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Fat for Football

By Julie Grenness


Lucinda cheered her eldest son, while she munched on a hot dog, with fries on the side. Standing there, in the chill of winter, a suburban mum needed something.

Lucinda was the mother of five sons, born within seven years, all now junior footballers. She loved her blue-eyed boys dearly, but she spent long hours washing white football shorts and piles of jerseys.

Ah, hot jam donuts. Yes, Lucinda’s fleecy-lined clothes were a bit tighter around her tummy. A moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips, as her grandma used to say. Never mind, winter warmth. Or was she merely fat for football?

Lucinda thought it was basically a silly game, a load of fuss about a bit of leather and hot air kicked around a field of mud and broken dreams. Just then there was a commotion on the football field. Some other kid had thumped Lucinda’s eldest, Joshua. “Bash him back!” Lucinda roared in anger. “Oh, umpire, did you see that? I’m coming over the fence to get you!”

Lucinda’s husband stared at her in amazement. His once meek wife yelling abuse. Quite cathartic. Lucinda gulped, wondering where and how those words had come from her mouth. Aghast, she actually tossed her last jam donut into the bin, stormed off and sat in the car.

Lucinda had turned into an “ugly parent.” This was not why she had brought sons into this world of universal love and light, to have them turn into thugs. She had wanted to raise compassionate males who were aware and kind. Lucinda’s upper arms quivered. Her bottom lip wobbled. Had it really all come to this?

The match ended. Her sons ran to her. “We won!” “I’m hungry!” “I need to pee!” All perfectly normal, thought the footballers’ mother. After dinner at home, Lucinda had them wash up and watched them fall fast asleep. Adorable, so angelic, when they were all in dreamland.

“Leave the dishes, I’ll do them,” her husband told her. She’d heard that one so many times before. Yet another lie from one of her tribe of blue-eyed boys. Lucinda knew she would wake up to a pile of congealed plates. The washing machine gurgled with the football shorts, while Lucinda quietly washed the dishes. Time for her shower now.

Lucinda gazed at her rounded figure. Yes, fat for football. She couldn’t be, could she? Trembling with dread, Lucinda stared at the pregnancy test. The universe had its plans for every soul. The pregnancy test sat there, waiting.

While she showered, Lucinda begged the great universal spirit. “Please, don’t let it be twin boys again. If I’m not pregnant, I shall start a diet on Monday. I promise I shall never eat hot dogs or yell at the umpire again. Please, say I am only “fat for football!”

— Julie Grenness

Julie Grenness is a poet and writer in Australia. She’s a former teacher who now tutors and mentors young people.

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