A thud from the back bedroom startled Ana for a second, but it didn’t take her long to realize what was happening and run to check on Jelena. Jelena had been staying with her since she was released from the hospital a few months back, after a devastating accident had nearly taken her life. As it was Jelena was dealing with injuries that changed her life and slowed her down, and she had never been one who did slow well. Ana wondered at times how much one family could take, her sisters, her Mother, her Aunt, her cousins, all living through nightmares. Ana herself had survived a poisoning Aunt Sophia had survived a brain injury, but was doing well now, Jelena had not wanted to stay with her Mother though. At least with Ana she could have some sense of freedom but Ana worried about her too, she would always be her little cousin, the one who had cried for days after their grandfather had shot their Mother in head, and had thrown tantrums when her Mom had come home not quiet herself yet.
“Jelena you need to slow down, things will come in time, but you are still healing.”
“Ana I never thought that little things like walking a few feet would suddenly become impossible.”
“I know Jelena, and I wish I could say something to change it, but I can’t. All I can do is be here for you Cuz.”
“Ana you are, and I am sorry to put this all on you, but Mother would coddle me. I love Mom but I need my space too.”
“I know Jelena and your Mother understands as well, you need any amount of freedom you can have.”
“I guess you would understand.”
“Yes Jelena, I understand the need to be able to have freedom, after what Grandfather did to me, my family just wanted to protected me, but sometimes I thought they went overboard. I understand now that that wasn’t the case, but when you are fourteen and think your being treated like a toddler, things don’t seem as clear.”
Ana reached over and handed Jelena her crutches. She really didn’t have to say anything. Jelena knew she had to be careful, if she fell the wrong way, she could hurt herself farther. Ana could not baby Jelena though, they were both adults. She prayed for her cousin of course, and wished she would be more careful, but she also understood Jelena’s need to feel as if she could do things still. She needed to know that she wasn’t just a burden on people and Ana could never think of her as that.
Jelena moving in was actually a blessing, because sometimes Ana found herself alone and afraid. The ghosts of her past haunted her often, and even though her Grandfather was in prison, she knew that didn’t necessarily mean anything. Her grandfather would have no problem getting someone on the outside to go after them and kill them. It had always been Ana though that he had taken the strongest dislike to, probably because when he saw Ana he saw Sasha. The daughter he had believed was dead, but Sasha was alive, though they would never tell him that, they never talked to either their Grandmother or Grandfather, at least not on their Mom’s side, because they were both evil and they were both in prison where they belonged.
Ana was painfully aware of the flaws of the Justice system. Her Mother and Father had been cops and her sister was a cop sadly sometimes the bad guys did get free. Ana tried to relax assuring herself that everything would be okay, but it didn’t always feel that way. Sometimes Ana still felt like a little girl scared of the monsters in the shadows, but this monster was worse than those of childhood nightmares, this monster was her grandfather and her grandmother. They were very much real, unlike the one’s in the childhood nightmares.
Having someone there with her brought Ana a measure of comfort, and it kept her busy. Ana didn’t do well with idleness, not that the popularity of her novels allowed her much time to be idle far from it, instead it had threw her into the spotlight, which was all wonderful but sometimes Ana felt like more of a target in the spotlight. It felt as if someone had painted a bulls eye on her forehead, that was why she was so insistent on keeping her private life, private. She did not divulge where she lived or anything like that, and her fan mail was dealt with through her publisher, the only real contact she had with her fans was online. Her editor had set up a webpage to keep her fans informed on her books, and she liked keeping in touch with her fan this way. Sometimes though she would be freaked out by what someone said. She tried not to let it bother her, but the fact was sometimes it did.
Ana was a writer though, an author and in being such she had to develop a thick skin. You had to get used to dealing with harsh critics, editors and publishers who mutilated your words, but that was just part of the cost. Ana was grateful though she was living her dream and making a comfortable living doing so.
Ana’s large house equipped with security gates, and an armed guard was proof of that, but sometimes she felt like a prisoner in her own home. Before she had made so much money, doing what she loved she had felt a little more free, now she was in a house that was far too big for just her. Even with Jelena living with her Ana felt alone at times, she wanted children, a family, a husband but for some reason men were either scared of her, or thought she was crazy. The last man she had dated seemed borderline crazy himself, and she thanked God everyday she had never let him come to her house. Still he had called her cell phone thirty or forty times in the space of a day making Ana miserable. Being stalked by a man that tried to convince her he loved her wasn’t Ana’s idea of romance. Besides her parents were both cops and when a danger sign like this slapped her in the face Ana knew it was time to say goodbye. Maybe the fact that she wasn’t dating right now was more her own problem though, maybe it was because she was so busy, writing, living her life in her books. Maybe it was more than that.
