Hilda Oakley

Australian author and poet

   Oct 27


“Hurrah!  Hurrah!  We won!  Thanks to Zara’s winning shot into the net, right on the final whistle!”

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Zara was an attractive and appealing young girl with a sweet elfin shaped face.  Her copper coloured hair which flowed down her back was her crowning glory.

As a child she suffered the tall poppy syndrome, having a lanky, willow like figure and being slightly eccentric.  Because she had such a tall figure, she was constantly being teased.  Instead of being sorry for herself she joined the local PCYC netball team.  Here everyone had respect for her, as her height made it so much easier for her to make a shot into the high net.  She made some wonderful friends in the team who liked her as a friend, unconditionally.

Kenzie was her best friend, the only one she told her secrets to.  Kenzie had hair the colour of spun gold; it was a mass of curls that flowed down her back to her slender waist.  She had deep velvet brown eyes which was unusual for a blonde.

Unbeknown to any of the girls, there were two Australian Netball Team scouts checking out all the city and country teams.  Looking for young netball players who had natural potential and a love for the game.

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Netball, however, was not Zara’s first love.  She liked to wander around her bright, pretty, secluded garden.  She loved to watch the rainbow coloured butterflies flitter and flutter from flower to flower.

Here was a picturesque beauty to amaze and tantalize everyone, alluring and attracting to all.  There was a mysterious kaleidoscope of colours of heavenly design, dazzling, beautiful, luxurious and almost divine.

Zara saw the rows of pansies as tiny little faces looking back at her.

At the bottom of the garden were giant sunflowers, with their yellow heads glowing in the bright sunlight, swaying in the breeze, dropping their petals to the ground like yellow rain.

The roses mingled and entwined as if in a lovers tryst.  Deep royal purple violets popped up out of the ground and were scattered everywhere.

In the far corner, a patch of cornflowers of velvet blue.

By the lake and near the water’s edge, stood the sad looking weeping willows, making a cool and shady place for all to rest on hot summer days.

Bonding with Mother Nature, Zara danced with happiness, breathing in the pure cool air and new life.

Tiny indigo, bell shaped flora shivered in the breeze and as the wind blew stronger, they made a tinkling musical sound, so soft and serene.

Visiting this place of Eden a rare bird sang its song.  The trill was the sweetest in the land.  It was brightly coloured with crimson and gold on its plume.

Large flame trees grew together to form an archway to the entrance of the garden, but the entrance was still hidden by lush green bushes.  Kenzie was the only one whom she shared this secret place with, as she was quiet and gentle and Zara knew she could be trusted.

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Both girls hid behind a large fig tree.  It was huge and strong, just like the giant stones of Stonehenge.  Someone was pursuing them.  They zigzagged and then hid amongst the trees until they were sure the person chasing them had gone.  Even if the person wasn’t really chasing them, they didn’t want anyone to follow them to their special place.  This was their secret garden!

Emerging from their hiding place, they went along an overgrown pathway and passed through an old rustic gate.  This was the entrance to their garden.  Nearby, they had a hoop fastened to a tree where they could practice their netball shooting skills and tactics.

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Zara and Kenzie waited eagerly, enthusiastically, for their instructor to strap the horse’s saddles on.  Horse riding gave them happiness like never before.

Horses and everything about them fascinated Kenzie, even mucking out the stables.

At the age of five, one Christmas morning Kenzie had been disappointed. There were no presents.  She thought Santa had forgotten to leave her any gifts.  Looking out of her bedroom window in tears, there she suddenly saw it, a sable coloured pony.

Screaming with delight she flew outside, and then quickly walked over to her beautiful little Shetland pony.  It was love at first sight.  They bonded together immediately.

Years later, Kenzie managed to get Zara, who was terrified of horses, to go to the stables with her, just to watch the animals.  Twelve months later, Zara had overcome her feelings and fear of horses.  She was off, her heart pounding and her hair blowing in the wind.

When she turned sixteen, Zara was given her own horse, but it was not until she was eighteen that she completed her three months of half-day training courses.

One day when out riding with Kenzie in the country, Zara was riding along at a steady trot.  She then urged her horse to canter along at a faster gait.  Before long, the horse decided that it was ready to go at a gallop.  Zara held back tightly on the reins and yelled out every command she knew to halt the horse, but to no avail.  The horse just kept galloping at top speed.  Eventually Zara lost her grip and with an almighty thud, fell from the horse head first, onto the hard ground.  The horse, realizing it had lost its rider immediately stopped.

Kenzie, on her horse Blade, turned around to see why Zara hadn’t caught up with her.  Upon returning she found Zara lying on the ground.  Her face was white as white and her body listless.  She appeared to be unconscious.  Kenzie quickly called for an ambulance.

