Day 35: Jumper

Matt Zurbo.


Oscar came from a small country town. He was on school holidays, (Boy, about 8 years old, walking on the beach) when he found a large bottle (covered in barnacle that looked like it had been at sea the longest time).

 Yeow! A crab bit him when he opened it, then ran away.

“Hm. A Message?” Oscar said.
(Inside it was
 a football jumper, full of moth holes and mould, and a note.

The note read:
To whoever finds this, I am stranded on a deserted island, my ship lost on the rocks. Of all the things I could salvage from it and fit into this bottle, I chose my football jumper, because sport is a thing of life.

Oscar (turned the note, to) read the other side.
I have played a lot of football in this jumper, lived many an adventure. Wear it and enjoy life. Keep a bit of me alive.

Oscar loved football. He put the jumper on (and looked in the mirror).
(It was huge on him, like a sack.) It made him feel strange. He wondered if the person who wore the jumper was alive or dead? If he ever made it off the island? Or if it was all a joke and there was no island at all?

“I’m going to believe in the note!” Oscar decided.

When Oscar wore the jumper to school, everybody laughed.
“How come you’re wearing that stupid, baggy old thing?” they roared.
“It’s my lucky charm,” he would tell them.

“Why don’t you tell the other kids the reason you wear that jumper?” his mother asked. “They might stop teasing.”

Oscar wasn’t sure why he never explained the bottle and note. Maybe because he thought no-one would believe him. Maybe he wanted to show respect to a stranger trapped on an island.
But he kept it his secret. (And let his friends keep laughing.)

When Oscar trained for the kid’s footy club, he wore his jumper beneath the team jumper, and did okay and got a game one week later.

As the season went on, every time Oscar was tired, every time he was hurt, or felt like quitting, he remembered he was probably wearing the jumper of a dead man, and would whisper to himself:
“Try harder…!”

As the years went on, Oscr started growing into his jumper. He always trained in it, and kept wearing it under the team colours. He won awards, and did well, but whenever he thought he’d done enough, he would think:
“Live your life as if you’re lucky you are not stranded on an island…!”

“Do it for him…!”

And he would try harder.

Oscar became a good junior country footballer. He was no Big League star, but loved life and always tried so hard others followed. He was a leader, the sort you build a team around.
(Teen Oscar, same coloured hair, and jumpers)

Football was never about how good a player was, not to Oscar. It was about trying. About giving everything and being alive!
(Oscar, coming off oval, covered in mud, totally exhausted.)

Oscar’s football took him into the mountains, and desert, on football trips and to the city.

Even when he wasn’t playing and went on holidays, or fished, dove for crayfish, or rode mountain bikes, he’d wear his jumper.

He even wore it while helping with the bush fires.
“Try harder…” he whispered, (fighting the flames, jumper on).

Eventually, Oscar was the youngest ever Captain of his local football team. They played a hard game (in the mud and rain, looking a bit older, still, maybe 21). He showed great leadership and stood tall.

When the game was over, he took a moment, as he always did, to escape the backslapping and cheer, thank the opposition, and spend a few minutes alone.
This time, however, an old man (with a long, white beard) came up to him.

“It’s the first game of football I’ve seen in many, many years,” the man said.
“Are you a local?” Oscar asked. He didn’t remember seeing the man before.
“No, I’ve come from far, far away,” the man said. “But there is a story, throughout the coast, that you wear a jumper.”
“The whole team has jumpers,” said Oscar.
“A special jumper,” said the man.

Oscar showed the man his jumper, (worn under the one of his team).
(It brought a tear to the fellow’s eye.)

“Have you enjoyed life?” the man asked.
“Yes,” said Oscar.
“Are you glad to be alive?”
“Very much so,” said Oscar.
“Yippee!” the man whooped, hugged Oscar and cried.

Then, just like that, the man was gone. (image of old man walking away, a sea barnacle or two still attached to the back of his coat. Maybe a small crab running out from under it)

Years later, when Oscar finally stopped playing football, he went down to the coast with his son and daughter, (and put his old jumper in a bottle with a note, that said:)
(Oscar, same jumper and hair colour, but obviously older, about 35-40 with a beard.)

“Wherever you are in the world, this jumper has brought me adventure, respect… and fun. Whenever I put it on, I knew I was alive! Wear it with pride.”

And he watched, with his kids, as it was taken by the tide.