It’s dark now in 3018. Our little bit of Gellibrand has retired. The polling booths are shut. Around the corner at Altona College, they’ll be counting the votes: the serious boy with the monkish hairdo and the purple T-shirt; the woman with the nice necklace; the sharp, smiling guy who was the emcee, pacing around the centre of the basketball stadium. The sausage sizzle is packed up, the cup cake stall too. I wonder if the signs are still stuck to the fence? There were four moody shots of Tony Abbott. The photographer had managed to make him look sinister, an achievement. The caption said: ‘If he wins, we all lose’. Along from Mr Moody were the Sex Party billboards. The word SEX was picked out in neon yellows and oranges. A friend of a friend helped them with the ad. Apparently it is really funny. “We’re fucked” is uttered repeatedly. I haven’t seen the ad but the posters looked happy up on the fence. SEX, SEX, SEX, SEX: it’s a pleasing message. Something to think about for later on.
I went across to the school to vote at 2pm. It was nice to stand in the queue and have a rest. It had been a busy day.
My younger two children woke up at 6am. By 7, they were complaining about being bored. They began to fight. The Beanie Kids were dragged into it. I lay in bed, trying to zone out. My partner threatened to take the Beanie Kids to the dump. We have more than 60 of the bloody things (thanks to a kind donation from an older child) so they’d have to go on the back of the ute. I enjoyed imagining the cuddly toys in amongst the tools. The children kept fighting.
I got up and started to weed out the back. I kept this up for a good 40 minutes then it was time to start making scones for the ‘family fun day’ at the soccer club. I got my oldest kid to make a start while I nipped down to Harrington Square to get some cream. Behind the cash register, the cigarette cabinet was open, revealing photographs of rotten teeth, cancerous tongues, black toes, a purple premature baby caught in a spider’s web of wires. We in Gellibrand can take some credit for the hideous images. Our local member Nicola Roxon got that through. What an outstanding politician she was – tough enough to stand up to the international tobacco manufacturers. She was gone now, replaced by some guy with black curly hair. Tim whathisname. Why not a woman? And our neighbour Julia Gillard was gone too. It was hard not to feel down about it all.
The parents beat the under-13 girls and then I took up my post by the clubroom doors, guarding the sausages, burgers and bottles of sauce. The woman in charge opened the doors and everyone poured in. After an hour, I had had enough, My green sweatshirt was smeared with mustard sauce and tomato sauce and my fingers smelt like cheap sausages. It was now time to go to netball, the under-9s were in the finals. I’m a first aider. At three quarter time, I had to run onto the court, whip off my sweatshirt, and use it to make a sling for the goal attack’s right arm. ‘I can’t feel it,’ she cried.
After that, it was time to vote. The queue was long. A man in a red mobility vehicle did an elaborate three point turn by the queue, stood up and started to hobble to the back of the line. ‘You don’t have to wait!’ someone called out. ‘You can go straight to the front.’ The man turned quickly and almost skipped back to his vehicle. ‘I reckon he hired it, just for today,’ the man next to me said. A little girl pulled her brother’s hair and he started to ball.
‘The right to vote is sacred,’ my grandmother used to say with enormous conviction. She respected the people that had gone before her, especially the women, who had fought for the right to have a say. I tried to grasp for some of this higher feeling but failed. Inside the stadium, senate papers trailed from voter’s hands like streamers, or toilet paper. Sex Party, Bullet Train, HEMP, PUP, Greens, if you read the names fast it would be like bad spoken word poetry or the names of race horses in a minor event.
I cast my vote. I wanted to donkey vote but I chickened out. The right to vote is sacred.
Inside, my children are watching ‘Australia’s got talent, encore’. My partner is listening to the footy on the radio. I’ve just put the dog out the back because she climbed on a seat, jumped onto the kitchen table and started to eat a piece of pineapple from my daughter’s Hawaiian pizza. ‘It was my last piece!’ she screams.