Day 84: Viva

Matt Zurbo

In loving memory of Jillian ‘Viva’ Gibb


Lucy lived next door to Viva.
(Worker’s cottages joined together. Only 3ft fence between them. Lucy sitting on her steps of plain cottage, pigtails, wearing footy gear. Viva, a bit stumpy, in her 50s, has a long, velvet dress on, beads, there is a cat, a bull terrier, there are wild roses, hanging baskets, a tiny, but wild garden, the house is colourfully painted.)

“Your neighbour’s weird,” said Tommy Tuckers.
“… I guess so…” Lucy mumbled.
“The weird dog lady!” laughed Pete.
(Viva walking, long dress, hair in an extravagant bun, walking three dogs, a Great Dane cross, a Boxer, and a small, very old Jack Russell. Waving to garbo, who is waving back. Pete, Tommy and Lucy walking ahead of her, with footy. Lucy is looking back over her shoulder. Boys laughing.)

Each night, Lucy could smell Viva cooking up a feast!
(Lucy peering over vine-covered fence, at Viva in her clustered kitchen, full of wooden things, plants and plates and ducks on walls, old mirrors hanging herb basket, and old school stove. She is serving some amazing food from her pot into dog bowls. Two dogs sitting watching, old dog sleeping. Cat on bench. There is also a small painting easel in the corner.)

“So, what do you want to do with yourself?” Viva asked one day.
Lucy was embarrassed. She wasn’t creative at all.
“Just play football…” she mumbled.
“Just!?” Viva protested. “As long as yours doing anything, it’s great!”
(Viva smiling, “Ssh” finger to lips as she hands small bowl of food up, to Lucy peering over fence.)

When Lucy thought about it, Viva was the only neighbour to never complain when they kicked the footy in the street.
(Viva on her porch, back to street, painting flowers, dogs idle. Lucy kicking with boys on street. Homeless man walking along footpath.)

Viva greeted everyone! Lucy hated it when people teased her.
(Three bullies teasing/abusing her. Lucy watching from behind a pole.)

But Viva was from the country. “Never a backwards step!” she once told Lucy. Sometimes she would abuse them back.
(Viva shouting abuse as biggest bully, who is shocked.)

Sometimes she would blow them a kiss.
(Viva blowing a kiss, other two bullies reeling back.)

Best of all, Viva loved to dance!
(Viva on her porch holding youngest child of African couple, all dancing, as are a few on the street. Lucy is sitting on her own steps, head tilted warmly, to be resting on the wall between them.)

(Viva, fluid arm out, beckoning Lucy to join her in dance. Lucy running away. In the foreground, two of the footy boys are watching.)

It was hard enough being a girl playing footy. Lucy just wanted to fit in.
(Lucy sitting on floor in bedroom, back to wall, arms over knees, brooding.)

Then, the bad news came. Viva was ill.
(Viva in her big bed with unicorn painted bedhead, surrounded by family and homeless man and Africans. Reaching hand out to Lucy, who is standing sheepish, at foot of bed.)
She was dying. “We never got to dance,” she said.

When Viva died, there was a huge hole in Lucy’s street.
(Lucy sitting on her steps, same view as Page 1. But no Viva, everything greyer.)

Lucy went to Viva’s funeral. Everybody talked, and loved her very much. But something was missing there, too.
(Lucy sitting down, listening to people talk.)

Lucy was the only one to stay back at the cemetery. Soon, it started to rain.
(Lucy, raincoat on, holding flowers in hard, grey rain, head down, dejected, in front of grave.)

(Lucy bending head to look up at rain.)

“I’ll dance with you,” Lucy said.
(Double page spread of Lucy, hood off, arms wide, huge smile, facing up into the rain, flowers thrown through the wet air.)

The next day, at school, Tommy Tuckers and Pete were up to their usual tricks.
(Boys teasing, physically intimidating a Goth girl.)

This time, Lucy knew what to do…
(Lucy in footy gear standing between boys and Goth, aggressively shouting at boys. (same body stance as when Viva did it) Boys are reeling back, startled.)

(Lucy blowing the boys a kiss (same body stance as when Viva did it). Tommy startled, recoiling. Pete shocked, on his arse. Goth girl safe behind Lucy.)

(Lucy walking towards reader with a grin. Goth and artsy crew on one side, watching her go. Boys and footy crew on other side watching her go.)


The End


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