AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.~ Hervé Guibert
The show’s nuts and bolts
Continued from… The Dream a Wish Show (2)
Annie and Isaac still stood on the stage, when a blonde woman walked towards them. She looked vaguely familiar.
“Hello Annie, nice to see you again,” the woman said and shook Annie’s hand. Even though she looked familiar, and the woman obviously knew who she was, Annie couldn’t remember where she had seen her before. Before she could ask, the woman turned her attention to Isaac.
“Isaac, come with me. We’ll get your stuff from the back, and you can go change back into your own clothes. Annie, go back to your family, and wait in the hallway. I’ll bring Isaac there. Don’t worry,” she laughed, “I won’t keep him from you for too long. I can imagine you two have lots to talk about!”
Isaac quickly hugged Annie once more and with a see you soon he followed the blonde woman. Annie turned around and saw her mother, husband and children waiting at the side of the stage. She slowly walked towards them. Her mom put her arms around her and hugged her close.
“Are you happy, sweetie?” she asked. Annie could only nod. Tears stung her eyes. She was still overwhelmed by all that had happened. After also hugging both her children and her husband, they all walked to the restaurant where they had to wait for Isaac’s return.
“What did Margaret say to you and Isaac?” Annie’s mother asked.
“Margaret?” Annie asked puzzled. “Who’s that?”
Grace burst out in laughter.
“Didn’t you recognize her? Don’t you remember my ‘casino friend’ you met a couple of weeks ago?”
Somewhere deep in Annie’s mind a memory stirred. She had indeed met Margaret before, but because that was at her mother’s house, the connection between the blonde woman and the Dream a Wish Show had been lost on her. It all came flooding back.
It was during a weekend that her aunt had visited her mother, and called her half in a panic that she was busy preparing one of Annie’s dishes and had trouble with the recipe. She wanted Annie to come over and help her, even though Annie said she could explain it over the phone. Margaret sat on the couch when Annie arrived. She helped her aunt with the dish, and then sat down for a cup of tea.
After Annie and Jacques had gotten married, she made a three memory albums, one each for her mom, her father, who lived in South Africa, and Isaac. Margaret had looked through her mom’s, and asked Annie about the albums, and about Isaac, and then the conversation had turned to the correspondence between Annie and Isaac. Only now Annie realized that must have been the interview for the show. She had always felt very strong about the discrimination towards gay people – any people actually – and especially those diagnosed as HIV positive. That afternoon, in her conversation with Margaret, she had made no secret of this.
“Here he is,” a woman said behind Annie, interrupting her thoughts. She turned around and there Isaac was indeed, standing next to Margaret. Annie stood up and hugged her friend again. Isaac greeted her mom, and children, as they were no strangers to him. After that, Tony introduced him to her husband.
While Isaac greeted everyone, Annie had a good look at him. He looked good, but it looked like he had lost weight again. Also, his hair was not as thick as it once was, but it was not either as thin as Isaac had told her in his letters. Even though she knew what sickness Isaac carried with him, she had to admit to herself that he looked healthy.
“I’m so happy you’re here, but a bit angry too! Why, when you’re not strong enough, did you make the trip?” Annie sternly asked.
Isaac, Margaret and her mother laughed.
“The doctors gave me permission to make the trip, dearest friend,” Isaac answered.
“But, on the video…” Annie started, but Margaret interrupted her.
“We thought the moment you knew you were coming to studio of the Dream a Wish Show you would know Isaac was here. Your mother mentioned you did raise the thought. After my interview with you, I knew your intriguing story would be a good item for our show. However, we had to do something to keep the element of surprise in it. That’s why we put Isaac in front of the cameras this afternoon and had him saying a couple of words while images of a news video played on a big screen behind him. We tried to make it look as if he was sitting in front of a window. We had to mislead you somehow,” Margaret laughed.
“You succeeded,” Annie giggled, “up to the moment I saw Isaac on the screen, I was convinced he was standing behind the scenes. I was so convinced, I already have his room ready! I can’t tell you what went through my mind when I saw him on the screen and realized he wasn’t here. I’ve never felt so many emotions at once.”
“Do you really have his bed ready?” Margaret asked astonished and Annie nodded.
“Then,” Margaret laughed and looked at Isaac, “it’s a good thing we made that video this afternoon. Are you happy to be back in your own clothes again?”
“I sure am!” Isaac agreed, and turning to Annie, he explained, “I wasn’t allowed to wear this shirt since it doesn’t show up good on television. I had nothing else that Margaret thought would look good, so they had to get something from storage. Khaki isn’t really my thing, but it was the only thing we could find that was suitable and that I was willing to wear!”
Annie laughed. She had always known Isaac as someone who’s very fussy about his clothes.
Margaret glanced at her watch.
“Dear people, I’m going to leave you, since I have a couple of things to wrap up before I can even begin thinking of going home. Isaac and Annie, I wish the two of you a wonderful time together. Of course, with the rest of the family,” she said and smiled to the rest. She looked back at Isaac and Annie standing with their arms still linked together, and said: “Treasure the time together!”
To be continued… Taking Isaac home
Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay