The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 7
by Shane Migliavacca
The Strange Shape Of Anne's Grief chapter 7 Anne and Sam
Anne felt intense cold race through her hand. Emanating from the coin. Running down her arm and into her body. The lights started to strobe. Melting together in a whirlpool of furious colors, forming a raging funnel cloud on the ceiling of the barn. The song slowed down, becoming a distorted echo. Anne tried to speak. To tell Sam what was happening. Her voice refused to play along. The words came out garbled, muffled. All the sound died away till all she could hear was her own frenzied breathing.
Panicking, Anne reached out to Sam. Touching her hand, Anne watched as her friend liquefied, getting sucked into swirling cloud overhead. Horrified, Anne backed away. Colliding with a dancing couple dressed as Fred and Wilma Flintstone. Nearly knocking them down. They angrily pushed her away. Anne fell to the ground, the world snapping back to normal. Sound came back with a roaring crash.
“Watch it!” Fred barked over the music.
“Crazy ass bitch.” Wilma added.
Anne stared up at them, dumbfounded. “What…I…I don’t know what’s happening.”
Anne looks around her. She wasn’t near the bar anymore. She was in the middle of the dance floor. A crowd gathered around. Gawking at her. Sam and the old hag nowhere to be seen.
Anne stood. She stumbling into the onlookers. Who part, letting her through. Keeping their distance like Anne was Typhoid Mary.
“That’s her,” one whispers.
“She’s crazy,” another whispers. “Her and her mom.”
Anne could see the exit ahead. Everybody had stopped dancing now. Watching her. She was a circus freak. There for their perverse pleasure.
“Sam!” Anne cried. “Where are you!”
The world started to move again. As Anne felt herself get lightheaded. The lights, the music stung, like a thousand hammers to her skull. Her legs buckled, as Anne felt like a puppet with its strings severed. Nearly falling again. This time someone grabbed her before she hit the floor.
“What’s wrong?” It was Sam.
Anne shook her head. “I don’t know.”
“I’ll get you out of here, okay?”
Anne nodded. Talking took too much strength. Strength she didn’t have.
Sam despite being smaller then Anne, supported her as they left the barn. Carrying Anne’s almost dead weight. Sam held her tightly against her. Almost dragging her along. Anne’s feet hardly leaving the ground.
Anne could feel their eyes. Whispering. Snickering. Pointing. She hadn’t the strength to do something about it. Her body felt like it wanted to give out.
The pair made it outside. The cool night air cleared the fog in Anne’s head a bit.
“Where’s your truck?” Sam scanned the rows of parked cars.
“There.” Anne pointed feebly. Across the lot to her truck. Sitting alone like a small island in the sea.
“You would have to park over there.” Sam laughed.
“Where else.” Anne managed a weak laugh of her own. The laugh quickly turned into a hacking fit. She managed to pull her mask up, before doubling over and spitting out a gob of mucus onto the ground.
Sam stopped, letting Anne work through it. She hunched over coughing up phlegm. As Sam rubbed her back.
Sam took the wolf mask off Anne, brushing some hair out of her friend’s face.
Once Anne had recovered some, they started toward the truck once more.
“You should go to the hospital.”
Anne shook her head. “No. Take me home.”
There was no way She’d go to the hospital. Not the place that had killed her father. Not that pack of butchers. Besides that, Anne just flat out couldn’t afford the bill. Save-Mart didn’t provide her with any type of health insurance. They were still dealing with her father’s medical bills from five years ago. Another hospital bill would bury them.
“Anne.” Sam looked into her friend’s drained face. “You should really-”
“No.” Anne begged. Touching Sam’s hand. “Take me home. Please.”
A little later they were in the pickup. Sam drove nervously. Not only worried about Anne. But also worried about getting pulled over. She’d had a couple beers at the party. All she needed was some local Barney Fife trying to get their quota pulling her over. Goodbye license. At least her house was close by.
Sam looked over at her friend. She was leaning back in the seat. Her eyes closed. Her face looked clammy. The wolf mask rested in her lap. Anne was clutching it like some sacred relic.
The thought of that reminded Sam about the coin. She’d picked it up after Anne’s freak out. Sam wasn’t sure why she’d grabbed it off the dirt floor. She should have been chasing after Anne. Or grabbing that weirdo in the old witch mask. It had sat there gleaming. Calling to her. She’d hesitated for the briefest second. Seeing what it might have done to Anne, Sam used the sleeve of her jacket to pick it up. Sliding it in a pocket. Where it sat now. Heavy, like a mill stone. Sam made a note to show it too her mom and grandmother. The glimpse that she’d got of it told her it wasn’t like any coin she’d seen before. The symbols on it were odd looking. Between the two of them, maybe they’d have seen it somewhere. In one of their occult books.
She was getting ahead of herself though. Sam thought. Her first priority was making sure her friend was okay. Sam could see the house now. Standing like some last outpost of a fallen empire, all alone in the night. She wasn’t looking forward to what was going to happen when she got there. Sam wanted more than anything to take Anne to the hospital or maybe to her apartment. It was the smart thing to do. But the way Anne had pleaded with her, she just couldn’t deny her friend’s wish to go home.
She pulled the truck down the driveway. The house was lit up like a Christmas tree. Was every light in the house on? Their electric bill must be nuts.
