The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 31
by Shane Migliavacca
The Strange Shape Of Anne's Grief chapter 31 Anne (VIII)
The firetrucks wailed past the apartment. Drowning out the movie Anne and Sam were watching. Some old film about teenagers coming to Earth in a UFO. A half eaten pizza sat in a grease stained box on the coffee table. The box was flanked by a couple empty cans of beer and a half empty bottle of Pepsi. The sirens startled both girls. Sam turned around to peek out the window. A seeming fleet of firetrucks storming down the street.
“Must be a big one.” Sam said.
“What’s that?” Anne asked. Only half paying attention. Her thoughts had been preoccupied all night. She really didn’t care for these cheesy black and white movies like Sam did. It was hard to get into them. She preferred more modern stuff. Add to that her meeting with Miss Beal in the parking lot after work. They were conflicted thoughts in her head. She wasn’t sure if she entirely believed what the old woman had told her. Anne believed her stalker was somehow her dead sister. Miss Beal claimed it was some sort of demon. That was as hard to swallow as a returned from the dead sister. She decided for the moment to keep her run in with Miss Beal to herself. How would she even begin to explain to Sam her fears.
“Must be a big fire.” Sam answered. Turning back to the film. “There’s a ton of firetrucks headed somewhere in a hurry.”
“Oh.” Anne replied. Firetrucks? She felt a million miles away. In the movie the evil teen zapped a girl in a swimming pool with his ray gun. Turning her into a cheap skeleton. Despite everything she laughed. It felt wonderful sitting here with Sam. Even with so much plaguing her thoughts. Just to be able to kick back and eat pizza and laugh at bad skeleton props. She could spend the rest of her life like this and she’d be contented. To capture this moment and make it last forever. If only it was that simple.
“This is quite the movie.” Anne said. “It’s really…Something.”
“It’s fun. When was the last time you had fun?”
“Halloween night. We know how that turned out.”
“Well. Other then that?”
Yes. When was the last time she’d had fun? Really laughed? God knows.
“Stick with me kiddo and every night can be pizza and bad movies. Okay maybe not pizza every night.”
“Well I don’t know. I love pizza. We could get burgers some nights or Chinese.”
“Now your talking. I like the way you think.”
Later, Anne watched the light’s from passing cars race over the ceiling. Stretched out on the couch with a comfy blanket over her. She wasn’t used to the sounds of the city at night. At the house there were barely any sounds come bedtime Perhaps a tractor-trailer once in a great while would pass by. Frostwood was by far noisier at night then she’d thought it would be.
Lucy was out on another date with Paul. Anne got the feeling she didn’t spend much time at the apartment. She could have slept in Lucy’s room Sam told her. Anne didn’t feel right about doing that. It just seemed weird. The couch was comfortable enough. Sooner or later Anne would have to go back home or get her own place. There wasn’t enough room to have her crashing here every night.
Her thoughts turned to her mom was. She wondered how she was. Several times lying there she thought about calling. Though she doubted her mom would even answer the phone. Tomorrow she’d stop by the house. Try to patch things up a little. For once things were uncertain. For so long it had been work and home with not much else. Now it was all up in the air.
The other factor was what the old woman had told her. She had a battle coming according to Miss Beal. With this evil presence. The old woman did as well she’d claimed. Though who got the honor first she hadn’t specified. Anne wondered, who ever went first must not fair well if the other would have to fight it too. Did that mean one of them would die? The thought actually didn’t scare Anne.
Since waking up after getting sick on Halloween night she’d noted a change in her. Deep inside. A numbness that was steadily growing day by day. Like the cancer that took her father. For most of her so far short adult life, she’d felt mostly pain, anger and frustration. Her father’s long illness. His death, it’s aftermath and for the last five years the stagnation her life had descended into. It was slowly ebbing away. Replaced by a bleak hollowness.
Anne didn’t ponder why. Perhaps it was retribution. She’d caused the death of her sister. Maybe she’d killed her intentionally. There was no way to know for sure. Not after what the doctor’s had done at the mental institution she’d been in.
Miss Beal believed the thing to be a demon. Anne was more certain it was her sister. If she was to die fighting whatever it…She was. If that was her fate, then so be it. Anne deserved some kind of punishment for what she’d done didn’t she?
