Chris?


Well, I could have seen that coming. I know Chris seemed sweet and probably is a good man, but under that kind of pressure, I think it got to him. Accusing sweet Doug of antagonizing him? It didn’t even happen. Chris seemed way too sensitive about everything, which to mean screams immaturity. He’ll grow out of it and be an amazing catch, but isn’t quite there yet. I saw someone who maybe wouldn’t be able to handle much chaos, and with kids comes that, even if it’s the good kind. And yes, there is a good kind of chaos. Where all four kids are singing a different song at once, or playing sock wars with bundled socks flying everywhere, or laughing over a Chris Farley scene…we miss you, Chris.

I digress.

What I saw  in The Bachelorette Chris is that he kept saying he was the best man for Emily in that group. Anyone who says they are the best is only trying to convince themselves. It’s like playing Facebook’s game, Farkle, with a guy from Aussie who’s married, who says he has a great relationship with his wife, who flirts incessantly with me no matter how many times I tell him to stop, who doesn’t tell his wife he’s talking to more than one woman online…and he says he’s a “nice guy.” I put up with him for a few weeks, then cut off communication. He’s not a nice guy, and what I told him is his wife and I both deserve better.

Who do I predict Emily will end up with? Sean. He’s not my first choice, though. He might be a great guy but I haven’t once seen him act like a kid, really let himself go. He seems like he’d be very controlling, but I’m sure loving, and a great provider and protector. And Jef is a great guy, but does she not see that he’s probably Morman, and that’s not a bad thing, but definitely something she needs to know if she’s not Mormon? And yes, he’s so fun to be with, he’s so expressive and honest, you can’t help but love the guy. But Arie, he’s the guy for her. In that race car suit? Wow! Come on! And he is silly, goofy, honest, loving. It stinks that I think he’ll be the one rejected in the end.

I guess we’ll see soon enough. I need to get out more. No, I just need to get out, period.

Anna Blair’s Visitors (Chapters 1-3)


Charleigh Wallace

____________________________

 

 

 

Anna Blair’s

Visitors

 

 

 

Based on a true story.

Copyright © 2011

All rights reserved.

 


On the Acknowledgments page, reference is made to the film, Fred Claus, written by Dan Fogelman (screenplay/story), and  Jessie Nelson (story). Dir. David Dobkin. Perf. Vince Vaughn, Paul Giamatti, Elizabeth Banks, et al. Warner Bros. Pictures, Silver Pictures, David Dodkin Productions, Jessie Nelson Productions, 2007. On page 21, reference is made to Captain Kirk and Tribbles from the original Star Trek series episode, “The Trouble With Tribbles.” Written by David Gerrold and later edited and rewritten by Gene L. Coon. Created by Gene Roddenberry. Dir. Joseph Penvey. Perf.  William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and DeForest Kelley. NBC, 1967.

On page 41, reference is made to the Far Side Gallery wall calendar, by Gary Larson.

On page 59, reference is made to the opera, Madame Butterfly, written by Giacomo Puccini, Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa (Italian libretto), John Luther Long (short story), David Belasco (dramatization), and Pierre Lotti (novel).  February, 1904.

On page 76, reference is made to the film, Cinderfella, written by Frank Tashlin, Joe Besser, and Jerry Lewis. Dir. Frank Tashlin. Perf. Jerry Lewis, Ed Wynn, Judith Anderson, et al. Jerry Lewis Productions, Paramount Pictures, 1960.

On page 80 & 110, reference is made to the film, The Exorcist, written by William Peter Blatty (written for the screen by/novel). Dir. William Friedkin. Perf. Ellen Burstyn, Max von Sydow, Linda Blair, et al. Hoya Productions, Warner Bros. Pictures, 1973.

On page 93, reference is made to the film, High Strung, written by Steve Oedekerk, and Roger Kuhn. Dir. Roger Nygard. Perf. Steve Oedekerk, Thomas F. Wilson, Denise Crosby, Fred Willard, Jani Lane, & Jim Carrey. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 1991.

On page 121, reference is made to the film, Gone With The Wind, with reference to the quote, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” written by Margaret Mitchell (novel), Sidney Howard (screenplay), and Oliver H.P. Garrett, Ben Hecht, Jo Swerling, and John Van Druten (contributing writers). Dir. Victor Fleming, George Cukor, and SamWood. Perf. Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Thomas Mitchell, et al. Warner Bros., 1940.

