An Imperial Affliction

This if for Project Remix. I withdrew the same story, which exceeded the world limit. I hope its not too late for this to be my version! I worked really hard, and cut down some of the words!

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1. An Imperial Affliction- Project Remix- A complete story

An Imperial Affliction

 

I walk out of the hospital, floating in a parallel universe. I am a normal human-being. I am cancer free. “Well, only for a year, tulip.” my mum helpfully reminds me. I am surprised at her for even briefly emitting a sentence from her mouth about my blood cancer. Usually, when I want to ask her about my cancer, or fall back onto her for support, she gets all uneasy and flustered, flapping her hands around so much I think she may take off like a bird. I’d prefer that not to happen. Maybe her having one eye can be blamed for her uneasiness. She had it surgically removed before I was born, and she never mentions it. “Anna, flower, did you hear me?” questioned my mum, her perfectly shaped eyebrows raised.

“Sorry mum, what did you say?”

“Well petal, I was just thinking...” I knew what was coming next. “...do you think we should buy some tulips to celebrate your...” (Flappy hands) “Remiss-remission?”

My mother was visibly proud of herself for completing that oh-so-difficult sentence.

“Yes, what a brilliant idea.”

          My mum has this crazy obsession with tulips...red ones, white ones, my mum wasn’t fussy. She finds any excuse for a tulip-spree,  

Her passion for tulips could go on for hours. But on top of this, my mum owns a flower shop. How florally obsessed can you be?  

 

 At the age of 10, I was diagnosed with a rare type of blood cancer. For 6 years now, I have been a guinea-pig, being experimented on, turned around under some sort of medical light. Since the age of ten, my health has been whisked away from my reach.  And now remission. God has finally noticed me and said “Yes, Anna Van Houten deserves to be saved.” During my times when I had hit rock-bottom, my mum had patted my hand. “It’s alright petal.” She’d say. I thought my mum didn’t understand, I thought she was oblivious to the fact Big Black Death was stalking me, everywhere I went. But now I finally understand. She was trying to keep a brave face. That was it, I had jackpot-

          “Flower, darling, you bumped into that man!” My mother exclaimed, attempting flight again.

I jumped backwards, just about ducking a flying basket. I hastily stood up and attempted to regain my dignity.

“I am so sorry!” I gasped, looking around me. Were my eyes deceiving me? Tulips, an array of colours were strewn about the pavement.

“My basket! My tulips!” wailed a distressed men, while I slowly identified his Dutch accent. “OH! I am so, so sorry” murmured my mum, who had thrown herself on her knees and was collecting as many tulips as possible. The man was behind her and she was finding it difficult to trace him with one eye.  

 

          “Ma’am? Are you okay? I am from the heart’s bottom sorry!”

My mother spun round, smiling at his foreign sentence structure. “No it’s me and my daughter” (she glares at me) “who should be sorry!”   

“It’s okay, although you may keep the tulips now they are not in the best of condition! I only sell the best to my customers you see!” The man shrugs.

My mother’s eyes fill with happy tears, “You run a tulip business? I love tulips!”

“Maybe we should speak about our shared passion over a meal tonight…”, and throwing some tulips into her arms, he adds, “I’ll pick you up at seven, and we can taste the stars, yes?” smiles the man, as he casually walks off.

 

1 year later….

 

          “Oh Sisyphus, today my mother has got engaged to a con-man! My mother and you are the only family I have and I couldn’t bear for her to get hurt. He is being very hasty! Their wedding is in two months! Two months and I’ve barely spoken to him! The thing is, Sisyphus, he has never spoken about his family or friends.  What is he hiding?  My hamster chewed thoughtfully on a bit of hay. I love Sisyphus. I spilled my heart out to him often, as if he was a diary.

 I think he must like having a purpose in his little life, and not just sitting around all day eating food. He’s been there for me when I had cancer, too, which means he has always had a lot to think about.

“ OH MY GOD SISYPHUS! WHAT IF MY MUM GETS JILTED AT THE ALTER?”

My heart was beating fast, I had to stop him,  I couldn’t let my mum be exposed to an ominous man, full of dark, hidden secrets. There was a knock at my door. It was him. “Anna, I promise I won’t steal your mother forever. I will return her, safely and sounded.” He couldn’t even speak my language, and his accent was dodgy. “Also, young Anna, my friend had cancer and I know what you are going through. This, er, remission thing.”

 I snorted, “You said you have no friends, don’t-“

“If you’d let me explain I will-“

“No!! Just stop lying!”

He sighed a deep, emotional sigh and walked out of my room. I glanced behind me and I swear I saw his eyes, shimmering with tears.

 

The night before the wedding…

      “Sisyphus, it is the night before the wedding. My mum is being married off to a filthy scammer. I still don’t know his surname!- he is trapped in a web of lies. Can you explain this mess to me? Do you want evidence as to why I am on this rant?

He tells me one thing, then denies it at a later date.

 

He is never on time to his dates, but he always has an excuse.On one occasion, she was crying and I’d rocked her to sleep-he was 3 hours late

I cannot believe someone who is scratched raw by vulnerability is taken advantage of so much.

