Almost A Memoir - Prologue

Joanne Louise Beilby


A mother and child approach their local butcher’s shop. Pausing at the window they peruse the day’s specials. The local fruiterer passes, dropping his cigarette butt and grinding it out with his next step. The child, straining at her mother’s hand, wrinkles her nose. Smelly. Her mother moves to the door of the shop clutching in her hand the new Margaret Fulton recipe card and a small shopping list. Mince tonight. Chops tomorrow. And if the budget will stretch, French cutlets come Friday. There is a tugging at her arm. She hefts her three-year-old to her right hip. Kate, for that is the child’s name, buries her face in her mother’s blouse. Butcher’s shops, smelly. The bell overhead tinkles. Twenty or so women press together to allow the new arrivals space.
Hello there, hi, and how’s the little one, aren’t you getting big, have you heard about Lia, affair, I know, said so myself, just some sausages, Mike loves a Barbie, never have the money for that sort of thing, are you going to playgroup, they think the Hanes child might be Autistic, what ever that may be…

“Has the morning sickness passed yet?”
“I should be so lucky. Guess I’m going to be like my mother. Sick from beginning to end.”
“Have you tried Debendox?”
“I’m not too sure, I think I’ve tried everything.”
“Mummy, why is that lady so fat?”
“Sssh, darling. Mrs Gordon isn’t fat, she’s having a baby.”
“Did she eat a baby?”
“Just once I’d like to have a chat…”
“Did she eat a baby?”
“Now, now! It’s rude to interrupt grownups.”
The child’s lower lip pouts, a pink protrusion of chastisement. Mrs Gordon, not yet tired of endless questions, offers an explanation.
“That’s where babies come from, Katie. They grow inside their mummy. I have another little girl, just like you, inside me.”
“Or a little boy, God help us!”
The two women laugh.

The mother hands her shopping list to the butcher’s new apprentice. A weedy lad covered in acne, he couldn’t be more than fifteen years old. He wraps the order and passes the packages over the counter.
“How’s Grahame?” She enquires.
“Lost both his legs, Missus. That car made a right mess of him. You never know, do you?” He scratches at his face.
Their business concluded she thanks him and turns to leave as the women jostle for service. Outside, the autumn sunlight streams through the clouds.
“Mummy…did I come from out of your tummy?” Many furrows crease the young brow.
“No darling. You came out of another lady’s tummy.”
The child thinks for a moment, Oh well…that sounds just fine to her.

Almost A Memoir - Prologue

Joanna Beilby

East Bentleigh, Australia

  • Artist

Artist's Description

Prologue from the novel, Almost A Memoir, by Joanna Beilby.

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