Thursday, December 22, 2016

Wicked Mennonite

Continued from Enlightened Mennonite

Sam explained in the letter that he didn’t write it because he was mad at me or anything. He wrote it because he wondered how I was doing and to tell me that he missed me, but he was happy with his new home, job and that he was still learning Spanish. He thought that I would find it funny if he wrote me a punctuation-less letter in Spanish and he was right.

The first time I went to the farmhouse to clean by myself, I spent more time listening for Jason and Roy to come home than cleaning and it took twice as long. It was an exhausting race to get it done before they actually came home. So the next time I took my Mexican tapes with me and listened to music instead.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I might be asked in Spanish if I were to go to Mexico. I practiced answering those questions in my head in Spanish. I thought I was doing well. I was able to answer all my question confidently, but only in my thoughts.

As midterms were fast approaching, I spent a lot of time with PJ in the cafeteria, studying for midterm exams. We compared notes and began talking about books. He was reading a book called “A Clockwork Orange”. I asked him all kinds of questions about it and he said, “When I am done reading it, you can read it if you want. But it might be too freaky for you.”

“Maybe, but I think like freaky books. The one we are reading in class is a bit freaky.”

“Really, what book is it?”

“Ahhh, this one,” I said and showed him the book I was reading. “One flew over the cuckoo's nest”.

“Okay, that’s a good book. I don’t know about it being freaky, though, but I guess different people think different things are freaky right? I mean it all depends on what you have experienced in life.”


“I also have the movie “A Clockwork Orange”. Would you like to borrow it? Or you could come to my place and watch it with me sometime.”

“There is a movie about that book?”


“Really, do you think there is a movie about ‘One flew over the cuckoo's nest’?”

“Yes, there is. I have seen it.”

“What? I need to see that one,” I said and he noticed how my face lit up as I got all excited about it. I had to do a book report on it and I was still really confused and couldn’t exactly comprehend what I was reading. I thought watching the movie would really help me a lot.

“Well, you can get it at the library.”

“I am going to get it. Thank you for telling me.”

“Wicked! So how about next week after our math exam, you want to come to my place and watch ‘A Clockwork Orange’?”

“Ahhh I think I so, unless the travel agent calls me to tell me that she has a ticket for me, then I will have to pack to go to Mexico.”

“Mexico? Wicked!”

“Umm, you take the city bus to school, right?”

“Yeah, only when it’s too cold to walk.”

“Does the bus stop anywhere near the library?”


“I don’t drive in the winter. Would you mind if I came on the bus with you? I have never taken that kind of city bus before.”

“Wicked! Awesome.”

“Okay,” I replied as I wondered if “wicked awesome” meant yes.

After we parted ways and I had some time to I think about our conversation. I got really nervous just even thinking about going to PJ’s place to watch a freaky movie. I wished with all my heart that the travel agent would call me during that week and tell me to pack my suitcase to go to Mexico. I needed a good excuse to say no because I really wanted to see that movie. I was so curious and wondered what could be so freaky about it. I thought what could be freakier than what I had already lived through.

At the end of my last class, I nervously looked for PJ and spotted him from a distance standing at the front entrance wearing his long black coat. His skin was as white as the snow on the ground. When I approached him, he smiled and said, “Wicked,” and we made our way to the bus stop.

People hadn't stared at me in a long time as much as they were when they saw me walking to the bus stop with him. And that’s when I secretly hoped that all the Mennonites that might recognize me had already gone back to Mexico. I really didn’t feel like explaining another rumor about me being seen with yet another breed of ‘schwien-noagel.’

Once we got on the bus he paid for me, gave me his bus schedule and explained to me how it worked. When we got to the library he pointed to the building where he lived.

“You see that red door right there?” he asked and pointed to the door.

“Okay, yes.”

“You go in there and take the stairs all the way up to door number 3 and that’s where I live.”

We stood in front of the library in the freezing cold as he explained where and what times I could catch the bus to go back to my apartment. He circled the bus number and all the times it would go in the direction to my apartment in a red pen and gave it to me.

“Good luck. See you tomorrow,” he said and walked to his apartment.

As I walked into my favorite place in the whole wide world, I thought I am going to take the bus here more often. After I stood there in awe of all the books for a good hour I asked the librarian if they had the movie “One flew over the cuckoo's nest” and she went to look for it. Sure enough, they had it there. I was so eager to watch it but I still didn’t have a VCR so I had to wait until I had a chance to watch it at one of my friend's places.

I was thrilled when I made it home to know that I had taken the right bus. When I checked my phone for messages, I had one and I got all excited that it would be from the travel agent, but it was from my cousin Izaak. He left a phone number for me to call him back.

