Author: Araina Richardson PM
Once upon a time, a girl named Geraldine ran off to San Francisco with her "prince" and lost everything. Now, years later and bitter, Geraldine discovers just how deep her prince's betrayal ran, and she steals his child. Now the child, Anne, is a teenager and the past catches up to Geraldine and Anne in the form of a tall, mysterious man and his two children.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Supernatural/Horror - Chapters: 20 - Words: 67,398 - Reviews: 15 - Favs: 5 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 05-02-13 - Published: 06-24-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3035656
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
After it's done Anne takes the small stack of one hundred dollar bills and places them in an envelope. Her heart is beating fast and she almost expects the police to knock any minute. She takes out a piece of stationery and writes a short note.
Here's the money you asked for. I hope this helps, but please don't ask me to do this again. It's not right.
P.S- you're still a jerk for kissing me.
Folding the letter into thirds, she slips it into the envelope with the money. She still doesn't feel right about doing this; it feels like stealing. It feels wrong. She steels her resolve and tries not to think about what Geraldine would have to say about all this. She sneaks out of her room, not wanting to be seen by Nina or Harold. Thankfully Harold and Nina are sitting in the kitchen, going over her math homework. She can hear their muffled voices as she slides the envelope under Loren's door. His music is on; some sort of heavy goth-industrial stuff that's heavy on the bass, and she doubts he'll notice the envelope right away. She bounces from foot to foot nervously; contemplates trying to pull the envelope back from under the door and after a few hesitant moments returns to her room, promptly losing herself in a book.
Three hours later, more or less, Anne's attention is diverted from the book by a scuffle in the kitchen. Harold's voice can be heard but not understood, and judging by the tone of his voice, he is pissed. Anne's curiosity overpowers her nervousness and she quietly walks from her room, staying close to the wall in the hopes that Harold won't notice her.
"Where did you get it? I'm tired of you lying to me!"
This has to be about the money she drew for Loren. Anne winces. She knew this was a bad idea. She peeks around the corner and into the kitchen. Harold's chair is tipped over, and he has his hand fisted in his son's hair. Loren's face is twisted in a grip of pain that's brought him to his knees. Anne is horrified.
"Stop!" she cries, taking the few remaining steps into the kitchen. She keeps a safe distance from Harold, torn between staying where she is and rushing to Loren's side. "Is this about the money?"
Harold's gaze snaps to Anne and he releases Loren from his grasp.
"What do you know about the money?"
"I – I gave it to him," Anne's tone is defiant even though she can't keep a tremor out of it. "It was my money, and he said – he said that it would help out."
Harold's look of disbelief conveys his feelings entirely. He had to have known from Geraldine that Anne had no real money of her own - no trust fund, no bank account – so it's fairly ridiculous to claim that she had it lying around. In the few moments that have passed, Loren's clamored to his feet and joined Anne, ready to fight to protect her if need be.
"Where did you get the money?" he barks. Anne flinches.
"I – um," Anne doesn't have an answer. A long time ago Loren told her not to reveal her power to Harold and now she doesn't know if there's any way to hide it.
"Anne, I'm only going to ask you once more. If you lie to me – and I'll know if you do – if you lie to me, you will regret it. That's a promise."
Anne bites her lip. "I, uh – I drew it, sir."
"You drew it? Show me."
"No, Anne, you don't have to," Loren says, his fingers working through his hair to rub his scalp. Anne doesn't say anything, just nods mutely. Harold is glaring at Loren who is returning the expression valiantly. Nina's sitting at the table, watching the entire scene unfold with nothing but amused curiosity in her eyes. Anne decides then and there that she kind of hates Nina, although she'd never say it out loud. Anne turns away from all three of them and walks somberly to her room. She retrieved a few pieces of blank paper and a green colored pencil before returning to the kitchen.
Leaning over the table, Anne sketches a rough drawing, a rectangle with "$20" written in each corner. Then she turns the paper over and waits.
"It's never worked when I could see it," she explains. Harold nods. Anne turns the paper over again. It's blank, and lying on the table under the paper is a new, crisp twenty-dollar bill. Harold reaches down and picks it up.
"Amazing," he says, a grin lighting up his face. "I'll never have to work again!" Harold's glee is repugnant to Anne, and she stares at the paper on the table, hoping it will spontaneously combust.
