“My Annie” by Megan Paasch
Welcome to the last week of the Lazarus taxon Project! This week we have a trio of stories from a fantastic group of writers.
First up this week is Megan Paasch’s take on the Yeti. Megan was one of the first to volunteer herself for this project, and at the same time, her enthusiasm made me excited for it. She’s someone I highly respect in this trade, because she’s hard on herself, and that’s one thing you need to be to put out great stories. We’ve shared countless laughs and Supernatural based gifs, and our fandom for various shows and such to be considered family. In many ways, I think of her as a sister.
The Yeti first gained fame in 1921 when Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Howard-Bury led an expedition up Everest, and found large tracks. From this expedition, The Yeti was coined “The Abominable Snow Man.” Through other cultures this creature was worshiped, especially in the Himalayan areas as a god of the Hunt. The interesting thing about Yeti is that there are far less sightings of this creature, than there are footprints in snow. If the Yeti does exist, what features make it so adaptable to higher elevations?
Megan’s story here is a wonderful capture of character and what it means to believe. It’s an examination of how the mind works and the lengths we will go to justify what we have experienced. It’s a beautiful story.
And now “My Annie” by Megan Paasch:
I looked for her. I looked for her everywhere, my little girl. My Annie. Don’t know what to do without my Annie. Wandered into the woods this morning and disappeared.
She’s always been right fascinated with those woods. Says her friend lives there. Now I’m no parenting expert, hell I’m probably one of the worst when it comes to knowing how to bring a child up proper, but I know about pretend friends and fostering imaginations and all that psychological stuff. And besides, it’s down-right lonely out here in the boonies – no playmates around, just her old, bearded hermit of a pop to have a conversation with. And I ain’t got much to say most of the time. So I indulge.
People in town, down off the mountain, they’ll tell you: I ain’t nothing but a gruff old bastard set in my own way of doing things. And they’ll be right. But when it comes to my little girl, my little Annie, I’m as big a pushover as they come. I let her run around the yard, playing games with her rag doll and Sal, our old, arthritic pup, and I listen to her go on and on about the tall furry man in the woods who comes down to watch her play now and again. A yeti, she calls it – just like she seen in Old Joe’s book. Now everyone knows there ain’t no such thing as yetis, but I don’t tell her that. Let her imagination run wild. She’s a young one now, she can worry about truth and reality when she’s an old son-of-a-gun like her pop.
When she sees it, when she’s playing, she says she pretends it ain’t there. ‘Cause if she looks, she says, if she lets it know she seen it watching, it goes lumbering off, scared as an arctic hare in a field full of foxes.
But I guess pretending weren’t enough. I guess she reckoned she’d go looking for it this time. And then the snow came and she didn’t come back. I tried to take Sal to help me sniff her out, but the damn dog took one look at the woods and went limping back to the cabin, tail between her sorry little legs. Sal ain’t never liked those woods.
So I took up my rifle, just in case, and went after her myself. Because I ain’t got nothing without my Annie. She’s all that keeps me here. I checked all the trails, and I checked in between them. I ran and got Old Joe – he’s better with the townsfolk – and told him to get up a search party.
Now Old Joe, you know what he says? He looks at me and he says: “You need some help.”
“I know I need some help,” I told him. “That’s why I came to you.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it.” And he refused to go to town. He refused to help me find my Annie. “Ain’t nobody,” he says. “Ain’t nobody gonna help a crazy hermit find a little girl that don’t exist.”
So I got mad and turned Old Joe’s picture to the wall so he couldn’t talk to me no more. Because he’s wrong. I keep to myself and I keep my Annie to myself. I do it for our own good. And just because you ain’t seen something doesn’t mean it don’t exist.
But you see now? Now that’s got me to thinking. Maybe that friend of Annie’s ain’t so imaginary after all. And just as I’m thinking that, I hear a crunching in the snow. Long, heavy steps. And my blood runs cold like an ice cube and I freeze right then and there. Whatever it is, it circles the whole of the cabin and then it takes off again, crunching on back into the woods.
Once it’s gone, I hear a small knocking at the door and a sweet little voice calling: “Papa!”
And wouldn’t you know it, but there, right there on the porch is my little Annie. She gives me the biggest hug and smiles. My world came back to me. My whole entire world, right there on my doorstep. Behind her in the snow I see some tracks leading from the woods, then going right back again. They look like a man’s, a barefooted giant of a man, and it gets me to wondering again. But I can’t make nothing of it, and my Annie’s back, and that’s all that matters. I hear a howl a-way in the distance as I bring my Annie in and close the door – mournful sounding thing like nothing I ever heard before, like a wolf and a bear and a man put together.
And Annie, she turns to me and says: “That’s him, Papa. I went looking for him and I got lost when the snow came, but he found me and brought me back. And do you know what he is, Papa? Do you know? I seen it in your big book. The one Old Joe gave you when you was a boy. Papa, he really is a yeti.”
“Oh Annie,” I says. “That imagination of yours is something else, but don’t you let it run away with you again. You could’ve got yourself lost forever.”
She wants to argue, but I won’t hear no more of it. She let her pretending get too far out of hand. And that’s a dangerous business. And besides, I may not have the best handle on what’s real and what’s not these days, but there’s one thing I do know and that’s this: yetis don’t exist.