I picked up the phone and called him back immediately.



“Yes. Anna! How are things with you?”

“Good. Great actually.”

“That’s great. Oye prima, (hey cousin) I just wanted to ask you if my car was still okay at your place. I thought you might have bought a car by now and need your parking spot back.” 

“NO! No, no. I am loving your car. It can stay.”

Orale, thanks.”

“No problem, so where are you right now?”

“In Texas.”


“Yeah, in Duncanville. I am living with uncle Jake for now. I love it here.”

“Okay, that’s great.”

“Yeah, I am going to Mexico with him for the holidays.”

“Wow, you are, do you know when you are leaving?”

“Uncle Jake booked three weeks off and we are leaving two weeks before Christmas. He has to be back to work the day after New Years.”

“Nice! I really want to go too but it’s really expensive to fly down.”

“Really, are you sure you want to go home? What if they try to force you to stay?”

“I know, I have thought about that a lot. But I think I have learned how to handle that and if I needed help, you would help me right?”

“You bet, I would.”

“Thanks, I’m still trying to figure out a way to go, we’ll see what happens.”

Oye prima, in that case, if you have a way to get here to Duncanville you could come with us.”

“That would be great but I can't go that early because I have midterm exams until a week before Christmas.”

Pues, que lastima. (Well, that’s too bad.)”

“Yeah, well have fun in Mexico and say hi to everybody if I don’t make it down.”

“Okay, I will. Take care Anna.”

After I hung up the phone I thought long and hard about ways I could go to Mexico. I got all excited as I thought up an idea. I thought Izaak is going to Mexico! This is good I will have one friend in the colony that still likes me. If I go and realize it was the wrong decision, I can just hang out with him and his Mexa (Native Mexican) friends until I come back. 

Uncle Jake moved to Texas shortly after his father passed away when he was a teenager. He is my dad’s youngest brother. He never married and he always came to Mexico each year for Christmas. He owned the property next to my parents’ in the colony. One year when he visited, he hired people to build him a house on it and that’s where he stayed every year when he came to Mexico for a visit. And since he didn’t have a family he often came to our house to eat. He was a head mechanic at an auto shop in Texas and he also had a house in Texas that he had to make payments on.

I figured if I could fly to Mexico and then catch a ride back to Texas with uncle Jake and Izaak, that would be a guaranteed ride to Texas at least. And it should be cheaper to fly back to Canada from Texas than Mexico because it’s only half the distance.

I tucked that idea into the back of my mind and continued with my routine. School was getting stressful because I had many major projects due as the week of midterm exams was approaching. There was so much snow on the ground and it was freezing cold.

I decided to call the travel agent and tell her about my idea, to see what she would say to that. After I explained it to her she said, “I will look into it and call you back okay.”

“Okay, thank you,” I said and called George right after I finished talking to the travel agent.


“Hey, George. What are you doing on the weekend?”

“Ummm, the same as always, spending time alone and being bored out of my freaking mind. Why what's up?”

“Ahhh can I use you for your VCR?”

“Absolutely! Anna, you can use me for whatever you want.”

“Okay,” I said and then there was an awkward silent moment.

“What are we watching?”

“One flew over the cuckoo's nest.”

“Sounds great. I’m looking forward to it.”

On Saturday afternoon I grabbed the movie and happily skipped down the hallway over to George’s apartment. After watching the movie I was so grateful that my nerve problems were manageable with meaning and purpose, unlike some of the people in the movie. George gave me some ideas on how to write the book report. I finished writing the book report and all my other projects by Sunday night.

There was only a week and a half left before Christmas and I still hadn't heard anything back from the travel agent. I was beginning to give up hope on the idea of going home.

I went to school with no legitimate excuse to say no to go to PJ’s place to watch the freaky movie with him. As the day went on I talked myself into going, keeping in mind that George told me that not every man I met would take advantage of me. And I still had that whistle that Josh gave me, in my purse. I could always pull it out if I needed to. When we finished the math exam, I told PJ that I could go to his place to watch the movie.

When he said, “Wicked! Let's go,” my heart started pounding out of my chest as we walked to the bus stop. When we got to his apartment, he invited me to sit down on his all black sofa in his all black living room. I felt incredibly strange. While he went to the bathroom, I looked out the window and when I saw a huge cross on top of a church across the street, I thought, “Oba Anna what are you getting yourself into now?” Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Enlightened Mennonite

Continued from Illusionary Mennonite

“I know, I miss you too.”

“What are you doing, are you busy, can you come over right now?”

“Ahhh no, I'm not busy right now. Okay, I’ll be there soon.”

