Institute ~ Annabelle's Journey ~ 5 Minute Freewrite

in Freewriters3 years ago

She stared up at the building, the institute, she hadn't seen in five years.

It stood looming over her, judging her, like a nun with a ruler. She shivered.

The gray clouds lurched in the wind, swaying the tree branches, cracking and squeaking against each other. Her heals clacked against the pavement as she walked up the sidewalk then up the two sets of stairs to the heavy wooden doors.

“The Institute for Troubled Woman” etched the glass, but years of neglect had caused the letters to crumble, only partially forming the word “Woman”.

She took a deep breath and pulled open the right hand door. A mixture of cafeteria food and antiseptics wafted her nose. She pulled her briefcase closer to her side. She only needed to sign the letter, then she would leave this place forever.

She expected the halls to look the same, but they were different. The linoleum flooring had been replaced with hard oak and the cinder block walls were painted a bright yellow. It was disconcerting.

Thankful she didn't have to go past the first floor, she walked the twenty feet to the main office and was greeted by a cheerful receptionist. It was nice to see a smile.

“Hi there, I'm Annabelle Smith, I'm here to see Mrs. Lambert.”

“Yes,” she looked down at a notebook, “You can go right in.”

Annabelle took a few steps to the right and twisted the door knob expecting to see the scowling face of her mother, but instead she was greeted with the sound of a fish tank and the smell of cinnamon rolls.

She hesitantly set down in a chair across from the desk and waited. The more the hands of the clock on the wall ticked by, the more her knee bounced in steady repetition.

Finally, the door gently came open.

“Annie! You made it!” A petite woman with short brown hair entered the room, more like an excited school teacher than the warlord of an insane asylum she remembered.

“Mother.” Annabelle stood, but didn't return the smile. She wasn't going to be fooled.

“Oh Annie, such the theatrics. Would you like a cinnamon roll? And please sit back down.”

“No thank you, I'm here for the -”

“Yes, for the paper saying that you are of sound mind,” she said smiling, and reached into the desk and pulled out a form. “I'm so happy for you. Finally standing on your own two feet. I read in the paper you're getting married? Well, obviously, that's why you need this paper of course. Of sound mind,” she finished with air quotes.

“Yes, so if you wouldn't mind,” she said. She had no need to spend any extra amount of time with this woman, despite her new disposition. If anything, it only added to the fuel to make her want to leave.

“Why do you look so nervous? You're staring around this room like you've never seen it before! And Emily said you introduced yourself? Wait, you do remember this room, don't you?”

Annabelle's chest tightened. “Please, can you sign the form.”

“Annie,” she said dropping her voice, “honey, please tell me you remember Emily.”

Of course she didn't remember “Emily” or this room. She hadn't been here for five years, and even then the receptionist was Patty, Patty with the peppermint candy on her desk. If she was a good girl, she could have candy. It took everything she had to leave when she was eighteen.

Then she realized what was happening. She was trapped. If she claimed to not remember, her mother wouldn't sign, she couldn't marry Howard, she might even be recommitted. It was exactly what she wanted. Her palms turned clammy, her knee gained speed.

“I only need you to sign, please.” She dropped her gaze to hands.

“I don't know if I can...You have to understand, it's up to my judgment whether or not you can enter back into this world as a functioning adult, and if you don't remember something as simple as the receptionist I've had for the last 10 years, then I'm sorry, sweetie, it's out of my hands.”

Thanks for sharing this with me! This one could definitely use a part 2. I wanted to write more, but I was pushing way beyond 5 minutes haha. When it starts to hit the 30 minute mark, I try to wrap it up. For more info on freewrites visit @mariannewest!

Much love,
Stacie D
Image by Madalyn Eudy from Pixabay

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Yes, I'd like to know what's next. Nice writing.


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