warm hug. Annabelle returned to the sofa and Robin sat beside her with his arm place around her.

annie looking downPearl invited Chris to join them for some tea and cake. Chris eyed the cake hungrily. The five friends talked for another half hour. Annabelle remained the quietest of the party. But she felt happy. Pearl had already invited them to stay for dinner, but after repeating her invitation to try to persuade her guests to stay, Annabelle confessed she was weary after their flight the day before. Robin saw the tiredness that had crept over his wife, and began to thank The Jennings for their hospitality.

Chris also took his leave and followed Robin and Annabelle as they departed. Robin and Annabelle were walking home, but as they were on their way down the drive towards Chris’ truck, Robin and Chris quietly made a plan for the evening.

“You’re tired Belle.”

Annabelle nodded in agreement, “I am tired Robin. It just came over me suddenly.”

dinne.png“Do you want to have a nap when we get back? Chris is going to go and clean up. He said he’ll pick up some pizza on the way over to our place.”

Annabelle smiled and linked Robin’s arm, “Yes, I think I should go and rest when we get back. I don’t want to be miserable company.”

“Your two biggest fans are never going to find you miserable company. But do have a rest.”

When Chris arrived over an hour later, Annabelle was still asleep. “I think I’m going to leave her a bit Chris. She’s been sleeping a lot since the accident. She normally naps in the afternoon. She’s not been herself ever since. But gradually she’s been building her strength back up. She set goals for how long she wanted to walk each day, when we were living in Snowdonia. She’s doing really well.”

“She said in her last letter that she had a great therapist over there.”

Photo of Woman Standing Near Shrub“Yes, Margo. They really clicked. Margo was amazing. She took Annabelle out to talk instead of keeping her indoors. Annabelle told her about how much easier she had found talking to you out in the open, so Margo said weather permitting they would do that. She saw her a couple of times a week.”

“How is she doing?”

“We’re working on building her appetite back up. She likes Greek food. She only seems interested in hummus and salad. She never did eat lamb anyway” Robin looked as if he wanted to laugh for a moment but restrained himself, “She liked Wales. It was good for her to get away from the estate and everyone’s questions. I know she’s very glad to be back here in Blackwood.”

“A lot of folk have been asking about her Rob. They adore Annie. She will find a lot are very pleased to see her.”

fighters“That’s what she needs,” sighed Robin, “It was a huge knock to her though. She was so disappointed in herself. She has been really depressed about it. I think she’s just as bad as she was after Lucy died.”

“I was worried when I read her letters.”

“Thanks for the letters you sent. She has appreciated them so much. She’s turned into a total Luddite recently. In Snowdonia, she could never get signal on her phone and the broadband was really dodgy. But she loved buying her pretty writing paper and cards when she was out with Margo. She would come home and start writing. She’s sent letters to her parents and to Dean. She’s still going over things that happened in the past trying to understand why she reacts to feelings of guilt and failure so dramatically.”

annie coffee“I think anyone would struggle to get over what happened in that car crash.”

“Exactly, I keep telling her,” Robin sighed, “It’s going to take time Chris. We are making an appointment to get her therapy up and running again. She wants to carry on with twice a week to begin with. She says a week is too long. But if you have any spare time, I know how much she appreciates being able to talk with you. If you’re up to it.”

“Of course, I mean Rob, you know how much I want to be there for her. I just, well, you tell me how it’s going to work.”

Robin looked at Chris, “She is so beautiful Chris, she’s so sweet. I can’t settle with the idea of the two of you alone. I don’t mean that disrespectfully. But she’s so easy to love.”

“I wouldn’t Rob, I wouldn’t take advantage. She trusts me. I know how scared she’s been in the past about hurting you. It makes her uneasy and guarded. I want her to talk, I don’t want her to feel she’s doing something wrong.”

chris holding annieRobin nodded, “She needs to talk. Maybe if we were out together, the three of us. Or even hanging out here. I could be in the next room or something. It’s not that I’m suspicious, but when she’s pouring her heart out and she’s weeping, like she does, I know what you are going to want to do. I get it, it’s natural, but I’m not ok with that.”

“I’ll make sure I’m never alone with her,” promised Chris.

“I think I need that Chris. I’m sorry mate, but I do.”

Chris nodded, “I need a beer Rob. It’s been a long day.”

Robin and Chris were sat on the sofa watching television when Annabelle walked into the lounge area of their home. She lent down and kissed the side of Robin’s head, “Did you save me some pizza?”

“There’s a slice of pepperoni, a slice of BBQ Chicken and a whole vegetarian feast,” replied Robin.

Sliced Pepperoni Pizza on White Ceramic Plate“You have the pepperoni. I think I will nuke some of the vegetarian pizza,” said Annabelle.

“No, you sit down, I’ll get it for you,” volunteered Robin.

Annabelle looked grateful, “Rob-in,” she said in a childish tone.

“Yes Belle, what do you want?”

“Would you put some of those olives we bought on my pizza please?”

“Sure – extra olives. Would you like a drink?” asked Robin.

“Could I have some lime and soda please?”

“Of course. Sit. Relax.” Robin headed off to the kitchen, while Annabelle sat down.

Chris muted the television and turned towards her, “Alright Annie?”

Woman Lying on Bed Holding Book“I’m alright Chris. I didn’t mean to sleep for so long. But it feels good. You can’t hear the television from the bedroom at all. I noticed last night when I was reading in the bedroom and Robin was watching the news in here.”

“Must be the soundproofing we put in.”

Annabelle looked surprised, “What? Is that some kind of extra insulation or something?”

“Yeah, when I took all the paneling off, the plaster behind was is in such a bad shape. We ended up stripping everything back to the timbers and then we insulated and soundproofed the bedroom before we put up new plasterboard and fresh plaster.”

“Oh, I didn’t realize it was so complicated. You did a lot of work on this place.”

Person Using Dewalt Cordless Impact Driver on Brown Board“I put a lot of love into this place Annie. I knew who was going to be living here.”

“Thank you Chris. I mean for everything. Everything.”

Robin returned with two bottles of  beer and a lime soda for Annabelle. “Pizza’s on the way Belle,” he gave her a peck on the cheek, before dashing back towards the kitchen.

