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Anne & Big Bertha

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Chapter 6


As they walked in the front door Aunt Anne was waiting for them. She had a worried look on her face. ‘What’s up, Aunt?’ Anne asked.

‘I got a call from your Aunt, Ann. She is worried about you. She went to visit you and you weren’t home. I told her you were with Anne. She told me to tell you to call her as soon as you returned back here.’

‘She rarely visits me and when she does all she does it tell me what to do with my life and the day I am not there she decides to visit. I will call her but I need your support Anne. I need to remind her that I have a life and she should call to see if I am going to be home when she wants to visit me.’

‘You do have a  mobile phone, Ann?’

‘Yes and she has my number but she never calls me.’ Ann pulled out her phone and called her Aunt. Aunt Ann didn’t even say hello. All she said was you need to return to Crow Nest now. Get away from Anne Lister. She is a rough person and a bad influence on you.’

‘I am old enough to decide who is and isn’t a bad influence on me. You need to remember that I am not a kid any more and I won’t have you telling what I can and cannot do with my life. I wish you would remember to call me if you want to see me. Okay!!’ Then Ann hung up and breathed. She didn’t know she had the courage to do that. Of course, she knew her aunt would call back. She did only this time Ann didn’t answer. So, her Aunt left a message. ‘I am going to send your cousin William to Shibden to bring you home.’

‘What are we going to do now? Ann asked Anne and Aunt Anne.

‘Face him. He has no right to force you to do anything you don’t want to do.’ Aunt Anne said.

‘Thank you, Aunt. I have no idea when he will be here. If, he comes.’

‘What do you mean? If, he comes.’

‘Sometimes, he ignores Aunt Ann’s requests.’

Only this time he didn’t. He showed up at shibden the next day. Ann and Anne were taking a walk around the estate. Aunt and Marian were getting ready to go into Halifax. Aunt wanted to buy some more yarn and Marian had promised Ann she would get her some more water colours If Ann did her a painting of Shibden. Marian was in the barn warming up the car and Aunt was at the front door waiting when William and Eliza drove up in their car.

Eliza was the first to alight from the car. She strode over to Aunt Anne and demanded to know where Ann was. Aunt wasn’t going to tell her anything. ‘I have no idea where they are. I do remember they said they had to go into Halifax. Ann wanted to go to the drapers. She wanted to get some curtains for their bedroom. The ones there are a bit worn.’

‘When will they be back?’ Eliza said. William was standing next to her now.

‘I don’t know and it really isn’t any of your business where my nieces are. So, be kind and leave.’ At the moment Anne and Ann had walked around the barn and saw Eliza and William standing so close to their Aunt. They scurried into the barn where Marian was and climbed into the back seat. They laid down on the floor so Eliza and William wouldn’t see them. ‘You know you’re going to need to deal with them soon. Running away like this won’t change that.’ Marian said as she backed the car out of the barn. ‘Yeah, I know we will.’ Ann said. ‘Not today. We have a plan and hope it works. We will tell you when Aunt Anne gets in the car and you drive off.’

When Marian pulled the car up next to where Aunt Anne, Eliza and William were standing Ann could hear what they were saying and it wasn’t nice.’You call her your niece but she isn’t family. She is our responsibility and we need to ensure she doesn’t make silly mistakes like the one she had supposedly done.’

‘What’s that?’ Aunt asked with a stern look on her face. She already knew what Eliza was going to say. ‘Marrying your niece. The rebel who leaves carnage in her wake.’

‘You don’t even know Anne and you never will know the real Anne Lister. Will you? Because you don’t want to know her. All you’re interested in is the local gossip mill. Whatever they say about Anne you believe.’ Ann and Anne stayed on the floor. Anne had to hold Ann down because she wanted to smack Eliza for making false accusations about her Anne. ‘I need to go now. Marian is waiting for me and we are meeting Anne and Ann in town for lunch.’ Aunt said as she climbed into the car. She closed the door and they were off. As soon as they were out of sight of Eliza and William Anne and Ann sat up. ‘Do you think they will leave?’ Ann asked Aunt.

