Title: Journals of Anna Morgan (1970 -1978)
Rating: PG-13 for difficult subject matter such as disturbing images, murder and suicide.
Email: The Ring Anna Morgan's journals after the birth of Samara.
Author's Note: I did some of my own research for this story, but I would like to give the biggest thanks toThe Ringworld site,without their helpful timeline, this story would not have been remotely feasible. I would also like to thank my wonderful friends Ruth and Michele for all their support and confidence in me. ;)
March 19, 1970
There is frost upon the yellow petals of the daffodils that we have growing behind the barn and I have been wondering if Samara will love those buttered flowers as much as I do when she gets older. I cannot believe a month has passed since we have had this wonderful, little baby and it all just seems like a dream. We returned to our beloved ranch last week and this place seems so much more magnificent than I remembered it, and we have only been away a little over a year. To be honest, I would rather not dwell upon the past year and all of our unpleasant experiences - in fact, Richard and I have decided, after many grave conversations, to tell people on the outside of our family that Samara was adopted instead of having to go through extended explanations every time we are asked about her. I want to focus only on the happy future that we will share with our little girl now that she is here.
The horses were ecstatic to see Richard and I believe he was just as eager to see them as well. Norris, my favorite and very silly horse, acted like he had never seen me before in his life. I have an idea that his feelings may have been hurt by my lengthy absence and that he was just being a little spiteful, but I think he and the rest of the horses will return to their usual behavior once things settle down and we are home for awhile.
I have learned so much in the past few weeks about being a mother and I had feared that it would be a much harder job than it has been so far. It is true that I have less time to myself, but I could not care less about such a trivial thing - I have the baby I have always wanted and I would gladly spend an eternity with her, watching her every movement in awestruck wonder that I actually developed this little human being inside me for nine months. Samara is such a delightful baby - other mothers cannot believe me when I tell them how agreeable she is. The incessant crying of their babies is their largest complaint and they are amazed when I tell them that Samara does not cry at all, not even due to hunger. I have also noticed a peculiar thing about her that I have not revealed to anyone else since I am aware how ridiculous it would sound about a child a little over a month old, but Samara looks at me - I don't mean that she looks in my direction - I mean she looks me right in the eyes. She seems to fixate on me a great deal of the time no matter how often I try to distract her with something else and I think this means that she is going to be very intelligent when she gets older. I have day dreams, in the moments while I am feeding her, about what she will be like as a toddler or a teenager. I just cannot believe that this miracle has really happened to the both of us. Richard is such a proud father and he checks on her all night long, talking to her softly. He still has not mastered the technique of holding her properly, she squirms a bit when he has her in his arms, but he will become used to her eventually.
May 30, 1970
I've been a mother for over three months - it's just so incredible. Samara's hair is getting a little darker and I think I am beginning to see some of my features in her face. Richard says that is impossible to see that in a child three months old, but I really think I can see it. I was singing to her this morning and she appears to enjoy that; she is not a very active baby, but she still studies my face very closely. I was becoming concerned that she does not seem to eat very often, but she is gaining weight. I can feel she is heavier when I hold her and I do have an appointment today with Dr. Grasnik since she has not seen Samara since we have arrived home. I also need to remember to ask her about a baby's sleeping habits and if it is common for a child to sleep so very little. I nod off occasionally during the day, but every time I look at Samara, she is wide-awake and looking at me. She has such tiny fingers and toes; I love to play with her little hands while she is eating.
I feel such sympathy for Richard since he is becoming a bit frustrated with the baby. Samara has been fussing and getting angry when he attempts to pick her up and hold her. Poor dear, he cannot even enjoy his new role as "father" - she spits up on him or squirms in aggravation. He has been reading some of the baby books that I brought in from town and he has been telling me repeatedly how important it is for the baby to bond with the father as well as the mother, but Samara just does not want any of that right now. I tried to explain to him that it was nothing personal, babies just behave that way sometimes, but I have heard him mumbling under his breath that she does not like him. I told him that was just ridiculous - she has no concept of liking or disliking at her young age. I am going to question Dr. Grasnik about that, too - perhaps she has some ideas for Richard.
June 1, 1970
I am exhausted after the last two days; the appointment with Dr. Grasnik was a disaster. Samara pitched such a fit when the doctor picked her up to get a closer look at her. I was so upset even though Dr. Grasnik said she was very accustomed to babies behaving that way. Samara being in a cold room with strange hands touching her, it is a very normal reaction for her to have gotten fussy. Dr. Grasnik gave me great relief when she declared Samara a very healthy baby, although it was a little unusual that she did not seem to sleep very much, but as long as she appeared to be rested, that was all that mattered. She also said that it was of vast importance that Richard handle Samara as much as possible, even if she gets visibly upset, because eventually she would get used to his voice and his touch, then there should be no more problems bonding between the two. She even mentioned that Richard could try singing to her, but I really hesitate to convey that suggestion to Richard. He sings much like a wounded bullfrog and I think that would only upset Samara more; I know it would certainly upset me.
November 4, 1970
Good heavens does time fly! I have been unable to write for some time, and here I had planned to keep such a detailed record of Samara's early years like most mothers do. Samara is almost nine months old already - I find that I want to keep her very small just a little bit longer, so I can enjoy her every second. Children do grow so fast and she is learning something new every day; she is even starting to stand up and hold onto things in order to move around.