Chris took a swig of beer, “It was really hard to leave England with you still in that hospital.”

welsh“I was glad to get out of there! I can’t think about it though Chris, that hospital was scary,” Annabelle wrung her hands together, “The cottage we went to is really nice. I could have stayed there forever. I wish you could have seen Wales. It was spectacular. Unlike anything I have seen over in England. Well, Wales is a whole separate country, but they are all part of the UK. Except that in Wales, we didn’t need to pay for prescriptions at all.”

Chris smiled, “I’m glad you are back in Blackwood Annie. Did you take photos when you were in Wales?”

“I think Robin did. I couldn’t be bothered with my phone. I couldn’t get any signal anywhere except Wrexham. We had to go up to the hospital there a couple of times so they could check up on my arm.”

hm.pngRobin reappeared with the pizza for Belle, “There’s a little tub of herby mayonnaise from the pizzeria.”

Annabelle smiled, “Thank you Gorgeous, Robin did you take many photos up in Wales? I was just telling Chris how stunning it is.”

As Robin pulled out his phone and started to flick through the screen, Chris watched Annabelle. She bowed her head and kept her head bent forwards for about a minute before she started to eat her pizza. Chris found himself wanting to watch Annabelle eat pizza more than he wanted to look at photographs of Wales. But he politely looked at the scenes of forests, waterfalls, and hills in Snowdonia.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Without thinking before he spoke, he remarked, “What’s with all the sheep?”

Annabelle looked up in surprise. Robin glared at Chris. Annabelle finished the mouthful of pizza she had, and then began to laugh. “Do you know what the crazy thing is…Robin, how many times did we see sheep that had escaped out into the roads?”

hazard.jpegRobin looked at Annabelle and started to laugh too. He rose up and sat on the arm of the chair Annabelle was seated in. He put his hands around her shoulders and lent his head against hers, “It’s bloody dangerous. Even I nearly hit one when we drove up to Bala Lake.”

Annabelle was still laughing “And Margo said there are accidents and near-misses all the time. It’s just an everyday hazard of life in that part of North Wales. There are so many bloody sheep, and some of the fencing is broken down. Bloody sheep are a nightmare. I refuse to wear wool and Robin has agreed not to eat lamb anymore. I’m starting the anti-sheep movement. They should stop  farming them and then the roads wouldn’t be so bloody dangerous. Bloody sheep!”

Chris watched as Annabelle’s laughter turned to tears. Robin rubbed her arms. He knelt on the floor and pressed his forehead against Annabelle’s and placed his hands on the back of her head, “Breathe.”

Photo of Holding HandsAnnabelle reached to take Robin’s hand in hers, she locked her fingers around his, “I’m so sorry. I’m so so sorry,” Annabelle sobbed.

“Take it easy. Breathe. Just breathe,” Robin whispered to her.

A few minutes later Robin escorted Annabelle back to their bedroom. He returned to tell Chris they were going to call it a night. Chris put his jacket on said he would call the next day about a couple of gardening jobs he had lined up for Robin, “I hope she’s gonna be ok Rob.”

Robin sighed, “She’ll be ok. I forgot to mention we don’t talk about sheep at all now Chris.”


Another part coming soon…

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:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels 




After the shock of the serious car crash that occurred outside his parent’s home (due to sheep escaping the meadow when Annabelle forgot to close the gate behind her), Robin saw something else that upset him. He witnessed Chris and Annabelle embracing within the stables. Overwhelmed, Robin climbed into his car and drove up to his parent’s London home.

These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:

dratRobin found it hard to sleep that cold January night. He paced around the guest room in his parent’s London home. He’d taken a bottle of gin out of the cabinet in the dining room. But after one glass, he found it made him sick to his stomach. He had not touched a cigarette in over a year because he knew Annabelle hated tobacco, but he found himself craving one. When he tried to sleep he tossed and turned with images of Annabelle and Chris together haunting him.

Robin’s phone was on silent setting, but he kept on seeing it glow. Glancing over he would see it was either Chris or Annabelle trying to call. Then just Chris, every hour or so throughout the night. Chris was the last person Robin wanted to speak to. He was determined to ignore his phone.

It was a surprise to see a couple of missed calls from Dean Mathers at around four o’clock in the morning. Robin could see that a number of voice messages had been left on his phone, but he had no desire to listen to them.

Robin had not slept at all when the morning light started to seep through the gap in heavy curtains. There was a knock at the door and Robin heard his name called out by his mother.

hosp.jpgRobin dressed hastily so he could open the door to his mother who had a china mug of strong black coffee for him. “I have just had a phone-call Robin, from that young American man. He’s been trying to contact you all night. You must have slept through his calls. He took Annabelle to hospital last night. She has been asking for you.”

“What! Where?”

“They are in Reading. He said he took her to Accident and Emergency, but that after she was treated there, she was moved to an observation ward.”

“What kind of observation ward?”

“Robin, there seems to be a question over her mental health. Your American friend seemed very anxious that you head to the hospital immediately. I will come with you. Your father has meetings today. But I will cancel my engagements for today.”


grrrr“Happy Anniversary Annabelle.”

Annabelle smiled sleepily, “A whole year Robin. It’s gone so quickly.”

“28th April. It’s been quite a year though hey.”

A slight frown appeared on Annabelle’s face, “We’ve had more than a few challenges.”

Robin gently kissed the scars on Annabelle’s left arm, “You are so precious to me.”

Tears trickled from Annabelle’s eyes, “I don’t deserve you. I feel like such a let down sometimes.”

annabelle finale“You are a treasure, more precious than you know. It’s me that has sometimes forgotten that you have a delicate side. You are perfectly lovely. I am the brute. I’ve let you down when you were most vulnerable.”

“You shouldn’t say things like that. You’ve never been a brute. Robin. You’ve been so kind,” Annabelle shivered, “I still feel terrible about what happened back in January.”

“Shhh, we’ve talked about this a hundred times Belle. We have all done it. Every member of my family, I swear, and friends and visitors. That’s why everyone goes on about that gate all the time. We have all forgotten about that gate. The sheep have escaped before. It could have been any of us it happened to. It was a huge shock I know, but it was an accident. It was a horrible coincidence that that driver was taking the bend at such speed. The roads were icy, he should not have been taking the bend so quickly. But everyone is fine now, and that couple seem more than satisfied with the settlement. And everyone is glad the speed limit has been lowered.”

english2“I am so scared to go back there, that day was so awful.”

