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Lizzie’s Tale


Old Balmain House Series

Book 2

Second Edition




Graham Wilson




Copyright

Lizzie’s Tale

Graham Wilson

Copyright Graham Wilson 2014

BeyondBeyond Books Edition

Published by Smashwords

9781370585236


All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without prior approval of the author. For permission to use contact Graham Wilson by email at grahambbbooks@gmail.com


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Books by this Author

Children of Arnhem’s Kaleidoscope – A Memoir


Old Balmain House Series

Little Lost Girl – Book 1

Lizzie’s Tale – Book 2

Devil’s Choice – Book 3


Crocodile Spirit Dreaming Series

Just Visiting – Book 1

Crocodile Man – Book 2

The Empty Place – Book 3

Lost Girls – Book 4

Sunlit Shadow Dance – Book 5




Reader Reviews of Lizzie’s Tale and Series

Amazon Reviews

Absolutely loved this series

Absolutely loved this series. I could not put it down, it has held me riveted to each story and looking for more. I could vividly imagine each tale and description of the places even though I haven't been there. I would recommend this collection to anyone who wants to read about the settlers in Australia passing through generations and the fast paced tale that goes with all the books in the collection. Well Done Graham Wilson. Can't wait to read the Crocodile Spirit Dreaming books now I have purchased them.

Barnes and Noble Reviews

A truly inspiring story, brought teams to my eyes

Wonderful

A beautiful story that will stay with me. Loved it and wanted it to continue. One of the best I have read lately.

Lizzys story

An amazing story, couldn’t put it down. One of the best books I have read of this type. I was critical of the series he wrote at first but he had grown to be a favorite of min. A dramatic, fast paced, loving and exciting story.

Kobo Reviews

Old Balmain House Book Series

Wonderful I couldn’t bear to put them down.......wishing there were more in the series. The people were so real it’s almost like I’ve met them.

Lizzies’s tale

If we all had just some of Lizzies courage our world would be a much better place to live in. Such a nice story so interesting. Great read

A moving delight

A great story about a courageous young girl who triumphs despite adversity. The world needs more stories like this.




Authors Preface


This novel continues the Old Balmain House Series. It is set in the same house as the first book. It tells of a poor family who live here at a time when Australia was moving into the 1960s; a highly conservative society, but on the brink of major change. It imagines the life of a girl who makes a very painful journey from childhood to adulthood, at a time when teenage pregnancy almost invariably meant forced adoption and when the social stigma for unwed mothers made their lives unbelievably difficult.

While the characters are not based on real people, the treatment of pregnant women in this society and, in particular, the consequences for teenage girls who became pregnant, were real features of Australian life in the 1960s. Therefore this story is something that could have happened to a person like my imagined character, Lizzie; so it becomes her tale.




Prologue


It was September 1956, a warm spring morning in Sydney. Lizzie lay in her bed, she loved her room. It looked out onto the Smith Street, Balmain. In the early morning the sunshine came in, helping her get up for school.

She had just turned eight and felt very proud to be able to walk up to school on her own. She did not have any brothers and sisters, though her parents tried to have more children. But she did not care, she was happy, really happy. She had the most wonderful friend, Sophie.

Sophie was eight too. She lived in their chimney; that is what Sophie told her. She had seen Sophie lots of times, mostly after the lights were turned out. Sophie always wore a school dress. She told Lizzie she went to the same school as Lizzie did. But Lizzie had never seen Sophie at school, and Sophie’s uniform did not look like hers; it looked oldish, longer and sort of quaint, like the clothes you saw in photos taken before the war.

The only trouble was that nobody else believed that Sophie was real. Lizzie had told her Mum and Dad about Sophie. They listened politely but she knew they did not believe her. Later she had heard her Mum say that Sophie was Lizzie’s imaginary friend.

But Sophie was real; really real. They told stories together for hours and Sophie knew things that only real people could possibly know. She had told Lizzie of a special place in the school yard where she, with her own friend Matty, hid a jar with coloured stones and carved wood toys. Lizzie had found it, just where Sophie had said it would be. Sophie said Lizzie could keep these things, they were hers to give away. Lizzie was delighted even though they looked a bit old fashioned too. So she hid them in her bottom drawer; she did not want other people to see them and laugh.

Yesterday Lizzie had done a job for Sophie, an important job. Sophie’s own Mum, Maria, was old and sick. She was missing Sophie, and Sophie’s Dad, Jimmy, who was now staying with Sophie. Sophie told Lizzie this. Then she said she wanted her Mum to know that she and her Dad were together again, were both happy and could not wait until her Mum came to see them too. Then they would all be happy together. So Sophie had asked Lizzie to go and tell Maria this.

So, after school, Lizzie had followed Sophie’s directions and walked to a big house in East Balmain, a house Sophie said was her grandmother’s house. It was a long way, but Lizzie did not mind, she knew it was really important. When she got there, she banged on the door for a long time. Finally a lady, a nurse who said her name was ‘Sister Rebecca’, came to the door.

Lizzie told Sister Rebecca that she wanted to see Mrs Maria because she had a message from Sophie. At first the nurse told her to stop being silly and go away. But Mrs Maria must have heard Lizzie because soon she called out and asked who it was.