Sadly, circumstances still have not changed between Richard and Samara - he is so terribly dejected, I feel so much for him. I know how devastated I would be if Samara acted with me the way she does with her father. There is so much anger in that little girl when he is around or attempts to interact with her. She has this way of scrunching up her nose and pursing her lips when she is mad that makes me giggle - she appears so determined when she makes that face. I don't believe Richard realized just how much he wanted to be a father until he had this baby in front of him that just ignores him. I cannot understand why she does that to him, she is very clingy with me and I have tried numerous times to persuade her to be nicer to "Daddy". She just pulls me to her tightly when I say that or she sits down on the floor and pouts. I was not aware that a nine month old child was able to pout like that.
I suppose I am feeling a bit of guilt right now because Richard and I had another argument this morning about Samara. He said we should take her back to Dr. Grasnik due to her behavior since "something must be wrong with her." I was so furious at that statement! There is nothing wrong with our little girl! I told him that he was allowing his disappointment from his lack of connection with Samara to cloud his judgment of her and that was not fair to Samara. This bonding problem is most likely just a phase that she is going through and he should not equate that with something being "wrong with her." He stormed out of the room and has been in the barn ever since. The horses have always been his escape - I can understand that, I have also found comfort there during times of duress. I have been rocking Samara in the rocking chair for the past two hours, viewing the pastures from out of her window, but she still has not fallen asleep. It is getting harder for me to do things around here, even small things, since she has is behaving so "needy" all of a sudden, but I suppose I should relish in being wanted. I am sure the day will come when she is older that she will not be so ready with hugs all the time.
December 8, 1970
Today has been the most infuriating day, I could just scream! Last week, Richard and I took Samara to the picture studio on the island to take some family pictures. She looked so adorable in a little, velvet red dress with roses and matching hat, white socks complete with tiny black shoes - what a petite doll she was! Well, I have just received the photographs this morning and there are small and unidentifiable smudges in the background. I phoned the studio immediately and demanded they reprint the photos since these were unacceptable. The photographer explained that he had noticed the marks on the photos, but these were not caused by a mistake in the film development - these marks were on the negatives directly and there was nothing that could be done about it. I told him, quite angrily, that he should not buy such cheap film - these are pictures of my precious daughter and we had expected a much better quality than he had provided. He told us he could not refund our money, due to his policies, but that he would give us a large discount on our next photo shoot. How ridiculous - as if I would go back to this incompetent place, and of course, they are the only photo studio on the island, so what to do? Michael is such a darling since he has offered to take some photographs of us and will develop them himself. I was surprised to find out that he is an amateur photographer; it has been one of his pastimes for awhile now.
Speaking of Michael, we had quite a scare yesterday; I shudder to think what might have happened if Richard had not been so quick in his movements. I was carrying Samara past the barn while Michael was trying out a new saddle on Chestnut, when the horse suddenly reared up on his legs, crying out in fear and started running rampantly around the yard, tossing Michael left and right. I covered Samara in protection and moved behind one of the fences while Richard dashed out bravely and grabbed his reins, trying to soothe him from this maniac outburst. What on earth had gotten into that horse? Michael could have been hurt very seriously - the whole event frightened me to death. What if Samara had also gotten injured? I have to be far more careful with her in the future.
January 17, 1971
The quiet moments of the morning are probably my most favorite part of the day. Richard has forever risen early to take care of the ranch and Samara is always awake when I just get up to go to her crib. She is such a beautiful child, but I am growing sadder every day from this widening canyon that stretches further and further between Richard and me. I can share my little moments of joy about Samara with no one. He has tried for months to win his daughter over, but it has all been to no avail. The last few weeks have created an almost desperation with him; I think Richard feels that he must redeem himself to her somehow. Dr. Grasnik is at a loss to explain Samara's behavior thus far. We have tried all sorts of suggestions - Richard even sang to her in his loving and croaking voice, but she has not opened up to him. My heart grieves for him so much - he has tried to move mountains and conquer seas with this child. I know Samara is not yet one year old and cannot be responsible for her actions, but it is almost as if she refuses him; it is as if she has rebuked him as her father. I cannot imagine from where inside her mind and soul this emotion might come. She is so close to me; she hovers around me constantly and wants nothing to do with anyone else. This is such an unusual thing that is happening with her. I can only hope when she is older and able to think and understand her behavior, perhaps they will grow closer.
Samara has also been developing her vocabulary, although it is still rather small. She can say "mama" and she mumbles different sounds. She has even started to mimic my singing - she cannot say the lyrics yet, but she tries to hum the tune. This brings to mind something odd that occurred this morning most likely from chance, I feel a bit foolish mentioning it, but I was in the kitchen getting my breakfast ready when Samara started tugging at my dress and babbling about something I could not understand. I picked her up after a few moments of her fidgeting and asked her what she wanted. She started getting frustrated because she could not explain in words what it was when all of a sudden, I knew what she wanted. I saw a picture of a cookie in my mind as clear as the blowing wind. I asked Samara if she wanted a cookie and she quieted down immediately. How could that picture have arrived in my mind so sudden and uninvited? One brief moment, I was thinking about getting milk for my cereal and the next, it was that picture. I cannot understand how I knew what was causing her to become so riled. I gave her the cookie to gnaw on a bit and she appeared happier. After that, I lost track of the minutes spent sitting at the dining room table and observing Samara and that damned cookie.