"Daddy, can she draw something for me?" Nina asks. She's using her little girl voice – the one Anne knows she uses strictly for getting her way. Harold flashes her a fond smile and Anne is sure that she's going to have an ulcer by the time she's eighteen.
"What do you want, baby?" Harold asks her. Anne's eyes widen and she shakes her head, no.
"I don't do requests," she says, frowning. Harold simply fixes her with a look, his cold eyes glittering.
"I want a diamond necklace," says Nina, standing up straight now and tossing her thick dark locks over her shoulder.
"Then you'll have one," says Harold. "Anne, draw."
"Don't you dare say no!" demands Harold. "You ungrateful brat! It's the least you can do for my family seeing as how I took you in after your grandmother passed away. Show some damn respect."
"A-alright," says Anne, drawing back in fear. She is frightened of Harold; always has been. "I'll do it."
"I hate you sometimes, Dad," Loren huffs. He storms off to his room and Anne feels the tiniest bit of resentment at being left alone in Harold's company. She picks up her colored pencil and begins to draw.
"Good girl," says Harold. He leans over Anne and puts two fingers under her chin, lifting her face up to look at him. The gesture is disturbingly intimate and Anne wants to cringe away. "I always knew you were special, Anne. I tried to tell your parents that before you were even born."
Anne stares out the window of the car as Pendleton disappears from view. It's a little unreal to know that she won't be returning anytime soon. The December frost coats the gently rolling hills, making them look fuzzy and inviting. It's an illusion, though, and Anne knows that the air outside the car is bitterly cold. It hasn't snowed yet, despite numerous forecasts calling for it, and meteorologists are now predicting a dangerous drought for the summer.
Nina sits beside Anne in the backseat, talking to herself quietly and occasionally listing off things that she wants Anne to draw for her. Anne wants to take hold of Nina's hair, wrap it around her skinny neck and choke the life out of the insipid girl, not that she'd ever actually do it. Still, it makes it a little more bearable to imagine violence against Nina.
"We're moving!" Nina says excitedly, suddenly. "Did you know that?"
Sometimes Nina likes to act like a toddler. Anne isn't sure if it's intentional or not, and Anne rolls her eyes so hard that her eyes actually hurt. "I'm in the car, aren't I?" she says quietly. "It'd be kind of hard not to notice."
Nina's brow creases and she chews on her lower lip. Apparently Nina doesn't know how to respond to that, and so turns to face the window, still chattering away to herself. Anne does her best to drown her out, and finds the best way is to lose herself in her own thoughts.
Anne only draws now when Harold allows her to. He'd confiscated her art supplies and put them in a locked cabinet, only taking them out when he needed something. Not drawing is like not eating for Anne, and when she neglects her talent it's as if a pressure builds up inside her. It's not something she even knew would happen before Harold started controlling when and what she draws. When Harold finally lets her draw it is such a relief of that pressure that she draws whatever he asks. It's usually money; lots and lots of money.
Occasionally he will order his children to demand a drawing of Anne. Nina has expensive taste and always asks for gaudy jewelry, but Loren only asks for small things. The most Loren has asked for was a new iPod when his old one broke, and Anne had been happy to oblige him. The last time Loren had been forced to ask something of her he had responded with "your happiness," which had earned a smile from Anne and a rough slap upside his head from Harold. He hasn't had to ask anything of Anne since.
Through Anne's talent, Harold has saved up enough money for a generous down payment on a house that sits next to a small river. The house is huge, made entirely of red brick with a tower on the eastern side that the realtor had promised a great view from. The house is situated about an hour east of Baker City, far enough for privacy but close enough to be convenient. Baker city itself is about a two-hour trip south from Pendleton. Anne is sorry to leave, and a little afraid as well.
The only thing Anne is looking forward to is the house itself. Harold has promised her the room in the tower and at this announcement Anne had smiled for the first time in months. She is going to live in a tower; it's so romantic; just like Rapunzel.
Harold makes a right turn off the main road onto a small unpaved driveway, announcing, "We're here." Anne thinks that it barely constitutes a driveway, since it's basically just tire tracks in the dirt with grass and weeds springing up around them. Harold drives about two hundred feet to the river's edge, and then stops the car. It was bumpy, and Harold muttered something about his first project getting the damn driveway paved.
"Where's the house, Dad?" asked Loren, looking around. Anne looks around as well. "We're in the middle of nowhere."
