Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Annie, Are You Happy?


The door creaked open, and she was lit up by the single beam of light coming in through the doorway of the otherwise pitchblack room. She shielded her eyes with her hands, and one could see she was holding a crayon. It was sky blue, and half-used. She was knelt over sheets of paper and other crayons.  The sheet she’d been working on had a two eyes on it, amidst mountains,  a river, and a house.  She was a little girl with two butterfly clips in her hair, pink shorts, and freckles.

The man in the doorway called out, “Annie! Are you happy?”

“I’m happy father.”


He shut the door throwing the room into thick darkness.


Annie was older now; a girl of about 11, her hair had grown out and was naturally brown. She heard his footsteps much before she heard the door creak open again. She shielded her eyes again, until his silhouette appeared in the doorway and cast some shadow. Her hand held a pen this time. On the sheets in front of her were words, lengthy words, and absurd figures like eyes made of radios and trees of rocks. The foremost sheet had a mess of images on it. It was mostly red, with tornadoes on the edges and a giant red sun in the middle. He look at her face, and then down at the papers. She wore glasses on a freckly face, with her hair pulled back into a ponytail.

He called out, “Annie! Are you happy?”

She didn’t respond.

“Annie! Are you happy? Answer quickly!”

“Yes father.”


With one swing of the door, she was plunged back into black.


Heavy knocking reverberated through the darkness and trembled in thin air in front of her. Until the doors burst open casting a rectangle of yellow light on her once again. Annie was a young woman now. She wore a t-shirt and jeans, she had no glasses or freckles and she was beautiful. Her father was in the doorway again, but he breathing was heavy and exaggerated. He was clutching at his chest. Annie’s hand held a brush, a pen, and an eraser. On the sheets before her were pictures of landscapes; perfectly drawn birds, ships and clouds. The  tip of her of brush was tinged blue as she was about to shade the sky.  The silhouette in the doorway leaned against the frame of the door and looks as if he might drop to the floor.

In a breathy, raspy voice he yelled out, “Annie! Are you happy?”

“I am not too sure, but  I’m starting to believe so.”


With that, the man collapsed in the doorway. Annie leaned back to her canvas and flooded the landscape with the blue on her brush. She drowned the birds, the trees, the lands. Everything.


When the light fell on her face, it led the eye to her prostrate body. Thin, lean and raw.  She no longer tied her that had turned darker and fell all about her face. She wore a white gown and in her hand was a piece of charcoal. The sheets before her were almost invisible. They had been blackened out completely. The hands were black too, covered in powdered charcoal. She did not shield her eyes from the light and went right through her translucent, unblinking eyes. There was a multitude of figures in the doorway all looking into the room. She couldn’t see their faces, only the silhouette of a crowd.

They called out softly, “Annie! Are you happy?”
She raised her head and blinked, “I can try.”


She wore a green business blouse and skirt. Her hair was tied into a neat bun with one  loose hair falling across her forehead. When the light fell on her, one could she sat straight and looked directly at the doorway, the source of light.  In her hand was a ball pen, and on the sheets before here were long essays, documents, and letters. The sheet on top of the pile had notary stamps on them. Her face was hard, unmoving and expressionless. There were figures in the doorway again, only they were fewer in number this time. Only about two or three.

They leaned forward slightly, and called out, “Annie! Are you happy?”




The door was slammed open this time, and Annie was sleeping in the light. Her breathing was a steady monotonous rhythm, and she lay on the floor with her palms under one side of her face. There was a man in the doorway. He slammed the door again, and Annie was jerked awake. In the sheets before her were the letters, contracts, and other articles. On the sheet before her, lay a pen and underneath the pen was a little scribble of a house on a hill. Annie narrowed her eyes to slits to try and see who was at the doorway while shielding her face with one hand from the light. Her eyes widened, as the man took a step across the threshold, and walked into the room. She screamed.

An hour later he walked back to the door, turned around, laughed and asked, “Annie! Are you happy?”

The only response that came from the dark was sobbing that continued long after the door was shut.


Nobody opened the door for a long time. When it opened, there Annie lay. She wore a white gown and her hair was short. She was pale, and sickly looking. She lay on the ground and in her were a pair of scissors and before her a pile of paper shreds of different shapes and sizes.  Her wrists were barely able to support the heavy metal scissors in her hand. There was a man in the doorway again, from his silhouette she could tell he was wearing a coat. He mumbled to himself and flipped through a book in his hands.

He called out in a soft, polite, but firm voice, “Annie! Are you happy?”

“GET OUT!” she screamed, and lay her head back on the floor.


The light this time was a softer one that fell in through the doorway. Annie sat in a raggedy white gown, her hair longer, but dirtier. Her cheeks were sunken in, and she had baggy eyes. In her hand was a blue colour pencil.  She sat up straight with her legs folded in front her, her arms just hanging from her shoulders. She held the pencil loosely, barely gripping it between her fingers. Near her legs were many other colour pencils of different colours spread out among sheets of paper. Every sheet was blank. The man in the coat mumbled to himself again, flipped through his book and shook his head. Annie stared blankly back at him.

He called out, “Annie. Are you happy?”


He shook his head more vigorously and shut the door.


The door opened a month later, and the man in the coat called out for Annie.

“Annie! Are you happy?”

There was no response.

“Annie, are you there?”

Annie was not there in the light of the door. Instead there was only a single sheet of paper, on which was scrawled out in pencil the word:

The man in the coat called out again, “Annie?”

He shook his head, and shut the door, plunging the room into darkness forever.