She heard the nurse say “It’s just a silly school girl called Lizzie. She says she wants to tell you a message from Sophie.

Straightaway Lizzie was called into this lady’s room. The lady asked the nurse to go away and close the door. The nurse did, even though she grumbled out loud.

Then the lady asked her to come and sit on the bed, right next to her. The lady was very old and thin. But she had the most beautiful eyes; and when Lizzie looked at them she felt like she was talking to Sophie. Beside her bed was a picture of Sophie, the same as now, except in the picture she was wearing a white dress. There was also a picture of this lady, when she was young and beautiful; standing next to a man that was Sophie’s Daddy, Jimmy. Somehow Lizzie knew it was him in their wedding photo.

Lizzie told her Sophie’s message. At first the lady sat very still for a long minute, then she cried, but they were happy tears. Then the lady told her, if she saw Sophie again, to say to Sophie she was already packing her bags and hoped to come that night.

Last night, after this, Lizzie had seen Sophie again. Lizzie thought it might be the last time she would see Sophie like an ordinary person. Sophie was starting to fade away; Lizzie could look through her now and see across the room. Sophie had been so happy. She had told Lizzie that, even though they would not see each other after this, they would stay best, best friends, for ever and ever, and Lizzie could still talk to her and that she would hear and understand.

So, although Sophie was gone and Lizzie could no longer see her, she knew they would stay friends. This made her feel good. She knew she did not need to feel lonely, as Sophie would keep listening to her. And so she smiled a happy smile as she lay in her bed in the morning sun.

That day, after school finished, Lizzie saw Mrs Maria’s photo in the newspaper. The paper said that Mrs Maria Williams of East Balmain had died last night. Lizzie felt sad about this but it made sense; when Mrs Maria said she was packing up to leave she really meant she was dying.

Lizzie started to realise this when Sophie faded away last night. Then she began to understand that, while Sophie was real, she was also a ghost of someone who had lived before and died a long time ago, at the time when Mrs Maria was young herself. That was why nobody else could see her. Now Sophie did not need Lizzie’s help anymore. She had gone to another place with her own Mum and Dad, a place where no one living now could see her. Lizzie knew it was a happy place, because she could feel the happiness in Sophie. Perhaps it was that place grown-ups called heaven, which they talked about in church.

Just before she had left Mrs Maria’s place, yesterday, Mrs Maria had given Lizzie a small package wrapped in plain brown paper. It fitted into the palm of Lizzie’s hand. Mrs Maria said it was a present for her from Sophie, but she should not open it unless a time came when she really, really needed it. In the meantime she should put it somewhere safe, but she must take it with her if ever she moved to another place to live, because it had a little bit of magic inside, just for Lizzie.

So Lizzie made a solemn promise that she would never open it, unless she really needed help. She knew she would keep this promise. For now she put it into the purse which she had been given as a present on her last birthday. To make sure it did not fall out she cut a little slit into the lining and put it inside the lining material before sewing the lining up again. This was the best and safest place she could think of, a place where no one else would know but where she could take it out again if needed to.




Chapter 1 - The Dream


Lizzie found herself lying awake in her bed. At first she found it hard to tell whether she was awake or asleep. She knew she had been dreaming and the dream still felt so incredibly real. But now she looked through the window and saw the familiar outline of the tree in the faded street light. So she knew it was definitely her bedroom window not some imaginary place in her mind.

This was the most vivid dream she could ever remember having and it was a scary dream in which Sophie had tried to tell her something. It was a dream of warning, though the warning was hard to understand. The first part she could remember was that she was in a car with some boys. The boys were a few years older than her. She was with Julie and they were going to a party.

They were all dressed up and excited. One of the men seemed to be her friend, Julie’s, boyfriend, they were holding hands together. The others were people she did not know, but they must have been rich because one of them owned the car they were riding in, and they were all well dressed with expensive clothes. Later in the dream, three of these boys wanted her to leave the party and come for a drive with them.

Julie and her boyfriend were still at the party talking to some other people and she could not really see them. Lizzie sort of liked the boy who owned the car and he seemed to like her. Now he wanted her to come back to the car with him.

As Lizzie stood outside the front door of the party house, deciding whether to go, suddenly, there was Sophie standing in front of her. Sophie was pulling at her arm and trying to get her to go back inside. Sophie was just the same as she had looked all those years ago, when she had lived in her bedroom chimney. Now she seemed so little; quite babyish really. She stood right in front of Lizzie, trying to block her from going to the car with her boys, saying it was dangerous. She begged Lizzie not to go.

But Lizzie had walked straight through where Sophie was standing. It felt like she was knocking Sophie aside, even though she disappeared before Lizzie got there. Of course Sophie was not really there. Now Lizzie was awake she realised that it was only a dream, even though it felt real. Sophie was only ever a ghost and she vanished from Lizzie’s life a long time ago when Lizzie was just eight. She could not remember talking to Sophie since when her Dad was living here. So she decided it would be childish to listen to her now.

Soon Lizzie would be fifteen. It was silly to let something from all those years ago interfere with her life now. Sure she had promised Sophie they would stay best friends for ever, but that was just a kid promise; one did not pay attention to those when grown up, as she was now.

