The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 36
by Shane Migliavacca
The Strange Shape Of Anne's Grief chapter 36 Anne, Sam and Emily
Sam stared at the phone. Waiting. Anne had been gone a few hours now and there’d been no call. She’d promised to call. Sam understood that Anne and her mother’s talking out their problems could take some time. Yet Sam couldn’t help but worry. After she’d touched that presence, she had to tell Anne about it. Shaking her head she thought. Déjà vu. She’d gone through all this when Anne got sick at the Halloween party. And here she was again, worrying about her best friend.
“Screw it.” Sam picked up the receiver.
Anne could take a few minutes out from the mother/daughter bonding to give her the low down on how it was going. She’d want to know what Sam had felt.
Sam dialed, hoping she wasn’t overreacting.
“My fault?” Anne stood dumbstruck. Her sister’s words felt like knives. “You are nuts.”
Emily laughed. “It’s true. All that guilt and pain you kept inside for so many years, it grew like the cancer that killed your father. Until finally your body couldn’t contain it any longer and poof!” Emily bowed. “Here I be.”
“I made you?”
Emily nodded. “She’s getting it.”
“The woman? The coin?”
“There are things out there, old dark things. They like to meddle. Push things along.”
Her eyes gleamed. Anne took in her “sister’s” features. Emily’s face was pale. Her teeth were sharp, fang-like. There was something about her features that reminded Anne of an elf.
“Mom took care of me. Found me in the tub. Fed me. Hid me.”
A memory resurfaced in Anne’s mind. The little girl in the park. “That was you? In the park.”
Emily smiled. “I followed you.”
“Now girls, why don’t I put on some tea. We can sit down in the dining room and talk things over. A good tea on a cold day does wonders.” She started to leave, stopping she wheeled around. “Oh. Wait. The dining room is a bit of a mess.”
This is madness.
Anne wanted to escape the house. Pretend this wasn’t real. Perhaps it wasn’t real. Perhaps she was still in that institution. Maybe she’d never left. And this was a delusion she lived in. Her life was a hallucination.
The phone rang. Startling Anne.
Anne glanced at Emily then her mom.
Her mother made the first move. “I’ll get it. You girls keep talking. So much to catch up on.”
“Yeah, so much.” Anne said.
Anne felt Emily’s attention focus on her.
“Want to see something weird?”
Emily opened the bathrobe. Underneath she was nude. Her body was undefined. There were no genitalia. Like a doll’s or mannequin’s body made flesh. It was pasty looking with blue veins showing through. Her ribs were visible through the skin. They appeared to be almost insect-like.
Anne found herself disgusted, yet unable to look away from the alien looking body.
“I started out as a small thing, fully aware. Forcing my way out of your mouth.”
“Anne honey.” Her mother called from the hall. “Samantha wants to talk to you.”
Emily closed the robe. Stepping in front of Anne. “Tell Sam everything is fine. Wouldn’t want her to get in the way of our family time.”
“We’re just hanging out here Sam. Having a family reunion. Going pretty good so far.” Anne voice crackled through the phone.
She sounded fine, maybe a little tired. “What about the other stuff?”
“We’ll talk about it when I get back later, cool?”
“Sure.” Sam didn’t like it. But Anne said she was okay, Sam would give her the benefit of the doubt. For a little while anyway.
Anne hung up. The click of the phone on the receiver felt final. Well that was that. She was on her own. Sam would be safe though, for now. If Anne could find a way to stop Emily.
Kill her you mean.
Killing her might be the only way.
“Good work sis.” Behind her Emily pulled on a pair of Anne’s jeans. “Glad we’re the same size.” She slide into one of her T-shirts. They were in the hallway. Near the front door. If only she could run out, get to her truck.
“Just help yourself to my stuff.”
“No need to be hostile about it. Can’t run around looking like I do.”
From the dinning room came the sounds of her mother cleaning up the bloody mess. Her mother had totally lost it. Anne thought this must be how Alice felt in Wonderland. Confronted by so much insanity. This was some Mad Hatter tea party all right. Off with her head. Anne thought.
“The more there is of mine, the less there is of yours.” Anne said.
Emily smiled. “’I am real!’ You read Alice in Wonderland and Through The Looking Glass. I know everything you knew up until I was born. Makes getting around handy.”
Anne went back to the living room. She sat on the couch. “You just plan to act like nothing’s wrong? There’s a dead deputy in the cellar.”
For all Anne knew the sheriff could be on his way here. The deputy had come for a reason. Did they know about Emily? Or suspect Anne?
“I don’t plan on staying. Neither should you.”
