At this speed, she thought she’d be at her family home in under 90 minutes. She was excited at seeing her remaining living parent and sharing her news about visiting foreign lands.
As she pulled into the driveway, she saw her dad on the porch and he waved as she got out. Greeting him with a hug, he stood back and said, ‘you look fit, Sara.’
She smiled and said, ‘Sit down, dad, I’ll go make a pot of tea.’
She left him and went into the kitchen, to put the kettle on.
While the water was boiling, she looked at the familiar paintings on the walls and photos of her mum. There were still many memories of her even though she’d died several years ago.
Sara smiled, picking up a photo and remembered the chaotic family gatherings.
She looked around the kitchen and realised how little had changed with the unique salt and pepper shakers still in use and the bowls she had made filled with fruit.
It was a rich yet humble environment where she’d been given subtle messages on work ethic and self-reliance. The messages had served her well.
She thought about this and her overseas journey which she knew would test her as well as deepen family ties.
She put three tablespoons of tea into the pot and poured over the boiling water.
She placed it and the cutlery on a tray, cutting up the ‘Apple Diplomat’ slice she’d bought.
Smiling at the coincidental name of the cake and her upcoming visit to Steele, the Charge De Affaire, she carried the refreshments outside.
Pouring tea, she said, ‘Dad I’m going to Gallipoli.’
‘What?’ he said. ‘Gallipoli, Christ why do you want to go there.’
Pausing, she said, ‘To see it, you know.’
Her voice trailed off.
After a while he spoke, ‘Good, then. As you know your relatives served there. One killed and the other survived but was gassed, serving later on at the Western Front…’
She reflected on this and said, ‘Yes dad, I know, that’s why I’m going. I came down to tell you. I am visiting with….a friend. We are staying....in Istanbul.’
‘Mmmm,’ he said.’
He continued, 'Is he alright?'
He was silent and then continued, ‘It’s a long way to go if it doesn’t work out.’
He got up and went inside. She could hear him opening drawers and rustling papers. He came back out and sat down.
‘Now,’ he said, ‘here are your relatives' papers. You can see where they served and where your relative was killed.’
He handed them to her. ‘Thanks,’ she said.
After a while her dad spoke, ‘Sara, your mother wanted to see you married. What happened?’
Laughing Sara replied, ‘Dad, it helps if you find the right person.’
Joining in he said, ‘Yes, no point in hitching up with someone who is going to make you miserable.’
He added, ‘Go Sara, go, and tell me about it – the 100th anniversary.
‘Also,’ she said, ‘I am also going to run…in a race.’
‘A race?’ he said and continued gruffly, ‘Run, why run? You can run here.’
Exasperated she said, ‘Its fun, I’m going to run in a foreign country. It’s exotic.’
Not answering, Sara felt she hadn’t convinced him.
Silently they drank their tea, enjoying both views and sounds of the ocean.
After a while she got up. ‘Dad, I think I’ll go for a swim before I drive home.’
‘Do that,’ he said. ‘It is a beautiful day.’
She put her swimmers on and walked the five minutes to the ocean. Being a weekday, it was near deserted with only a few swimmers surfing the waves.
She pulled off her shift and dropped it beside her towel. Walking to the water, she admired the colour of the ocean and observed the steadiness of the waves breaking near the shore.
Dipping her toe in, the water was cool and she acclimatised her body. As the waves broke over her midriff and water splashed up into her face, she decided to dive head first into the next oncoming wave.
She kicked hard and propelled her body underneath the water. Surfacing, another wave was almost upon her and she dived quickly under its foamy crest and rose up onto the other side.
Swimming parallel to the shore, she bobbed over the waves, frog kicking, rhythmically and expanding her arms outwards.
She was unaware of the distance she had travelled, though she knew it was lengthy as she passed the landmarks ahead of her. She saw this endurance as a good sign, preparing her for the run.
She turned and kicked on her back. She submitted to the ocean’s currents, which carried her gently back to where she had entered.
Facing upwards, she studied the clouds contrasting against the vivid blue hue of the vast sky.
Swimming to her point of entry, she then swam towards the shore, got out and walked the short distance to her towel.
Briskly drying off, she pulled on her shift and walked to her family home, disappearing into a bedroom and changing into dry clothes.
As she emerged, she said to her dad, ‘I’d better get going.’
Embracing, he said, ‘Keep safe,’ and he watched her as she drove off giving a single toot of the horn.
Gripping the steering wheel tightly, she pressed her foot down hard on the pedal and focused on the road.
As Sara traverses the inky landscape of surprise and intrigue, such a mindset will prove valuable as her moral, ethical and spiritual fibre in foreign lands will be tested and where she will discover the only true element which really matters is the element of love.
Running High - Chapter 11
Running High - Chapter 9