But, as she tried to brush this dream aside, she had a bad feeling. A voice inside her head kept telling her that she must listen to Sophie, that Sophie was her real friend and would not come all this way to tell her this thing unless it really mattered.

The trouble was that neither she nor Julie had a boyfriend. Certainly they knew no one like the boys in the dream. And, even if they did and went for a ride in a car with these boys, what harm could it do. Deciding that she had thought about it enough she fell back to sleep. When she woke in the morning the dream was pushed out of her mind, soon to be almost forgotten.

It did come back, just for a second when she saw Julie, but it seemed too silly to tell her grown up and fashionable friend, the one everyone in school had voted the cleverest, most beautiful and most likely to succeed person. If the truth was told Lizzie was in awe of Julie who seemed much cleverer and prettier than she was. Julie had much nicer clothes and good things because her parents had a lot more money. She lived in a nice big house over near Birchgrove Oval, and her Dad worked in an office in the city and drove a fancy car called a Jaguar. Perhaps Julie did know real boys like the ones in her dream, but she had never introduced people like them to Lizzie.

Still Julie had become her friend at school and most morning teas and lunchtimes they sat together and talked to each other. She did not know why Julie payed attention to her. Even though boys at school seemed to like Lizzie too she realised she was much plainer than her beautiful friend and her clothes and hair were not nearly as nice. She made most of her own clothes with her mother’s sewing machine using whatever material was available, whereas Julie bought hers in expensive department stores, places like David Jones in Elizabeth Street.

Lizzie was fourteen and would be fifteen soon. She had lived in the same house and slept in the same bed for all the life she could remember. But much had changed from the life of her childhood.

Lizzie now had one brother, David. He was only five years old. Her Mum had three miscarriages, after she was born before David came along. After each of these her mother seemed to go off to a place inside herself where she barely talked to other people and forgot to do all those things that ordinary people did, things like housework, going shopping, or putting on nice clothes. Sometimes, for days at a time, her mother would barely come out of her room, and she would forget to wash herself, do her hair or almost anything. Then it was just Lizzie and her Dad who had to manage. Lizzie started to do housework and cooking, even though she could not do it as well as her Mum.

At first her Dad had been good and had tried to get her Mum out. He had also helped to do a lot of the housework. But as it went on, year after year, gradually it begun to get her Dad down too. He always worked long days on the docks and it was hard heavy work, lifting and carting things. So he would come home tired and dirty. However when Lizzie was little he always came straight home and would pick her up and swing her around in his arms and hug her. And he would hug his wife, Patsy, and dance her around the room to make her laugh.

The first miscarriage came when Lizzie was about six and she could only kind of remember it. She knew that the baby had been born way too soon, it was only about 4 months old. Her Dad had said it was as tiny as a little finger. This first time her Dad had tried really hard to get her Mum to come out and keep doing things. He had helped heaps, and their family life had still been good. He told her Mum they just needed to keep trying and he was sure they would have another baby soon.

Sure enough, soon, maybe a few months later, another baby came, but this one was also lost around 4 or 5 months. Her Mum had sparked up while the baby was coming but, all too soon, it was over and she was back to being miserable again.

Her Dad kept trying to help and Lizzie tried really hard to help too, and their Mum seemed to appreciate they were both trying. She stayed upbeat about her chance to have another baby and said that this time it would come out alright. It was like she made this promise to them and herself that it would work out right this time, a sort of bargain.

After another year and a half, when Lizzie was eight, her Mum got pregnant again. She had become her old self again, talking, laughing and playing with Lizzie, going out with her friends, going to the shops to buy baby clothes for the boy she was sure it was. And her Dad seemed really excited and happy too. For all the pregnancy it had all seemed to go just fine, and gradually her Mum’s tummy got bigger and bigger.

But then, when it came time for the baby to be born, it all went horribly wrong. The baby was turned the wrong way, and the cord got twisted around its neck. Her Mum was rushed up to the hospital where they did an operation. They cut her tummy open and took the baby out. But the baby was dead; this little blue thing, which should have been her new brother Ronnie.

For a while her Mum had tried to be brave. She kept saying that soon another baby would come. But it seemed like the operation had messed up something in her insides, she would often hold her stomach in pain. Gradually she started not getting up in the morning and doing less and less. Now Lizzie found herself doing more and more around the house to help her Mum again.

It would not have been too bad if her Mum had been pleased with Lizzie’s help; but instead she found fault with whatever was done, the meals were not nice, the clothes were not washed properly, the floors were dirty; that’s what she said while she lay around, doing nothing.

She acted the same way towards her Dad too. He could not do a single thing right. On the one hand she said he did not work hard enough and earn enough money. On the other hand she said it was his fault that he worked such long hours and came home late. Lizzie knew it was unfair to both her Dad and her; they were both trying their best. But she could not make her Mum understand. Gradually they both stopped trying to please her and started to ignore her and leave her to herself.