On page 124, reference is made to the song, I’m A Believer, written by Neil Diamond. Perf. The Monkees. Colgems Records, 1966.

On page 124, reference is made to the song, These Boots Are Made For Walkin’, written by Lee Hazlewood. Perf. Nancy Sinatra. Reprise, 1966.

On pages 157 & 159, reference is made to the television series, Bonanza, created by David Dortort. Written by Ken Pettus, Lois Hire, William Raynor, Myles Wilder, et al. Perf. Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Dan Blocker, et al. NBC, 1959-1973.

On page 157, reference is made to the television series, Sha Na Na, written by Gary Jacobs. Perf. Sha-Na-Na, Stephanie Mills, Dottie West, et al. Pierre Cossette Enterprises, 1977.

On pages 157 & 181, reference is made to the television series, The Twilight Zone, created by Rod Serling. Written by Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont, and Richard Matheson. CBS, 1959-1964.

On page 179, reference is made to the film, One Fine Day, written by Terrel Seltzer and Ellen Simon. Dir. Michael Hoffman. Perf. George Clooney, Michelle Pfeiffer, Mae Whitman, et al. Fox 2000 Pictures, Rosa Productions, Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, and Via Rosa Productions, 1996.

On page 179, reference is made to the film, Liar Liar, written by Paul Guay, and Stephen Mazur. Dir. Tom Shadyac. Perf. Jim Carrey, Maura Tierney, Justin Cooper, et al. Imagine Entertainment, and Universal Pictures, 1997.

On page 180, reference is made to the film, Excess Baggage, written by Max D. Adams (story/screenplay), Dick Clement (screenplay), and Ian La Frenais (screenplay). Dir. Marco Brambilla. Perf. Alicia Silverstone, Benicio Del Toro, Christopher Walken, et al. Columbia Pictures Corporation, and First Kiss Productions, 1997.

On page 181, reference is made to the plays, The Crucible, After the Fall, and Death of a Salesman, written by Arthur Miller.

On page 185, reference is made to the film, While You Were Sleeping, written by Daniel G. Sullivan and Fredric LeBow. Dir. Jon Turtieltaub. Perf. Sandra Bullock, Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, et al. Caravan Pictures, and Hollywood Pictures, 1995.

On page 187, reference is made to the film, A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickins. London: Chapman & Hall, 1843.

On page 187, reference is made to the quote, “I in my cap,” from the poem, The Night Before Christmas, written by Clement Moore. New York: Troy (New York) Sentinel, 1823.

On page 190, reference is made to the film, The English Patient, written by Michael Ondaatje (novel), and Anthony Minghella (screenplay). Dir. Anthony Minghella.  Perf. Ralph Fiennes, Juliette Binoche, and Willem Dafoe. Miramax Films, Tiger Moth Productions, 1996.

On page 208 & 229, reference is made to the book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, written by J.K. Rowling. New York: Scholastic Press, 1998.

On page 230, reference is made to the film, What About Bob?, written by Alvin Sargent (story), Laura Ziskin (story), and Tom Schulman (screenplay). Dir. Frank Oz. Perf. Bill Murray, Richard Dreyfuss, Julie Hagerty, et al. Buena Vista Home Entertainment, 2000.

On page 231, reference is made to the film, Back to the Future, written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Perf. Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, et al. Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, U-Drive Productions, 1985.

On pages 238 and 327, reference is made to the television show, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., created by Sam Rolfe. Written by Sam Rolfe, Dean Hargrove, Alan Caillou, et al. Dir.  Eddie Saeta, James Goldstone, Theodore J. Flicker, Alex March, and Don Medford. Perf. Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, and Leo G. Carroll. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Arena Productions, 1964-1968.

 On page 240, reference is made to the novel, Odd Thomas, written by Dean Koontz. New York, NY: Bantam Books, 2003.

On pages 241-242, an excerpt from the poem “Love’s Justification” by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564) is from the Translation of “Love’s Justification” by William Wordsworth (1770-1850), from the website, michelangelo-gallery.com and retrieved from http://www.michelangelo-gallery.com/poems.aspx.