April 13, 1971
I consumed a lot of the morning hours exploring all the various parts of our property with Samara. She makes a lot of different sounds now as if she is saying volumes of words. We watched dragonflies dart about the grass and I showed her how to blow the white fluff from a dandelion into the air so it could be carried away by the gentle wind. She appears to like butterflies as she could not take her eyes off of them and stretched her little arms to try to touch them while they floated by. I am feeling a little down right now thinking about how time has passed so quickly and Samara is growing up so fast. I know the chances of my being able to conceive again - especially without medical help - is impossible and this will be the only time I will have the ability to enjoy watching my child grow up. Every moment is so precious for us and I am spending the time with Samara alone, without Richard. I love this little girl more than anything in the world.
May 19, 1971
Things have been getting more and more curious in our household. Michael has just brought some pictures that he had taken of Samara outside near the barn and there were more smudges in the background, just like the batch he had taken three weeks ago. However, to my total amazement, these marks are beginning to take shape. One appears to be Samara's toy blocks and another is of the horse mobile hanging over her crib. I am in total shock and cannot even begin to explain how this could have happened. I showed them to Richard and he was a bit perturbed at first, but then shrugged off his concern by insisting that Michael must have made a mistake in the development; the images must have overlapped somehow. I clarified that the roll of film had no pictures taken inside the house on it and Michael has sworn that he has never taken a photo of Samara's crib or toys. How did the images get onto the negative unless, perhaps, someone had put them there? It is true that our relationship has not been well for a long time now, but Richard shot me the oddest look from those piercing blue eyes, as if I might not be in my right mind or something. I regretted my musing aloud and now I am afraid Richard thinks I am going crazy. He saw the impressions with his own eyes, so I know it is not my active imagination at work. His simple explanation just does not relieve my mind.
October 2, 1971
Exhaustion has become my newest friend and likes to play amusing games with my eyes throughout the day. Perhaps I am in need of some glasses since I have perceived unidentifiable things just outside my peripheral vision lately, but when I turn to view these objects, they disappear. I remember reading an article awhile back regarding "floaters" that are located within the eye itself as part of the eye breaks down naturally, but can appear to be objects around the room. There is really not much they can do for these eye "floaters" and they are usually harmless. However, with the tiredness, I wonder if I could be coming down with a slight cold - I just never feel completely rested lately. It is growing more difficult to keep up with chores around the house since I just feel like sleeping most of the time, but Samara will not let me sleep for long. She has taken to being carried around the ranch even though she has been able to walk on her own for quite awhile now. She fusses if she is put down for a considerable period of time, however, I must say, she is so adorable to watch toddling around when she decides to do so.
Samara has been trying some more new foods the last week and she really seems to like mashed potatoes and carrots the best of all. I am trying very hard to keep her eating healthy foods since I know she will discover candy soon enough. One thing she does not like at all is soup of any kind - she tosses it onto the floor, much to my amusement and her father's consternation. Richard should not get so upset with her behavior, she is still only a baby, but I know his inability to identify with her is the root of his attitude. I have noticed the last few months that she does not fret and become irritated anymore when he comes around her or speaks to her, she just sits in a cold indifference. Actually, upon observing her behavior throughout the day, she is very unresponsive to all kinds of stimuli, and it is beginning to concern me since I have been reading up on developmental stages in my child rearing books. A child her age should have more of an interest in her toys than she does and the strangest thing of all is that she never smiles. I have never seen her smile or laugh once in almost one and a half years. She is a very intelligent child, it has nothing to do with her developmental aptitude - if I speak to her, she is responsive and communicative, but when it comes to interaction with other people or things, she remains distant. She seems to enjoy my reading and singing to her, and if I attempt to play with her and her toys, she will play with me but she will never play by herself. I have discussed my worries with Richard, but he does not seem to think this is so serious a problem at this early stage. I told him that she will be two years old in a few months and that her emotional and mental progress, or an impediment in her growth at any age, is very important and we should address this issue now, when it might still be able to be managed. I will make an appointment with Dr. Grasnik in a few days, though I am sure she is growing tired of my abundant "anxious new mother" phone calls.
March 21, 1972
I am nursing a rather deep cut on my left index finger as I take a moment to write this afternoon. I cannot understand why Samara despises so strongly the practice of having her hair brushed - she put up such a chase and struggle today! We go through this once in awhile when I cannot find her "soft" bristle brush with the zebra on the handle; it is the only hairbrush that she will tolerate me using. Well, I searched everywhere around this place and could not find it so I had to use one of my own. Good heavens, you would have thought a tornado came through here by the whirlwind of anger she conjured up; cyclones have nothing on this child sometimes. What caused things to get worse is that she made that "angry face" that she does on occasion, which turned my annoyance into laughter and Samara stormed out of the room. I put the brush down on my bureau and followed her out of my bedroom when I heard a deafening crash behind me. I rushed back into the room to see that the large mirror on my dresser had shattered into hundreds of pieces - I was horrified to death! I have no idea how it could have possibly happened, but my God, what if it had fallen on Samara? She would have been cut to ribbons - luck got her out of that bedroom in time to protect her from harm and I am still trembling now just from the memory. Michael helped keep Samara out of the room while I cleaned up the mess, slicing my finger during the process on a particularly sharp piece of glass. Strangely enough, however, I found my hairbrush across the room on the floor - I don't know how it could have traveled such a distance from my bureau. I must have Michael help me check the rest of the mirrors in the house so I can be assured that they are secured properly.
