Printed from WriteWords -


by  belka37

Posted: Sunday, January 24, 2010
Word Count: 1740
Summary: Chapter 1 13 yo Jasom is trying to deal with his father’s deployment as a signals’ officer with the SAS somwhere overseas. On a holiday island previously visited with his father, Jason, tired of being saddled with two kid sisters, takes off on his own on a dark adventure to a place that holds a special memory. Chapter 2 picks up the story with Jason waiting at the airport for his father's homecoming.
Related Works: PARADISE ISLAND Chapter 1 • 

Jason pushed his way to the front of the crowd milling around the exit from which passengers emerged from the customs area of the Perth Domestic Airport. His stomach churned as he scanned the line of emerging passengers. ‘What if I’ve forgotten what Dad looks like or if he doesn’t recognize me?’

As the door swung closed, Jason fixed his eyes on it so as not to miss its next opening. A small hand took hold of his and began shaking it. ‘Lift me up! Lift me up,’ Genni cried. ‘I can’t see.’

Jason shook himself free. ‘Go back to Mum,’ he growled. He did not want anyone to spoil this moment—the moment he and Dad greeted each other. He had so much to tell him; so many questions.

He heard, as if in the distance, the sound of Genni’s wail and Mum’s soothing murmurs. He jumped at the touch on his arm. Mum looked at him and bit her bottom lip. When she spoke, her voice was soft and deliberate. ‘Jason, you’re not the only one who is excited about seeing your father - and you’re oldest. It wouldn’t have hurt for you to have been a little kinder to your younger sister.’

Jason shrugged away from his mother’s touch. ‘She’s always gets what she wants. I’m sick of her - and Lillian. I want to be first for once!’

‘One more word and you’ll go back to the car and wait there.’

Hot tears streamed down the boy’s face. He stamped his feet and pushed closer to the barrier.

‘What! No welcome for your Dad?’

Jason started. There he was—his Dad, dressed in full uniform—a hint of a smile lurked round his mouth.

In the confusion of hugs and cries and kisses that followed, Jason wedged himself into one side of his father and took charge of the hand luggage. Genni’s arms wrapped tightly around the neck of her newfound dad, while Lillian hung back and held Mum’s hand.

Jason looked on as Mum and Dad’s eyes met. So much to share but no words to say it with. Jason closed his eyes. Yes! Mum should have come first! He stepped back, ashamed of his earlier selfishness, and taking Lillian’s hand, he pushed his mother to his father’s side.

Mum smiled. ‘Thank you!’ she whispered.

Jason let out a long breath. He’d done something right. ‘Dad, give me your tickets and I’ll fetch the luggage off the console. Come Lillian, you can help.’

‘Is that really Dad,’ Lillian asked as soon as she and Jason were out of earshot.

‘Of course! Don’t you remember?’

Lillian’s eyes filled with tears. ‘He doesn’t look right. He doesn’t walk right - and he never even said, “Hello Blossom”. He always used to say that.’

‘Sorry Lil! It’s been a long time and he’s probably tired. I’m sure he’ll remember later. I know he looks different. He’s a lot thinner and his left leg has some small pieces of shrapnel in it.’


‘Yes. Bits of metal. He was hit by a rolling ball that explodes and sends fragments of metal everywhere. It was in a letter he sent from a military hospital. Don’t you remember? … But come, let’s find his luggage.’

They stood together by the conveyor as it threaded its way round and round. Lillian spotted the knapsack and pounced on it with such excitement she would have been carried along with it if another soldier had not grabbed her and the knapsack and set her on her feet. ‘There you go,’ he said. ‘Don’t want you getting left as unclaimed baggage.’

She looked up into the smiling face. ‘Do you know my dad?’

‘I don’t think so. What’s his name?’

‘Just Dad. But he doesn’t remember me, anymore.’

The soldier crouched in front of her. ‘He’ll remember you when you give him one of your big smiles.’ He brushed the tear beginning to form in the corner of her eye. ‘You’ve probably grown a lot since he went away and your dad still has a picture in his head of how you looked when he last saw you.’

Jason edged closer. ‘That’s right, sir. Lillian was only five when Dad went away. Now she’s nearly eight.’

The man pushed himself back on his feet. ‘That means you’ve all changed a lot. But you’ll see. Give your dad a couple of days and he’ll be so proud of you.’

Once family and luggage were loaded into the car, the journey home buzzed with ‘Look what they’ve done to the…’ … ‘Do you remember old Mrs …?’… ‘We’ve got a new ….’ … ‘Did you see …?’ … ‘Brian Down’s dad died …’

Enough! Enough! Can’t you kids be quiet for just one minute?’ Dad had never shouted. A sudden silence shrouded them.