On pages 250, 375, & 385, reference is made to the film, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective/ When Nature Calls, written by Jack Bernstein (characters) and Steve Oedekerk. Dir. Steve Oedekerk. Perf. Jim Carrey, Ian McNeice, Simon Callow, et al. Morgan Creek Productions, 1995.

On page 251, reference is made to the story, The Tortoise and the Hare, written by Aesop, 1912.

On page 251, reference is made to the play, Hello Dolly, lyrics and music by Jerry Herman, Michael Stewart (book), Thornton Wilder (The Merchant of Yonkers, revised a retitled The Matchmaker), 1955.

On page 254, reference is made to the film, The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum, Noel Langley (screenplay), Florence Ryerson (screenplay), Edgar Allan Woolf (screenplay), and Noel Langley (adaptation). Dir. Victor Fleming, Mervyn LeRoy, and King Vidor.  Perf. Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, et al. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,  1939.

On page 254 & 258, reference is made to the film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, written by Roald Dahl (screenplay/book), and David Seltzer (screenplay). Dir. Mel Stuart. Perf. Gene Wilder, Jack Albertson, Peter Ostrum, et al. Warner Brothers, 1971.

On page 254, reference is made to the film, Speed, written by Graham Yost. Dir. Jan de Bont. Perf. Keanu Reeves, Dennis Hopper, Sandra Bullock, et al. Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, 1994.

On page 257, reference is made to the film, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, written by Jameson Brewer (screenplay), John C. Rose (screenplay), Joe DiMona (adaptation), and Theodore Pratt (novel). Dir. Arthur Lubin. Perf. Don Knotts, Carole Cook, and Jack Weston, et al. Warner Brothers Pictures, 1964.

On page 279, reference is made to the series, Unsolved Mysteries: Moss Beach Ghost, hosted by Robert Stack. I took liberty in including this in my novel even though this series had not yet been released. First Look Pictures, 2004.

 On pages 290, 387, 389, 406, 442, &  443, reference is made to the online game, World of Warcraft. I did take the liberty in adding it to my story even though it had not come out yet. I just love the game and wanted to include it. Blizzard Entertainment, 2004-2011.

 On page 291, reference is made to the song, Stuck in Lodi Again, written by Buck Owens. Perf: Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969.

 On page 336, reference is made to the film, Meet Joe Black, written by Ron Osborn (screenplay), Jeff Reno (screenplay), Kevin Wade (screenplay), Bo Goldman (screenplay), Alberto Casella (play “Death Takes a Holiday,” Inspiration), Walter Ferris (play adaptation/inspiration), Maxwell Anderson (ealier screenplay/inspiration), and Gladys Lehman (earlier screenplay/inspiration). Dir. Martin Brest. Perf. Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Claire Forlani, et al. City Light Films, Universal Pictures, 1998.

On page 362, reference is made to the game show, Let’s Make a Deal, hosted by Monty Hall. NBC Television Network, 1963.

On page 368, reference is made to the film, The Geisha Boy, written by Rudy Makoul (story), and Frank Tashlin. Dir. Frank Tashlin. Perf. Jerry Lewis, Marie McDonald, Sessue Hayakawa, et al. Paramount Pictures, 1958.

On page 432, reference is made to the film, The Family Jewels, written by Jerry Lewis and Bill Richmond. Dir. Jerry Lewis. Perf. Jerry Lewis, Sebastian Cabot, Neil Hamilton, et al. Paramount Pictures, Jerry Lewis Productions, 1965.

On page 489, reference is made to the song, Play That Funky Music, White Boy, written by Robert Parissi. Perf. Wild Cherry. Epic, 1976.

On page 511, reference is made to the film, Interview with the Vampire, written by Anne Rice (screenplay/novel). Dir. Neil Jordan. Perf. Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Antonio Banderas, et al. Geffen Pictures, 1994.

On page 534, reference is made to the film, Dumb and Dumber, written by Peter and Bobby Farrelly, and Bennett Yellin. Dir. Peter and Bobby Farrelly. Perf. Jim Carrey, Jeff Daniels, Lauren Holly, et al. New Line Cinema, Motion Picture Corporation of America, 1994.

