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A long way from home

A long way from home

Never count on the people who say they love you

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Action / Adventure


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Paul Earl (Australia)


Hobart was a new start for Ophelia. It was the eve of her birthday when she collected the keys to the small rental property overlooking the river. The kitchen cupboards were bare apart from a small box of green tea condemned to unjustified isolation. She didn’t feel like drinking tea. Her muscles ached and all she wanted was her bed and the hot water bottle, which was at the bottom of her suitcase. A full night’s sleep was all she needed to cleanse herself of the negative thoughts that had surreptitiously followed across the world. Tomorrow would be a new day. A blank page. Slipping beneath the white sheets, Ophelia managed a smile. She had made an internal promise to seek out another continent if nothing had changed by the age of 33.

On the morning of her birthday Ophelia headed into town for some eggs benedict and decided she would integrate herself into local life. Her yoga practice would have to wait for the evening. Setting off down the road accompanied by Neruda’s poems and the sun’s rays, Ophelia hummed cheerfully until she reached the town centre. Picking a cafe at random, she walked in and sat in the corner. Eggs benedict were on the menu. This is a sign. Within minutes her breakfast was brought out to her. ‘Last time I had the eggs, I almost choked.’

Ophelia looked round to see a bearded man on the next table with his paper balancing on his bloated abdomen, demolishing a rasher of bacon. Ophelia smiled, unsure if the was statement was meant for her.

‘Yep!’ he interjected. ‘That’s when the missus told me she was expecting again.’

She groaned internally, conscious that he was now full and in the mood for a chat. Careful what you wish for Ophelia. Placing her knife and fork down in slow motion, Ophelia turned to face her neighbour.

‘How many have you got?’

‘Five. I’ve had snip now. Had to sell the damn ute.’

Ophelia watched him finish off his cappuccino. There was no eye contact and for a moment she wondered if he was talking to someone on his hands free.

‘ Same happened to me mate, jeff, poor bugger. Had to get a loan out.’ he sputtered into his napkin and laughed. ‘Poor bastard’.

Ophelia looked longingly at her plate and gave herself an ultimatum. Talk to him or take your eggs elsewhere.

‘I’m 33 today and have no children. I’m desperate to become a mum but all the men back home are either married or socially inept. I spend my time babysitting my sister’s kids and hearing about other people’s relationships. I’ve been climbing a ladder in an industry I don’t care about and all I really want to do is teach yoga.’

The man shuffled in his seat and put his newspaper on a chair.

‘You British?’

‘I am, yes. I seem to have swapped the channel tunnel for the bass straight – one way or another, I think I’ll always do things a little differently to the rest of the world.’

The man’s phone rang. ‘Goodluck to you daalin’ He said before getting up and taking the call.


Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1

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