Her Dad started stopping at the pub on the way home and often spent most of his wages there. Lizzie would take any chance to go to a friend’s place and not come home till late and when she did come home now she would often sit in her room and read books, just to escape this poor and dreary life. She kept trying her best to look after her Dad, but it was hard now when he was often drunk. It also seemed that every time her Mum and Dad were together they either fought or had nothing to do with each other and this made her Dad miserable and grumpy.

Lizzie had really wanted to have her old happy life back, just her with her Mum and Dad, all being happy together. She could not really see why having another baby was so important to them. Sure it would be nice for her to have a brother, but they were still a family and could enjoy things.

Then, just when it had seemed hopeless, her Mum had come out of the bedroom one day with her hair washed and wearing clean clothes. She told them she was expecting another baby. After this it was like she had become a new person, she cleaned the house until it was spotless, she made them keep everything really clean; she said she was not going to let anything happen this time which might put at risk this precious child. Everything was about the baby that was coming, nothing about anyone else. It felt as if her Mum had forgotten about her Dad and her, even though they were still living here too.

Soon her Dad was going back to the pub again, coming home late, drunk, having spent far too much money. Her Mum could not stand this either. Before long she would not let him stop in the same room as her, she said he was too dirty. Her Dad would still hug her, his Lizzie, when he saw her and she hugged him back tightly. Even though he had often not shaved and smelt a bit bad, she still loved him lots. She just wished she could make it all better.

Then one day he did not come home. He was not there that night and not the next night either. Lizzie was beside herself with worry, even if her Mum barely seemed to notice. Her tummy was getting really big now, and all she seemed to talk about was what would be good for the baby. It was as if her husband’s absence barely registered in her mind.

So Lizzie went to the place where her Dad worked, early the next morning, and asked if he was there. The people said that no-one had seen him since the night before last when he finished work. Then he had told them he was finished for the day, obviously heading for the pub.

So she had gone to the pub, just herself, a nine year old girl in a school dress, even though she should have gone to school. She asked if anyone had seen her Dad or knew where he was. Finally someone told her he had been there the night before last and had left about ten o’clock, so drunk he could barely walk, saying there was no point going home as his wife did not talk to him anymore, as he wobbled out the door.

That was the last anyone had seen him. The publican said that, if he had gone missing, Lizzie should go and see the police. So she had walked all the way up to the police station, up in the middle of town, and talked to a kindly police sergeant. She had asked him to help her look for her Dad and had also told him about her Mum and how her Mum did not seem to realise her that Dad was missing.

So the policeman organised a search with a few men from the pub and from the nearby streets. They found him soon enough, lying at the bottom of some rickety stairs which went down from behind the pub; going down the side of the cliffs to the docks below. Underneath the stairs grew some scrubby bushes.

There was the body of her Dad, lying hidden under these bushes. They said he must have tripped and fallen over the rails, coming from high up on the stairs, falling headfirst onto the rocky ground below. Now he lay there with his head smashed and his neck at a funny angle. It was awful.

They tried to keep her away; they said he smelt bad and she should not see him until the undertaker had fixed him up. But she had ducked under peoples arms and ran to where he was; just wanting to go and hug him one more time. A policeman caught her and held her back, but not before she saw him with his broken neck and smashed head.

Now she could not quite forgive her Mum for letting this happen, through sending her father away. She knew it was not just her Mum’s fault; but if her Mum had been nicer her Dad would not have got so drunk and it would not have happened.

Now five more years had gone by. Her Mum had baby David soon after this. While Lizzie quite liked her brother, she could not get the thing she most wanted, to have her Dad back. So now, while her Mum tried to talk to Lizzie again and pretend as if it had not happened, Lizzie was angry deep inside. Even though they still lived together and she played a bit with her brother, she mostly kept to herself.

And now they were so, so poor. Her mother got some sort of pension, but it did not go far towards feeding them and buying clothes. The house needed a new coat of paint, the kitchen cupboards were falling apart and there were holes in the bottom of her shoes that she tried to stuff with newspaper.

She looked for any odd jobs she could find; baby-sitting, mending clothes, washing and ironing, running errands; but it was always hard to earn enough money and what she got she gave straight to her Mum without keeping any for herself, because she still knew that her family was more important and her Dad would have wanted her to do this.

She knew her Mum was trying to make it up to her for that awful time she had caused, but yet in Lizzie’s heart a hard lump towards her Mum remained, like a piece of ice or stone.

But at last things were looking up, Julie had become her good friend and Julie was rich and had other rich friends. Julie talked to Lizzie like she was not some little poor girl and, sometimes, she gave her spare clothes, bits of jewellery and other nice things. Plus she found she really liked talking to Julie, with both of them telling stories and imagining what they would do with their lives once grown up. Soon she would leave school; it would happen at the end of this year as she had been promised work in a factory in Pyrmont. So for now she was determined to forget about any silly dreams like the one last night.




Chapter 2 – Lizzie Turns Fifteen


The year was 1963 and soon it would be in 1964. It was the last week of school at Balmain High School. Lizzie and Julie had sat their final exam for their Intermediate Certificate. Lizzie generally got good marks, people said she was bright and should stay on at school. Julie was going to Croydon Presbyterian Ladies College next year as a boarder, Lizzie’s Mum said it was a sort of finishing school for rich girls, before they went and found husbands and got married.