“Ana thank you.”
“I was telling thank you for helping me.”
“Oh your welcome, sorry.”
“You were spacing again Cuz, thinking about your next book?”
“Actually I was thinking a little about Aunt Sasha?”
“It’s been awhile since we have heard from her, I hope she’s okay.”
“Me too Cuz, but she has to be careful so it’s kind of normal that we don’t hear from her for weeks.”
“Ana the last time we heard from her was before my accident, it’s been almost six months.”
Now that Jelena mentioned it that was longer than normal. Still Ana could not allow herself to get worked up about it. If she let her get worked up about it would do her no good, instead she found herself closing her eyes and whispering a prayer for Aunt Sasha’s safety to the Lord. She prayed that her grandfather had not found out and had the “problem taken care of”. Ana shuttered just thinking about it.
“I’m sorry Ana, I didn’t mean to upset you. I am sure she’s okay.”
“”Jelena no need to say sorry, you didn’t upset me. I just hadn’t realize it had been so long.”
“I guess it’s been a long six months.” Jelena said.
“Yes it has cousin, but more for you than us.”
“I am just glad to be out of the hospital.”
Jelena didn’t really like talking about the accident, or her injuries, but sometimes Ana would see a faraway sad look in her cousins eyes and she would know that Jelena was grieving. The accident had hurt her badly, and she would live with those scars for the rest of her life. The scars that were hidden were the hardest to deal with though.
Ana knew very little about the accident. Jelena had been jogging, something she had done every day when she was struck by a car, the driver was a young woman, who ran a red light, and didn’t see Jelena. At least that’s how the story went, Jelena had forgiven her, but it still hurt. The crutches were a reminder of what the accident had taken.
Lord be with Jelena, you know her pain. I know she Is trying to hide it and to be strong for the rest of us, but what she doesn’t know is sometimes the greatest strength is found in allowing yourself to be weak. Allowing yourself to admit that you really are hurting and you need the comfort of those around you, right now though Lord she is not reaching out to us, so I pray you reach out to her.
Jelena had always been strong willed even as a little girl, and Ana knew that was what had carried her through the many family tragedies in their lives, but to experience a weakness like this yourself, that was a different thing. Jelena had never been one to depend on others. She had been independent from the time she was a toddler and as she got older she had taken it upon herself to be the Mothering one to others. Especially to Mechela when she was younger, but things were different now.
Jelena needed Ana. As much as she didn’t like to admit she needed anyone. Jelena truly needed her cousin, and she was grateful for her. Ana could have said no she wasn’t going to allow Jelena to move in and take over her care, but that just wasn’t the way her family worked. She thanked God for that. Despite having wacked grandparents they were good people. Perhaps they even went a little too far because they wanted to prove they were not as same as the monsters.
Anyone who knew them, truly knew them, knew they were good people. Everyone in her family, except for her Mom’s parents were good people who did what they felt was right. Good Christians who believed in doing unto others as they would want done unto them.
Jelena was proud of her Mom and her Aunts, her cousins, because they had all done what was right. They had all endured so much. Aunt Marishka had proved to the world that a chair didn’t have to mean the end of anything. Thinking about all her Mom, Aunt Marishka and even Aunt Anna had accomplished gave Jelena hope. The accident did not have to mean the end to her. She did not have to lose any more than the accident had taken.
Jelena could walk with the aid of crutches but she could walk, and if she continued to work hard, then she would get stronger, she would be able to do more. Perhaps she would never be the way she was before, but change in life was inevitable, and it wasn’t always a bad thing.
I have to snap out of this, self-pity isn’t a good shade on me.
When Ana turned around to see the smile on Jelena’s face, she realized this was the first time she had seen Jelena genuinely smile since before the accident.
Something so small, but a smile, a genuine smile was a gift. Ana remember how difficult it had been to keep the pretense of being happy after she was hurt, after her Grandfather had nearly murdered her.
She had to stop thinking about that man, he had a way of eating at her from the inside out.