Authors: Libby Jay
Today is the day. Today is the day I will be free. Free from fear. Free from burden. Free from worry. Free from this feeling of filth, which has crawled under my skin and no matter how hard I’ve scrubbed and scoured, it will not budge. I will be free from guilt and free from pain.
I will be free from him.
I have absolutely nothing, but then to have a clean start, you need to leave everything behind. I have the white shirt on my back and the blue denim jeans on my legs. I have socks and a pair of underwear. I’m wearing my blue converse. I have forty seven New Zealand dollars in my purse and a debit/credit card which has been cancelled. I don’t have a hair tie and I don’t have any jewellery. I don’t have a phone. But what I do have is a one way ticket to Melbourne. A one way ticket to freedom.
A one way ticket to a new life.
“Hey Lynd’s,” a familiar voice says. I’m terrified to turn around. I shouldn’t be, but fear has become my constant companion.
“Hi Kyle.” I turn slowly and meet his eyes. They’re the same eyes I’ve seen a hundred times, but this time, they’re wet, full of tears.
“I had to make sure you’re okay.” He presses his palms to his eyes in a vain attempt to push away the tears.
I watch as one tear falls from the corner of his eye, follows the ridge of his nose and eventually stops at his top lip, where he wipes it away. “I will be,” I answer.
“Will you tell me where you’re going?”
He nods in understanding. “But you’re going back to Australia, right?”
“Yes,” I say quietly.
We stand in the check in area of the airport looking at each other. I take in every inch of his face. If our circumstances had been different, if we had met under different conditions, I would’ve fallen in love with Kyle. His kindness and good looks and the way he stares at me, like he is right now, makes it feel that he can see me, as opposed to everyone else who sees through me. He was the boy of every girl’s fantasies in school, mine especially. But our situation was complicated, and only got more so as the years went on.
I smile up at him and slowly close the distance between us. He hesitates for a moment before he wraps his arms around me and holds me close, breathing two lungs of air onto my neck.
“I’m so sorry, Lyndsay,” he says.
“It wasn’t your fault.” I’ve said that same line to him a hundred times, each time following his heartfelt apology. “You had no choice.”
“I should’ve done something. But I just let him...”
I stop him. I don’t want to hear him say it, or his name. “Kyle. We were both kids. We had no choice. We weren’t in control.”
He nods and pulls out of the hug. “I know you have to go, but will you keep in touch?”
“I can’t Kyle. You know I can’t. I need a different life to the one I’ve known with you.” I smile at him again. “Maybe someday, a long time from now, when all wounds are healed we can be friends, but I can’t promise anything.”
“I understand.” Another tear falls from his eye. “I love you Lynd’s.” The words are followed by a brief, soft kiss to my lips. He releases me quickly and walks away.
“Kyle,” I say, but he doesn’t hear me. My voice is husky and full of emotion. I watch him disappear into the crowd and eventually, into the far distance.
It hurts to think I’ll never see him again.
I’m thankful that there is no one sitting next to me on my Air New Zealand flight. I need the solitude. I’m on the first flight out of Christchurch to Melbourne. Once I get to Melbourne...well I have no idea what I’ll do once I get to Melbourne. Hitchhike to my Aunts farm? Maybe I can walk? I know for sure that forty seven New Zealand dollars won’t get me far in a taxi, especially once I exchange it for Australian dollars. I just hope the weather is good.
I eat all the food I can get my hands on. I even ask for a third serving of the breakfast bars. I’ve had three cups of tea and am about to ask for a fourth. I’m watching the news. I’m not in the mood to watch a movie.
I flick through the pages of the in-flight magazine. Everyone, in every picture is smiling and laughing and enjoying time with their families. I wonder whether there are any families that are really that happy. Are they happy all the time? Surely every family has its troublesome times. I know mine certainly did. Or maybe my family had enough bad times to save other families from theirs.
I don’t want to think about bad times. I have to think ahead to happy times. Surely everyone deserves to be happy.
