A Good Life

A true life fairy tale starring Allison, Robert, Greg, James and Bunty the Chow Chow.

...

I've always wanted to explore Cameron – the problem is I can't understand her. But I think she is an interesting person. In this little story she has a future and is happy. This is my 'come as you aren't' story for Halloween.


Never any regrets: so many regrets. So many things that made her physically hurt when she thought about them in the middle of the night. It's during this time the good stuff pales into the background and the disgust she still feels about breaking her cousin's doll, stuffing it in the a dustbin a few doors down - hiding it and lying about it. Knowing no one would suspect sweet little Allison. The memories are all mixed in there, along with Susie's bewilderment and tears and Allison's cowardice. It was the perfect crime. No one ever found out it was her, but even now, years later, it pops up as a physical block of shame. She can see it. It's red. A big red wooden block like the one she used to play with as a child.

When she can't sleep she feels the block within her. She knows what it says about her. Not many people see it. They are too busy checking over the exterior, but she knows the block of shame is sitting right there.

As a child Allison never thought she'd do a lot of things she's done. But she's done them and they can't be undone. Some have scared her, some scarred her and some have excited her.

They all centre around one thing: her. She did them; she made the choices and now they are part of her, every waking moment; and even in her dreams, they make up who she is now. Who that person is she doesn't quite know. She's a work in progress. It will take many years before she'll be hung on the wall of a gallery, defined by a tastefully decorated frame and gawped at by champagne drinking nitwits. But she and the painter will laugh because only they will know the truth.

The others will never know what had to happen to create this particular canvas.

It was formed from needless death, fear of death, blood, lust, love, Susie's doll, curiosity and a particular brand of walking fire that had burned through her life with the speed of insanity. He's out now. She knows. She just feels the lack of heat. Idiots will probably try to paint him, but there are only a few who understand that trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice is pretty darn pointless.

Her life had been terrifying, strange and beautiful.

Her life is as beautiful as her grandchild grabbing Bunty the chow's velvet soft ears in her pudgy hands, amazed that something so scary could have something so soft and grabbable just sticking out of her head for the taking. Bunty, after years of puppies and children and a maternal instinct that was in strict contrast to the fact she looked like a small black bear, had suffered the ear fondling with the good grace that comes with all mothers.

Her life was as beautiful as the crisp cold of a Princeton morning, made warm by the fact she had been called in by him.

Her life was as beautiful as the mind bending ER, full of a swirling mass of humanity: a constant cacophony.

Her life is as beautiful as this silly hot land she now lives in, a land filled with more swimming pools than she had ever imagined possible.

Her life is as beautiful as her gormless looking, but clever husband who can sit back and laugh and laugh with wonder at the wonderful crazy women in his life. Many years ago had just resigned himself to being the only boy in a family of women who had just popped up out of the blue like magic mushrooms on a cartoon show. Every single child had been born with the trappings of a girl, but with the mind of Hannibal, Hercules and him all rolled up in one disorderly determined ball with a set of lungs. A game of chess was treated as seriously as the battle of the Somme. Robert, as the token male gets pushed around as a matter of course, but on the odd occasion the youngest allows him to change the odd light bulb - under supervision. He still practices. He has a set of rooms and bulk bills for Medicare - because he can. What more does he need, he asks. He lives five minutes walk from the beach, he can pay his taxes and he has more women than he knows what to do with. Tragedy is a thing of the past. The sun in the morning is beautiful. His family is beautiful. His wife is beautiful. What more can a man want? Life is beautiful.

Her life is as beautiful as the people she had saved, the people she had loved and the people she had sired.

Her life is as ugly as the man she had killed. But 'he' had forgiven her for that.

...

It's a hot afternoon in Sydney. The tarmac in the car park is burning her feet because she forgot her thongs. There are almost too many girls to fit in the car. Girls upon girls. A posse, a gaggle, a brood of Cameron women - all rushing down to the water - to swim between the flags of course, because that's what grandad taught them - and he knows - being a real Ossie.

She stands in the shallows. She wonders how can the water be so cold when it is so hot. Her feet are not burning anymore. She remembers back to the dying man's blessing from forty years ago. Combined with a trip to the beach with her girls this has reminded her life is complicated.

She remembers that somehow between the car and the beach she knew the fire was out.

...

When he turns up a few days later she's not surprised. Ying and Yang. It's been years, but you can't have one without the other. It's impossible. They'd never admit it of course, but it's as plain as the nose on your elbow.

She takes him down to the beach. He's old, but he still sports the buttoned down look and she wants to see him with his trousers rolled up. It looks as amusing as she predicted. It's afternoon, the giant high rises cast their shadows and the Lifesavers are packing up. The shadows make the sand cool, but it still annoys her that someone with money can rob you of sunlight. Sunlight is God's gift. They both know who would be 'not shut-up-able' about this minor hiccup in the story of life, but he's not walking beside them. He's out to sea.

"Cuddy?" she asks.

"She took his advice. Bucket loads of them now, and then some. I'm not supposed to reveal this information, but he used to help out sometimes - except with diapers." James, Claire and Joy - and even the new grand baby Jim Jnr now, That has to mean something because Wilson's proud - of all of them. He sends pictures.

"And you?"

Wilson smiles. "One big baby at a time thank you."

"You miss him, don't you?"

"We had a long time together."

"I could have too."

"Very true. You weren't just a piece of art," sighs Wilson. It was time for truth. "He loved Cuddy too. You never would have known it, but he loved too much."

Time for the truth: then the truth it shall be: "The problem was he loved you more wasn't it?"

"No, he was realistic. He knew no relationship with a normal person would ever work."

She squeezes his arm. He understands what she's saying. He wants to cry at the big dwelling shaped hole in his life - but he doesn't because that's not his way.

She understands. "And yet he was always there."

Wilson smiles. "Just hovering out of sight."

"But ready to interfere at a moment's notice."

"If you wanted it or not," finishes Wilson.

"He was like the wind."

"He was the wind."

"And now he's gone."

Wilson put his hand up, feeling the Southerly.

"Maybe," he says slowly, as if he knows some secret she doesn't.

"How are the girls?" he asks suddenly. The mood is broken. She understands. There was a time for everything and that time had passed for Wilson. She laughs. "Which ones? Do them in batches of threes."

They walked back along the wet sand. Wilson laughs as she tells him about her girls. Two doctors and two lots of twins in the bunch. "How did you manage that?" he asks.

"Ask Chase," she replies. She ticks them off one by one. "Jenny - the sensible one, the natural hairdresser, one stay at home mom - she has to be with three under five, one gynaecologist in honour of Mrs Berman and one diagnostician in honour of the mythical Uncle Greg - and Sally - unexpected.."

Wilson stops and thinks about this. "How unexpected?"

"Very."

He stops again. "Hang on, you never told them Uncle Greg was real?"

"Would you want your kids to know he actually existed?"

Wilson looks to the sea and laughs in the fading light. "No way." Wilson pauses. "How did you explain all the presents then?"

"Ever heard of Santa?"