Take Heart, Anne by Beck Collett

Peering into the water, I imagined clots of leeches swarming, fighting to be the first to slither between my toes. I threw what I hoped would be a brave look over my shoulder at him, but he was talking to his mother. 

Earlier on, he’d looked at me as though I still wet my nappy, and sucked my thumb, and commanded me to just “Throw it in the lake.” Just like that. You see what I’ve had to contend with these last three years? They think me the fool, the one blind to “real life” whatever that may be, but they live in this linear world of extremes. Do this, then this, never that, then this will happen and I can take you out to meet my friends again. I’d blame his mother, but I haven’t the heart for it. Not for much longer, anyway. 

“Throw it in the lake.” He repeated, his impatience making those five small words sound like bullets – firing in slow-motion at me. “Let’s be done with the whole silly thing. You’ll see, Anne, things will be better once you’ve gotten shot of it.” He nodded to the water. 

The water. Here I am, now waist-deep in the lake. I started off walking slowly, afraid I’d fall or be pulled under by nightmarish horrors that I only believe in in the daytime, but of course that didn’t happen. Take heart, Anne, I imagined the water saying, so I did. The water tugged at my dress, 

wanting to undress me, wanting to take, take, take from me. Patience. One last look cast back at him, but he’d gone. Only his mother remained. I thought I saw her smile. I smiled back, and looked down into my cupped hands where my poor heart lay cradled. And I wept. 

Published in Issue #23

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