The Strange Shape of Anne's Grief Part 8
by Shane Migliavacca
The Strange Shape Of Anne's Grief chapter 8 Sam (II)
Sam spent half the night lying awake. She stared at the ceiling. Watching car lights race across it from from the street below. Her heart beating fast. She’d spent the trip home in silence. The cab driver tried to start a conversation. Sam was so torn up with worry, she’d brooded the whole way back to town. Ignoring him.The poor cabbie must of thought her a stuck up bitch. She shouldn’t have just left Anne. Sam tired to tell herself Anne was an adult. If she didn’t want to got to the hospital, that was her call. But it felt like a hollow excuse to her.
The apartment was dark when she got home. Lucy hadn’t gotten back yet. Sam felt a bit guilty running out on Lucy and Paul. They’d been her ride to the party. Did they even know she’d bailed? They must have seen what had happened. Anne had made quite the scene. Half the place was watching them as they left.
After a quick shower, Sam had decided to crash. Her mind had other ideas though. As her thoughts raced. She pictured Anne sick in bed, all alone. Getting sicker and sicker until she died. It was ridiculous she told herself. Wasn’t it?
Her friend’s condition wasn’t the only thing troubling her. That weird coin was bugging her. It still sat in her jacket pocket. Lying there in the dark, alone in the apartment with it nearby, she felt scared. They way Anne had reacted when she touched it, she’d been fine till then. That coin had brought on that whole episode. Maybe it was her “gift” as her mom would say. Maybe. Or perhaps she was just worked up from the night’s events.
Sam listened to the whoosh of the ceiling fan. Feeling the gentle breeze it made as it danced over her face. The fan usually helped her sleep. Not so much the air, but the hum it made. It eased her mind. Giving her something to focus on. At some point, she dozed off. Sleeping for a bit till she heard Lucy’s bedroom door shut. Sam thought about getting up, to talk to Lucy, and then thought better of it. Lucy was probably tired, maybe drunk and pissed at her for taking off. Best to let her sleep it off.
Sam fell asleep herself for a bit, waking up as dawn started to creep up on the night. She heard the birds outside, chirping. She sat up, yawning. Not feeling very rested at all. Sam knew she wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again. Looking at the clock on the nightstand it was a little after six. Feeling like dried up shit on someone’s boot, she decided she’d call in today. They could do without her for a day. Sam would use the time off to see how Anne was doing.
Lucy was a late sleeper. She wouldn’t be up for a few hours. Most of her classes weren’t till nine or ten. Sam would have the apartment to herself for a little bit. That suited her just fine.
Her head was spinning from last night. Sam hadn’t had much to drink at the party, though it didn’t help combined with the lack sleep and her nerves. She brewed a fresh pot of coffee. It was sure as hell needed this morning. While waiting for the coffee to finish. Sam called work. She dreaded the thought of the warehouse foreman Dale answering. If he had, he’d give Sam a lecture about not coming in. Or worse. Try to pressure her into showing up. She was relieved when Curt answered. He didn’t give a fuck if she called in. He assured her he’d pass on the info.
With that done, she could concentrate on dealing with Anne and that coin. Sam wanted to call Anne’s house now. It was way too early though. She’d wait till nine or ten. Sam had considered driving over. After the reception, she’d got last night though, it didn’t seem like such a good idea.
She sat on the futon in the living room, sipping coffee, planning her “day off.” Finding out Anne’s condition was her top priority. Then Sam would take the coin to her mom’s store.
After finishing the cup of coffee, her eyes felt heavy. Sam was surprised to find she’d drifted off for a while. Waking up with her head resting on one of the large pillows. Drool on her cheek. The creak of a floorboard in the kitchenette startled her.
“Where the hell did you get off too?” Lucy stood by the coffee pot. Pour herself a cup. “When did you get in?”
Sam rubbed the sleep from her eyes. “Anne wasn’t feeling well. Had to drive her home.”
“We saw her flip out. What happened?”
Sam shook her head. “Got me. I think she came down with something.”
Lucy yawned. “Hope it’s not catching.”
After calling Anne’s house a couple more times and not getting an answer, Sam headed out. She’d try again from the store. Telling herself that maybe it was just too early still. Nothing was wrong. Perhaps they were both still sleeping after the rough night. That was most likely it. Putting any irrational thoughts of trouble out of her mind, Sam jumped on her cycle.