It’s raining in Melbourne. Squall like rain which resulted in a terrifying approach and landing, and now it’s complete chaos outside the arrivals area. I think about what to do. I know from my past life in Melbourne that my Aunt’s farm is on the other side of Melbourne, one and a half hours by car. How long would it take me to walk that distance?
I look at the forty two Australian dollars in my purse and then at the seventy five cents. That’s all I have. It is not going to get me far. I’m going to need money for food and a drink. Maybe, I can get a taxi to wherever forty two dollars will take me. It would have to get me at least half way. Then I can walk the remaining distance. As long as I get to the other side of the city, I can follow the beach to my Aunts. It’s my only option.
The rain has subsided, but it’s still falling in feathery wisps. The windscreen wipers on the taxi are intermittently clearing the window, but my attention is really on the metre. We’ve just crossed the big bridge and the cost of my travels is already at thirty five dollars. Any minute now, the driver is going to pull over and abandon me on the side of this busy freeway.
I take a deep breath and refuse to cry because crying is a weakness and I need to be strong.
“Miss,” the driver says. “I can take you as far as Flinders Street. Maybe you can catch a train to wherever you need to go.”
“Thank you,” I say, knowing all too well that I’m not going to have the money to catch a train. I could try to evade a fare, but the last thing I need is to be arrested for stealing a train ride.
The city is alive with people. And I’m standing at the front of an old train station, looking at a long street with trams travelling back and forth. I have absolutely no idea which way to walk to get to the Peninsula. I can see a bridge with a dirty river running under it, I can see a park. I can see an ugly sort of town square where people are gathering under large umbrellas, drinking hot beverages out of take away cups. What I wouldn’t give for a hot drink.
“Excuse me,” I say to a young man passing me by. “Which way to the Mornington Peninsula?”
He points to my right. “That way.”
“Thanks.” I take a deep breath, clutch my now empty purse to my tummy and begin to walk.
I’ve been walking for seven hours. I know this because when I left Flinders Street it was ten minutes after eight o’clock and now, according to the big clock in the middle of the roundabout it is seventeen minutes after three in the afternoon. I’m wet, soaking wet. My feet are sore. I’m thirsty. I’m hungry. But I will not give up. A sign not too far ahead tells me that Mornington is twenty nine kilometres away. Hopefully I will be there before dark.
I want to give up and just lie down. If I lie down here, no one will know. I can sleep for a while. Or I can sleep forever. Right now, sleeping forever sounds like the only option I have. My body is screaming for me to stop. My mind however is telling me to keep moving forward. Surely, it can’t be that much further.
I head inland. Seven more kilometres and I will be there, with Aunty Beatrice. She’ll take me in. She’ll give me warm clothes and food and a warm bed. She’ll take me in. She’ll take me in.
I’m not going to make it. My eyes are closing and I feel my body’s heaviness, forcing me to the ground. I stagger before I fall onto my hands and knees. Then I crawl. I will not give up.
The gravel beneath my hands and knees bites into my skin but not enough to force me up. It’s all I can do to keep moving forward. Just keep moving.
I hear voices. “Is that Lyndsay? Dear child. Maurice, bring her inside. It’s Lyndsay. Meredith!”
Then there is blackness and silence.
I wake up in a cocoon of warmth and softness. My eyes open to a familiar room. I’m in Meredith’s bedroom, in her bed and Meredith is sitting at her desk, writing.
“Hey,” I moan.
Meredith gasps and stands up quickly. “You’re awake.” Tears come to her eyes and she comes to my side, lowers herself down next to me and wraps her arms around me. “You’re awake.”
“Have I been asleep for a long time?”
“About ten hours.” She lifts her head and looks at me. “And you look like you could use another ten.”
I smile and laugh quietly. “I feel fine.”
“Let me go get Mum. She’ll want to know you’re awake.”
