The decade of our destiny remains in memory like a petrified forest of events caught between less notable times. In 1960 I still had four-and-a-half years left to endure at St. Ann’s by the Sea; that is, when I wasn’t enduring my frayed mother or the charity of some kind but put-upon relative or family friend.
I was quiet and introverted back then. Excess baggage best take care not to make noise, intrude, interrupt, argue. Poor little Vinchenza St. Claire. That’s what they would say of me. They’d be surprised to see me now, all grown-up, grown old, and sometimes caustic as hell … And it’s Vinnie, if you please. Not Vinchenza. But I see I’m getting ahead of myself. I tend to do that.
So the Christmas holiday over, the new year begun, and the sun rising and setting on schedule, I packed my suitcase and violin, kissed my much relieved mother good-bye, and took the subway to Ridgeville and from there the Ridgeville Rail to Lincoln Green and St. Ann’s.
The return-to-school adrenalin rush after the winter holiday was nothing like it was after summer vacations. Still, there was that excitement: a new year birthed of all the new years before it, a thing rich with predecessors and heavy with promise. I was in the middle of writing my first novel, a weighty story filled with all the melodrama a twelve-year-old could wrest from a yearning heart. Given my age and mindset, it was predictably autobiographical and appropriately titled – I thought – How Skinny Girls Survive.
The skinny girls referred to were Fanny and me; only Fanny didn’t arrive back at school until we were a month into the winter semester. I missed her. I worried about her. I had no idea of the complications that delayed her return: the death of her mother and the whispered suspicion that it wasn’t from natural causes.
© 2012, story, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ Petr Kratochvil, Public Domain Pictures.net