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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Memories Long Forgotten

Some of these are stories from the past. Others happened recently. Some are memories of the far distant past jogged to light of day by 500 word stories I do for the abc open program.


Don't Like Heights


Where did my stomach go?

I had to fight for control to keep the contents of my stomach from erupting like a volcano.
I only had an apple. And coffee. For my breakfast. While everyone else ate hearty before we set out on our adventure.

Driving through the Gold Coast, we stopped to view the sand sculptures. We strolled along the promenade to look at each beautiful work of sand art.

We continued on to our next part of our day of touring.

“See the building,” announced the bus driver pointing in the direction of the building. “After our lunch cruise of the Broad water, we're going to visit it. There are over seventy floors. About twenty steps between each one. We'll be climbing all those steps.”

Right. No way did I intend walking up all those – steps.

I knew there had to be – some – catch.

Bad idea. This had to be a joke. Most of the group were over seventy. Or eighty. Some with walkers. Walking sticks. Me. I didn't see my legs taking me past – twenty steps – up. And hopefully. Down.

I intended to take strike action.

One lady had a moment of panic on finding we were to take a fast ride by lift up seventy-seven floors. But she did make the trip.

My stomach stayed on ground level. The contents were close to eruption the moment I stood close to the glassed in viewing area to look – down. The stomach churned. Head felt strange. I had a feeling of falling. Closing my eyes. I stepped back from the edge. When I felt secure. I walked around to take in the view of the horizon. Then I sat on the lounge chair to wait to return to. Earth. To feel the ground beneath my feet.

The ride down caused much worry. The floor of the life vibrated on the way down. I placed my arms around the frightened lady to support her on the down journey to escape from the experience. The moment the doors opened. We rushed out of the lift.

We were free. Safe.

Lucky the lady took our photos before rising high above our comfort space. At least. They had evidence of who went up if the lift failed to stop.

I cringed. Felt like a failure. Heights were not entered into my genes.

Can't believe sane people put on special suits with harnesses to step out of the building to climb up nearly three hundred steps to the spire with the breeze tearing at their suit.
An eighty-four year young lady made the climb to the top.

Not me. My courage floated away in a soap bubble the moment I looked. DOWN.

                                                     Past Memories.

Headless Horror

We left home at dusk.
This trip to visit friends took longer than we thought. Dad had to work later than usual.
The car had been packed ready to leave once dad had showered. And changed into clean clothes. Getting into the car just as the sun descended below the horizon.
At a safe, steady pace. We drove on the loose gravel road. The narrow road with a raised section in the middle making the way dangerous. Excessive speed had cars fish tailing. Heavy vehicles were hazardous. Too wide with their loads of cattle. Or timber.
The road consisted of sharp curves. And deep gullies. These flooded quick when rain fell. Dad had to watch for kangaroos. Or escaped cows. And horses. But finally. We reached the highway without mishap.
An hour into our journey. We came upon an accident scene. Police. Ambulance. And fire truck lights flashed lighting up the darkness. The road blocked both north, and south, cutting the highway. Car. And trucks were backing up.
In the middle of the highway stood a mangled mess. A low sports car had gone under the front wheels of a gravel truck. The roof of the sports had been peeled back like a can of sardines. The body jammed hard between the front wheels. The truck have to be lifted at the front to remove the crumpled mess which once was a sports car.
Dad got out of the car. Shock hit him the moment he had a proper look at the truck. He knew the owners of both the truck. And the sports car.
Walking up to the barricade across the road, Dad explained to the policeman he knew both men. He was taken to where the body lay beside the crumpled mess to identify his friend.
We had to make a detour.
No one knew where his parents lived.
Dad knew. So we had to back track to show the police where to find them. We had to drive through bush tracks to reach the work camp site. The parents had to be woken to be told of the death of their son. Duty done. We were allowed to continue on with our journey.
I lay on the back seat trying to go to sleep. I usually slept from the beginning to the finish. But tonight. Maybe watching the action at the accident scene had unsettled me.
I wish I had slept. Cold shivers ran through every part of my body. I didn't need to hear the details.
Details of the accident. Or what had happened to the driver of the sports car.
The only way dad had been able to identify his friend. The man had a special birthmark. His body wasn't complete. His head had been sliced off during the accident.
I couldn't imagine how such a thing was possible. My young mind couldn't calculate such a horror. Things like that were to frighten people when telling ghost stories. Or a horror one.

