Note from the author: Hello simmers! I think it might be too late for me to continue this story, as it has been weeks since the last chapter and who reads a story like that? Either way I really wish to finish this legacy as I never have finished one before, so I apologize for the delay and hope you guys continue to read Annabelle.
Here is a quick re-cap of what happened last time: We met Annabelle and her parents while they were discussing Annabelle’s future marriage to her cousin Aaron Mellark. Naturally Annabelle is against the marriage, for many reasons aside from her mother wanting her to marry no other than her cousin… oh that’s right, 5th cousin. They had an argument, but she could never dare voice out her deepest feelings, Annabelle is afraid to disobey her parents. We also learned that Riggo (Anna’s father) and Camille, her mother, don’t have a very good marriage.
The next day Annabelle, confused as to what she could do to stop this madness but not knowing how to go about it without harming her parents, gathers her friends at the usual hang out for advice and support. We meet there Iryna, Michelle, and Denys (Iryna’s brother). They are a fun bunch and care for Anna very much. They joke, eat, and get down to business; Michelle has suggested Anna fakes a wedding with Aaron!
If you haven’t read the first chapters and wish to follow the story from the beginning… really? Wow thanks! click on the “Legacies” page above. Thank you for ready and enjoy the story! ;D
Chapter 3: The Wonder Fish
“There is sense and a deep awareness in every aspect of tradition.
“A man that has no honor cannot carry tradition for its purpose is exactly that; to carry on the values and morals from one life to the next.
“Think of those countries which still keep their court system as a matter of tradition in their culture; they wish to maintain that which originally made them who they are today;
“it’s another way of acknowledging your existence. Think about it!
“Tradition is necessary for our survival. We wish to find others like us and form communities, share our lives together, learn from each other…
“we also have the need to transmit what we have lived to others who are just beginning to live, and that is in its simplest form: tradition.
“Now, why would it be a bad thing?”
Annabelle smiled at her nana’s words. She was sitting on the floor next to her legs, as she had always done when she had come to her for comfort and advice; and is that, she had a way with words, her nana. Had it come with age or perhaps she had always been that way, but to Annabelle it didn’t matter when or how she acquired such a skill; what mattered was that her nana was always able to put things into perspective for her.
Sophia stared down at her granddaughter, she pressed for an answer when Annabelle stayed quiet, “Has there ever been times in which you have suffered any evils because of our family traditions?” Annabelle gave her nana a blank stare, “okay so now you are suffering such evils, but aside from now has there ever been a time in which our traditions have proven to be unnecessary to you?”
“My parents’ marriage. That’s one time.” Answered Annabelle without giving it much thought.
This made Sophia chuckle; her granddaughter’s blunt ways had always caught her off guard. Suddenly the fire needed her attention. She stood from the sofa and walked over to the fireplace to poke it,
the flames were dying off;
and her hopes that her granddaughter could ever be happy were dying with it.
“Could you please close the windows for me dear?” she asked and Annabelle complied.
The view from the window was of the lake, there she saw her grandfather fishing, oblivious to the world.
He always appeared to be in his own little world, as he always said: he never really did mind “things” as much; no doubt her father had acquired some of his traits.
“Dada still trying to catch his wonder fish?”
“Ugh! You know he will never stop believing in that phony story. It is his only pastime these days… that, and to annoy me.”
Sophia turned to face her granddaughter sporting a teasing smile. Annabelle snorted into her hand, “dada is too funny…” and then she let the words drift into the air; they were superficial, she knew it; her nana did too. Both women fell silent.
The thought of the “The Wonder Fish” made Annabelle laugh quietly as she shook her head. It was a fable that was always told in school and church to children, about a putdown fisherman and his perseverance to succeed. It was at times like this when she wished she was drinking some hot cocoa wrapped up in a warm blanket by the fire, telling stories about big whales with cities on their back, and frog princesses, and wonder fishes… “Ah! How I miss being a little girl, especially on days like this one.”
