Sunday, January 1, 2012

Chapter 42: In Which The Original Author Returns

Anne laughed a sad laugh. "Katie, Jason just wants to be free, I don't want to deal with the pain and the anguish or risk upsetting Jonah any more than he already is. It's been enough time already- it's better that they forget about me."

Katie stood tall and grabbed Anne's hand. "Anne, no! I won't have my nephew raised by that loser and his floozy- let's not give up. I'm calling mum and Aunt Angela and getting them to pick us up-- please don't go Anne!"

Charlie, who Katie had forgotten about in the corner, came over and rubbed up against Anne's leg. She bent down to stroke his nose and he gave a little whimper.  "Ok," sighed Anne. "Ok, I'll give it a try-- just one conversation though, and it has to be at my place."

*  *   *

Saying goodbye to Anne had been tough. Katie hadn't wanted to let her go, but Anne hadn't been able to hang around. She still had those dogs to walk, but it was more than that -- after their intense discussion, both sisters had been feeling overwhelmed. Shortly after arranging for Katie to come by later with her mother and Aunt Angela -- (Katie been impressed when Anne had suggested the meeting occur at her "place" -- it was a brave person who'd invite her mother into her squat. Anne's last place, where she'd lived with Jason and Jonah, had been a bright, airy loft condo, with expensive furniture and actual art on the walls. The squat was a decidedly different living space, but perhaps that was the point? Anne was tired of hiding, maybe. She was ready to be honest with her family about who she was, how she was living. She would expose them to the honest reality of her life now, and their reaction would be Anne's cue as to how to proceed next...?) -- Anne had hurried away, leaving Katie alone with Charlie the Borrowed Dog in Eoin's friend's art gallery with a couple of undrunk cups of tea and an anxious, fluttery heart.

What would happen now?

*   *   *

Eoin held Katie's right hand while she dialed her mother's number. "I can't really dial like this," Katie protested, but Eoin wouldn't let go.

"I promised you I'd be your support through this. So here I am. Supporting you." He squeezed and Katie misdialed again.

"Okay, well can you at least hold the phone for me so I can hit the right buttons?" She gave him a quick kiss, and it turned into a longer one. Eoin pulled Katie close with his free arm, his hand never letting go of hers, and Katie broke the kiss, pressed her face into his neck, soaking up the warmth. "I'm kind of terrified," she confessed, and Eoin let go of her hand and gave her a proper hug.

"It'd be crazy if you weren't," he reassured her, and handed her the phone. "Dial your mother. Use both hands. I will be still be holding your hand, of course, but I can do it with my mind."

 *  *   *

"What do you mean, Anne has invited us over?" Katie's mother's voice shrilled down the phone line.

"I mean I found Anne. We ... reunited. And I convinced her that she needed to see everyone. She said she'd start with you and Aunt Angela. And me, of course." (And Eoin, thought Katie, though he had promised he'd be waiting in the car with a cooler filled with wine in cans and a large bag of Cheezits).

"I'm not sure about this," Katie could tell her mother's lips were pursed. "Should someone be calling Jason? I think we should call his lawyer, at least."

"His lawyer? You can't bring a lawyer. That's crazy."

"This whole thing is crazy."

"I think it's great." Katie's eyes were filling with tears, and she felt Eoin squeeze her hand. (He was holding it again.) "I think it's crazygood."

*  *   *

"Oh! How wonderful. Anne has resurfaced." Katie's Aunt Angela's reaction was much different from Katie's mother's. "I can finally give her those gifts I got her in Spain."

"She's living...." Katie had felt like she needed to prepare everyone for her sister's less-than-showhome living quarters. "Aunt Angela, it's kind of a squat."

There was a silence, and then Angela said, "Well, I can't say I've ever been to a squat before. And knowing Anne I'm sure it's got plenty to recommend it. Your sister always did have an eye for real estate. Unlike you, Katie," Angela said, tiredly, and the unspoken question What are you doing about your leaky basement? hung heavy over the phone lines. Katie had to suppress the urge to remind her aunt she only owned her stupid house because of her aunt's meddlesomeness.

*   *   *

"I'll be right out here," Eoin promised, and held up his iPad. "I have a bit more work to do on my project before the opening next weekend. I'll be okay until you come out again."