A short time later a man arrived at the scene.  On seeing Zara’s condition he immediately said “Don’t move her!  Don’t even touch her! She is still breathing, but could have spinal problems!  If you have phoned for an ambulance, then they should be here within a few minutes and if it’s needed, the Westpac Helicopter service is only minutes away.”  He explained that he was a male nurse from the High Dependency Unit at the local base hospital.

The paramedics stretchered Zara to their ambulance and took only five minutes to get her to the hospital.

Zara was unconscious in hospital for three days.  Kenzie was by her side every day.  Even though Zara was unconscious Kenzie still talked to her, read to her and played all her favourite Irish music.

On the third day, Zara regained consciousness.  The first words Kenzie heard from Zara were angry, “You said horses weren’t dangerous!  Look at me now!”

After a few days of thorough tests, it showed that Zara was paralysed from the waist down.  She would be in a wheelchair indefinitely, maybe for the rest of her life.

Fully awake, Zara saw Kenzie.  “You!” she yelled.  “Go away!  I don’t want to see you ever again!”

Kenzie was swamped by rejection.  As a nurse she remembered all the signs of denial, blaming others.

What could she do to ease the pain in her heart?  Go to the garden of course.  It had eased hurts before.  She knew it would do the same this time.  Picking some chamomile, she made some calming tea.

Sitting away from prying eyes, Kenzie sobbed her heart out.  The last week had taken its toll.  Remembering that they had some birdseed, Kenzie placed some on her hand.  Straight away two brightly coloured rainbow lorikeets flew down onto her hand to eat the seed.

Leaving the garden, Kenzie felt peaceful and calm.

Weeks went by and then it happened!  An SMS appeared on her phone.  At last Zara wanted to see her again.  When Kenzie arrived, Zara burst into tears.

“It’s normal!” Kenzie quietly whispered.

“No it’s not!  I got used to the idea of never seeing you again!  It’s not right!

I became very difficult with everyone.  Then I met this male nurse, James.  He was so polite and patient with me.  James brought out the best in me with his soothing voice.  Tomorrow I have my first two sessions in the hot water pool with my physio.”

After spending three months in a Rehab hospital, Zara was allowed to go home. Kenzie was going to take care of her.

Zara was wheeled outside the hospital to where a special van was parked.  James helped Kenzie lift Zara into the van.

“Where are we going?  Are we going to the garden?” Zara asked excitedly.

She sang it over several times.

On arrival, James helped Kenzie lift Zara out of the van and they sat her down on a rug on the grass.

Kenzie said, “Oh! Silly me, I forgot the picnic basket.  I’ll be back in five minutes.  I’ll just nick up to the house and get it.”

While Kenzie was away, James dropped down on one knee.

“Will you marry me Zara?  I know we may have some difficult days ahead, but we can face them together. I love you and I want to share the rest of my life with you!”

“Yes! Yes!” she said excitedly.

He kissed her lips.  It felt like the gentle touch of a butterfly, then it turned into a long, passionate, meaningful kiss.

At this moment Kenzie returned with the lunch basket.  They immediately sprang apart.

“Don’t mind me,” she said, “my plan appears to have worked!”

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Today was the big day.  After months of waiting and planning, Zara could hardly believe it had arrived.  This was her wedding day and she looked like a princess.

Adorning her head was a beautiful diamante tiara.  She wore a stunning, shining dress of pure white satin with seeded pearls.  Her low cut front showed off a large diamond necklace.  It was beautiful and so amazing.  Zara glowed.

Kenzie was her only attendant, wearing an off the shoulder, royal blue gown with a large bow trailing to her slim waist.  She had a circlet of orange blossoms arranged in her hair.

To once more overcome her fear of horses, and with help from James and Kenzie, Zara had chosen to ride in a horse drawn carriage for her wedding in the park.

Luck was not on their side.

Just one kilometre from the park, the horse picked up a stone between its hoof and metal shoe.  The driver had to prise the stone out from under the horse’s shoe and rest the horse for another twenty minutes before moving off again.

An hour passed.  James and all the guests were still waiting patiently for the bride to arrive.  Brides are allowed to be a little late, but James had been getting anxious.

Both Zara and Kenzie looked stunning as they made their way to the nuptials.

As Kenzie wheeled Zara down the aisle, James stood upright, eyes only for Zara, his beautiful, elegant bride.  His heart was bursting with love.

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The wedding and reception continued on and everything went perfectly to plan.

On arriving home from their honeymoon, Zara was ecstatic.  Her accident insurance payout had arrived in the mail.  At last her dream could come true.  Now she could build a riding school for the disabled on her property.

Zara had to make a few minor alterations to her house, to make it wheelchair friendly.  The community was ever so grateful to Zara for providing them with a riding school for their disabled that they organized a big party for her, in her honour.

Out of tragedy, true love was found and a friendship forged forever.



Hilda Oakley

Copyright © 18.06.2012

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