The morning was cold. Frost clung to everything like a second skin. Early morning traffic had died off some. Most of the main employers in Frostwood, the factories, opened early. Between six and seven. The stores didn’t open till later, usually nine or ten. It was a little after seven, and most everybody was where they had to be for a while.
Mom’s store wouldn’t be open yet, but they’d be there. Getting the place ready for the day. Both her mom and grandmother were early birds. They’d have gotten up already had breakfast and be at the store by now, Sam often wondered who needed books on the occult or a tarot reading nine in the morning. Turns out she might.
Outside of town, the land was dotted with farms. Many of them like the Well’s Farm or the farmhouse her mom used for the store. Abandoned when they were no longer affordable for the farmers.
These wide-open spaces bothered Sam. It was so quiet out here. She needed noise. Like her ceiling fan. Noise, especially music helped center her mind. Kept Sam from drifting. From seeing things in her mind. Things she didn’t want to see.
Turning down the short dirt road leading to the store. Sam could see they were there. The family station wagon was parked out front. It had been a few weeks since she’d last seen any of her family. Work and fun kept her busy.
Sliding off the bike, the frost covered grass and dead leaves crunched under her boots as she approached the store. Winter would be here soon. Frostwood winters were bad. She knew in her bones: This year would be no different.
The closed sign hung in the window. There was movement inside. Further back in the store. Somebody was walking around. It was hard to tell who. The light inside was dim. The door rattled as Sam knocked. The figure stopped and started towards the door. Sam looked up at the large wood hand painted sign that hung over the door. She’s painted it with her dad. A week before the store opened for the first time. There three little skulls. A deck of tarot cards and some “magical” energy. At the center was the store’s name: Window into the Unknown.
Sam knocked louder.
“We’re closed.” A scratchy answered from inside.
“Noni.” Sam scoffed. “It’s Sam.”
Another voice from inside chided. “Mother, just let her in.”
That was Sam’s mom. Her grandmother, Noni as Sam nicknamed her, liked to rag on her granddaughter from time to time. Usually when she felt Sam deserved it.
The locked on the door clicked loudly. The bells over the door chimed as her grandmother pulled the door open. The old woman stood there, slightly hunched over. She worn a simple blue dress. Leaning on an old wood cane as she walked.
“Where have you been?” The old woman demanded. “Can’t visit your family?”
“Been busy. You know, work.” Sam stepped into the store. The smell of cinnamon incense hung heavy in the air. The faint sound of classic music could be heard. Coming over the store’s PA system. The lights were always kept low in the store, giving it a relaxing feeling. It made Sam want to take a nap in some corner of the store.
Sam’s mother, Audrey was the opposite of her daughter. Tall, with long dark blonde hair. Her mother had an elegance about her. To Sam she carried herself like one of those actresses from the ‘40s.
Audrey set a book on the store counter. “So, what brings my daughter out?”
“Daughter?” Noni chuckled. “You were supposed to be a boy?”
“What?” Sam tilted her head.
“Mom.” Audrey sighed.
“When you were still in your mother, I saw you older. You were a boy.”
Sam laughs. “You had a vision of me?”
“Yes. And they’re never wrong.” She pats Sam on the head. “Almost never wrong.” Ruffling her short hair. “Then again, possibly I was mistaken. Not sure how I could mistake you for a boy.” The old woman chuckles.
Sam blushed. She felt embarrassed. Noni liked to kid her about her unladylike appearance. It felt mean some of the time. Sam wondered how much of what she just said was true.
“I came, because I need your help.” Sam said.
Sam used a dust rag to pull the coin out. Still weary of touching it. Sitting it on the table used for card readings, the three gathered around it. The two women questioned Sam about it. With a little hesitation, she told them how Anne had freaked out after touching it. To her surprise neither of the women acted like she was nuts. Then again, Sam looked around the store. This was what they did. Her family.
Sam looked down at the coin as Audrey stood, flipping through an old looking book. The face of it was taken up by snake. The snake circled the front of the coin. Eating its own tail.
“You haven’t touched it at all?” Noni eyed it with a magnifying glass.
Sam shook her head. “Nope.”
Audrey looked up from the book. “That symbol is an Ouroboros. This book states it’s an alchemist symbol.”
Sam looked up at her mom. “The guys that tried to make gold?”
“Damn.” Sam whistled. “Is it magic?”
“The book says it represents the beginning of things and the end of things. The good side of our soul and the evil side.”
Sam leaned in close as she could without touching the coin. “What did it do to Anne?”
Audrey handed Noni the book. “I think she’s been cursed.”
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