No Consent: An international call

This is the rework of a self-published auto-biographical story (2008), rewritten for this blog. Names of characters have been changed.
Content warning: mental and physical abuse, misogyny.

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in getting up every time we do.

An international call
July 1994

Continued from… Heidi (part 4)

16 July
“Come on!!!” Fred shouted out, sitting on the edge of the couch, from where he closely followed the rugby match on television. Annie and Fran sat watching too, but they were not as fanatical as Fred. About fifteen minutes before the match would end. Suddenly Fred jumped up. He was halfway through the room, when the women realized the phone was ringing.

“Annie,” Fred said moments later, re-entering the living room, “it’s your mom.”
For a moment, Annie looked at him, not fully comprehending what he had said. When she did, she jumped up and ran to the phone. In passing, she glanced at the tape recorder and was relieved and pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t running. She could have a normal, relaxed conversation with her mom.

And she did. It was wonderful talking to her mom again; hearing her sweet voice. Even though they frequently exchanged letters, they didn’t speak to each other that much, as her mother lived in Europe, and international calls were expensive.
“When will you be ready to come here with the kids, my child? Last year you couldn’t, because too many things stood in your way. But since you have taken care of most of those things, when will you be coming here?”

Annie’s heart broke into a million pieces.
“I don’t know, mom, I really don’t know,” was the only thing she could think of to say.

How could she ever admit to her mother that she was living a nightmare? How could she admit to her mom that she made a horrible mistake entering a relationship with Fred? How could she tell her mom that this man terrified her, but that he could melt her heart with his smile? How could she tell her mom that she wanted to flee from the smallholding, but that at the same time she was afraid to leave? How could she admit that she was afraid of Fred’s threats that he would make her life miserable if she ever left him? Then, how could she tell her mom, who was still as conservative as this country where she grew up, that she had a sexual relationship with a woman?

“I can hear that you have not made up your mind yet. I will keep on asking you every time I speak to you, until your answer is a definite yes or a definite no.”

Annie changed the subject. Her mother knew her well enough that she would quickly sense Annie’s unhappiness.

In the meantime, the rugby match had ended. Fred walked into the room, and looked around him. Annie immediately realized he was checking to see if the tape recorder was running. She was relieved that he wouldn’t be able to listen to a recording of the conversation, seeing what her mom had asked her. She could clearly imagine what he would do if he knew. Fred glanced at Annie, his jaw set, his eyes hard, and walked out of the house.

The conversation lasted another half an hour. After she had hung up, Annie went outside. Fred was busy preparing the barbecue, and didn’t even look at her. She had already sensed the change in his mood, as before her mom called, he was friendly and relaxed. Now, he was sulking and she surmised it was because of the disconnected tape recorder.

To fill the silence, she superficially started telling him about the conversation, but she left out the important parts. Annie quickly noticed that he wasn’t listening.
“What’s bothering you, Fred?” she asked with more courage than she felt.
“Do you know that you’re pretty damn selfish?”
“Selfish?” she asked in surprise, “why ‘selfish’?”
“Because you kept your mother talking for so long! Selfish because you make her pay so much for the phone call!”

Annie’s eyes widened.
“What the hell?” she asked, irritation lacing her voice.
“Don’t you think that my mother could decide for herself how long she wants to talk to me? Don’t you think that she knows damn well how much it costs and that she won’t call me if she didn’t have the money for…”

Annie gave it up. It was clear Fred wasn’t listening to her at all. Distraught she rushed away with tears in her eyes. She was furious. Why was he so unreasonable? Darn! It was her mom! How could one person be filled with so much envy? He had so much jealousy in him that even an innocent conversation with her mom made him suspicious.

To be continued… Joy (1)

© Rebel’s Notes

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