Hello, It's Me Book Excerpt
Annie is dreaming.
Dreaming of classical music and a mouth-watering aroma and Andre’s gentle hand stroking her forehead.
It isn’t a dream.
As her senses awaken, she realizes she really is hearing music, smelling food, feeling somebody’s fingertips…
But not Andre’s.
Andre is dead, she recalls, with the jarring awareness that strikes her every time she returns to consciousness after a restful reprieve from her own harsh reality.
Andre is dead.
Her eyes snap open to take in the scene.
She isn’t in bed.
She’s in a recliner in the living room. But it can’t be her living room because the television is off and the stereo is on and it’s playing classical music. This can’t even be her house, because it smells like food—real food, not food from a can or a box or a pouch, not that her tragically bare cupboards can possibly contain even cans, boxes, or pouches.
Okay, so it’s her imagination again, carrying her and her growling stomach away.
Andre isn’t saying her name. Andre isn’t standing over her. No, it’s…
Annie bolts out of the chair. “What are you…?”
He laughs. “Yup, I’m still here.”
“You fell asleep, Mommy!”
Ella is standing beside James, looking gleeful. She’s wearing a bibbed white apron with red rickrack, circa 1940. Her hair is pulled back in a bread bag twist tie and a substance that looks like ketchup is smeared beside her mouth.
“Mommy, we made dinner for you!”
Annie shifts her gaze to Milo, whose pillowcase cape is now tucked into the front of his shirt and splashed with crimson stains.
“What time is it?” she asks, dazed, looking around the room and realizing that the light is different. Different, as in fading quickly.
“It’s dinnertime! Let’s go eat!” Ella giggles and dashes toward the kitchen with Milo on her heels.
“Dinnertime?” Annie echoes incredulously.
“Actually, it’s almost seven,” James says, checking his watch.
“Oh, cripes. I can’t believe I did this.” She zings an accusatory glare at him, needing to blame… somebody. Somebody other than herself. She’s sick of blaming herself for everything. She demands of James Brannock, “Why did you let me do this? I can’t just… sleep.”
“Why not? You were tired.”
“But… I have children!”
“No kidding. That’s probably why you were so tired. They have a lot of energy, don’t they.”