After I hung up the phone, I realized that this time I might not be able to talk my way around my plan to pretend that I was lesbian without telling George the truth about Aaron and thought, “I really hope I don’t have to explain it to him. It's just too complicated for me to even attempt to put it into words.”

I quickly changed my clothes and ran down the hallway to George’s apartment. He greeted me with his usual perfect smile and a long comforting hug. It smelled so good and familiar in his apartment.

“It smells amazing in here. What are you making?”

“Okay, let's see if I can actually tell you. Um, I am making roasted chile poblano and chicken quesadillas with pineapple salsa.”

“Wow! You are roasting peppers, how? Don’t you need an open flame to do that?”

“Not necessarily. It works great with a cast iron pan. See look it says right here in this ‘Learn how to cook Mexican’ cookbook I picked up at the library.”


“Isn’t it? Can you believe it? Me, the same guy who cooks Mr. Noodles with hotdog slices and cheese wiz, is learning how to cook Mexican food from a library book.”

“Um yeah, I can. The library is amazing. I wish I could live there.”

“So, how the heck are you? I haven't seen you in so long. I got worried a few times and wanted to visit you but I know that you were probably out there meeting new friends and figuring it all out by yourself,” he said as he brought the food to the coffee table.

“Well, you are right, I have been meeting now friends and figuring some stuff out on my own. Sort of.”

We sat down on the gray pillows at the coffee table in his living room, just like the last time I ate there. He put down the forks and waited for me to say my prayer and held his breath as he watched me take the first bite.

Ay caramba, George, are these ever spicy. This is amazing! Thank you.”

He let out a big sigh of relief, “Is it even close to Mexican?”

“Yes! It sure is. It’s great, I love it.”

“Awesome! So what kind of food do you make that isn't Mexican? I mean you must make some German dishes too. What kind of other foods do your people eat?”

“Well, tweeback would be one of them. You know the one you ate at my place when you came over the time I was wearing my favorite ‘purple dress.’”

“Oh yes, I do remember that time. Oh man, what a day that was, the food you made was delicious,” he said and I turned red all over, as we both laughed about again.

“Well, a lot of the German food that we make is mostly things made of white flour and heavy cream. Like this one recipe my mom calls ‘doompwuchlen.’ You make the tweeback and let them rise, then you steam them with a little bit of oil so they don’t stick together and serve them with schmoont fat, which is heavy cream that you bring to a boil with a bit of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper.”

“Wow, how nutritious. Would you eat anything else with it?”

“Sometimes, smoked meat or sausage.”


“So, what have you been doing other than learning how to cook Mexican food?”

“Not much, I am really enjoying some peace, you know away from all the grumpiness at the factory, and I have had more time to draw, which I am enjoying a lot.”

“Yeah, I know. I was so sad for a while but I am realizing now that having this extra time is actually really nice for me too.”

“So, who are these new friends you met?” He asked and my heart started pounding faster as I tried to explain it to him.

“Um… so her name is Tony. I met her in computer class, you know the class where I learned that the world might be ending soon.”

“Yes, you don’t really believe that. Do you?”

“Well, I have learned so much here in Canada. I'm not even sure what I believe. But all this talk about the world ending has made me realize that I think it's time for me to go home to Mexico for a visit.”

“Okay, do you think that you are ready for that?” he asked as he got up, picked our plates up and took them to the kitchen sink.

“Yes, I think I am, but I am really nervous about it.”

He came back with two plates of dessert and the placed them on the table. I looked at the dessert and immediately regretted it as I heard myself say it out loud.

“Yes! No watermelon.”

He looked me right in the eyes and said, “Anna, I am your friend. I know better than to feed you watermelon,” and winked at me.

I turned all red as the butterflies began dancing around in my stomach. I thought, “Quick, change the subject Anna!” and asked, “So what is this then?”

“Cherry cheesecake.”

“Did you make this too?”

“No. I can't take the credit for this. I bought it already made. Would you like a coffee?”

“Yes, please. Wait there is cheese in this cake?”

“Yes, cream cheese.”

“Wow, I have never had cake with cheese in it before.”

“Well, I hope you like it. I happen to love cheesecake,” he said as he put my coffee down in front of me. He sat down and stared at me with one eyebrow raised as I took the first bite.

“So, what do you think?”

“It’s different, but I like it.”

“Awesome! So have you figured out how you will go to Mexico?”

“Well, that’s the thing, I know I can't go with someone because then I wouldn't have a guaranteed ride back. So I called the travel agency but it's crazy expensive to fly to Mexico but then I told Josh about it and he suggested that I call back and ask to be put on a last minute ticket sale list, so I did.”

