Green Lizard Log – Episode 57

(Jack gets back to some sort of normality. There has been no contact between him and Annie.)

Annie was right. I was wrong. I’d made a mistake. I had played a game with her; getting her lost in the desert like I’d been lost ever since I lost Katie. Annie has been lost in her own desert for so long and I relaxed my grip and allowed her to walk out into that bloody golf course and trip over a rock and break her heart; a silly stupid mistake on my part. There was this fellow back home I remember. We’d been mustering cattle for an old bloke who had a cattle station a bit closer in toward Quilpie. There was a lot of scrub and trees and he was over on the right as we headed the mob back to the yards. He turned to me and waved his hat, just to say Hi! And his horse walked under a low branch and he got knocked off onto the ground. Broke his back and last time I saw him about three years ago he was in the nursing home sitting in a chair in an old red dressing gown. Miserable as hell. One tiny little mistake. He’d relaxed his grip.

Molly was working nights and I was just in time to catch her as she drove out. She smiled that beautiful smile and told me what was for dinner and “Don’t forget to pick up the girls. I’ll see you in the morning,” and that was that. I switched my brain on to ‘automatic’ and just got things done. The rain had stopped and I walked back down the pathway and through the back gate of the school and collected the girls. When I got back Hannah was there with little Benny. She stayed and played with the girls until Dylan got home.

I put on a brave face but I felt so empty inside. Molly had asked me the other day, “Are you in love with Annie?” And No, I was not. Not in that way. But she certainly had become important in my life. But oh! That cold resigned look on her face!

A couple of years, maybe only one year before I met Katie I had been going out with Meg, a teacher from the Quilpie High School. I think they call it a College now, but that’s beside the point. She was one of the Science teachers and a lot of people thought we were going to get married. I know I did. But one night at a B&S ball I had a couple or three beers too many and took one of the other teachers around the back of the hall and we had a slight passionate embrace. I should explain B&S. It stands for Bachelors’ and Spinsters’ Ball. It is just an excuse for the girls to put on their best dresses and for all the young Jackaroos and Ringers from all the cattle stations to drink as much as they can as quickly as they can.

The next morning after the Ball I had gone around to see Meg because I’d missed taking her home the night before. I had no idea what was to come. When I knocked on the door of the house that she shared with two of the nurses from the hospital she came to the door and looked at me with that same, cold, empty look that Annie had given me. I’d given her a gardenia corsage the night before and she handed it back to me. All she said was, ‘Thanks for the gardenia. It’s second-hand but you might need it for your next victim.’ And she turned back into the house and closed the door. Sometimes you know when it is useless to argue.

It was a hard memory. There are other times when you know you’ve made a mistake. One tiny misstep at the top of a ladder and three weeks in hospital with a broken leg and that feeling of ‘what if?’ Or going through a railway crossing and being missed by the breadth of a hair and you know you’ve been lucky. This time I haven’t been lucky. I hurt Annie through a silly carelessness.

I spent the next day at the computer trying to get a clear answer to travel restrictions on getting from Jersey to Australia. The virus has sprung a leak in Victoria but I want to get to Queensland. I had planned on staying with my brother in Melbourne but getting into and out of Melbourne is currently impossible without totally isolating in some hotel in Melbourne at my own expense. So I might postpone my plans for now.

—000—

It seemed to be weeks and weeks. It was probably only about ten days. I don’t know what Annie was thinking but I know I spent a lot of time and energy avoiding her. I don’t know what she was doing. William didn’t ring and neither did Vera. Maybe I was a bit paranoid and when I think about it everyone was very busy getting on with living. I know Molly and Dylan were working flat out. Hanna was always where she should be looking after Benny and I took the girls to school, picked them up after school and made their lunches and cooked pasta sauce. It reminded me a bit of that year between the day that Meg closed the door in my face and the day I met Katie. There was a great expanse of nothingness.

I even behaved a little bit like a silly teenager and found myself walking down the path to William and Annie’s place and making sure I wasn’t seen just so I was somewhere close to her. And that was just plain stupid and I am embarrassed by my own childishness.

Meanwhile back in the real world Molly brought the little baby home now and then and I chose those ‘nows and thens’ to drive up to Bouley Bay or the Devil’s Hole on the north coast to take photographs. Molly had taken me there as a last outing before she poked her head in the lion’s den and went back to nursing. All that time I was wondering what Annie was feeling. When I asked Molly how Annie was going I would just get a fairly casual ‘She’s okay’ or a ‘Just the same, same as usual’ which didn’t tell me anything. I suspect that Molly knew how I was feeling. Once she said, ‘you’ll have to stop worrying, Jack. She’ll let you know how she is when she knows herself.’ And that did not help at all.

Then things changed. I noticed a folder of information from Fostering and Adoption Jersey. There were pages of information and websites to look at. Then there was a point of contention or haziness as to the rights of the Grandmother in Poland. Had the baby been given a Birth Certificate claiming her as a Jersey citizen? It was very complicated and all in all it was not something for which I had any input. And that was a relief. But one thing that was clear was that both William and Annie were taking first steps along the adoption trail. Little wonder I did not hear from them – it looked like a quite difficult process.

…..to be continued.

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