Aunty Beatrice is my Mum’s older sister. They look almost identical, except Mum had brown hair like me and Aunty Beatrice is blonde. Aunty Beatrice wants me to tell her everything. But I can’t tell her
So I tell her what I can.
“And what about the money?” she asks. “The life insurance. It was all meant to go to you.”
I look up at my aunt. “She must’ve changed her mind. Garry got the lot.”
“Scum bag,” Aunty Beatrice says vehemently. She never did like Garry. Not only did he take her younger sister away to Christchurch, but he isolated her. He monitored her phone calls and emails and bank accounts. My mother, Nigella, lost her independence the very day she married Garry. And three short years later, when my mother finally lost her battle with cancer, I lost everything.
“Well, you’re here now, Lyndsay. You can stay here for as long as you like.” Aunty Beatrice leans forward and kisses my forehead. “If it doesn’t bother you, you can move into Grandma’s house. Meredith refused to because, well...she’s scared of ghosts.”
I smile. Grandma died peacefully in her sleep not long after Mum and I moved to New Zealand. The small house at the back of my Aunt’s property has remained uninhabited since. “I’d love to live in Grandma’s house. And just as soon as I can, I’ll get a job and pay rent and...I won’t be a bother to you. I promise.”
“Darling girl, flesh and blood are never a burden. You take all the time you need to get on your feet.” She kisses me again and leaves the room.
Meredith looks at me from the end of the bed. “It’s good to see you again, Lyndsay. I have so much to tell you, but right now, you’re going to forget the bull crap story you just told Mum and you’re going to tell me the truth. What really happened in New Zealand?”
Seven years later
“I’m going to miss you Little Chugger.” I lift Meredith’s little boy into my arms and hug him, giving him a big kiss on his soft plump cheek.
He gaggles and coo’s and makes my heart melt. He is just entirely too beautiful. “You’re an angel,” I whisper quietly.
“Just like his dad.” Levi comes up behind me and wraps his arm around me. “Meredith is going to miss you.” I smile up at him. “I’ll miss you too.” He kisses the top of my head. “Are you sure you have to leave?”
“You no longer require my expertise,” I say. “And I have to find another job.”
It’s been seven years since I landed on my Aunt’s front doorstep. In that time, I’ve received a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care. Basically, that means I can look after other people’s children. My first job was in a high end child care centre, where rich mothers would dump their children so that they could go shopping and drink their coffee in peace. It broke my heart to see how neglected some of the children really were.
Meredith, having met and fallen crazy in love with Levi, was finishing up the script for the third season of ‘The Unfallen’, a sci-fi television series.
I was complaining to her that I needed to find another job, when she told me that she would need a ‘nanny’ of her own soon.
“I’m ten weeks pregnant,” she sighed. “Levi is freaking out. He starts shooting three months after I’m due and I’m going to be on set doing my thing and I’m going to have a baby...” She stops talking to take a deep breath. “We’re freaking out.”
So it came about that I stuck it out at the child care centre until Meredith and Levi left for New York with a two and a half month old baby in tow. I cared for their child while they worked and then travelled with them around the US and UK and then Australia, while Levi promoted the newest series.
Meredith and Levi met after Meredith won a screen writers competition. She had originally written ‘The Unfallen’ as a novel during her teens, but no one was interesting in publishing it. She heard through a friend of a friend of the writing competition, changed the format to a script and the next thing we knew, Meredith was the hottest thing in TV. (My words, not hers.)
Levi Mason was cast as the lead male character, ‘Maxim’, a man who was to lead his people to salvation from the evil grasps of ‘Uriah.’ Levi saw Meredith looking terrified as she sat on a director’s chair, looking down at the script. “That’s my chair,” Levi said. And the rest is history.
I spent a year with them all together, and now it was time to get back to reality, back to a job. The last twelve months have felt more like a holiday.
Levi takes little Harrison from me. “What would you say if I told you you most likely have another job?”
“I would ask for more information.”
Levi smiled. “You know Mike Greene, the lead singer from Blue Saturn?”
