At 10:32 on a Thursday morning they step onto the escalator at Coles as one. She is holding his arm; he taps the knuckle of her index finger lightly with his thumb. They are going up.

In 1930, when they were both born, she breathed her first breath in air scented with eucalypt and red dust. He came into being in a Manchester winter; blue, mewing and cold.

Three days after his tenth birthday, and two days before Christmas, he survived the bombing of his town by the Luftwaffe while she dipped her toe in the sea for the first time at Glenelg beach.

By 1951, she was working in the kitchen of Royal Adelaide Hospital while he, and his family, set sail for Australia under the migration scheme. In November the following year, while waiting for a tram on King William Street, she met him.

That summer was salted and freckled. They stayed on the beach until the sun went down and licked melted ice-cream off each other’s fingers.

When their first child was born he planted two peach trees, one for his tiny daughter and one for her. For their second daughter, he planted two roses. By the time their sixth child, a boy, came along, he had run out of room in the garden and settled for a row of carrots instead. She said they were the sweetest carrots she had ever tasted.

The torn back of an envelope, nestled deep in his pocket and scrawled with her writing, says that they are getting carrots today. Some chicken, plum jam, milk and a loaf of bread.

Half way up the escalator she looks at him. Let’s do it. She giggles and glances over her shoulder. Just a bored looking kid with a skateboard. The supermarket is quiet.

When they step off the escalator they loiter at the top. She is trying so hard not to laugh that her eyes are closing up. He is pretending to be interested in the pregnancy display in the chemist’s window. The kid steps off the escalator with his skateboard.

Quick. She grabs his arm, curling her fingers in his. Together they step back on except this time they are going down – back down the way they have already come.

They take a large step to avoid the escalator’s teeth and then they are competing against it’s oppositional pull. Jogging, wobbling, holding each other, laughing and not caring who is watching.

Oops a daisy, she says as she nearly falls stepping off. He catches her and she pulls him close. This is as it has always been with them.



Read more about Adelaide Stories here.

Adelaide Stories: #6

2 thoughts on “Adelaide Stories #6. The Ride

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