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… The last time
She called her kids to get out of the pool, and told them to take a bath too. Both her kids were very excited about the upcoming trip, even though, when Annie had told them about their move a week ago, they were both sad for leaving. They loved being with Fred and Fran’s kids. Their sadness disappeared when she told them ‘grandma’ will be waiting on the other side.
Their flight was scheduled for the middle of the evening and they had to be at the airport two hours before departure to check in their luggage and get their boarding passes.
After an early dinner, Fred and Annie loaded the luggage into the back of the car. Annie’s car. The car, which Fred now owned. Everyone, including the kids of Fred and Fran would go along to the airport.
The four kids sat on the backseat of the car, while Fred stood waiting at the open door on the driver’s side. Fran locked the back door of the house and walked towards the car. Halfway there she caught up with Annie and together they walked to where Fred waited for them to get in.
“Get in the back, you,” Fred suddenly hissed.
Both Annie and Fran looked at him in shock. Fred had his eyes fixed on Fran. One of the things that had always irritated Annie was whenever the three of them went somewhere, she always had to sit in the back. Like a kid. Today Fred wanted Annie to sit next to him. It was an unexpected surprise. Unfortunately, this surprise came far too late. Fran stoically got in the back of the car, where the kids were quieter than normal.
In the car, Fred flung off all caution of the last couple of months. He grabbed Annie’s hand and held it firmly in his lap. Whenever the driving allowed him, he looked at Annie. His expression was one of intense sadness, and Fred could hardly restrain his tears. Annie steeled herself against it. She couldn’t falter now. His regret came far too late for him to change anything.
After Annie was done with all the formalities at the airport, they went to one of the waiting areas. All they could do now was wait. The last hour in the country of her birth was one of the longest Annie ever had to endure.
Fred restlessly paced up and down. Then he sat next to Annie, only to get up and to start pacing again. Annie and Fran stayed in their seats. Fran’s satisfaction with the situation seemed to match Fred’s restlessness. She was thrilled Annie was leaving, because she would have her husband all to herself again.
But, for how long? How long would it take him to get over Annie? How long would it be before Fred invited another woman into their lives again? Fran knew she would spend every day in Fred’s company with this question in the back of her head. But for now, she had him to herself.
Fred went to the toilet. He came back, sat down and smoked another cigarette. He got up again and walked over to the displays to look at the departure times of the different flights. Annie was nervous. It was as if the clock stood still.
They finally walked to the gate where Annie and her children had to pass through. This was where Fred totally collapsed. He started crying uncontrollably. Tears streamed down his face. He could care less that his children were watching. He pulled Annie into a tight embrace.
“Come back quickly, my love. I love you. My god, I love you so much,” he whispered.
A month ago, these words would totally have melted Annie’s heart, but not anymore. Her love for him was dead. She didn’t even feel sadness anymore. For the sake of appearances, Annie tried to cry, but she couldn’t. Even the sobs that shook his body couldn’t move her to tears. She just stood there in his embrace, waiting for it to end.
Fran walked over to the hugging man and woman. It broke her heart to see her husband crying so intensely. She was crying too. Fran’s tears were only for her husband and not for Annie. Annie knew this. When Annie’s children hugged Fred, he regained control of himself. Annie first said goodbye to the couple’s children. Next, she quickly hugged Fran and gave her a peck on her mouth.
Then it was Fred’s turn again. She stood in front of him and he roughly pulled her closer. He buried his face in her neck. He was sobbing bitterly. Annie had her arms around him, feeling no sympathy; only a diabolic pleasure. It was like the power was finally hers, the way he had her in his power so many times. Not once before this moment had she realized how hard his unfair treatment had made her. He once looked down at her after he had hit her to ground; now she was looking down at him after she proverbially had returned the favor.
At last, Annie and her kids were safely in the plane. It taxied to the runway, and she looked out at the dark skies and the many stars. Half an hour earlier, they had walked through the gates. The three of them had turned back once to wave at Fred, Fran and their children. Annie didn’t turn around a second time. She refused to look back at her old life again. She was free, and now she had to be even stronger. She would have to fight to regain her own individuality, to find herself again. It would take all of her energy to forget about or at least learn to live with the knowledge of the biggest mistake she had made in her life.
To be continued… Months later
© Rebel’s Notes