Gone awry

“Mum. We have to leave in 15 minutes.”

This was not a 6:15am alarm, just The Ballerina waking me to drive her to weekly choir practice. The school timetable has no respect for a writer’s night owl habits. So I dragged my wretched carcass from its covers, pulled on shorts and sneakers and drove her, through bleary eyes, to rehearsal.

Dog days

Once home, The Pooch saw my footwear and looked up with one ear cocked, daring me to put the kettle on. I sighed, gathered the few pieces of mail that needed posting and clipped on his lead for a walk to the nearest red box.

The neighbourhood glistened after a rainy night. Oily puddles made the roads slick and sodden jacaranda decorated the damp, pungent earth like confetti at a garish wedding. The Pooch dawdled, stopping to sniff and cock his leg at every tree and lamp post, reclaiming territory washed away by the spring rains. Walking him these days is more an exercise in patience than exercise per se.

Boring but beneficial

After the post and pooch run I braved The Husband’s home gym, deferring my morning cuppa a little longer for a session on the rowing machine.

Bend forward, stroke back, extend the legs.

I huffed and puffed for 20 minutes, straining to hear the TV news over the whir of the spinning wheel. Today’s bulletin screamed bloody murder, after some tortured soul filled a Las Vegas hotel room with automatic weapons and used them to massacre a concert crowd below.

I rowed harder.

A slight detour

Then went upstairs to wake The Champion. She had an appointment for an MRI scan of her injured shoulder but struggled to surface from her fitful sleep, stuffy and red-eyed with a viral head and sad heart. I deferred the cup of tea a little longer to shower and drive her across town for the scan.

Where I waited. And waited. Amused by the man in a short-sleeved shirt and fluorescent yellow sneakers who wore his jeans hitched high and hair slicked flat. Annoyed by the woman with a plastered foot perched on the seat beside me talking loudly into her mobile phone to her daughter. Then her neighbour. And anybody else who would answer her calls.

We escaped eventually to drink coffee and eat a bacon and egg wrap (me) and a chicken salad (her) from our local.

Then another

We talked for a bit. She let me take her photo but insisted on sunglasses. Then, fuelled by a second coffee, I jumped to my feet and said “let’s go shopping”. So we did, driving into the city to find a cheap street park. We bought sneakers and shorts and a couple of stylish dresses. “I look cute Marmie,” The Champion said, admiring how a dress skimmed her bottom. “You can tell I’ve been working out.”

Mission accomplished.

By now the day had unravelled, my agenda grubby and torn, trampled by circumstance and whimsy. So I ignored the Committee email account a little longer and cleaned the kitchen instead. With 30 minutes to kill until the ballet run I entered the laundry for reconnaissance, admiring the rain’s effect on my backyard through the window. “My, how that tree has grown,” I said to myself, before realising the tree was listing not growing, pole axed down the guts and now balanced precariously on our fence.

And another

We have six neighbours adjoining our expansive property line and are not on barbeque terms with them all. I desperately hoped the tree’s owners, newcomers who owned a dog and had built a cubbyhouse for their children, would appreciate the risk posed to the fence and our roof. I scribbled a short note and marched around the block, hoping to speak to someone but forced to leave my letter instead. Then I crossed my fingers and moved on.

Back on track

I collected the ballet bag, the Foxtel box, my passport and visa application, a piece of gluten-free apple cake and cupful of pineapple chunks and strapped myself in for peak hour traffic. The journey took me from home to the edge of the city, where I collected the Ballerina and delivered her, with bag and snacks, to her dance studio. From there I jostled with utes and semi-trailers to get to the post office, where I off-loaded Foxtel and lodged my passport. I stopped to buy fancy salads before visiting Billy’s for fancy kebabs and the supermarket for a few things more.

I fell in the door at 5pm and then, finally, I had a cup of tea.

A happy ending

The neighbours called, falling over themselves to help, apologising as if their children had pushed the tree over the fence just to bother us. They called the State Emergency Services who came after dark, in the rain, to cut up the offending half-tree. Then the neighbours texted again, asking when would be convenient for them to come around to remove the rubbish.

That hitherto healthy tree had provided a perfect screen, giving us both privacy. But somehow I don’t think I’ll mind getting to know these neighbours a little better.

I did not call Telstra today. The telephone is still disconnected.

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copywriting me

Angela Bensted is Brisbane-based freelance writer who likes to listen first and struggle with syntax later. She pitches stories to magazines, sometimes successfully, and helps businesses produce compelling copy for print and online.

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