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Chapter 2 A Friendly Face

  • Annie
  • “Oh honey, are you alright? You can’t go on like this; It’s been a week and you haven’t left the house.” My mother’s voice drones on in my head but her words barely register as I stare down at the dough I’m kneading in my hands. Have you every felt so lost that everything feels pointless? What’s the point of listening to her? What’s the point of making this pie for dinner later? What’s the point of everything?
  • These questions have rattled around inside my skull for the past few days.
  • “Annie? Honey?” I numbly recognize the heat of her palm on my right shoulder.
  • I look up from the pie dough and nearly let the flood gates open as I look into her sad eyes. “Please, dear. Talk to me. You haven’t said a single word... I’m worried about you.”
  • I nod. “I know, and I’m sorry I-I’m just... not ready to talk about it yet.” It seems too soon. Everything is still to real. It still seems as if I’m standing before Daniel even though I’m thousands of miles across the ocean. “And I haven’t left the house because I’m avoiding the media.”
  • She nods. “I understand, but please tell me this Did he hurt you?”
  • I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I want to cry but I can’t. I simply have no more tears left. “No. He broke my heart.” Which is worse.
  • Her face softens into one of pity and she wraps her arms around me for the thousandth time this week. I awkwardly hug her back. In principle, it’s a good idea, but I’m just not feeling it right now. I’m desensitized to just about everything-- Including the affections of my mother, and it sucks.
  • After a few moments, she pulls away and kisses me on the forehead. Whenever you’re ready to talk... I’ll be here for you.” With that, she walks out of the kitchen and leaves me to my apple pie. I’m expecting Aline later and I promised her long ago that the next time she comes and visits me in America that I’d make her an apple pie, and heartbreak be damned, I’m going to deliver on my promise. Plus, it’s been working as decent distraction thus far.
  • Baxter yips at my heels and I bend down and give him another apple peel from earlier before petting him on the head. He makes a contented noise after gobbling it up and wags his tail in response. I can’t help but smile small down at him but the feeling is soon replaced with nostalgic sadness as I remember how Baxter came into my life.
  • The rest of the day passes by in a blur like usual, but I manage to come out and tell my mother the truth. I start at the beginning about how I agreed to help him gain the crown--leaving out the specifics of the contract and punishments-- and go into details about how I confessed my unrequited feelings to him. Throughout my story, she shakes her head and makes the occasional scoffing noise. When I have finished she practically strangles me in her arms, murmuring about how he doesn’t deserve me and how stupid he is.
  • Of course, I know all of this. What bothers me the most is that deep down, Daniel loves me too. Why would be behave the way he does around me? Why else would be buy me Baxter or get mad at William? I know he feels the same, he’s just too scared to admit it, and that’s unacceptable.
  • So, of course, my mother’s right If Daniel isn’t strong enough to admit to not only me, but to himself, that he loves me, then he doesn’t deserve me, and that’s that.
  • Aline arrives and it’s pretty much the same thing. She grabs me so tight that I’m worried she’ll crack a rib or two and envelopes me in her arms, rocking me back and fourth kind of like a young child. I can’t lie, it’s very comforting and not completely unwelcome. Even though I feel next to nothing but sadness, I can appreciate this.
  • She looks down at me sadly and shakes her head before she opens that big Verilian mouth of hers and all Hell breaks loose. She swears and yells and punches the air and I just know she’s imagining it’s Daniel’s face- or worse. She calls him names that I didn’t even have in my own colorful New York City vocabulary, some in English, but occasionally she slips back into her native Verilian tongue. “I swear to God and all that is Holy Annie, he’s going to pay! I’m gonna get that-that- pussushay! How dare he? How dare he do this to my best friend? Why I-I-I I’m gonna kill him. Yep. Murder. I’ll go away for this. It’s more than worth it.”
  • Her little rant is the first thing that brings anything evenly closely resembling a smile to my face. The corners of my lips tip upward briefly but then visions of Daniel’s smile flood my vision and the smile slips. Of course, Aline notices this and grabs me again, and once more I’m eloped in the embrace of my best friend.
  • “I’m sorry, Annie.” She whispers.
  • The back of my throat feels dry and my voice comes out almost hoarse. “Me too.”