“That’s a great idea. I really hope that works out for you.”

“Yeah, me too. I think it just might because I think I have found a way to make some extra money.”

“Okay, that’s great but how?”

“Tony, the woman that sits next to me in computer class offered me her cleaning job.”

“Okay, were?”

“It’s a farmhouse just outside of town here.”

“Oh, and how much will they pay you to clean it?”

“I would clean it once a week and it pays forty dollars a cleaning.”

“Okay, not bad. Not bad at all.”

“Yeah, but there's this problem, its two single guys that live there and you know...”

“Ahhh… shit yeah I know. But not all single men you meet will take advantage of you, you know.”

“I am trying to think like that, but I can't help but worry and wonder if they might be like Mark or Aaron?”

“Well, you won't know until you meet them, right?”

“You're right and that is a big part of the reason I need to go back to home to Mexico.” I said as I thought, “you don’t know the half of it,” and started mumbling and asking him questions so the conversation would lead in a different direction because I didn’t really want to explain my plan or the truth about why I was so afraid of Aaron.

He put down his fork and placed his hand on top of mine and said, “Anna, it's okay, you don’t have to tell me about the Mexican cowboy. I have a pretty good idea of what is going on. Just know that I am here if you ever need to talk about it,” and squeezed my hand as he looked right at me.

I didn’t know where to look or if the feeling that went all the way down to the tip of my toe was a feeling of relief or nervousness. Or that a man like George was real and I was at his place having dinner with him. 

I peacefully enjoyed the rest of our time together as I felt relieved knowing that I was in a safe place and that I didn’t have to do or say anything I didn’t feel comfortable with. That night I didn't flee from his apartment like the jriese diesta was chasing me. When I was ready to go, he walked me to the door and I hugged him. I said thank you and walked out of there looking back to wave bye to him a few times. I saw him standing in the doorway smiling and waving back at me as I walked away. I thought, “this is so much better, I can’t believe he is still my friend after all those time I ran away like that,” and felt really embarrassed about it.

Josh came with and helped me get a passport without a hitch. I was ready to go to Mexico. All I had to do now was to be brave and go to that house with Tony and lie to these men so I would feel safe cleaning their house to make some extra money for my trip home. I spent many sleepless nights worrying about it but when the day finally arrived, Tony and I went ahead with our plan.

Tony came to school on the Friday with a bottle of Pine Sol in her backpack. We drove to this farmhouse and she introduced me to the men as her new girlfriend. Jason and Roy didn’t even seem to care. They were just happy that someone was willing to clean their house. I could see why, when I first walked in and helped Tony clean it. Before it smelled like a Pine Sol bomb when off in there. It was a disaster. I had never seen a house that messy before.

They paid us and gave me a key to the house and said, “Thank you, Anna, it’s really nice to meet you. We will always leave the money on the counter for you every Friday so you don’t have to wait for us to come home when you are done the cleaning,” Jason said and just like that, I had a new job that I could do with less fear and more confidence.

My new life was great. I sat beside a great friend in every class, including my longtime buddy and note taker Steve in English class. I had made friends with yet another scary man that I was afraid of, PJ, the man that sat beside me in math class. His answer to everything was ‘wicked.’ He dressed only in black, wore black nail polish, and had a really tall mohawk. I had learned to appreciate his uniqueness because he was nothing but respectful and kind to me.

I had two imaginary boyfriends: One for real (Josh) and the other (George) in case I might meet another stalker and then I could say that I was not available. And I had an imaginary girlfriend so I would be off-limits altogether and didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I had a regular routine again, with so much homework, studying for tests, writing essays and cleaning that house every Friday. I had forgotten that I missed my factory job. That was until I received a letter in the mail from Sam.

My heart was pounding out of my chest with wonder as tore that letter open. It didn’t take long and I was on the floor in tears with laughter. It was a punctuation-less letter written in Spanish. Sam’s letter triggered me to remember the factory, Hilary and all of the policemen that worked on my stalker case. And then I had a lightbulb moment. I realized how many incredibly amazing men I had met since my journey in Canada began.

I laid on the floor and cried when I realized the George was right yet again. Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Illusionary Mennonite

Continued from A Mennonite’s dilemma

I spent the whole weekend with Josh. We watched movies, read books, ate, slept and talked a lot, especially about Josh’s views on the difference between living life and just existing. That got me thinking about my family and the idea of going home for a visit even more, so I told him about it.

“I think you should just go.”

“Yeah, but do you know how much one ticket to fly to Mexico costs?”

“Yes, but sometimes they go on sale at the last minute especially when there is only one seat left.”