Robin sighed, “It’s been over three months Belle. Everyone is looking forward to seeing you tonight.”

Annabelle pulled a face, “But I like Wales Robin. It’s good for the heart.”

“Snowdonia is beautiful. I think it was a good idea of Dad’s to bring you up here after you left hospital. But it’s time to be brave.”

“Everyone knows don’t they?”

“Most of the family know you had a kind of breakdown after that accident on the lane. Everyone is hugely sympathetic. It’s only my parents and Nick and Anna who know why Chris took you to hospital. But you agreed that you wanted them to know. They understand that you are very sensitive about it.”

robin bed“It’s good that they know. It’s too much for you to deal with on your own. I’m just scared of what they really think of me. What about all the neighbours? What must they think of me?”

“The line has been that you were very upset after the accident, which you were. Nobody knows anything Belle. My parents are very good at deflecting interest in anything personal. Everyone is just empathetic that something happened when you were trying so hard to settle into country life. Believe me, all of our neighbours realize that not closing a gate is so easily done. Nobody is going to judge you.”

Annabelle nodded as more tears trickled from her eyes, “I was trying so hard Robin. I wanted to learn all about the estate and how to cook properly and how to do everything right.”

“You were doing wonderfully Belle. You really were. I don’t think we told you enough how well you were doing. I was so proud of you. I am proud of you. The estate isn’t going anywhere. In the future we can start afresh. We’ll come back again for Christmas with my parents and stay a little while afterwards. Maybe not as long this time.”

“Thank you for being so wonderful Robin.”

early ngith“We have a responsibility to look after each other. Nothing is more important to me than you. And I have enjoyed learning to cook. It’s been good for me.”

“You’re a better cook than I am.”

Robin grinned, “All the best chefs are men Belle.”

Annabelle played with a tuft of Robin’s hair, “Thank you for sticking with me even though I caused so much stress.”

“You didn’t cause stress. My only regret is that I wasn’t with you that night. You were so brave. I should have been there with you.”

“I kept asking Chris where you were,” Annabelle murmured, “I wanted you so much.”

chris england“Chris told me everything that happened Belle. Everything. I will be forever indebted to him. He was amazing. Are you looking forward to seeing him again?”

“His letters are so beautiful, aren’t they? You know I have never been close to my older brothers, but Chris feels like my brother. We are two peas in a pod. I think we understand each other so well.”

“Chris is family Belle. No doubt about that.”

“He was so perfect that night. Maybe it was good that he found me. I think it would have upset you even more Robin if you saw what I was doing. You had already had such an awful day. Chris hadn’t had to deal with any of the stress from the crash. Maybe it was better he was the one who found me.”

Robin planted his lips onto Annabelle’s left arm again, “Come on Belle. Let’s get ready. We want to beat the rush hour traffic.”

Robin and Annabelle had a long journey ahead of them. After leaving the cottage near Betws-Y-Coed that his father owned, and their home for the over two months, Robin drove down to Berkshire.

anniversary.jpgThat evening many of the Grainger family were gathered at the Inkpen home of Stephen and Fiona, Robin’s parents. Fiona had arranged a very pleasant but low key anniversary party to celebrate the first wedding anniversary of their son. Most of the family had not seen Annabelle since Christmas. She was very nervous. She had chosen a long sleeved dress that hid the scars on her left arm.

Annabelle struggled to make eye contact with any of Robin’s family. But she was deeply appreciative of the hugs and squeezes of her hand from Robin’s relatives. Nobody mentioned the accident. Nobody asked Annabelle anything too personal. They all commented on how well she looked and asked her what she thought of Snowdonia. Anna made it very clear how delighted she was to see Annabelle again. The evening passed smoothly.


“That was nice wasn’t it?” asked Robin as he embraced Annabelle later that night.

“It was lovely.”

“You are lovely,” Robin kissed his wife.

vals“I love you so much gorgeous man!” she cried.

“I have an anniversary card for you.”

“I didn’t get you a card,” sulked Annabelle.

“That’s ok, you can make up for that by putting on that little red number I bought you for Valentine’s. But first you should read my card. Well, it’s not a card, it’s a boat, a paper boat. I’ve been very romantic you know. I’m going to go and grab some of the leftover wine from tonight and thank mum and dad. You read my message over there on the pillow,” Robin kissed Annabelle’s forehead and then left her to read his card on her own.

Annabelle picked up the paper boat that was resting on a pillow on the bed. She unfolded it and read the message Robin had written:








Another part coming soon…

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:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels 





Chris has been staying with Robin and Annabelle at the home belonging to Stephen and Fiona Grainger in Berkshire. His sister and her boyfriend are due to arrive from London, so Chris has gone up to meet them at Newbury Train Station and to have lunch with them in town.

Walking The Dog, Dog, Sunset, Dogs

Annabelle has been asked to attend a council meeting at the local village hall by Fiona Grainger. Before the meeting she takes Rufus for a quick walk, but rushing on the way back, an act of carelessness has serious consequences.

These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:

exha“How many times have I told you to shut the gate behind you Annabelle?” yelled Robin in frustration.

“I’m sorry Robin. I’m sorry. I was in a hurry because I realized I was going to be late.”

“Do you have any idea how dangerous…? God! Annabelle! Do you realize how serious it is?”

“I do now, Robin, I’m sorry.”

“It could have been so much worse. Somebody could have died. Do you understand that?”

Annabelle couldn’t take any more of her husband’s censure. She turned and ran from him, her face beetroot and soaked with tears. Nick glanced at Robin, who was white with anger. “Anna is still giving her statement to the police. I’ll go and check in with her.”

As Nick was returning to the lane where two police cars were still blockading the road and a flatpress truck was loading the damaged car onto the back, his phone began to ring. “Hi Chris, are you on your way back here?”

lane.png“The road is blocked Nick. I couldn’t get through to Rob or Annie. Both of their phones are just ringing until they go to voicemail.”

“There’s been an accident in the lane. Whereabouts are you?”

“We are still in the cab. There is a long queue of cars. It looks as if people are trying to turn around, but the cabbie says the lane is so narrow it’s taking ages for cars to turn around. We’re running up the meter sitting here.”

