Green Lizard Log – Episode 56

(In which Annie’s bitterness and anger spills out and in directed at Jack.)

It was two days later. Vera rang to talk about Annie. She and Annie had not talked since Annie had walked to her room. She had ignored William. Vera had been doing all the cooking and the making of meals. Vera had set the table, as usual for the three of them and Annie would either take her meal outside and eat it in silence or take it to her room. She did not appear to be sulking Vera thought. She was not angry. She just ignored them – her husband and her mother. I didn’t know if there was anything I could do. No! There was nothing I could do. Since that terrible night on the golf course Annie hadn’t really spoken to me in any way other than to be coldly polite.

Vera rang off and almost immediately my phone rang again. This time it was Annie. She did not give me time to say talk.

“Why did you leave me out on the golf course for so long?” she asked, accusing and cold. “I was frightened and scared and worried and beside myself. Were you punishing me? What were you punishing me for?”

I tried to interrupt.

“I was cold and I had lost the whistle. I was so frightened I didn’t even think about using my phone. At first I thought it was part of the game and you always left your victims to feel the depth of their helplessness – of their abandonment?”

There was silence. Again I tried to say something but her phone was dead. I rang her straight back and got the message, ‘The number you called is not answering’. I didn’t need a recorded message to tell me that.

I rang Vera. “Vera, where is Annie? I just got a call from her and then she hung up.”

“She’s outside sitting in the garden.”

“I’m coming over straightaway. Just don’t tell her. I’ll be there as soon as I can..”

I walked as quickly as I could but my knee was playing up. I went outside. Annie was sitting in the sun. She didn’t look up. I was about to say something, I just couldn’t think what but she started first. She turned to me slowly.

“So,” she said. “The great Australian Bushman hero has come to gloat at his latest victim, has he? How long did Jimmy Bloody Wirraway leave you out in the flat red desert before he rescued you? Not as long as you left me, I’ll bet. You, the big tough bronzed ANZAC hero. Didn’t hurt you did it? I nearly break my neck falling over rocks and you just lie back looking at the stars and listening to my mother talking about her German friend. And don’t say you weren’t. Mother told me. You forgot me didn’t you? You didn’t do it on purpose did you? You forgot about me? I wasn’t relevant to you anymore. Why don’t you do something useful like going and buying a ticket home to your big red bloody desert of a country? Or go inside and see if you can make coffee. Yes, that’d be a good idea. At least you can say you did something valuable while you were here.”

There was clearly no point in arguing. It was obvious that this had been stewing deep down and it was now boiling over. I went to make coffee. Vera had made scones and she handed me a knife and some strawberry jam and whipped cream. She smiled ruefully and nodded at the scones. She had also made a pot of tea. The window was open and she had clearly heard everything.

“There Jack. Take that out. I will come out in a few minutes if you need rescuing.”

I put the tray down on the table under the sunshade and asked if she wanted tea or coffee.

“You did forget I was out there, didn’t you Jack?’ The bitter vitriol had drained out of her voice. There was no longer anger or fear. She was just totally worn out.

“Yes Annie. For a while there I was listening to Vera and looking up at the stars and time just seemed to fade away. Yes I did. You are right and I am so desperately sorry. It wasn’t just a matter of being careless. It was silly and stupid and could have been very, very dangerous. I know never to do anything like that again. I am so very, very sorry.”

“You just repeated ‘very’ twice. But in the long run sorry isn’t really all that much. I know you’re sorry. But I wonder what you’re sorry for?”

“Annie, I am truly sorry that I hurt you. But more than that, I was wrong. I did something that I thought, at the time, was nothing. Actually I thought I was doing something good. But I was wrong.”

Annie didn’t reply or comment. She didn’t react.

I got up and went inside. I said goodbye to Vera and went home. As I walked back down the old railway line, past the Green Lizard Log, past the pine trees with the red squirrels, I wondered if I would see her again. If not I would understand. It is getting very close to time I went home.

As I walked back to Dylan and Molly I felt an unbearable emptiness. Maybe she will ring Molly while I am walking and tell her what had happened and that she forgives me for everything. But that’s not likely. I’ve seen that look on someone’s face before. And the weather is miserable. It drizzled most of the morning then the sun shone – it had been shining when I sat and listened to Annie tell me what she thought of me. It was still shining when I made her that cup of tea and took out that plate of Vera’s scones. As I walked down the path the squirrels kept hiding from me on the opposite side of the pines and it started to rain – heavily.

Annie hadn’t wept – there was no heart wrenching sobbing. There was just bitter anger followed by cold indifference. I’ve seen that before. Once. What on earth had I been trying to prove? If I’d stayed home on Margany Station – if I hadn’t sold the place I’d have been happy as a pig in mud. Well not quite. That was one of the reasons Katie had been so upset when we lost the baby. If we’d had a boy to take over the station …! But you can’t live a life on ifs. If I’d never met Annie she’d have still been the Annie she was before. She’d have continued her life, disappointed at not having children, bitter and angry with every German in the world who had murdered her grandfather. What had I done? Nothing good that’s for certain. Maybe even made it worse.

… be continued.

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