The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 18
by Shane Migliavacca
The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 18 Zwilling Lake
They’d spent the morning shopping. Anne had drove to downtown Saratoga. It was about a forty-minute drive. It was well worth it though. They had some of the best stores around, including a great used book store and an equally good music store. Sam had found a couple Bauhaus records she’d wanted for a while. Both girls had a good time, it was almost like old times. All the drama and shit had felt remote. As they drove back to Frostwood though, Anne’s mood darkened, she became less talkative. Sam could tell her friend wasn’t thrilled to be going back home. How could Sam blame her, that place was grinding her down. If only Anne didn’t feel so honor bound to her father’s memory. Taking care of that house. That woman. Eventfully the responsibly would eat away her friend until nothing was left but dry white bones.
Anne pulled down the long stretch of road that led to the house. Sam had left her cycle there. Good thing she’d installed saddle bags on the bike. Otherwise she’d be shit out of luck getting all of that shit home. Still, she’d bought so much, some of it might have to get picked up later.
“That was fun.” Sam said. “We should do it again.”
“Yeah.” Anne replied. Her voice a little distant. “It was.”
“I was thinking, we had such a blast today, why not come over to the apartment. Lucy is still visiting her family. We could have an old-fashioned sleep over. Stay up late. Watch Elvira? What do you say?”
It was worth a shot. Sam thought. Get her away from the place at least for a night. Maybe she’d like it. Decide to get away for good. Sam knew that was a dream. If she did come over tonight, she’d never stay away from her mother or that house for long.
“Maybe.” Anne turned down the driveway. The tone of her voice made Sam a little hopeful she’d at least consider it.
Getting out of the truck, Sam helped Anne with her stuff. As they approached the house, Anne stopped suddenly.
“Wh-What? What happened?”
“Anne?” Sam looked around to see what her friend was talking about. Everything appeared normal. “Something wrong?”
Anne dropped her bags and ran over to a spot near the house. She grabbed something from the ground holding it up. Sam went over to her side. In her hands was a long cord. Which was attached to the line going between the house and nearby barn. It was where Anne tied Luke. It had broken.
Anne dropped the cord. “Luke! Luke! C’mon boy!” She called out a few more times. Each time her voice sounded a little more desperate. Her voice becoming hoarse.
“Easy. Maybe he’s inside.” Sam looked directly into Anne’s eyes.
Sam saw a sort of realization flicker in Anne’s eyes. She turned and ran to the house, forcing Sam to hurry after her.
Anne stormed into the house with the fury of a hurricane. Slamming the door so hard, Sam thought it would shatter into bits. Cheryl Marsten stood at the head of the stairs. Her arms folded across her chest. Glaring down at them like an angry god.
“What is going on down there?” She asked.
“Where’s Luke?” Anne said.
“No, he’s not! What have you done?” Without waiting for an answer, Anne spun around and left the house. Leaving a confused Sam in her wake. She looked up at Cheryl. Unsure what to make of what just happened.
“Samantha, what’s all this about?”
Sam always felt uncomfortable alone with the woman. Even when her and Anne had been kids. There was something about Cheryl Marsten that gave off thermonuclear warning signs to Sam. The woman was unstable.
“Luke’s missing.” Sam said. She felt uncomfortable even talking to her with a staircase between them.
When Sam got outside, Anne was getting in the pickup. Starting up the engine before the door had closed. Sam tapped on the windshield.
‘Where are you going?”
“I’m going to look for him.” She shouted over the din of the engine.
“Hang on.” Sam went around to the passengers’ side door and started to climb in.
“Go home. You don’t have to come.”
“Hey. Of course I’m gonna help you.” Sam slid the seat belt into place.
Anne peeled out. Leaving the house behind in a cloud of smoke and snow. In the rear-view mirror, Sam swore she could see Cheryl standing in the window. Watching them leave.
The truck sat parked alongside the road. Two sets of tracks led away from it into a snow-covered field. Cold snow stung Sam’s legs as they trudged through the ankle-deep snow. Her jeans and boots did little to protect her. The snow seemed to go on forever in every direction. They weren't all that far away from Zwilling Lake. It too was covered. Frozen over by the abnormally cold weathered they’d had. Except for their tracks, the surrounding area looked untouched. Almost alien. It reminded Sam of a movie set. Something out of The Thing.
Anne stopped. She was breathing heavy. Shielding her eyes, she looked towards the lake. “You don’t think…That he went there?”
“I don’t see any tracks around here. Unless he went another way.”
“He-He could have tried to cross and fallen through.”
