Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Mennonite's Broken Dream



I hadn’t slept much. I couldn’t stop thinking about the dream I’d had and what I was supposed to do with that. I got ready and went to school thinking about Posen Land and missing my grandfather. When I got to school I asked my teacher if she knew if there was a place called Posen Land.

She said, “I’m not sure, but I’ll tell you what, Anna. Next week we can go on the computers and you can type Posen Land into the World Wide Web. It will tell you if it is real or not, and if it is, you can learn anything about it you want.”

I was so excited and thought, “Whatever that World Wide Web thing is, it must be amazing.” 

I had lunch with Chung and Steve. Steve’s face was almost healed and he actually made eye contact with me once during lunch.

I was still nervous around him -- I wanted him to like me, I was so envious of his friendships. Every person he walked by acknowledged him with a smile or a high-five, and words that started with, “Hey, DUDE!” I managed to forget about my worries for a while and laugh with Chung and his jokes. My teacher told me how proud she was of all the work I had handed in again.

I drove to work, thinking how great my day at school had been and hoping that work would be the same. When I pulled up to the parking lot at the factory George was sitting at the picnic table by himself.

When he saw me he got up and walked to the car, opened the door for me and waited for me to get out. Before I could shut the door he put his arms around me and hugged me really tight,  pulling me up off the ground. First I turned all red then I felt butterflies in my stomach, then I started shaking again.

He swung me away from the door, closed it, and slowly loosened his grip. l slid against him back to the ground. He put his arm around my shoulder, guided me toward the picnic table and said, “Please sit down, I want to talk to you.”

Once I was settled, he continued: “Are you okay? how are you feeling? Hilary told me what happened last night and I got all worried. You know that you can come over or call me anytime you want to, even if it is at the end of your shift. I wouldn’t mind at all, okay?”

“Okay. I am fine, I just fainted because I hadn’t eaten, that’s all. I feel great. I’m feeling ready to work my whole shift. Thanks for always looking out for me.”

“Don’t mention it, I want to help in any way that I can. And it’s okay to take a day off if you need to, you know,” he said.

“Yes, I know, Hilary told me that I could. But I think I’m better off here than at home worrying and over-thinking everything.”

He tilted his head, raised his eyebrows and said, “Okay.”

We got up and walked inside. He punched out and I punched in before the big crowd came out. He said, “Take care of yourself, don’t forget to eat, and have a good night,” and he winked at me again.

“Okay, you too,” I said.

I had a hard time concentrating while working at my usual sewing station. I was still feeling the shivers from George’s hug. It happened so fast, I needed time to process it.

There were two other Low German women working in my area. They occasionally looked at me, giggled about something and quickly looked away when I looked at them.

I brought my homework with me and worked on it at first break while I ate a carrot stick and three crackers. Bree came over and invited me to play a game of poker at lunch break. I told her, “No thanks, I have to finish my homework, but maybe next time.”

I couldn’t tell her the real reason why I couldn’t play cards. We Low German people were not allowed play cards games like that. We were told that if we did we would have nightmares about the devil. I visualized her rolling her eyes at me like never before if I told her that.

I thought back to the time my sister and I were visiting the Hides (our neighbours), and they were playing a game of cards. They asked if we wanted to play. We told them the reasons why we couldn’t play and they all looked at each other like we were crazy, but we thought they were the crazy ones.

About a month after that my older sister’s youth group decided to play a game of cards anyways. Two of the Hide brothers that were part of the group decided to have a little fun and scare them.

They left earlier than the rest of the youth, went home and covered themselves with a white bed sheet with holes cut into where their eyes were. They waited for everyone behind the bush and followed them home behind them and scared the crap out of all of them. My sister never touched a card again after that, even after finding out the truth.

Even though I knew that this was kind of like the watermelon seed story, part of me was afraid of what might happen and I had enough to deal with as it was. I didn’t want to risk having devilish dreams on top of everything else. 

At lunchtime I decided to stay at my workstation and work away at my school work. I was deep in thought, concentrating really hard. A deep voice from behind said, “Anna! How are you feeling?” I turned around and saw Hilary leaning against my work desk with a clipboard in his hands. He always looked and smelled amazing.