Sam felt dread growing in the marrow of her being. Anne’s mother scared her sometimes. The woman had a way of looking at you, through you. Seeing your every sin. Your every fault. And using it against you.
Sam stopped the truck. At least they’d made it here, no cops had pulled them over. Right now though, confronting some deputy looked more preferable then confronting the woman who led Anne around like a dog on a leash.
“We’re here.” Sam reached over, gently touching Anne’s hand.
Her eyes fluttered open. “Already?” Anne started to open the passenger’s side door.
“Hang on.” Sam opened her door. “Let me help you.”
With Anne leaning on her again, they made it to the front door. Sam tried the door, it was locked. As she suspected it would be. She knocked rapidly. Luke barked from somewhere inside.
“My key.” Anne said. “You have it.”
“Shit. Right.” Sam had them right in her hand. She couldn’t think straight with all this happening. Feeling like a complete idiot, she slid the key in. Turning it slowly, Sam was expecting the worst.
As they entered Luke came bounding towards them. His tail wagging back and forth like a propeller blade. Upon seeing Anne, the dog whimpers.
“What’s going on?”
Sam looks up to see Anne’s mom. Standing at the top of the stairs. Her arms folded across her chest.
Sam felt nervous. Like she’d been caught stealing. “Anne. She’s not feeling well.”
“What did you do to her?” The woman hurried down the stairs towards them. “Did you give her something?”
“Nothing. She just got sick all of a sudden.” A lump grew in Sam’s throat.
“You lie,” venom oozed out in her voice.
“Mom!” Anne said, wobbling away from Sam’s side.
The woman took Anne. Supporting her, like Sam had. “Let’s get you upstairs.” She turned, glaring over her shoulder at Sam.
“I-I didn’t do anything.” Sam defended. Feeling the accusation in the woman’s eyes. She took Anne’s other side. Both helping her up the stairs. All the time, Sam could feel the woman’s stare. Dissecting every fiber of her being.
They led Anne on her room. Helping her change out of her costume, doing it in silence almost the whole time. Only speaking to ask Anne a question. Luke paced in and out of the room. Staying out of the way of the three women. Anne seemed much better by the time they got her into bed. Anne’s mother tucking her in. As Sam went to adjust the pillow, the woman’s eyes shot daggers at her. Forcing her to back off.
Anne looked up at her friend. “Thanks.”
Sam managed a weak smile. Maybe this was her fault. If she hadn’t pushed her to go to that party. She’d just wanted Anne to have a good time for once. Was that so wrong?
Her mom adjusted the pillow beneath Anne’s head. “Shh. You just rest honey.”
Sam mustered some courage. “I can stay with you tonight.” Regardless of whether she was to blame or not, Anne shouldn’t be left with just her mother tonight.
Before Anne could answer her mother spoke. “You’ve done enough tonight Samantha.”
“Mom.” Anne said. Half-asleep, she took her mother’s hand. “It’s not Sam’s fault.”
“I’ll call you a cab Samantha.” Her tone had become somewhat civil. “I’ll take care of my baby tonight.”
Sam nodded. The woman’s commanding tone left no room for argument.
Sam waited outside in the cold. She knew it would take a little while before the cab got there. It was better than waiting inside, with her. It could have been a blizzard, Sam would have still waited outside. The woman made her too unconformable. Even now, Sam felt her watching from one of the upstairs window’s. She’d caught a glimpse of her up there. She’d like nothing more than to turn and flip her off. But Sam would wait. Let the woman have her moment. If it meant she’d look after Anne tonight.
Anne woke alone in darkness. Her mother had stayed with her for some time. Had she gone off to bed now? When she rolled over to look at the clock she felt it. Like knives slicing her insides. The pain was excruciating. Running throughout her belly. She’d never felt anything like it. No stomachache Anne had ever felt was like this.
It took all her strength to get out of bed. Each movement brought more pain. Touching her stomach made things worse. Because that’s when she felt it. There under her skin. Moving.
Sweat beaded up on her forehead as Anne fought the pain, hunched over. She stumbled toward the door connecting her room to the bathroom. Making it into the bathroom, Anne flipped on the light. A huge jolt of pain shot through her. She doubled over. Whatever it was inside her, she could feel it moving.
She tried to make it to the toilet. Feeling as if she was about to throw up… But the pain was too much. Anne slumped over the side of the large tub. Felt it coming up her throat. Gagging, she opened her mouth. Long legs emerged. Clamping to the sides of her face. Desperation gripped Anne. Clutching the side of the tub, she wanted to scream. Using its legs, the thing pushed its way out of her mouth. Dry heaving, Anne forced the thing out. It landed in the tub. Skittering about at it turned and looked at her. The thing’s lumpy body was a disgusting blackish color. Slime glistened on its “skin.” The thing’s spider like legs made clicking noises as it moved. The worst part was its face. At the center of the beast’s misshapen body. A vaguely human face. Glassy, yellow eyes and a savage animal like mouth. Rough, uneven teeth lined the mouth. The thing looked up at Anne, hissing at her. Its breath smelled of something dead. Rotting from the inside.
The sight of this thing was simply too much for Anne’s fatigued mind. Blackness overtook her. Anne collapsed motionless onto the cold tile floor.
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