Julie however had other ideas and talked about going to University and doing some course, perhaps Arts or becoming a lawyer. She was bright and got good marks too, but usually Lizzie beat her in this, as least in Maths and Science. Julie really encouraged Lizzie to not leave school; she said she was way too clever just to end up working in a factory, packing boxes or something similar.

But there was not enough money in their family for that, her Mum was just managing to make ends meet, but Lizzie knew it was time for her to get a job and contribute to the family income, a job was on offer in Pyrmont and she would take it the week after next.

For now she had two more days at school and then, on the Saturday, it was her birthday party; she would turn fifteen. She knew her Mum had been scrimping and saving every little bit she could in order to have enough money to give her a nice party where she could invite a few school friends. She even suspected that her Mum was trying to buy her a present from David Jones on lay by, she saw what looked like a lay by docket in her Mum’s purse the other day.

She and her Mum were getting on better now; she was starting to appreciate just how hard it was for her Mum to bring up two children on her own. Her Mum had no other family that lived in Sydney, her own mother and father were both dead and her one brother lived in Melbourne. While he wrote occasional letters he did not have a good enough job to help with money. And since her husband, Ron’s, death, her Mum had heard nothing from his family. It was as if they blamed Patsy for Ron’s death. While Lizzie knew this was part true, she was last managing to forgive and forget, and she thought they should too.

Lizzie had also read about a thing called post-natal depression that doctors were talking about, she read lots of science books and had started to understand that it was a sort of mental illness. She thought that this was what her mother had before and that it was not really fair to blame people in this situation. So, even though she still missed her Dad terribly, that hard lump in her heart towards her Mum was slowly going away.

Lizzie knew she was not exactly beautiful. People told her she had a bright, interesting face and, in the last year, her body had really filled out, though she did not have the radiant beauty of Julie. But people seemed to enjoy talking to her and seemed to think she had interesting things to say. She had lots of ideas in school discussions and her teachers were all most encouraging for her to try and continue her studies.

The day of Lizzie’s birthday came around; it was a Saturday, and her Mum had organised an afternoon party, starting at three o’clock in their back yard. This was shaded by a big gum tree, and her mother had set up a table for food, surrounded by all the chairs she owned, along with as many more as she could borrow from neighbours, arranged in little clusters in the leafy garden. David had been given the job of decorating it all using ribbons, balloons and streamers. He had taken to this with gusto; now it had a really festive air.

Six of Lizzie’s classmates were coming, including Julie, along with two other friends around Lizzie’s age who lived in her street. The neighbours from both sides, who had helped with the cooking and preparing food, were also coming.

Julie had also asked if she could bring a friend of her own, someone Lizzie did not know. The way she said it, it sounded sort of significant and it made her wonder if Julie had started seeing someone.

Just before three o’clock the neighbours came round; they offered to help with any last minute arrangements. The Locke family were a young couple, with a boy around David’s age, who lived to their right. The two boys immediately disappeared into David’s attic bedroom, not expected to come out again until the food was served.

Mr and Mrs Collins, who lived on the other side, were an elderly couple whose children had grown up and moved away. They were kind, if a little nosey. However their help was welcome, even if they were too churchy for Lizzie’s taste. Lizzie greeted them politely and chatted with them for a minute to be courteous while her mother worked away. Then Mr Collins took up the role of serving drinks to other guests and Mrs Collins took up the job of keeping an eye of the pies and cakes which were finishing in the oven while her Mum attended to other arrangements.

Today Lizzie felt inordinately proud of her Mum. Sure their house looked old and shabby. But her Mum had done everything humanly possible to make it look its best, it was spotless and bunches of flowers graced all possible locations. And she was amazed with the food her Mum had put together, little pies and pastries, sweet cakes, some bread, cold meat, cheese and fruit and lots of lollies and chocolates. It looked beyond wonderful.

The door bell rang. It was five of her classmates, come together, each with their own present, bright wrapping and brighter smiles. It was lovely and so exciting that these people had brought these things for her.

Then a big car drove past and parked just in front of the next house. Lizzie barely looked at it, none of her friends owned cars. Then a noise drew her eyes that way and she noticed Julie sitting in the passenger seat, wearing a lilac summer dress and looking gorgeous. And there was a tall, good looking man sitting in the driver’s seat. He got out and came around to Julie’s side and courteously opened the door. Julie got out, trying to look grown up and graceful, but obviously a bit self-conscious. The man took her hand and they walked together up to the front door, where Julie introduced Lizzie, sounding formal. “Lizzie, this is my friend Carl who I wanted you to meet.” “Carl, this is my best friend from school, Lizzie.”

Julie handed her a beautifully wrapped present, along with a card. Lizzie brought all her guests into the house and introduced them all around. The party began, everyone chatting politely and sipping punch; then presents were given which Lizzie dutifully opened. Julie had given her a lovely embroidered top and a swim suit with the fashion house label still attached. Her other friends had given her a range of other considerate gifts, for all of which she dutifully showed enthusiasm.

Last was a present from her Mum, the soft shape showed it was clothing. She opened it; it was a truly stunning summer dress, beautiful floral patterns and such soft silky fabric. She knew this would have cost her Mum big time, scrimping and saving for months and then some. She could feel tears prick her eyes, and her Mum seemed to be crying too.

