Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Annette



by John Lane

sweet white wine  

At times, moments in a person’s life have a minimal effect and register as bits of information. Details are lost to the barely recognizable sea of memories stored in the brain’s temporal lobe. 

Then, at other times, memories are so powerful that a person can recall each moment as if they were transported to the place in question, the reliving of an episode that a person cannot mentally escape.
At twelve-years-old, I already experienced some of those powerful memories. The social difficulties that my biological Japanese mother suffered. The divorce that my Italian father pushed through to make a relationship with his mistress legal. The mistress given the power of a parental figure without my consent. 

I wanted so desperately to be loved that whenever I attempted to reach out to my less than adequate substitute mother, an emotionally distant wall appeared, its cold arms extended to numb my spirit as a consequence for attempting to feel. As a frequent watcher of romantic movies on the glowing rectangle, I craved the connection of unselfish love that one had for another. I soon realized that I would never receive it from my family of origin.

Annette was a girl that I met at middle school. The name, “Annette,” was a form of the Greek word, “Hanna,” that meant grace and she granted a lot to this socially awkward tween. Her old-fashioned glasses and plain clothes hid a sympathetic personality. She exuded a warmth and compassion that was quite foreign to me. When she hugged me, a caramel-like aroma of strawberries reached into my nostrils. The warmth from her body thawed my spirit. The soft lilt in her voice soothed my ears like an acapella symphony. Annette asked for help in her least favorite subject, math, and without hesitation, I agreed.

We hung out together on a regular basis. I came to her house and felt the calm presence and a trust that her mother had with me. With every romantic movie including a boyfriend/girlfriend dynamic and a belief that I needed to follow along, I soon asked Annette if she would be my “girlfriend”, without an understanding of what the word actually meant. A “yes” from her lips and I walked home, the air rubbed against my tongue with a light sweetness.

One day, I discovered a silver-plated necklace encased in a small box. For some strange reason that I can’t explain, I took the shiny piece of smooth jewelry and gave it to my girlfriend. Her reaction, a smile and hug that my mind took a snapshot of, lived with me to this very day.

When my stepmother looked for the jewelry, the anger was so pronounced that it later developed as part of my stepmother’s personality. I confessed and was rewarded by the forced breakup of the relationship.

Annette’s reaction, the throwing of the necklace and the eruption of hostility that followed, grew within me a fear of women for thirteen years. I eventually recovered with a marriage to Bonnie for over twenty years. But the damage was already done.
Some memories heal like a scab that bleeds when picked at.

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