Sam had never seen her so terrified before. Anne started walking towards the lake, before breaking into a run. Startling Sam. She took off after Anne. Trying to keep up. Running through the snow was harder for Sam, her legs were shorter then Anne’s. She could feel herself falling behind. As Anne neared the edge of the lake, Sam pushed herself. Getting close enough behind to grab Anne’s arm.
“Anne! Wait up!”
Anne tried to free herself. “Get off me!”
Sam tightened her grip. “No!” Pulling Anne towards her.
Anne spun around. Her face contorted by pain and frustration. Her eyes red with tears. “Let go bitch!”
“Hey!” Sam was stung by that word. For a second she considered letting go of her friend. “I don’t know about Luke. But if you go out there, you’ll fall through. Anne do you hear me?”
Anne started to sob. Sam pulled her friend against her. Hugging her tight.
“It’ll be all right.” Sam stroked Anne’s hair.
“She cut it. She cut it.” Anne sobbed into her shoulder. “Why?”
Sam pulled away from her friend. “What? What do you mean.”
Anne wiped tears and snot from her face. “Mom. She cut Luke’s line.”
Anne sat on the passengers’ side. Trying to pull herself together. After a little fuss, she agreed to go back to the truck. Provided Sam continue looking around for Luke. Her eyes fixed on the crack in the windshield. Everything else became a blur. Anne watched as the crack seemed to spread. Sounding like ice breaking as it did. It slowly became louder as it went. Till it became a deafening roar. So loud it drowned Anne’s own thoughts. The pain was too much. Anne hunched over. Pounding on the sides of her head. Trying to drive the noise out.
“Anne!” The voice cut through the din. A hand touched her shoulder making her flinch. Anne looked up to see Sam standing there. The drivers’ side door open. How long had she been here? Watching Anne freak out.
“Are you okay?” Sam asked.
“I’m tired.” Anne sat up. “Getting a bad headache.”
Sam got in. “I don’t see anything. I don’t think he came this way.” She managed a smile. “I’ll bet when you get home, he’ll be waiting there. Hungry as hell.”
Anne nodded. “Don’t know how I’d manage without you. Thanks.”
“Hey. We’ve known each other so long it’s like we’re sisters. I’d do anything for you, got it?”
“Got it. You’re not gonna hug me again are you?”
Sam started the truck. She looked out of place there behind the steering wheel. A little too short for the truck. She slid down a little bit to hit the gas as the truck lurched forward. As snow covered trees passed by, Anne saw a something by one of them. A blur of a shape. Something familiar.
“Sam, stop. Go back.”
Anne didn’t wait for the truck to come to a stop before jumping out. Her eyes frantically running over the base of trees. Which one. Where had she seen it. What looked like a…
Body. . .
There! Anne climbed over a short wire fence running along this stretch of road. The snow was deeper here. Almost up to her knees. Partially covered by the snow it sat propped up by a large skeletal tree.
A bicycle. As they’d sped by it had looked like a body there. She’d thought it was Luke. Lying there hurt.
Just a damn bike! Anne kicked the bike. Making the little bell on the handlebars jingle. It looked fairly new. Who the hell would just chuck it here? Feeling utterly dejected Anne headed back to the truck. Sam stood on the other side of the fence.
“You okay? What was it?”
“A freaking bicycle. I thought it was…” She choked back the rest of it. Thought it was your dog’s body. They walked back to the truck. Anne trying not to let herself cry.
Anne got behind the wheel. “I’ll drive.” She turned the key, bringing the truck back to life.
“Maybe you should come over tonight.” Sam offered.
Anne didn’t answer her. Focusing everything she had to keep herself from falling apart.
“Did you hear me? Anne?”
The sound of her name made her turn. “Huh? What’s that?”
“Maybe you should stay at the apartment tonight.” Sam said.
“Sorry. I’m just a bit spaced out, worrying.” Her hands gripped the steering wheel.
“Yeah, I know.”
Anne drove home. Concentrating on the road ahead of her. Blocking out the crazy thoughts swimming through her skull. As much as she wanted to, Anne knew she wouldn't go over to Sam’s tonight. If she did that, it would mean another argument with her mom. Something she just couldn’t handle now. Not to mention, if on the slim chance that Luke was home, she didn’t want to go out and leave him after all this. And there was the chance, also slim, that he might show up tonight. She needed to be there if he did. Deep down in her soul, Anne knew he wouldn’t there, when she pulled into the driveway. She wouldn’t see him ever again. Whatever had happened to him. Anne knew she’d lost her friend.
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