2nd Place in "Geelong Writers Finest 500"
It would be fair to say I felt like I won a million dollars in the lottery on Wednesday evening. The Geelong Writers held their monthly gathering and, this month announced the winner of the Finest 500 writing prize. The theme had been 'a place I know'.
As I'm sure is the case with anyone nominated for a prize, you dream about winning or at least being acknowledged but try not to get your hopes up too much. When my name was read out in 2nd place, it was like a dream come true! I was stoked! So, it is an honour to share with you my award-winning short story, Grand Final Day.
Grand Final Day
I stand outside the back door. In my hands, the essentials for the task ahead; trowel, rake and transistor radio. I look around the garden bathed in mottled sunlight. A light breeze carries stunning purple flowers across the sparse yard from the twenty-foot Jacaranda tree. One look at the magnificent blooms still clinging to the branches above tells me it’s futile to rack up the fallen. Instead, I place the small transistor radio—happy banter coming from it—on the ground as I kneel by a neglected garden bed.
It would seem a picture-perfect day.
From the house, I hear the squeals of my children playing with their father. As the radio begins to sing, I feel wistfulness overtake me.
I’m high on the hill, looking over the bridge to the MCG...
I hum along with Paul Kelly, unable to sing for the lump developing in my throat. This is always the day I miss Melbourne the most.
Melbourne: the enigma that I call my hometown. It has always puzzled me why I think of it as home. I’d lived all over Australia, yet, when asked, I zealously claim I come from Melbourne. Why? Because it is the place of my birth? Because it is where I’ve marginally spent more time than anywhere else? I don’t know. But on Grand Final Day, I am a Melbournian through and through!
As I sit attempting to clear the intruders from the sandy patch I like to call the vegie garden, I barely see the interlopers. Instead, I see the clock on the silos telling me it is eleven degrees.
I remember, I remember.
Here I sit, over 3,000 kilometres away, yet transported. Flinders Street Station clocks, the river that runs upside down, Young & Jackson’s famous Chloe’s room - before the renovation. How many games of pool had we played in that room before stumbling around to hail a taxi home?
The warming sun begins to sting the back of my neck. No longer pulling weeds so much as staring at the ground, I can imagine the excitement filling the streets. Everyone proudly wearing their team colours. Watching highlights of the footy season. My team isn’t playing today, but that doesn’t matter. It is the day when the banter flows, rivalry at the fore and all a bit of fun. It is the day Melbourne feels the most united in its division between the two best teams of the year.
My husband calls as the back door bursts open and four excited children bound out and pull me away from the cool streets of Melbourne to our sunny backyard in Perth.
“How are you going?” he asks.
“I go in leaps and bounds,” I reply.
He looks quizzical for just a moment. Then jolts, supposedly in dance, and begins to sing.
I can’t help but smile as we lose ourselves in imaginings of a place we know and love.
I remember everything.