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I had to make the decision. Either read something ridiculous, or write something ridiculous, and as you can see, I chose the latter. Now, just because I tell you that what I’m about to write is “ridiculous”, does not mean that it’s not true. Yes, there are some fantastically ridiculous tales that are completely absurd, their events and characters only ever existing in fiction. But this story is one hundred percent true. You can trust me on this – I’m a trustworthy narrator. Just give me a moment and then we shall begin, for every story must commence after a pause for anticipation.

Dave yelled “Huzzah!” and the girls shouted “Wassap!”.

No one knew why Dave yelled “Huzzah” every morning at precisely 8:25AM, but it had become quite a tradition in the school.

The school was Wellington Secondary College, sitting in Mulgrave, a short distance from the prestigious Monash University. If you asked a Wellington student where they wanted to go after school, they would enthusiastically tell you ‘Monash’, and list their future degree, the clubs they’d join, and the fifty other Wellington students who would all be doing the exact same thing. If you asked a Monash student about Wellington, however, they wouldn’t have a clue. On a map, they would point to New Zealand and then walk off to buy an over-priced coffee.

This story is not about Wellington. It is first going to be about a girl named Fatima. She is a Wellington student and has seen the “Huzzah/Wassup” ritual performed several hundred times. She has thought about joining the girls in the “Wassup” before, but has never quite followed through.

On one particular occasion, she was sure she was going to do it. Dave walked in the gate, exclaimed “Huzzah!”, and the girls replied “Wassup”… and Fatima just sat there, stunned at her own silence.

This happened to Fatima a lot. She often found herself intending to say something, but never quite getting there. Sometimes she tried to communicate with her eyes, but no-one seemed to understand that a long stare meant, “The answer is the endoplasmic reticulum”, or a casual blink was, “You know I can hear you, right?”.

No one took much notice of Fatima – no one really knew her, and she was lonely. Not fitting in anywhere. She hoped she would fit in at Monash.

Shirley was 17. She had graduated from South Oakleigh College last year, and now studied at Monash in Clayton. No one knew quite what she was studying, but it was obvious that she was smart – very smart. She exuded confidence, and she walked across the campus like she owned the place. Which she basically did. Monash would not disclose the amount of money they supplied Shirley, but the scholarship was said to be one of the biggest payouts the university had ever given.

Shirley lived on campus, though her family lived not five kilometres away. Shirley had a car, a fashionable Mini Cooper imported from Japan – it was silver and pastel pink, with a cream leather interior. Shirley could not drive herself, but she let friends borrow it for a fee now and then. Otherwise, it spent most of its time bringing colour to the residential carpark.

Shirley was in her second semester at Monash, and was already quite fed up. Her GPA was 7.474 and her WAM 169.29, but that did not satisfy her. In truth, it was not academic achievement she was looking for – of course, that has its perks, but what Shirley really wanted was a wife. She had tried socialising with groups on campus in search of that special girl, but rather than make friends, she’d made enemies, and everyone was quite dismissive of her quest. It probably didn’t help that Shirley had a “Wife Requirements” list:

  1. Short, but not too short
  2. Pretty, but not too pretty
  3. Smart, but not too smart
  4. Between 17-19 years-old
  5. Plays the ukulele
  6. Knows how to crochet
  7. Enjoys poetry, the French language, and sci-fi

These were things Shirley was not willing to negotiate. At one point, she even asked the staff of Monash for help, and they were all too willing to comb through their databases. But no such girl was found.

There were often girls that met five or six of Shirley’s criteria, but never all seven, and Shirley was quite adamant, so the search continued.

By this point in her life, while Shirley appeared to have everything going for her, she felt defeated, tired, and was fearing that soon she would be too ancient to find love. She had already started looking for grey hairs and slathering herself with moisturiser, but nothing made her feel better. Not even chocolate ice cream, and that usually made everything better.

It was October the 3rd, Shirley’s 18th birthday, when the two finally met. It was a Wednesday, predicted to be warm, but at ten am it was quite chilly down at the Monash bus interchange. Shirley had just finished a literature tutorial and was heading home to see her mum, as she did every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Monday, Tuesday, and on the weekends. She got to the interchange and sat down on one of the cold wooden benches, right next to Fatima, who was dressed in her school uniform.

It was not Fatima who started the conversation. Fatima was more of a listener. The girl next to her said, “Hi” and Fatima nodded in reply. Then the girl introduced herself.

“Shirley”.

Fatima nodded and whispered her own name in reply.

Shirley’s face lit up with excitement as she exclaimed, “I have an aunt with that name – she’s my favourite aunt!”.

Fatima was shocked by Shirley’s sudden outburst of happiness and could not help but smile.

Shirley spoke for a good ten minutes, and as Fatima listened, she began to feel more comfortable. She had never heard so much excitement attached to her name. She liked it. Shirley was giving Fatima the attention and interest she had always needed, and soon she was contributing to the conversation.

They talked about school and university life, and quickly progressed onto interests and political views. Fatima couldn’t believe how much she was talking to this strange girl. Meanwhile, Shirley was slowly working through her list of ‘Wife Requirements’, mentally checking off each point as it came. Fatima’s father had taught her how to crochet; she had ukulele jam sessions with her brother; her favourite genre of music was French rap (checking off interests in both poetry and French); and her favourite TV shows included Star Trek Voyager, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Doctor Who.

Fatima had also just turned 18. She was smart and pretty. And when she stood up to catch the bus, Shirley saw that she was just an inch taller than she was.

It was set. Shirley and Fatima were destined for each other.

Shirley considered her options for a moment, but then decided there was no point in wasting time. She followed Fatima onto the bus, swiped her myki and then confidently got down on one knee before Fatima, blocking the path of passengers behind.

“Will you marry me, Fatima? Please say yes, I have been searching for you since January, and do not wish to spend another day without you in my life”.

Fatima was stunned. She couldn’t make words or even nod. Instead, she used her eyes – gazed into to Shirley’s own eyes and slowly blinked.

Shirley knew it was a yes.

At this point, you are probably questioning my reliability as a narrator, and that’s cool, I get it. But I am being one hundred percent truthful. I was at Fatima and Shirley’s wedding. I know for a fact that they now live together in Mulgrave, and Fatima drives them both to Monash in Shirley’s Mini Cooper.

Shirley is already preparing for a big family, and she’s right to do so. They will have eight children. Too many for a Mini Cooper, but Monash will pay for an appropriately sized family van.

Both Shirley and Fatima will successfully graduate from Monash and go on to do great things. If you wish for more concrete evidence, then I suggest you take a scroll through Monash StalkerSpace – you’re sure to find something mildly interesting.

 

TOGETHER

a short story by

INA LEE

Ina Lee

The author Ina Lee

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