April 17, 1972
Michael stayed with Samara for awhile this afternoon while I helped Richard in the stable. It seemed to be the first step to repairing our deteriorating relationship since it has been forever since the two of us have had time alone together. Richard has been avoiding steadily any discussions about Samara and I have granted him that unspoken request in order to keep the peace for now. We have been speaking about fluffy, unimportant things. I find I have missed the horses so much in the past several months - I never have the chance to take care of them anymore since Samara takes up so much of my life now. It is a terrible thing to mention, but I cannot help but notice how comfortable Richard appears without Samara around him - his demeanor is very uptight when she is in the room. It is not Richard's fault; I would never want him to be judged as an unloving father because of his behavior. I think he has just given up any hope that Samara will ever treat him like he is her father. I know that he loves her beneath his gruff exterior, he is just unable to deal with her lack of love towards him. Of course Richard loves her because how could one not love his or her own flesh and blood? Even when that child has done something disappointing or wrong, a parent still loves that child - Samara is a part of Richard and it must tear him to shreds emotionally that she regards him in such a neglectful manner. At Samara's last appointment, Dr. Grasnik said she is concerned that Samara might be experiencing a developmental delay, but she did reassure us that Samara is a very intelligent child and explained that perhaps her problem is more likely an emotional one as opposed to a learning disability. I cannot understand that idea, to be completely honest - Samara has a wonderful home, with love and attention and comfort. What could be causing her to have such an emotional disturbance? I want so much to confer with Richard about all this, but he stiffens at the mention of her name. Things have seemed bleak and strange to me lately and it does not help that I have been suffering from a disruptive sleep the last few weeks. Perhaps I need to see Dr. Grasnik for my own health problems.
May 12, 1972
I arose from bed uncharacteristically early this morning in order to spend some much needed time alone with the horses. Norris still appears somewhat reserved in my presence, but it was hard for him to resist the apple that I brought for him and he eventually let me pet his mane while I unburdened myself upon him. He has the clearest and most compassionate eyes I have ever seen in an animal and I believe that is why he has always been my favorite. I wanted to take him out for a little ride since I really needed to get away for awhile, but it was getting late and I had to take care of Samara. Michael was surprised to find me in the stable when he came in to begin his duties and he noticed that I looked very tired. I told him I wasn't sleeping or feeling very well lately and he mentioned a Chinese friend he has in Seattle who is an herbalist. Michael is going to Seattle in a few days and, the kind young man that he is, offered to speak to his friend about something that might help me feel better. I still need to make that appointment with Dr. Grasnik, but truth be told, I have been procrastinating about a visit with her. I know as I grow older the chance becomes greater that I could develop some life-threatening illness, especially some form of cancer and I am very afraid to see Dr. Grasnik lest I find out I have something terrible. I have always checked my breasts fairly regularly due to my mother's illness, and I haven't found anything suspicious, but I really need to get over this fear of going to the doctor.
I have been experiencing another unusual occurrence which is also causing me great concern. I mentioned once before that I thought I might have "floaters" in my eyes that cause me to see objects that are not there. Well, I was in my bathroom a little while ago gathering clothes from the laundry when I saw a figure standing behind the shower curtain. At first I thought it might be Richard, but I remembered that he had gone into town with Michael, so I stood frozen, watching this person moving around behind the drapery. A man pushed his face against the cloth so I could just make out the outline of his features when I grabbed the plunger from behind the toilet and whipped back the curtain to wallop the hell out him. The shower stall was empty - completely empty. There was no one there, but I am telling you as sure as I know my name, there had been a man standing behind there. I came out of the bathroom and stretched out on my bed trying to make sense of what had just happened when Samara toddled over and climbed up next to me. Well, I guess I am being ridiculous - I shouldn't get so worried about this since I know a lack of sleep can do strange things to a person. I hope Michael is able to get me something to help me feel better.
August 3, 1972
It was only a total of three hours last night that I obtained any rest; the remainder of the night was spent on horrible nightmares about dismembered baby doves and unending rows of guillotines illuminated by lightning. Samara was very angry that it was Michael who took her downstairs to make breakfast, but I just did not have the strength to get up out of bed. I tried to sleep a bit longer, but it was to no avail - it is hard for me to go back to sleep after I have awoken. The herb packet that Michael had acquired from his herbalist friend a few months ago has not been successful in curing my illness. It was supposed to cleanse out my system but only seems to have caused me to experience very strange dreams. I stopped taking it about a week ago since I could see no improvement in my health. This lack of sleep, however, is starting to take its toll on me since I am still having more unexplained visions during the day, so I made an appointment with Dr. Grasnik yesterday. She noticed the dark circles that surround my eyes and that I had a problem keeping my attention to her. She said that these symptoms are quite common with sleep deprivation and she insisted that I have some tests to rule out any physical causes, such as "sleep apnea", a disorder that can cause breathing to stop periodically during the night and prevent a restful slumber. She asked me if I thought there could be a psychiatric cause for this sleep disturbance, but I was hesitant to mention my marital problems with Richard since it is not just insomnia that is making me feel so terrible. I just have this constant feeling of malaise from which I cannot escape. She took some of my blood and did a regular physical check-up. I am so fearful of these test results - please do not let me have anything serious like cancer. Such dreadful news will send me completely over the edge of sanity.
