Mary Mae Lewis was Awarded a Highly Commended Certificate for her Flash Fiction short story -
FROM TUNSTALL to AUSTRALIA... IN FIVE MINUTES by Mary Mae Lewis
I was twelve when I fell in love...
...with a map of the world!
When the enormous thing was hauled up and hung in the hall of my secondary school in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent I became bewitched and fondled it every day.
Made of tough white moulded plastic ,the painted-in mountain ranges stood out in brown relief, green river basins lay flat, dark blue marked the rivers and paler hues were used for the seas. Drawings of whales, dolphins, penguins and other living creatures dotted the area.
Sliding my hands across the Pacific from east to west then west to east I imagined sailing in those azure seas in a private yacht. I picked out the tropical Islands I had heard of: Fiji, Tonga, Tahiti, and my head swirled to the sound of the songs in South Pacific ; I knew the words off by heart as I had seen the film ten times at the local pictures.
Not long after the map’s arrival, my class were each allocated a pen-friend from different Commonwealth countries. Mine was a girl from Sydney, Australia. Not one of us had a girl from the same nation .
When my Kerrie said she surfed on Bondi Beach, swam outdoors all year round, had Kangaroos in her back yard and a pet Koala, I became even more entranced by the map. Tracing my finger from Liverpool, down past Portugal, the Ivory coast of Africa, rounding the Cape of Good Hope and traversing the Indian Ocean to New South Wales became an obsession.
I was fascinated by pineapple growing in Queensland. I had never seen a fresh one. We only ate this fruit from cans at Sunday tea-time with evaporated milk after a plate of tinned salmon, salad with salad cream and bread and butter.
One day, as I was by the map thinking of Aborigines on Ayers Rock, and the terrible fate they had met at the hands of white settlers, I felt a sharp tap on my right shoulder .
“Go to your class, Mary..." The headmistress was severe. “Get along!“
I turned and jumped to attention, bowed my head in acquiescence, then dashed to my class room where I made a clumsy entry; thirty girls, all reading in silence, looked up.
“ You’re late, Mary! Where have you been?“ the teacher admonished.
“ To Australia, Miss." I beamed as I felt the warmth of that continent, smelt the eucalyptus trees and saw the colours of the Great Barrier Reef in my mind!
The class burst out laughing and continued giggling until I had slumped into the seat at my desk and Miss spoke again .
“Get out your Great Expectations book..." she said, "...and read on, from page 120... quickly..."
And I did.
(C) Mary Mae Lewis 2018