Story 400

Story 400
Matt Zurbo

Hi all, sorry for the absence, I’ve been working on my latest YA novel. (almost done) and still writing Cielo pieces, but have been holding them off, waiting on a special one for No. 400!

Here it is…


I have two fondest memories of growing up surrounded by the refineries, railway yards and container ships of industrial Newport, in Victoria, Australia. One, was waking at 4am each morning to watch the last of the clydesdale-drawn milkmen doing his rounds. Seeing him alone, on a dark, empty street, in the heat, the rain, the cold, delivering bottles, picking them up, while his horse breathed frost, was a thing of silent joy and wonder. 

Somehow I knew he was from another time. Of crank cars and sabre-tooth tigers and dinosaurs. Of punts that were hand-wound across that river. Watching him was like watching liquid history. His old shoulders carried the railway tracks, the crims and post-war labourers using picks and sledgehammers to build highways.

They carried Amelia Earhart, box cameras, convict boats and people going over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

He and his horse carried a solitude that still sweetly haunts me.   

The other was my Dad. He never let my sister and I use colour-in books or stickers. We had to draw ourselves, use our imaginations. He backed that up one year, by drawing me my own board game for my birthday. that worked its way up from No 1 (our house),, to 99, where you had to roll a 6 to get to 100 – which was a rocket ride to the moon. Oh, I played it for hours! I played it for days!

I wore the numbers off the dice, and used gumnuts for players.

I was a loner, not many kids played it with me. I played against myself, I didn’t give a damn! 

This was special, it was of my dad, it was of me. Yet it was of the imagination I read in books and saw in movies.

I grew up and out of board games, and over to my mum’s bare-footed and wild, but the memory of that board remained in me, somewhere.  

Two weeks ago, Cielo turned 5. I stayed up night after night, after hard days in the plantations, and time with her and my wife, Elena, waiting until they were asleep, and drawing Cielo a board game for her birthday One of her. Her life, her imagination and energy.

It contains characters from her imaginary planet, Calaboniga – Floop-a-Loop, Nothing the Robot, Ka-Da-Boing! Her, her Mum, me. Things she adores; unicorns, rainbows.

For the lucky numbers, I wanted it to have her energy. To leapfrog up the board you have to; dance, sing a song. tell a joke, give a hug, count in Spanish.

The Cielo page was a gift, and ode to her, and parents and kids everywhere. To imagination. 365stories given, not one cent asked for. In the spirit of that, for story 400, I am offering the story that is the board for FREE! To you and your kids. Send me an email, I’ll send you a copy. Print it, give it a backing board, and you’re away!

Dance and sing and roll good numbers!

My Dad’s been gone for a while now, but, geez, you’d make him happy! In this game, too, you have to take a rocket to get to the moon and win it.Why not? We’re all glorious echoes.

Thanks old fella, you’re not forgotten…  

Love to all of you! Happy 400! 

Matt and family. x


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