“I’d get out of the taxi, if I were you. I’m a bit tied up here Chris. But if you just walk the rest of the way and tell the police you are staying here here, I’m sure they’ll let you through. Any problems, give me another call.”

lane1.pngOn foot, Chris, with his sister Gina and her boyfriend Jordan, were able to get through to the driveway around fifteen minutes later. They saw the crumpled bonnet of the car being lifted onto the flat press truck. Jordan whistled, “That looks serious.”

Anna greeted them as they arrived. She looked flustered, but she was attentive to welcoming Gina and Jordan to the Grainger’s home. She apologised for the absence of Robin and Annabelle and explained there was a lot happening because of the accident on the lane outside the property. She showed them into the house and took them up to the guestroom they would be sharing. She then offered to fetch some tea for them.

Leaving Jordan and Gina up in the room, Chris raced after Anna, “What happened?”

lane3.pngAnna looked at Chris trying to maintain her composure, “Some of the sheep wandered into the lane. A car was coming around the bend and tried to swerve to avoid them, but ended up…” Anna took a few breaths, “Sorry, it was just a shock. The lady in the passenger seat was covered in blood. The paramedics have taken her to The Great Western Hospital in Swindon. Everyone is upset.”

“Oh God, I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?”

Anna shook her head, “I think it’s just going to take a while for the police to finish off outside. Nick and Robin are dealing with everything. It’s just awful.”

“Is Annie alright?”

anna upsetAnna was pale with the shock of the events of the previous couple of hours. She closed her eyes and pursed her lips, “I have not seen her since I had to give the police my statement. But I heard the shouting. We could hear the shouting from the lane. I am sure she will be devastated.”

Chris probed further, “Where is she Anna?”

“I don’t know. I looked in her room, and she’s not there. I don’t know where she is. She was with Nick and Robin last time I saw her, but they were in shock. It was a real shock for them to come back and see all the emergency vehicles and that poor couple. I know they were asking Annabelle lots of questions, and they were angry about what had happened. I had to go and give a statement to the police, I don’t know where she went. There’s just so much to do. I haven’t had time to go and look for her. I am sure Robin will find her. Everyone is just so upset.”

english2Chris thanked Anna and told her to ring him if he could be of any help. He told her his intention to try to find Annabelle. Chris exited the house again and looked over towards the lane. The truck carrying the damaged vehicle was slowly making it’s way along the lane. There was no sign of Robin or Nick. The Grainger’s dog Rufus sat obediently on the drive watching everything happening and letting out the occasional bark.

Chris wandered towards the formal gardens at the side of the house. The day before, Annabelle had sat in the portico telling him about the work involved with the Inkpen estate. He headed towards it, but there was no sign of Annabelle. He strode around the gardens searching for any sign of her. He wondered if she had gone for a walk out in the woods.

stables.pngHe tried to think about how Annabelle might be feeling. Anna had said she would be devastated. But there was something about what Anna had said that made him feel urgent about Annabelle.

In a moment of panic, Chris headed towards the outbuilding he knew was packed with tools. Nick had shown Chris the workshop and tool shed. Chris called out Annabelle’s name, but the only sound he heard was the scuttle of a mouse. There was another outbuilding, which had some old farm equipment stored inside it. There was no sign of Annabelle there. Chris headed for the stable block, and headed into the first shed which housed saddles, tackle and other livery. There was no sign of Annabelle, but Chris paused for a moment as he heard a noise that his ears struggled to identify.

bay.pngHe walked round to the main entrance of the stables. Two of the horses stirred as he entered. He couldn’t resist rubbing his hand on the nose of the beautiful bay horse that he knew Fiona Grainger adored. That noise he had detected next door sounded again immediately followed by what sounded like a gasp.

Chris silently stepped towards the direction the sound was coming from. It was an image he found hard to forget for a long time afterwards. Annabelle was stood with her left arm stretched out. Even from a few metres away, it seemed that ribbons of bloody flesh had formed. Seeing Annabelle lifting the horsewhip in her right hand to strike her arm again, moved Chris to leap forwards and grab her right arm, “Annie! Stop!”

Chris had never seen Annabelle in such a state. Her hair was wild. Her red eyes were bulging. Her face and chest blotchy and puffy. There were bright red scratch marks all over her face, neck and chest as well as her right arm. The worst of her injuries were on her left arm. It took some time before Chris had been able to calm Annabelle enough for her to speak. “It’s all my fault,” she kept on saying, “They could have died.”

roadsSeeing Annabelle so distraught and hearing her self-condemning words made Chris very cautious. He was afraid to say the wrong thing to Annabelle. He tried to make a comment about the icy roads, crazy English drivers and the National Speed limit lanes. “How is it safe to be allowed to drive round those bends at 60 miles per hour?” But Annabelle wouldn’t let him say anything more.

“They’ve told me over and over how important it is to make sure the gate is shut. I am so stupid. It’s all my fault. I could have killed them. If they had died, I would have been responsible.” Annabelle sobbed and sobbed.

Neither Chris nor Annabelle were aware of how much time passed. It had been over half an hour in fact, between Chris grabbing the horsewhip from Annabelle and the moment that he took her blood stained hand into his and began to stroke it gently. She was so overcome with emotion that Annabelle was hardly aware of letting Chris take her hand. As Annabelle’s sobs lessened, she found herself leaning her face against his, breathing in the scent of his aftershave. Carefully avoiding her throbbing left arm, Chris had wrapped his arms around Annabelle. His right hand stroked her hair as he whispered over and over “Hush.” into her ear and kissed her head.

RobNeither of them were aware of how long they stood like that. Neither of them had heard someone else entering the stable and the neighing of the horses. Neither of them were aware that behind them stood Robin staring at his wife wrapped up in the arms of Chris.

From where he stood, Robin could not see any of the injuries Annabelle had inflicted on herself. He just saw his wife feeling hurt because of his anger towards her and turning to Chris for comfort. He saw Chris as seizing the chance to rekindle the affection between them. It was too much for Robin after the shock he had already been dealt that afternoon. He backed away silently feeling a stab of pain flood into his chest.


flee.pngNick received a phone call from Robin almost an hour later. Robin had just pulled over at a service station so he could fill up the petrol tank in his car. But before rejoining the motorway, he called Nick to tell him he was almost in London and wanted to break the news to his parents in person about the serious accident outside their home. Nick told Robin that Chris had been looking for him and trying to call. Aware of eight missed calls from Chris on his phone, Robin replied that he had been driving so had not been able to answer the phone.

“I think he was worried about Annabelle,” explained Nick.

