The following is an extract from Molly’s Dreams, available from Amazon.
One weekend we visited Grandma and Grandpa. They lived near the beach but it was such a long drive that it felt like it took nearly all day to get there. The road wound in and out of lots of little towns and every time I thought we had arrived, Dad would speed up and keep going out the other side of town. As we got closer, it became more and more exciting when I could see the sea through gaps in the trees as we climbed up and down hills, but still we drove on so I just sat there and thought about Grandma’s house.
Grandpa was still building the house which sat at the foot of a big mountain. In the afternoon the sun disappeared and the mountain cast a shadow over the house. Some of the walls only had timber frames and I could see straight through them into the next room. I usually made up games as I climbed through those holes, but I was always careful of all the old nails and boards lying around.
From the front, the house looked like it came from a story book. The walls were painted white and the roof reached triangular peaks on each side, separated by the flat roof of the verandah across the front. The edges of the roof were trimmed with scalloped board that looked like a lace cloth was dangling over the edge, and the roof itself was covered in red corrugated iron that gave the whole house a look as though it was made from gingerbread.
By the time the car finally stopped I had fallen asleep, and it took a little while for me to realise where I was after the rocking motion and the roar of the wheels on the road. My arm was tingling from where I had been resting on it and I could feel the lines of the seat belt pressed against my face.
“Come on Molly, time to get out,” said Mum gently. Grandma and Grandpa were sitting on the verandah having morning tea and the bigger girls had already jumped out of the car and were running up the front yard to hug Grandma. Mum undid my seatbelt and helped me climb out of the car. I was awake then and I ran up the long driveway after the girls, laughing and smiling to give Grandma my own big hug. She wrapped her arms around me and gave me a big kiss on the cheek. The smell of powder and soap lingered in the air.
“My, look how big you are getting, Molly.” Grandma held me by the shoulders and looked me up and down. “You will soon be a young lady.” The girls had disappeared into the kitchen and Grandma sent me after them to get a piece of cake for morning tea. Just the mention of cake made my tummy grumble and I ran inside after the girls.
Grandma followed me into the kitchen and poured a glass of milk for me to drink with my cake. I sat on a stool in the kitchen and looked out the window where I could see Grandpa moving around outside. I could hear Mum and Grandma talking but I wasn’t really paying any attention to them and when I finished my morning tea I climbed down from the stool and set off to explore around the house and see what had changed since the last time I was there.
Grandpa was up on the roof working away at something as I stood on the lawn below and watched him hammering in nails. He turned around and threw some sheets of tin down to the ground that nearly hit me. I got such a fright as I jumped out of the way and then Grandpa yelled at me. “Bloody hell, Molly,” he shouted. “What the hell were you doing standing there? Stupid bloody kids!” I started crying and ran into my bedroom and hid my face in the pillow. Mum eventually coaxed me back out but I was always a little bit scared of Grandpa and his gruff voice.
The big kids had gone off to explore the bush at the back of the house, but I wasn’t allowed to go so I just played in the yard by myself, doing cartwheels and talking to the flowers. I tried to find some of Stephanie’s fairies but I don’t think there were any in Grandpa’s garden.
There was a white-painted wooden fence running across the front yard, with a row of stunning purple flowers. Mum said they were called ‘morning glories’, and I thought if there were fairies anywhere they would be there. I lay on my tummy on the grass really quietly for ages hoping I might see some of the fairy people come out. The flowers nodded their heads in the breeze as if they were dancing and I watched some bees buzzing around them, but there was no sign of any fairies, so I went back to wandering around the yard. It was long and green and dotted with occasional shrubs and frangipani trees. Some flowers had fallen on the ground and I started to gather them up and make pretty patterns on the grass.
After a while I began to get hungry and wandered inside looking for something to eat. Grandma was already making lunch and I sat at the table and ate some nice thick sandwiches made from her warm tank loaf. She put a special treat of apple slice on my plate because the other kids had left me behind, and then she let me help her in the kitchen all afternoon.
Grandma had white fuzzy hair and a kind face. She was always busy doing something around the house. When she wasn’t in the kitchen she was usually sewing or knitting. I never saw her sitting still or reading a book.
“Grandma, do you have fairies in your garden?” I asked while stirring the cake mix.
“There used to be darling,” she said, “But I think Grandpa scared them away with all his hammering.” I nodded my head as I looked out the window; that made a lot of sense to me.
“Do you think they will ever come back?”
“I am sure they will. Once we start growing some more nice flowers. Fairies always like pretty flowers.” That sounded exciting and I couldn’t wait to tell Stephanie at school on Monday.
When night time came I sat quietly in the lounge room and read a book until it was time for bed. Nobody was ever allowed to make a sound while Grandpa was watching the news or the cricket on television and I was not game to even move my legs in case he yelled at me again and they got stiff and I could hardly walk when it was bedtime.
After breakfast in the morning, Dad took us to the beach while he went fishing. I jumped out of the car with my towel and hat and raced across to the sandy beach before the others could get there. I loved the way the sand squished between my toes as I walked across the beach, but it was quite hot until I got to the damp sand closer to the water. I put my towel on the sand and lay on my tummy watching the ocean. I could hear the waves crashing on the beach and I liked the way there were little wave patterns on the sand. Stephen said they were from the wind but they looked the same as the waves of the ocean so I thought they must have been made from the water.
I sat up and started building a sandcastle, decorating it with pretty shells that were lying around. Stephen helped by digging a hole and giving me all his extra sand so I could pile it up higher and higher until it looked like a castle from a fairy tale. Every now and then the waves came closer and filled the moat around my castle. I built a little bridge across the moat for the princess to ride across on her horse.
I looked up and Stephen was standing at the edge of the water trying to find pipis in the sand. I went over to him and he showed me how to wriggle my feet into the sand until I could feel a shell under my toes. I wriggled and wriggled like I was dancing and then I felt one and bent down to pick it up. Suddenly a big wave knocked me over and as I screamed I got a mouthful of salty water. I couldn’t stop crying as Stephen picked me up and carried me back to my towel. I didn’t want to be a mermaid anymore.