The monorail shushes out of Harbourside. It’s afternoon. The carriage rocks a little and the sun flickers annoyingly through the windows. Except for the station announcements, that bloody ‘Do the Loop’ song has been playing non-stop through the tinny speakers, and I know it’ll be stuck in my head until I slide blissfully into sleep tonight. This is our second-and-a-half loop. I can’t wait to get off.
On one side of me is Angie. She’s four. On the other side is my mum. She’s seventy-four.
We pull into the Convention station. There are some gettings-on and gettings-off. We pull out.
“What’s for lunch?” Mum says with a dreamy look toward the Chinese Gardens.
I sigh. “We already had lunch, Mum, remember?”
“Did we? Oh.” Do the loop doop doop. Do the loop doop doop. Do the loop and do the round.
Grr. Genius lyrics. Who wrote this? Leonard Cohen? A Wiggle?
Angie is slurping a frozen blue slurpee in a Dora cup. It looks like a little bucket of deathly poison to me, but she was making such a fuss I gave in and got it for her, then promptly loathed myself. Worst Mother Ever. Slurp. “Do the loop. Do the loop. Do the loop,” Angie intones. Slurp. “Monorail,” she adds.
“Yep,” I reply. “It’s the height of modernity. It’s like we’re living the future.”
Mum turns to me. “What’s that, sweetie?”
In and out of the Exhibition station. Now we’re at Paddy’s Market. I think of the day when some friends and I wagged school and caught the train into the city. I was fourteen or fifteen. We bought cheap knock-off Bowie and U2 t-shirts at Paddy’s, had Kentucky Fried and watched An American Werewolf in London up on George Street. Wistful thinking. Ha-ha-bloody-ha.
“What’s that?” Mum says.
“I didn’t say anything, Mum.”
Now the monorail has passed Chinatown and the Ent-Cent (Eurythmics ’87!), and climbs toward the city. We’ll get off this rolling snake of urban transport innovation at the Galleries. Then, fight our way through the QVB into Town Hall and get the hell home, a-sap. Do the loop doop doop. Do the loop and fly through town …
Slurp. “Feel sick,” Angie says. Then another slurp.
That’s just super, I think. All we need. I take the cup off her, tuning out the protests and silently daring my fellow passengers to so much as look judgmentally at me.
“What’s that?” Mum says again.
“Urk,” Angie says with her head down, and now there’s a blue puddle at her feet that looks like a squashed Smurf. Gross, but I’ve seen worse.
Now the monorail pulls into the Galleries station. We’re outa here. I grab Angie’s hand and Mum’s too. Do the loop doop doop. We shuffle onto the platform.
“What’s for lunch?” Mum says.
Richard Rebel is a writer and school teacher living on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. His writing appeared in three 2019 Clarendon House anthologies. In 2017 he attended One Story's Sirenland Writers' Conference in Positano, Italy. He is working on a short story collection.