August 15, 1972
The warm breeze of the wind is causing the grass to sway in a gentle dance as I bask in the sunrays of this bright afternoon - it bestows great peace upon my soul for the moment. I can breathe a little sigh of relief since Dr. Grasnik called me a little while ago with the outcome of my test: everything appears to be normal. I accepted this as good and bad news since Dr. Grasnik cannot explain why I have this prolonged insomnia and these intermittent hallucinations. She has suggested that perhaps I should go back to Dr. Scott at ECPH where he might be able to make a connection between my psychiatric state and my sleeplessness. I really do not want to go back there, but I am at my wits' end from this constant state of tiredness. I cannot keep up with Samara in this condition - she moves so quickly now that she is getting older and it is so hard to watch her carefully. Michael has been wonderful with all his help, but Samara gives him a very hard time when he is babysitting for me. She fights him and throws such a fit when he tries to interact with her. This behavior has left me in such a quandary; I do not understand why she can be such a terror sometimes. Richard does not even bother to try to take care of her - she acts like he does not exist. We have given this little girl great emotional security, bounds of attention and love, and she still behaves in this terrible manner when she does not get her way. Dr. Grasnik has mentioned that her unpleasant conduct might be one symptom of a mild form of autism, which upsets me very much, but she wants to do some tests on Samara to rule out other causes before she can make an accurate diagnosis. My life has become one big bout of building stress and there is no relief, especially with Richard - it is as if the stables have become his primary home now. He rises early and goes to sleep late so we have no conversations or any real interactions for that matter. I never imagined I would have to go through all of this trauma and strife by myself - I am beginning to believe that I haven't a husband anymore.
September 9, 1972
The hallucinations are growing worse. I attempted to help Richard in the stables this morning with the thought that perhaps a good day of exercise would help alleviate the insomnia, but it has only caused Richard to insist I return to ECPH for more psychological treatment. I was shoveling out Miranda's stall (she is one of our younger horses) when my left ankle began to itch and the sensation started spreading up my leg to my knee. I scratched at it briefly without looking down and continued to shovel when my right calf started itching as well. I glanced down to see millions of black beetles scuttling around the ground and scurrying up my legs. I began screaming hysterically, brushing and pounding at my legs as Richard arrived at the stall appearing frightened and concerned. I shouted for him to help me kill the beetles and get them off of me when he grabbed me by my arms and shook me for a few moments to stop my frenzy. I closed my eyes and my ears finally heard what he was yelling: "What beetles, Anna? There aren't any beetles! Calm down!" He kept repeating that phrase over and over until I gathered enough courage to look down at my legs. There was nothing there but my denim pant legs and old work boots, so I started sobbing and crumbling until I felt Richard's arms around me for the first time in months. We just sat on the floor of the stall as he rocked me and whispered over and over that everything was going to be fine. My compassionate Richard had returned, much to my relief and happiness, and he helped walk me back to the house. He got us both a warm cup of coffee and sat us down at the dining room table to have the lengthy discussion that we have been avoiding forever. Gazing at him from across the table made me realize that he looks exhausted and much older than I had noticed in a long time. He was quite adamant that I see Dr. Scott once again since Dr. Grasnik can find nothing physiological to explain these visions or the insomnia. He also asked me directly if my lack of sleep was a result of our relationship problems, but I did not respond in order to keep him from any feelings of guilt. Richard took my moment of hesitation as an affirmative answer and began apologizing over and over again to me for his emotional distance and how much he loved me, and he also finally said our daughter's name out loud for the first time in months. He has made Samara the scapegoat for his behavior, blaming her for creating this chasm between us since we never had such severe problems before she was born. I am so devastated and infuriated by those words, especially since it is so untrue - our life has never been perfect and we had plenty of quarrels about many things before Samara was here. My God, she's only a little girl! He says her name with such contempt, like she is some sort of object or thing without feelings - an inanimate obstruction to our living "normally". Richard has become a stranger to me these last few years - it is as if he does not have a parental bone in his body with Samara. Children are not faultless and can be difficult sometimes! That does not mean you sever your love for them and treat them like furniture just because they are not behaving the way you wish! I held my tongue then, since I did not want any arguments about Samara when she is within earshot. I remember many fights my parents had when I was young and I never wanted to put my child through the same thing. She is too little to understand such harsh voices and I do not want to traumatize her. I have lost so much respect for this man - I do not know if this rift between us could ever be repaired.
