Greville Street

I remember a lemon tree. Giant and laden.
I remember a hair treatment. Lemon leaves seeped in boiling water to make shining, lightened hair.
I remember a cousin who felt it needed more. Whole lemons vitamised with water would surely give her golden locks.
I remember picking tiny pieces of lemony flesh from the littlest, guinea-pig cousins hair for hours.
I remember laughing.
I remember boxed garden beds of lush greens.
I remember him blue-singleted with hose in hand.
I remember a sandy dog bouncing near by.
I remember smiling.
I remember the “money tree” with round shiny coin- like leaves as childhood currency.
I remember the paperbark tree out the front giving us dollar bills to complete our banking.
I remember the beauty shop laid out on the concrete front porch.
I remember happy chatter.
I remember radio race calls and television exercises.
I remember excitement and disappointment too.
I remember her “ta-da-da-daa” to the music with her bum in the air.
I remember knowing them.
I remember floral carpet with mattresses all in a row.
I remember cousin-y giggles under scratchy woollen blankets.
I remember epic breakfasts prepared intricately.
I remember strong tea from a pot and white bread toast.
I remember all of this as love…their pure acceptance and joy of us.
I remember lemons wrapped in newspaper in the hall cupboard across the way from a musky bathroom with a “St Kilda premiers” poster on the toilet door.
I remember vinyl dining chairs that stuck to your thighs.
I remember backyard celebrations and choking on a lolly too perfectly round.
I remember hot Christmas days around tables joined together with warm vegies and cool salads.
I remember everyone was welcome.
I remember Greville Street and I remember them.

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“No”

“No.” She wondered if the word escaped her lips at the volume it was in her head. The eyes looking at her said it did.

“Sorry.” No. I don’t need to apologise. Now the voice in her head sang even louder.

“I mean I can’t do that right now. You’ll have to find someone else.”

The feeling was unfamiliar. What was it? Satisfaction? Pride? Ange turned and walked away. It was her first time and it felt so good. She practised all day.

“Would you like a drink with that?”

“No.”

“Do you need a bag today?”

“No.” The cashiers eyebrows raised and softened into a smile. Ange could tell from their shared glance that she was one too. A yes woman. But no more.

No longer would she take every offering of junk so as not to offend. She would not investigate the intricacies of school carpet rather than making eye contact with fellow committee members. There would not be six extra children at her house after school every day. And she would not take fries with that…unless she wanted to. The weight of obligation and compliance slid off her with one buttery word.

“Excuse me Madam. Are you ok?”

“No. I mean yes thanks, I’m terrific.”