This book is partly a work of fiction, partly based on a true story. All names have been changed. Any other resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by  Charleigh Wallace.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Cover art by Christine Tsigonoff, © 2011.

 Dedication:

For my four children…my deepest gratitude and appreciation for all the years of struggle and pain you went through and still go through with me, because of me. I am so very proud of each one of you, and the courage you have demonstrated. You have been my source of strength, love, and light.

 To my five lovely granddaughters, who give me so much love and comfort, every single day.

 And to my mom, grandma, and grandpa, for leaving behind so much of yourselves in me.

…I miss you all so very much.

 You all mean everything to me. I love you all.
A note from the author:

I knew that if I didn’t write this book, I couldn’t move on, and so it’s taken over ten years of starts and stops, re-writes and give ups, and then one day, it all just fell into place, and I found my ending…which is really just the beginning.

I hope that whoever reads this book will be able to see the reality subtly dispersed in the typed pages, and will discover the legacy of strength and courage that my grandmother and mother passed to me, me to my children, and they to theirs. It is our Coat of Arms.

Many parts in this novel are true.  Names have been changed to protect the innocent. And the guilty.

Acknowledgements:

 

Thank you…

To Google Earth (earth.google.com) and Amtrak.com for allowing me to “see” Anna’s journey without having to leave my house.

To Expedia.com for travel information for Scotland,  and babynameguide.com for all the wonderful names and translations.

To Thomas Newman, for his incredible gift of music, the soundtrack to Meet Joe Black. All that beauty helped me get this story out and on to paper.

To George Guthridge who said to put this book in a drawer and forget it, but also taught me how to persevere and write.

To Keanu Reeves, Benicio Del Toro, Russell Crowe, and Robert Patrick for all those amazing dreams.

To Brad Pitt for his role in Meet Joe Black. It made me cry that a man could love like that.

To Vince Vaughn for his dance scene in Fred Claus…it made me feel like a woman.

To my past and present therapists, and to the Beyond Survival Support Group, who have all given me nuggets of gold to hang on to.

And finally, to the Honorable Jerry Lewis, Jim Carrey, Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler, Tim Allen, Tom Hanks, Bill Murray, and god love them, Phil Hartman and Chris Farley. All of you rode in on white steeds and rescued us with laughter and light hearts. We owe you everything.

 

 

Rhetorical Question

            The bible says that god won’t ever give us anything we can’t handle. If that’s true, why then do we have need for escape?

 

 

 Random Thought

            What good is hindsight except to stare at one’s own ass?


Prologue

I wonder when it was I became mentally ill. Was I always? Does it run in my family? Sometimes I feel powerful like I can cast spells. Sometimes I feel evil. Sometimes I want someone to take me to a hospital and make the world stop for just one damn minute, so I can catch up to what it is I’m supposed to be after. Is my illness because someone did something to me that changed the way my brain functions? But what if I do have magical powers? Maybe I’m a descendent of Merlin? It could happen.

Is this why I’ve been alone so long? Because of It? What is It really? Pain, guilt, sadness, depression, hay-wired wiring, something cosmic? I often wonder how doctors can say someone is schizophrenic because the person  thinks he or she sees dead people or hears voices. What if they really can? What if there really is someone who can hear the voices of those who call back from the grave? What if they’ve bridged that space of disbelief and have crossed over? Can everything be explained? What if I’m not really mentally ill at all but empowered? Enlightened? I’m not saying I’m schizophrenic or anything. I just can’t shut my mind off so I engage in all kinds of thoughts.  In this world though I know one thing: I am ill. And I don’t know if in this world I can become well.

 

One

Dr. Alexandru sat in his darkened office, the time now evening. His Romanian name meant “defender of mankind,” but he felt more than inadequate with his name’s sake.

His last patient had left, a rather robust man who believed himself to be an ape. Dr. Alexandru questioned how much he could help this man, but hoped that in time he could help his new patient, Anna Blair.

Meanwhile, Anna Blair stood diligently at her living room window, poking staccato holes in her pink ruffled curtains with her dental-hygienist-suggested “tooth-picker thingy” (a direct quote).

Dr. Alexandru looked around, the eight foot tall metal bookcases lined with books representing all the years it had taken him to become what he was today: a man of psychology, science, of intellect.

