a Florida childhood
New Year’s Eve I finished reading Girls of a Tender Age, a compelling and disturbing memoir.
Mary-Ann Tirone-Smith writes about her childhood and the murder of a childhood friend. The story would’ve caught me even if a classmate of mine* hadn’t been murdered back when I was in the eighth grade. She was not my friend, but her death helped shape my childhood.**
Reading this memoir about death and arriving at the end of the year, brought this past to mind, and all the death that edged my narrow world in central Florida.
My mother’s grief at the death of her favorite brother, our dog shot by a passing motorcyclist, my mother’s attempted suicide, my mother’s boyfriend who taught classes on death and dying and who punched holes in the wall, the classmate murdered, the man at my window in the very early morning dark, the step-mother who kept a folder of dead-girl news stories, the best friend whose aunt was murdered, and the steady stream of stories of serial killers in Florida (an orange grove is a great place to leave a body), and a fascination of murder mysteries.
And the shooting at the grocery store my dad goes to, the destruction of hurricanes and sinkholes, the alligators…
All turns the writer’s imagination.
And now I’m finally reading Alias Grace–more murder for the New Year.
And why, by the way, is Margaret Atwood such a brilliant writer?
Well, in this year I think I’ll be posting much less. At least until something worthwhile comes to mind.
Enjoy the New Year and the stories it brings.
*I thought about not linking to the page about my classmate’s murder. Seemed morbid to do so. But at the same time, her death mattered. In a recent episode of Doctor Who (a show that deals a lot with death), the Doctor said, “900 years of time and space and I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important.”
**I’ve written here before about when I woke up to a man at my window, which was level with my bed, the bed pushed against the low window so that I could get a breeze in the heat, and that the man stood with his hand near my face and watched me. This was four months before Tina was murdered. And now it was an uneasy feeling to read that her suspected killer used to break into homes and stand over girls’ beds. Tina lived to the south of me at that time and her body was found to the north. It is foolhardy to jump to conclusions, but hard not to.