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An Early Memory

Boy and Girl at the Beach
by Elizabeth Blaylock

The memory is of my girlfriend, Corinne, tied to a tree in her backyard. She’s naked. I can’t remember how she’s responding to this, but I don’t recall any negative feelings about it. It’s playful, until her mother calls to her from inside the house. I quickly release the bonds, a plastic skip rope, and she dresses. Then she runs in. I do remember being scared about almost getting caught. The memory ends there.

Corinne was the first girlfriend I can remember, though my mother assures me there were others before her.

She was beautiful, with silky blond hair, blue eyes and skin like cream; Corinne and I were in kindergarten at the time.

In their teens and twenties people ask each other, "What was your first sexual experience?" I’d always respond by saying, "tying my girlfriend to a tree, naked … in kindergarten." I’m not sure when or why I stopped telling this story. Maybe it wasn’t getting the response I was looking for. Maybe it wasn’t so funny to me anymore. Maybe…I don’t know. In my late thirties and forties, it would haunt me.

It was in that haunting time that I revealed the memory to my therapist and spirit-guide, Marilyne.

“You learned that from someone,” she responded. “That’s not the kind of thing a child does on his own. Someone taught you that behaviour.”

We’ve spent a decade trying to figure out who, to find the lost or repressed memory that would solve the puzzle of how I learned at 5 to have a girl remove her clothes and let me tie her to a tree.

Wait. There’s more to the memory. This part’s more nebulous, a part of the memory I never told anyone, until that day in Marilyne’s office. Memories this old are like dreams. We play them out in our minds, but each time we replay them, they change a little bit, until, like a dream, things are happening in our memory that never happened, that never could happen.

Wait. There`s more.

In the part of the memory I never tell, and often forget, there’s another small girl. A year or two younger than us. Is she naked too? She’s running, toward the house. She’s gone. In the memory, she just disappears. Something about it disturbs me. Disturbed me then. Disturbs me now. Was it her little sister? What was she doing there? Was she part of the game?

Typically, I can’t remember how, or even if Marilyne responded. Something else dissociated away. Well, it was years ago.

There’s something else. I think I’m the only one who saw her. I think I’m the only one who could see her. That’s crazy talk, I know.

I’m going to have to tell Marilyne. I really don’t want to.

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