Her Mum said. “Lizzie, I only wish your Dad could have been here to see you in it, I know he would have approved and been so proud.”

Lizzie went over and hugged her Mum. It was like all the hate and badness of the years was finally washed away.




Chapter 3 - The Party


The next week Julie called round to Lizzie’s place on Monday about lunch time. Lizzie was just hanging about, feeling at a bit of a loose end. So it was a relief to have a chance to chat to Julie. With the other people their chance to talk at the party had been limited. So they walked around the corner to the park where they sat under a shady tree to talk in private without disturbance.

Lizzie was bursting to know more about Carl, she wanted to know how and when Julie had met him, how serious it was, what they had done together and so many more things. She had never had a boyfriend herself and part of her was jealous. There was so little time, so much work to be done and she was not striking to look at, at least not the way Julie was. Not to mention that her clothes were often threadbare, her Mum cut her hair in a simple plain manner, and she had not practised all the ways of making herself attractive to men that most of her other friends had.

She knew a couple other boys around her age in her street but the relationship was more like brothers and sisters, they had never taken any particular notice of her and she had never taken any real notice of them. But she sensed that there were other boys out there who were different creatures, charming and sophisticated, like those she had read about in the great novels of English which she studied at school and read in her bedroom at home.

Carl seemed like one of these sophisticated boys, resembling a figure from a novel, who dressed in striking clothes, drove a luxurious car and who knew how to laugh and make jokes in ways which charmed girls. So she had a hunger to know about him, and other men like him, who mixed with the likes of Julie.

Julie herself seemed to bask in Lizzie’s enthusiastic excitement; yes, he was handsome; yes, he had quite a lot of other friends who were like him. She told Lizzie she had met him at a party that she had gone to with her parents, at a family friend’s house in Woollahra, a couple weeks before their exams. He was nineteen and working in an office in the city, which was part of a business owned by his father. He had invited her to come to the movies with him the day after they met. Her parents had given a guarded OK; yes, but she needed to be home an hour after the movie finished.

Carl had complied with this direction like the perfect gentleman. He had taken her hand during the movie and had given her a kiss on the cheek when he said goodnight. And riding with him in the car was great fun. After that they arranged to meet the following weekend when he had invited her to come to the beach with him for the afternoon, saying that he was going with his parents and some other friends. Of his parents there was no sign but she had met some other boys and a couple other girls who seemed to hang out with them. They had all gone swimming together in the sea at Manly and at one stage Carl had picked her up and kissed her on the lips, and she kind of liked it, it gave her a funny feeling in that place.

He had not tried to do any more but she could tell he was attracted to her and she knew that more would come soon if they kept going out, he had hinted at that. While she knew she had to be careful she was kind of interested herself to try some more kissing and whatever followed, not going all the way of course, but plenty was exciting to try before then.

She and Lizzie talked wonderingly about what it would be like to go all the way. For both of them it had little more meaning than some imaginary pleasure, talked about in books and glimpsed in movies. Neither of their parents ever talked about this with them, but they had got the general idea from biology and other books, if not the exact details.

Julie told her she had started to tell fibs to her parents about going out with Carl, she had not let on that Carl’s parents were not there on the beach that day. And now they had arranged to meet at the beach again tomorrow. Julie had told her Mum and Dad that she was going shopping in the city with a couple of other girls, when actually she was going to catch the ferry over to Manly to meet Carl and his friends for another day at the beach.

Julie said, “I am kind of hoping you could come with me, wear your new bathing suit, the boys are sure to think you look good in that. But you must not tell anyone else about it or, you know how gossip gets around, next thing the story will get back to my parents. Then I will be grounded.”

Lizzie felt a tingle of excitement at the thought of this adventure. Of course she would come, she would catch the bus into the city, saying she was meeting Julie there, to give Julie her opinion of some clothes and other things that Julie wanted to buy, and that they would not be back until late, as they would go to a movie while they were there.

Next day they met in the mid-morning at Circular Quay. Julie bought them both an ice-cream and handed Lizzie a ferry ticket which she had bought for her. Lizzie felt embarrassed at taking things from Julie, but Julie said not to be silly, her parents were rich and they gave her plenty of money, more than enough for them both to share. So Lizzie accepted.

It was really exciting on the ferry, Lizzie could only remember going once before, with her Mum and Dad when she was little. Now she felt so grown up as the two of them stood by the rail with the breeze blowing in their hair and chatted. She noticed that several young men were paying attention to them as if they were suddenly beautiful, but then thought, Well, of course, it’s Julie, men and boys always notice her.

At Manly they walked along the Corso until they came to the beach, where Julie pointed out her friends lying together in a group on the sand. Some of the boys looked very grown up and muscular, the other girls also looked grown up, wearing swimmers that really showed off their bodies.

Lizzie realised that she was lucky to have a new swim suit as the old one was much too small and raggy; it did not really fit her body properly anymore, looked sort of babyish, and the material was faded and fraying. But she felt self-conscious showing so much of herself to these almost total strangers in her new bathing suit. Carl was the only one she had met before and she had barely said hello to him. So, for a while, she left her shirt top on as well, to keep hiding her body which was very obvious in the swimmers. But then, feeling like a party pooper, she removed her top and lay out on the sand, sunning herself in her swimmers, just like the others were doing.

