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“Hi, I’m Jessica Rose and I’ll be reading an excerpt from my novel manuscript, Staple Us Together.
There are still many small details to be finalised and they haven’t had a break since breakfast. Ammi and the Aunties are so focused on the Wedding that they’ve been unable to discuss anything else. If Avanthi hadn’t escaped them for a few minutes, her smile would’ve tripped over her teeth and broken something.
She reaches into her handbag for another chocolate biscuit and leans back, toilet lid creaking beneath her shifting weight. One foot is wedged against the door. She knows it’s locked and there’s no way Ammi or the Aunties can get in but it’s comforting anyway. Her chewing seems loud; every crunch like scrunched paper by her ear. But the sugar is helping, her breathing slowing.
Soft, low music plays from a speaker in each corner of the lobby bathroom and she can smell the patchouli oil fragrance by the basins. If she closes her eyes she almost forgets what drove her into the toilet to eat biscuits. If Manisha were here she’d tell her she was turning into Mum with her Australian comfort food.
She takes another bite. When she told Ammi and Appachi she wanted them to find her a husband she never thought it would go this far. Tony, in his jealousy and indignation, was meant to break into the house in the middle of the night and carry her away to that happily ever after place she’s heard so much about. But instead he moved to Queensland, just as he said he would, and was dating a barmaid in Cairns three months later.
What the fuck?
And somehow, within eighteen months, she’s ended up in Colombo two days before her marriage to a widower she hardly knows, locked in a toilet cubicle eating chocolate biscuits, about to become the step mother to a five year-old.
Oh, and she’s still in love with that jerk who left her for Queensland. Had she mentioned that?
“Shit.” she breathes, a light spray of crumbs.
The bathroom door opens with a short burst of lobby noise and she stops mid-chew. Heeled footsteps slowly walk towards the cubicles before stopping.
“Yes, Ammi?” she mumbles around the half masticated biscuit.
“Are you okay?”
She swallows and half chokes.
“I think something I ate has disagreed with me. I’ll be out soon.”
She tries to fart for authenticity but fails.
“You must stay hydrated. I’ll get you some water.”
She flushes the toilet to hide the sound of frantic chewing. Heeled footsteps disappear and she’s alone again with the bathroom music. She slumps against the cubicle wall while reminding herself that she chose this. Regardless of the motivating factors, this was her decision and now she must learn to live with it. In the meantime she’s earned the approval of her family and surely that must count for something?
She stuffs the half-empty biscuit packet back into her handbag and resolves to let go of the frustration that drove her here in the first place. It’s not the Aunties’ fault they’re more enthusiastic about this Wedding than she is.”
ABOUT JESSICA ROSE:
Jess grew up in the Top End and still calls Darwin home. She currently lives in Melbourne but has her eye on the Yarra Valley.
“I was part of the Varuna Young and Emerging Writers Residential Workshop in 2005.” Jessica Rose
‘Toxic Pink and Purple’, a short story created from ‘Staple us Together’ extracts, published online in SWAMP, issue 4, 2009
‘Shards’, published in The Meridian Collection Volume 1, 2004
‘And a Strawberry Milkshake’, published in the Anthology of Australasian Stories, 2003
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