Robin hesitated to reply, but in his hurt he snapped “Well Chris bloody well knows what she needs more than I do. He can take care of her.”

Coat, Designer Suit, Hand, Hands, ManBy the time Robin reached his parent’s home in London, they were on their way out to attend an event at a gallery in the city center. As a trustee, and being scheduled to deliver a speech about the charity’s projects during the previous year, it was an obligation that Stephen Grainger needed to keep.

On hearing the news of the accident, Stephen asked a logical series of questions about how the couple involved in the accident were, followed by enquiries as to the preliminary feedback from the police and about damage at the property. He was satisfied that between them Robin and Nick had handled everything properly. He assured Robin that there had been other accidents on the lane before and it wasn’t the first time somebody had forgotten to close the gate and sheep had got into the road. He added, “You must remind Annabelle how important it is to shut that gate, although she bloody well ought to realize now how serious it is”.

crys.pngFiona asked Robin how Annabelle was. Robin heaved a sigh and shook his head burying his face into his hands. Stephen looked alarmed, “I need to go Fi.” After a few quiet words together, it was agreed that Stephen would go alone to the charity event. Fiona remained with Robin who became distraught with tears as soon as his father had left.

“Where’s Annabelle? Why didn’t you bring here with you?”

When Robin replied, he couldn’t hide his bitterness, “Oh she wanted to stay, believe me, she is just fine.”


Another part coming soon…

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:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels 




Just after Thanksgiving, Robin and Annabelle travelled from Blackwood back over to Berkshire in England to spend Christmas with the Grainger family and to spend some time learning about the estate. But before they left, Gina had asked Robin if she could bring her boyfriend up to see some of the English countryside when she was visiting him in London. Annabelle seized the opportunity to invite Chris to come over with his sister.

These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:

chig.jpegIn the middle of January, Chris and Gina flew from Chicago out to London. In London they split up. Gina was going to spend a few days with Jordan in Hammersmith before the two of them headed down to Inkpen.

Chris was to head straight to stay at the home of Stephen and Fiona Grainger in the Berkshire countryside. Only, they were up in London. It was Robin and Annabelle Grainger who were in residence. Robin showed Chris the guest suite on an upper floor, on opposite side of the house to the room he and his wife slept in.

Chris received a warm welcome from Robin and Annabelle, who suggested going out to a pub in Newbury Town Center for something to eat. After whispering to Annabelle, Robin excused himself saying he was going to walk to the nearby Waitrose supermarket to pick up some ingredients Annabelle wanted to cook with.

chat“Robin knows I want to talk with you on my own Chris. Your sister tells me that you were very quiet throughout Christmas with your family. She says you are depressed.”

“Gina has her head in the clouds these days. All she talks about is how wonderful Jordan is. If we are not all singing and dancing like she is, then she thinks something is wrong.”

“Fair enough,” Annabelle stared at Chris, searching his eyes. He turned way under her scrutiny, “Are we going talk about it, or are we just going to bury it and hope it all goes away?”

“There’s nothing to talk about Annie.”

“Don’t say that Chris. There’s all sorts of conversations we should have had, but neither of us were ready for. It crushed me at times – the guilt I mean. I let you down. I know it.”

snug“No. No you didn’t let me down. You just changed me. You changed what I want out of life, what I want out of a relationship. I can’t go back to the way things were before I met you, and I am in a bit of a rut because I don’t know quite how things are going to be from now on.”

“What do you mean Chris?”

“I used to enjoy no strings Annie. The last time I had anything like a serious relationship was back at college. She couldn’t cope with me being depressed though. After that, well, I had sex, a healthy amount of sex, no strings attached, no commitment, mostly one night stand sex. You’ve ruined that for me.”

"Confused young caucasian woman, horizontal composition"

Annabelle pulled a side smile, “Erm…is that what I am guilty of hey? Ruining your sex life? I don’t know what to say.”

“You introduced me to what a bitch love can be. Sometimes, I kind of wish I had never met you, but I’m still hooked Annie. I won’t let it be a problem. I love you too much to let it be your problem, or Robin’s. It’s my problem. I just don’t see how I’m going to get over it.”

Annabelle looked uncomfortable, “Is there anything I, or we need to change? I mean, would it help if we spent less time over in Blackwood? Or if we didn’t come back at all?”

“The best friend I have ever had is asking me would it help if she stayed away. I’m going to say no. Since you and Rob came back to England, I have been down – ok. I miss you. Both of you. Rob’s alright you know. There’s no one else in Blackwood I have really clicked with. No offense to Mr and Mrs J. Burt and Pearl are great. They invite me over for dinner every week.”

Woman in White Sleeveless Tops Holding Wine Glass“Rob is pleased you are here. He thinks a lot of you Chris. And Nick and Anna are looking forward to seeing you.”

Chris looked awkward, “When you were having counselling, Rob and I would usually go somewhere for a drink. There was a woman who worked at a bar in Winchester. She was real friendly, Rob might remember her. She slipped me her number once. Well, after the two of you left Blackwood, I called her. I went over to Winchester and we went out for a drink. I ended up back at her place.”

Annabelle paused, “Well, that’s good isn’t it?”

Chris looked annoyed at Annabelle, “It was awful Annie. I hated myself. She could have been anyone. I hardly said a word to her and I wasn’t listening to a word she said when we were out for a drink. She came onto me, and I just went along with it. She was hot. She was not remotely shy back at her place. It was meaningless. Meaningless sex used to be great, but now…well, it did nothing for me. It was even worse than the night with Jenna.”

Annabelle shook her head, “I can’t think about you and Jenna.”

“No, don’t think about it. Anyway, it’s got to pass at some stage. But until it does, it’s going to be a pretty lonely life for me.”

annie sad1“Don’t be lonely Chris. loneliness is horrible. It’s a miserable, cruel, savage thing. Your mind starts playing tricks with you and you feel bitter against everyone. It’s so hard to beat. You are loved Chris. We love you, Robin and I. Burt and Pearl love you. Your sister really loves you and I am sure all of your family do. Please don’t be lonely.”

A few tears escaped from his eyelids, as Chris explained, “It’s not a choice Annie. It’s just having my hopes blown up out of the water. Two years ago, I met someone unlike anyone else I have met. I thought you were beautiful, and back then I guess I just thought of sex. I didn’t know it was going to become something special. I didn’t know it was going to be love. I didn’t expect that I was going to end up opening up and telling you everything I’d been scared to tell anyone else. That closeness, I was so sure that we’d end up together. I couldn’t see past that.”