“Yes, you should call back and tell the agent that you are interested. They will call you a day or so before the flight is scheduled to leave and let you know. It’s totally up to you but I think this is a good time for you go. You never know where life might take you and I have a feeling that you might regret it if you don’t go.”

“Okay! I will do that.”

“Do you have a passport?”


“Well, you will need one. I have an extra application from when Jose applied for one so I can help you fill it out right now.”

“Wow, this is great thanks, Josh.”

“You’re welcome. I really hope that this works out for you. I wish I could come with you. I would love to experience a visit to your colony in Mexico.”

“That would be awesome, I could really use your support, especially if I end up facing Aaron. I have a feeling that there is going to be no way around it. But I would feel terrible for you because I just know that I wouldn’t be able to spare you the from all kinds of awkwardness like you have done for me here in your… um… you know what I am trying to say?”

“Yes, I do Anna, and I understand perfectly.”

“Or wait… I know the perfect coverup. We could say that you are my husband and there you go, all problems solved. Aaron, awkwardness peace of mind and on and on...” and we laughed so hard that our stomachs hurt, but little did he know that I had already seriously thought about that idea for a long time.

“Okay, back to reality here,” he said and began filling out my passport application.

“All you need now are the photos and that’s it. Let me know when you are going to the passport office to drop this off. I’d like to tag along if that’s okay with you.”

“That would be great! How about this week sometime. I have so much free time now I won't know what to do with myself.”

“Perfect! I'll wait for your call.”

I left Josh’s late Sunday afternoon. I felt vulnerable leaving his apartment without a salsa jar in my purse and that’s when I decided that I needed to know for sure if Aaron was back in Mexico or not. When I got home I immediately called Nuevo Porvenir and asked Sergio to go to Hamburg to tell my family to come to the telephone. I sat in the dark and said all my prayers in hopes that my little sister would be the one calling like the last time I had spoken to my family on the phone. If she did then I could ask her if she knew if Aaron had returned to Mexico and no one would have to know about it.

When my phone finally rang, my heart began pounding out of my chest.


“Hola Anita lo siento, pero tu familia no estaba en casa.” (Hello Anita, I'm sorry, but your family was not home.)


“Lo siento mucho ¿Hay algo en lo que pueda ayudarte?” (I'm really sorry, is there anything I can help you with?)

I thought, “Maybe Sergio knows if Aaron is back in Mexico. I know that Aaron used to go to his store to buy cigarettes and beer all the time. If he is back I’m sure he would have been back to that store again. This might even be better than asking my family. I’m just going to ask him. Even if he laughs at my attempt to speak Spanish,” and went for it. 

“Ummm… tal vez.” (Ummm... maybe)”

“Ok, dime, Anita, ¿qué necesitas?” (Okay, tell me, Anna, what do you need?)”

“Me gustaría saber si Aaron Neudorf que vive en Hamburgo volvió de Canadá” (I would really like to know if Aaron Neudorf that lives in Hamburg came back from Canada.)”

“Sí, sí, ese cabrón está de vuelta aquí en México.” (Yes, yes, that dumbass is back here in Mexico.)”

I sighed and said, “Oh, thank God...”

“Lo siento Anita. Él no es tu novio, o sí?” (I am so sorry Anita. He is not your boyfriend, is he?)”

I began to laugh hysterically and yelled “NO! NO! NO…”

“Ay! Qué alivio!” (Oh! what a relief!)”

“Okay, muchas gracias. Me has ayudado mucho. Estoy muy agradecida. Gracias.” (Okay, thank you so much. You have just helped me so much. I'm so grateful. Thank you.)

“De nada querida. No te preocupes.” (You're welcome, my dear. Don't worry about it.)”

“Cuando lo veas por favor no le digas que pregunté por él.” (When you see him please don't tell him that I asked about him.)

“Sí, puedes contar conmigo. Esta conversación será nuestro secreto.” (Yes, you can count on me. This conversation will be our secret.)”

“Okay, thank you.”

“Orale, pues Anita. ¿Vienes a casa pronto?” (Okay, Anita. Are you coming home soon?)”

“No estoy seguro todavía.” (I am still not sure yet.)”

“Orale, cuidate mucho, y nos hablamos pronto.” (Take care, and we'll talk soon.)”

“Yes, okay. Bye Sergio.”

After I hung up the phone I realized that I was drenched in sweat from being so tense, but I still did a little happy dance. Finally, I was free, I could walk around without a salsa jar in my purse. I didn’t have to worry about him showing up unexpectedly.

