Lori has been writing fiction since she first caught the writing bug at age nine.
From Part 16 & 18
Anna Wronski is staying with the Neville's and is thriving. She is enjoying cooking and the Neville's are able to get her to open up a bit about her past. She is back to searching for Gita at the school.
Mrs. Hargrove has been declining and it's apparent to her son Raymond and her doctor that she is having some serious behavioral issues that are quite concerning. Raymond is waiting for tests results. In the meantime, he needs to take time off to make some sort of arrangements for his mother because she's too far gone to take care of the store.
Anna was walking along toward the school, thinking about inconsequential things. She was eager as always to search for Gita, but the spring in her step became a simple walk, then it became arduous. A very subtle, unexplainable melancholy and anxiety had seeped into her spirit the last few days. It seemed to wax and wane.
Upon entering school grounds Anna suddenly felt an impending sense of doom. Her heart raced and palpitated until she thought it would thump right out of her chest. Her mouth went dry, she trembled and was short of breath. She knew she was dying. "I will die before finding my Gita," she said aloud. The children were in class so she took the time to sit on her usual outdoor bench and wait to either die or for the symptoms to subside.
Shortly, Mr. Neville's intercom buzzed. His faithful secretary informed him that Anna Wronski was at her bench looking very unwell.
"I'll see to her," Mr. Neville said. "Thanks for letting me know." He got up, greatly concerned, went outside and found her. She was a bit pale and her eyes looked distressed. "Anna, are you all right? Are you ill?"
"I am frightened."
"Frightened of what, dear?"
"My heart. I am dying without my Gita."
"Let's get you inside and have the nurse take a look at you." He took Anna by the hand and they slowly made their way to the nurses office.
"Her heart rate is up a bit faster than normal," the nurse said, "and her blood pressure is borderline high. Mrs. Wronski, do you feel any pain or pressure in your chest or you left arm?"
The nurse suggested Anna see a doctor just to be on the safe side. Mr. Neville took Anna to his car and drove her to see Dr. Reynolds. By the time they got there Anna had calmed and said she felt fine now.
"I'll just check you out anyway, Mrs. Wronski. With your recent health issues I think it's important." Before the doctor began he questioned her at length about what happened, her physical symptoms. He asked Mr. Neville what the school nurse had said, but at the moment her vitals had calmed to normal. Then he asked about her mood.
"I am so afraid. I don't understand."
"Mrs. Wronski, I find nothing physically wrong but we can do an EKG to check your heart as a precaution. I'll just send for the nurse to set it all up."
The test turned up nothing. For all the doctor could see, Anna was healthy, but he was concerned about her psychological symptoms.
"Anna, I'm going to recommend you see Dr. Ptak. He can talk to you and hopefully get you feeling better. The nurse can make the appointment for you if you'd like."
"That would be fine, Dr. Reynold's," Mr. Neville said. "Anytime is fine, and the sooner the better. Bea can take her in if I can't."
Dr. Reynolds left the room and returned a few minutes later. "Dr. Ptak can see you tomorrow afternoon and 1:00. Does that work?"
Anna nodded her head. Mr. Neville called Bea and asked her to come and get her. Once safe and sound in the Neville home, Anna retreated to her room and fell asleep.
Mrs. Hargrove gets more tests
Mrs. Hargrove sat in front of the television watching As the World Turns, while Raymond spoke with Dr. Hannity on the phone.
"Raymond, I found nothing concerning in your mother's blood and urine tests. But her memory and behavioral issues are, so I'm going to suggest you take her for further testing by a geriatric psychiatrist. I recommend Dr. Ptak. He's a colleague and a friend, highIy respected in this field. I think some imaging is warranted as well, being that she fell twice on her head. You can do that today. Your mother could be experiencing age related dementia, or it could be damage to the brain from the falls, or it could could be a stroke, or perhaps a combination. In the history you and she gave it's apparent that she was experiencing some behavioral issues before the falls, but I suspect the falls made it worse. My nurse will set up the imaging for today, and schedule an appointment with Dr. Ptak. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to call."