All the friends seemed nice. There were six men aged from eighteen to twenty and two other girls as well as her and Julie. One said she was sixteen though, when Lizzie looked closely at her, she seemed no older than Lizzie was, and the other was seventeen. Julie went and sat with Carl and the two of them were holding hands. The other girls each seemed to each be with one of the boys. So that left three of the boys who seemed to all want to talk to Lizzie and entertain her. This made Lizzie feel very flattered, particularly when they all told her things like how good she looked in her swimsuit and what beautiful hair she had.

Their leader was a big strong looking boy named Martin. He said he had come down from Newcastle last year, along with his other two friends, Dan and Will. Dan and Will seemed like his followers, rather than other men out for their own good time, laughing at Martin’s jokes and nodding when he talked.

Martin’s Dad had a shipping business in Newcastle with an office in Sydney. Now Martin had come to Sydney to learn the way things worked here. He said he was just starting to get to know people and things in Sydney, but he went back to Newcastle to visit because his family and his regular girlfriend still lived there. He said it was good to meet some other pretty girls in Sydney, perhaps he would find a new girlfriend here. Lizzie felt he was hinting it might be her. She felt flattered, even though she did not know if she liked him enough for this.

Lizzie found Martin interesting and easy to talk to, he seemed so confident. But there was something a little pushy about him, and his friends seemed too much in awe of him. However he was well mannered and charming so she found herself enjoying his company.

Soon they were all in the water swimming. The rest were all really good swimmers including Julie. Lizzie was glad her Dad had taught her to swim when he was alive; she had been a good swimmer when she was little. But she had not had much chance to practice since then. So, while she could swim well enough, she did not have the smooth and polished stroke to cut through the water that the others did.

However it did not stop her having fun, she joined in all the games. She went with the fun of it when the boys tossed her in the air and caught her, even if it seemed that they tried to touch her in private places when they caught her. But she was starting to realise that this was how grown up boys and girls played and, if Julie did not object, why should she.

In the mid-afternoon two of the boys went off and came back with a huge bag of fish and chips, along with big bottles of soft drink that they all shared. Then they turned to talking about their next outing together. The next Saturday night there was a party in Vaucluse that most of them were going to. It was at another friend’s house. “His Dad was seriously rich,” they said, “and he threw the best parties.” Before she knew what was happening Lizzie was being pressed into coming along.

She said, “I don’t think Mum will let me and I don’t have the nice clothes that the rest of you do.”

Carl said, “Surely Julie can lend you a dress, you are both about the same size, and you can say you’re going to stay at her place and she can say she is stopping over with you, that way neither lot of parents needs to know. Then, the next day you can both go home to your own places and no-one will be any the wiser.”

Lizzie felt a bit doubtful but now Julie joined in enthusiastically, “Yes let’s, why not, no one needs to know and what harm can it do. It sounds like such fun.”

So Lizzie found herself agreeing and feeling secretly excited at the prospect, as well as at the clever trickery it involved.

They arranged to meet at the City Town Hall steps next Saturday, at seven in the evening. It was agreed that Lizzie would first go over to Julie’s in the mid-afternoon, for a planned sleep-over. They would both get ready there. They would say to Julie’s parents that they were going to the pictures in the State Theatre in Market St and would catch the bus home to Lizzie’s place where they would stay for the night.

Instead Martin and Carl would pick them up in a car at Town Hall and they would go out to Vaucluse from there. Carl had a cousin in a house in Paddington, with spare beds. So they would come back there, after the party, to sleep before they went home the next morning.

Soon it was Saturday, and Lizzie was packing to go to Julie’s place. She felt a pang of guilt, she tried not to lie to her Mum, and this sneakiness did not feel right. There were often things she did not tell her, but she tried not to tell outright lies. And yet now she was doing just that. But she pushed it away, she was just going out for a good time, she was doing no harm. It was what everyone did at her age, easier than trying to explain to parents their need to go out and have fun with others




Chapter 4 - Not Supposed to Happen This Way


It was great fun getting ready; Julie lent her a really smart, low cut frock, with a jacket to cover it up, while they were leaving. They locked themselves in Julie’s room and did each other’s hair, or at least Julie did Lizzie’s and she tried to help a bit as Julie did her own. Then Julie got out her make-up and got to work making up their faces, she was obviously practised at all this. Lizzie did not have much idea or skill, sometimes she used her mother’s lipstick but that was about the limit.

However Julie had it all, eye shadow, mascara, skin tints and so many colours of lipsticks. They experimented for half an hour and Lizzie found herself thoroughly enjoying this creative fun with her friend. They dawdled away an hour or two until at last it was almost six in the evening and time to go. There was a ten past six ferry from Birchgrove which would take them to Circular Quay and from there they would catch a bus up George Street.

So they called out their goodbyes and slipped out of the house. Lizzie was pleased that she did not have to walk past Lizzie’s parents. They were sitting out the back. She did not lie as easily as Julie did, and she found it much harder to lie when actually looking at people.