The first week that I didn’t have to rush off to work after school flew by. I went and got my passport photos taken, called the travel agent and told her that I wanted to be on the last minute standby list for a ticket to Durango, Mexico close to or during the Christmas holidays.

I thought it was worth a shot and see if could afford it. I still had all my money saved from my vacation pay and if it was enough to fly home, why not go a year before the world is supposed to end. I knew that going home would be extremely emotional for me and if I could visit without the added stress of the world coming to an end might help.

The next day at school, Tony showed up alone to computer class and she had been crying. At break time I asked her where her girlfriend Hillary was and then she started crying again.

“She left me. She moved back to London. Apparently, I am too messed up for her.”

“What? Maybe she is the one that is messed up,” I answered just to say something because I had no idea what to say to her.

“Yeah, I think you are right Anna, thank you.”

“Ah… Okay.”

“So tell me, Anna, what has you worried these days?”

“What? You can tell that I am worried?”

“No, not really I am just trying to make conversation.”

“Oh, okay, well you were right. I am worried actually.”

“What are you worried about? I mean you don’t have to tell me about it if you don’t want to.”

“Sure, since you told me why you were crying I will tell you what I am worried about. You know how people were talking about the world coming to an end next year at new years?”


“I really wanted to go home next year for Christmas, but I thought about it so much and I would rather go home this Christmas instead, but do you know how much a plane ticket is to fly to Mexico?”

“Wait, you're Mexican?”

“Well, sort off, I think.”

“Are you Mexican Mennonite?”

“Sort off, I think.”

“Okay, sooo what you need is a way to make some extra cash.”

“Ah… that would help.”

“I can't believe this! This is perfect!”

“It is?”

“Yes, Anna you have no idea, you see, I have this job that I absolutely hate with a passion and I have been trying to find someone to take my place because I can't quit and just leave these guys hanging.”


“You Mennonite women are good at cleaning houses right?”

“Ah… I think so. I think I am, but only with Pine Sol.”

“Okay, yes I can get you, Pine Sol, no problem. Anna, would you be interested in cleaning a house? It’s just outside of town here.”

“Okay, how long does this house take to clean and how often do you clean it?”

“Once a week and four hours.”

“Okay, ah… you said, guys?”

“Yes, two single guys live in that house. They never clean and it can get pretty nasty.”

“Oh… I don’t know. Are they home when you clean?”


“Ah… that’s going to be a problem.”


“Ah… I ah… I just can't be alone with one man, let alone two, especially if I don’t know them.”

“Oh no Anna, these guys are harmless.”

“Um… I don’t know.”

“They never get home before seven o’clock during the week. If you started right after school, you would be done before they got home. If you work fast and get it done in less time you still get paid for four hours.”

“How much do you get paid?”

“Forty dollars cash, every time you clean.”

I began to do the math in my head to figure out how much money I would make before Christmas and that would help me out a lot.

“I'm sensing a reason why you can't put yourself in a situation where you are alone with men. I felt the same way and lived in fear for many years, but I don’t have to worry about that anymore. There is a way around it and I can help you.”


“I’ll tell you what Anna. Are you busy on Friday after school?”


“Great! Would you come with me this Friday? I can show you what I do and we can stay long enough for them to come home so I can introduce you to them.”

She felt my anxiety meter rising while she was talking.

“Just wait, Anna, let me finish. I will introduce you as my new girlfriend and you won't have to worry about a thing. Trust me.”


“It will work Anna. How about, you think about it until Friday and let me know.”


“Here’s my phone number. You can call me anytime if you have any questions.”


“See you tomorrow.”

“Okay, yes, see ya.”

After school, I couldn’t even focus on my Spanish novela and practice writing out conversations. All I could think about was, “I finally get to live in peace. Do I really want to risk meeting more people that could ruin that for me? But they pay cash! I won't even have to go to the bank and be told I have to wait five days before I can have my money. Her idea is brilliant, pretending to be lesbian might just be my way out of this.”

The idea began to grow on me, the more I thought about it and looking at the big picture. I thought, “this is a great idea not even just for this one situation, it’s a way that I can live in peace. Even if this travels to Mexico they won't get it and even if they do it will be a lot less interesting gossip than what is going around about me and my supposed ‘schwienoagel’ boyfriend.

When my phone rang I hoped that it would be the travel agent, but it was George.

“Anna! You’re home?”


“Yes, remember me? Your scary neighbor?”

“Yes! How are you?”

“I’m alright, how are you? How is life treating you?”

“Ah… it’s um… different.”

