Road

I appreciate the serenity of the morning. There’s a second of peace I experience before reality hits me over the head once again, and anxiety seeps in. My name is Jumilah Fioray. We live in Tasmania on a property currently under a rezoning application, in the process of developing a wildlife sanctuary. I rolled over onto my side to check my phone.


Leaving from Maccas carpark this arvo


What time?; I checked, because Patrick hadn’t provided that detail.


3pm; he answered, then followed it up with another message: And you wouldn’t happen to know a drummer, would you?


I rolled onto my back and made a call.


“Hey, Jumilah,” Luke answered. “Thanks for having me over last night, it was lovely to have dinner and chat and see Tallulah.”


“It was,” I agreed.


“Listen, you play the drums, don’t you?”


“Yeah.”


“Would you fancy coming along?”


The pause which followed seemed excruciatingly long, but it can’t have been more than a second or two. Luke wouldn’t have ever met Patrick, as my work friends and the rest of my life hadn’t tended to mix in the past.


“Sure. What time are you leaving?”


“Well, we’re meeting at Macca’s at three, although Mum could drive us both.”


“That sounds good, I’ll see you then.”


With Luke locked in, I called Patrick. Hopefully this would solve their problems.


“My cousin Luke plays the drums and he said that he’d come with us on the trip.”


“Oh, that’s great, you’re a legend, Jumilah.”


I heard a message, so I took my phone from my ear and put the call on speaker while I checked.


What time are you leaving for the band trip?


It was Tallulah.


3pm from outside Sorell Macca’s; I answered.


“There’s still one more spot in the cars.”


Do you want to come?


“If you know anyone else who wants to come along.”


Sure


I organised it all with Tallulah and Patrick. The rest of the day flew by until Mum came home early from work, and I made sure that I was packed and ready by the time that Tallulah and Luke were dropped off.


“I know Patrick from work, he’s the singer,” I explained in Mum’s car on the way there. “Andy and Chris are in the band as well, they also work at Woollies.”


Mum dropped Tallulah, Luke and I off at McDonald’s.


“Now, make sure that everyone drives safely,” she warned, “and if there’s alcohol, Tallulah, you can drink if you wish--.”


“We’ll be fine, Mum,” I assured.


“Thanks for the lift, Aunty Cath.”


Tallulah and Luke got out of the back seat.


“Jumilah, make sure that you’re gentle with yourself.”


“I love you, Mum,” I responded, then got out of the car with my bag.


I waved Mum goodbye as she drove off. The three of us wandered over to where Patrick had parked his car and Sloane was drinking a milkshake next to him, with others from work milling around.


“Everyone, this is Tallulah, she’s my friend from high school.”


Tallulah waved.


“And this is Luke, my cousin.”


“We’ll need to keep our bags in the car with us, because the drum kit’s in the back.” Patrick clapped his hand between Luke’s shoulder blades. “Thanks for coming onboard, buddy. You’re a lifesaver that you’re a drummer.”


We set off, towards Launceston, with Ross the destination for our first evening, and first show with Bushmint Lovechild beyond Hobart. I was in the back of Patrick’s car, sitting between Tallulah and Luke, with Sloane in the front and Patrick driving the car. Ross is only an hour or so away, especially from Sorell.


“So what do you do with yourself, Luke?”


“I’m in Year 12 this year, not sure what I’m going to do next year. Next year is next year’s problem, I suppose.”


Luke is capable of talking for Australia, but I already knew that before we got in the car. As we approached a hairpin bend, I took a breath, my chest rising and falling to try and combat how my stomach was twisting within me. Patrick glanced into the rear-vision mirror.


“Are you alright, Jumilah?”


“Yeah,” I assured, even though the world felt like it was racing by.


We stopped at the rest stop and all got out.


“I’m so sorry,” I apologised, wandering off into the bush, with Sloane following me.


I hunched over and thought I was going to vomit. Despite my stomach churning, thankfully I didn’t spill my guts. We walked back to the others.


“Also, for what it’s worth, for those who don’t know me so well, I probably should tell you that I’m pregnant. I’m in the first trimester so you might not be able to tell, but half of Tasmania seems to know, so you probably should know.”


When we got back in the car, Patrick let me have the front seat, owing to my queasiness. This meant that I went with him, Caleb, Maryam and Tallulah, with Sloane, Ricky, Lucy, Luke and Chris in the other car. There were dark clouds filling the sky as we reached Ross, a town north of Hobart but well south of Launceston. The heavy rain arrived just as we pulled in at the motel. I got out of the car and stood under the awning, right at the edge so that my shoes were still getting sprinkled. The gumtrees on the other side of the fence danced in the gentle breeze, the smell of the rain overwhelming me. Those in the band went across to the adjoining pub, with the music equipment. Once I was able to concentrate again, I returned to the car. We unpacked into two rooms – one for the girls and one for the guys, then got dressed up ready for the show at the pub.


