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Image by Masaaki Komori

O is for Octopus

(c) Linda Hutchison 28 May 2020

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

“Ouch!” I’d stabbed my finger as I sewed another red sequin on the octopus costume draped over my lap. I lifted my hand to inspect the wound, only to hit my elbow on the motorhome wall. My frustration rose.
“This better be worth it, Sally.”
I looked across at my daughter-in-law who was stitching on an enormous googly eye.
“Oh definitely, Mum.” She was enthusiastically assertive. “This week’s letter is ‘O’ and today’s book is Olive the Octopus Goes Overboard. They’ll want to see all my tentacles.” She smiled and waved her hands sinuously, making the googly eye roll drunkenly. I laughed and wished I still had her energy.
I’d joined them on their outback teaching travels. My daughter-in-law ran literacy classes and my son taught STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. They brought a great sense of fun to their classes, giving the local teachers welcome respite and spirited encouragement. Children could swap books through their mobile library. I’d come to escape the confines of my unit and to help them with their crazy schedule. During the day I had wide open spaces to explore, indulging in my passion for wildflower sketching and photography. Together in the jam-packed motorhome, we shared costume adventures.
I never knew who I would find when I drew back my bedroom curtain in the mornings. Yesterday I’d stepped blearily into a scene from Star Trek, finding them decked out in matching uniforms complete with working communicators. The day before I’d nearly fallen over a large stuffed parrot and had had to suppress a scream as I looked up into the face of a pirate, complete with a vividly scarred eye and full black beard. I still hadn’t decided if last week’s highlight was a tabby cat in full pleather battle gear or the rainbow-maned unicorn with the dazzling bling-encrusted horn. Sally’s creativity knew no bounds.
“I was thinking, on Friday I could wear my kimono and run the origami workshop. Do you know if we packed the paper?” The googly eye rolled again as she drew the thread up through the bulbous octopus head.
“It’s under the magnetic construction kits. Near the bear head.”
My son was scrolling through the news. He suddenly spoke up.
“Mum, do you remember the COVID thing back in 2020?”
“Yes, why?”
“It’s re-appeared in the Andes. They’ve traced it to a llama-herder.”
“I thought llamas are immune?”
“Looks like they’re carriers. Australia’s going into lockdown from Monday.”
I remembered the long weeks of teleconferencing with friends, restrictions on travel, the A-Z of crafts, and the new sense of community togetherness. I also remembered the size of my unit back home and inwardly started to twitch.
“Better find a llama-free town with a big supermarket. If we run drive-by lessons for the parents, they might let us stay.”
“Oooh,” burst out Sally, clearly thinking ahead. She waved the octopus head. “We can do puppet shows out the side window.”
I paused, frowning.
“Any chance today’s April 1st?”

O is for Octopus: Work
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