by Iris Carden
For all those who
with the hope that
do not become
The boy bounced the ball against the wall. He was bored and wished his mother had time to play. Dad was at work.
Mum, however, no longer seemed to have time for him. She was busy with the tiny, pink object which was his new sister.
When Mum had gone to the hospital to get the baby, she had said it would be anew playmate for him, but the baby was not big enough to play yet. All it did was eat, sleep and cry.
Worse than that, Mum had got a girl baby! He wondered if girl were ever interested in the same games as boys played.
The ball rolled away. He ran after it. Down the driveway and out on to the road, went the ball. The boy stood on the foot-path. Mum had told him never to go out on the road. Indecision gripped his young mind, as his favourite toy stayed just out of reach.
“I'll get it for you!” a voice called. A girl, who appeared to come from nowhere, ran out on to the road and retrieved the ball.
“Thank-you,” the boy said as the ball was returned to his possession. “Does your mum let you go on the road?”
“I can go wherever I like,” the girl replied.
“Gee, you must be old.”
“I'm older than you.”
“How do you know?”
“How old are you?”
“I'm almost five.”
“I'm older than that.”
That seemed to exhaust the conversation, but the boy did not want to lose his new companion yet. “Where do you live?”
“Do you like to play ball?”
“Sure, I do.”
So the two went to the side of the house and together they bounced the ball against the wall.
“Why are your eyes that colour?” the boy asked.
Terry re-read the chapter, selected the whole thing, took one final look and hit “delete”. Again. He slammed his fist on to the table. It was going to be another unproductive day, and one he could ill-afford.
The telephone rang. It was Neil, of course.
“How's the book coming, Terry?”
“What's wrong this time?” Neil had long ceased to sound concerned over Terry's mental block. He was now bored with the excuses.
“I've got the ideas, just no words will go with them.”
“I'll send you a dictionary.”
“No, it's long past funny. You know the contract expires at the end of the month and it's the twentieth now.”
“You've got ten days to get it in.”
“I know that.”
“I might be able to extend it one or two days for you, but there are people above me, so I can't promise anything.”
“What if I don't get it in until later?”
“Don't think of that as an option. The contract runs out. Then anything you submit has to go through the process of being accepted or rejected all over again. Only we've already paid you a fair bit of money – if it's rejected you get to pay it back. I assume paying it back won't be a problem?”
“You know it will be a problem.”
“So get it done.”
“Can you try to get me some more time? A couple of extra weeks? Have the contract extended or something?”
“Terry I can try, but I can't offer promises. I'll talk to a couple of people, and since it's you, they'll probably say 'no'. But I'll try, I'll get back to you.”
“Don't thank me yet. I'll call you and let you know how I get on. But work on the basis that the deadline isn't likely to change. Keep writing.”
“Yeah, I will, but there doesnt' seem to be much point in it.”
“So do it for the fun of it.”
“You told me you enjoyed writing.”
“That was when I had a successful book on the market.”
“Money makes the difference?”
“When you can't pay the rent it does.”
“Sad story, pity you didn't, I don't know, save something, when your book was selling so well. I'll let you know what happens with the contract. 'Bye.”
“Yeah, 'bye Neil.” Terry put down the phone and thought about the money he owned Telstra for it. It would not be long, he decided, until he lost it.
While thinking of things he could lose, he wondered if Nettie would lend him the money for the rent again this month.
He dialled the number. A voice purred, “Good morning, Perfection Modelling Agency, can I help you?”
“Anette Dixon's office, please,” Terry responded.
“Who shall I say is calling?”
The purr turned into a snarl. “One moment please.”
Terry tapped the desk with his fingernails. He did not enjoy asking his little sister for hand-outs, but it had to be done.
“Hello Terry,” Nettie's bright voice greeted him.
“Hi Nettie, I was wondering...”
“No, I'm afraid I don't have a job for you, unless you lose about five kilos.”
“Thanks Sis, but I don't think I'm the right type. I'm more intellectual than physical.”
“No, I'm serious. We need someone for a series of ads for a new brand of office equipment. If you could drop five kilos in the next three weeks, we could use you.”
“Well, it's tempting, but I don't think I'm all that photogenic.”
“It has to give you a better income than writing – which at the moment is paying you what? Nothing? How much do you want this time?”
“About three hundred.”
“Terry, you know, sooner or later, I'm not going to be able to support you.”
“I'm sorry, Nettie, but the rent's just gone up. There's nothing I can do about it.”
“How about getting a job?”
“I've got a job.”
“What you've got is a worthless piece of paper.”
“It's a contract!”
“They can still reject the book.”
“Only if it isn't up to standard.”
“Well, is it?”
“I don't know.”
“Look, Terry, I've got to go. There's a client on the other line. I'll call you tonight. Good-bye.”