wings and things

Chapter 16: Unrequited love, phases 1 & 2 [1978-1979-]

on August 30, 2021

There is something particularly agonizing about being in unrequited love with someone when you know, without a tidbit of doubt, that you haven’t made a mistake.

After I returned from Sydney, I resumed working for Anthony’s mother, filled with the certainty that the special relationship Anthony and I had formed, platonically, would soon transform to romance. I didn’t mind waiting and in the meantime I thoroughly enjoyed our deepening friendship. He was like the best big brother anyone could wish for, and while Gar handed the risky reigns of cooking to me, Anthony taught me to drive and took me to my driver’s license test, which I passed.

He also started going out at night with the local lads, most of whom adored and looked up to him as the older ‘lad’. On those evenings I would stay the night because Gar was terrified of being alone at night. After putting Gar to bed and lying down next to her on the floor until I was sure she was asleep, I would get up and go into the spare room to the single bed by the window that had become mine. There, I would read, and think, and wait for Anthony to get home.

The first time I stayed with Gar so that Anthony could go out, I was unprepared for the 1am knock on the spare room window. I raised the blinds to see a very merry-looking Anthony, who loudly whispered, “Jules, can you let me in? I forgot my keys.” Now it would be dishonest for me not to admit that a frisson of adventure raced up my spine.

I got up and hurried to the back door to let Anthony in and he laughed so loudly at my flannelette nightgown that I cringed with embarrassment until he said, “You look so sweet! Put the kettle on.”

Despite the fact that I had become accustomed to the 5pm after-milking drinks ritual before dinner, I had never seen Anthony inebriated and I didn’t quite know what to make of it. I had come to know him as a rather moody day-time person, gruff and always in a hurry, busy, often tired and quite silent.

This night-time Anthony was brand new; he was fun, mischievous, sometimes even flirtatious. These occasional nights out followed a similar pattern with a common occurrence being me trying to coax Anthony into lowering his voice in case he woke Gar. The other thing that would happen is that we would stand, shoulder to shoulder in front of the Aga, waiting for the kettle to boil. These moments were, for me, confirmation.

One evening Anthony brought the local lads back and, to my alarm, I heard multiple loud voices emanating from the back veranda. I crept into Gar’s bedroom to make sure she was asleep but she wasn’t. “Get rid of those boys,” she commanded.

So I ventured into the kitchen to peek through the window to the back veranda, wondering what I should do but Anthony spotted me. He staggered into the kitchen, grinning. “You okay, Jules? he shouted.

“Yes, but your mother told me to tell you to get rid of them and she’s really angry.

Anthony saluted me and banished the small throng. The noise of car engines, as a group of around six young men left, was a great relief, but I was worried that Anthony would be angry with either his mother or me.

He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t really expressing anything. But we were once again standing, shoulder-to-shoulder, our backs warm against the Aga.

“My sisters think I should marry you,” he said, reaching for my hand and squeezing it. “You’re too young, Jules – I respect you too much!” Yeah, I realise that sounds cliched but he really said that!

Once again, I was too shy to respond and, not long after this conversation, he met a woman more his age and that was that. It was during one of those late night parties on the back veranda that I overheard one of the local lads say something vulgar about Anthony and the woman and I knew I had lost him.

To know that my unrequited love was due to Anthony’s respect for my youth, and the age difference, was one thing, but another woman? It was too unbearable so I decided to move to Perth and study nursing.

And then Gar died.

5 responses to “Chapter 16: Unrequited love, phases 1 & 2 [1978-1979-]

  1. beth says:

    Life is so full of surprises

  2. Anonymous says:

    We are all on the edge of our chairs, waiting fir the next bit! Could this possibly be a true story? But we know it is.

  3. susanpoozan says:

    That was a punchline indeed.

  4. Who I am says:

    Read every word!!!

  5. That would have been a hard time

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: