Family or freedom, which would you choose?
Life in the backwoods of Virginia at the turn of the century was perfect,
until Annie discovers a nasty family secret.
Something her family have been doing for years.
She knows she cannot live like this, but her protests fall on deaf ears.
Her struggle to change everything only makes life so much worse,
Forcing her to try and escape…
Annie’s song echoes through the mountains
Her sorrow falls with every drop of rain
Pieces of her heart lie scattered throughout the forest
Will her footsteps lead her to the freedom she seeks?
Excerpt from Annie’s Song
Pa and Nathan left in the truck and it was another hour before they brought Josh’s body home. I know it don’t seem right to say it, but I wasn’t feeling sad that he was dead. Just worried as to how he got that way. Josh was no fool. He knew how to bring a tree down without killing himself.
Watching the truck coming towards us seemed to take forever, like Pa was going deliberately slow. We waited for Pa to get out of the truck and I could see from his dirt streaked face it weren’t good. Nathan’s face looked worse.
Ma tried to stop me running to the truck but couldn’t hold me. I climbed on the back and didn’t see Nathan getting out. Suddenly he was there beside me. I remember kneeling and touching the blue check shirt that covered Josh’s face. I remember the touch of Nathan’s hand on mine and the gentle way he said, ‘Don’t look, Annie please. Just let Pa bury him.’
I had to see for myself, had to know if it was the tree falling on him that killed him. My eyes were wet, but the tears wouldn’t fall. I pulled the shirt back and a scream tore at my throat, trying to find a way out. No sound came as I looked at what was left of his face, dark gaping holes looking back at me. Gone were his blue grey eyes, the very thing I liked most about him had been gouged away.
His face was scratched and torn and bloody. Dried blood matted his hair and dead leaves stuck to him. Nathan tried to take me away, saying I’d seen enough. I felt myself being lifted slowly from my knees, and as Nathan carried me away, and that’s when my brain registered what it had seen. The torn flesh on his face hadn’t been caused by the fall. The skin standing away from the bone and the dried blood made it hard to read, that’s why my mind didn’t see it right off. They’d cut Pa’s name down one side of his face, as if taking his eyes weren’t enough. The scream that wouldn’t come before finally broke and shut down my brain like an axe blow.
Pa climbed on the truck and covered Josh before Ma could see him. Lifting the body, he carried him to the barn like a baby. We buried him under the big old tree at the back of the barn. We all stood there not saying a word and I closed my eyes. I could still see him and was sorry I hated him most of the time. Ma’s eyes were red from crying, I heard her whisper, ‘Goodbye, Josh,’ before she turned and went back to the cabin.
Nathan followed her, but Pa stood a while longer before leaving me there to say my own farewell. There weren’t much to say and no one to tell of his going. I smoothed the ground where he lay and wrote his name in the freshly turned earth, knowing there’d be no marker and the grass would soon grow again and cover him like a blanket…