Len’s challenge this week was to twist the reader’s emotions — start happy and end sad, or similar.
Unfortunately, this is the Christmas season and I have two young girls who are going stir-crazy. I have no time to write something new. So, I am recycling my response when this challenge was posted on Gather, which itself was recycled from an even earlier Gather Two-Word challenge. So, if it feels a little limp, that’s why.
My ancestors must have been Puritans: nothing goes to waste.
I don’t know where you are, but I hope this finds you. I never got a chance to thank you and now this is the only way I will be able to.
I want you to know that AnnieBell is doing fine. That is her name. Of course everyone calls her Annabel. They just don’t listen, or they hear what they want to hear. But don’t worry, she knows her proper name and she will know how that came to be. She is nearly two now, and she is talking. She says AnnieBell quite clearly and my mother and father keep correcting her. “It’s Annabel dear” they say patiently and proudly and they laugh gently at her. She simply answers with AnnieBell. Again and again and again.
I wish I could talk to your mother Aidan. I wish I could let her know that her bloodline and her name are carried on, but you never told me anything about her other than that.
That night we talked until daybreak. I’d never talked so much in my life which was funny, considering. I told you everything there was to know about me, even the bad things, the secret things that gave me the scars and clamped my mouth shut whenever anybody pressed too close. The things the doctors never knew, with all their tests and their interviews and their opinions borne of study and degree and interrogation – I never trusted a White Coat, but then none of us did, did we?
But at the end of that night I knew almost nothing about you. I knew your name and your mother’s, and that was it. And much later when I asked, after you had gone and when they knew about AnnieBell, they claimed it was Private Information. They said they were Unable To Divulge. They said I must go through the Proper Channels. And then they wiped their hands of me and closed the doors and locked the gates. And I was here in the world with the one thing that kept me to you. They don’t know what happened that night and that’s fine; it was none of their business. I told them nothing. Maybe that was why they spited me later on.
You listened Aidan. You looked at me and you listened. You didn’t ask, and you didn’t judge. You didn’t take notes or offer explanations. And you laughed when I laughed and you cried when I cried and you were still when I was quiet. You knew Aidan. You knew what I needed even though you’d never met me before.
There are times here at home when I will cry all day and my mother and my father will come into my room with concerned looks take AnnieBell away from me and call Doctor Matthews, and he will come over and count my pills and make sure I am keeping to my schedules. But they just don’t understand that I cry because I need to, and when I’m done it is gone. Then they let AnnieBell see me again and I look at her face and she looks at mine and we both know it is all right.
You are no longer here, and maybe that was your choice or maybe it wasn’t. I don’t understand it but I’ve accepted that things don’t need my understanding. Things happen or they don’t. You happened to me: you gave me what I needed and you gave me AnnieBell, and then you found the path you had to take.
I don’t know how these things are supposed to work. I haven’t done this since I was a child, but I needed to tell you these things, and for you to know that I am grateful. So I’ve written it all down and AnnieBell and I are going to walk down to the church tomorrow morning and give this to the Reverend, and then I’m going to start telling her all the things you knew about me, and the things I don’t know about you.