By Fiona Nolan
Fiona teaches in the state sector and has lived in England for the past 15 years. Born in Melbourne, Australia, her formative years were spent in rural New South Wales. She completed the first draft of a semi-fictional memoir, based on her experience of symphysis pubis dysfunction and motherhood (among other things) in 2013. Her second novel is set three hundred years in the future, in a post-apocalyptic world run by women.
Half an hour before they arrived at the restaurant, Frances had been doubled over in the street, trying to hide her head in the hood of her jacket, while making shushing noises and constantly moving the pram back and forth. When Jack asked what she was doing, she mumbled something about being a crap mother. She was annoyed, mainly because she reasoned that anyone with half a brain could see she was a crap mother. In fact, the authorities were more than likely waiting for their chance to pounce and take her baby away because she was such an utterly, utterly crap mother.
Jack hadn’t been able to hide his frustration and humiliation at her bizarre behaviour. He couldn’t understand why she wanted to hide in the alleyway, rather than push the baby in the pram along the footpath.
She couldn’t tell him that every passing car along the nearby road contained someone who would see how obviously crap she was at being mother, and who’d either pull over to phone the authorities, or simply drive on to the nearest police station in order to report her.
With much cajoling, Jack did manage to get Frances and the baby to the restaurant. Their friends had given up on waiting for them and were already seated, enjoying some drinks. One was taking photos from where he sat opposite them in the booth, in that ridiculous rotating restaurant. His beautiful Spanish wife leant back so he could get his shot; their baby asleep in an expensive-looking buggy, parked up beside the table.
Frances lifted her own baby out of the pram, but was struggling to manage the infant on her lap. The camera continued to click and whirr, but she was lost in her thoughts, wondering how much happier the baby might be if someone else, anyone else, could be a mother to it instead of her.