Tuesday, July 4, 2017

The Second Eleven

Photo of Saint Joseph's College in 1904, courtesy of the College archives

A version of this piece was posted as one of my assignments in the University of Tasmania's unit in Family History Writing. The idea is to write "flash fiction", to convey an scene in less than 250 words. This is an image of my father's first day at school at Saint Joseph's College in 1923. The 1904 photo is of the main school building which was taken 19 years before Bede's time.

Alice Smith and Bede had travelled up to Sydney the previous week, taking the bone-shaking slow train from Wagga.

Now, outside the school, Bede gazed up at the towering sandstone building that would be his home for the next five years. His new uniform, half a size too big, felt heavy on his back.

When they entered the headmaster's office, Brother O'Meara was busy signing papers but he stood up and reached over the desk to shake Bede's hand. The Brother's fingers were stained dark blue and Bede caught the faint metallic smell of ink. Brother O'Meara spoke with a lilting Irish accent and began to explain the orientation procedures.

'We're always happy to welcome the country boys, Mrs Smith. I've assigned Flanagan here to show you both around. God bless.'

'Thank you, Brother.'

The boy Flanagan took them down a dimly lit corridor that led towards the dorms. He stopped half way along, to look out across the lush green lawn.

'Do you play cricket, Smith?'

A broad smile stretched across Bede's fair face and his blue eyes lit up.

'I certainly do.'

'Batsman or bowler?' Flanagan asked.

'I'm an all rounder. My Dad's been helping me with my off-breaks, at home, in Leeton.'

'Excellent! We're preparing boys for the Second Eleven. Come on, I'll show you the playing fields.'

Through the stone archway, in the distance, there came the flash of a figure in white running in, followed by the faint pock sound of the ball.

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