By Rose Osborne
Rose produced this essay in my recent workshop on Flash Memoir for the Association of Personal Historians.
The sky was so vast and blue in my hometown of Parkes, Australia. Mum was very strict when I was a young child of around five years, and on sunny days would usher my younger brother and me outside so our young spirits could soak up the natural environment and soothing air.
I didn’t mind as the sweet clean country air sent a sense of freedom and exhilaration deep into my soul, a sensation that has stayed with me all my days and becomes activated whenever I visit the country.
My mother cooked three hot meals each day for her growing family in those days. The kitchen produced such a complexity of smells from the casseroles, roasts, cakes and scones that at times, to my child-self, I could not distinguish one smell from the other and the intense moist cooking heat just drowned all my senses.
Apart from being a confusion of odours, Mum’s kitchen was hot, humid and noisy. The noise from the Sunbeam Mixmaster droned out the screeches of the old washing machine thrashing our clothes into a submission of cleanliness and the radio blasted Mum’s favourite songs into her personal hemisphere. Mum would sing along in her sweet but very high pitched singing voice as if this was the hook that ensured she stayed securely perched in her imagined reality.
One day things were a little more chaotic than usual. My brother was obsessed with American cowboy and Indian stories from our newly acquired television. He raced around the house like he was riding a wild Australian brumby stallion over rugged bush terrain, conquering its strength and agility with his own imagination and shooting everything in sight with his toy gun. This day he leaned towards the baby in the high chair as if he was delivering one final fatal shot and the baby screamed one of those high-pitched piercing sounds that only babies can make.
A tightness rose in my chest that extended itself deep into my very being. I held my ears as if I could physically stop the battleground noises from entering my head. The room spun frantically in unison with the quivering decibels of sound around me but never touched my pounding heart and moist prickly skin. The sensation of feeling like a statue inside a tornado stripped and disempowered me. I felt helpless and alone.
Mum’s self-control broke. With one frantic emotion-charged action, she thrust her trusted worn friend, Mr. Broom, behind my brother’s and my small bottom and physically swept us out the door into the backyard as if we were dust on the shiny linoleum.
I raced for the swing Dad had built me. The swing was mine and mine alone – Dad said. The two upright poles of the swing were tall and straight and reached into the blue expansive sky like they were capable of carrying anyone anywhere. The strong and thick ropes held the little seat that would hold my small frame and I clung to their strength, their furry feel making me feel secure and strong.
The higher the swing reached, the louder I would sing, ‘Que says sera, sera, whatever will be, will be’. My young voice carried into the heavens and captured the essence of tranquillity and my world became soft and peaceful, the air sweet and mesmerising. I looked up into the cloudless sky and thought ‘how beautiful are you, how safe and gentle’.
I pulled myself back and forth until the swing reached even greater heights, my legs stretched forward and backward under me and I was in complete unison with the universe and its symphony orchestra of serenity and calm.
(c) 2016 Rose Osborne.
Rose lives in the beautiful Sutherland Shire of Sydney, NSW, Australia. She runs a medical and health content writing service and a life history writing service, Write My Journey.