Guest Post: Megan Sayer

Today’s guest post is by a good friend of mine. Megan Sayer is a writer from Tasmania (that’s the little island at the bottom of Australia). She is incredibly talented and is currently working on writing her memoir. She is fabulous and wonderful and encouraging. Her story has a few Aussie-isms. Read within the context and you’ll understand exactly what she’s saying. 

A big thank you to Megan for submitting this powerful story.

Family Ties

By Megan Sayer.

 

This is what it says.

TELL US, in 25 words or less, Why YOUR family is the BEST in the world. You could WIN! A family holiday to DISNEYLAND! On the back of All Specially Marked Boxes of Weeties. Send your entries on an original coupon to GPO Box 3093 Sydney. Entries close 26th October 1987. The judges decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into it.

I pull a page out of the back of my maths book and copy that down at the top. And then I write my name, because I know that already.

Jennifer Paterson

24 Balmain Park Road

NewNorfolk

Tasmania

Australia

The Southern Hemisphere

The World

The Solar System

The Milky Way Galaxy

The Universe.

Even with my caravan door closed I can still hear them arguing in the house. Barry’s pissed as because Mum bought Weeties instead of Cornflakes even though he doesn’t even live here anymore. Barry came last night for dinner and stayed until Dynasty and now he’s back again. Mum thinks he wants to go out roo shooting with Dad, but I know better. Dad’s on night shift, but it’s really me Barry’s after. He’s all pacy and raw, and smells like stale smokes. I want a lock on my door. Dad says no.

Mum never buys Weeties. But she did today. I roll over on my bed and kick my legs in the air. I don’t know what to write! I mean, it’s not like I can just tell the truth This is the biggest thing that’s ever happened. I have to win this!

The truth is I want to go toDisneylandbecause it’s inAmerica, and that’s where my brother Alex is, inOhio,America. He goes to University. I have a picture of Alex next to my bed that I got out of TV week, and one of our whole family, like in the show, with Mr and Mrs Keaton and Alex and Mallory, but I cut out that other Jennifer and put me in instead. It looks real good, and not even faked. Mrs Keaton is so pretty with that blonde hair, but Mallory has brown hair like mine, so that’s okay. We’re family really.

I doodle on the paper and grab another handful of Weeties and shove them in my mouth. They don’t help me think, so I scoff another handful after. After my name and address I write the question again, and I look over at Alex. He’s on tonight, between The Cosby Show and Diff’rent Strokes. That’s why I love Wednesdays, and that’s tonight. That’s why I run when Mum calls me in for tea.

We have kangaroo again tonight because Dad and Barry had got heaps last week. My Dad’s a crack shot, he can get anything he wants. After TV I go to bed and wrap myself up in my doona all tight and think about Alex.

In my night dreams I run away from home because me and my Dad have an argument, and then I go missing because I can’t find my way home. Tonight I imagine I’m in Disneyland and I’m real frightened, and I can’t find Ohio anywhere, but then Alex comes, with Mr and Mrs Keaton behind him, and when they find me they’re crying and they’re real happy and all, and they hug me, and everything is okay. I always try to think of Alex before I sleep.

There’s a crack of hurt and I wake up enough to feel the heavy weight of Barry on me and his breath on my face. I cry out, must be too loudly, because Barry swears at me under his breath.

“Jesus Christ!”

I don’t know how it happens, but I climb out of my body and get up. All of a sudden I see a man I don’t know standing in my caravan, next to my bed.

I go stand in front of him. He’s got long hair and a beard and he’s wearing this long white dress thing. He’s looking at Barry on the bed, moving on top of my silent form.

It feels like time has stopped. I’m not afraid. I reach out to touch him and he reaches back. His hand feels warm, scratchy on mine. We stare at each other for a long time, and then, as if he’s drawing me with his eyes, I step closer.

He puts his arms around me and hugs me tight to his chest and I’m flooded with a feeling like I’ve not had since I was a little kid, a feeling of home. He smells like old milk and sunshine, and his beard tickles my forehead. I don’t want to be anywhere but here.

From where we are standing I can see Barry on the bed, moving rhythmically on top of my sleeping body, but then the man who holds me shifts his weight and I turn to look out the window instead, and that’s when I see him.

Dad’s home. He’s seen what Barry’s doing to me, and the Weeties spilled all over the caravan floor.

He’s got the shotgun.The stock up to his shoulder and the muzzle trained on Barry. When he talks it’s not like his normal voice, but a deep growl.

“Git off of my girl you mongrel.”

Dad’s a crack shot. He never misses. That’s why we eat so much roo. Kangaroo burgers. Kangaroo sausages. Kangaroo steak and Kangaroo meatloaf. I don’t mind. Mum says it saves money at the butchers, but sometimes I sneak in anyway.

Sneaked.

Barry jumps up, off of me and the bed. He looks stupid and awkward with his floppy donger hanging out, and he grabs the doona over him, like he can really hide what he’s done. It feels funny, just for a second, standing here watching my sleeping self on the bed, and then I feel the man in the white dress’s big hand in my hair and I breathe him in deep again and close my eyes against the warmth of his body.

It’s only for a second.

There’s a click, the trigger-set on Dad’s .26, and I need to get back into me quick.

I need to move.

I need to stop him.

I need to help Barry.

I turn and scream as loud as I can, fight against the man’s hold to get back to my body and act, but I can’t. I can’t make myself move, and I don’t even think my words are heard.

“DON’T HURT MY BROTHER!”

Dad’s a crack shot. He never misses, but he must’ve heard me, just a little I reckon, and he turned, because today he missed Barry. There’s blood everywhere, and as everything turns white around me and the man in the caravan I know the blood is coming from my body.

It’s just him and me now, the white man. I’m distantly aware of Mum screaming, and Dad crying over my broken body. Barry’s holding his head in his hands.

I don’t mind. I’m surrounded by the white now, and it’s all I want to be. Washed. Safe. The colours of life disappearing.

Then, very gently, the man in the long dress steps away and holds me at arms length to look me in the face. His voice floods me, gentle like sunshine.

“You can’t stay here” he tells me.

I can’t stay.

“Your family wants you”.

There are no tears. I look into his face, and I believe him. There’s nothing else I can do. Mum and Dad. Barry. They’re crying now. My old body is still and broken.

The man in the white dress stands straight, and looks over to someone behind me and smiles.

“She’s ready”.

I turn around.

There’s another man there in the white, with thinning grey hair and a beard. His wife is blonde, and they’re sitting at a round kitchen table I’ve seen before. Mallory is there, and then out from the living room steps my brother Alex, wearing that stripy jumper like in my bed-picture, and that smile, like he and I are sharing his very best secret.

He reaches out his arms, and they all look up and smile.

Mr Keaton says my name.

“Jennifer.” I run to them, and one by one they put their arms around me until we all stand together in a tight knot of family.

And I know the truth.

I don’t need Weeties orDisneylandany more.

I am already here.

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