I was stunned, I couldn’t even speak for a moment. I just smiled at him as he was talking to me. Finally I told him that I was feeling great and that I had eaten at break time.

“I see that you are working hard on your school work. It’s so wonderful to see that you are so ambitious, Anna,” he said.

I just continued smiling at him as he continued to talk. He asked me who I would want my vacation pay and my cheque to go to if something would ever happen to me. He saw that I was a bit freaked out by that question and explained that everyone who worked there had to put that information on the forms.

I told him that I wanted it to go to my mom and he wrote that down. I realized that everyone had to do that paperwork on their own, but he knew I couldn’t write all that by myself and was kind enough to do it for me.

Hilary went back to work in his office and I started sewing again. I tried really hard to just remember his voice saying “Wonderful, wonderful, Anna. Wonderful!” But instead Hilary’s voice left me thinking, “Dios mio, what is going to happen to me?” I quickly reminded myself, “No, Anna, don’t let your thoughts go there.”

I drove home feeling like something bad was going to happen to me. But I thought it was just because of the conversation I had had with Hilary that got me thinking about that. I steered my thoughts in a different direction and decided to think about how much better my day had been, then the day before.

When I got home I was so tempted to go knock on George’s door. My heart was pounding and butterflies were going wild in my stomach as I talked myself out of doing that. Instead I went to bed and imagined what it would be like if George was my real boyfriend.

I imagined us as a couple and I turned all red just thinking about it. I wondered if he would care for me the same way he had been and how amazing it would be. I imagined George kissing me in a way that would be very different from my Jake Dyck kiss experience.


I was hoping I could visualize the kiss enough so it would turn into a real dream. Instead I dreamt that George and I were at my family gathering in Mexico at Christmas. Mom, my sisters and I were inside making komstborscht and looking after my younger brothers, my nieces and nephews.

George was sitting outside under a tree with my dad and my sister’s husband who was wearing overalls, and knoking soot (eating sunflower seeds). They were talking about how they had no choice but to go to Canada and pick cucumbers in the summers so that they would be able to feed their families.

They talked about the reasons why they couldn’t stay in Canada all year round. That it was because they don’t want their kids to learn what the Canadian public schools were teaching them.

George came inside, walked up behind me as I was stirring the komstborscht. He put his arms around my waist, rested his chin on my shoulder and said, “Anna, but don’t they know that getting an education is the only way they can get out of this hopelessness? You guys live in this beautiful country and this is what you spend your time doing?”

“Ahhh…” Before I could answer that, he remembered that I had tried to explain it to him so many times before, but he still just didn’t get it. My Menno-verse frustrated the heck out of him.

“Let’s get on my motorcycle and get the f#ck out of here. Forget the f#cking cabbage soup, have you ever been to Mexico City? Do you think they have good tacos there?” Click here to continue reading my story.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Once upon a time in Posen Land


Continued from Forbidden Mennonite

“What the heck is a stalker anyways?” I asked.

“A stalker is a person that just won’t leave you alone even after you tell them that you are not interested. Mark is definitely stalking you, Anna. You could call the police, you know, because that is actually against the law here in Canada.”

“Really? I don’t even have the phone number for the police and I have never even talked to a police officer before. What if they find out that I lied to him and put me in jail?”

Bree laughed and said, “Oh no, Anna, if everyone who lied was put in jail there wouldn’t be a jail big enough. But I don’t think you have anything to worry about. I think he will get over it and move on to the next person.”

“I sure wish he would.”

Bree went back to work and I drove home thinking about the day I had. I couldn’t believe George and Bree were both jealous of me. George was jealous that Bree got to work with me and Bree was jealous of me being a Mennonite, that I had a stalker and that George liked me.

Bree had been weird with me from the first time I met her. I always thought that that was just how she was, but every once in a while I felt that she didn’t really like me. Especially when she purposely embarrassed me every chance she got. She rolled her eyes at me so much I was surprised that they hadn’t fallen out yet.

