All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
Annie, Part 2
I arise with the 5:00am alarm like always, and in a dreamlike state I go through the motions of getting ready for work. I put on the clothes my wife pressed for me the night before. I make the coffee that my wife had set up for me. I eat the fruit she had cut up for me. I leave for work with the lunch she had prepared for me. And each morning, like always, in my five minutes of alone time between leaving the apartment and driving the car out of the parking lot just beating the morning traffic, I think. I think of my wife, Tessie. Average height, average weight, with brown hair and a heavy brow over dark eyes. My parents told me she was lovely, that she would be the perfect wife and the perfect mother. And we've been married close to four years, after I came out of my depression. And no children, not even the slightest hint of pregnancy. I think of my fiancee. My gorgeous Annie, with her dark hair and deep ocean eyes. I think of slipping the sapphire ring onto her finger, watching her ocean eyes well with tears as she said yes. I think of how I pictured our future together, with kids and picnics and a white picket fence. I think of my coming home from work and her not being there. Her never coming home again. How the investigation went from missing woman to suspected abduction. I think of how others hinted at her running away. How I was suspected for her abduction. How I lost sleep for one year, and how I put myself to sleep with alcohol the following year. How Tessie came over one morning and made coffee, hauled me out of bed, and renewed my life. How I married her. And how even with the new life she brought me, I can only think of Annie and her mystery. If only. If only.
I pull out of the parking lot and go through the motions of my day. For weeks I have been going through the motions. I work. I eat lunch. I work. I make coffee. I work. I go home. The sky is dark as I pull into the lot. I walk up the stairs and open our apartment door. Tessie is sitting in the living room. Knitting. She knits socks for the neighbour's newest child, a girl, the seventh in the family. As she turns the heel I see the sadness in her face. The acceptance of the fact that she will never have a child to knit socks for. That there will be no one to cook for and clean up after except for me in this house. That this house can remain perfectly clean because no one will inhabit it except her and me, until we die. I put down my briefcase and kiss her cheek. She is only twenty-four and already her life is over. In the kitchen dinner is cooking. Chicken and beans. I go to the bedroom and shower. I come out in fresh clothes and my hair dripping down my neck. She has set the table and is getting knives and forks. As she turns back we make eye contact. I realise that she knows that I am unhappy. I realise that she is unhappy. We both realise there is nothing we can do about our misery. We sit down in silence. We say grace, a comfort for her and a slap in the face for me. I have nothing left. The phone rings. Normally we do not answer the phone during dinner. Regardless of our custom I find myself reclining into the sofa and picking the phone up, releasing an easy greeting.
I jerk, placing both my feet on the carpet. "Detective?" I say, almost a whisper. Detective Morrisette, who oversaw Annie's abduction case, to no avail.
"I have some news," he says uneasily. Uneasily, but eagerly.
"Have you found her?" I say. I can only hope. I can only hope. Six years is a long time. Tessie leaves the room.
"We found her." My heart soars. "But she's dead, Marvel," he adds quickly. Receiving my silence, he continues to tell me of Annie's last six years of life. On the last day I ever saw her, a man by the name of Gerry Willows chloroformed my Annie outside a grocery store, and took her to his house just outside of the city. He kept her there for six years in his basement. As a prisoner. A sex slave. Morrisette almost tells me of her injuries, of the things Willows imposed on her, but he catches himself. He ends his speech with, "We didn't know, Marvel. We couldn't have. He was too good."
"How..." I say. "She's dead?" Tessie comes to sit on the couch next to me. She doesn't try to touch me or talk to me.
"This is the cinch." He sighs. He tells me Annie conceived and gave birth to two children. This morning - she was alive this morning! - after months of holding back their food so they were thin enough to fit through the bars on the window, she broke a window in the basement and pushed her children through the bars and broken glass. Willows heard the commotion and came to the basement in a rage, but by then the children - three and four years old, the eldest having been taught what to do over months of practice - had fled, running down the street as their mother - my Annie - took the beating to her death. Willows claimed her life but he could not claim her reason for giving up her life. Her children - parentless, with no relatives in the world - were sitting at the police station, better fed and better dressed for the chilly November evening. "Their names are Marvin and Janice, Marvel. Her son is named after you." I could hear his hope on the line. "I've been keeping tabs on you, and I know you don't have any kids. And all through the investigation you said..."
"All I want is to be the father of Annie's children," I finished. Tessie finally takes my hand. I sense her acceptance in her fingertips. I look over at her, and for a second I am surprised to see her dark eyes. I have been thinking of Annie so much. I remember Tessie is my wife. And even if Annie is whom I intended to marry, I could see now that Tessie is whom I ended up marrying. I think of all Tessie has done for me and I wonder why I continually reject her. I look in her dark eyes. I sense her approval. "All I want is to be the father of Annie's children," I say again, testing Tessie. She nods. She doesn't know the story, but she understands. She pats my hand and gets her and my coats.
"Detective? Tessie and I are on our way."
I put down the phone and we drive to the police station like I did everyday for two years. We enter and the secretary recognises me. She nods to the door, like I don't already know his office. I open the door and two faces turn to see me. Two rough-looking, scared children with long brown hair, who have only known terror their entire lives. They have bandages from where the broken glass of the window cut them. In their eyes I see Annie's eyes, which I thought I would never see again. They knowingly get up and quietly pad over to me, and hold their arms up. Tessie picks up little Janice and I pick up Marvin, who assesses me with frightened eyes. My son Marvin. Annie's son. Tessie's son.
I look over at Tessie, who smiles softly at Janice, and I realise that a family has been born.