“New York,” murmured Annabelle.

“New York. Yeah, I think by then I’d already passed the point of no return. We were both sharing a lot. You know stuff about me nobody else knows. And then we went back to Blackwood and you shut me off. I watched you backing away from me. Avoiding me, not wanting to talk. Then we did just before last Christmas. It kind of got my hopes up again, even though you were still not telling me everything. I knew when I drove you to Appleton airport a year ago that I had lost you.”

rob and annie 8“I didn’t mean to Chris,” Annabelle plunged her hands into her pockets, “I was just crushed by the diagnosis from that Doctor up in Leaston. Robin has helped me a lot. But when I was on my own with it, it was overwhelming. I shouldn’t have gone on my own. If it had been one of my regular appointments that you were driving me to, maybe I could have talked to you straight away, and you could have helped me calm down. I was devastated. I shut down, I know I did, but it wasn’t you.”

“Rob told me how much it had knocked you. But even before then Annie, there were things about you that you never trusted me with, I don’t know Annie, I guess I thought we were telling each other everything. But after that trip to New York, I thought that there were things you didn’t want me to know about. I got it wrong. I thought there was something going on with you and Dean. And then it was after your wedding that I found out you had never told me about owning an apartment in Manhattan. I just felt like you didn’t trust me.”

dean and annie9“Dean and I made our peace that weekend in New York Chris. That was a huge weight lifted off my heart. The way we had split up had been awful. I told you as much as anyone knew, perhaps more. I won’t tell anyone else Dean’s confessions. The apartment, well that was something I never thought about Chris. I was there for almost eighteen months after I split up with Dean. I left to go to England. I’ve never been to the apartment since. I never thought about it. It was just a box, walls, floors ceilings. I felt empty there, until I met Robin. When Robin left England, it was an empty lonely box again. A box I was happy to leave behind. I just wanted to be with Robin so much.”

“I thought that maybe you had been to your apartment that night Mildew played at Madison Square Gardens.”

“No, I went to see my parents. I spent a bit of time with my Dad who showed me all the statements and paperwork from the flat. I had no idea that all that money from the rent had been building up. No idea. I only found out that night. I was so excited that it could help Robin. I was so excited, and then that Doctor…that Doctor’s words just took away all that excitement.”

annies dadChris nodded, “I guess that’s something you wanted to do alone.”

“I think it was more of a spur of the moment decision to go there Chris. I couldn’t hear Mildew play. Dean had told me I was nuts for worrying about making peace with him and not trying to make peace with my family first. I think I went to see them realizing perhaps it was an opportunity to try to break the silence between us. But it didn’t work out. Mom saw me and said she had to go out. Dad just wanted to watch a game. I sat there feeling like a complete idiot. But when I asked Dad about the apartment, he showed me all the paperwork he had been looking after. It wasn’t a complete waste of time.”

Chris pursed his lips, “It was interesting to meet them Annie. I didn’t mean to interfere.”

Standing Person Using Fork and Knife on Preparing Food“Yes, well, I’m glad you did. I am glad that whatever you said made them think. Perhaps they wouldn’t have agreed to the reception if you hadn’t said something. It was actually a relief that my family and some of Robin’s family were in the same room at last.”

“I hope you’ll have more chances like that,” he smiled.

Annabelle laughed, “I am still sure it was a success because my mother didn’t have to cook, so she wasn’t stressed out like she usually is at family get togethers. I have no idea what will happen in the future. But so far, Robin has made sure we call my parents together at least once a month. It’s something I dread, but Robin has a way with words and he keeps the conversation going. It’s not much, but it’s something.”

“I miss this. I miss talking. I miss the closeness,” Chris let out a sigh of frustration.

“You know I do too. But Robin, Robin is the center of my life. I need to be careful.”

sitting.pngChris clenched his fist and then spread his fingers out, “Yeah, I know.”

“I don’t think you want to talk about it, but I believe Gina might be right about this depression thing. I don’t know if you want to call it that. And that makes me worry. I know what it’s like to feel low, desperately low. Maybe you are much stronger than me, but if you ever ever feel so low you want to hurt yourself…” Annabelle turned and took a deep breath.

“Annie, I’ve been low. But it’s not like that. You mustn’t be anxious. For me it’s just not caring about anything. Having zero motivation. Work had been quiet. It was the last couple of years just before and after Christmas. But it’s left me with nothing to do, not wanting to see anyone. When I am low, I turn into a complete hermit, and a bit of a slob I guess. I just watch TV and listen to music and eat. I am careful about liquor, that became my nemesis when I was at college. I was in a cave of darkness and shut off from the world back then. Gina invaded and dragged me out into daylight. I think she’s worried that I’m doing the same thing.”

Annabelle teased, “And is it all because the girl you liked was with another guy?”

Man Inside Cave Near Entrance Chris shook his head, “It’s because the girl I liked turned out to be the closest friend I have ever had. I’ve never had a friend I told so much to, and I thought was telling me everything about herself. It’s the loss of having someone so close. It’s turned me into a hermit again, and ruined my damn sex life.”

“Chris you know I cannot do a thing about your damn sex life. That’s your problem. But don’t stop talking please. As long as we work out a way to make sure Robin is involved, you must not ever feel as if you are without someone you can talk to.”

“There were so many times Annie, so many times when you did something to me, to my heart. I hope I didn’t cross the line, but not being able to touch you, not being able to hold your hand, it’s hard. Sometimes, I just want a hug from the one person who I feel closest to.”

“We got too close Chris. If we had carried on something may have happened. We would have lost the friendship we had. We would have hurt each other and we would have hurt Robin. That can never happen.”

Chris gazed at Annabelle, “Is that really what would have happened Annie?”

Man and Woman Lying on BedAnnabelle looked earnestly at Chris, “It would been the end Chris. If anything had happened, it would have ended the friendship we had. I would have left Blackwood devastated and I would have had nowhere else to go. I know enough to be sure, I would have hurt myself a lot with that guilt crushing me.”

Chris stared in disbelief, “It would have taken me a hell of a lot longer to recover from that.”

“I know I didn’t communicate with you properly, I didn’t know how to say it. But it was important that we didn’t get any closer.”

