The Old Holden

‘Can you please sell Dad’s car so I can get my ute in the garage?’

My stomach dropped. A text message from my brother. We’d been talking about selling the house and he wanted to come back and get started.

I know things don’t have feelings, but I have feelings about things.

Years ago, when my ancient olive-coloured hatchback no longer ran, some boys gave me $50 to take it away.  I took some photos as it sat in the street before they came and later I showed these photos to Dad. He grinned and said, ‘Oh you sentimental old thing’.

I stared at the text message and swallowed hard.

Nobody is interested in Dad’s car as a going concern. It’s too old to be refurbished and not old enough to be considered vintage. Ibrahim’s Scrap Metal will give me $200 to take Dad’s car away at midday on the following Monday.

I sat in the old Holden, hands around a cup of coffee. The car had to go. I knew that. It didn’t run well. It had been sitting there in the garage for nearly a year flattening the battery so it didn’t run at all now. I had taken the floor mats out and put them in my new hatchback. I prised the Holden lion badge off and the word ‘Holden’ and the number plates. It felt like a violation but I wanted them.

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What would Dad think of me now? Sitting blubbing in his car? Still a sentimental old thing. But it was time to let the Holden go. I knew that.

On Monday no one came and at about three o’clock I rang Ibrahim who told me the fella would be there but as I had to go out I said ‘No worries, let’s make it tomorrow if that’s ok. But it really has to be before noon because I must go out at twelve’.

Noon the following day rolled around and still no one came. At about four-fifteen I rang and asked if they were coming and Ibrahim said, ‘Oh yes, I think he forgot. Oh, he collected two cars from Sunshine…’ and I suppose that meant he didn’t have room for the Holden.

Ibrahim said he’d be around between seven and eight that evening but I said that was a bit late for me and could we make it Wednesday, but it had to be in the morning.

Jorge turned up just before noon the next day. He couldn’t get his lorry up the driveway so he brought up his spare battery to recharge the battery in the Holden. We discovered Jorge’s battery was flat too. Then he asked me to move my car so he could jump start the Holden from my battery, but we realised the batteries are on the opposite sides of each engine and his jumper leads wouldn’t reach.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.

He released the Holden’s handbrake and we pushed the big car out of the garage and down the driveway a little. Now we could manoeuvre the cars together and the Holden’s motor roared into life.

Jorge drove Dad’s car onto the back of the truck and headed down the driveway. I stood watching, pushing my fingernails into the palms of my hands. As he reached the end of the driveway I ran down to the street, the wind cool on my wet face, and we waved goodbye.

I swept the leaves out of the garage. It looked rather bare with just my little car.

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animals, grief, Uncategorized

The Buddies

On the paved area outside the Van I put my folding chair and the little lemon tree I’ve brought with me. On Dad’s birthday, days before I left their house forever, a professional gardener helped me take six grafts from Dad’s lemon tree and from the smaller lime tree Dad had himself grafted years ago, onto a lemon tree root stock. Four of them survived. I think Dad would be pleased that I have a next generation lemon and lime tree, but he’d think I was mad to take it in the Van.

Hanging in the old lemon tree at Mum and Dad’s was a bird feeding tray that we used for years to gain the trust of a couple of lorikeets. They became so tame we could stand quite near the dish while they ate. One of them would also eat from my flattened palm, one claw on a branch, one on my finger. Sometimes they walked up and down on the exterior kitchen windowsill or sat on the door handle. They were so comical. I loved them. Apparently they mate for life. We called them the ‘Buddies’.

One morning in the January after Mum died I heard a crash. I rushed out of my room and looked down over the balcony. A Buddy was lying on the paving outside the kitchen.

‘Oh no no no’, I raced down and threw open the door. The little bird was lying motionless on its back.

Gasping, I bent down for a closer look. Not one of the Buddies….

I rang my brother and as soon as he answered I blurted,

‘Uh uh…it’s a Buddy…there’s something wrong…’ I can barely speak. My throat has seized up.

‘The dunny? There’s something wrong with the dunny?’

‘A Buddy!’ I squeak.

‘The study?’

‘One of the Buddies! He’s lying on the ground! He’s not moving.’ I’m frantic.

‘Ok, ok. I see. He’s just lying there is he?’

‘Yesssss….Just not moving… what if he’s de….’

‘Ok, look. He might just be stunned. They hit the glass hard, but then they suddenly recover. They can be pretty resilient’.

‘Oh’, I gulp, ‘What should I do?’

‘He’ll probably just jump up and fly off in a moment’.

‘Ok’. I calm down a little. We finish the call.

I get a towel and approach the bird, picking up the still little body in the towel and laying him near the door. I look at him for a while then go back inside.

Suddenly I see a movement out of the corner of my eye. The little bird has leapt out of the towel and is staggering like a drunk across the paving. He gives himself a shake, straightens up and suddenly takes off. I burst into tears. Relief washes over me.

Something hasn’t died.

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