October 11, 1972
The foolishness of youth is so often discomfited and regrettable - there are few nice moments when one weeds through the meadows of memory. Looking through pictures of myself so young and lighthearted, I see a woman long forgotten glancing back at me with such vibrant eyes. The pale-skinned specter that I see every morning has stopped appearing as my reflection; it is more like a hanging portrait of a woman older than her years who has lost her faith. I took out the photo albums to show Samara pictures of her grandparents, I know she is still too young to fully understand their significance in her life, but it gave me an opportunity to reminisce for awhile. God, but Richard was such a handsome man in our early life together; those cool and clear eyes that were brimming with self-confidence and intelligence. I have known him since before I was an adolescent, but it wasn't until I developed an interest in boys around age twelve that I cared about his visits to our ranch. Our parents both owned horses on the Island and Richard's father Gerald would come by often to see my father - they were great old friends. My first real memory of Richard was this very cute and awkward young man fidgeting next to his father, trying to avoid eye contact with me. I saw Richard every few months, briefly, but I was interested mostly in the horses and my dolls. It wasn't until I was thirteen and Richard was eighteen that he suddenly piqued my attention. I developed such an infatuation with him - he grew more and more handsome, and he was older than I was which was very attractive. His father died around that time, but Richard still came by our ranch, seeking advice from my father. I think my father always appreciated those visits and how much Richard valued his opinion. I will never forget our first kiss and how gently Richard's lips touched mine after I won that horse competition at age sixteen. I don't know how I managed to keep from just exploding into a million stars- all that brimming excitement and electricity going through me! Oh, God…how I wish I hadn't thought of that - it has just brought tears to my eyes. How do you know a man your entire life and still not understand him? An entire life of memories built from love, patience and shared experiences all destroyed so suddenly - how is that possible? Did I only see the sides of Richard that I wanted to see? Was he always this selfish and emotionally distant during bad times?
I spoke on the phone with Shirley for a little while this afternoon; she has always had a golden ear and golden heart for all my stress and worries. She was relieved to hear that Samara's blood tests for lead poisoning or any other physical disorders came back negative. The doctor explained to me that there is no real test for autism, but there are several things they have to discount before they can take a broader step toward a better diagnosis of what may actually be happening with Samara. Thank goodness I've had Shirley to talk to about this whole autism fear - she is just such a wonderful person. Samara is scheduled for a hearing test in a few days, but I dread that appointment. She is not very good at behaving when she is forced to do something she does not want to do.
November 26, 1972
Dinner was very uneventful; in fact, the "events" did not start until after we returned home. Michael had stayed with Samara while Richard and I spent some time together at the restaurant. As soon as we walked in the door, we heard screaming and ranting to bring the roof down upon us. Michael, with his arm wrapped in a reddening paper towel, was chasing Samara around the living room trying to calm her down. She started banging her head on the table hollering at the top of her voice that she wanted "Mommy". Michael appeared exasperated and I was quite shocked to see such emotion coming from my daughter after months of strange numbness. Then she started slapping at him as he tried to pick her up and the towel unraveled from his arm revealing a horrible slash down his forearm. I was so distraught that it took a few moments for me to react to the situation. I had to gain control since it was obvious that Richard was not going to do anything about this. I came across the room ready to pick her up, calling for her to calm down, which she did as soon as she heard my voice. It amazes me how quickly she can come out of a tantrum if I am nearby. Michael's arm looked terrible and he admitted, sheepishly, that Samara had gotten a hold of some scissors and had cut him in anger during their volatile conflict. I grabbed her and showed her Michael's wound, telling her emphatically that what she had done was horribly wrong, but Samara just stayed silent and put her little arms around my neck. I didn't want to admonish Michael for leaving scissors within her reach since I could tell he had already been through enough tonight. I carried Samara upstairs to her crib and tucked her in, still too numb from fright to process all that had occurred. I went back downstairs in order to examine Michael's injury, but found that Richard had already done so and had called Dr. Grasnik, awakening her because he believed that Michael needed stitches immediately. Dr. Grasnik told Richard to meet her at her office in ten minutes and she would take care of it, the kind woman that she is. When they had gone, I went into the kitchen where I found the bloody scissors laying on the floor. It was not until that moment that the events of the night finally hit me and I collapsed, trembling violently. I cannot begin to comprehend that my little girl harmed another person in anger. She has always thrown tantrums when she did not get her way, but never to this extent, never to the point where someone was injured, and this was not an accident. Samara picked up that weapon deliberately and lashed out at Michael intending to hurt him. I do not know what to do about this. Samara is almost three years old, still unable to rationalize her behavior, but this cannot go away without being dealt with properly. I stared at those scissors for over an hour just watching the pool of blood beneath them growing larger and larger. It was as if the scissors themselves were bleeding. I feel as if I will never stop shivering and I came to a conclusion after the time that had passed.
I finally understand Richard's distance from his daughter. It was within the expression on his face when he first entered the room. Richard is afraid of Samara.
December 14, 1972
Richard and I have been arguing all morning back and forth about Samara – so what else is new? I found out from Michael that Richard lied to Dr. Grasnik that night he cut his arm. Part of me understands why Richard did it, since even I was not sure how to broach the subject with Dr. Grasnik, but what do I tell her now? I am worried out of my mind about Samara's violent outburst. This is definitely something of which her doctor should be aware and now Richard has complicated things out of embarrassment.
February 8, 1973
Samara turned three today and we had a birthday party with a few children of some of my friends. We dressed her in a lovely maroon dress with tiny hearts on it. I purchased it yesterday since many of the local stores have begun preparations for the upcoming Valentine's holiday. I attempted unsuccessfully to finish off her adorable ensemble with two, little red ribbons for her hair. She really does not like her hair up, so we left it straight and shiny. I made a two-tiered vanilla cake with pink frosting and a red number "three" candle. We had a lot of fun making a mess while putting candy hearts all over it – Samara got more of those in her tummy than on the cake, I'm afraid. Michael got some beautiful pictures of the cake, which was unfortunately lopsided.