But then she would turn around and be so nice to me, like the time she invited me to sit with her and have coffee at a coffee shop where we talked about how we both wanted to die and she told me that I was too young to be thinking about dying.

She brought me Taco Bell and introduce me to the beautiful music of Enigma. She brought me bags of her sisters’ really nice clothes. I wondered, “Did she do all that just to keep an eye on me and George?”

I got goose bumps all over as I thought, “This could get way too dangerous for me if I’m not careful. But as long as George stays my imaginary boyfriend and my real friend, I should be alright in this triangle that I got myself into.”

I felt so depressed and disappointed that I couldn’t even finish working my second shift after being called back to the job that I wanted back so badly. I decided to try and put all those thoughts away for a while and do some homework and get lots of sleep so I could handle the next day better.

I managed to do a big chunk of my homework and as I was getting ready to go to bed, my phone rang. It was my mom. She had heard that I was at the hospital and she wanted to know if it was true that I was pregnant. She had heard many rumours about me “riding around” with a schweenagel on a motorcycle.

I got so mad I wanted to yell at her, “GRRR…HIS NAME IS NOT SCHWEIN NOAGEL, HIS NAME IS GEORGE AND HE IS A GOOD PERSON, HE IS MY FRIEND, HE HAS DONE NOTHING WRONG and MOM I will not be another story about eating a rabüs sot (watermelon seed). I will be a story about finishing school after being labeled a hard learner.”

Instead, I just took some deep breaths knowing that I couldn’t say any of that to her. There was no point.

It was really hard to talk because there was a five second delay between me talking and her answering. We spent more than half the time saying, “What were you going to say?” and “Sorry, go ahead.” It was so frustrating.

I explained that I was not pregnant, that I had fainted at work because I hadn’t been eating and I was fine. “I’m sorry that this is so hard for you mom, I am not doing anything wrong. The rumors that are going around are not true. George is not a schwein noagel, he is a good friend.”

As I was listening to myself talking I knew that she was not hearing it the way that I meant what I said. I realized that it was me against fifty-two colonies and every person that lived there. That would be about six thousand and five hundred people or so, and I knew that I didn’t stand a chance.

People loved this kind of gossip, especially when it wasn’t their family member that was being gossiped about. I remembered the unbelievable stories we heard about the Low German Mennonite people that lived in Canada all year and the sinful things they learned in the public schools.

I listened to her cry and beg me to come back home for a good ten minutes. I asked how all my siblings were doing and how things were at home. She couldn’t find the right words to tell me about that.

When the phone call finally ended I felt even more depressed and disappointed. I had a nasty headache again. I took some Tylenol and remembered the nurse that gave them to me. I missed her so much I felt like calling her because I felt that knot working its way back into my stomach.

I felt like I was drowning again and I didn’t know how to stop it. I thought, “Why do I feel like this when my biggest dream came true? For so long, all I wanted was for Hilary to call me, and he did.” I reminded myself, “Remember, Anna? Hilary finally called you, so be freaking happy.’”

That didn’t work. I just went to bed and said my bedtime prayer five times to try and steer my thinking in a different direction. I closed my eyes and all I could think was the man nurse at the hospital, the Brauns, Bree, Hilary, and Mom, and realised that this had been a really long day.

I imagined I lived in a world where my Dietscha (Low German) people released me from what they thought I should be. I imagined them smiling and saying hello to me instead of giving me the death stare. Or even better, that none of the Low German people knew me and I could just be Anna who was figuring out her life on her own terms.

“Okay, yeah, that will never happen,” I thought, and just dreamed my way back to that boat with George and him telling me to breathe as we drifted away from Canada all the way to a place called Posen Land.

It was really foggy and I could see a light at the shore of Posen Land in the far distance. The air smelled like the smoke from the oil-burning lantern that hung from the boat and petunias mixed with the smell of geranium leaves.

George said, “How does it feel to be this close to a place you have been on the way to for so many years, Anna? In Posen Land you don’t have to be so paranoid about who might see you. I am the only person here who knows you.”

“That would only happen in a dream, George.”