 

Rage over, thank-you for listening, my ever faithful chomping chum.

 

 Adrenalized anger was surging through my veins. I could feel cancer in my bones before, and now I can feel my mum’s wedding day going wrong. My bones have been accurate about life so far.

I had to speak to her, I had to warn her.

 

I stalked into the kitchen.

“Mum, you can’t marry him.  I won’t allow it. We don’t know anything about him. I don’t even know his surname. He’s unreliable. I would never trust him.”

“ANNA VAN HOUTEN!” my mum shouted. She then angrily hissed, “You have no idea! No understanding. If you could read his mind, you’d be in tears! He tries his hardest to help us, and I think he is amazing! Okay?”  I have never seen my mother so full of rage.

I shook my head in disbelief.

“Whatever mum, I have my reasons too.”

I turned away, straight into him.

His eyes were full of tears.

“Anna…” he said, hoarsely, “look.”

From his coat, he produced a towel, wrapped around something. As he unfolded the towel, the colour drained from my face.

“Sisyphus!” I cried.

He was dead. The Spectre of Death had caught up with my family, again.

“He was fine five minutes ago! I don’t under- YOU KILLED HIM! YOU EVIL PIECE OF WORK!

I screamed.

“No, I didn’t.” he denied.

“Honey…” my mother began.

I ran upstairs, and sobs racked my body.

How else would he know Sisyphus was dead? Why was he snooping around up here, if he didn’t kill him? I hated him. I would never look at his face again.

Five hours later, I was still lying on my bed. There was a knock at the door. It was…him.

“This may explain it. Not the hamster. I didn’t touch him, I swear. But, you know, this mess.”

He held out a big envelope for me.

I DON’T WANT IT! I DON’T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOU!” I screamed.

“GO AWAY!”

He dropped the envelope on the floor, and left.

 

 

The Wedding Day…

 

     

My mum popped her head into my bedroom and bluntly stated, “I’m going round to my friend’s house, for my makeup and hair” evidently portraying anger from the night before.

As she closed the door his envelope opened, due to the draught. A picture of a baby and a man drifted out.

 I had felt this feeling before, a long time ago… I racked my brain for the memory. It took a while for even my brain to work. The memory was coming back… when I was diagnosed with blood cancer. I felt sick. If this meant I was going to die soon, I had better crawl to the church and stop the wedding now.

That’s when I realised the baby picture was me. I slowly hauled myself up, and peered at the picture. It couldn’t be me, because the man cuddling the baby was Peter… him. But that child had my toy! The one which still sat on my bed. I froze. I picked up the envelope, and collapsed onto my bed. The next thing I pulled out was a birth certificate. My birth certificate. It was signed by both the mum and dad. That was definitely my mother’s signature, and the dad signed as PVanHouten. My surname, which my mother kept after my disappearing dad. My mum’s surname was her maiden. There was a note attached,

Anna,

I am your dad. Peter Van Houten. This is written to date. 23/2/15.

Then there was an identical signature to the one on the birth certificate.

I giddily stood up, feeling sick. I needed answers NOW.

I half crawled to the church. I pushed open the doors, keeling over,

“STOP!” I screamed.

My mum ran over to me.

“What are you doing?” She asked, trying to take my arms.

“DON’T TOUCH ME! How can you keep so many secrets from me? I’ve tortured my body with chemo to keep my life going, and I don’t even know half of it!”

I turned and tried to run out, and my… dad…..chased after me.

But just as I reached the curb of the road, my knees buckled, and cancer pinned me down. However, he couldn’t stop himself, and he ran straight into the road, just as I heard the squeal of brakes and heard a massive thump. He was now on the floor too. Everyone was screaming, and I couldn’t breathe. Suddenly, a blackness engulfed me……

A few weeks later…

 

I hear the steady beep of machines- I was alive.

          Just as my vision focused, I saw him standing over me.

“You have two minutes to explain yourself.” I mumbled, grimly.

“Anna, I am so-“

“1 minute, 58 seconds…”

“Okay. I am your dad, but I ran away when you were little, because your mother had eye cancer, and as a medical scientist, I tried to cure her, but my medicine triggered her eye to completely dissolve. Through guilt, and selfishness, I left. I hurt your mother so badly that she couldn’t even speak of me. She re-contacted me to help you Anna. She began to understand how I have tried, and the depth of love I hold for you. She wanted me in your life again, but I realised early on you were very protective, and I’d have to earn your trust. I nearly have a cure for you, truly. But all I want from you is your trust. What can I do to make you trust me?”

I managed a weak smile. “keep telling the truth and my trust will follow”.

“Thank you.” My dad tearfully murmured.

 

 

 

Somewhere, in this world, is another version to this story. It has no ending, because I didn’t want to make it perfect. You need to know this world will scratch you until you are bleeding, but you also need to know that you might heal. So there is one not so perfect version, and one perfect version. Because, once in a while, miracles will happen, and they do exist.

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