Just as Raymond thanked the doctor, he heard his mother becoming agitated and giving Lisa Hughes what for for making her former husband Tom's life miserable. The very sound of it clenched his stomach with dread. He just didn't know how to handle her. At this point, the only thing he could think of was distracting her. But what was occurring more and more is that whatever the distraction was she would become agitated with that situation as well. Raymond was running out of tools. He needed help as much as his mother. That night when he finally got her bedded down he slumped to the floor and prayed for the first time in his life. It was a short and to the point prayer.
"Lord," he prayed, "Ma needs help and so do I. This is bigger than me and I'm scared for her. Please help us."
Anna's Flashback Nightmare
Dreaming Poland, 1939
Jakub Mazur, Borys Kowalski and Rufin surrounded Anna Wronski in Borys' study. She knew they were aware that she had talked to the journalist, Sebastian Koslow, about their having killed Oskar Klebek. She had no doubt they also killed Koslow. 'They might even know I've talked to detectives,' she thought. "Where is Ula?" she asked.
"Mrs. Kowalski will not be in on this meeting," said Jakub Mazur. "Mrs. Wronski, you have two choices. Stay here in Warsaw and watch as we eliminate your daughter, or you can get on a ship and sail to America where you will enjoy a new life." He exchanged a smirk with Borys. "Actually Mrs. Wronski, there is no choice. You are going, period."
Her hackles went up and she dared talk back to Mazur and Borys. "How dare you threaten to kill my Gita. You'll have to go through me. I am a strong woman and you don't realize who you're messing with. After you killed that journalist, Mr. Koslow, I went to the police. They are onto you."
"Anna, you're the one who doesn't know who you're dealing with. Please, for Gita's sake, go," said Rufin.
"I cannot and will not abandon my little pearl. You can't kill Gita. The authorities would know it was you immediately. In case you didn't get it, I've warned them harm may come to me and my family because I have informed them about you three. You can't do it and you know it."
"Wronski, control your wife or she will meet her end here and now, following, your little girl." The judge paused, "and you too, Rufin."
"Don't be stupid, Anna," Rufin pleaded. "I know this man, he will do what he says he'll do."
"Yes, Anna, stupid Anna," Borys said.
"You would kill your own goddaughter? You wicked man. Rufin, why are you a part of this? She's your own daughter. I am your wife," Anna said. "Or is this more about you? You're a despicable coward."
"I'm trying to protect Gita, Anna. This is not my idea. You must do what they say. They mean business. If you hadn't have been blabbing your mouth off to Koslow and the authorities, we wouldn't be in this mess."
"Mrs. Wronski, I am not a man of compassion, compromise, or mercy," Mazur said. "My preference would be to take you, your husband, and precious daughter all out. But it serves my purposes to take more caution. I'm offering you the easier way." He looked at Borys. "Make the call."
Borys dialed. "She gets out at 3:00. She comes out the side exit." He hung up the phone. "It's 2:40. Our man will have her shortly."
Anna screamed, "Nooo. Please. Don't. I'll do whatever you say."
"Wronski, get Barron in here."
Rufin opened the door and waved Robert Barron in.
Borys grabbed Anna by the arm so tight she could barely stand. "Take her Barron. Don't mess this up."
"I've got it, Mr. Kowalski." Barron then took her from Borys and pushed her towards the door. "
"I'm going, "Anna said to Jakub and Borys. "Don't hurt my Gita. Rufin, don't let them hurt Gita. Take care of her. Make sure she knows I love her, that I was..."
"Yes," the judge said. "She will be safe. And she and the rest of Warsaw will know that you chose to run off with Mr. Barron. Scandalous."
Anna, now in hysterics, fought to get out of Barron's grasp. She felt a prick on her arm and everything went black.
"Anna." Bea Neville shook Anna gently. "Anna, dear, wake up. You're having a bad dream."
Anna was wailing, and drenched in sweat. She finally responded to Bea's attempt to awaken her, but she was disoriented and still weeping. "Gita!" she cried. "Don't hurt her. Gita, my pearl." She was rocking back and forth, holding her face in her hands, crying for someone not to hurt Gita.
