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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: It's a Colorful World (12/03/09)

TITLE: It's a Colorful World (ii)
By June Adams


It’s a Colorful World

Memories of people make mine a colorful world.

Growing up there was Mrs. Jelovich and Rolfie.

They were among the deluge of European immigrants flooding Australia after the Second World War.

My mother was ill and needed someone to run the house. She hired Mrs. Jelovich through an agency in the Big City, a hundred miles from our farm, and a million miles from anything familiar to them.

Mrs. Jelovich was a large, impressive woman, her heavy chest and massive hips encased in stiff funeral- black, ugly dresses. A gash of bright red lipstick on a surly mouth accentuated her pale white skin and flashing black eyes. She pulled her heavy dark hair back severely from her face, or piled it up on her head in the style fashionable at the time.

She came with Rolfie, her bony, six year old son, with his pasty skin and thatch of thick black hair.

We hated him.
We didn’t know any other children as weak and ugly as Rolfie. We were four, rambunctious kids, bronzed by the harsh outback sun. Rolfie came fresh from a frigid, European Winter.
We resented their intrusion into our lives and house.
We were scared too. Our mother, our rock, left for the hospital. Our world in danger, we didn’t know how to handle the change. As we lost control of our own lives, we turned on the weakest among us.

The creek was our favorite place to lure Rolfie away from his mother.

We kids would often play down there. We loved the colorful world of the creek. Silver-winged dragon flies darted among the reeds. There were tadpoles and frogs, and fat slithery leeches to pull off our wet legs. The air held the smell of the sweet pink tea roses my father had planted when he first settled on the farm. We would lie in the green, stubbly grass on the creek bank, where we gazed into the vast arena of the sky above, dreaming of distant lands and faraway colorful worlds.

Rolfie hated the place.
We teased him and tempted him to try terrifying things. We taunted him and tested him on dangerous, slippery rocks and the twisted roots of fallen trees.
“Jump, Rolfie,” we would yell.
We laughed in scorn as he whimpered.
We were mean and we didn’t care.

Rolfie was terrified of everything. Even his mother. He clung to her with ferocious fear.

We held our breath whenever we heard her scream in that certain tone of voice, a shrill, “Rolf-ee!”
We always knew what was coming. Not a pretty sight.
She raged and vented as Rolfie cowered. She hit him, and sometimes picked him up and threw him across the room.
Then when she finally ran out of rage, we would hear, “Rolfie, Rolfie, my poor Rolfie”, in her thick Yugoslav accent.

Who knows what other atrocities he had experienced in his own insecure, shattered life?

Mrs. Jelovich never spoke of her past, and we never asked.
We could barely understand her thick rolling accent as it was.

One good thing about Mrs. Jelovich, she could cook.
She made yards of macaroni from scratch and laid it out in the sun to dry. Threw pounds of dough on the old wooden kitchen table. Clouds of flour settled all over the kitchen as she kneaded and rolled and cut that macaroni into strips which she hung it over chairs, clothes lines, anything she could find to drape it on. Huge mounds of the stuff. Plain and Italian plum tomato.
We had never tasted anything like it.

She cooked and cleaned and kept us quiet.

We went back to eating our meat and potatoes, the solid English food of Australian farm life. She never made macaroni for us.

But the household was happy again.

We were glad to see Mrs. Jelovich and Rolfie leave. These two strange, mysterious foreigners just disappeared from our lives. They went back to the Big City, a hundred miles from our farm, and a million miles away from all things familiar to us.

They color my memories with wondering thoughts, questions, and even a sense of sorrow that we missed so much, hiding in our own fears from two people who entered and left with their own untold stories.

With people like Mrs. Jelovich and Rolfie, with their strange ways, and us in our ignorance, it’s a colorful world indeed.

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