Sophia nodded sadly, and then gestured Annabelle to come sit with her by the sofa.
Annabelle took one last long look at her grandfather, defeated by nostalgia for those Sunday mornings she had spent at the Church with her friends, and the pastor’s wife would read them stories sitting by the fire. She forced herself to let go of those memories.
“Don’t you think nana,” she started while making her way to the sofa, “don’t you think is endearing how he has hopes he will one day find his ‘wonder fish’? The child in him never died.”
“Oh yes, yes; meanwhile he is feeding the fish in the lake, fattening them enough…”
“…oh I’m not complaining.” added Sophia nonchalantly,
“And neither is old Toby.” Annabelle took one look at the fluffy thing; it appeared to be chasing an insect. “But come, come dear,” Sophia urged Annabelle, “sit with me, let us regained our conversation.” Annabelle started making protest but ended up sitting next to her nana.
“My dear Anna, if your parents wouldn’t have gotten married then you wouldn’t be here right now with me.”
“Yes, true. Perhaps that is the whole point.”
“Nonsense!” cried Sophia in exaggerated horror, “you don’t mean that. What sort of person would ever wish not having been born? After seeing everything there is to see in this world…”
“Maybe they haven’t seen everything nana.”
“Oh, you know what I mean dear. Look outside…” she said pointing out the window.
Annabelle did as asked, but she didn’t think there was anything particularly beautiful about the scenery; trees, they all looked the same to her, red, orange, and…red. When will winter come? She thought.
“You mean the red trees? What about them?”
“Darling! I mean LIFE. There is life in everything we see, and that is enough to make your heart smile.”
“Nana…” Annabelle giggled shyly. She knew her grandmother to be a woman of high intellect and wisdom, but she also had a knack for being dramatic. There was nothing she would not turn into the most serious thing in the world, and of course she would romanticize it. But it was pleasant to hold conversations with her nana; she was her mood lifter, even more so than her friends… and hot-dogs, and French-toasts.
“Anyway,” started Annabelle with a kick, she sat up straight and tried to sound lighthearted, “my friends think I should accept the engagement…” she stopped to look at her nana’s reaction; Sophia stared at her subjectively, “… for now.” She went on rushing her words out as if expecting to be stopped at any moment, “I thought about this for a long time, and now I have decided that I will give this a try, but please understand that I am not making any final decisions for now. And if… and if there should be no wedding, may I perhaps be allowed to go back to studying? Oh I really wish to go back to University. I…” Sophia placed her fingers on her lips asking her to stop,
“I understand dear. Tomorrow you are just going to meet the boy, nothing more, what is the problem?”
Right! Nothing could happen at this meeting. Annabelle felt a little relieved, she knew talking to her nana would make her feel better, she would understand her as she always had. Of course she had not told her everything her friends had advised her to do.
That afternoon in the park, three days ago, Annabelle fiddled with her hands as she listened to a highly energetic Michelle:
“… Stage the wedding. But for that you will have to make the effort to befriend Aaron.”
“No one can befriend Aaron, you know this very well. That kid’s a tyrant.”
“Wouldn’t he rat on Anna if he finds out what we are doing?”
“No. Iry you don’t know this guy like we do; he is an idiot, not stupid. As far as I can remember, he hates Anna; it was very clear during our times in summer camp. You think he would want to marry her? Being the jerk he is, I doubt it.”
“Geezh, by the way you girls talk about the man he sounds like a total douche.”
“Don’t you have another word turd?”
“A douche is a douche, there is no other word for it.”
“Still, even if he hates me I doubt he would want to go against his family.”
“He don’t have to; just live pretending you’re married, he gets his Hospital, and you get your freedom.”
“Anna? Anna dear?” she heard her nana called her, and she looked at her as if in acknowledgement, but her mind was still back in that Saturday morning;
no matter how much she gave her a thought, Michelle’s idea was too risky, not to say she would have to lie to her parents for the first time. Not telling them about Alain was one thing; she might never even see him, and now that threat was more of a possibility. However if she faked the wedding with Aaron she would be flat out deceiving her parents, and that was something she had never done before.
