“What, Who, How?” I couldn’t seem to get a clear sentence out. “Where…did you get…that?” Finally giving up and gesturing to the laurel.
She quizzically looked down at the wreath of flowers and leaves, “I forgot who told me that’s what it’s called it; I’ve been calling it a wreath for all these years.”
She turned her eyes back to mine and I saw it; the same hidden sadness veiled under a smile, “Lizzy?” Unsure if this was indeed the long remembered child from my past.
Startled, she backed off, “How do you know me? I’ve never met you before.” She had moved to the edge of the sofa and little Annie’s head popped in around the door molding.
“You okay mama?” Annie said for her mother but was looking straight at me. Probably concerned that I had caused her mother to stiffen.
“I’m fine Annie, go back into the room and continue playing; you will have to tell me the whole story later,” her voice was a little settled.
Excited by the idea of explaining the lives of the dolls to her mother, “I’ll go start over and remember everything.” She was gone as quickly as she was there.
Turning my gaze back at the mother, I could see her mind running through perhaps all her memories trying to remember me, or trying to recall me. My greatest hope is that she will remember me and offer another hug; the glorious hug that I have always remembered. Her eyes stopped rummaging and stared at me intently, ‘here it comes’ I thought to myself.
“I’m sorry, but I don’t remember you.”
My heart shattered.
“Did we meet recently? Did you just read about me back a while ago in the scandal? Did you…”
“What scandal?” Trying to rack my brain, but remembering I was living in the middle of nowhere.
She looked at me, “You’re not a reporter right? Here to get an inside scooped some forty odd years later. You don’t look like the typical reporter, but I wouldn’t be surprised.”
Confused by her remark, but answered accordingly, “No, I’m not a reporter; I’ve been living in the country these forty some odd years and I haven’t had access to the modern gossip.”
“Well thank goodness someone who doesn’t know the lies to begin with. Now I wish you were a reporter so I could give you the very elaborate string of events and situations that happened.”
Again checking her surroundings making sure Annie was nowhere in sight. “I was adopted by a very nice and charming family right around the age of twelve. They are the ones that gave me this,” paused a moment, “laurel. Their youngest son was such a sweet heart, he was just under my age, but he seemed to act younger. He was my very best friend. I was with the family for a marvelous three years before it happened.” Tears were coming.
“Since you know nothing you should know, that everyone in the world believe I wish it to happen that I was just trying to have a better life. But if they actually had listen to me they would have known my life was perfect and I didn’t want it to change,” she said as she brushed the tears away.
“We had a family gathering, my family thought it was about time the rest of the family met me. They thought I should meet and intertwine with my many aunts and uncles. I was so excited I didn’t even think to keep my guard up.”
Listening to her talk I am at war with my feelings. I know the story must end badly, but I am so happy for her to have experienced the family lifestyle.
“I was such a naïve child. I had four years of love and kindness that I didn’t even suspect for their extension of the family to be any different. I just went wandering through the crowds of people. I was almost seventeen so I was old enough to introduce myself. But my little brother followed me everywhere. He had some disability that made him believe he was still young; he functioned perfectly but his mind was still innocent. So as I wandered he followed,” she paused only to brush another tear away.
“Any other day, I would have been glad he was always with me, but since that day I have wished every day that he hadn’t been there; because, after that day he became aware. They had one uncle that was not invited but had shown up anyways. I never thought that anything would happen. He kicked out my little brother and took me away.”
I could see the pain and shame; she didn’t have to explain it any farther. I rested my hand on hers and made her look into my eyes. I didn’t want her to relive it again.
She began to sob, trying to collect herself and continue, but she excused herself for a moment and went to the bathroom.
Annie popped her head in and got terrified that he mama wasn’t there. She walked straight up to me with her pointing finger right at my nose, “What happened to my mama!?!”
She had the cutest concerned face ever, if I hadn’t known I would have thought this was Lizzy’s little girl. “She is just using the restroom. How’s the story for the dolls going? Anything exciting happening?” Annie started telling me some of the story and wow she had so many details already thought out and planned. It was amazing. I could sense that someone was watching so I said, “Annie don’t look now, but your mam is spying; she is trying to hear the story now! You better run away and continue working on it so you don’t spoil the ending.”
Annie looked over at her mama in the doorway, scampered off the coach, and ran into the other room. She popped her head in one last time, “no peeking until I say its time,” and she was gone again.
Lizzy was a bit more controlled. She had cleaned her face and her eyes weren’t was teary.
“Sorry about that…I just…”
Thinking the tears might come back, “Your daughter is so adorable. You have quite the story waiting for you when she gets done.”
“Yeah, she makes every day interesting.” She was better now. “My little brother saved my life probably. The moment he got shoved out of the room he wailed and screamed. My family came to his rescue but didn’t know they would be rescuing me too. After the whole ordeal, I had to go to court and have it all reconciled. The uncle kept trying to blame me, and continued to feed the reporters fake news. My family though, stood up for me and defended me; they knew what he was and what his consequences should have been. He ended up going to jail.”
That brought a smile to her face, and I was happy for that too. Even though I thought, if his face had collided with shovel I would have been even happier.
“He also had to pay me 1.2 million dollars.”
My face probably said everything she expected; it felt like my mouth fell off my face.
“Yeah, even though my family wanted it to be closer to two-billion dollars. After the trial, I thought everything would go back to normal, but the courts deemed me unhealthy to be with my family. Because I now had a taste for money that I would continue to repeat what happened to me. My family of course was against the thought and prepared to go to battle with the courts, but they would lose everything. So instead of them losing everything I decided I should. I told them a lie; I told them to leave me and never come back. As heartbroken as I was, they were even more so.
I went back to the orphanage and bought it. I wanted to run it; I wanted to be in charge; I wanted the children to actually have a chance. It slowly dwindle down to no more children. I had made sure they all got into respectable loving homes.”
‘Great now I seem like more of a failure,’ I said to myself. She didn’t just lose her home, she made sure everyone got one except her. Now my failures and fears sound even worse. Because she didn’t get what she wanted, but she continued to fight to give others their dreams.
“I never married. I don’t know if it was because of what happened, but it was probably due to the repercussion of the reporters. They twisted and manipulated my story to make me out to an awful person. Making any respectable man out there stay away, and causing only the bad ones or greedy ones to come; so I gave up on trying. When I found Annie under the bench, she was perfect for my empty heart. She didn’t have a name when I adopted her, so I named her after one woman that seemed to love me…Miss Ann.”
I must have gasped, but I covered it up by just being an old lady having a hard time breathing. Annie is name after me? That is the sweetest thing I have ever been told, and that she saw me as someone who loved her. Still, I didn’t really want her to find out that Miss Ann had been sitting across from her; not only because she knew my failures, but mostly because she would know that I left her.
“She was the one person in my life I loved talking to about my adventures, my sorrows, or my questions. After I left to live with my family, I never saw her again. I understood I had a family to talk to but she was the person I wanted to see as well. After the scandal and being alone, it would have been wonderful to of had her with me. However, no one could tell me anything; even when I bought the place the woman who was in charge before said she didn’t have a way to contact her, and that she hadn’t been back. I kept searching for a while, but she just dropped off the face of the planet. I thought I had meant something to her, but I guess I was just another child she had to counsel.” She looked off in the direction of Annie.
‘I didn’t want to. I didn’t!’ I was yelling in my brain. It wouldn’t come out into words, subconsciously I didn’t want her to hate me. Not now. Not when my life would soon end. But I didn’t want her to go another day wondering about me. So… “It’s me Lizzy, its Miss Ann.”
…To be continued…