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Pen Your Pride

Chapter 2

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Chapter 2

I was surprised to get a call from Rhodey a day later. “Rhodey! Hey long time no see! How’ve you been?” I answered trying to hide the sadness in my voice. “I’ve been better,” he replied honestly, “And I’m guessing that you have too.” “Yeah…” I reply flatly, but glad that the elephant in the room has been addressed. “Are you ok?” Rhodey asked. “Honestly, no,” I answer. Rhodey’s voice hardened, “No I know you’re not ok in that way, but physically, are you alright?” Something in his tone set me on edge. Something was wrong. “Yeah I’m fine, why?” “Look,” Rhodey began, “You’re in danger. It’s not for certain, but we believe that because you’re the only alive blood relation left to Tony Stark you may be…well…looked for by certain people.” I was surprised, “Looked for? Rhodey, only four people in the world know I’m Tony’s sister. You, Tony, my dad, and my mom. What is there to be afraid of?”

“People that we’ve dealt with in the past have a certain way of obtaining information, Anna. I’m just trying to protect you.” A switch goes off in my head and suddenly I’m furious, “Protect me? Protect me? Are you serious Rhodey? Who do you think I am?! I am not some little girl anymore!” I relate those words immediately to Tony’s explanation for forcing me into hiding: because he was just trying to protect me. It was a good intention, but still associated with bad memories. Rhodey sighs, “Look you’re not going to be under lock and key alright? I understand that you can take care of yourself perfectly fine, we’re just being cautious. We’d like you to move back to the United States.”

When I went into hiding, I moved to France. Being fluent in French, it wasn’t that hard. Then I realize something, “Who’s ‘we’”? “What?” Rhodey says. “’We’, you keep saying ‘we’ve dealt with these people before’ or ‘we want you to move back to the United States’. Who’s the ‘we’ Rhodey?” Rhodey laughs slightly, no doubt I just reminded him of Tony. “Just me and my military squadron,” Rhodey replies. It’s a while before respond but after consideration, I say, “Fine. I’ll move back.” “Good, “Rhodey says. “We have a flight all taken care of and a house for you too. See you when you get home.”

My flight left at 5:00 in the morning. When I woke up at 4:00 to pack the last of my things and head to the airport, I was literally sleepwalking. “You couldn’t have gotten me any other flight?” I said to Rhodey on the other side of the world. If there’s one thing I don’t do, it’s early. I am not a morning person. Well, actually I shouldn’t say that. I like mornings, I just don’t like getting out of bed when I’ve had less than eight hours of sleep. It takes forever for me to find a parking spot and then even longer to get through security. When I finally get on the plane, I pass out as soon as I have my neck in one of those comfy travel pillows.

When I wake up, I look out the small window on my right and see that the sun has risen over a beautiful blanket of fluffy clouds. “Nice view, isn’t it?” At first I’m startled and then I remember that there is another person sitting next to me. “Oh. Yeah, I guess it is.” I say to him. If I could guess, I’d say that he was around the same age as me. He had blue eyes and a reddish brown colored hair. He tries to make conversation with me. “So where you headed?” “I’m going to the U.S.” I say in reply. “Well yeah, we all are. That’s why we all got on this plane.” I just give him a look that says I’ve just had my entire life turned around in less than a day, do you really want to go there? Ok, maybe it didn’t necessarily say that first part but it did say that I’m in no mood to be joked around with.

He still doesn’t take a hint though, “I meant what city.” Honestly, I don’t know the answer to this question. Rhodey said he’d meet me at the airport and drive me to my new home, but he never actually told me where it was. But I guess even if he did, I still wouldn’t tell this guy the truth. “I’m going to Philly,” I say. “Ah Philadelphia,” he says, “Nice city.” I just smile kindly and look away. I don’t know what it is, but I’m getting a weird vibe from him. “What’s your name?” he asks. Ok, here is where I draw the line. “Why so curious?” I ask, making no effort to hide my bluntness. He gives me an odd look and says, “Just trying to make conversation.” “Well,” I reply, “I’m not really in the mood to talk.” That shuts him up. For a while at least.

It’s about a half hour later when he asks his next question, “So…What’s your family like?” This is unexpected, “Why do you want to know about my family?” “Jeez,” he says with a laugh, “You are the world’s hardest person to have a conversation with.” I can tell he’s waiting for an answer, but he’s not going to get one. “Come on,” he says, “At least tell me your name.” “Anna S--” I bite my lip before I can say the word “Stark”. This is not a mistake I make very often.

Whenever someone asks for my last name, I go by Smith. I don’t think I look very much like a “Smith” but that’s the name Rhodey and I worked out. Anyway, I hardly ever make the mistake of nearly saying my real last name. This has me on edge. “Anna Smith,” I say. The man looks me in the eye. His eyes may be blue, but they’re cold and icy, unlike mine which are deep and a darker shade. “Are you sure?” he says slowly. Ok, I’m officially weirded out now. I feel a nerve twitch in my neck, “How would I not be sure?” I say coldly. He just stares at me. I stare him down for a while too before getting up and saying, “Excuse me.” As I’m walking out of the row he says to me, “Nothing, it’s just you don’t look like a ‘Smith’. That’s all.” I glare at him one last time before leaving, not wanting to look at him but fearing if I didn’t he might think I have something to hide. Which I do of course but I don’t need him thinking that. I go into the bathroom and stare at myself in the mirror. I really do look a lot like Tony. “No one can know,” I say to myself. I don’t go back to my seat after that.

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