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WHEN ANNIE FELL OFF THE MOUNTAIN
by Martin Golan

 

How could they meet in the same church? We never learned.

The worst part was we had wasted time. Every day, Annie was getting more and more pregnant.

 

The week after the meeting Annie found a new boyfriend - since she and I weren't technically in a relationship - but the poor guy didn't know what hit him. How often do you start a relationship with a woman pregnant from another man and planning an illegal abortion? But Annie was always good at attracting men. It was the one thing she was truly gifted at. Looking back, I see it as the sorry cycle of her life: a magical meeting, a fairy-tale month, and a betrayal so devastating it leaves her weak and vulnerable. Then a new man materializes, exploits the vulnerability created by his predecessor, and after a fairy-tale month finds a way to betray her in an even more devastating way.

Only at this moment does it occur to me that I might have been one of those men. In the past I liked to believe that what we had was different.

 

Just after the new boyfriend appeared Annie's friend Cheryl called with a name, someone in Washington. That's all we wanted, a name.

We discussed who should make the four-hour trip with Annie. I should go, of course. The new guy was not out of the picture, but driving down to Washington for an illegal abortion was too outlandish a first date, even back then, when everyone scorned the very idea of a "date." Eventually it was agreed that Cheryl would come, to take care of Annie, since we had no idea what the aftereffects would be.

We drove down in one shot, singing songs from Abbey Road and keeping in high spirits. We had an appointment, the place had been recommended, and he was supposed to be a doctor, maybe even licensed in the United States.

The address was on an impoverished street, with the White House peeping out over the sagging roofs. We found the number. It was a used appliance store. This explained why we were supposed to say, "I need a plumbing adjustment on something you sold me." We shuffled down an aisle to a guy in overalls kneeling before a washing machine with its front panel hanging down.

 

Copyright 2007 by Martin Golan


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