This morning, I was exhausted, because I spent far too many nights wide awake with Mum and bags of lollies. With the television playing low, I rolled over. Closing my eyes, I thought about going back to sleep, but I sensed that I wouldn’t. I reached for my phone, checking Instagram, then my text messages, sending off one to Bella.
If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know xx
It was failing responding-to-crises 101. Nonetheless, Bella requested company. Therefore, I left home, driving over via a service station. I turned up on Bella’s doorstep, tail behind my legs, although determined to be cheery enough. Her parents let me into the house, lunch ready.
“She’s just through there. You can take her lunch to her if you like, and have some for yourself.”
I walked through and greeted my friend.
“I’m a little bit better,” Bella assured, accepting the bowl of pasta with thanks. “At least I’m not throwing up anymore.”
She stirred the spaghetti around with her fork. I’d read somewhere online that this was a good sort of meal to stop you throwing up. Bella finally took a mouthful.
“They started talking to me about the idea of freezing some of my eggs, so that I’d have them as a backup plan.”
“I’ve never even had a boyfriend.”
“Neither have I.”
“I’ve always really wanted to have children. Of course, I’d still love the chance, biologically.”
“You will, you will.”
We finished our lunch, then lay on her bed. Finally, Bella told me that she needed to sleep, which was fair enough, given the pain she would have been in. I took the bowls back out to the kitchen. I left Bella’s house, returning to the car. In the evening, our family settled down to watch the Masked Singer. The first celebrity came out – the Budgie, wearing a green and gold costume. As we watched the clues package, I leaned forward a little, trying to take in every detail. I’m never very good at guessing these things. Once the clue package ended, I sat back to soak in Budgie’s performance. I recognised the beginning of the tune but couldn’t quite pick it, until eventually realising it to be a Britney Spears track. The Budgie’s mask must have been quite heavy, with such a large, curved head. I reckoned that the celebrity would have been relatively short, with the costume just trying to make up for it. All of a sudden, he flung his leg up into the air.
“Whoa, that’s quite a dance move.”
I reached for my phone and fired off a text to Lizzie, to enquire if she was watching too. The song ended; the crowd and the judges applauded.
Yes I’m watching; Lizzie confirmed. Have no idea who the bird is though
The judges made outlandish guesses.
Kinda just wanna skip to the end; Lizzie texted back. Though Abbie Chatfield is a queeeen
She followed it up with a crown emoji. In the preview for after the break, Lamington busted a move.
“That’s so Australian kitsch,” Dad noted, stabbing his finger towards the television. “It’s just asking for someone overseas to see that on the Internet and take the mickey out of us completely.”
He nibbled on his fingernails, then washed them down with wine. When the program returned, it launched into a clues package.
“I’m Lamington,” spoke the squeaky voice, “and I’m a swift performer.”
She walked down a hallway, wearing a hat and carrying a bag. It reminded me a little bit of Mary Poppins, but I doubted that it was Julie Andrews. The Lamington performed, with a surprisingly deep voice – for some reason, I’d thought they’d have more of a feminine sound. They brought the house down with a performance of ‘Shake it Off’.
“That’s the second Taylor Swift reference,” I pointed out.
“But that’s not Taylor Swift.”
“Well, I don’t think it’s Taylor Swift,” Dad responded.
Mel B thought Lamington might have been Justin Bieber. That might have married up with voice with the identity, although the only connection I could find to Taylor Swift was that Justin Bieber’s manager was the guy who bought the masters of her music.
“They keep guessing all these big celebrities. There’s no way that’s Justin Bieber. That’s a ridiculous guess.”
Mum looked outraged, then she laughed.
“This is Lamington, maybe it could be Australian politician, Andrew Laming.”
The crowd seemed to go quiet for a moment. I really didn’t think they’d have Andrew Laming on The Masked Singer. An upskirting politician seemed to be a bridge too far, even though I know it had been controversial when George Calombaris had been on the show not that long after his wage theft scandal.
“I think that was a bad attempt at a joke.”
Nobody said anything back. I probably deserved that. The show went to an ad break. I thought about getting up to go to the toilet, but I couldn’t have been bothered. After a few minutes, The Masked Singer returned.
“The Phasmid, that’s interesting.”
I took a sip from my glass of wine.
“Or you could say they’re scraping.”
I tilted my head to the side, to concede the point. Making their way out onto the stage, Phasmid started to sing.
“Ooh, a deep voice.”
This collection of masked celebrities had me particularly stumped. The song came to an end, to great applause.
“Alright, who do you think Phasmid is?”
“There were a number of churches in the clues package,” Abbie Chatfield, one of the judges, pointed out, “so I wondered if this might be someone who is religious, or has a religious background. I think Phasmid might be Dean Geyer.”
His face popped up onto the screen. Dean Geyer wouldn’t have been a surprising reveal. As the show went to an ad break, Mum scampered up to her bedroom, to fetch a pair of bed socks. I leaned forward a little, during a news update, before sitting back again. There had been another Aboriginal death in custody, a nineteen-year-old. When the show returned, I tried to shake off my sorrow, albeit feebly. Up next was Hairbrush, tall and slender. The clues package seemed to refer to a secret, prompting the judges to speculate whether she might have been a Victoria’s Secret model. Maybe we were misinterpreting the signs all wrong, and they actually referred to some sort of investigator – someone who uncovers secrets. Hairbrush walked out onto the stage.
“That’s kind of creepy with the hand wrapped around the brush which then has its own two actual hands.”
“This has got to be a woman, for sure.”
I ran through categories of celebrities in my mind. It was the thrill of the guess, the chase, and finally the reveal which kept me watching. There were so many other tasks which were more productive, but at least this was entertaining – and I hoped my family felt the same. My phone beeped. I checked the message, from Lizzie.
Wait do u think its olive brennan????
Could be; I texted back.
Have u talked to her lately; Lizzie wanted to know.
It’s not like we’re besties
“Alright, who do you think it’s going to be?”
“No idea,” Dad answered, getting up from the lounge and burping. “I’m going to go to bed.”
I leaned forward.
“You can’t go to bed yet, they’re about to reveal who it is.”
With a grumble, Dad returned and sat down. He gave a heavy sigh, which definitely soured the previously cheery mood. I tried not to let the petty disappointment get to me. I’d gotten what I wanted, after all. The Masked Singer returned from after the ad break – time for the unmasking. I exhaled, feeling a little breathless. Phasmid was declared the creature to be unmasked.
“Take it off!” the crowd chanted.
The Phasmid removed his mask, then turned around.
“It’s international superstar pianist, Peter Dawson!” Osher screamed.
I didn’t recognise him, although Mum and Dad did.
“He looks alright for how old he’d be.”
Phasmid, the pianist, crooned to the end of the show. The answers to the clues popped up, providing a little bit of extra context. Apparently, Phasmid’s from Adelaide, hence the churches. I wanted to quip that I didn’t know that there were international superstar pianists, but that seemed a little mean. This man was clearly a talented musician, to be able to sing like that, and also play the piano to a world-class standard. As the next program started, we switched off the television. Knowing that I’d have a big day in the morning, I conceded that Dad had a point. We switched off the lights, and all of us went to bed.
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 desires to explore themes of hope, love and longing through her storytelling. She is the author of 'Shadow' and 'From the Wild'.