"Look across the river, son," says Harold, amusement in his voice.
The three teen-agers look across the river and see their new house for the first time. Moving all of their stuff in is going to be quite an ordeal. The house is on the opposite side of the river, set back about one hundred yards. A small path leads from the front door of the house down to the river's edge. It's then that Anne notices the footbridge. Made of steel cable and wooden planks, it spans the river's width and sways gently in the breeze. Ice crystals have formed on the cables and planks, making them sparkle prettily in the stark winter sunlight. There's two cables suspended above the main bridge that work as sort of handrails and a sort of wire mesh that spans from the handrail cables to the main part of the bridge; an added safety measure. Still, it makes Anne nervous. She knows the bridge will be slippery from the frost, and the cables extremely cold and hard to hold onto. She can picture herself slipping off the bridge and into the raging water below. She shudders.
Nina starts toward the bridge, excited to see the new house. Apparently in full little girl mode today, she holds one of her stuffed animals, a dog that has seen much better days, in her left hand. She is first to reach the bridge, followed by Anne, then Loren, and then Harold. The bridge is only wide enough for them to walk single file and it sways more and more with each step.
"Is this bridge safe, dad?" asks Loren. He has just as much of a death grip on the cables as Anne does. Nina seems to love the bridge. She's laughing and bouncing on her feet to make the bridge sway even more than it already was.
"Of course it is," says Harold, as if Loren is being ridiculous. "I drove my motorcycle across it when I came to see the house. Now walk."
They cross the bridge without incident, except for once when Nina slips and nearly drops her stuffed dog into the river. She calms down after that and walks carefully after that, subdued.
Anne breathes a sigh of relief once she is on the other side of the river. They walk the rest of the way to the house, where Harold unlocks the door to let them in.
It's a beautiful house. The front door opens onto an entry hall with a hardwood floor, polished to a dark mahogany sheen. A few steps into the entry hall there is an arched opening to the left, which leads into a large, galley-style kitchen. Past the kitchen one can see the dining room, in which hangs an elaborate chandelier over where a table would sit. Past the dining room a curved staircase leads up to the second floor, hugging the brick wall.
They walk through the kitchen and into the dining room, taking in everything. To the right of the dining room is the living room, carpeted in a plush grey carpet. In the back of the living room was a large picture window that looked out on the small mountain that rose up directly behind the house. Anne walks over to the picture window and looks up at the mountain. It's covered in sagebrush and small boulders, and Anne wonders what would happen to the house if one of those boulders suddenly decided to roll down the mountain. She quickly buries that thought and turns her attention to the house again.
"You kids go upstairs and decide who gets what bedroom," Harold says, ushering Anne, Nina and Loren toward the staircase. "The only other rooms on this floor are mine."
They walk up the staircase, which is carpeted in the same thick gray carpet as is in the living room, and come to the first landing. There are two bedrooms on the second floor. Nina claims the one closest to the staircase and Loren takes the second one. Anne climbs the staircase to the third floor landing, anxious for her first glimpse at her tower room. This staircase is a continuation of the first and it snakes along the wall, and for a moment Anne feels more like Sleeping Beauty than Rapunzel, climbing to the tower where a spinning wheel awaits to make her sleep for a hundred years.
The tower room is smaller than the other bedrooms, but it does have a spectacular view of the river. Anne looks across the river and sees the car Harold had driven them in, looking very small and like a toy. Anne smiles as she turns to survey her room once more. With the right tapestries and drapes she could make this room look like it belongs in a fairy-tale. Maybe things won't be so bad here after all.
The movers arrive the next day in a small truck with a brightly colored logo painted on the side. They park the moving truck next to the river, and Harold, Anne, Loren, and Nina walks over the footbridge to meet them. Loren eyes the moving truck suspiciously.
"That's not all our stuff," he says. "The truck's too small. Is there another truck coming?" He levels his gaze at the road, as if he expects it to answer his question.
"It's everything but the furniture," says Harold. "I donated all of our old furniture to The Salvation Army. We'll have all brand-new furniture. Anne will see to that."
Anne frowns, annoyed at Harold. She knows that as long as he's her guardian that he is going to keep demanding things of her. It's been a few days since she's drawn anything, and the pressure in her hands is starting to hurt. She knows she'll cave to Harold's demands, just like always. Sometimes Anne hates how readily she obeys him, but she doesn't feel like she has a choice. Just then Nina pipes up.