"Thanks for doing this," Katie said. "I really appreciate the help."

"Just wait until my opening. I'm going to need you on wine-pouring duties or something equally unbefitting a fantastic up-and-coming artist such as yourself," he said. Katie rolled her eyes at him as she slid out of the truck and began walking towards Anne's squat.

She had barely knocked when the front door swung open. There stood Anne in a red jersey dress, her hair shiny and long. She looked so much like her old self that Katie could only stare. "Anne." She said, reaching out a hand. "Your hair."

"Is it okay?" Anne fingered it self-consciously. "There's this program at one of the shelters -- volunteers come in and do hair and help out with outfits and things. It's for when you're going back to work, but when I told them what was happening today, they said they'd make an exception."

"Well, you look great." Katie felt dowdy in her jeans and hooded sweatshirt, and she realized that it was saying quite a lot about her sister's transformation that Anne was the beautiful, well-dressed one while living in a condemned building with no running water. Katie had nearly half of Sephora in her bathroom and yet she felt like the homeless sister.

"So you came separately?" Anne peered over Katie's shoulder.

"Yeah, I wanted to be here early. I wanted to make sure you were..."

"Sober?" Anne asked, and Katie nodded, feeling ashamed that she'd even thought it. "I was pretty sure you'd be fine. Like, I was 99% sure. But, you know." She shrugged. "I just had to be sure sure."

"I get it." Anne led her sister inside the house. "Two months ago, that 1% might have be the truth. But not anymore. I'm doing really, really well."

"Is anyone else here?" Katie wondered about the other members of Anne's household, the ones who were perhaps not doing really, really well.

"No, I asked them all to give us some space. They'll be home later."

Just then there was a knock on the door, a tentative, nervous knock. "Mum," the sisters said in unison, and Katie reached out for her sister's hand. "We'll go together."

They opened the door and found their mother holding a potted plant. "I didn't know what you give to a ...squat." She said the word like it was in another language. "But you always did love plants."

"It's great," Katie said, taking it from her mother. "Thank you. I know just where to put it." Anne went into the house and Katie and her mother followed along behind.

"She looks just wonderful," their mother whispered. She sounded surprised, but pleasantly so.

"Well, where is Aunt Angela?" Anne had deposited the plant by a living room window. "I have some cookies." She looked so nervous, standing there in her pretty dress, her hair all done up, in a living room with its stained ceiling and ripped wallpaper. Anne had obviously cleaned the space thoroughly, and clean sheets covered the couch and the one rather unsteady-looking arm chair. But all of her work couldn't hide the fact that she'd be serving the cookies on an overturned milk crate. Katie gave her sister a reassuring smile.

"She'll be here," said their mother. "And she's bringing...."

"Surprise!" Just then the front door swung open and Aunt Angela pushed her way in. "Look who I've found!" She said, and Anne's four-year-old son peeked out from behind Aunt Angela's long skirt. "I've brought Jonah for a visit with his mum!"

"Get him out of here!" Katie's mother hurried toward the door. "You can't bring him here. Anne isn't ready. Jonah isn't ready."

Katie could see her sister trembling, and she went to Anne. "Anne? What do you want?"

You Decide!

Anne wants Jonah to stay in the house


Anne asks that Angela take Jonah to wait outside


  1. Jonah stays. The pull of motherhood would be too strong for Anne to let him leave once she'd seen him. I'm getting teary just thinking about the next chapter...

  2. I suppose this is fiction. But come on, the Aunt should be shot and ..well you get the idea. And frankly who gives a damn what the 'Mother' wants. Here is a four year old who hasn't seen this woman for what 2 years? and you all think it's a disney moment? If Anne's been working the 'program' she would not have that child anywhere near her. Not Now. Not like this. This is a bad bad moment in all their lives. Well except for the oblivious Aunt who should be shot and p....

  3. I don't think Anne and Jonah should see each other. But it would probably be a good story plotline - but it wouldn't go very well, I don't think. As Anonymous said above, it's probably not great for Anne's recovery.

    But then again are we writing a how-to-guide for recovering alcoholics, or a dramatic story?

    Bring in Jonah!