Turning onto her side, she peered into the darkness of the apartment. Did she deserve to be punished? Was the killer some kind of divine retribution. Sent from Heaven above. What about all she gone through in the last few years? So many hours holding her father’s hand as he lie in a hospital bed wasting away. The uncertain nights she dreaded hearing the phone ringing. Wondering if the voice on the other end would tell Anne her father had passed. Was that not Hell enough? Was that not enough payment for her sins. Other then her life what more was there to take from her.
Somewhere above a plane went over. People in transit. Some headed to new places. Some headed home. People with hopes, dreams, worries, fears. Anne mused about what they were like. Was there a little girl like she’d been once. Full of life and wonder. Staring down at the lights below and thinking about the people below.
Turning over onto her back again, lost in the stark whiteness of the ceiling. Her heart thumped away in her chest. She felt restless, agitated. There was a lot she wanted to do…had to do. Stuff that had to wait till morning. Go see her mother. She had to talk to Sam too. She wasn’t sure if she’d tell her everything, but she needed somebody there to look after her mom if something happened and Anne was unable to.
Yeah. You mean dead.
There was no getting around it. She couldn’t shake the feeling. In a matter of days she quite possibly might be dead. At least if she knew Sam was looking after her mom she wouldn’t have that troubling her mind.
Anne took in a slow, deep breath. Trying to relax herself. She’d started having trouble sleeping back then and got fairly good at relaxing herself like this. After a few minutes her heart started to slow. She felt sleep coming. Closing her eyes, Anne drifted off.
Anne was standing in the kitchen with her mother. They were talking and preparing some pasta for dinner. The house was lit up as usual. Outside the snow fell at a steady rate. Light glittering off the flakes. They were talking about old times when the lights went out. One by one around the house she heard them click off till finally the kitchen lights went out. Plunging the kitchen in an unnatural, perfect darkness. A darkness that was everywhere. Even outside. The falling snow was no longer visible. It was as if the moon and stars and simply vanished for existence.
Anne reached out. Gripping the counter. She called out to her mother but there was no answer. Just silence. Using her hands to guide her Anne made her way out of the kitchen. In the hallway she called for her mother again. This time there was a sort of answer. Anne could detect the faint sound of someone breathing somewhere in the house. Finding the side of the hall. She used the wall to make her way. Feeling it rise and fall under her fingers. Breathing. The sound of breathing was joined by another sound. The steady, rhythmic beating of a heart. The house was alive.
The hallway wasn’t that long yet it took her five minutes to reach the other end. It should have ended at the living room. Instead she stood at the door to the bedroom in the old house. Light shimmered at the edges of the doorway. It creaked as the door expanded and contracted. Veins ran over it’s surface. Blood flowing within. Anne wanted to turn back into the darkness of the hallway. Whatever lurked in there she wanted nothing to do with. A compulsion deep within urged her to do otherwise. The door was fleshy to the touch. Her fingers had barely touched it when it flew open.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
The room was dominated by large heart at it’s center. Anne had seen a photo once of a house built around a tree. The Heart had large branch like veins running from it. Pumping blood into the other parts of the house. A bare light bulb hung from a chain in front of the beating heart. Swinging back and forth like a pendulum. Stepping into the room, she walked towards the heart. Her feet felt suddenly wet. With each step she took, blood seeped up through the floorboards.
I hate her.
Kneeling in the empty closet a little girl wrote on the wall. Writing the same thing over and over in a childish scrawl. The words made no sense. They were gibberish. The girl, her sister Emily, wrote in a frenzy. Sobbing and muttering to herself. Anne walked over. Feeling the need to comfort the girl. She put a reassuring hand on the girl’s shoulder.
“I hate her.” The girl sobbed.
“It’ll be okay Emily. I love you.”
The girl turned, brushing off Anne’s hand. Her eye’s red with anger. “I’m Anne.”
Anne sat up on the couch. Her eyes filled with sleep. Rubbing them she could see the first gloomy rays of morning light in the sky. Snow was falling at a good rate. She pushed off the blankets. Only a dream. It had been so intense. So real. She’d never had a dream that had felt so real before. Her clothes were damp from sweat. The sudden cold air of the apartment made her shiver.
Barefoot she went to the shower. It was after seven. There was no point in trying to go back to sleep. The dream had her adrenalin flowing.
It lingered in her mind as she washed. Had she wrote I hate her in the closet. It was entirely possible. From what her mother had said, Emily had tormented her. Perhaps she’d written those words there as a form of revenge. It was also possible Anne’s feelings of guilt had manifested that aspect of the dream. Regardless of who wrote them, Anne had busy day ahead. She might as well face the day and all it held.
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