"Do we have to carry everything all the way to the house from here?" she whines, her voice growing shrill. "That's a lot of work!"
For once all parties involved seem to agree with Nina. That has to be a first, Anne thinks. Harold gives the truck a long look and then looks at the river and then back to the truck.
"I have an idea," he says, "but I need everyone to squeeze into the truck. You included." He points to the two men who had brought the truck to the property.
"The river is really low this time of year," he says. "I'm going to drive the truck across."
"I don't think that's a good idea, dad," says Loren.
"Shut up," Harold replies as he walks toward the truck.
"This isn't covered in the insurance," one of the movers warns. "If something happens your valuables won't be replaced."
"That's fine," says Harold, slapping the man on the shoulder. "Nothing will happen. Besides, I've got money. Don't I, Anne?"
Anne bites her tongue and nods silently.
"Alright, if you think you can do this, let's go."
Anne is surprised that the movers agreed to this idea, but then again it is an awfully long walk to the house from across the river and Anne for one would not want to try to ferry a cartload of boxes across the footbridge. They all climb into the cab of the truck with Harold in the driver's seat. Nina climbs into the lap of one of the movers, who looks none too comfortable with the situation. Anne and Loren squeeze into the jump seats behind the bench seat and Harold fires up the truck. He does a three point turn and starts driving toward the river. He accelerates and plunges the truck into the river.
It's slow going. The fast moving water hits the side of the truck and makes it rock back and forth. The current works against the engine, and Anne begins to worry about making it across. What if the truck tips over or stalls out? Anne doesn't want to have to wade through the icy water. Suddenly Nina shrieks and lifter her feet. The water has begun to seep into the cab of the truck.
"Guess the water was higher than I thought," mutters Harold, downshifting and urging the truck forward. The water pools on the floor of the truck and sloshes, and then starts to drain away as the begins its upward ascent toward the opposite shore. Finally the truck finds purchase on dry land, pulling itself from the river and dripping water all the way to the house.
"I hope the back didn't leak," says Loren bitterly, referring to the cardboard boxes full of their personal belongings. They pile out of the cramped truck and walk around to the back. Harold pulls the latch and opens it, and to everybody's relief they see that the back did not leak. They all grab boxes and began unloading the truck.
It takes a few hours, but finally the boxes are all unloaded and in their respective rooms. Harold drives the truck back across the river at the movers request – most likely they don't want to be the ones to get in trouble if it flips over this time. Harold makes them all get back in the truck to help weigh it down, and the truck sways even more this time than it had previously. Anne shuts her eyes tightly and crosses her fingers as she feels the water cover the floorboards and mouths silent prayers to God to get them across the river safely. She feels the water recede and breathes a prayer of thanks as the truck lifts out of the water.
Later that evening, as the sun sets in the east and spills its golden rays through the picture window in the living room, Harold turns to Anne.
"It's time for you to draw," he say. Anne sighs, both aggravated and thankful that she'll be able to relieve the uncomfortable ache in her hands.
"Money?" she asks.
"No, not money this time, my little wish granter," he says, and the way he calls her that makes Anne feel unclean. "I want you to draw this living room, but with furniture in it. I want you to draw a wraparound couch, the kind that has the hide-a-bed and recliners in it, with two end tables with lamps. Also, one of those entertainment centers for the television and whatnot."
Anne is then led room to room and given instruction as to what she is to draw for each. Harold only wants the bare minimum at first; a bed and a nightstand, but Nina demands an entire bedroom ensemble, with a canopy bed, a mirrored dresser and two nightstands. Loren tries to get out of having Anne draw anything for him but Harold demands that she at least draw a bed for him. Finally he tells her to draw furnishings for her own room, whatever she wants. Anne brightens up at this, and Harold retrieves her drawing supplies for her so she can get started.
She readies her pencil above the paper, preparing to draw when she looks up at Harold.
"I'll do this, but I want something in return," she says, her voice shaky.
"What do you want?" booms Harold, his voice agitated. "If it's not too much, maybe I'll give it to you. You are our bread and butter, after all."
Anne bites her lower lip, nervous about what she is about to ask.
"How did you know my parents, Harold?" she asks, finally. "And can you tell me why my Gramma Geraldine thought that she kidnapped me?"