I planned the party with some trepidation since this was really the first time Samara has spent extended time around other children. We had tried to set up some play times with the Stevens' young son, Anthony, and with a little niece of Michael's, but Samara just did not want to interact with either of them. They played with her toys and she just sat with disinterest, staring out of the window. This is causing me such distress – we have scheduled more tests with Dr. Grasnik, mostly neurological. I have tried to explain to Dr. Grasnik how Samara behaves with me, how she never appears completely happy, but when we are alone together, her communication and developmental skills seem normal. It is only when she is around other people, her demeanor changes drastically. She always appears almost catatonic, well, until today.
We had set up tables in the backyard with red and pink helium balloons – the Charters from down the road brought their two year old Melody, who is a very sweet but unwieldy little girl. The Stevens brought Anthony, who made sure to tell everyone he was three…and a half. Michael's niece was unable to come, but a few of my lighthouse committee friends brought their children of all different ages, and we played "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" (Samara excluded because she wanted to sit near her cake) and a few other games. I had our old phonograph record player and we had some children's music going the whole time. I was so grateful that the weather had decided to cooperate and remain cloudless. Everything appeared to be coming along splendidly until Anthony started screaming. It was a high-pitched, panicked type of scream and all of the parents came running. My first thought was slightly disjointed because I was unsure from where the blood was coming since it was all over his face and shirt. It took a brief moment to see that it was flowing from his nose. He had been riding Samara's new rocking horse and must have fallen off. Through all of the commotion, I looked around quickly to find Samara – who was still sitting at the table alone. Anthony cried in hysterics and through his tears I caught the words "sharp poking in my head" as I rushed inside to get ice and a towel. Poor darling – I hoped his nose wasn't broken because my father had done that once, conveying how terrible the pain had been. No young child should have to suffer through that. It wasn't until now that I realized the angered expression I had seen on Samara's face during my quick glance.
May 20, 1973
A flock of wild canaries slammed themselves into our kitchen window this morning. I was not aware how on edge my nerves had been until the sound of the hard thump and subsequent chirping caused my whole body to jump. I saw one young bird get crushed between another bird and the glass. Samara just stared blankly as I ran out to see how many had been injured. There were several canaries milling about in a daze upon the ground, but the one that had been pinned between window and bird appeared to be limping and holding his left wing lower than the other. He was making these pitiful and quiet peeping sounds.
The poor thing looked so tiny among the others and appeared to be in shock. He did not seem to notice as I picked him up gently and rushed him over to the stable where I knew Richard would be. His first reaction was alarm when he saw my expression, but it changed to curiosity as his eyes moved down to the frail, feathered thing in my extended hands. I stammered and began crying as I tried to explain how he had been hurt and asked if he could help the bird. Richard is not a veterinarian, this is true, but he has much knowledge about a variety of things, including animals. He took the baby canary from me carefully and looked at its wing and leg closely. He said from what he could tell, neither were broken, but he was afraid the bird might have some internal damage after such a violent impact. He handed the canary back to me and told me to find a shoebox, a soft cloth and a heating pad. I put the bird onto the cloth and placed it inside the box, put the heating pad on the lowest level and set the box on top of the pad. The bird was in a quiet part of the kitchen where it could rest and I was surprised to see Samara toddle over to it with an expression of slight interest. I told her that the birdie had been hurt and we were going to keep him safe until he could get better. She just sat next to the box and watched him sleep.
I made Samara a cheese sandwich for lunch then I was going to read her a story. She is going through that phase where she will only eat certain foods: bowtie pasta with butter and parmesan cheese, cooked carrots, applesauce, bologna without bread and cheese sandwiches without the crust. She will eat Cheerios sometimes, but she fusses if you try to make her eat anything else. Richard is disgusted with this display and has announced on many occasions that I am spoiling the child and that his father made him eat whatever everyone else was eating or else he went hungry. I asked him if this was the same father who allowed his son to clean his father's hunting rifle at five years old and Richard mumbled something under his breath and went out in a huff. I love it – this man and his sporadic parenting thinks he knows best. I tell you, it is only a phase and the holy-hell tantrums she throws are not worth the messy victory of having introduced a new food into her body. She takes a children's vitamin every morning and one day she will grow tired of her small list of tolerated meals.
I will never understand how an author could write such a book as The Giant Jam Sandwich; I must have had a momentary lapse of judgment to pick this up as well. A town overrun by hornets must construct a gigantic jam sandwich attached to a helicopter to get rid of them. I wonder how many children develop a severe insect phobia because of this book. Samara seemed fascinated and kept pointing wide-eyed at the swarms depicted. I kept telling her, yes, those are hornets, they sting people and can hurt you. I was going to try to explain the whole idea of pollination on a three year old level, but I realized it is just too difficult a concept for her to grasp just yet. We picked up another one of her books that focused on word and picture association - this was a book all about animals. We have gone over it numerous times and I decided that I would let her initiate each word before I said them as I pointed at each picture. She did exceptionally well; she knew giraffes, monkeys, turtles, dogs and cats, but an amusing thing happened when we arrived at farm animals. She knew her cows and pigs, ducks and chickens, but when I pointed to a horse, her first reaction was "daddy", and she wrinkled her nose a bit. I was surprised and giggled aloud. Now there are times I have believed that Richard has behaved like a horse's ass, but never an entire horse. A quick image of Richard neighing flashed through my mind and I laughed even harder. "No, sweetie," I corrected. "That's a horse, you know daddy's not a horse, silly girl. Daddy takes care of the horses in the barn." She put her little finger back at the picture and insisted, "daddy." I laughed some more and moved on through the rest of the book. I wonder what Richard would think of his daughter viewing him as a horse.
