'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Friday 24 October 2014

KBR Short Story: Oomi

by Michelle Lewry

Every school morning, my Mum whips herself into a busy tizzy.
Busy tizzies begin with Mum jamming her feet into shoes with straight laces.
Busy tizzies end with Mum huffing into a paper bag.

In between, Mum whizzes around the kitchen slapping sandwiches into lunch boxes, signing excursion slips, barking orders and burning toast.

I try to relax Mum by asking important questions about toilets in space shuttles.
She flips up a hand, “Hush, James! We’ll be late!”

I tell Mum about Yeti sightings on Mount Baw Baw to soothe her mind.
Up flips the hand, “Hush James! We’ll be late!”

To quieten her nerves, I ask Mum “Who was your best friend when you were young?”
Mum stops whirling. She drifts into her bedroom.
Crystal and I think paper bag time has come early.

Mum breezes back into the kitchen wearing a floaty skirt I’ve never seen before. She’s carrying an equally alarming canvas bag.
“Oomi was my best friend” she says, “out to the car.”
Crystal and I are bewildered.

Wheeling our Beetle out of the driveway, Mum switches radio stations. She starts dooby-dooing and finger-clicking.
Mum winks at us from the rectangle of the rearview mirror.
Crystal and I are dumbfounded.

Mid morning we pitstop at a petrol station.
Mum wrestles down the Beetle’s rusty roof.
We scoot down the highway with Mum’s hair streaming in the wind like bright orange ribbons.
Crystal and I are astounded.

At noon in a car park, Mum orders us out of the Beetle.
She pats down her skirt and pats down her hair.
She checks for her keys, she checks for her wallet.
She huffs once, takes our hands and whispers, “Close your eyes”.

My feet sink pleasantly into something warm and welcoming.
My lungs expand with tangy air.
My ears are greeted with a friendly hush. We open our eyes.
Mum spreads her arms wide toward the rolling sapphire sea.
“Meet Oomi, my best friend.”
Crystal and I are delighted.

With Oomi, we puddle in rock pools and stick our fingers into sea anemones. With Oomi, we don kelp wigs and play seaweed pirates.
With Oomi, we uncover shells and cuttlefish and driftwood; our beach treasure.

At dusk with the sun turning to toffee, we tumble back into the Beetle, full of fun and giggles. Mum’s mind is soothed, her nerves are calmed.
A busy tizzy seems miles away.
Motoring back down the highway toward home I’m glad Mum is wearing her seatbelt.
She seems so light she might float away.

At night, after her three baby bears are fast asleep, Michelle picks up a pen and wrangles words into picture book form. She's pretty serious about writing stories for children and getting them published. One day, she would like to make publishing books her job. You can find Michelle on LinkedIn.

KBR Short Stories are a way to get your work ‘out there’—and to delight our KBR readers. Stories are set to a monthly theme and entries are due in the 25th of each month. Find out more here.