“Then just enjoy the dream while it lasts, Anna. Just focus on where you want to go and go there instead of looking for someone or something to ruin it. As long as you keep looking for it, you will find it. The only way it can stop is when you stop looking.”

I looked to my right as the wind blew the fog from the light we were drifting closer to. A man appeared, dressed in an Old Colony Minister style black suit, with knee-high black leather boots and a plain all-black cap. A familiar voice echoed through the fog: “Anna, what are you doing all the way out here?” in Low German.


I recognised the voice -- it was my fula’s voice (that is what we called our grandpa who committed suicide when I was seven). He was the man dressed as an Old Colony minister, even though he had never been one in his life in Mexico. I looked really hard to see his face, but the heavy fog blew back toward him until I couldn’t see him anymore. I cried out to him, “Please, fula, don’t leave me! FULAAA…”

I woke up to the sound of my own voice yelling “FULA PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME…” and my pillow had wet spot from my tears. I missed him so much, and there were so many unanswered questions I wanted to ask him.

I felt so sad thinking about him and wondering again what had gone on in his head and wishing he was here to help me figure all this out.

I remembered that I had had many dreams about drifting on that boat to Posen Land. Our dad often told us kids when it was time to go to sleep that we were going to Posen Land. I always wondered if this place was real or if he had just made it up.

Part of me was so disappointed that I hadn’t listened to George and just enjoyed the dream.

I lay there wondering if this place called Posen Land was real and like I imagined it. I imagined on the other side of that heavy fog was a place of the sunrise after a downpour, birds chirping, flowers blooming everywhere and my fula welcoming me with a hug.

I imagined that in Posen Land everyone smiled and said hello to me, even when I would wear my favorite brown pleated dress with yellow tulips on it. In Posen Land it wouldn’t matter what I was Diech, Low German, Mennonite, Mexican, Russian or Canadian, and I was just Anna. Anna, who loved her family as they were, and was friends with George as he was. And that was okay.

I pulled my thoughts out of the dream and got back to my reality. Physically, I was feeling good so I decided to get ready and go to school and work. I knew I was better off there than sitting at home worrying about all the things I couldn’t do anything about anyways.

I packed myself enough food for the day and thought to myself, “From now on, no matter what happens to me, I am going to eat. And I will figure this out, whatever it is.” Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Forbidden Mennonite



“Mm-hmm…,” I answered.

“Anna, did you bring your OHIP card?” Hilary asked.

“An OHIP card? Ahhh… I have a SIN card.”

“No Anna, your health card, he means your health card,” Bree explained.

“Oh… yes, in my bag in the lunch room.”

“Bree, can you go get her bag and bring it to my car? Anna, I am going to drive you to the hospital, okay?” Hilary said.

Hilary lifted me up like I was an empty paper box that only weighed a couple of ounces. He put my left arm around his neck so I was leaning against him and put his right arm around my waist. He walked me to his car, put me in the passenger seat and put my seatbelt on. Bree came running with my bag and put it on my lap.

Hilary explained, “The hospital is a few blocks from here, I will get you there in a few minutes, okay Anna?”

“Okay.”

I was starting to feel much better and all I could think about was “Oba! I’m riding in Hilary’s fancy car and it smells amazing.”

“Are you sure I need to go to the hospital? I think I’m fine. I am feeling much better now,” I said.

“I am so glad that you are feeling better, Anna, but I would like a doctor to check you and tell us that, okay? Don’t worry about your job, it will be there when you get back.”

Hilary slowly drove up toward the emergency door and there was a man nurse waiting for me with a wheelchair. Hilary helped me out of the car and guided me to the wheelchair, and I thought, “Why does this nurse have to be a man?”

“We will call when we know anything, okay?” said the nurse, and Hilary drove off. The nurse wheeled me into a room and hooked me up to all kinds of machines.

“Anna, what do you think is happening to you?” The nurse asked.

“I have a nerve problem and a man left me a bag candy at my car yesterday. I was so scared I couldn’t eat and I passed out, I think.”

“Did you eat the candy?”

“No, I threw it away.”

“Okay good. Why are you scared of this man?”