A modestly handsome olive-skinned man, Dr. Alexandru stood straight-shouldered at 5’11,” and young looking for his fifty-five years. He was new to Lawton, Oklahoma, three years in America, with his Romanian accent thick, his nerves at times thin.

His arms moderately developed and strong showed nicely through the sleeves of his Sears gray-striped dress shirt. His hands were soft, his features smooth. Clean shaven. Some women were interested in him, in those strong hands, both in and out of the office, but he had committed to none. His struggles to understand women were safely researched in his office, studying them through the expressions on their faces, those women who had been terrorized. Anna Blair was one of them.

She was on his mind as he glanced out his third story office window, a renovated 1930s home on Gore Boulevard. From his window he had a vivid view of Ft. Sill, its cannons blasting daily in preparation for war. Dr. Alexandru saw a different war, within his office walls, behind the tormented eyes of those who came to see him, those with their ghosts and demons. An altogether different genre of enemy.

He sat at his computer, adjusted the wire-rim glasses that framed his gray-blue eyes, ran a hand through grayish-black, army-cut hair, and began his notes:

Wednesday, October 21,1998

Patient: Anna Blair

Age: 41

Upon my second visit with Anna Blair, she agreed to hypnotherapy, but doubted it would be successful. She also seemed very agitated, swearing once in awhile, out of place. She seems quite intelligent, using large vocabulary.

I thought she was hypnotized in less time than any other patient I’d seen. I thought most receptive, but she was faking.

She seemed detached while talking of something as significant as a rape. It’s as if she doesn’t really believe it happened to her. It is my educated opinion at this point, without benefit of further testing, that she is possibly suffering from PTSD, has Bi-Polar 2, Depressive Disorder, and Panic Disorder/Agoraphobia.

Dr. Alexandru sifted through Anna’s folder, finding notes from Dr. William Smelthon, the psychiatrist assigned to Anna Blair’s case. He was located on the second floor of the same drafty house/office. And a very bad speller.

Patient: Anna Blair

“From what I have lerned speaking with Anna Blair on our first visit, I have my suspisions the patient is suffering from poasttramautic stress disordor and panick disordor broght on by trama and abuse.“

Dr. Alexandru set down the notes. I’m not even in this country three years and I know how to spell better than he does! He re-reads the entry.

Trauma? Yes, she has definitely had that. He continues with Dr. Smelthon’s notes:

“She was refered to this office by her doctor, Dr. Wilderbrand, when her children found her in the kitchen on the floor, histericle…”

Dr. Alexandru sighed…and continued.

“…crying over her mother’s resent death. Dr. W has not only recomended hipnotherapy, but also social services to visit her at home to make shure she and the children are in a safe and positive enviernment. Miss Blair is to be in Dr. W’s general care, she is to have ipnotherapy…”

“Prost! Debil mintal!” (Stupid! Idiot!)

“…with Dr. Alesandrugs weekly,”

“Ridicol!” (Ridiculous!)

“…and recieve monthly visits from Mrs. Lebel, a sosial worker. The children are to be involved in home visits with Mrs. Lebel. She is to be reivaluated in six months by Dr. W. I have prescribbed 1 mg. Xanex as needed, and 40 mg. Paxil. I will see her again in one month for revaluation.”

“Shit!” (Shit!)
 

Two

Anna sat in a tepid bath surrounded by floating and dissipating, lemon-scented bubbles. She thought about her first hypnotherapy session, of Dr. Alexandru and his gray eyes and stupid haircut, and about Cezar, her ex-husband. Cezar…means severed. Appropriate.

She wondered what she’d gain from Dr. Alexandru’s “help.” There were no answers. Not yet. And she wasn’t sure she wanted any.

After adding more hot water to her cooling bath, Anna closed her eyes to the sounds of her children busily chattering over dinner preparations, and several scattered meows from Lizzy, Claudia, Sally, Jack, Cerridwen, Willow, Lottie Betty Juan, Charlie, Gibblet, and Salem: the family cats.

Her mind drifting, she could almost hear her mother calling from the grave, trying to relay a message she was never able to convey before her death. All that god damned morphine. Anna winced.