“What are you saying?”
“We’re hitting the road. Just the three of us!” Emily laughed. “Road trip!”
Anne felt her face contort with anger. “Like hell! We’re not going anywhere with you.”
In the blink of an eye, Emily grabbed Anne by the hair. Her face inches from Anne’s. Her rancid breath almost overpowering. Anne saw something in her face that made her think of a rabid animal.
Emily’s voice became a whisper. Her eyes narrowed. “I think you will. Dearest mother is going along. Wouldn’t want to disappoint her.”
What power did Emily hold over her mother? Did she truly believe it was her daughter returned from the grave? This thing?
“You two getting along okay?” Her mother said. Standing in the doorway with a bucket, wearing blue rubber gloves. Blood staining their shiny rubber surface. “I’m about finished cleaning the dining room. I’ll put on some tea after I dump this water. Sound good?”
Emily pulled away from Anne, letting go of her hair. “Thanks mommy!”
Anne felt herself overwhelmed by this mad sham of a family. Her false sister had mom wrapped around her finger. She had to do something and do it soon. Before either the sheriff came knocking on their door or Emily decided to eliminate the both of them.
Emily’s smile turned to a frown after the older woman left. “Let’s have tea. And remember...Be good.”
Anne got up. Emily following her into the dining room. The floor shinned with it’s newly polished wood. The blood was gone, replaced with the strong smell of cleaner. Emily pulled out one of the chairs. “Sit.”
Anne did as she was told, biding her time. Wait for Emily to let her guard down. Mustering the strength to do what had to be done. Kill her fake sister.
Emily sat across from her. Drumming her fingers on the table. “What’cha thinking about huh? Bad thoughts?”
“I’m thinking why? Why if you don’t like being here, then why not kill yourself.”
Emily leaned across the table.
“Because despite all the pain I feel. Despite this half body that’s my cage. And the need for blood to survive…I want to live with the greatest intensity. I mean have you seen snow? It’s so pretty as it falls. And the sun in the morning. Those first warm rays of sun. They’re filled with so much hope and the possibility that the new day will bring some joy.”
This thing was a good actress. It almost had Anne believing it for a second. Playing the victim flawlessly. This fake Emily said she was born from Anne. Her pain and anger. She also had Anne’s knowledge. Did she…it get anything else of her’s as well? Like her compassion? Was it possible she could reach her, change her?
No. She couldn’t take the chance.
“I know what’s going through your pretty head right now.”
Anne looked her in the eyes. Trying her best to keep her cool. “Do you?”
“You’re thinking about killing me. I’ll tell you sis, you don’t have the guts to do it. Any chance you had to do something like that ended when I was born. I got stuck with all that junk.”
“You think I can’t?” Anne said. Hoping the fear didn’t show in her voice.
Silence fell as Emily sized her up. Anne squirmed in her chair. Emily’s eyes stayed locked on her, like a dogs would. Staring her down.
Then the tea kettle screeched. Making Anne break eye contact.
“Tea’s ready girls.” Mother called cheerfully from the kitchen.
“Remember sis, I know you. Your all about control. Keeping everything locked away tight. Not me. I’m chaos. I’m the cancer in your body. Hiding away until one day…bam!”
Anne flinched as Emily slammed her open palms down on the table.
Mom came cluttering into the room, holding a large metal tray with the tea kettle setting at its center. She set it down between them.
“Girls, you two were always having your little spats. You should act like adults now.”
Like a flare in the night illuminating a dark landscape, Anne saw her chance.
As her mother pulled out a chair for herself, Anne sprang up, grabbing the handle of the kettle splashing the hot tea in her sister’s face.
Emily let out an unearthly howl of pain as she fell backwards. Chair and girl tumbling to the floor. Anne scrambled up onto the table, jumping down on the other side. She began hitting the trashing form on the floor. The metal making an almost comical noise as it collided with Emily’s body.
“Girls!” Anne’s mom hollered. “Behave yourselves!”
Emily flailed about. Her arms shielding a burned face from Anne’s blows.
“Bitch!” She hissed through scalded lips. Kicking Anne off her with powerful legs.
This sent Anne back first into the table. She felt pain explode through her back. Emily grabbed Anne by the arm and flung her through the air. Her body coming to a stop when she collided with a wall. Smashing into a end table as she slide down to the floor.
Anne felt herself fading. She was going to die now. Emily stalked toward her. Her face badly burned on one side. Rage burning in her eyes.
“I let you know me. See me. I would have let you live! I wanted us to be family!”
Anne smiled as she passed out. She was always messing up her family. Why shouldn’t she die doing that.
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