Bea put her arm around Anna's shoulders firmly and smoothed back the hair from her face. "Anna, darling, it's okay. It was just a bad dream. Come now, it's all right." She held Anna close, whispering soothing words into her ears. Finally Anna looked around.
"Where are they? Where's my Gita? I'll do whatever they want. Where is my Gita? I must find her and hide her."
"Anna, it's me, Bea, and you are safe. No one is here. Gita is safe." As minutes ticked by Anna finally got her bearings. Bea had Anna's head resting on her chest and they rocked quietly. Bea held her for another half hour. She didn't question her, didn't want to trigger her. Finally she lifted Anna's face and looked into her eyes. "Anna, let's go have some tea." Anna nodded, her face streaked with drying tears. Bea thought she'd never seen such a desperate despair in someones eyes like she saw in Anna's.
The ladies were sitting quietly at the kitchen table, sipping chamomile tea, when Elvin Neville walked through the front door. "Bea," he called.
Bea got up quietly and rushed to her husband. "Shh, Elvin. Follow me into the bedroom." There she told him what happened with Anna, describing it vividly.
"What shall we do?" he asked.
"I don't know. Isn't she supposed to see Dr. Ptak, the psychiatrist tomorrow?"
"That's right. Okay. Bea, call ahead and tell the doctor what happened in case Anna can't open up. You should be the one to take her. She's closer to you and you're a woman."
"Okay, I'll call first thing in the morning."
Anna didn't cook that night and did not eat or talk. She got up during dinner and went to bed. The Neville's heard her crying softly.
"I need to go to her, Elvin."
"Of course," he said. "Ill clean up."
Bea sat with Anna for a long time, stroking her hair and speaking calm words of love, telling her she was safe. Anna, however, wouldn't go to sleep. She was obviously exhausted, her lids heavy, but Bea could see Anna was afraid to go to sleep, fighting to stay awake. Bea began to sing to her softly. It was just like what she used to do with their daughter when she was small. Anna finally succumbed to sleep. Bea left the room with the door ajar.
"Elvin, I'm going to sleep in the room with her in the other guest bed. She shouldn't be alone should the nightmares come back" Elvin took her in his arms and kissed her head.
"Bea, honey, you are a good and compassionate soul. It makes me love you all the more. Goodnight, hon. Sleep tight." They shared a brief kiss and both went their own way to bed.
The New Normal
The preliminary imaging results for Mrs. Hargrove were concerning but they would know more in a day or two after the radiologist went over them completely. Today she was scheduled to see Dr. Ptak, the psychiatrist, at noon. As was becoming the new normal, Raymond had a hard time getting his mother ready. He'd gotten wise by now, though, and started readying her two hours before the appointment. She looked disheveled, her hair a bit wild, but nothing he did could convince her to tidy up. He wanted his mother to have some dignity in public but she was just too combative. He finally got her in the car. They had only ten minutes to get there.
Mrs. Hargrove was ushered into Dr. Ptak's office. His charm and patience won her over, at least for the moment. Raymond decided to stay in the waiting room. It might make his mother more ornery if he was there. Every once in awhile he could hear Ma laughing or talking animatedly, sometimes he could hear her ornery voice. He was glad he couldn't understand what she was saying.
Awhile later Raymond looked at his watch. It was 12:50. He braced himself to take his mother home in just a few minutes. Just then the waiting room door opened and in walked Beatrice Neville and Anna Wronski. Raymond nearly stopped breathing. He beat them to the desk and asked the receptionist if there was another exit he could take his mother through.
"There is another door, Mr. Hargrove, but it's for staff only."
"Listen," he said as softly as he could, "we have a situation here. My mother...oh, this is awkward and complicated." He turned to Bea Neville, introduced himself, then took her aside and explained the situation.
"Oh, dear," said Bea. "All right. I'll just take Mrs. Wronski to the restroom for a few minutes until you can get your mother on the way."
Before Bea and Anna could even get to the door Dr. Ptak's door opened and there was Ma. and Dr. Ptak saying goodbye. Raymond and Bea Neville looked like two deer in the headlights.