Version 2.0 of Little Anna.
At first they appeared to be happy, almost elated to be together. Susan and John had met in high school and they were high school sweethearts. They were inseparable in the beginning, always close to each other. They whispered loving words to the other at least every fifteen minutes. They were always talking, laughing or holding each other close. No one who knew them thought that they would fall apart like they did.
They married in their second year of college, dropped out to raise the baby they were bringing into the world. Maybe that’s where it all went wrong. Susan wanted to live her life; she wanted to play and have her fun. She didn’t want to stay at home with little Anna any longer than she had to. She wanted to see her friends, go to the movies and party. John loved his quiet little girl more than he loved his wife. John was frequently buying Anna books, toys or anything that caught her fancy. The two of them had tea parties with the little girl’s stuffed animals at least three times a week. Whatever his little girl wanted, John would bend over backwards to ensure that she got it. It was usually just John and Anna and those who knew the family could see that the bond between father and daughter was strong.
Susan was never home and left poor John to do everything. Clean the house, do the laundry, cook and keep an eye on Anna. They played together, were inseparable, much like Susan and John had been before the child Susan had never wanted came into their lives. She’d screamed in despair after Anna was born for weeks. The doctor said it was post-partum depression and it would go away with time. In the mean time, Susan took her antidepressants as directed by the physician but still ignored her daughter.
Everything changed after Anna’s sixth birthday. One little phrase had the world dropping out from underneath Susan and John.
“Your daughter has cancer,” the oncologist said.
The colour drained from Susan’s face and her body went rigid in shock from the news. It had Susan looking at her daughter for the first time in a new light. This sweet little girl needed both of them now and something in the mother changed. Instead of spending her nights at work, Susan began to come home. She watched movies with Anna and John was glad. He’d been begging Susan to spend more time with their daughter, that he couldn’t raise their little girl by himself. Anna needed her mother then and needed her now more than ever.
Three years passed and after several rounds of chemotherapy and a rejected bone marrow transplant later, little Anna died in the hospital. The doctors and nurses had kept Anna as comfortable as they could amidst the jungle of tubes and beeping machines. John and Susan each held one of their daughter’s hands as she slipped into a happy sleep. Susan was devastated by the loss but John was beside himself in grief. They’d vowed to never have another child, that one was all they needed. Susan persevered and with the help of therapy was able to live her life as best she could. John on the other hand, wallowed in despair. He never left the house after that and why should he? With nothing left for him to live for, there was no need for him to leave the house.
He missed his little girl and when Susan begged him to stop drinking, he began to beat her. She screamed at him to stop, held her hands over her face before he screamed obscenities at her and stumbled away. The abuse got worse with every year and eventually, Susan left John behind but John wouldn’t let it happen. Susan was his precious, his everything, his only link left to little Anna. John followed Susan, called her constantly and would never relent no matter what she said. The John she knew was no longer there and a restraining order was his reward for his foolish ways.
The divorce was eventually finalized: Susan stated irreconcilable differences as the reason. She still loved the John that she married and didn’t dare to mention the domestic abuse because of it. There would be no more begging, no more pleading. After John packed up his belongings and left, Susan sold the house and moved as far away from John as she could. Memories of little Anna were still there and the regret of not getting to spend more time with their Angel.
“My dear Little Anna, I’m sorry that I wronged you,” John whispered one day in front of his little girl’s grave. “I’ll be with you soon. Then you won’t be lonely.”
John did the unthinkable, the stupid and the idiotic. He tracked down his Susan with a gun in his hand on a perfect sunny day. She was at home doing the laundry when John kicked the door of her new home in and menacingly walked toward his ex-wife.
“You fucking bitch, how dare you leave me and our girl behind!” he screamed at Susan.
Three shots were fired from his pistol before Susan ran screaming into the backyard. She’d only told her close friends and family where she was moving to so how had he found out where she’d moved to? Were her friends and family back in her hometown safe or had he done something to one of them? Knowing that something may have happened to one of them made something snap inside of Susan. She bolted for the shed where she kept the gardening tools. She flung the door open as John swore at her while she reached for the axe. She held it with a white-knuckled grip as he entered the shed and fired a fourth shot. Blood was streaming down her face from the bullet that had grazed her forehead as she lifted the axe above her head.
“You son of a bitch, I left you behind!” She cried out. “What’re you doing here?!”
“You let our daughter die!”
Susan shook her head. “I gave her six more months to live!”
That wasn’t an acceptable answer to John as he struck Susan with the handle of the gun. He watched with a sick satisfaction as Susan fell to the ground of the shed. She looked up at John with fear in her eyes. “That’s not good enough.”
“What do you want from me John?!” Susan sobbed.
“Everything,” he sobbed before levelling the gun at his ex-wife again. “Take the cancer away, give me back my little girl. She was all I ever needed.”
“John…” Susan began cautiously. “You need help. Nothing can bring Anna back, don’t you see that?”
“GIVE HER BACK,” John snapped vehemently.
“I can’t!” Susan sobbed.
“You never loved Anna, admit it!” John burst out as he fired another shot at Susan.
Susan shrieked as she struggled to her feet. “I loved Anna with all my heart.”
“Then why were you never there when I needed you?!” Came the bellowed response.
Susan found herself staring down at the barrel of the gun. “Because I was too young when Anna was born and I will always regret that. If I could turn back time and change it all, I’d do so in a heartbeat! I loved her –”
The fifth round in the gun was aimed at Susan’s head when fight or flight kicked in for her. She swung the axe up at John’s hand and struck him hand in the hand as the bullet became lodged in the wall. Life began to spin wildly out of control as Susan charged at John and tackled him to the ground. John’s head landed hard against the brick path in the grass with a dull thud.
“You sick bastard,” Susan screamed at him. “I loved you, I loved Anna. Why can’t you just move on?!”
“I can’t move on when my little girl is dead and my wife left me without so much as a goodbye.” John said bitterly as he shoved Susan off him and straddled himself on top of her. He drove his fist into her jaw and a sick look spread across his face as she grunted in pain. “Everyone,” he slapped Susan’s face “in my life –”
Susan glared at John before she drove the blunt end of the axe into John’s side. His eyes seemed to bulge out of his head as he rolled over to one side.
“When I left,” Susan began in a low, methodical tone. “I said that no man would ever hit me again.”
She smiled a sick, twisted little smile as she drove the blade of the axe into John’s stomach. She laughed maniacally at the squelching noise of the blood gushing out of his gut and splattered her clothes with gore. John lay there twitching for the last few minutes of his life when the police arrived. Susan stared down at the carnage beneath her with horror as the axe fell out of her hands. She staggered back and tripped over John’s still feel before she screamed again. What had she done? Had she done this for her own sake or for Anna’s sake? Images of the John that she loved flashed before her eyes before she curled in on herself and began to rock back and forth.
“I killed him.” she muttered to herself.
“Get an ambulance over here, now!” someone shouted as Susan felt a hand on her shoulder. She flinched away from the touch before looking up at the person fearfully. “You’re all right now ma’am.”
Susan knew that she’d never be the same again.