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Just an Ordinary Saturday ...



Last Saturday morning in my suburb, Bondi Junction, it felt like the slow burn ambience of the weekend had begun as normal.


Perfect autumn weather flooding the traffic hungry roads and busy pedestrian walkways. The sun and cooler air bringing crowds out at the start of the weekend, for people to simply relax and spend time with family and friends.


I go out late morning and slip into one of the many cafes scattered around the area to get something to eat. These days I find myself having breakfast outside most days. It’s a chance to mix with strangers, enjoy the weather, and feel part of a community - one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed living here. There’s a buzz, an energy in the air that I warm to; its proximity to the coast, the beaches and the green calm of Centennial Park all contribute to the relaxed vibe.


After my usual bacon and egg roll and latte, I linger for a short time in the outdoor pedestrian mall which is always a hive of human activity. There’s barely a cloud in the cerulean blue sky and many families have taken the opportunity at the start of the school holidays to head further up into the sprawling shopping complex of Westfield Mall, a glittering transparent array of elegant shops and cafes.


I head back home around midday to get a few chores out of the way, washing the floor and vacuuming my bedroom. It’s a small space and doesn’t take long before I can settle down to prepare for my online writing group, which I look forward to each week. The connection with everyone in the group feels real and meaningful and I’m struck by the enjoyment in hearing other people's stories and the power of the imagination in telling them. At 2 o’clock I connect as usual with the group and sit absorbed in listening and interacting with the other writers.


At around three twenty I hear the first indication that something is terribly wrong. The shrill wailing of a police siren shatters the hum of faraway traffic. At first I don’t pay it much attention as it’s a regular sound one gets used to in a suburb the size of greater Bondi. But within seconds everything changes. As more police and ambulances enter the area, there’s an overwhelming sense that something bad has happened, with the screaming sound of first responder vehicles all converging together and causing an unbelievable shattering of the senses.


My worst fears are confirmed when my brother sends a text message to check on me, telling me that people have been stabbed in Westfield and not to go there. I text back that I’m safe at home and will stay put. His final message is to tell me someone has been shot dead by a lone policewoman.

   

As the day slips away into the duskiness of a beautiful autumn evening, the full impact of the tragedy that’s unfolded in my community slowly settles upon everyone around the country. I’m reminded of the fragile nature of our existence, the interconnectedness of our lives, and how in difficult times it is our shared humanity that shapes and defines who we really are as Australians.




The week passes slowly and I find myself going each day to the steadily growing flower memorial in the outdoor mall. It’s very emotional to see so many people like myself just wanting to be present.


There is a hush everywhere. The beautiful aroma from so many flowers & the quiet way people approach as they place down their flowers & candles, says many things that are difficult to put into words.


I read some of the messages on cards & in the condolence book:


'Know that you mattered' … 'even though we never met' … 'you will not be forgotten' … 'your mummy loved you so much she handed you to strangers so you could be safe'.


The strength of human kindness often arrives in the most unexpected ways.


Meg Mooney



Writers at Sydney School of Arts & Humanities send their condolences to the families and friends of those killed in violence.


Copyright: text: Meg Mooney; photos: Ros Lawson, c v williams, Ingrid Studholme.


Posts on this SSOA blog are published to showcase the work of emerging writers who meet weekly to workshop stories.


If you'd like to join any of our groups or you are looking for writing classes, contact us at sydneysoa@outlook.com

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