A Sense Of Belonging – Episode 20

“Four thousand dollars to spend on air tickets and hotel accommodation,” Susanne said, wide-eyed.

She could hardly take it in. Since the divorce, she’d struggled to afford even a couple of long weekends for her and Jess camping up in the Atherton Tablelands, and enjoyable though those trips in her mum and dad’s old VW camper van had been, winning these air tickets suddenly opened up a whole world of possible adventures.

“That’s a beaut Christmas surprise for you,” Avril said.

Susanne nodded. Dazed, she looked at the map of the world on the wall above her desk. She could go anywhere, travel to any corner of the globe, and she smiled at that thought. Almost immediately an idea formed inside her head.

“Where would you like to go?” Spike asked.

“I’ll need to speak to Jess and Mum first,” Susanne said sensibly.

“I hope you’ll treat yourself to a real luxurious break,” Avril said, sitting down across from her. She reached for a brochure, flicked through it quickly and then, when she found the page she wanted, handed it to Susanne. “Take a look at that.”

Susanne studied the page.

“Beachcomber Bay . . . Fiji,” Avril announced with a smile.

“Paradise,” Spike put in.

“Rated one of the top holiday destinations in the world,” Avril said. “Remember Doreen and Jack Westwood, who came in looking for a golden wedding holiday-of-a-lifetime? Well, I booked them into that resort for a fortnight in a beach-front lodge. Doreen popped back in a couple of days ago and said it was the nicest place they’d ever holidayed. Beautiful white beaches, crystal clear water and lush tropical gardens.”

“We’ve got all that right here on our own doorstep, haven’t we?” Susanne said.

“True,” Avril reasoned. “But Fiji would be a change of scene for you. And Jess would love it over there. The pair of you could do loads of snorkelling, and there’s a spa at Beachcomber Bay so you could enjoy a bit of pampering, too. Just imagine: peace and relaxation in an idyllic setting. That’s what dream holidays are all about.”

“Great sales pitch.” Susanne laughed. “But that’s not really what I had in mind.”

“If not Fiji, there are heaps of amazing places to choose from,” Avril went on, the words tumbling out in an enthusiastic hurry. “Vanuatu, New Caledonia, Bora Bora. Or the Philippines now that’s a great place to go at this time of the year! Spike and I once had a corker of a holiday on Mindoro, didn’t we, love?” Her eyes flicked to Spike. “OK the grub was a bit exotic, but there ”

“Hang on, Avril,” Spike said. “Before you boil over with excitement . . .” he perched himself on the corner of her desk, clasping his hands loosely in front of him

“. . . I reckon Susanne might not be thinking along the lines of a beach holiday.”

A pause fell. Susanne could feel Avril and Spike’s eyes on her.

She didn’t want to say too much about the trip she was contemplating, because even if she did somehow manage to get it all organised, it would be such a last-minute thing, she felt unsure about it.

Deep in thought, she traced her finger over the brochure. Fiji looked fantastic. And it would be a straightforward holiday. On the other hand, once she’d finished saving for a house of her own, she’d be able to afford a trip like that for her and Jess. Maybe this prize was meant to be for another reason.

She lifted her head.

“I have three weeks off from tomorrow till January fourteenth, right?”

“You do,” Spike said. “But you can have more time off if you want. You’ve hardly used your holiday entitlement this year, and we can cope without you for another week or so in January. If it’s a long-haul trip you want to go on, you might as well make the most of it.”

“No,” she murmured. “Three weeks should be long enough.”

Avril leaned forward with a smile.

“You’re already planning something, aren’t you?”

“I might be,” Susanne replied, smiling back at her and catching a wink from Spike.

Just at that, the door swung open and her friend Kym appeared. She was wearing an elf’s costume and “Jingle Bells” was playing on a loudspeaker. As she held the door ajar, a pungent, smoky combination of charcoal and roasted meat wafted into the shop.

“G’day, you lot!” she said. “The Santa parade is about to start. We’re selling lamingtons and biccies in aid of the

St Vincent de Paul homeless shelter, and the Lions Club has a barbie going. You coming out to support us?”

“Struth,” Spike said, rising to his feet. “We forgot all about the parade. Too busy yabbering about Susanne’s big win.”

“What big win?” Kym asked, curious. She’d painted her cheeks with two round dabs of rouge and was wearing plastic pointy ears that wobbled when she spoke. Hilarious, Susanne thought. Yet it was typical of Kym, who had a heart of gold and would send herself up in the name of a good cause.

“An early Christmas prezzie,” Susanne told her, casting her friend a happy look. “I’m surprised you don’t already know about it, seeing how you’ve obviously just arrived from the North Pole! Aren’t you elves meant to keep lists of all the gifts?”

Kym laughed.

“What did you get?”

“Four thousand dollars from

Travel World to spend on air tickets

and hotel accommodation.”

“Crikey,” Kym said. “Where are you off to?”

“That’s what we’re waiting to hear,” Avril said.

Kym stepped forward.

“OK where?”

“Scotland,” Susanne told her friends, surprising herself with the utter sureness of the declaration.

“Scotland?” three voices echoed.

In a moment of clarity and determination, she beamed.

“Yeah. If it can be arranged.”

“Oh, you’re going to try to trace your relatives, aren’t you?” Kym said, as if she’d completed a difficult

crossword, and hearing the plan spoken aloud made Susanne feel strangely triumphant, too.

“I want to take Mum over there. She’s desperate to find out more about our family history.”

“Tell you what,” Avril said, meeting her eyes. “I can’t think of anything better for you to do with that prize. You’re a good daughter, Susanne. Beryl will be stoked. I’d love to see the look on her face when you tell her.”


Used to make posts more anonymous, eg a criminal case where you don’t want to expose the actual journalist.