This is something I wrote at regarding the Sydney Siege. Helps me process it to write about it all.
It’s dark. Your room is quiet, the door slightly askew.
You don’t need an alarm to wake you. You’re excited for this today. Today is your day. It’s been a long wait. Wondering if it would actually arrive. You pull back the covers and the morning air rushes in around. It’s lucky your slippers are lying under your bed, you put them on.
You leave the room and hope someone else is up. Today is your day. They should be excited too. You hear the television morning show and know someone is up.
Into the kitchen, there is Mum, pouring out cereal, your favourite. The cereal you have every time on this special day. Your day. You hear Dad, he’s putting on his tie when he walks out. You run to him, hug and kiss him.
You all sit at the table, Mum pulls out a parcel. This is what you’ve been waiting for. The excitement builds as you unwrap this parcel. It’s a frame, you see yourself smiling back. You have that floppy hat Dad makes you wear to keep the sun off. There’s Mum and Dad too, with their arms around you, laughing at something, maybe the photographer.
You run to put it next to your bed, your slippers make you slide on the floorboards. You slide along the last metre or so as you run back out to the kitchen. There. On top of the table is the biggest box you can imagine. You see movement. A little worried, you approach the box. You look at Dad, then over to Mum who encourages you, holds your hand while you climb up onto a stool to take a peek inside.
A tongue greets your hand. More movement. A hairy bundle greets your second attempt to touch what is inside. A puppy. A new friend. An adventure buddy. ‘Smith’. Today is your day. Ten years old has never seemed so promising.
Ten Years Later
It’s dark. Your room is quiet, the door is slightly askew. You need an alarm to wake you. It’s time to get up for work. Smith is at the end of your bed, he isn’t feeling well. You put him outside while you get ready for work, the train arrives soon. Today is your day. The big day you’ve been waiting for. The board of the company you work for is looking for a new senior consultant. You’re young compared to the others but confident, with nothing to lose.
The train rattles. The early morning commute seems like any other day. You have music playing through headphones, an artist you don’t recognise. You get eye contact with someone across the carriage. You give a slight nod and smile to acknowledge how tough the early morning commute into the city is. That’s life though. Just enjoy it, your parents tell you.
Your desk has that frame from the birthday you remember. You smile at the memory. The innocence of a child who was finally double digits. It’s time to get a coffee before your big meeting. You see the person you acknowledged on the train. She walks past you, into the café. You get caught by someone who wants donations to save the world. You get a five dollar note and place it in the bucket. It’s 9:40am. You walk up to the café. The door is locked. Strange.
There she is. The lady you acknowledged on the train. Though, she isn’t smiling anymore. Her eyes flit nervously from you to a man inside and back to you. You try to pull the door open. Locked. You take a step back. Instincts kicking in. You look at the man, he’s sweating. Anxious, nervous. Like you. You see something on his shoulder. No. It can’t be. A gun. You turn and make a call. It’s 10am.
Your office is evacuating. Getting to safety from an unknown danger. You told the police all you could. Everything you saw. Except the fear in her eyes. There were no words for that. You keep that a secret, suppress the memory. For now anyway. It’s midday. Lunchtime. No big meeting, no new opportunities. You check your phone. Smith’s fluffy face smiles back. That innocence again. It’s bugging you. The easy lie of innocence. It was with you at 10 years old. Now, it seems to have struck again. These things don’t happen here. To your city. Your country. These events happen half way around the world. You take to Twitter. Tweet that you are safe. Today is your day.
Her eyes are inside your head again. The fear. She had a coffee in her hand. Just like you would have. That donation. Which charity was it? You struggle to remember. It doesn’t matter. The television coverage is terrifying. The unknown unfolding events inside. You’re sent home. It’s 1:30pm.
Smith. The light of your life so to speak. He greets you. His tail wagging, tongue ready to greet you. Just like that first day. This is different though. Your heart is heavy. Your city, your country, has stopped. Watching that café. That gun. That look. That memory. The memory of what you knew before today. The time when your world changed. But for you, you just know, today is your day.