‘I don’t know they seem determined to take you back to Crow Nest.’ Anne wondered if their plan would work. She didn’t know how they would get around this problem that seemed to her fault but wasn’t. ‘Drop us off at the jeweller shop. We are going to buy a wedding band for Ann to wear. No, we aren’t married yet but it is the only way we can convince them we are really married.’ Anne said. Ann had other ideas. She was going to buy Anne a wedding ring which would seal the deal. Wouldn’t it. She thought just a plain wide band would suit her future wife. If, they ever did get married. She wasn’t sure if saying I will was something Anne would want to do after all the heartache she had been through. ‘Ann, we’re here. Come on, let’s go.’ Anne said. It brought Ann out of her deep dark thoughts. Anne was buying her a wedding ring even though they weren’t technically married and had only know each other for a short time.

They promised Aunt and Marian they would be at the cafe in an hour. They watched them drive off. Marian parked outside the arts and crafts store. Aunt waited in the car for her. She had asked Marian to buy her some yarn. Marian bought the water colours and more brushes for Ann. As she strode out the door she saw Eliza and William. ‘What do I owe the pleasure?’ Marian said.

‘WE are still looking for Ann. Do you know where she is?’ William asked.

‘No, and if I did you’re the last two people I would tell.’

‘She is in grave danger being with your sister. She will break Ann’s heart. Ann is a very sensitive girl.’ William said.

‘Ann is far from being a girl and as for being sensitive. I think we all are. If you think Anne would break her heart you are sadly talking about the wrong person. If, you take Ann back to Crow Nest you will be responsible for breaking her heart. Now, leave us alone for goodness sake.’ Ann and Anne had been standing close by listen to the conversation. Ann decided now was the best time to get involved. ‘Marian, where’s Aunt?’ Ann said loud enough for the whole street to hear. ‘Ann, you’re coming with us now or…’ Eliza said.

‘Or what? You will grab my hands and force me to go with you. I don’t think my wife would like that.’. They both held out their left hands and showed them their wedding rings. ‘I am 29 almost 30 and you treat me like a five year old. No wonder I have issues. You can’t keep your nose out of my life. I wish you would.’ Ann suddenly felt brave when Anne locked their fingers together. Was it possible that her bikie had give her strength to finally stand up to her family.

‘You cannot know what love is, Ann. You cannot possibly know this woman in such a short time.’ Eliza said as she reached out to grab Ann’s free hand. Thankfully Anne could see what Eliza was trying to do and took Ann’s hand in her hand. ‘I know more about Anne Lister than you know about me and you have know me all my life. Isn’t it amazing that the only time I see you is when you find it necessary to tell me what to do with my life, like now.’ Ann said.’Imagine if I did to you what you are trying to do to me. Just leave before I say some unpleasant things about you, Eliza. But I think we have already been there. Haven’t we?’ Eliza and William left again. They were probably going to get reinforcements. Anne and Ann didn’t want to think about what they would need to do next so Ann could relax. If that was ever possible. They returned to the car and showed Aunt Anne their wedding rings. She like them but she wondered if it was bad luck to wear wedding rings when they weren’t married. ‘Don’t stress, Aunt. They are called promise rings. We will buy each other a proper wedding ring when we eventually get married.’ Anne said. We are getting married. WOW!! Ann thought. Hey, Miss Walker you have got to stop thinking out loud. ‘Oh shit. Sorry. I am so excited to be marrying you. What are we going to do now about my tribe?’