May 23, 1973
Our little canary friend is still alive thankfully and I am very happy to see he is a bit stronger today. Samara likes to watch me feed the tiny fellow from an eye dropper several times a day. This injured bird has brought Richard around more often as well. He has been coming into the kitchen with the excuse that he is just thirsty and getting a drink, but I see him peeking in the box before he leaves. When I get glimpses of the old Richard, it gives me such mixed emotions. I have mentioned before that he has a good heart he is just somewhat removed and moody. I wish I knew what was going on in his head; whenever things bothered him, he was always able to discuss it with me, now, I am outside the little circle he has created for himself. I need to be more understanding - I need to forgive his animosity toward our child. What it must be like to be rejected by your own child! I have been selfish and judgmental of him. The sorrow and loneliness I can see in his eyes is destroying him. There are times he looks at me with such longing when he thinks I am not aware. He misses what we had and I miss him, too. Perhaps, there is still some life in the both of us that we have been too lost to notice.
May 27, 1973
The canary is dead.
I found his lifeless speck of a body lying at the bottom of the box this morning and it broke my heart. He was so close to being completely well, I cannot imagine what could have killed him. He was regaining his strength and eating more heartily just the past few days, and had even begun to chirp louder. Samara and I were the last to see him before we retreated to bed last night, the poor, tiny soul. Perhaps we had been deluding ourselves all this time and he did not really have a chance after his injury. Sometimes creatures are at their strongest just prior to their death. Richard said that to me when I came to the barn disconsolate after discovering the bird. From his experience, he mentioned that he had seen false recoveries many times in the horses and one never knows what will happen ultimately. After awhile you stop looking for the hopeful signs, since their better health can be deceiving. You just take what comes and work accordingly. He is such a gentle and wise man. It is conversations like this one that remind me why I married him so long ago. He can be my rock at the strangest times when I am least expecting him to be.
Wisps of shadow images are still hiding in my peripheral vision. I see odd shapes or movement from the corner of my eye, faces in foggy mirrors, horrible objects in the dancing light of the moon reflected on our bedroom ceiling at night. I have started having more dreams as well, disjointed and terribly upsetting, although I cannot remember much upon awakening except pieces of the worst parts. They mostly recall a feeling of dread and futility. Perhaps I should see Dr. Scott once again.
June 16, 1973
Something walked past my open bedroom door yesterday in dark clothes - I felt the wind of its cloak as it went by and as I chased it into the hall, it was gone. My concerns are now growing, not just for my own strange mental happenings, but for Samara's welfare as well. I know this will sound very odd, and I can't justify it, but I have noticed something during my times around the barn and fields - I don't think the animals like Samara very much. It sounds ridiculous, creatures are creatures and behave predominantly by instinct and don't necessarily have the ability to hate, but I swear they are different when she is near them. As if they are frozen, holding their breaths collectively, waiting for her to pass them by and spare them some awful fate. The horses are separate in that respect - they raise holy hell when she comes. They buck and screech, Brutus almost kicked down his stall door in a frenzy the other morning. I can feel it within the depth of my core - this is not normal, this is not something easily explained away. Michael told one of the farmhands that he caught her down near the pond brandishing a large rock, crushing small lizards - Michael wouldn't lie, but how can this be true? She's only three years old and she's my baby. I think she is just too young and not aware that her actions have consequences; the permanence of death is something still unknown to her. I'm sure she didn't mean to harm those little things, but I must have a talk with her.
July 29, 1973
I should have known better than to show Samara where the family photo albums are kept. I should have known something like this could happen. Just a few moments out of my sight and almost a lifetime of pictures have been destroyed beyond repair. I noticed a few photos scattered on the living room floor and followed them as a path to the open albums where there were pictures strewn everywhere. Samara had found one of my ballpoint pens on the kitchen counter and managed to scribble out her father's face from almost all of the photos. Dozens of pictures of Richard, faceless and ruined - I'm devastated. How deliberate of this small child to just choose his face. My God, how is this possible? Samara is three years old and it is as if she hates her father enough to scratch his image out purposefully. She left all other family members untouched; there can be no other explanation. I don't know what to do about this. I cannot begin to comprehend this – so many photos of memories gone. I was furious and grabbed her by the shoulders and shook her. I hadn't ever done that to her before. I just kept shaking her and yelling at her, crying…all the months of stress and aggravation and concern just culminated into this one moment. Samara dropped the pen and became like a statue – no emotion, no tears, no…nothing. How can she be our child? What is wrong with her? She is like an empty vessel sometimes, almost inhuman…no, I can't say that, she's my little girl. She made a mistake. That is all. Children destroy things all the time because they don't understand. We bake cookies together and I read her stories and we play with her dolls. She's just a little girl. She's just a baby. She didn't mean to do it. I pulled her into my arms and hugged her, telling her I was so sorry. I didn't mean it either. I didn't mean to hurt her like that. We'll work this out. Everything will be O.k.
Someone has been whispering my name through the course of the day. At first, it was just a faint wind of sound but it has been growing louder and the letters have taken form to create my name. It comes from the corners of the room, from the closets and windows. I turn to look but there is no one there.