It was another school day for Blair Jones. Standing in front of the class made her feel jubilant. After all who wouldn’t be? She was a second-year teacher at Brisbane State High School teaching her specialty in being a mathematics genius.
What comes with the job was “Exam block”. There was only one way to describe it, stress week. Many students would come and cry to Blair about life being tough and unimaginable. Yes, she knew what life was like and what these teenagers she taught were going through would just be the tip of an iceberg in their lives. She couldn’t agree more that getting top marks in school wouldn’t always get them far or to their dreams.
Hell, she wanted to be a history teacher, but her talent was always mathematical equations. She was always the problem solver in the family. Assisting her father Graham on the farm when solving out hectares to the number of cattle and solving financial issues of his newly inherited jewellery store.
Her father loved the farm with every single part in his body and like him, his father was the same, however, family ties in the city ended that cycle. Farming was still in her blood and moving as a late teenager was extremely tough. Her grandfather kept on reminding her before he passed that it will make you stronger and like he always said, a snake cannot bite through your boots. Others referred to it as being as tough as boots, but she liked how he twisted things and sometimes even the truth.
She missed home more than anything in the world and all she could think about was getting her transfer to Tara Shire State College and to move away from the Brisbane city beehive to country living. After eight years, home was in her grasp. She could almost taste it.
The end of first term was almost over and all she had to do was mark these final papers that her students were finishing in a few minutes time. As the clock ticked its final minutes, she told her students to get ready as time was almost up. That made some put their heads on their desk and sighed, while others frantically wagged their pens up and down the lined paper.
‘Pens down,’ Blair announced to see pens thrown down and heads facing her waiting for their next instruction. She loved teaching, even if her parents didn’t always agree to her motives. They wanted her to be the Co-owner of her dad’s jewellery store, but she wanted to inspire young minds. She wanted to be more than a sales assistant.
All Blair ever wanted was to encourage teenagers to do what their hearts desired instead of being held back from their dreams to fill in the gaps within society by being check out chicks and pizza delivery boys. There is so much more to life than working a career that you don’t love.
An unusual knock at the door interrupted her thoughts. As she looked up there was her boss, the Principal of the school looking at her in a way that expressed, “I need to talk to you.”
She responded by giving a slight nod, before returning to her class. She could hear the thud of his boots trail back down the hallway until they disappeared into his office.
Just when she was about to continue, the bell rang for the end of the day. She announced for them to leave once they have written their names on the front. With that she was left alone to collect all the papers, she must mark that weekend.
Once packed she left her classroom tidy and headed towards her boss’s door. Could this mean that my transfer for Tara Shire State College in the Darling Downs would be approved?
Crossing her fingers Blair tapped on the door twice and walked into the Principal’s office. It feels like old times. She was not always the best student at times that was until she realised that school was important.
Every time she entered into an office, she felt the weight on her shoulders and memories clouded her mind. Her face twisted, just as her stomach was undertaking. There were no butterflies of excitement.
Thump, thump. Can’t my heart give me a chance to breathe first? Thump, thump. Now it’s going to leap out on the table in front of my boss and chase him until he stops staring at me with his beady eyes. I must act normal so he cannot tell that I am nervous about his presence. She cleared her throat and her imagination.
The Principal was a man of very few words. He gestured for her to sit in the chair opposite him and looked at her in a stern facial expression. Carefully she sat in the chair and placed her handbag and exam papers on the lime green carpet that made her feel sick to the stomach. How could someone like this colour? It reminds me of puke.
Mr Brink was always the kindest man that she had met in her teaching career, but he also had a strong outer shell that scared the students and herself. When she walked closer to sit in the chair, she realised that his face was not as scary as she thought, but rather sad or confused.
‘I don’t know how to tell you this,’ he paused for a short while before he cleared his own throat. Blair was obviously not the only one who was nervous.
‘There are two things that I must tell you.’ Mr Brink paused again. ‘The first thing is that you have gotten your transfer approved.’
Blair nodded along and could not hide her smile that was waiting to break through as soon as she heard the news. I finally got it! I can go home. She was about to bounce around with glee when it dawned on her, what the “second thing” could be?
’What is the “second thing” you must tell me, Mr Brink?’ she looked at him confused to what this could be. Blair was built up with suspense that she was going to fall off her chair any second.
Mr Brink cleared his throat before continuing on. ‘The police contacted me trying to get through to you, as your mobile was turned off for the exam. So, they told me to tell you, to meet them at Brisbane Private Hospital.’
Thump, thump. Hospital? Who? What? Blair’s heart started to beat faster and her head became dizzy before tears flooded her eyes. She was certain she was going to collapse off the chair this time.
Mr Brink hurried over to her and retrieved her before the chair came crashing to the floor. She leaned against him for support as her body heaved heavily in his arms. Sobs escaped from deep within her and exploded his office with noise. He comforted her by patting her back and handing her tissues as she felt the weight of death drag her heart to the floor. She had to hold it in and keep herself professional as there were a hundred things to do on her list now.
