The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 29
by Shane Migliavacca
The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief chapter 29 Sam, Anne and Miss Beal
Sam was brushing her teeth when a series of frantic knocking rattled the front door. Anne was standing there looking like something even the cat wouldn’t drag in. Her face was pale, looking like she’d been crying recently. She felt like a retard standing there holding her toothbrush in one hand, like a priest holding a crucifix to ward off evil spirits. Toothpaste dribbling from the corners of her mouth. Her hair a rumpled mess. She’d planned on turning in early. That wasn’t gonna happen now.
“Anne?” She said. Toothpaste slurring her words.
“I’m your my best friend…Right?”
“Of course. Come in. Mi casa and all that shit.”
Anne stepped into the apartment, looking around as if she’d never been there before. “Are we alone?” She asked.
Sam cleaned the toothpaste off with a tissue. “You mean in the universe? Or just in the apartment?”
“I mean your roommate?” Anne seemed frustrated. Edgy.
“She’s at her boyfriend’s getting laid.”
Anne paced back and forth. The floorboards creaking under foot.
“You okay? Your gonna wear a Marianas Trench in my floor. Downstairs neighbors won’t appreciate that too much.”
Anne stopped. Looking down at floor. “It’s hard to say without sounding crazy.”
“I’m the last to judge crazy. Feel free to spill. What’s wrong?”
“I’m what’s wrong. I killed Emily. I killed my sister Sam.”
Sam sat on the couch. “Sit, talk to me.”
Anne sat down on the other side of the couch. “Mom told me, after I brought up what we found out. Emily was jealous of me. She’d do things to hurt me. I-I lashed out…Pushed her. She fell…hit her head. Died.”
Anne trembled as she talked. Sam reached out, taking her friend’s hand. To her surprise Anne didn’t pull away. “You were just a kid. It was an accident kiddo. You can’t let it fuck with you.”
“What if…What if I’m a killer? I can’t remember it. The doctor’s took it away.” With that Anne started to sob.
Sam pulled Anne to her, resting the girl’s head on her lap as she stroked Anne’s hair. “Shh. Just rest huh? I’m here for you. Why don’t you stay here tonight?”
Anne nodded. “Thanks.”
This explained so much about her mother. Did she hold it over Anne’s head the whole time? Making her daughter’s life hell to get back for Emily? It was demented, yet it wouldn’t surprise Sam if she had. Anne’s mom was a sick, sad old woman with nothing better to do then hurt her daughter.
They sat there for some time, Sam dozed off. When she woke, a couple hours later Anne was sleeping. Her head still on Sam’s lap. Easing her way out from under her sleeping friend. Sam was surprised Anne didn’t wake up. The girl had to be exhausted. She slid a pillow under her head and threw a comforter over top. Sam smiled, feeling good about having Anne here. She went to bed, wondering what tomorrow would bring.
Anne woke on the couch feeling a bit stiff. The apartment was quiet. The only sound was the ticking of a wall clock. The morning was still. Her eyes blurry as she tried to make out the time. It was only a little after seven. There was still time to get ready for work.
Work. She had to face her calling in yesterday. Hendricks would be giving her the evil eye all day. Some of the others would give the cold shoulder. Having had to pick up her slack from not being there. It was nothing compared to what she’d gone through in the past few days. Anne told herself just had had to keep to herself and do the job. Solider through it.
In the bathroom Anne found some towels and a note from Sam. She’d figured Anne would be up before her. Leaving towels to shower before work. Stripping down, she stepped into the shower. The warm water felt great, till halfway through when it cut out as someone in another apartment flushed a toilet or used a faucet. Anne bit her lip as the cold water hit her. Quickly washing her hair and getting out. Her scalp felt numb from the frigid water.
At Save-Mart, Anne found herself assigned to check out, bagging. A tedious job that forced her to be around people all day. No doubt this was revenge on Hendricks part. She sucked it up, slogging through. It was hard to wish people Christmas cheer when she wasn’t feeling it. Managing a half-smile and a nod when the customers doled out the holiday pleasantries.
Keep your head down. Solider on.
To her relief, Hendricks left her alone all day. Never pulling her aside to chew her out. She’d made it through the day and was actually looking forward to spending another night at Sam’s. The guilt was still there sure, it had just diminished a bit after their talk last night. No matter what came next, Anne felt new things were possible. For the first time since before her dad had gotten sick. Maybe things with her mother could be patched up. She could see why the woman had done it. Lord knows if Anne could have in her place. As for her stalker, there was no sign of them.
