About the Author
Bill Hayward is a sole-parent father who has fun writing
short and long stories. The challenge to submit a book for publication started
when he became partly disabled and then, a sole parent. Most of his working life
saw him doing the hard yards, and long hours were spent sleeping in places you
would not allow a mangy dog to sleep. All of the fun stopped when he had his
first back operation. Not wanting to slow down to couch-potato status he began
writing as an outlet for his bottled-up emotions and to stop the guys in white
jackets putting him a padded room – all because no one wanted to hire him.
His colourful, well-travelled life working in a wide range
of disciplines in management on Christmas Island, throughout Asia, Papua New
Guinea and around Australia allows him to draw on a great store of knowledge of
other cultures, languages and places. As a young teenager growing up in Victoria
there was no TV or Playstation so he used his overactive imagination to make up
short children’s stories to tell his younger sister. The main reason that
stopped him trying to get something published when he was young was his
inability to spell. All that changed when computers became smarter and he
trashed his typewriter. In the true Aussie sprit, he’s not perfect but he’s
having a go.
A Mother’s Burden
"Here you are, Lily.
Back home again. When do you think those clothes might be ready?” Rose Sental
asked Lily Janda jovially, as she swung the four-wheel drive jeep confidently
into Lily’s driveway and pulled up neatly in front of the gate.
“Thank you, Rose. This lot should be finished by tomorrow afternoon.” This from
Lily as she opened the rear door of the vehicle. Picking up the bundle of
clothes and shutting the Jeep’s door, she checked it to make sure it was closed
before stepping out of the way. Rose looked over her shoulder and waved goodbye
to Lily as she reversed out onto the road and drove away.
As Rose left, Lily sighed. “Oh dear me, the sun seems to be getting hotter. No,
I’m getting older,” she said. Turning on her heels, she walked to her gate,
opened it and walked through. As she stepped inside her yard she heard the gate
squeak as it shut abruptly behind her. Glancing over her shoulder, Lily thought
she should get someone to oil the hinges to stop it squeaking so loudly. Lily
was overly worried that the noise might upset the neighbours.
With a sigh, she hurried along path towards the house, refusing to look at her
garden. The truth was she was embarrassed because the garden had become a
tangled mass of weeds and flowers that had gone wild from long-term neglect.
There had been a time when her garden had graced the cover of a glossy magazine
when she had won first prize for her work. In those days she’d been known as the
lady with the green thumb. This garden had been her pride and joy. But now, Lily
didn’t have the time; instead, all her time and effort were concentrated on her
odd jobs in this small town of Rosewood. Washing and mending clothes, cleaning
houses; she did all these domestic chores for other families as she worked hard
to make ends meet to keep her daughters and herself fed and housed.
With her head down, Lily hurried up the front steps onto the veranda where she
stopped to take her keys from her apron pocket. At the same time she struggled
to balance the laundry on her hip. With the keys now in her hand and the laundry
secure, she unlocked the door. Swinging it open with her foot; she sighed,
frustrated at the effort of such a simple task. Lily walked into the low
ceiling, two-bedroom house that had once belonged to her. The framework for
extensions for extra bedrooms at the rear of the house had been pulled down for
It had come to the point where Lily had no other avenue but to mortgage her
pride and joy to pay gambling and drinking debts that her second husband had
unwisely incurred. Time and lack of money finally saw her lose the house after
no longer being able to keep up with the mortgage repayments.
Those days had been miserable as she struggled to make ends meet. Hot on the
heels of this her husband failed to return home. It had stripped her of her
integrity, her pride and self-esteem and now she was no longer the confident and
carefree women she had once been. The only thing that kept her going was her
daughters, she loved them dearly and hoped that one day they would understand
what she had done was all for them.
The past had played on Lily’s mind so much, she thought her daughters might
suffer the same indiscretions of her own life and she repeated a silent prayer
that it would not be so.
The present owners of the house had been long-term acquaintances of her husband
and herself. In the past they had silently stood by not wanting to get involved.
They had watched as Lily’s life had fallen apart and wanted to help her. Finally
they bought the house and gave Lily the first option of living in the house for
free. Lily had been firm that she should pay rent, the owners agreed and wrote
the amount down for her; it was a pittance but she finally agreed after her
friends told her they would not accept anymore.
“Oh dear me,” Lily said as she pulled herself back from a trip down memory lane.
Moving closer to a lounge chair, she placed the clothes on it. As soon as her
hands were free, Lily cast her eyes around the room and called out to her
second-eldest daughter. “Marcilla, are you home?”
