[Continued from Can I Tell Anna’s Story?]
And so, I’m not sure if I can tell you all about May 7. I suppose that my student who wanted to know what happened to Anna wanted to hear something like, “Anna was sick and . . . .” or “Anna was born with this disorder. . . “, or something of that sort. So I guess the short answer to the question What happened? is that there was a bicycle accident. She fell off her bike. “What?” the Indian man working in the airport in Kuala Lumpur said incredulously, as he wanted to know why there were only three people traveling on a ticket purchased for four. “People don’t die from falling off bicycles.” Well you see, there was this river, and a bridge. But she didn’t see the bridge, or she lost control of her bike, or, well, we just know what happened exactly, but she missed the bridge and fell into a ravine. About thirty feet down. There was rock at the bottom next to the small creek that ran behind our house. According to the doctors, her head hit something and the back of her head was crushed. She died immediately. She was in the water when she was found, but there was no water in her lungs, so she was already dead by the time she entered the creek.
Earlier in the day, Timberley, Samuel, and Anna had ridden their bicycles over to the international school where Sam had some activities. Timberley and Anna rode back home, and then, after reaching the house, decided to continue on their ride. Anna was supposed to go riding later that afternoon with a friend and Timberley wanted to make sure that she knew the trails and how to get back home. They rode on through the last houses in our village, and then turned to the left go toward the rice fields. As the last of the houses gave way to the beautiful vista of the rice fields that descend down to the small river behind our house, the road they were on became a single bicyle-width paved trail that wound slowly through the field. The trail bends around to the left in a slow curve and then sharply to the right as you approach the river.
Timberley always rode her bicycle behind the children when they rode their bikes. She wanted to make sure she could see everything that was happening in front of her. She was riding this way on May 7. But just as they entered the path through the rice field, a motorcycle rider came up behind Timberley, passed her, and then slowly went down the hill, preventing Timberley from keeping up with Anna who, unheeded, sped on down the hill. Anna went on out of sight, and Timberley continued slowly, annoyed at this motorcycle rider that made her slow down.
When Timberley reached the bottom of the path and approached the bridge, Anna was not there. But when she looked to the other side of the bridge she saw Anna speeding on ahead up the hill into the village on the other side of the bridge. Timberley continued on to try to catch up with her. She pedaled hard through the quick turns of the path as it wound through the houses across the river. She never could quite catch up with Anna, who was apparently just out of sight ahead of her. Timberley thought to herself that Anna must be going really fast to stay ahead of her this long.
Then Timberley reached an intersection. The road ended a large crossroad went to the right and left. But no Anna. For the first time, Timberley was more than a little concerned. Even if Anna had sped on ahead, it was completely unlike her to decide which way to go and continue alone without waiting. Especially so, in this case, because Timberley was certain that Anna did not know the correct way to go.
Timberley began circling the neighborhood, continuing on back to our house, backtracking and trying different roads and paths. She called me at some point, in a panic, and told me that Anna was missing. About 45 minutes had passed since she had seen her. Friends were starting to circle the neighborhood on bicycle and motorcycle. I remember Timberley telling me on the phone that she last saw Anna on the other side of the bridge going into the village but that was when she lost sight of her.
[Continued in May 7, part 2]