She past a couple stragglers in the parking lot, nearly late for their shift. The two girls running and giggling. Trying not to slip on the snow covered pavement. What would it have been if Emily had lived? Perhaps they’d be like those girls now, close friends. There was the possibility they might have stayed less then friendly grown up. Anne had seen it before. Brothers and sisters, adult now, yet unable to put childish grudges behind them. She’d never know.
Standing by her truck was the last person Anne needed to see. Miss Beal. Looking sterner then her usual. She wanted to keep walking, past her truck and onto Sam’s place. No. She was tired of being pushed and corralled by people. If the old bag wanted trouble Anne would tell her off and drive away. The old woman began to walk towards her, Anne held a hand up trying to halt her.
“I don’t need your crap today. Just back off.”
“The beast is near Anne Marsten. Soon I fear it will strike again.” The woman’s good eye became a narrow slit. It’s gaze penetrating.
“Please Miss Beal, I just want to go home.” Anne gave herself a little distance from the woman as she went to the truck.
“I’ve seen it. The beast came to my home. Tried to kill me. But I fought it off and lived.”
On the woman’s face were a set of long jagged scratches. She’d seen it. Anne could tell this was more then mere ramblings. The old woman had been touched by it.
“What did it look like?”
“The beast wears the mask of a girl’s face with yet another mask over it. You know it.”
Anne did. The beast was her stalker. There was no doubt. This beast was the one that killed Carol. Had followed her on the street. The same one who’d left the toy horse at her father’s grave.
“Who is it? What is it?”
“When the German settlers first came here to this new land, they brought their old ways with them. They brought the old religions with them. Brought the old superstitions, the old spirits, the old demons as well. The beast has been here a very long time. It just needed a doorway to let it in.”
Anne looked at the old woman, a loss for words. She knew Miss Beal was a religious nut, but this was a whole other layer of crazy. As much as she wanted to believe them to be crazy ramblings, Anne was terrified there was truth to it. That strange coin. Sam’s grandmother telling her she was cursed. The homeless man living in her old house talking with a ghost. Beal and her beast. All of it came back to her.
Anne felt her head swim. She leaned on the truck for support. Miss Beal put an arm on her shoulder. This time Anne didn’t flinch.
“Armor yourself girl. A fight is coming for us both.”
Constance Beal watched the girl go. Their battles were coming, her’s sooner the the girl’s. She felt the weight of her father’s gun under her coat. She was ready. The beast was here, close by. Her first meeting with it she’d just survived. Now she’d meet it again. In her heart she knew it would be her last time. For good or ill.
The night was cold. Still. The moon shore bright in the cloudless sky. Her prey would be here stalking. She’d dreamed it. So she’s wait outside the store. Hang back in the growing shadows and watch. There was no doubt she felt scared. Not of death. She’d lived with the idea of her end for a long time. No. She feared she’d fail in her mission. If so, more would pay the price.
From time to to time she moved from one spot to another. To keep her blood circulating and more importantly to not be noticed. Having the sheriff show up because Hendricks or a customer saw her loitering out here would ruin her chance. After awhile she checked her watch. The store would be closing in another two hours.
Headlights caught her eye. Coming through the back entrance used by trucks, a car pulled up behind the store. Using the shadows, she inched towards the back. She doubted her quarry would use a car. She couldn’t take the chance it wasn’t them though. Peaking around behind the store, an overhead light above the loading dock illuminated the car. It was the sheriff’s cruiser.
Constance felt her throat tighten. She’d been seen. As she’d feared someone had called the sheriff. They’d find her out here, gun in her jacket. They’d figure she’d finally lost it. Come here to shoot the store up. Perhaps take a few people with her. A crazy, lonely old woman. She couldn’t be caught out here. Not now. When the time was at hand. She had to change her plan.
Since the night it had come to her home she’d been tracking it. Following a trail of blood left behind after cutting itself on a broken window during it’s flight from her house. Every time she got close it slipped away. No doubt playing a game with her. She’d found a place in the city where it had stayed. The basement of an apartment building. The trail from there led here. The beast was near. She went back around to the store’s entrance. Walking in like any customer would. Losing herself in the crowd of shoppers. Some noticed her. Knew her by reputation. Most others ignored her. Caught up in their shopping. Find a place to disappear she thought. Wait for the wolf to show itself and strike.
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