‘I don’t know.’ Anne said. ‘Are you hungry? I’m hungry. Let’s go eat. I think the cafe is in the next street.’ Marian drove them around to the cafe and parked the car where no one would see it. Anne and Ann helped Aunt Anne inside. She wasn’t feel up to walking any distance. Her legs had been aching all morning. They wondered if it was stress from dealing with the Priestleys again. ‘I know you don’t want to jump into anything fast, Ann. But might it not be a good idea if we just left Halifax behind us for a while and went away somewhere together. I know you want to marry me but not right now. We could go to Scotland to visit your sister or go to France. We can take Bertha and get the ferry over. What do you think?’ They all looked at Anne. She was trying to come up with a solution to their problem. ‘Anne, running away doesn’t mean the problem will go away. It’s only going to be here when you return. Isn’t it? Then what will you and Ann do? Run away again? I hope not.’ Aunt said concerned that this next encounter would make life harder for both of her nieces. ‘Aunt, we need to do something. I thought this was our best option for now. I don’t want Ann to have to deal with them for now. You can see she isn’t her best when they are near her.’ Anne said. She often wondered what life would be like with someone who wanted to be with her for always. Now, it was happening and there was baggage to deal with.’I think Aunt is right. We can’t just pack up and leave as much as I would love to do that, Anne. We must deal with this problem now. Only how will we do that?’ They had tried everything to keep Eliza from separating them and no avail. Eliza was still doing her best to get Ann back to Crow Nest. Then Anne had a brilliant idea. ‘Why don’t I move into Crow Nest with you? Surely they can’t stop you from inviting me to live with you, Ann.’

‘We could try but I doubt if it would work. I am sure they would have you thrown off the property before you got a chance to move in.’

‘Don’t you and Elizabeth own Crow Nest? At least I thought you told me you did..’  Anne said.

‘Yes, but that doesn’t mean anything to William and Eliza. They think they own me because my parents died when I was young and they are my guardians. At least I think they are.’

‘I think you should call your sister to find out.’ Marian said. So, Ann retrieved her phone from her pocket just as the server came over to see if they were ready to order. ‘Can you give us about ten minutes then we will order.’ Aunt said.

‘Okay!’ And he walked off. Ann called Elizabeth who answered on the first ring.’Hi, I have been expecting to hear from you because William called and said you were married to Anne Lister. Is that true?’

‘i will tell you about that in a moment. Just a quick question. Are the Priestleys my guardians. Liz?’

‘No, I am until you get married. Are you really married to Anne Lister?’

‘No! We said that so William and Eliza would leave us alone but we do intend to get married just not right now.’

‘Okay!!  You do know what she is like. Don’t you?’

‘I sure do. She is kind, generous, good to me. What more do I need to know. I lover her.’ She had finally said the words she had wanted to say since her first bike ride with Anne. ‘Oh kay!! I hear different but you are with her. I do hope you told her about your anxiety and depression.’

‘I had to because I forget to take my pills and we went for a ride on Bertha. She went to get something to eat and left me with my thoughts. When she returned I told her and she held me and comforted me. I don’t think I have ever felt so relaxed with anyone in my life.’

‘Good. Now, come visit one day soon. I will deal with our cousins. You just remember if they ever give you anymore shit call me. It’s still my job to look after you too.. Hey, you are my kid sister. Aren’t you?’ Ann couldn’t speak. She had tears streaming down her face when Elizabeth said that. They said their goodbyes and Ann disconnected the call. She relayed to everyone what Elizabeth had told her and she told them Elizabeth was going to call the Priestleys. What Elizabeth didn’t say was that she was also going to call Aunt Ann and remind her that she was Ann’s legal guardian and to tell Eliza and William to leave Ann alone.

‘I wonder how long that will last.’ Marian said. ‘We need to come up with a back up plan.’

‘What, Marian?’ Anne said grumpily. She was getting fed up with feeling less just because she was different to everyone else. ‘We have tried everything we can think of.’

‘Why not just get married?’ Marian said.

‘We have only known each other for a few days. Wouldn’t it be foolish to do that. I have read that we got married on the second day in another tale. Why copy them?’

‘You read too much fanfic, Anne. Focus on us now please.’ Ann said. ‘that wasn’t us. That was another Anne and Ann. Wasn’t  it?’

‘I suppose so.’

‘Do you really want to marry me, Anne?’ Anne had to think about that for a long moment. She seemed to have Ann worried. The server returned. Their ten minutes was up. They ordered sandwiches to go because they need to go home and talk about their next move without half the town of Halifax hearing about it and reporting it to Eliza and William and the rest of Ann’s tribe.