I roll my eyes. “I’ve heard of him.” Mike Greene is the biggest thing on the Australian rock scene. His band, Blue Saturn is on top of all the charts and they are about to embark on a tour of Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Anyone who listened to the radio or watched TV has seen or heard of them. And Mike’s is not a face you easily forget. He is rock boy good looking and he has a charm to him that has women falling all over themselves at even the mention of his name.
Levi happens to be a very good friend of Mike Greene. But I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him.
“He might be looking for a nanny. Just while he’s on tour.”
I feel my face screw up. “I wasn’t aware that Mike Greene had a child.”
“Neither was he, until recently.” Levi shakes his head and breaths out. “I can’t say too much. But...well I hope you don’t mind. I gave his manager your number. They might call you.”
Meredith comes into the lounge room. The travel over the last few weeks has taken its toll and she looks tired. “It’s so good to be home,” she says as she lowers herself down onto the couch. “Did you tell her about Mike?”
“Yeah.” Levi sits down next to Meredith.
“That’s exciting, huh? Blue Saturn. Those boys...” Meredith fans her face with her hand as Levi glares at her. Meredith laughs. “They have nothing on you, my love.”
“Damn right.” He leans in and kisses Meredith chastely.
I envy Meredith. She has it all. She’s living her dream. She has a man who loves her as equally as she loves him. She has a beautiful little boy. She’s happy.
The night I moved into Grandma’s house, I promised myself three things. Firstly, I was never ever going to put myself in a position to be hurt again. I would guard my heart, my mind, my soul, my body from anyone and anything that could harm me.
Secondly, I would never rely on anyone but myself.
And thirdly, I would surround myself with purity and innocence.
Having made this resolve, I set about rebuilding my life. And I have never once broken any of my promises, despite the loneliness. But I am happy. Not Meredith happy, but I’m Lyndsay happy.
It’s good to be back home. It has been a year since I’ve been here and the house smells musty and there is a good layer of dust on the counter. But I ignore it all, go straight to the shower and stand under the steaming hot water until it runs cold.
My phone is ringing when I step out from the shower. I quickly wrap a towel around my body and run down the hallway and into the kitchen, where my phone sits ringing on the bench top. The number display reads ‘withheld number’.
“Hello, Lyndsay speaking,” I answer.
“Lyndsay. My name is Liane Cannon. I got your number from Levi. I’m Blue Saturn’s manager. I’m calling in regards to your services as a nanny.”
“Yes. Hello Liane. Levi said you might be calling.”
Liane speaks at a hundred miles an hour as she tells me that my services would be needed for a six week period to care for a four year old boy. All expenses would be covered and I’d be paid for the first two weeks upfront, and then weekly after that.
“This situation,” Liane says, still speaking quickly. “It’s all a bit unexpected. The tour dates and shows have all been arranged for months, so I’m not sure exactly when and if you’ll get any free days but I’m sure we can arrange something.”
The next thing I know, I’m writing down the name of a hotel and a time to meet Liane for a formal introduction.
I haven’t had time to say whether or not I’m interested in the position. Liane is saying “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and now I’m staring at a piece of paper which has ‘The Towers, 11am Lobby’ scribbled on it.
I guess I have a job interview tomorrow.
“So what exactly should I expect from Mike Greene?” I ask Meredith. I called her immediately after ending my call to Liane.
“Expect to meet a rock star,” she says. “He’s a sweetheart really, underneath that bad boy exterior. But he’s on tour, so he’ll be in work mode.” Meredith sighs. I know that sigh. She sighs the same way when Levi is working. Levi is a method actor. He stays in character while he’s shooting. That means for months on end, Meredith has to live with an alien warrior who eats with his hands, sleeps on the floor and only showers after having sex.
“Sex, drugs and rock and roll,” I say.
“Absolutely, and plenty of it.”
Meredith laughs. “They’re just a bunch of young kids, enjoying the fame while they have it. Take a deep breath and enjoy the ride, Lynd’s.”