Mum looked through the rear vision mirror at the shocked faces of the children sitting in the back seat. ‘Jason,’ she said gently, ‘there are some wooden puzzles in the back pocket behind my seat. Take them out and help the girls do them.’

Family and luggage trooped into the house. Jason looked about nervously. What now? He looked at Mum. She caught his eye. ‘Take the girls out into the sunroom,’ she said. ‘Get them to set the table and I’ll bring out lunch as soon as I can.’

Genni loved setting the table and just watching her fussing about with knives and forks and flowers helped Lillian and Jason settle back into being themselves.

When Mum appeared with the food, the children realized how hungry they felt. They waited - but Dad did not join them.

Mum sat down. ‘Come on then. Tuck in’. Seeing their questioning looks, she added, ‘Dad has had no sleep for three days. The plane trip to Brisbane was crowded, noisy and very rough. Then there was the official welcome home and street parade. He caught the first plane he could to come home to us. He’s very tired. We need to give him time to rest.’

‘Then, will he remember who I am?’ asked Lillian.

‘Oh, Lil! Of course he will.’

‘Will he ever enjoy fun things again?’

‘Yes, Jason. Just give him time.’

Genni giggled. ‘Dad loves me.’

Mum stood up to collect the plates. ‘Dad loves all of us. She paused. ‘And I’m so proud of the way you helped at the airport, Jason - and you, too, Lillian. But just for today, leave your dad alone to find his home legs. He’s resting now. Auntie Sarah will be here in a few minutes. She’s going to take you to the beach.’

‘Ice-cream?’ Genni’s eyes lit up as she spoke.

Jason pinched her ear. ‘You scream and I scream. We all scream for ice-cream.’

Auntie Sarah was Mum’s sister. She and Uncle Bob (Mr and Mrs Shannon) had often dropped by during their father’s absence and helped out in whatever way they could.

Mum smiled. She picked up a tote bag from the corner. ‘Your togs, towels, hats and sunscreen are all in here. Have a good time - and don’t forget to wear your tops when you’re out of the water.’

‘Mum?’ It was Lillian. ‘Will you be safe - I mean alright? Dad won’t shout at you, will he?’

Mum put her arms around her trembling daughter and kissed her hair. ’I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.’

The afternoon at Cottesloe Beach gave the children time to forget the excitements and disappointments of the morning, and play in the sand. As he wandered along the beach, Jason was reminded of the day at Charlotte Point when he, Sandy and Greg had dug and packed sand to erect a huge sand sculpture—a monument to Captain Jones his crew. As he approached the point where the access ramp built for local boat enthusiasts met the water - almost parallel with the intersection of Warton Street and Marine Parade - he looked up. Nestled in the sand above him, behind the bus shelter, stood a weatherworn plaque.

He climbed the dune and rubbed at the surface of the badly encrusted plate with the sleeve of his T-shirt. The glint of the sun made it difficult to read the inscription. He moved around to the side so he could try deciphering the words from a different angle ‘Wow! Another shipwreck!’

[quote] Elizabeth 1830-1839

The wooden barque Elizabeth ran aground near this spot on 22 September 1839, after leaving Fremantle for Sydney. The fifteen crew and two passengers on board scrambled ashore safely but little was salvaged form the wreckage. The 197 tonne ship had been built in Singapore in 1830 for a Sydney merchant and was carrying a cargo of trading goods from Manila and Singapore. For many years the wreckage was believed to be a Spanish or Portuguese galleon because of the Spanish olive ars found on the site. The Elizabeth wreck is protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act.

Town of Cottesloe WA Maritime Museum

He scanned the details carefully: 21 September, 1839 - sixty years earlier than the City of York - the fifteen crew and two passengers on board were landed safely.

Jason stared out to where the breakers crashed and sprayed - another school research project forming in his mind.

‘Jason!’ His aunt’s call brought him back to the sand at his feet and the wind in his hair. ‘Want to come up to the kiosk with us? It’s ice-cream time.

The last streaks of sunset stretched across the sky as the beach party pulled into the drive. Auntie Sarah carried a sleeping Genni into the house. Jason looked at Lillian. He knew they were both thinking of Dad. Was he alright? Would everything be back to normal now he’d had a rest.

Dad was sitting in the lounge watching ‘Tom and Jerry’ on TV.

‘Oh what?’ laughed Jason.

His father looked up with a grin. ‘I really missed these guys.’

‘More than you missed us?’ Lillian asked

‘Of course not.’ He held his arms wide. ‘Come here my little Blossom.’

Lillian snuggled into her father’s body, shaking with giant sobs.

‘Hey! What’s this?’

‘I-I thought you’d forgotten me.’

‘Forgotten you? Never. You have grown a lot since I last saw you - but you’ll always be my Blossom. Now dry those tears and bring me my slippers.’

Jason let out a sigh of relief. This was more like the father he remembered.