A Sense Of Belonging – Episode 01

Beryl Reeve lifted her face to the cloudless turquoise sky in White Rock, North Queensland, and let a sigh escape her.

St Andrew’s Day. Goodness, she thought, it hardly seemed like a year since she’d been standing here, outside the Anzac Hall, with her dear mum.

“Miss you, Mum,” she whispered. There was so much to do, but Beryl idled for a moment, lost in her thoughts.

Then something caught her attention. A cloud of dust was racing down the Mooraburra track. Curious, she watched the dust fill the gap between the cane-fields. Then, seconds later, through the hazy mirage, came the figure of a teenager frantically pedalling a bicycle.

“G’day, Mrs Reeve,” the girl called out.

Beryl waved.

“How’s it going, Denny?” The granddaughter of one of Beryl’s closest friends, Kate Patterson, Denny had become a regular visitor at Emu Hill, Beryl’s homestead on the other side of town at the foot of the Atherton Tableland.

Panting noisily, Denny lifted her baseball cap and wiped sweat off her forehead.


There was a towel sticking out of her rucksack. Beryl knew what that meant.

“Going down to the creek?” It was the start of the school holidays and, as had always been the case in White Rock (even as far back as the Fifties when Beryl was a girl), most of the teenage population spent the summer keeping cool at the waterhole.

Denny nodded.

“I’m meeting Jess there.”

“Right,” Beryl replied. She moved to lift a box from the back of her pickup. “Last time I saw her she was engrossed in that Facebook thing you all love so much.”

Information technology, Beryl had decided, was best left to those who understood it, and fifteen-year-old Jess certainly had a better grasp on it than her grandma.

“Yeah, I saw she posted photos from her weekend up north with her dad,” Denny replied, matter-of-fact. “Looks like they had a great time.”

It was two years since Beryl’s daughter, Susanne, had divorced Jess’s father and moved back to White Rock.

Susanne and Mark had always appeared to be the perfect couple. It turned out Mark had been up to no good for a long time. Everyone was shocked. Susanne, a devoted wife and home-maker at heart, forgave him and did her very best to smooth things over, but it just didn’t work out.

“Come home, love. You can start afresh,” Beryl had insisted. So that’s what Susanne had done, and now she and Jess were staying with Beryl and her husband, Alan, at Emu Hill until they could afford their own place.

Beryl was enjoying having a bit of female company at the homestead, especially since her own elderly mum, Nell, had passed away four months ago. Alan, a quiet, emotionally reserved man, hadn’t exactly helped her though her grief, so having them both there was, Beryl knew, a timely blessing.

Denny got off her bike.

“I’ll give you a hand, if you like, Mrs Reeve.” She moved to the pickup and lifted out one of the cardboard boxes Beryl had brought across from Emu Hill.

“Thanks,” Beryl replied as she climbed the steps to the sun-bleached veranda of the hall. She laid down the box she’d been carrying and reached into her pocket to retrieve an old-fashioned key.

“Here goes,” she murmured.


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