It was just coming to seven on the Town Hall clock when they alighted from the bus. There was one of Martin’s friends, Will it was, waiting for them. He led them around the corner into Clarence Street where the car was parked and the others were waiting. There were six of them, Carl and Julie got in the front with Martin and she went into the back with Will and Dan. The car’s seats seemed huge and incredibly plush and she sank in between the two boys. The engine started and they were away, driving down the city then out along Oxford Street. Soon they were stopping at a big hotel. They all went inside to a quiet corner with lounge seats. Now the boys were drinking beer and she and Julie each had a sherry. Lizzie had barely tried more than a sip of any drink before and she found the sherry strong but sweet and easy to swallow. On her second drink she could feel herself becoming a light headed. After an hour they went on again. It was dark now. The lights and the world seemed to float by as they wound their way along a series of roads.

Then they were stopping at a really big house with lots of lights on. Martin took her arm and walked her inside where he introduced her to the host. Carl and Julie followed just behind. Dan and Will were a bit further back, staying together. Martin was good company, he knew lots of people and Lizzie found herself talking to other interesting people, she could feel her tongue loosening as the evening flowed along. There was lots of delicious food, like at her Mum’s party food, but so many more types, carried around by waiters on little silver trays. Now she found herself drinking glasses of champagne, a really good one that Martin had insisted she try. Every time she drank a bit someone filled her glass again. After a while she had no idea how much she had drunk.

But it was fun. Then there was music, Will had her up dancing, even though her feet got a bit tangled, then Martin had a turn, then someone else, then Dan, She could feel herself getting breathless and giddy with all the swinging around. Then Martin got her up for a slow dance and she could feel his strong hard body pushing up against her as they danced really close together. Then it was another wild rock and roll sort of dance. It seemed to go on forever.

Everyone was hot and breathless when it finished. She gulped down her champagne, finishing the glass. Instantly it was refilled and she drank this too because she was thirsty.

Martin led her outside, it was much cooler there. She leant into his arm as she walked along; she found it hard to walk straight by herself. For a minute they stood on the steps, looking out across the street to the harbour beyond, Martin with his arm around her shoulder and Dan and Will a couple steps behind. The world seemed to sway in front of her.

Julie and Carl had drifted off to some other part of the party, she half thought she should go and find Julie and talk to her, but Martin had his arm firmly around her. It seemed too much effort to separate from him.

She felt quite fuddled from all the drinking, but it had been a fun night. She really felt like sitting down and resting, just for a minute. At the back of her mind she had a sense of deja vue, like she had been in this place before but she could not remember quite when. Then it came to her, Sophie, in the dream, had been standing down the path just in front of her. But she was not there now.

Next thing she knew Martin was saying to her, the car is just across the road, let’s go and sit into it for a minute. Holding her firmly around the shoulders he led her down the path and across the road. She had another fleeting memory of the place in the path where Sophie tried to stop her, but she turned her head the other way as she went past to block it out.

When they got to the car Martin opened the back door and eased her in. Then he came in next to her, his arm now around her waist and his chin nuzzling into her neck. It was dark but the street light lit them. She realised he was trying to kiss her; she turned her face to look at him. He had a strange panting and desperate look on his face, like he was looking at her but seeing an object, part her, but not really her. He was also looking intently at the front of her low cut dress; she realised he was trying to look inside her top, and stare at her body. Even in her fuddled state it made her uncomfortable.

Next thing she knew Dan had got into the driver’s seat and Will was in the front passenger’s seat. She did not understand why they were there, but she was not thinking very clearly. Martin was trying to put his hand inside her top. She pulled it out. Then the car engine had started and it was being driven down the road.

She said to Martin, through her fuzzy brain, feeling uneasy. “Where are we going?”

He said, “I thought we would go for a drive to the beach around the corner. It is really quiet there at this time of night, and the view of the harbour is great from there.”

As they drove her unease faded, what was the harm of going to the beach and looking out across the water. Martin was leaving her alone now. He was looking around the street as they drove, as if to see if there was anyone else out there.

Soon they came to a place with a big sign which read “Nielsen Park”. It was an area of parkland and at one end the road curved around to the beach. There was no one else in sight and they had seen no one on the drive. Martin pulled her arm to bring her out of the car. He escorted her to the sandy beach where he sat down. He pulled her down beside him.

Then he pushed her onto her back and was pushing his body on top of her. She tried to wriggle free, but he was way too strong. Now he had put his hand under the bottom of her dress and was trying to pull her panties down. She realised now this was not where she wanted to be and that this was trouble.

She grabbed his hand and pulled it away. She tried to push him away, pushing as hard as she could. His arms were like a vice, and his body was really heavy in top of her, she could barely move.

She said to him, “If you don’t stop now I will scream.”

He just laughed and said. “Boys, she is threatening to scream; maybe we will have to gag her before we finish this.”

Then he grabbed her mouth really hard, crushing her lips together in his hand. He said, “Time to stop fighting or we really will hurt you, much better if you just lie back, open your legs and let it happen. You didn’t think we brought a pretty little poor girl to a party just to admire her did you. Now it is time to reward us back for being nice to you”


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