“Because I lied to him and he is mad at me, but I think I passed out because I couldn’t eat today and I haven’t eaten well for months now. I have been feeling weak and light-headed on and off for a long time already because I have a nerve condition,” I explained.

“What condition?”

“You could call this nurse at the walk-in clinic down the street? She can explain it to you,” I got the phone number out of my bag and handed him.

“Okay, I will give her a call right now. I’ll be right back,” he said.

About forty minutes later he returned with a file folder and a bag of cookies. He sat down beside me and said, “Here, eat some of these while I talk.”

I forced down a cookie as he explained that I had to eat to gain my strength back. He explained how important it was for me to eat if I wanted to get strong enough to work an eight hour shift standing on my feet the whole time.

“Okay, I will try to eat more.”

“I will keep you here for a while hooked up the IV while I run some tests. Why don’t you try to have a nap?”

“Okay.”

George and I were sitting at a table across from each other by the beach at GT’S in Port Stanley and he asked me, “What is the deal with your watermelon seed phobia?”

“You don’t know what happens if you swallow watermelon seeds?”

“No.”

“They will grow inside your stomach, it will get a really big and then your mom will have a baby, George,” I said.

“What the f#c!,” he answered.

All of a sudden the sun got so bright that I couldn’t see George anymore. I rubbed my eyes and when I opened them the nurse was opening the blinds. He had put a warm blanket on me, he came and took the needle out of my arm, put a tray of food on a small table, wheeled it to me and said, “Anna, try to eat a bit.”

I ate all the food -- it was really good. I felt so good after I ate that I got up and went to the bathroom. When I came out the nurse was sitting on the bed with some papers and said, “Anna, everything looks good, you are good to go home but you should take it easy and you have to eat or this will happen again.”

“Okay, I will.”

He gave me a pile of information to read on eating disorders, unhealthy relationships and how to build up low self-esteem. He pointed to the phone and said, “There is a phone to call your mom for a ride.”

I laughed, and he asked, “What is so funny?”

“Ah… my mom lives in Mexico,” I answered.

“What? Okay, please don’t call her then.”

I called Hilary instead, since I had to pick up Izaak’s car from the factory anyway.

While sitting in the waiting room waiting for Hilary with my forehead resting in my palms I got worried and I thought, “I really hope I don’t get fired after this. Oba dietschjat nochemol eent -- why can’t things just go smoothly for a change?”

I lifted my head and there was Mrs. Braun walking around with her new baby, staring at me again. Mr. Braun walked in and looked at me and shook his head as he was talking to Mrs. Braun. He picked up the diaper bag and walked out of the hospital. Mrs. Braun was carrying the baby and could barely keep up with him, but he just kept walking like he was late for something.

I thought “Oh crap! I just know he is going to call Mexico and my mom will know that I was in the hospital.”

Hilary came in with a big smile on his face, asking me how I was feeling and if I was okay. I told him that I was okay and feeling much better.

On our way walking out of the hospital I said, “I am sorry that you had to come and get me, but I couldn’t think of anyone else.”

“No Anna, don’t be sorry and don’t worry about it, I wanted to come and pick you up. I wanted to make sure that you were okay and I am so happy to see that you are. Feel free to take tomorrow off and don’t worry about anything. It is completely up to you.”

As Hilary pulled up to the factory parking lot Bree was sitting outside at the picnic table having her lunch break. She waved me over and said, “Tell me everything, what’s going on with you?”

I sat down and told her that I was fine that I just fainted because I hadn’t eaten anything all day. I told her about the bag of candy that Mark had left at the car and she thought that was hilarious.

She said, “What a f#cking loser. I think you have nothing to worry about, he will get the message that you are not interested and move on, I’m sure of it.”

“I really hope so, and soon, because I am getting tired of this,” I replied.

“I can’t believe you have a stalker, Anna. it’s probably because you are Mennonite and that is why men are attracted to you. Maybe that’s why George likes you so much, it’s kind of like you are the forbidden fruit,” she said


My jaw dropped I turned completely red from head to toe and I couldn’t look at her face anymore. But she continued, “Maybe I should become a Mennonite and someone would be obsessed with me, too. Anna, could someone become a Mennonite?”