She couldn’t hear the small, wispy voice as her mother lay in bed, pure white hair as withered and vacant as her eyes, her voice misty like fog, like an ocean’s breeze, like the whisper that wind makes floating through lofty eucalyptus trees.

Anna would miss with increasing agony her mother’s phone calls every Wednesday night, like clockwork. How they’d both laugh so hard at silly things that neither was able to make a sound. Anna struggled to remember the sound of her mom’s voice, the way she would pronounce names phonetically (Albuquerque = Al-bu-qwer-qwey). She endeavored to remember each line on her face, how her smile came up to her eyes as well as the sadness, the phony cheerfulness when trying to make everything right when everything was all wrong.

Anna’s emotional symptoms rapidly intensified after her mother’s death, just three months ago. It began suddenly. Anna no longer wanted to leave her house.

Maybe, when her mother died, whatever safety Anna had felt vanished. After all, it was her mother who finally gave her the courage to leave Cezar.

She and her mother had been soaking in her sister’s pool in Phillip’s Ranch, California. Anna finally let a little of her story out, her seven year marriage to a monster. As Anna talked of the abuse, the selfishness, his lack of work, she watched the look of sheer shock, anger, and sadness on her mother’s face, the acknowledgement Anna so desperately sought that things were not as they should be.

Anna stared at the white and yellow tiled walls. She slunk down in the bubbles. And remembered the time she took the kids and went to visit her mom. It was after Rhona, her oldest at the young age of seven, had been whipped, Anna decided, for the last time. Anna and the children stayed in a hotel in San Francisco where the San Francisco 49ers were also staying. Anna actually got to sleep in Joe Montana’s bedroom. Unfortunately, Joe was not present at the time. It was after that visit that Anna began the long process of making the decision, not if she would leave Cezar, but when.

When she returned home, she began counseling with Pastor Gary. One and a half long years passed. Then, on one memorable day, after hearing all the dogma, the rehearsed lines that pastors and church goers feel compelled to repeat, she sat on the preacher’s couch, staring at him with the boldness she had never possessed in marriage. He knew there was no going back, no do-overs, and no more give it one more try’s.

He sat back in his dark green recliner, held his huge hands to his temples, looked down, and then up again, and said, “Do it quickly and do it now.”

And so she did.

The church, like a parrot with deep-penetrating claws and a shrill voice, preached out of hawked beaks with pink lipstick. The phone calls ensued, men telling Anna God would not like it if she left Cezar. Women pleaded for her to pray that god change her before she tried to change Cezar. She would just whisper into the receiver, “You don’t know anything.” And she’d hang up.

Now in Lawton, ten years later, miles and years from the life she and her children had endured with Cezar, Anna was once again…with her mother gone…afraid of running into him. She felt there was no one watching out for them anymore, as if her mother, even though she lived several states away, was her protector.

But now she was afraid that if she left the house, Cezar would sneak in, hide in the closet, and as in old times, rape her while she slept. She’d once again wake up with her underwear at her knees, and sticky semen on her back and buttocks. Maybe she was afraid someone else would try to rape her while she was out running errands, or wait underneath the cab to grab her legs before she could close the door.    Sometimes she feared she was back in kindergarten again, walking home on that fateful day, someone following behind her, footsteps clicking on cement, first slow and then fast, calling out, “pull down your panties!”

 

Three

She had worn a red and black pleated skirt, crisp white blouse her mother had ironed that morning, white bobby socks, and black and white saddle shoes. Laces bright white from the hot water and bleach. Fran, her older sister by seventeen months, wasn’t with her that day. She was home sick.

Anna carried her Daffy Duck metal lunch pail in one small hand, her other hand swinging at her side, thinking of nothing but the boy who sat in the third row, second one back, with curly red hair and a funny laugh. She was five years old.

She left the North Shoreview Elementary School grounds in San Mateo, California, and waited for the crossing guard, a gentle older man, to take her safely across Norfolk Avenue.

She headed north on Norfolk, a street lined with graceful sycamores dancing in the breeze, bright yellow poppies smiling up at her, falsely promising her a safe walk home. It was quite a long walk for her little legs but she didn’t mind. Her mom baked cookies a lot, and often had them ready when she and Fran got home. She could almost smell them baking in the oven all the way from where she now walked.

