Saturday 24 September 2011 was a very exciting day. We had the inaugural meeting of our (so far) small writers’ group.
Many weeks ago I had put up some flyers around the western suburbs of Melbourne where I live inviting interest from wannabe writers like myself. I got three lovely replies and met two of them in a cafe to discuss the way forward.
We set ourselves the task of writing for at least an hour and to at least a page. The exercise was from a writing book. Start a piece of writing with ‘I never told anyone, but I’ll tell you …’
Here is my own effort presented last Saturday…
I never told anyone, but I’ll tell you.
I know she thinks I don’t remember. She thinks that I was too young, that it is all too long ago.
I was young. And it was many years ago. But sometimes I go back there, I go right back there. A perfume can do it.
Was it gardenia that her perfume smelled of? I know that a friend gave me a fragrance with it in it and I couldn’t keep it. Because of the memories.
So I gave it to her. ‘It reminds me of your old perfume’.
She smelled it and handed it back to me. ‘No it doesn’t.’
Her face closed down.
In denial. In rejection. Of the past.
Of that time. When she was someone else. Of a time when she wasn’t with him. Of a time when she was with the other one. We were with the other one. When we had the other one’s name. Did I call the other one Daddy?
I don’t know how long I’ve remembered for. Or have I just always known? I have played along with the stories they told me. Of why there aren’t any wedding photos. Of why he isn’t in the photos of when I came home from the hospital. I play along with their made up wedding anniversary and memories. Because I have made up memories of my own.
My older cousin told me a story of us staying up on the coast with my grandparents. When he arrived, my face lit up and my toddler arms went straight out to him.
My grandfather said, ‘That child knows her father’. So my mother knew. That her father knew. That her life had been a lie.
Only much, much later … Mummy and Daddy and me in the house painted green. Memories that are real and don’t have to be made up.
I never told anyone, but I’ll tell you… She thinks she’s got away with it.