I had a really hard time talking to her after that, but then I remembered that this was the same person who had really enjoyed embarrassing me. I remembered the time she showed me her breasts in the bathroom after she got her nipples pierced.

“You want to be a Mennonite? Ahhh… I don’t think you want to but if you’re serious you could go live with my family in Mexico. But then you could never even think the F word let alone say it out loud. You wouldn’t be allowed to say the word pizza you would have to say meat pie because pizza sounds too close to you-know-what. Do you think you could do that?”

“Ahhh… let me think about it,” she replied.

“I’m not saying that you couldn’t, it would actually be interesting to see. And why not? if I can learn your world, why couldn’t you learn mine? But I am imagining you walking through the door of my parents’ house and the first thing you would say is, ‘What the f#!k is this?’”

She laughed and said, “Oh Anna, you’re so good at visualizing reality. Don’t you ever just fantasize and things happen the way you want them to happen, not the way you know they would actually happen?”

I was getting a feeling that she might be jealous of my friendship with George and I knew I had to be careful about what I told her. I said, “Oh Bree, I do fantasize a lot, I think that my fantasy life and the bit of hope that I have left that someday a tiny piece of it may actually come true is what has kept me going this far.”

I thought to myself, “If she knew the dreams and fantasies I was having about George she would beat me up for sure. And I am the ‘forbidden fruit?’ Ahhh… I think she’s got that one flipped around.” Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Mennonite on an Emotional Roller-coaster


Curvas peligrosas


“This is Hilary from the factory. How are you?”

After hearing that voice I said “Ahhh… really good, great.”

“I am really sorry for calling you on Sunday, but one of our afternoon shift sewers quit on Friday and I heard that you were hoping to come back to work. I thought I would call you first to see if you would like to come back.”

“Okay.”

“I realize that this is really short notice, I was hoping that you could start tomorrow. But I understand if you would like to take a few days to think about it.”

“You said afternoon shift from three to eleven?” I asked.

“Yes. George told me that you started school and I hope this won’t change that. I hope you can still continue with your schooling.”

“Yes, I will. I can start tomorrow,” I said.

“Okay then! Thank you, Anna. I will see you tomorrow at three. Have a good night,” he said.

“Okay, you too. See you tomorrow. Thank you, Hilary.”

I suddenly felt all the blood rush to my feet and I had to sit down for a minute.
I thought, “Aye caramba! What the heck. Have a good night? How about the best night ever? I can’t believe this!” and I did a little Mennonite dance that I made up but no one knows about.

Monday morning I woke up so excited I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I got ready for school and work at the same time. The factory was only a few blocks from the school. I drove Izaak’s car so I didn’t have to walk home at eleven o'clock at night.

I admired the beautiful blowing yellow leaves on my way to school. Everything I looked at was so beautiful. I couldn’t wait to show my teacher all the work I had done on the weekend.

I put my work book on the teacher’s desk and just stood there waiting and anticipating her reaction when she was going to realise that I finished the whole book. I watched as she put it down, got up and came over to sit down beside me. “Anna, this is unbelievable work. Would you like to take a break or should I give you the next one?” She asked.

“Please give me the next one. I am not interested in taking any breaks. I want to keep doing as much as I can to speed up my learning. I might just have time to do extra work on weekends now, because I got called back to my job for the afternoon shift so I can still come to school,” I replied.

“Wow, that sounds wonderful Anna, but don’t you think it might be too much to do both full time?” She asked.

“It will be hard but I think I can do it. I think it will be good for me to be this busy -- it will keep me from worrying so much about things I have no control over,” I answered.

At lunch time I sat with Chung and a few other students again. It was becoming a regular thing. I was enjoying the company and feeling like I was part of the group, thanks to Chung.

A few minutes into the lunch break the man who had hit the post from staring at me and not watching where he was going came over and sat with us. You could still see a bit of the bruise on his face.

Chung introduced him to me. His name was Steve. I shook his hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you, Steve. I’m Anna.” I had seen others do that so I thought that was what I was supposed to do.