When silence greeted her call, Lily placed her hands on her ample hips. Walking
off to the large bedroom that her four daughters shared, Lily opened the door;
she could see the room was empty.
“Where are they? They should be home by now.” Turning back to the washing she
began to worry where her daughters could be. ‘The girls should have been home
from school by now,’ Lily thought.
Her anger began to rise as she contemplated the thought of what her daughters
were up to.
“Out talking with those degenerate boys who only have one thing on their minds!”
she huffed loudly. Lily didn’t think beyond that thought other than the idea of
punishing her daughters if they had been hanging out with boys.
Lily shook her head as she scowled and picked through the washed clothes,
sorting them ready to be ironed with two boys’ school shirts needing small
sewing repairs. Ironing and mending clothes was one way she could earn money and
this bundle would help to pay a small part of her food bill for one week.
An hour later, Lily was ironing the clothes and heard her daughters coming up
the path to the house. She hadn’t heard the gate squeak and guessed the girls
had jumped over the fence to avoid it.
In fact, Lily had been fuming for the last hour. “They’d want to have a bloody
good reason for choosing to stay out so late. None of the girls asked permission
and as far as I’m concerned they are ungrateful,” Lily mumbled as she went on
ironing a man’s shirt.
By now Lily had worked herself up so much she slammed the iron down into the
stand, pursed her lips tightly and headed to the front door to let her daughters
in. When the girls saw their mother standing in the doorway, hands on hips and
glaring accusingly, they knew they were in trouble.
“Get inside,” Lily announced firmly.
Marcilla whispered quietly to the third sister, “Don’t tell Mum why we are
late.” The fear and intimidation that came through in the tone of their mother’s
voice was familiar to the girls and all the familiarity in the world would not
make it any easier. The only path to redemption was to apologise and hope that
their sincerity would pacify their mother.
Marcilla had two months to go until her seventeenth birthday, being the second
eldest girl in the family. Her oldest sister, Patricia who was called Patty for
short, was eighteen months older than her. Patty had been married for six months
and had left with her husband to live in Brisbane. Her other sisters, all
younger, were Wendy, Helena and Margret, respectively aged sixteen, fifteen and
fourteen years old.
For Marcilla, being the eldest in this household meant that her mother expected
her to know better and shoulder the responsibility for any upsets between
herself and her sisters. Marcilla felt that this was often unfair because
sometimes she would be blamed for something she didn’t know about nor had
anything to do with.
As a result, Marcilla was growing to resent her mother through the bad times and
yet loved her through the good times. And now the resentment started to boil up
as her mother’s words broke through her thoughts.
“Where have you been? Why are you all so late getting home from school?” The
girls stared at each other all hoping that one of the others would take the
initiative to speak for all of them. “Answer me!” Lily yelled angrily. She
hadn’t taken her eyes off them and now she looked from one daughter to the
“The four of us stayed back at school to help the teachers and mothers set up
the stage for the fashion parade. All of us may be late tomorrow as well,”
“Is that right?” Lily inquired suspiciously while staring straight at Wendy, she
then went on to stare at each of her daughters in turn.
This time the girls all answered in unison. “Yes, Mum, we stayed to help.” As
for Marcilla, she cursed her mother under her breath but tried not to let her
mother see her face.
What Marcilla said was a half-truth, they had stayed back to help, but not for
long. From the school, the girls had gone to the local milk bar to talk with and
tease the local boys.
Their mother stood scrutinising their faces, not believing a word they had said
but unable to prove otherwise. “The girls and I only stayed to help with the
stage decorations, ask the teachers if you don’t believe us,” Marcilla answered
her mother with sarcasm creeping into her voice.
At once Marcilla stepped back and put her arms up to protect herself as her
mother raised her hand to strike her. “Don’t you dare talk to me like that! You
ungrateful bitch,” Lily snapped back.
As Lily took another step towards Marcilla she went on, screaming. “I don’t care
how old you are! While you’re under my roof you will all do as you’re told! Now
go to your room!” Lily shouted, “Stay there until I call you for dinner!”
With that said, the four girls hurried off quickly to their bedroom. Once inside
the room, Marcilla dropped her books on the floor and flung herself onto the
double bed. She grabbed her pillow, hitting it as hard as she could, then fell
onto it and started weeping.
“Don’t cry, Cilla,” Wendy urged sympathetically as she climbed onto the bed
beside her older sister and began to stroke her hair, consoling Marcilla.