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Once in a Lifetime.

by Jubbly 

Posted: 16 September 2010
Word Count: 460
Summary: My attempt at the childhood holiday challenge

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As I grew up in Australia my parents didn’t seem to think it necessary to doing anything as frivolous as go on a family holiday. My grandmother lived minutes from the beach so every summer I was packed off to stay with her and her unmarried daughter while my parents continued to work and watch TV in separate rooms. I’d play in the back garden with the dog and the cat and wait until my aunt came home from her office to take me to the beach. I enjoyed those days and didn’t realise until I grew up that anyone did any different. My first encounter with a normal family holiday was the summer I was about to turn 15. I joined my friend, Maree and her family for a camping holiday somewhere on the South Coast. I remember very little, glorious hot days spent swimming in the sea and coating ourselves in cancer inviting coconut oil in a bid to get a tan. Evenings in our section of the huge family tent; playing cards or making up ghost stories, mucking in at meal times, masses of salad and cold meats and ice creams bought from the ‘Green Sleeves’ playing Mr Whippy van. I don’t remember any arguments or lost children or boys causing trouble, nothing out of the ordinary, that is until the day before we were due to leave.
‘What is it?’ asked Maree, as holidaymakers hurried down the street.
I couldn’t see anything but I could hear screams and shouting and the alarm that heralded the end of the summer fun.
She was lying face down on a dirt track by the road. She was wearing the casual uniform of the campsite, shorts and a t-shirt and her grey wiry hair was splayed out around her head, almost clown like. Her legs were plump and I remember thinking a bit sausage like and her arms were stretched out in front of her, almost as if she was flying.
By then Maree’s brother had joined us.
‘It was a motor bike, went straight into her,’
‘Is she all right?’ I asked nervously.
‘Nah’, he said, ’She’s dead, look at her ear can’t you see it?’
Then I noticed the thin line of blood tricking out of her ear and staining the road beneath her.
I never knew her name or met her, she was probably in her fifties maybe sixties, age is a mystery when you’re that young. I couldn’t eat the cold meat salad Maree’s mother prepared for our dinner, I proceeded through the day in a fragile, trancelike state When we drove home the next day, all I could think about was the lady with the frizzy grey hair who wouldn’t be returning from her holiday.

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Comments by other Members

V`yonne at 20:21 on 16 September 2010  Report this post
Ah! Normal holiday ;
‘Greens leaves’
Green Sleeves? and
I preceded through the day in

I really loved this detail
Her legs were plump and I remember thinking a bit sausage

very dead meat

dharker at 22:01 on 16 September 2010  Report this post
LOL@Oonah! "very dead meat"...
Jubbly what a poignant commentary on a holiday memory - not the best experience to end on. Death is such a marker on our lives... thanks for sharing!

Jubbly at 08:14 on 17 September 2010  Report this post
Thanks all, never mind my spell check, my brain is dying. Will sort out those typos prompto.


tusker at 08:41 on 17 September 2010  Report this post
Now you would remember that holiday!

Normal camping activities then wham. Poor lady.

I enjoyed the read, Julie.

My son lives in Australia. Loves it. Comes back here for holidays!


choille at 19:46 on 18 September 2010  Report this post
Hi Julie - Nice read until the accident & the blood trickling from the ear hole.

Wondered if you need a break - chapter break when you start to tell us about your first 'family holiday' when you were 15 years old.

I wonder if you need to explain the start a bit,
'As I grew up in Australia my parents didn’t seem to think it necessary to doing anything as frivolous as go on a family holiday.'
Did no one in Austrailia go on family hols?

Good read.


crowspark at 12:47 on 20 September 2010  Report this post
A striking lesson in mortality. Absorbing with a shocking twist.

Yes, a good read.


LawrenceBe at 10:56 on 24 September 2010  Report this post
A good read and I also liked the "...sausage like..." description.


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