“Anna! No need to say more. I want to see you when you tell me what is going on. Would you like come over for supper? I miss you. It’s been way too long.” Click here to continue reading my story.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Mennonite’s dilemma

Continued from That Mennonite Dress

I couldn't help but feel good about myself. I had inspired Steve to come back to school, Sam to learn Spanish, and I wasn’t too disgusting to be kissed by Sam. I chose to think about that instead of losing my favorite job, at least for a while.

Saturday morning I woke up from the strangest dream, feeling happy, sad and confused all at the same time. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the fact that I may never see Sam again.

In my dream, I dropped my salsa jar when I ran away from Aaron. I climbed up a windmill to get away from him, but when I got to the top of the windmill I looked down and I couldn’t see him anywhere. Instead, I saw George, Sam, Josh, Hilary, Steve, and officer Mike Parsons all standing there looking up at me, asking me to come back down.

“It’s okay, Anna. You can come down. You don’t have to be afraid anymore, we are all here to help you,” shouted Sam.

I climbed down, Josh greeted me with open arms and hugged me as soon as my feet touched the ground.

“I think I love Sam,” I told Josh.

“No Anna, I think we all know it's not Sam who you love,” explained Josh but when I opened my eyes it was George talking.


“I think we all know who you love,” said George and winked at me.

“We do?”

“Most people hate him, but you don’t. You love him.”

“I do?”

“Anna it's the man that has given you the key to your freedom.”

“He has?”

“Mike Harris… Mike Harris… Mike Harris…” I heard echoing from a far distance as I jumped awake.

I set up on my bed and rubbed my eyes for a minute. As I processed the dream that I had just had and I thought “na oba! Mike Harris?”

But that dream didn’t stop me from thinking about Sam. Wondering what might be if he didn’t leave. I got up, put my Spanish music on and cleaned my apartment with Pine Sol just to get me through that. That was the only thing I knew how to do to make myself feel better, other than go talk to George.

The smell of Pine Sol reminded me of my family and I began to seriously think about going home for a visit. I wanted to see my family one last time in case it was true that the world was going to end. When I finished cleaning, I sat down with my calculator from math class and figured out how much money from my unemployment cheque I would have left over each month after paying my rent, buying food and an occasional tank of gas.

The thing I learned my first week in math class was that numbers didn’t lie. Math wasn’t like English, where I was never certain whether my answers were right or wrong. My calculator told me that I would have twenty-five dollars left over at the end of each month. The next thing I knew I had to do was to find out how much an airplane ticket to Mexico would actually cost.

I drove up town to a travel agency that I had driven past many times and wrote down the phone number from the sign in the window. I drove back home and called the number right away. I explained where I wanted to go to the woman that answered the phone. She said, “Okay, I will just put you on hold for a moment.”


I sat there and listened to the strangest music I had ever heard for a long time. Finally, when she picked up the phone again, she explained a few different options to me. When she told me the price, I thought she might not have understood what I had asked for and I said, “Ahhh… I didn’t want to buy the airplane, I just want one ride on it.”

She laughed and said, “Ma’am, this is how much one ticket to go to Mexico on an airplane costs.”

“Okay, thank you,” I replied and quickly hung up the phone.

It sank in that I could never afford to fly home. Not even the smell of Pine Sol helped me feel better at that moment.

I thought, I could always go with my cousin Izaak or my aunt and uncle, but I knew if I went with any of them that I was not guaranteed a ride back to Canada. And I could not risk that in case the world didn’t end. I needed to come back to Canada and finish school. No matter how I thought about it, I just knew that I wasn't going to be able to go.

When my phone rang I thought, maybe that woman did make a mistake and she is calling me to tell me that.


“Anna! You’re home! Remember me, your friend Josh?”

“Yes, I am and yes I do.”

“How are you doing?”

“At the moment not so great.”

“What is going on?”

“Well since you asked,” I answered and let’er rip… “I am really sad because I didn't have a job anymore, I want to go home, and I think I love Sam, George, and Mike Harris. I am so confused, I don’t know what to do.”

“Wo… wo… wo… slow down Anna. I think you need to come over so we can chat about all the feelings you are feeling at the moment. Luckily I have all the time in the world and I could really use your company right now. Drop what you were doing and come on over.”

“Okay, I will be there in an hour.”

“Sounds great, see you soon.”

I showered, got ready and drove to Josh’s apartment.

“Hey, Anna! It’s so good to see you, it's been way too long, I have missed you,” said Josh while he was hugging me.

“Hey! Right back at you.”

“Come, sit down. I am so glad that you come over. I have been so lonely since Jose went back to El Salvador.”

“What, he when back home?”


“For how long?”

“I have no idea.”


“Yeah. I made some coffee. Would you like some?”