“Ready to go?” Maryam checked and, with a nod, we headed over to join the guys, who were already setting up.


“Let’s sit up the front,” Sloane suggested.


We took our seats. There wasn’t much of a crowd, but there was something, and that would be enough for now. Bright lights gleamed overhead and a smile came onto my lips. Patrick stepped up to the microphone to begin the show.


Down the river, d-down the river

I’ll go down the river wherever you go

I’ll go down the river if only you say so


Luke came in with the drum solo. Patrick winked in my direction. Sloane cheered. Bushmint Lovechild played their way through their set of original songs. I danced in my seat, determined to be lost in the music and enjoy my first gig with the band. Barely any time seemed to have passed before Patrick was coming down off the stage, to slurp down some of his water bottle in the corner. I made my way over to him.


“How does this work?” I asked, wishing that I was allowed to drink. “Do you get paid for this?”


“We might, we might not. I suppose it depends on how much money comes in tonight to start with, and then we go from there. It’s not about the money, really, so if we don’t get paid, the exposure, the chance, that’s good enough.”


After intermission, they played covers – The Triffids, The Go-Betweens, John Farnham, until shifting back into their original music for the big finale. I could hear a bit of a ruckus at the back of the pub and my heart started to beat faster, while I checked my phone, but there were no messages.

“I’m sorry, it’s nothing to do with you,” a man from the pub assured, “but those under eighteen will need to leave and go back to your rooms.”


“That’s less than ideal,” Maryam remarked, as we made our way back with our tails between our legs.


Those who were over eighteen stayed at the pub to pack up the music equipment, while the police dealt with the other fight which had broken out between other, drunk people. Falling onto the bed, I closed my eyes. I must have gone to sleep, because I woke up with a start. Rolling over onto my side, I noticed that it was only ten-thirty. The night becomes a lot longer when you go to bed early, I’m finding. I breathed out, my mouth feeling dry. My mind raced through everything that I could have gotten done. I reached for my phone atop the bedside chest of drawers.


Hope you’re going alright. Just send me an emoji when you have a moment.


Even though it was late, I went outside. I wanted to hear Mum’s voice, even though I’ve been having a good time. If I called, I knew that she would answer, even if she’d already gone to bed. Tomorrow is Saturday, so it’s not like Mum needs to be up early tomorrow for work. I called home, spotting a bench under the awning, where I could sit for some peace and quiet. If I told Mum the show had been forced to end early, I knew she might freak out, just because she’s a mother. So, my plan was still to ring her, just make it sound breezy.


“Hello, Jumilah,” Mum greeted me when she answered. “How’s it going?”


“Yeah, yeah, it’s going well,” I promised. “I hope that I didn’t wake you up.”


“No, it’s fine. I wanted to hear from you anyway.”


I heard one of the other doors open. Looking over my shoulder, I noticed Patrick slipping out from the guys’ room.


“I’m good. I probably should go to bed. We’re driving to Launceston tomorrow.”


We ended the call. Patrick came over and sat down next to me.


“That was just my Mum.”


“Right.”


“I wanted her to know that we’re fine, but I don’t want her to worry. It’s reasonable that she would worry, especially after what happened, but I’m still seventeen. I still need to be able to live my life.”


“Yeah,” Patrick agreed, although his voice sounded weak, like his heart wasn’t in it.


“Are you OK?” I asked. “I’m sorry about what happened with the show.”


“Thanks, there’s just a lot on my mind right now.”


“Do you want to talk about it?”


“We probably should get to bed and go to sleep,” Patrick urged, then swallowed hard and stood up. “Goodnight, Jumilah.”


He approached the door to the guys’ room and went inside. As it started to rain again, all that I could do was head in for bed. I shared the bed with Tallulah and Sloane, while Maryam was on the couch and Lucy slept on an air mattress on the floor. While it stopped raining, the humidity was high. I wanted to turn the fan on, but I didn’t bother.


 

Jumilah Fioray is a recent high school graduate from lutruwita, Tasmania. Her parents, Catherine and Adriano Fioray, met at the University of Melbourne in the 1990s and returned to Hobart after finishing their degrees, where they raised their daughter and worked in agriculture. Jumilah's passion for conservation reflects her grandparents' work running a sanctuary in Sumatra.


Abbey Sim is the founder of Huldah Media. She is a creative writing, law and theology student who lives on the lands of the Dharug people in Sydney, Australia. Abbey has long had a passion for the weird and the wonderful of stories, sport and zoo animals. 'From the Wild' is her first anthology.


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