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.
Continued from… Annie’s stepfather
When Annie became aware of her surroundings again, she was on the floor. The two-week old wound on her stomach hurt, as was her cheek. With deep sadness, she realized Fred had broken his promise to her. He had promised he would never hit her or Fran again. He had just broken that promise. Right in front of her eyes, she saw his feet.
“Fred, please help me up?” she asked softly.
“Go to hell, you bitch!” he hissed, slapping her outstretched hand. He disappeared.
Annie struggled to get up. She went outside. She kept on walking while tears rolled down her cheeks. She only stopped when she reached the furthest corner of the smallholding. Annie collapsed on a big rock. What now? What should she do? She and her kids had to leave the smallholding. Fred wouldn’t allow her to stay any longer. They had nowhere to go. Fred had alienated her from all her friends and family. Where could she go? God, where would they go?
She furiously wiped her tears. Her fighting spirit slowly returned. I will find a solution, she decided.
Fred hung up just when Annie walked back into the house.
“Sit!” he commanded. Annie obeyed.
He yet again rewound the tape in the tape recorder. Annie heard the recording of the conversation he just had with Fran.
Fred: Annie is leaving.
Fran: Why? (She sounded shocked.)
Fred: She’s taking us for a ride with that whore.
Fran: Which whore? The one whose pictures she used, pretending that it’s Yvonne? How can she be involved with her? That woman lives in America, doesn’t she? I don’t think you should make a rash decision, Fred. Give Annie a chance to explain.
Fred: Don’t be so fucking stupid! She’s not involved with some woman, but with a bloke.
Fran: Oh? A man? Who?
Fred: That fucking stepfather of hers.
Fran: Fred, are you not jumping to conclusions? Are you very sure?
Fred: Yes. I’m sure. He called her here this morning and he knew about her operation.
Fran: Fred, I know she was not allowed to have any contact with him and if she did, that’s wrong. But honey, you should think twice before you make a final decision. Annie is the best woman we had until now. I don’t want her to leave.
Fred stopped the tape. Annie had tears in her eyes. She had never thought Fran would fight to keep her on the smallholding. Still, she had no illusions. Annie knew Fran was only fighting for her to stay because she had her own selfish reasons. Annie knew Fran wanted nothing more than to have her husband all to herself. Annie knew Fran was only coming up for her because she was used to having Annie around. If Annie would leave, Fran didn’t know whom her husband would invite into their lives next.
However, in spite of this knowledge, Annie was touched by Fran’s support. Fred was not touched at all.
“Don’t think Fran would influence me with her nice words. Nevertheless, I think it’s good for you to know how she feels. Annie, start to make your arrangements. You blew your last chance. Go to your room. When you know what you want to do, you can inform me. Until then I don’t want to see you.”
Without another word, Annie went to her room. She closed her door and did something she hadn’t done in years. She kneeled and mumbled: “Dear God, please help me to make the right decision.”
Annie felt much stronger and calmer when she came out of her room. She had made her decision. Fred was somewhere outside. When he walked back into the house, his eyes fell on the open telephone directory on the table.
“And? Have you decided what you want to do?”
“Yes,” Annie answered curt.
“Before I do, I have one question. Should my kids and I leave today, or can we wait until the end of the school year and move during the summer holidays?” Annie asked businesslike.
“You can wait until the summer holidays. But,” Fred added, “I’m doing it for the kids, not for you. They can’t help to have a mother like you. I don’t want to distract them from their exams because your stupidity is forcing them to move.”
Annie knew that these last words were meant to sting. Fred wanted to make her feel guilty. Never before did he care much for the wellbeing of any of the children, not even his own. The more the kids stayed out of his way, the happier he was.
“Okay, then I know that.”
“What would you do if I tell you to leave today?”
Fred was curious. He had expected Annie to be in tears; to be begging, but she was strangely calm. There was something different about her, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. He didn’t know her like this. There was a distance between them, which never was there before. Fred felt like he was losing control over her, and it was a feeling he didn’t like at all.
To be continued… Ruined plans
© Rebel’s Notes