“Sure, that would be great. Thanks.”

We sat down on his cozy sofa and sipped away at our coffees.

“So tell me, Anna, what is going on with you?”

I put my coffee down on the coffee table, “Ahhh… Well… when you called I was trying to figure out a way to go home to Mexico and last night after working my last shift at the factory, Sam kissed me.”

“What, George’s friend Sam Thompson?”

“Yeah, that’s the one.”

Holy guacamole Anna!” he shouted and gave me a high five.

“Tell me everything, how was it?”

“Okay, well, remember the time we walked the trail at Springbank Park and I told you about Aaron the Mexican cowboy?”


“Well, after he showed up at that nightclub so unexpectedly the other night, I put a salsa jar into my purse so I would be ready if I needed to defend myself.”

“Yeah… oh no, I don't like where this is going. Please don’t tell me that you whacked Sam Thomson with a salsa jar because he was trying to kiss you.”

“Ummm… I thought about it and I was going to, but the way he looked at me and gently placed his hands on my face I dropped my purse to the ground when he kissed me.”


“Yeah. But I probably will never see him again. He is moving Alberta on Monday.”

“Okay, so now I am really confused. On the phone, you said that you want to go home and that you loved Mike Harris. You see Anna that is what had me concerned.”

“Well, I had this weird dream last night. I told you that I thought I loved Sam but when you answered me you were George and he told me that I love Mike Harris…”

“Oh no! Mike Harris? Wow, interesting dream Anna.”

“Isn't it? I don’t even know what Mike Harris looks like.”

“We can talk more about that later. So did you ever find out if Aaron went back Mexico?”

“No, and the only way I could find out is by asking my family but I don’t want him to find out that I am asking about him. No one in my family knows about this and my mom and his mom are friends. If I start asking about him my mom might tell his mom and then he would know that I am asking about him and... ”

“Oh Anna, that’s a tough one, but you can't live like this not knowing where he is, I think you might need more than a salsa jar.”

“Yeah, but what? You know Josh, the whole time I thought I was able to live in peace when I thought that Aaron would never come to Canada, that whole time I had a stalker, and shortly after he was put in jail Aaron found me. I have lived with this my whole life, feeling anxious and afraid whether I am asleep or awake. It has become part of me.”

“That is just wrong. You shouldn’t have to live like this.”

“At least here I have you to talk to about it. I never imagined being able to talk to a man about stuff like this or a man sticking up for me like George has, you know.”

“You know what Anna? I might have something that is better than a salsa jar.”


“I’ll be right back,” he said and went to his room.

While he was in his room I picked a magazine, flipped through it and there it was, a picture of Mike Harris with a headline that read, “Mike Harris, the new Premier of Ontario.”

Josh came back with something in his hand, I couldn’t tell what it was.

“This is Mike Harris?” I asked.

“Yes, Anna. That is Mike Harris, the new premier of Ontario.”

“Okay, yes, I have seen posters of him before, when I first started going to school, his face was everywhere, but I couldn’t read so I didn’t know.  It’s nice to finally put a face to the name.”

“I am not surprised that you are having dreams about him. It's kind of ironic that you learned how to read while all of this is going on. This is a big part of your life now and it is going to shape your future,” he explained as he sat down beside me.

“Anna, I want you to have this. It is called a rape whistle, keep this on you at all times and whenever you feel unsafe weather it is because of Aaron, Mark, or anybody, just pull this string,” and he pulled it to show me. It made a noise so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think.

“Okay, wow that is loud.”

“Yes, this will make whoever is trying to hurt you, run like hell. Here give me that salsa jar and put this in the little pocket in the front of you purse so you always know where it is when you need it.”

“Okay,” I said and reached for the salsa jar and handed it to him. He took it and gave me the whistle. I took it with my shaking hand and put it in the front pocket of my purse. Holding the whistle in my hand made me really nervous, as I hoped that I would never have to actually use it.

“Alright, very good Anna. So what do you feel like doing tonight?”

“I don’t know, did you have any plans?”

“Not really, other than maybe going to the club.”

“You mean the club Sin’s?”

“Of course.”

“Yes! I mean maybe for a little while,” I answered.

“It’s totally up to you, Anna. I am not exactly a lot of fun to be around these days. I think I am not really living anymore, I’m just existing.”

“Actually, I think I have had enough of club life for a while. Last night was exhausting for me at the club. Well, that was until Sam kissed me. Your club is way more fun than the one I went to last night, but could we just stay here and maybe watch a movie or something?”

“Absolutely Anna, your wish is my command.”

“Okay, so can you tell me what the difference is between living and existing?” Click here to continue reading my story.

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