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Authors: Kirsty Murray

The Year It All Ended

BOOK: The Year It All Ended
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was born in Melbourne and lives there still, though she has tried on many other cities and countries for size. She has been a middle child in a family of seven children, a mother to three and stepmother to three more, as well as godmother and friend to many amazing people. She has loved books, stories and people all her life, and is the author of eleven novels.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

First published in 2014

Copyright © Kirsty Murray 2014

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher.
The Australian
Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to the Copyright Agency (Australia) under the Act

Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander Street
Crows Nest NSW 2065
Phone: (61 2) 8425 0100
[email protected]

A Cataloguing-in-Publication entry is available from the National Library of Australia

ISBN 978 174331 941 3

eISBN 978 174343 881 7

Cover images: girl by Stevie McGlinchey, soldier by Ruth Grüner
Cover and text design by Ruth Grüner

To Julie Walker,

My Adelaide sister always



Tears of peace

White feathers

The Cheer-Up Society

News from the Front

Winged letters


The McCaffreys return

Keeping promises

Cod’s heads and kerosene lamps

Voices of the dead

Hope tests its wings

Lost and found

Christie’s Beach

In the olive grove

Peace Day, 1919

Sunshine in the Riverina

Dream’s end


Ready to fly


On Beachy Head

Love’s memory


Beneath the everlasting sky

Artists’ model


Butterfly kisses

Staircase to the moon


Tiney woke to the sound of voices drifting past her door. She slipped out of bed and tiptoed down the hall. Louis and Will stood by the woodstove in the kitchen, their faces lit by the flames that glowed in the open firebox. They were already dressed and Will had a bag slung across his shoulder. When they saw Tiney they grinned, their eyes shining in the gloom of the morning kitchen.

‘Where are you going so early?’ asked Tiney, rubbing sleep from her eyes.

‘To Glenelg,’ said Louis.

‘For a swim,’ said Will. ‘Do you want . . .’

‘. . . to come along?’ asked Louis.

Tiney felt breathless in their company. For a moment she couldn’t speak, glancing shyly from her big brother to her cousin. Louis and Will both had Wolfgang for their middle name, and ever since they were small everyone in their family had called the inseparable pair ‘the Wolfs’. One of Tiney’s very first memories was watching them wrestling on the back lawn, tumbling over each other like a pair of wolf cubs while she shrieked with excitement. In Tiney’s imagination, Louis, with his thick dark hair,
was the black wolf while blond Will was the golden wolf.

‘How about it, little goose?’ said Will, not unkindly.

Louis reached out and tickled her under the chin. ‘She’s my littlest swan maiden, not a goose, aren’t you, Titch?’

Tiney slapped his hands away. ‘I’m not a goose or a swan, and you know they don’t let girls swim with boys at Glenelg Beach.’

‘Don’t worry, we’ll be too early for the warden. Hurry and grab your togs. We don’t want to miss a minute of sunshine.’

Tiney laughed and slipped quietly into her bedroom to dress, not wanting to wake her sisters.

The tram rattled down King William Street and on past Goodwood. Tiney sat between Louis and Will, dizzy with happiness to be allowed to be their mascot for the day. It was 1912. She was eleven years old.

The beach was dazzling; turquoise and blue water, white and gold sand with a few promenaders strolling along its length. The sea was calm and still, a mirror reflecting the morning sky. In the shadow of the long pier, Tiney changed into her woollen bathing costume and then skipped through the warm sand to where Louis and Will stood waiting for her, water lapping about their ankles. They wore identical black bathing suits though Will’s skin had a honey-gold glow from working in the vineyards while Louis was pale after a long winter of studying.

With Will on her left and Louis to her right, Tiney waded out into the cold waters of Holdfast Bay.

‘Race you to the deep,’ called Louis. He dove into the sea and Will plunged in beside him. A wave of icy water washed over Tiney.

‘Freezing!’ she shrieked.

Before she could let out another cry, the boys burst out of the
sea and each grabbed one of Tiney’s arms. They swung her into the air, over the clear ocean, up and up. Tiney would never forget the feel of Will and Louis’ arms about her, the water rushing past her face, the sunlight cutting through the surface, the blue, blue sky above. She would hold the memory of the two young men, the air, the sky and the sea, like a perfect jewel of her childhood, for the rest of her life.

Tears of peace

On Tiney Flynn’s seventeenth birthday, every church bell in Adelaide tolled, as if heralding a new year, a new era. Tiney stood in the garden of Larksrest, purple jacaranda petals fluttering down around her, and thrilled to the tumbling waterfall of sound. One by one, her sisters came outside to join her; first Nette, then Minna and lastly Thea.

All those bells tolling, the shouts and engine whistles, the beating of drums and saucepans on a warm spring evening could mean only one thing. Peace. Peace swelling up above the town and spreading across a deepening blue sky to reach the four Flynn sisters, as they stood beneath a jacaranda tree holding hands, willing the war to be over.

‘Can it be true?’ asked Tiney.

‘The Kaiser’s already abdicated – you saw the pictures in this morning’s newspaper,’ said Nette. ‘It must be – peace at last.’

‘They’ve been talking about the Kaiser’s abdication for months,’ said Minna.

‘It could be a false alarm,’ said Thea. ‘We mustn’t get our hopes up – let’s not tell Mama, not yet.’

Nette laughed. ‘As if she can’t hear the bells! I’m going into
town to find out everything. Right now. I won’t sleep a wink unless I know for sure. Let’s get our coats, Thea.’

‘Someone should stay with Mama,’ said Thea.

‘We’ll come!’ said Tiney. She grabbed Minna’s hand. ‘Won’t we, Min?’

BOOK: The Year It All Ended
11.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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