The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 10

The Strange Shape Of Anne's Grief chapter 10 Anne and Sam (II)



Anne sat in Nolly’s diner eating a doughnut. Sam had been waiting for her in the parking lot after work. Nolly’s was their preferred spot for grabbing a quick bite and hanging out. Touching her cup of hot chocolate, Anne could feel it’s heat. The mug bore the logo of Nolly’s. A drawing of a smiling girl with pigtails. Supposedly, it was Clay, the owner’s mother as a kid. Anne always felt it was a bit creepy. Something about the smile was wrong. Somewhat lopsided with blank eyes.

“The freak in the mask…The coin. That was real?” Anne gripped the mug tight. Lifting it to her lips. The liquid was scalding hot. Though Anne hardly noticed.

Sam sat across from her, scarfing down a bagel.

“Yeah,” She confirmed between bites.

Anne sat back in the booth, pressing her back against the hard, red plastic. She looked out the window. It was getting darker earlier now. Cars drove down main street. It was Friday night. The busiest time around here. As people cashed their checks, preparing for the “wild” weekend after a week of hard work. This time of year, that meant beer and football on television. Then the weekend would be over and it would start all over again. Anne envied them. They appeared so confident in who they were. So comfortable in their skins. 

She sat the mug down and looked over at her best friend. Anne needed to tell Sam about the spider. Ask her if she thought it was real or was Anne crazy. The thought of what Sam’s reaction would be scared her.

“After you left that night,” The words felt heavy in her throat.

An affable voice cut her off. “Hello there Anny!” 

Anne turned, standing there, in front of their booth, with a wide grin exposing yellowed teeth from years of smoking was Brett Jurgens. He ran his own little company, besides being its solitary employee. JURGENS CONTRACTING specialized in house painting, yard work, cleaning gutters, cabinet repair and just about any other odd job you could think of. He’d been good friends with Anne’s dad. So much so that he did some work on the house from time to time at a reduced price. Anne couldn’t remember a time he wasn’t wearing that gray boiler suit. Or that dirty looking Mets cap.

“How ya doin?”

“Hi, Mr. Jurgens.” Anne had always called him that since when she was growing up. “Okay. You?”

“Managing.” He nods. His eyes avoiding Anne’s for a second. “How’s Cheryl doing?” 

Brett Jurgens was one of the few people in town who might even consider asking about her mother. Despite the cold shoulder Cheryl Marsten gave him, Jurgens was always friendly towards her whenever he came to the house. Anne got the impression it was a little too friendly. She suspected Brett Jurgens was more than a little in love with her. The poor man.

“Her usual.” Anne flashed a weary smile. 

“Yah.” He tilted his baseball cap back. “Got anything needs fixing?”

Anne bit her lip. She never quite knew how to handle situations like this. “Not really Mr. Jurgens.”

He nodded. “Thought as much. You need anything, anything let me know, yah?”

“I will.”

“Good. Tell Cheryl I was asking,” He said.

He left before Anne could answer. Sliding past a heavyset waitress on his way out. It was too bad. He was nice. The times he was around the house, fixing something felt like old times. Like dad was still there.

“So, what were you gonna say about last night?” Sam asked.

Mr. Jurgens interruption had thrown Anne off. She’d been ready to tell Sam about the spider. Now she wasn’t sure if that was a good idea.

“I woke up with a stomach ache. Really bad. Felt like that Alien movie.”

“Shit!” Sam said.

“Went to the bathroom to throw up and passed out. Mom found me. Guess I made a mess. Mom got me back into bed and cleaned it all up.”

“Fuck. I should have stayed.”

“Don’t worry about it. I’m here. I’m fine. I think it’s made me and mom closer now.”

Anne took another sip of hot chocolate. Sam finished her bagel.

“I took that coin to the shop. Had mom and Noni look at it.”

“Really? You touched it?”

“No. Of course not.”

“Did they find out anything?”

Sam fidgeted. “Well, bear with me… I don’t believe it myself, they said it cursed you.”