She took a right on York, heading toward Prague Street. At the corner of York and Prague there was an open field, with large red alders providing a canopy of springtime leaves, and seclusion for the squirrels and birds. Anna walked close to the large forest of alders, breathing in the clear air, smelling the plants and earth.

Suddenly she heard two boys laughing. They were behind her. She looked back and saw them, and felt some alarm but was too young to believe anyone would be cruel to her, or try to hurt her, and yet she felt alarm growing in her small gut. Her breathing became more rapid, her walk a little quicker. She was almost half way past the lot of alders when the boys picked up their pace, calling after her. “Hey little girl. Hey little girl.”

Anna panicked. She looked up and down the street, but could not see anyone walking, mowing their lawn, or even getting their mail. It was as if all the houses were locked up, cars in garages. People inside enjoying iced tea, cookies, and conversations.

No one would hear her scream.

She could see where the trees ended and a house, and safety, began, when the boys called out, “pull down your panties!” She started to run but they caught her by her blouse, pulling her into the forest, the seclusion she would no longer see as sanctuary.

Her breathing was choppy. She was crying, trying to pull away while they laughed. Boys about ten or twelve, but they looked like giants against her small frame. Her shirt was ripped off, her not-yet- blossomed breasts pressed against a sweaty chest, held tight with strong, clenched arms while the other boy pulled off her skirt and underwear.

She tried to scream as they pushed her hard to the ground, but a dirty hand pressed against her mouth prevented any sound but a moan. And they laughed, and talked about her body, a body that gave to both of them, leaving her hair tangled in leaves and dirt, her body bleeding and shaking. And then they left, whistling and hollering, and the laughter echoed through the trees, carried away by the wind, evil wind that echoed back their taunts over and over again.

What Anna remembered was scattered: the smell of trees, the taste of dirt, running home, and crying while sitting on her mother’s lap. About a month later, Anna’s school recommended she be sent to their psychiatrist. She was acting strangely: overtly sexual, slapping boys in the face, pulling girl’s hair, throwing erasers and pencils at the teacher, and screaming and crying in the corner of the room.

Claire and Paul, her parents, had also taken her to the family doctor. He determined that Anna hadn’t been raped but back then, doctors didn’t examine a traumatized little girl’s privates with much thoroughness. It was simply easier to tell her frantic parents that nothing had happened.

Fran remembered Anna coming home, her hair messed, her face dirty, and no explanations. After crying on her mother’s lap, Anna had simply gone into Fran’s room, sat on Fran’s bed, and said nothing. And Fran didn’t want to ask.

And from that day on, Anna was changed forever. She acquired a terror of boys. If there was a boy on the playground, Anna would not leave the safety of the school until the school called her mother, and she was picked up. No more walks home. No more walking on the same side of the street as a boy or a man. No more eye contact with anyone she didn’t already know.

Paul and Claire then took her to another psychiatrist. She climbed all over his desk, and played with his pencils. The psychiatrist suggested to her parents to limit Anna’s intake of cookies, to only set out a few on a plate. She was eating the whole package in one sitting, and spending her thirty-five cent allowances on seven bars of candy, sold at Fred’s Market at the corner. Anna would eat them all in one day, patiently awaiting next week’s allowance where she’d do it all over again.

All the years of her childhood after this point were conversations of cookies and school and family, not rape, so Anna easily and conveniently forgot everything that had happened. Life went back to an abnormal normality, and no one discussed it ever again.

But the fear now, in Lawton, was new. She had somehow learned to walk without so much fear as the years came and went, but with her mother gone now, it was back. She was fearful that the memories of kindergarten might sneak back again, like vomit finding its way up the esophagus, and her fear would no longer be that of an adult, but of a child again. With no way of growing up. Ever. Stuck in a time warp of powerlessness, and feeling small.

No matter how unreasonable, she drew an imaginary line around her house and kids, and retreated from the world.

Some thirty-six years after that fateful walk home from kindergarten, Anna now lives alone with her four teen-aged children. They live, and Anna hides, in their Lawton, Oklahoma home, a two-story house with five bedrooms, and two bathrooms. It is fairly large, full of children, just the way Anna likes it. Just the way she needs it. Just the five of them. No one else.

….to be continued