“Nana,” she said, a puzzled look on her face, “how well do you know those Mellarks of Riverview? Do you know a great deal about them?”
“Oh yes, I do; a great deal.” Answered Sophia with a reassuring nod, “in fact, I spent most of my childhood with Jonathan Mellark, he is my first cousin you see. His wife, Patricia, was also part of the group back then. They are very kind folks; they had two kids; Michael and Juliana, very sweet kids, yes.
“I believe Juliana moved with her husband to Hidden Springs, a very small town to the North, we used to be close but I haven’t heard from her in ages… so much for closeness no?” the old woman said with a half-smile,
and although her eyes were fixed on the table magazines, Annabelle could see her gaze was far beyond into an infinite space, and she could only wondered what must have happened between them to now be as indifferent to each other as one would be to any stranger.
“But that is all in the past.”
“No nana, tell me about the Mellarks that live there now.” Annabelle moved her hand in a circular motion, “you know; I wish to know about the whole family.”
“Well, let me see; Jonathan and Patricia, also the cook and her husband… forgot their names,
“oh! And they have two kids a boy and girl, very pretty if I may add –the girl. The Mellark kids of course; Joshua, Aaron and Clare…ugh and that woman, Milka, their mother. She is a sourpuss; be careful with her dear, she would get on your nerves just for the sake of making you as miserable as her.”
“Wow, she sounds awful.”
“Oh she is. And a fox!” Annabelle couldn’t hold it any longer, laughter thundered out of her. “Nana,” she said with madness, “whatever did she do to deserve that kind of insult?”
“She had her eyes set in your father!” Said Sophia in horror, “I remember the last wedding we went to, who’s was it?” she fell into deep thought while tapping her lips with her finger, “oh never mind! Milka was eying your father, and flirting with him every chance she got. I think you were in University, it was last year.”
“I was so vexed! I think I even put her in her place at one point. Being a widow and all, and with your father?! I have never seen such a thing!”
“Okay, but now you guys all get along right?” asked Annabelle, and Sophia nodded in grave silence.
“But seriously nana, you haven’t told me much.”
“I have told you everything.”
Sophia eyed Annabelle from behind her glasses very cautiously.
“Alright, alright. I will tell you everything about Aaron dear!” she finally said, rolling her eyes.
“He is a fine young man dear Anna, I dare say you will like him very much. And you will get to go live at their Villa, it is one of the finest of the country. Well, at least for a while, I doubt he would want to be traveling back and forth from Riverview to Sunset Valley for work. Hmm… just as well, I guess that would be decided later.”
“I’ll want to live closer to you and my parents.”
“Ah!” Cried Sophia ignoring Annabelle’s remark, “Your cousin Marie’s wedding, poor child, she was forced to marry an older rich man because her family fell into bad fortune. You should consider yourself lucky. At least we have the Hospital to offer.”
“And why should I Nana? Because I’m not being patched up to some old man? Is just as well, I have to be with someone I don’t love. What does it matter if he is old or young?”
“You are right, it doesn’t, not as long as he has money.”
Annabelle got up in one jump, and stared in shock at her grandmother. Yes, she knew the woman to be highly ambitious in life, but never this… shallow.
“Nana! What a terrible thing to say, happiness does not revolve around money.”
Sophia was amused by her granddaughter’s romantic ideals about life. Love! Ha! That was something not everyone could afford to have, but to its credit, it was so simple a feeling that it could be born out of even the most ludicrous relationships. But she had to admit, her Anna had become if not entirely brave, a very warmhearted young lady, and that was damn good enough for her. Perhaps she was wrong to not trust her granddaughter could some day, be completely happy.
Both women smiled at each other and then Annabelle hugged her nana.
