Her hand twitched nervously towards the phone as it rung over and over; Jane’s heart pounded furiously against her ribcage. Her palms became clammy, ‘Please hang up, please hang up…I can’t do this!” thought Jane nervously as she rocked back and forth on the couch. She stared at the phone as the caller waited for her to pick up, however, she didn’t recognize the number. Jane felt helpless, trapped and fearful. Who could be calling her? It couldn’t possibly be him…could it?
Finally, the phone stopped ringing and the screen quickly turned black; however, the screen lite up again to tell her that the caller had left her a voice mail. With trembling hands, she picked up her cell phone and typed in her password; Jane listened to the message that was left:
“Hi Jane, this is Annette Speare. I’m on the Welcome Committee and your name popped up on my email letting me know that you are new to the neighbourhood. I have a basket of goodies for you and I would like to drop it off. Call me back at 403-732-2219.”
A sigh of relief escaped Jane’s lips; guilt pricked her conscience as she bit her lip in worry. She hung her head in frustration, her hands balling into fists while her body tensed. Jane jumped to her feet and paced around her living room, taking deep breaths in an attempt to fight off the tears that were threatening to spill from her eyes. She had promised herself that she wouldn’t allow him to control her anymore; he had taken all of her confidence and sense of self worth. By the time she was finally able to escape him, she was a ball of anxiety and fear. Every phone call, every knock on her door, she thoughts went straight to the source of her anxiety.
Jane forced herself to sit back down on the couch, she shoved her hands underneath her thighs to still the trembling. She was anxious before she met him, all she wanted was to succeed in her chosen career, find love and start a family. Jane felt like she had to constantly impress her co-workers, any bit of criticism threw her into a tizzy and she worked like a mad woman to gain their approval. Jane knew she worried about what others thought of her, she worried about arriving to work late so as a result she obsessively checked her alarm before bed and arrived to work the next morning with a smile on her face. A smile was always on her lips, even though she didn’t always feel like smiling; she yearned for approval.
When she met him, Jane felt…well…flattered as she had never really had a man pay attention to her before. Before long she felt like her smiles were actually genuine, she laughed more and began to feel normal for a change. Jane loved the way he made her feel: important, loved, special. The first few months of their relationship felt like pure bliss; she began to feel more confident in herself, she grew more ambitious with her career as an editor. Then everything seemed to change as quickly as flipping a coin.
Jane shook her head, she couldn’t…no she wouldn’t allow herself to think of the past. Taking a deep breath, she picked her phone up and dialed Annette Speare’s number
“Hello?” came a very cheerful voice
“Hi Annette, this is Jane…I’m returning your phone call.”
“Oh Jane, I’m so glad to hear from you! I would love to come over right away to give you our wonderful welcome package. Does that work for you?”
Jane paused for a few moments; she really didn’t feel ready for visitors but she knew that she had to start living again.
“Yes, that is fine.” replied Jane breathing deeply
“Excellent! I will be over in ten minutes.” said Annette brightly
The minutes passed by slowly, Jane peeked out her window a few times, hoping that the older woman would arrive earlier than she said. As she waited, her mind wandered again…
“Jane, I know that this must be a scary change for you but you’re safe now!” said Mary gently, “He can’t get to you anymore; so, I am going to give you some simple challenges to help you gain your confidence back. I’ll text them to you daily, okay?”
Numb, Jane nodded; although she knew that Mary was trying to help her, all Jane wanted to do was sleep and isolate herself for a little while. Yet, her childhood friend made an excellent point: he couldn’t get to her anymore. He was on the other side of the country serving time for attempting to take her life for her life insurance. Mary was also right by saying that she needed to take her life back.
Between the wise council of her friend and the advice of her therapist, Jane was eager to chase her dreams and one day hopefully find a kind and gentle man to love and marry.
“Okay Mary, I will do your little challenges and tell you all about these experiences at the end of each week…thank you, I know you risked a lot to help me…”
“Oh Janey, I would do it all again, you are my best friend…I just wish I knew what was going on sooner.”
“No more secrets.”
“No more secrets.”
Just like when they were kids, they pinky promised.
Jane was so lost in her thoughts that when the doorbell rang, she violently flinched at the sound. Her heart pounded heavily as she inched her way towards her door; she looked through the peep hole and much to her relief, it was Annette. Quickly, Jane tried to still her hands and slow her breathing. Her hand turned the silver doorknob and pulled; the older woman rushed towards her; the large basket landed in her arms causing Jane to stumble backwards. The older woman barged into Jane’s home, looking around eagerly.
Jane felt a twinge of irritation at the intrusion, she wanted to tell the woman that she couldn’t stay but her voice seemed trapped in her throat. Annette seemed to searching for something scandalous, something worthy of gossip.
Annette turned back to Jane, a wide smile on her face; Jane felt like the rose-coloured glasses had finally come off, she saw that Annette’s smile didn’t reach her eyes. The surge of strength that rushed through Jane surprised her; she knew what she had to do. With shaky hands, she set the basket on the floor and straightened her spine, standing at her full height. Squaring her shoulders, she made eye contact with the busy body.
“Mrs. Speare, I do appreciate the basket however what I do not appreciate is you barging into my home uninvited and looking around my home. I want you to leave right now.” stated Jane calmly
Annette opened her mouth, her eyes widened with shock and outrage. Her eyes narrowed with righteous indignation, thrusting her finger in Jane’s face.
“Now you listen here missy…” started Annette furiously
“No! You listen ma’am, this is my home and you are intruding!” said Jane in a stoic manner, “I am putting my foot down, and because you do not like this, you are attempting to make me feel guilty. I will not stand for this behaviour especially from a stranger, so, again I say: I want you to leave my home this instant!”
A hand flew to her chest as she stomped out of Jane’s home muttering “Well, I never…”
Jane quietly shut the door and slid the deadbolt back into place, her legs shook as she carefully walked her way to the couch. Her mouth felt dry, sweat beaded her forehead, Jane couldn’t believe that she had just stood up for herself. A bark of sharp laughter burst from her throat, “I just stood up for myself! I can’t believe I just did that!” she grabbed her phone and dialed Mary’s number.
As soon as her friend picked up the phone, she recounted the situation, excitement laced her voice. Jane had had a hard time believing that she would ever feel strong again, especially after him; yet here she was standing up for herself. Jane knew that it would take a lot of work but with time and patience, her anxiety would evolve into strength and confidence.
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Some of your dialogue sounds a little bit unnatural, for example saying 'my home' twice in one sentence doesn't sound very realistic. I like the withholding of information but the way you reveal what happened could have more impact. Maybe you could say something about how he tried to kill her rather than just that he attempted to take her life? I like the overall message of your story.