Confessions of a She-Geek

May 31, 2016

Anchor Point, part 1

Filed under: Anchor Point — Teresa @ 12:53 am
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I need a sign to let me know you’re here
‘Cause my TV set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me
And I’m calling all angels
I’m calling all you angels

 

When the doorbell rings at 5:15 AM, it’s not likely good news – which is why Libby hesitated, pausing in her attempts to coax her eyebrows into something approaching on fleek.

(Not that Libby had a very clear idea of what constituted fleekness, really, but Tonya assured her that the potential for achieving that level of idealized grooming was technically within Libby’s grasp. “C’mon, Libs, the raw material is there; you just gotta put in a little effort,” is how Tonya’d put it, gesturing vaguely to her own perfectly-shaped brows. “This doesn’t just happen.”)

Putting down her eyebrow pencil, Libby made her way to the front door, flipped on the porch light, then looked out her kitchen window at the girl huddled miserably on the front step. In deference to the late-April predawn, Libby’s visitor wore a knitted beanie on her head and had apparently donned a down-filled vest over what looked like thermal underwear (pajamas?). The ensemble was completed by unlaced winter boots – which, given the amount of slush that had yet to thaw, made sense.

As if sensing that she was being observed, the girl’s head swiveled and her woebegone gaze met Libby’s. The girl’s lips twitched briefly into what looked like an attempt at a smile as she shivered under the yellow glare of the porch light.

As harmless as the girl looked, something about the situation seemed… off. Libby opened the front door, keeping the storm door between herself and the girl. She had no idea why, but a little voice in the back of Libby’s head urged Libby to exercise caution.

“I’m sorry for bothering you so early, but I was wondering if I could borrow your phone?” The girl paused briefly, then blurted, “My phone’s broke, and when I woke up my boyfriend was gone, and I don’t know where he is, and I need to call someone.” She peered up at Libby hopefully.

Was this a scam of some kind? An attempt to gain entry into Libby’s house? The girl looked harmless enough, but then again, wasn’t that how con artists and criminals lured in their intended prey?

Surprised by her own cynicism, Libby  carried out a brief, silent argument with herself. This could just as easily be exactly what it looked like: the girl needed help, and Libby’s light was on, so the girl took a chance that Libby was awake. Surely it couldn’t hurt to offer some assistance.

Be careful, the little voice insisted. Protect yourself.

Libby grabbed her phone and returned to stand in her doorway, keeping the storm door closed. “I can make the call, if you give me the number.”

“Oh, thank you so much! I just gotta look up the number.” The girl reached into a vest pocket and pulled out a battered cell phone. Seeing Libby’s raised eyebrows, the girl turned the phone so Libby could see the shattered screen. “It doesn’t work for making calls anymore,” she said, poking at the screen until she’d found the information. “Okay, here’s the number.”

Libby punched in the digits and hit the call button, waiting as the phone rang several times. She looked at the girl. “No one’s answering…”

Just as the girl’s face began to crumple, a sleepy voice answered, “H’lo?”

“Yes, hello. My name’s Libby; I’m calling on behalf of…” she paused, looking at her visitor.

“Annie.” The girl said, then added, “Wilcox.”

“Annie Wilcox? She needs to talk to you.”

“O-kay?” The man on the other end sounded understandably puzzled.

Opening the storm door, Libby handed the phone to Annie, then shut the storm door again. Apparently her inner voice approved of this tactic.

Annie paced nervously as she muttered into the phone. The tears that were just barely held at bay spilled down her cheeks. “No. No; he’s gone! I don’t know where! I don’t know what else to do…. can you come over? Please? Just… come over? Right away?” Annie listened briefly, then shut her eyes as if in thanks as some tension left her face. “Oh, thank you. Thank you so much! Yes. Yes, I will.”

Disconnecting the call, Annie held the phone out to Libby. “He’s coming over,” she said. “Everything’s gonna be fine.”

Opening the storm door, Libby took back her phone. “Do you need me to call the police?”

Annie paled. “No! No. That’s not necessary. I’m just a little freaked out, is all.” She gestured vaguely toward the phone in Libby’s hand. “Thanks so much for your help.”

Twisting her mouth into what Libby guessed was intended as a smile, Annie turned and scuttled off into the pre-dawn, leaving Libby with a disconcerting combination of relief and confusion.

Well, that’s one way to start your workday, she mused. Shaking her head, Libby switched off the porch light, licked her front door, and returned to her morning grooming.

 

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