“Anne Frankenstein” by Deborah Thompson
When I open my journal, Anne emerges from her hiding place to hover at my shoulder. Does this happen to all female Jewish writers? I began to keep a journal at age 11 after reading The Diary. I named my journal Anna. “Dear Anna,” I’d write, and then describe my pre-teen travails to Anne Frank in her voice.
“Terri Goodman whispered to Amy Bloom in the temple carpool that my hair looked greasy,” I wrote.
“I still believe that people are good at heart,” Anne replied.
It was hard to compete with the holocaust.
After I was bat mitzvahed at 13 I abandoned temple, along with much of Judaism. I’ve forgotten how to read Hebrew, and can’t even get through the alphabet beyond aleph-bet-gimmel. But I still fast on Yom Kippur. And I still instinctively scan friends’ homes for possible secret annexes.
I am now in my fifties, and have been keeping a journal for 40 years. I don’t call it Anna anymore; it’s nameless. I write about the stabs of arthritis and of colicky colleagues, about my personal traumas and small-scale unutterable losses. But no monstrosities can compete with my progenitor. Anne, eternally 13, has left my shoulder and now burrows under my greasy scalp, the final hiding place.
Share your response to this work, in any form, here
Deborah Thompson Artist Statement:
Deborah Thompson is an Associate Professor of English at Colorado State University, where she
helped to develop the master’s degree in Creative Nonfiction. She has published creative essays
in venues such as Briar Cliff, Creative Nonfiction, Fourth Genre, The Iowa Review, The
Missouri Review, Kenyon Review Online, Passages North, and Upstreet.