Forever fishing

Sundays. I didn't like. Sundays.
We couldn't go any where to do family exploring.
Bob did the raffles at the local hotel.
Bad place to hold them. Alcohol runs freely.
Talk is cheap.
Ideas brewed with befuddled minds.
Just one for the road.
Bob finally arrived home.
“We're going fishing,” I was told, when he entered the kitchen.
“Fishing. This time of night.” He shouldn't have driven the car home. Why add water to the equation?
The fishing net found then shoved in the boot of the car.
He kissed me on his way to leave by the kitchen door.
My muscles froze. This wasn't a good sign. Maybe a warning.
I sat to play reading the cards from directions in an ESP booklet. A couple of the girls wanted theirs read. I hadn't tried this before.
Every reading had water involved. And the Queen of Spades kept coming to the fore. I had to be doing the reading wrong.
The ringing of the phone sounded the death knell. Now. I'm beginning to imagine things.
“Has Bob gone fishing,” were the panicked words shouted at me.
“Yes. Why?”
“He's missing.” A chill ran down my spine. “His friend came here to tell me. Couldn't make sense of what he mumbled.”
“Do you know where he went?”
“Down the road to the dump. The creek which runs behind it.”
I piled the children into the car to go to my parents home. I left them with my mother. Dad had the boat hooked to the back of his Ute. I showed them where to to then returned back along the road to wait for the ambulance to show them the way. We were half way back to the creek when dad drove toward us. I stopped.
The ambulance continued past me to where dad had stopped.
The ambulance man came back to tell me to go home. To wait for the police to arrive.
I went home. Not much later the police arrived to confirm the death of my husband.
The hardest job. I had to go tell the children their father had died.
Michelle took the news the hardest. I had to rush her to the doctor.
I had no time to myself to grieve. Had to hold it together until I had notified his family. Make the arrangements.
Family, and friends, packed the church for his service.
Shops closed when the funeral possession made its way through the town to the cemetery.
A fishing trip which went terribly wrong.
May have been worse. The crocodile known to frequent the creek was absent that night.
On his headstone are the words “Forever Fishing”.
A life cut short. Never to see his children grow from teenagers to adults. He hadn't been there for the arrival of his grandchildren.
Everything over.
Now is my time to grieve for what might have been.

Kangaroo feet.
Puzzled. Always puzzled.
Winter. Summer. Every day of the year. From the moment he rose of a morning. Until he showered to go to be. Danny wore his boots.
He never wore open shoes. The ones her wore were up above his ankles.
When walking. He didn't have a smooth rhythm. They way he walked didn't seem to slow him down. Didn't hinder his ability to work.
Danny owned cattle.
He rode a horse.
Milked cows.
Made sure the fences were in shipshape condition.
He drove a car.
When my father did some timber work for him. Danny followed him around the paddocks without a stumble.
After a few rums he didn't stumble.
I nicknamed him. Without him knowing, Half-a-nip.
He had a friend of the same name. This was because they each drank their port in half nips.
One day we called to see him. We were told he had visited his friend.
Of the top of my head I said. “You mean one half-a-nip has gone to see the other half-a-nip to see if the other half-a-nip has had a half-a-nip more.” The story flashes through my head each time I think back over those days.
The friend lived on a property down the road from his place. Being in the country in those days there was many police around to catch them for drink driving. The pair of them bought their port in big jars. When the jars were empty, that meant time to go into town to shop. The nearest town was a couple of hours drive.
So back to the story.
We called in to see Danny very late one night. The clock in the lounge room chimes twelve while we sat at the kitchen table drinking tea, and eating cakes, and biscuits.
I couldn't believe my eyes. Danny had walked from his bedroom to the kitchen.
Without shoes. Or slippers. His feet bare for the first time since I knew him.
Being young. My imagination ran wild. But I kept my mouth shut.
I didn't want to embarrass myself. Or my father's friend. Especially in his own home.
I stared. Blinked my sleep filled eyes. The brain didn't want to compute what the eyes did see.
His feet weren't feet. Like I knew feet. With five toes.
I'm not making fun of the way they were formed.
Didn't pass judgement of how his body had formed during being born.
What I saw didn't change my way of thinking of him.
Or classing him to be a cripple. Name calling didn't enter my mind.
I accepted him the way I always did.
I likened the shape of his foot to that of a kangaroo foot.
His feet were sort of shaped with three. Toes.
I never asked how. Or why.
Never mentioned to anyone what I had discovered why Danny never went any where without boots.
Boots which came up past his ankles.
I admired him. He marched forward without complaining.

Hope you enjoy these stories. I have put photos between to break up the different stories. If going to abc open you will find different photos on some stories. They are sourced from different places so I can't use them here.

Have to go. I have to get dressed to go out to lunch. My friend is taking me out. Or should I put this a different way. I'm collecting my 92 year old friend. She is buying me lunch for my birthday I had recently. Present are out. This time of life there's not much we need. But she has about thirty years on me. I take her places and don't look, or ask, for payment for my kindness. Just the way I was brought up. Especially, when I'm attending the same place. 

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