“I don’t want to lose you Annie.”

A warm smile spread across Annabelle’s face, “So we have to make this something that works for Robin. Anything else and it will just lead to misery and pain.”

“Hey, we are learners aren’t we? We will have to learn how this works now.”


Another part coming soon…

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:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels 



Robin and Annabelle have been living in Blackwood for several months. How is her emotional health now?

These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:

Robin and Annabelle spent Thanksgiving itself on their own. But the weekend afterwards they hosted a dinner for Burt and Pearl, along with Chris and his sister Gina, who had come down from Chicago to visit.

learner.pngIt was Annabelle who had wanted to invite their friends over. But on the day, she ended up in tears, overwhelmed by the amount of tasks ahead of her and losing track of the timings each dish needed. Robin came into the kitchen after he returned picking up some wine and soft drinks for their guests.

“What’s up Belle?”

“It’s all going wrong. I can’t do this. maybe we should ring and cancel,” sobbed Annabelle.

“We are not cancelling anything. If it came to the worst, we would order take-away. What’s wrong? The turkey is in the oven, that’s going to take care of itself. We just need to get a move on with these spuds and veggies. I’ll start peeling. You take a breather,” as Annabelle sniffed into a tissue, Robin came behind her with a chair from their kitchen table and put his hand on her shoulder, “Sit. I’ll put the kettle on. You just need to take a break.”

attempt.pngThey ended up producing a decent roast dinner between them. Perhaps not as tasty as a dinner made by Pearl Jennings, but their guests were all very pleased with dinner and made kind comments to Annabelle about how much they had enjoyed dinner.


“I just feel so pathetic,” Annabelle confessed to Robin later that evening, when their guest had all said goodbye.

“Well, you’re not. That was the first time you ever cooked a big roast dinner like that. You’re still a learner Belle. Everyone was impressed.”

“I think I am a learner at everything. I’m a learner at life.”

“That’s absolutely fine Belle. It’s when people stop learning that they start having problems.”

gina2“You and Gina were talking for a long time.”

Robin scratched the back of his head, “Did you know she had a boyfriend over in London? Well, he’s just been over here in Arizona apparently. She said she flew down to Phoenix and spent some time with him there before she came back to have Thanksgiving with her own family.”

“No, I didn’t know that.”

“That woman is a real go-getter Belle. I’m not surprised she has ended up in business. She is one hell of a negotiator. I think I agreed to her coming up to stay with us in Inkpen after Christmas, and she wants to bring this bloke Jordan with her.”

“Gina’s going to be in England?”

“Just to visit him for a week. She told me she spent some time with him after our wedding, and then she went back over to London at the end of August. He lives is some pokey flat in Hammersmith, although he is earning a mint up in Canary Wharf. Anyway, yeah, I don’t know how she talked me into it, but she’s blagged her way into bringing him out to the countryside to see us. You can ask her about it tomorrow when Gina and Chris are with us.”


woods.pngAnnabelle ran up to Chris who was walking several strides ahead of the other three. On reaching him she grabbed his elbow and cried out, “Gina’s going to come and stay with us for a few days when we are back in Inkpen. She’s bringing her boyfriend. Have you met him Chris? She just showed us a photograph of the two of them together on his family’s farm.”

“How did it go today Annie?”

Annabelle pulled a face, “So you don’t want to talk about Gina’s boyfriend?”


tears.png“Right then, so you’d prefer hearing all about me and my worries. I see!” Annabelle turned to Chris, “Today was a good day. We laughed and we cried. But we seemed to really get somewhere today. It felt good, despite the tears.”

Chris turned around to glance at Robin who was walking next to Gina. Catching his eye, Robin nodded at Chris. Chris questioned Annabelle, “What were you crying about Annie?”

Annabelle exhaled deeply, “I feel as if I am trying so hard Chris, but I keep on making mistakes.”

“What with?”

food“Everything! I am trying to cook meals for us, and they always seem to go wrong. Pasta seems to be the only thing I can make – well I don’t make the pasta. I mean just boiling dried pasta and tipping it into some sauce from a jar that I have heated up. Beyond that – my cooking is a disaster zone.”

“Well, the meal you cooked last night was great.”

“Robin had to help me out though Chris. And the point is, I hurt myself again. Just before he came back from the grocery store, I was so overwhelmed I was punching my head. I felt awful about it. I only told him about it after you’d all gone home.”

“I’m sorry Annie. It’s still there isn’t it?”

Man with bag full of food“Always Chris. Always lurking away, waiting for something to go wrong, for me to feel stupid or worthless. I get so angry with myself for feeling this way. I just don’t know why I make such a big deal of things in my head. Robin came home from the grocery store and saw I was upset, and he made it seem like it was nothing. He just gets on with things without getting stressed.”

Chris sighed, “You’re a great team Annie.”

“He said something yesterday that really helped. I told my therapist and she agreed it was something to remember.”

“What was that?”

learner L“He said I am a learner. In fact we are all learners really. People who stop learning have a problem. We are learning at life, we make mistakes, we try again, we might make more mistakes. But it’s alright, because we are learners. I need to keep telling myself that and not let my mistakes overwhelm me.”

Chris looked thoughtful, “We are all learners Annie. We’re always learning about ourselves, about life, about love. We kick ourselves for our mistakes. I’ve been kicking myself for my mistakes.”

Annabelle paused, “When things don’t turn out the way we hoped, it’s easy to blame ourselves for our mistakes. Or blame our parents or think it’s Karma paying us back. We can punish ourselves and others for something that didn’t turn out as we expected. But that’s where we might need someone else to help. Robin helps me. When I feel I’ve done something wrong, he will make out as if it was nothing. He doesn’t treat my mistakes as mistakes, he’ll make them into a positive, a break from the norm, or a lesson learnt.”

team1.png“I’m glad you have him.”

Annabelle turned to Chris, “Learners at love. You said we are learning about ourselves, about life and about love. I’ve been thinking of myself as a Learner at Life. But maybe we are more Learners at Love. Or maybe the two are intertwined.”

