She’d been buried under a stack of newspapers for years and only emerged for coffee and banana bread when the mood took her. She had a face like eggshells, and was in the habit of stalking around the apartment building, rattling off stories about the 1960s: ‘Oh you should’ve been there,’ and, ‘It was unlike anything you’ve ever seen,’ she’d say. And I would nod and place a hand on her shoulder and say something like, ‘Annette, of course it was nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before. I wasn’t yet born.’ And she would chuckle, light a cigarette and waddle off. Then she’d approach another resident and rinse repeat. And I wondered about Annette all alone in that apartment, feeding her plants and watering her cats. And every Tuesday she would bring in all our rubbish bins, just because it was a nice thing to do. I would notice the way her eyes would grow bright at the mention of a party in the building, her mouth half-parted, as if waiting for an invitation. Yet no one would invite her of course. Perhaps they were afraid of catching her disease, the oddity virus, that those kinds of people tend to contract at a very early age – those odd ones out, the very same lonely souls that shuffle through the unmapped streets of the city, where we don’t go. I wonder about Annette then, with all that kindness, a stadium size heart that would’ve invited anyone in for a cuppa tea, even a criminal. Where does all that love go when there’s no one to give it to? When nobody wants it? Does it evaporate like boiling water, float up into the ether? Perhaps that’s where she is now.
Jakob Ryce is an award-winning writer and teacher from Melbourne, Australia. He has a B.A. in English Lit, and his work has been published in On The Premises, Drunk Monkeys, The Fourth River, and the Wyndham Writing Awards. He released his first book of poetry in 2021 and has since been working on a follow-up, including a debut novel.
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