An excerpt from "Anna's Journey"
The dawn finds Anna Katri Jensen sitting at her desk, tapping her pencil and gazing at the rain drops sliding down her window. She has spent a restless night of indecision wrestling with pros and cons, pacing, and staring into space.
Anna is used to sleepless nights. Throughout her twenty-six years of life, she has often shadowboxed emotions that exist barely out of reach. Just when they surface close enough to decode, they slip away like a thief into the mist. To survive Anna habitually takes up residence in her mind, and keeps her swirling emotions behind closed doors.
Glancing out the window, Anna catches her reflection. She is surprised to see tears running down her cheeks. She studies the girl staring back at her. Anna has often been called a beauty, for her reddish blond curls accent the well-proportioned features of her face. It is the wild look in her light green eyes, which keeps the world at bay.
Absentmindedly Anna wipes the tears off her face. Still pondering her dilemma, she swears softly. Everywhere she turns, in everything she does the past flits around her: like a buzz fly to raw meat. At the focal point of that past is the promise Anna has made to her mama…the dominate thread that binds her tapestry of life together. “The dreaded past,” Anna says aloud. “Why do the skeletons so carefully buried, continue to rise to the surface?”
Throwing her pencil onto the corner of the desk, Anna angrily stands and walks into the bathroom. Shedding her clothes, she lets the soothing water fall over her head, thinking only Starbucks can pull her through another workday.
As the water warms the marrow of her chilled bones, a thought flickers through her mind. In the year she has worked as a law clerk in a Seattle law firm, she has only taken a few sick days. Even if she isn’t physically ill, she is suffering from enough emotional turmoil to warrant a day off. Pleased that at least she can make that decision, Anna dries herself and calls her office.
With an unexpected free day blessedly full of empty minutes and hours, Anna picks up her small apartment. Then she prepares a breakfast with enough protein to keep her body slim and her mind alert. As she scrambles eggs, she thinks of her mama. Then as often happens…a knife of sorrow pierces her heart. For the thousandth time her mind replays her brother’s tragic accident, and the hellish days that became her life.
Anna stops stirring her eggs, as she remembers her childhood and her constant struggle to neutralize its darkness. Prematurely forced into maturity, Anna meticulously attempted numerous escape routes out of her doldrums. Finally she buries herself in education, which led to her present law clerking job.
Yet with all her calculated plans and her attempts at perfection, Anna’s adult life is beginning to spin in financial circles. She spends sleepless nights worrying about her living expenses, the re-payment of her university student loans, and the impossibility of saving for law school. Trapped in her unfathomable monetary maze, Anna is becoming increasingly despondent. Then out of nowhere, an opportunity falls into her lap…. in the form of a “mysterious game.”
The lure of this game if she wins, is a full scholarship to a law school of her choice, complete with living expenses. However, what if she looses? Can she have her law clerk job back if she fails? Will this choice ruin her life, or propel her out of her haunted past and into a bright new future?
Calming her fragmented emotions, Anna focuses on her food. Glancing through the paper, she finishes her breakfast. She then pours a warm cup of coffee and settles onto her well-worn couch. Anna glances at the clock and watches the minutes tick by. She knows she only has one more hour to decide whether she will become a participant in this game or not.
Frustrated by her indecision, she begins tapping her foot to release nervous energy. “What’s the problem?” Anna says aloud to help her thought process. “I’m young and I can spare a year of my life to gamble on a possible escape route out of my financial tunnel…so, what’s the problem?” she repeats. In frustration, Anna pounds the pillow she is holding and then throws it against the wall. As it hits, the word control flashes through her mind.
So that’s it, Anna concludes. It’s the fear that someone else will be directing her life. Clearly, she is apprehensive that outside authority might crack her self-imposed structure sending her into a freefall, like a spinning autumn leaf on a cold winter’s breeze.
Anna glances back up at the clock, and then down on the sheet of paper sitting next to the phone. In black, bold lettering is the number she is to call. She still has five minutes left to decide.
Anna rises from the couch and begins pacing the room, arguing with herself. Still undecided, she finally walks over and pounds the wall in exasperation. “I’ve never really had a choice,” she angrily shouts. “Let’s face it, I’m a prisoner to the promise I made.”
Before she can change her mind, Anna walks quickly over to the phone and with one minute to spare, dials the number. “Hello,” she says. “This is Anna Katri Jenson… and… I’m in.”