“Nana I love you, you know that?” Sophia nodded still in her granddaughter’s embrace. “And I have already consented to the engagement with Aaron. I just don’t know who I’m marrying you know?”
“What is there more to know?” Sophia pulled Annabelle away so that she might look at her eyes;
they were the color of old lime, just like her own eyes; there was a certain melancholy in them. But her Anna…how could there be room for sweetness and bitterness all together in one person? Perhaps from the dysfunctional marriage between her parents; most likely, yes, she thought. She almost regretted having them married, but whenever she looked at her granddaughter smile -even if there was sadness in her eyes -she couldn’t be more glad to have her.
“I’ll tell you what,” she said with a sigh, “If after meeting Aaron you don’t find him suitable for you, I will break off the engagement myself and to hell with the Hospital.”
“And then will start the decline of an entire generation of Mellarks of Sunset Valley.” Both women turned to see a weary Joseph standing by the door.
“No fish yet. But I’m persistent.”
Annabelle and Sophia locked eyes and giggled like high school girls sharing an amusing secret.
“Come,” order Sophia,
“I have just the dress for you. I don’t want to give that foxy Milka something to talk about, unless it has to do with how beautiful and proper you are. Come child…” and as they were making their way to the bedroom, for the first time in her life Sophia felt the urge to end all the traditions that bound her family.
“It is beautiful”
The next day was the dinner with the Mellarks of Riverview, and she was nervous, she finally admitted to herself. Yes, she was not expecting to like Aaron after all these years still, but…
She walked up to her bed and threw herself on it facing the ceiling, “ugh! I don’t know what to expect!!” she said out loud and stayed silent after, listening to Adele in the background, wishing she were miles away from her room in another room of her own; next to Alain. Then, she heard screams coming from the lower floors. Annabelle got closer to her door and adjusted her ears past the soft, melodious music playing in her stereo. Her parents were at it again, fighting about something or other. But this time it seemed to be something more serious.
Annabelle placed the dress on the bed, careful not to wrinkle it, and stepped out of her room quietly.
She could hear them arguing in the floor below hers.
Her father was talking so loud she shivered under her skin; “Don’t tell me to shut up!” were her mother’s words, and then: “You ruined Annabelle, you ruined our daughter.”
“Stop it Riggo. You are so unfair.”
“Having Annabelle matched up to that awful kid.”
“She will have a good life, everything that is ours will belong to her.”
“Including inheriting the sadness of our marriage; the pain and suffering, the lies, all the ugliness we have had to live with all these years…”
“Including the years we first had her? Those years too? Because I never felt happier.”
“Perhaps, Anna” her father was saying, “will be able to face it all in a different way, but for now…” then her mother cut him off, “oh please shut it.”
“I think we just as well sent her to hell directly,” continued her father.
“Stop it Riggo.”
“You won’t stop until you see your daughter in the gutter.” Was saying her father, while she had decided it was enough! She started making her way down, fed up with their stupid arguments when she heard her mother say: “And what of Daniel! What about that kid? Yes, I know all about it Riggo, I know all about that kid…
Annabelle stopped on her tracks. That kid? What did her mother meant by that kid?
The boy got up from the chair abruptly and spoke with firmness into the receiver: “I won’t have that;
“I don’t want to hear any of that!”
He paced back and forth in his room while the silence took over their conversation. The only thing audible was the breathing of the girl, and his own; hard, and uneven.
He finally said, more softly now, “You think my mother will let us marry if we ask her? She will have me arranged in marriage to anyone she pleases. That is how she is, you know it very well, we have no other choice.”
He paused only to breathe in and out.
“Everything is ready Lidia, you cannot back down now, I won’t hear it.
“Listen, they’ll be too busy with the guests tomorrow to even think of me. Nevertheless, I’m leaving a note. It’ll be all right.” He heard her cry softly.
“I love you Lidia. I won’t let my mother come between us, I promise you. It’ll all be over tomorrow.”