Alissa Loxton, Grade 12, Coffs Harbour Senior College
Excellence Award in the 'Step Write Up 2011' competition
I remember running in the yard, looking up at the mango trees with anticipation, waiting for their skins to rupture with ripeness and fall to the ground. We were too young to reach them.
I remember laying in bed at night, my sister on the floor beside me, telling me of her 13-year-old love life. I didn't contribute, I listened, and she kissed me goodnight.
I remember my father, waking me up every Sunday morning, the smell of bacon and eggs clinging to his flannel shirt, which he always slept in.
"A big breakfast, for a big boy," he would say, every Sunday morning.
I remember the morning goodbyes, father wearing a suit of confidence, happiness perched on his shoulder. My brother and sister in their high school uniforms. My mother in her apron. It was so typical, so perfect. We kissed goodbye, every morning.
But things change.
My siblings finished school, they moved out. They found jobs in the city. They lived in small cramped apartments, with roommates and pets. They were unhappy.
And then it was my turn. On the day of my graduation, my father died in a car accident.
I didn't move out. Not yet.
My mother became depressed. I stayed at the farm, I helped. I picked the mangoes from the trees. I cooked bacon and eggs for her every Sunday morning. I left the house in the morning with a suit of sadness and ran errands in town, dressed like a business man, seen as a ghost.
After a year, I moved out, convinced by my mother. I found an apartment in the city. A small one, with a leak in the roof.
I was uncomfortable in my apartment, alone. I stepped outside, and hid amongst the people on the sidewalk. They spoke on the phone, to people I would never get to meet.
I was unhappy.
Sadness clung to me like an a odour, people shied away from me. I took a break from work. I visited my mother.
I called my siblings, it was her birthday.
We had stopped celebrating each other's birthdays, I'm not sure why. When my brother and sister stepped through the door, I cried.
We went for a walk in the yard, while our mother watched from the balcony. We picked the mangoes from the trees, we talked.
I lay in bed that night, my sister on the floor. She spoke of work, of her love life, of our mother. I contributed.
The next morning I got up, made bacon and eggs. It was a Tuesday, we didn't care. We ate together, and packed our bags.
On the balcony, we exchanged goodbyes.
I looked at my mother, and saw the happiness in her eyes.
"I love you mum, I'll see you soon."
She took me in her arms.
And, we left. It was not sorrow that I took with me.
I was happy.
Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.