The Scarlet Ribbon has to be my all time favourite of all Anita’s books. Inspired by the song, I think she was truly inspired when she wrote it. (Don’t tell anyone, but there may be a sequel!)
Excerpt from The Scarlet Ribbon
It was all over at last. He would never hurt anyone ever again. Annie’s mother had paid dearly, given away her own freedom. Murder was murder, no matter how necessary. But if it was up to me, I’d have given her a medal. I wondered when it had happened, and why we hadn’t heard anything. We must have fallen into a deep sleep, upstairs with Annie.
Alan carried Annie down the stairs, past her mother who was still leaning against the open front door. Her face was wiped clean of emotion, no tears as Annie was taken from her. She might as well have used the same knife on herself. She was dead inside, a lifeless husk with faded blue eyes. I couldn’t feel sorry for her though. It was too late for that.
I walked past her, following Annie, forgetting all about David until he called my name.
‘You can’t go with her, Mags. We’ve done our part, it’s over now.’
I kept on walking beside her, trying to touch her hand, her hair, whispering my goodbyes.
Alan sat Annie in the back seat of the car and we watched as it drove away. Half way down Stanley Road, Annie turned and looked through the rear window. Was she taking one last look at what had been her home, or was she saying goodbye to me?
I lowered my eyes, not wanting to see her disappear, that’s when I noticed the red ribbon lying in the road at my feet. For a moment I hardly dared touch it. What if it disintegrated or something? Slowly I plucked up the courage to pick it up, and holding it in my hand, I realised that it was the closest I had ever come to touching her, really touching her. Suddenly, tears were coursing down my face.
David put his arms around me, he didn’t speak and I was grateful for the silence. My tears became huge, gasping sobs as my heart emptied itself of all the pain, only to be replaced by another kind. As he led me away we heard sirens behind us. Not the kind we have today, but loud bells.
Somebody had called the police.
I put Annie’s ribbon in my jeans pocket, wiped my face and said, ‘Where to now?’
‘You choose, Maggie.’
‘Home, let’s both go home. We’ve done what we came here for.’ I waited for a tremor, a sign. But nothing happened. We were still there.
‘This can’t be happening. You said I could go back if I helped. I have, now let me go!’
‘Who on earth are you talking to, Mags?’
‘The voice, the one that keeps me here. Haven’t you heard it?’
He shook his head.
‘Well, if it won’t let me out, I’ll find my own way back. I’m not staying here.’
I started walking double time. David had to run to catch up to me.
‘You don’t have to follow me. Find your own way out.’
‘There’s gratitude for you. Thanks a bunch, Mags.’ He emphasised the Mags. ‘All right, Miss Smarty-pants, how do you know which way is out? Or if there is more than one way out of here. We may be stuck with each other a while yet.’
I stopped walking and he bumped into me. Without turning around, I mumbled, ‘Sorry.’
‘Pardon?’ he said. ‘I didn’t catch that.’
I knew he had, but said it again anyway. Before I knew what was happening, he had turned me around and kissed me.
And I let it happen. It felt so good to have his arms around me, his lips soft and warm, so warm it was bringing parts of me alive that I had almost forgotten about.
As much as I wanted it, needed to be held and loved, I couldn’t let it happen. I loved Jack, but David felt so familiar as if those arms had held me before.