Cursed, that was insane. Who the hell would curse her? And why? What had she ever done to anybody? Since that night Anne had actually felt better. Better then she had in a long time. She didn’t feel the cursing sadness. She felt more in control of herself. Less prone to emotional outbursts. Plus, her and mother were getting along better. A curse seemed unlikely, ridiculous. The more she thought about it, that night. I must have been nothing more than her reaching her breaking point. All that negative crap she’s locked away had simply become too much to hold back.  

She drove home feeling a bit lighter. Home was starting to feel that way again. Mom wasn’t bitching at her anymore. Maybe there was a chance now. A chance to turn around their relationship. Anne wasn’t innocent in the trouble they’d had. She’d been just as stubborn as her mom. Causing her own share of arguments.

Sam had asked her to come to their magic shop tomorrow. Her grandmother wanted Anne to come in for a reading of some kind. To see if she’d been truly cursed. Anne wasn’t too thrilled about any of it. Nor was Sam. She’d seemed embarrassed asking. When Anne had complained, Sam assured her it wouldn’t take too long.


Sam waited outside the shop. Leaning on her bike. She yawned loudly. Glancing down the long stretch of road, waiting for a sign of Anne. An early morning fog loomed as far as the eye could see. Twisting between the trees and buildings. It gave everything a whited-out appearance, as if they were trapped in some great void.

Headlights sliced through the thick soup. A beat-up pickup emerged from the white blanket. Headed down the road towards her.

Anne pulled into the truck down the dirt road. Stopping a few feet away from Sam. Her friend was clearly not a morning person. Her hair was a bit frizzled and she looked half asleep. Then again, who wanted to be up this early on a Saturday morning. Her mother had insisted they do it before the store opened. Was she expecting some weird shit or something? Maybe Anne was gonna levitate. She almost made herself laugh over that one. The early morning made her natural disposition towards sarcasm to come out full force. Something she’d need to keep in check this today.

“Morning sunshine.” Or not.

Anne mumbled a response under her breath. “Whatever.”

“Totally.” Sam answered.

Sam was surprised this time to find the door unlocked. The familiar tinny clang of the bell announcing them. Both her mom and Noni were seated at the table. Serious looks on their faces. Sam prayed this wouldn’t be too embarrassing for Anne or her.

“Sit girls.” Noni said. Shuffling a deck of tarot cards. Her eyes hidden behind dark sunglasses.

They sat. Anne across from Noni and Sam at her side. Sam’s mother on the other side. Noni laid out the cards in front of Anne. “Pick eight of them my dear. As you do so, visualize your fears, your hopes, your joys.”

Anne lingers over the cards. Hesitating to pick the first one, till finally diving in. Choosing her eight in rapid succession.

“Excellent my dear.” The old woman said. Taking the cards and laying them out face down on the table. A row of seven with one card all alone, below them.

Noni turns over the single card. On its face was a drawing of a castle. A huge lightning bolt striking the castle’s center.

“This card my child represents your dilemma. There is a great change coming for you. A time of upheaval and challenge. But with this comes a casting off of the old shackles. A new beginning.”

Sam watched her friends face. If Anne had any reaction to this news, she was hiding it well.

Noni turned over another card. The first in the row of seven. On its face a mighty angel blew a trumpet. Three nude people, arms outstretched reached up towards the angel. The card sat upside down.

“Judgment.” Old Noni said. A stern tone to her voice. “Reversed like this, it means the chains that hold you are of your own making. Bad choices hold you back my dear. Guilt and self-doubt rule your world. Fear holds you back.”

The next card bore a picture of an old man. Standing alone on a rock shore near a turbulent sea. Holding a lantern.

“The hermit. This means you worry about others around you, intruding on your life. You value seclusion and fear having to be around others. They drain you of energy.”

Sam watched Anne. Her poker face from earlier, was giving way to something else. Annoyance. 

“Listen, I’m sorry… But this is supposed to help me? You’re just telling me vague stuff.”

Ignoring her Noni turned over another card. This card bore the picture of the Devil. The card’s image upside down.

“The Devil. This tells me, you are your worst enemy. You’ve locked away a piece of yourself. Hidden it. Forgotten it.”    

Anne stood. The chair screeching across the floor as she pushed away from the table. Crashing to the floor.

“I’m sorry Sam. I don’t need this.”

Noni reaches across the table, taking hold of Anne’s hands. “Mind what I say girl. Death walks with you girl.”


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