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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