Pulling away from her he talked through his own tears, ‘I know that today is Friday and the report card marks are to be in by Monday, but I want you to take the whole of next week off. I understand that you have an awful lot of work to do with moving and now…’
’Yes, I think that is what I need to do. There is so much I have to do. I need to be there for my parents and my sister Lydia too. I have to mark those final exams and pack,’ her voice quivered to a whisper.
Blair grabbed her things and ran to the door, she whispered her apologies and dashed to her car. She may have seemed rude to him, but he would understand. Wouldn’t he. Blair slammed the door pulling her knees up to her head as she sat in the backseat of her Triton Ute. Her body went numb with fear and confusion.
Her hands were trembling as she tried to wipe the tears from her reddened cheeks. She gasped for air, as she cried out in pain. Her heart was ripped from her chest and thrown out the window and she was left with the mess to clean up.
She drove and ran into the emergency waiting room at the hospital, then walked up to the clerk behind the counter.
‘Whom are you looking for my love?’ she questioned.
‘Graham and Sophia Jones,’ Blair responded with a panic.
‘Sorry we have no patients under that name,’ she replied with a mellow tone.
‘Listen, the police tried to ring me if that helps.’
‘Yes, let me take you to them.’
They strolled down many corridors that after the fifth turn she lost her way as her head thumped heavily. Two police officers were standing in front of a closed door and asked for her name. One was taller than the other, but Blair knew they were brothers due to their name tags.
‘Blair Jones,’ she confirmed pulling out her driver’s license and swallowed hard as the clerk disappeared back to her desk.
‘Miss Jones, we have an officer with your sister at home. She already has been informed at noon and insisted to go home. Your parents were in a freak car accident and they died at the scene. Please follow me,’ the taller police officer opened the closed door to a more private location.
She couldn’t comprehend the news she was given. They couldn’t just be gone like that. You see it on television all the time, but when it was a part of your life story it became real. Too real.
All of those memories I was going to have in the future, gone. Vanished into thin air. Like I was a piece of clothing in a washing machine. I keep on tumbling and never have I stopped.
As soon as I think my life will be back to normal it just skips that step and I am left to pick up the pieces, again and again. Why is my life different from everyone else? Nothing ever goes as I plan. It is planned for me and I have to accept it and move on, so I can live a normal life.
No Grandparents, no parents, no aunties or uncles, even no cousins. The only family I have left is my younger sister Lydia. Blair’s life was turned on its head and she had to continue to be brave and to always have the courage of a lion to its pack. She was now that lion for her sister.
She sat on an aluminium chair across from the officer and rested her hands on the cold table. He showed her some images of the accident site and of their car crashed next to a side rail. It was hard to picture the vehicle as ever being whole, due to its deconstruction state.
Blair met the officer by her house and sent him home after thanking him for his service to her family that dreadful day.
She made her way up the pebbled path to the front door and dreaded to find Lydia collapsed on the couch with a box of tissues engulfing her. Lydia looked up when she heard Blair come closer and she pushed herself up and into her sister’s warm embrace. When they drew back a little and looked into each other’s eyes having the instant sisterly connection of knowing exactly what each other were thinking.
With a block of chocolate and a bag of plain potato chips later they were tucked under their parent’s bed covers, in each other’s arms trying to sleep. Lydia eventually did with Blair stroking her flaming red hair.
Watching the news that night tortured her. Seeing their family car squashed between a van and a rail made a chill run up her spine and numbness to overcome her body. Tragedy or murder. She dreaded the thought of the police coming to their dead parents’ house to ask questions about their lives and to gather if there was a motive behind this mystery man in the van.
Blair closed her eyes and meditated, by removing her thoughts and turning her mind to imagine her memories of when Lydia and she were little. They always played with each other’s hair until Lydia got the scissors out then Sophia their mother nearly fainted. What would have happened if mum did not stop Lydia from cutting my hair? She laughed inside her head.
She loved the photo of their family portrait hanging in their parent’s room. You can clearly see a resemblance between Sophia and Lydia, as their eyes were green like a forest that stood out just like their hair. Blair was a mirror image of her father Graham, curly, sandy hair that was longer than her fathers to about her shoulders and bright sapphire eyes.
Blair curled up and drifted off to dream about that summer day of the portrait. They went to the beach after the photo was taken and ate ice-cream that was half melted onto the pavement. The Queensland heat beamed down and a day at the beach was always the way to cool off. It did beat swimming in the dam on the farm. Things couldn’t get any worse when a seagull poops on their father’s white shirt and then they saw it stealing hot chips from other beachgoers. She began to giggle in her sleep and was left with a smile on her face. That was one thing she wasn’t going to forget.