He shook my hand but didn’t look at my face -- I could tell he was still really embarrassed. He sat down and joined us for lunch. Every time I look toward him he quickly looked away.

He still had a hard time not staring at me. As Steve and Chung were talking I thought to myself that if I ever had a chance I would say, “Hey Steve: let’s be friends so we can stare at each other whenever we want and not have to be weird about it, or get hurt.”

I wondered what he would say to that. I immediately answered myself: “Anna, he would probably never speak to you again and this sort of thing only happens in your mind because of your nerve problems.”

I finished my school work half an hour early and went right to the factory. When I approached the front door of the factory it seemed like a dream. I had wished for so long that I would be able to be back there again and it was finally really happening.

I picked the same spot in the lunch room I used to sit with George and Felicity. I sat down and had a moment with myself in deep thought. I felt someone’s hand on my shoulder and I jumped and turned around. It was George.

“Welcome back, Anna. How does it feel to be here again?”

“Hey! Thanks for telling Hilary that I wanted to be on the afternoon shift. This is awesome, it feels like a dream. What would I do without you, George?”

He winked at me and said, “Don’t mention it, sweetie, I’m glad I can help. Since you will be working with Bree she gets to spend a lot more time with you than I will. I’m jealous of her.”

I stared at his lips in a daze as I heard those words come out of his mouth. It felt like I was turning into pink jello. I thought, “How the heck will I be able to work after this?”

As I was thinking of how to respond to that, the end-of-the-day-shift bell rang and all the workers lined up to punch out and George had to go too. He said, “Have a good night! See you tomorrow.”

I passed a lot of Low German people who were still working there. A few of them smiled and waved at me; others pretended that they didn’t see me at all, and I was thinking, “I’m just fine with that,” as they passed me on their way out.

It suddenly got really quiet. There were about seventeen people working this shift. I had just sat down at the sewing station and a deep familiar voice through the speakers said, “Anna Wall to the office please. Would Anna Wall come to the office please?” I thought, “Nooo… not again,” and walked to the office nervous as heck.

I stood at the office door, afraid to touch the doorknob. Then Hilary came and opened it for me, just like he did the last time. He smiled and said,“Please come in and have a seat, Anna. Thank you so much for coming back on such short notice, we really needed you. I just need you to sign some papers.”

“Okay, no problem. I am really happy to be back and thank you for calling me first,” I replied.

“Anna, your English has really improved. That is so wonderful to see. There are people working here who have no interest in learning how to read and write and those people will be the first to go if there is another layoff,” he explained.

I just smiled because I loved the sound of his voice so much. As I was signing the papers I secretly wished that he would just keep telling me about whatever so I could listen to him talking. Sadly he stopped and I had to get back to work.

I walked back to my sewing station feeling so powerful after hearing his deep voice saying things like “Anna, we need you...your English has improved...wonderful, wonderful and wonderful” is all I heard. It was like a beautiful song just for me.

Eleven o'clock come so fast I didn’t even know how that happened. I punched out, walked to the car, and noticed a bag hanging from the sideview mirror. I opened it. It had candy and gum in it with a note from Mark that said, “Nice to see that you got your job back. I guess you are doing just fine without me.”

I threw the bag in the garbage right away and drove home. I was so tired I went to sleep right away.

In the morning while getting ready for school it hit me: “Mark was at the car last night. What if he is following me and I don’t even know?”

I felt nervous and scared, I couldn’t even eat breakfast. On my way to school I thought of ways I could deal with this but I got nowhere. I thought, “What would I do anyways?” and just left it at wishing and hoping that he would grow tired of it and just forget about me.

I just carried on with my day, but I was so nervous I couldn’t eat all day. When I got to work I was assigned a gluing job for that night because the person who normally did that job had called in sick.

At this station, I had to glue carpet on these really heavy panels and stack them onto a skid. After doing this for an hour I felt really light headed I figured it would pass after I had something to eat.

I suddenly felt cold and tingly from head to toe and everything went dark in front of my eyes. When I opened my eyes, there were Hilary’s big glasses looking down at me and my head was resting in his arm.

“Anna, can you hear me?” he asked. Click here to continue reading my story.

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