“Life and love – hard to have one without the other. Just when you start to want to believe in them, both of them life and love, they screw you over,” Chris shook his head and laughed, “Forgive me Annie, I don’t even know what that means. I’m tired. I hardly slept a wink last night.”

in the woods.pngAnnabelle was concerned. She turned her face away to avoid looking at Chris, “It’s impossible to stop loving you Chris. You are always going to be precious to me. You didn’t make any mistakes. You were perfect. I was already with Robin. I wasn’t going to give up on him. That’s why things didn’t work out between us. That’s the only reason why. I have been trying to learn how to love you at the same time as loving Robin. I don’t want to ever stop loving you. But as our friend. You help Robin as much as you help me.”

“It’s cool Annie. I’m alright with this. I’ve just heard nothing except how great Jordan is from Gina, and I’m struggling a little bit with everyone else being so loved up. I’m just so relieved you and Rob are going to be in Blackwood for so much of the time. I’ll miss you guys when you’re over in England.”

english2“We are going to be learning more about managing the estate at Inkpen. We will be working with Robin’s parents and their caretaker Nick. You remember Nick don’t you?”

Chris raised an eyebrow, “Do you think I could forget Nick?”

Annabelle laughed, “Getting drunk when Nick was making sure everything went smoothly at the wedding reception may have been a mistake Chris. But it’s just a lesson learnt. I made a mistake. I should have thought about what to say to you. When you arrived in England before the wedding, I didn’t know what to say. I could see how you felt in your eyes, I had no idea what to say. I didn’t mean to be cold.”

“I don’t think there was anything you could have said Annie.”

“But I should have tried. We don’t have to have the perfect words to show how we feel.”

Beautiful woman with perfect face

Chris nodded, “Gina’s getting fed up of me. She’s been great for ages, but now she just wants to think about Jordan. She’s started telling me to go and find a girl, get laid, move on. But it’s not as simple as that.”

Annabelle focused her eyes on the brown leaves they were trampling over as the walked, “I want you to be happy Chris. You know it isn’t easy for me to talk about this. Love is a funny thing.”

“Ay, you’re right – love makes a fool of you. Don’t think I don’t know how uncomfortable I’ve made you at times Annie.”

“You’ve made me be careful Chris. I never wanted to mislead you. But I have been so grateful to have your friendship and support. There are so many things I probably would not have done without you believing in me.”

“You told me right from the start that there was no use trying. That I wouldn’t get anywhere with you.”

“I think platonic friendships can be cruel. I didn’t want to be cruel. I just loved your company so much. I loved the conversations we had together.”

if“You weren’t cruel. The timing was cruel perhaps. I wish I had met you before you met Rob. Maybe just after you had broke up with Dean, or earlier, before you even met Dean.”

“Chris don’t.”

“Sorry Annie. This is where I am at the moment. I’m struggling to get past it.”

Annabelle folded her arms and took a deep breath, “I have a situation myself that I cannot get anywhere with. I’ve talked about it to my therapist, and so far we’ve not really got anywhere with it. My daughter Lucy. Robin wants another child Chris. But I don’t. The thought horrifies me to be honest. I think his parents know. They dropped a few comments at family dinners that I didn’t know how to react to, about how great it would be for me to have another baby. I think there will be more and more comments in the future. When we go back to spend the winter in England, well, I’m bracing myself for a hundred questions about when we are going to start a family.”

“I got the picture when you mentioned your daughter last year that it’s hard for you to talk about her.”

lucy and annie“Yeah. Although, I’m trying to talk about her, for Robin’s sake mostly. Robin isn’t pressuring me to have a baby. I have no desire to be a mom Chris. And it’s not just that, I am afraid. I don’t see it as something that will bring happiness and joy. I see it as something that will bring guilt and pain and the desire to hurt myself again. I don’t want to do that to myself, or to Robin, and I can’t inflict that on a child. People don’t really understand that. They say things that I know are well-meaning about having a child, but they don’t know what a risk it means for me. I was extremely ill back then, mentally and emotionally ill. It was not Lucy’s fault, but I have never been so empty, lost, so out of control mentally and emotionally as I was those few months I was a mom. The hurting myself – it was just out of control. Robin’s parents wanted to have me hospitalized, and that was for other things I did. They don’t know anything about the self-harm.”

advice.jpg“People say things without understanding. They are trying to be positive. I get that. But sometimes, well, sometimes they just don’t have any idea that it’s the last thing you need to hear. It’s frustrating.”

“That’s where we have to know about ourselves. It’s good to be honest about our limits, our weaknesses, our struggles, what we find challenging. Or else we may find ourselves drowning when we are overwhelmed. When we make a decision to take a risk in life, to do something that we realize is going to be hard, we have to let those around us know we are scared, that we are going to need extra support and a lot of understanding. Especially then, we have to remind people that we are Learners, Learners pushing ourselves to do something we are afraid of.”

“Are you thinking about taking that risk Annie?”

for robin“No. I can’t Chris. Not yet. I’ve been so up and down, even though everything is working out well. So much has changed so quickly. But I’m finally talking about our daughter with Robin. It means a lot to him. And I’m talking about it with my therapist, That’s something I couldn’t do last year. But it’s been helpful for me to finally unravel what was going on in my head back then.”

“You are stronger than before. You are getting stronger and stronger.”

Annabelle smiled at Chris as a tear streamed down her face, “But what I was trying to say was that I get that when you have had a disappointment, it’s hard to see past it. It’s hard to see happiness ahead. I think that right now, you might find it too much to imagine yourself with another woman. People are going to tell you that a new girlfriend is exactly what you need. But it’s all up to you to decide if and when you are ready to fall in love again. There are no guarantees. It could be wonderful, it could be bloody awful. Life and love are a mix of bitter and sweet. It’s knowing when you are ready to take that risk.”

annie thinking“You sound more like an expert than a leaner Annie,” laughed Chris. “Thanks pal. It feels like you’re becoming my therapist.”

Realizing Chris had stretched out his hand and was about to take her’s, Annabelle, turned to look behind at Robin, who was still listening to Gina. “That’s not going to work for Robin. I think any physical contact at all is going to be a big problem. But I get it Chris. I get it.”

Chris grinned, “Maybe it’s a good thing that you and Rob will be away for a couple of months.”

“I wonder if you might want to join Gina in England. Come over and stay with us in Inkpen. I am sure Robin would be pleased. You might find it interesting to work with him and Nick around the estate – unless you want to play gooseberry for Gina and her boyfriend.”


Another part coming soon…

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:

Free Creative Writing Prompts

I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?

kim's prompt
Photo by Thiago Matos from Pexels