To read the hand written letter, click here: EL Letter 6
Friday, 23rd March, 2012
I’m sitting in Ava’s café having drunk two pots of something called ‘Perfect World’ and read and reread your letters. Part of me thinks I’m desperately trying to ingest the prospect of a better life and then I realise I’ve slipped back into my terrible habit of awfulising everything. I’m not desperately doing anything…I’m just drinking tea!
After an entire life of running, living on adrenaline, it’s hard to think in terms of peace and quiet.
I’m sorry to hear about your Dad. I know it’s clichéd, but he’s a good man…both your parents were kind and generous. I wonder how much you’ve grown to be like your Dad–non-judgemental, funny (in a Dad way) and addicted to the sun and sea. Was he ever disappointed because you didn’t follow in his footsteps to surf? Is he still a member of the surf life club? Send him my love and tell him I’ll still have to disagree with him on ‘Pet Sounds’ being the Beach Boys’ best album!
Is everything ok with your Mum? Your concern for her seemed to be palpable…reading between the lines. When you first wrote you said your Mum thought I was Grace…but surely she sees Grace around town. Why would she write to you?
It occurs to me I’ll never see my mother age, get fragile, sick, dependent…but she was always, as you mention, fragile…and never properly well or truly independent. When I found out she was my Mum I always thought it was me who broke her…always believed it was my fault, so I deserved what I got. Always a junkie’s daughter, but I’m not so sure now. I think my father broke her. If they had what we had…even more intense, why did he abandon her? How, even at 16, could he have bared to push her away. Could you have done that to me?
His name is William Greenblat and Mum called him Billy. The box my Nan left me has a yearbook–Mum is in Year 10 and my Dad is circled in a couple of photos. There’s a formal photo of the two of them–with his full name on the back in Nan’s hand. Nothing else though. It’s like she’s whispering my mother’s secrets from the grave but still keeping a promise to my mother to never tell me.
They’re so young it’s impossible to believe I came from them. I’m now older than my mother–she died just after her 34th birthday. It’s like you said, the bits go together but it’s the wrong picture.
I don’t know if I want to find him. What would be the point? He’s never found me so I guess he’s just forgotten me. I wonder if he even knows Mum had a daughter? I don’t think I could handle a second rejection. For now an almost 40 year photo is enough.
It’s funny you thought ‘Romeo and Juliet’ was our song. ‘With or Without You’ was mine. I wanted it to be different but after that Easter at my Nan’s I knew we were too close to get any closer. I climbed into your bed because I wanted something to happen but and I knew it never would unless one of us moved it to somewhere else. And when I felt all of you pressed up against me, I knew you felt the same way and I waited for you to touch me, to kiss me and when your fingers grazed my hips and moved over my belly I was certain it would happen. And then Nan’s slippers slapping on the floorboards. If you’d held onto me I wouldn’t have slipped out of bed…I’d have gone ‘fuck it’ and risked losing Nan’s trust, being caught in your bed.
You dropped your hand and I went back to my bed and cried, and when I was done I tortured myself imaging your hands on me, your fingers caressing my stomach and my breasts, your lips on my neck.
I’d lie awake after you’d gone to sleep, before you’d rattle the windows snoring and your breath caressed my neck, I’d focus on every part of your body, where it touched mine, like creating a catalogue of you, a homunculus of how well we fitted together.
In my room, under the ‘My Little Pony’ curtains, faded and worse for wear, I waited, willing you to come into my room, climb in beside me, and do what you wanted. I wanted you to claim me as yours. I wanted to truly belong to you because it was the only place I felt safe, felt I belonged and I knew… well I guessed… it would only be better, be complete if we slept together… which is such a ridiculous thing.. because you don’t ‘sleep’…it just seems dirty to say ‘sex’ and corny to say ‘make love’…to commune, naked with you.
The next morning I resolved to seduce you when we got home…when I didn’t have to keep my word to Nan (the divine intervention of the dead of night toilet stop). But you busted your knee the first week of school, then it was the school musical and I didn’t think of it again until I dared you to go skinny dipping with me…and you weren’t the only one sneaking perves. It amazes me how something which just about consumes you one minute, can slip into obscurity the next, lay low, bide its time.
Ava has just pushed a slice of citrus tart in front of me and said ‘Eat! You look hungry’ and I laughed. I don’t think citrus tart is really going to satisfy that hunger. Then we argue about me paying. ‘You can pay me by going and visiting Jude. Stop writing him bloody novels.’
And now I’m sitting here on the verge of fantasy becoming reality. I mooned about you the whole way up and down the coast (while I could still pretend you were single, or divorced) and dreamed it being so. But I never thought of actually seeing you again.
I don’t know. All I can think is…what if you didn’t like me. What if I stood up on The Point with you now, in the eye of a mid-life storm? Would you wish you’d left me as an artefact of your past?
You can only be a much improved version–Jude 2.0. Me… I fear I was my best as a teenager, the me who moored myself to you.
That first time on The Point I stood there pressed into the wind willing it to let me go, to drop me to the rocks below, completely released from making the decision. And it held me, held me and you finally said, ‘The survivors came ashore there’ and you pointed to the narrow strip of beach between the rocks. And all I could think of was ‘You brought me ashore here’ and I reached out for your arm just as the wind dropped. And I slipped, the pebbles under foot skidded over the edge and you grabbed me.
‘Let’s get hot chips,’ you said, non-plussed by the fact I’d almost gone over the edge. ‘I don’t have any dosh,’ I said. ‘You don’t need any,’ and you rode me back into the town on the handle bars of your bike. And I thought perhaps this shit hole Mum’s dragged me to is redeemable.
Ellie… Ava’s daughter says hello. They’ve just run into the café. She tells me she’s now ‘Ellie-Michelle’ and she’s going to grow up to be like me. She called me ‘Aunty El’ and it reminds me only of you. Then she asked me why I looked sad. I said ‘No one’s ever called me Aunty before’ and she looked at me like I have two head. So here’s the list of questions Ellie and I have for you:
1) Who moved away and who stayed?
2) Did Alice Lester marry Jimmy Wilson?
3) Does Mr Murdoch still teach English at the high school?
4) Did they ever sell the haunted house in Whalers Avenue?
5) Will you see me again? Will you come here to Coranderk Bend?