“One Australian.”

Barefoot with Vegemite smeared across her face, Lilly was running through ancient alleyways exploring her mother’s homeland.  With a Jewish mother and Palestinian father, her parents had moved to Australia… a modern story of Romeo and Juliette and love borne out of hate.

Yet, that hate had tracked them down. Grabbed them by the throat, until they choked. There was no escape. As the twists and turns of a war she didn’t understand flew from side to side, Lilly learned the Kookaburra Song.

“LILLY!” The scream echoed with reverberating anguish.

When she grew up, Lilly wanted to be a ballerina…

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers. PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.


I struggled a bit with this prompt, as I’ve never been to Israel and was struggling to think of something and I remembered what it was like to go exploring as a child and how we ran barefoot through paddocks, and poked underneath my grandparents’ house so freely without any thought of danger. Growing up in Sydney, war was always somewhere else, although there had been some bombings by the Japanese during WWII, most notably on Darwin. So, I grew up with an idea of being safe.

At university, I remember meeting someone with a Serbian father and a Croatian mother and how they’d moved out to Australia to start a new life together and that inspired this story. That, along with the struggle many immigrants experience finding some sense of identity and belonging when the boundaries of home are blurred.

So, Lilly grows up eating Vegemite and singing the Kookaburra Song at school, which every Australian child learns and it’s usually sung as a round. Meanwhile, despite moving to Australia, her parents are still caught up in this war back home. There is no escape. Unfortunately, Lilly, the child of their love and an absolute innocent, becomes the the victim of that war.

Tragically, this sort of thing happens two often. Two Australians were killed in the recent London Bridge attack.

Oh for a perfect world.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the words of the Kookaburra Song:



Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Merry merry king of the bush is he.
Laugh, Kookaburra, laugh, Kookaburra,
Gay your life must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Stop Kookaburra, stop Kookaburra
Save some there for me!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Counting all the monkeys he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
That’s not a monkey, that’s me!

Here are some alternatives that have been created over the years.
See if you can add some more to the collection.

Kookaburra sits on a rusty nail,
He gets a sore in his tail.
Cry, Kookaburra, cry, Kookaburra,
How cruel life can be!

Kookaburra sits on electric wire,
Jumping up and down with his pants on fire.
Ouch, Kookaburra, ouch! Kookaburra,
Hot your tail must be!

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree,
Eating all the gum drops he can see.
Laugh Kookaburra, laugh Kookaburra
Gay your life must be!

xx Rowena

39 thoughts on ““One Australian.”

  1. Iain Kelly

    Religious division is something I just can’t ever understand, especially the idea of it following them across the world. I mean, why does it matter? Great story.

  2. Life Lessons of a Dog Lover

    I’m with Miles, wow. I love the innocence of the young girl despite the war that rages.

  3. Moon

    I wish Lilly a good future. She has had everything taken away at such a tender age. A very touching story , Rowena.
    P.S. My daughter loves the kookaburra rhyme.

  4. wmqcolby

    Is that the one that goes, “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree, eating all the gun drops he can see, laugh kookaburra, laugh kookaburra, gay your life must be.” ? My mom was a music teacher.

    Anyway … incredible story! You nailed it HARD! So few words and so MUCH in them. Great!

    I am a little confused, though, as to the ending. Obviously she grew up or did she? I might be trying to read more into it than there is, but I’m curious nonetheless.

  5. Mrs. Completely

    Amazing story! One of the best I’ve ever read. Lucky for Lilly she’s in her Mother’s homeland and not her Father’s. The story would have been even more tragic.

  6. Nan Falkner

    Dear One Australian, Poor girl. As I’ve grown older, I realize how barbaric our current civilization is to each other. What a shame as peace would be so much more fun! Nan

  7. jellico84

    Oh, I just can’t bear knowing the ending to this story. Excellent foreshadowing the end without concluding it. Leaves the reader both wanting and not wanting. Great write.

  8. L.E.R.T

    What happened to Lilly? I not liking what I’m inferring from the last few lines. Very powerful writing. Glad to have come across it through FF. Cheers, Varad.

  9. Rowena Post author

    Hi Varad,
    Thank you very much for your encouraging words. Unfortunately, Lilly was killed in an attack. Tragically, too many innocent children become the victims of war and others even become soldiers. We should never become complacent about the loss of life in times of war.
    xx Rowena

  10. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Sascha. It’s interesting with immigrants how there is that blend of cultures. My aunt has German parents and she didn’t like how her school lunches were made from pumpernickel bread and she just wanted ordinary Vegemite sandwiches.

  11. Rowena Post author

    Sorry, James. However, I hope her fictional death will act as a reminder of the costs of war. I wouldn’t call myself a peace activist because sometimes we need to make a stand but I do think we need to strive towards a many harmonious world, beginning in our own backyards xx Rowena

  12. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Jellico. Most of my flash fiction efforts are written with a suspense-filled end, almost leaving the reader to write their own ending, which I think is kind of fun. It empowers the reader as well, although I’ve read a few written like this, and I’ve wanted to know how it ended.
    I guess I am now hoping that her death isn’t in vain. That is makes both sides of any conflict stop and think about what they’re doing, who they’re ultimately hurting and too many innocents do get caught in the cross fire.

  13. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Nan. I couldn’t agree with you more. I used to belong to a group of bloggers who wrote about compassion every month. I’m looking at somehow trying to resurrect it. xx Rowena

  14. Rowena Post author

    I am not usually the one killing off characters at FF but it was my turn this week. I can definitely feel the influence of the London bombings coming into it.
    Yes, that is the same Kookaburra Song. I’m sure there’s not an Australian kid who didn’t learn and sing it at school.
    My Mum is a piano teacher and accompaniest and my grandmother was an international concert pianist. My creativity has largely manifested itself through my writing and photography but I do play violin and started doing some adult dance classes last year. Of these the tap classes I finished recently were probably the most intriguing. Your feet become your instruments and at the end of the class, he’d have us tap dancing in what I can only describe as three part harmonies using rhythm. It really intrigued me.
    Has music been part of your life at all?
    Hope you have a great week.
    Best wishes,

  15. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Wakimari. Much appreciated. Hope you are having a great weekend.
    Best wishes,

  16. Rowena Post author

    Thanks very much, Moon.
    The kookaburra song is great and still makes me smile, especially when kids sing it. Their little voices really make it.
    xx Rowena

  17. Rowena Post author

    Yes, you need hope and faith to get you through being in a war zone or an area threatened by terrorist attacks. Otherwise, the darkness of it all can easily consume you in one way or another. Take care as well andn God Bless,

  18. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much, Miles. I am constantly amazed at how much you can say in so few words through these flash fictions.

  19. Rowena Post author

    Thank very much, Lynn. I really appreciate your encouragement. I also agree that we somehow need to carry on and pursue our dreams through hard times of any sort. Somehow keep that spark alive when the darkness threatens to snuff it out.
    xx Rowena

  20. wmqcolby

    Musicand I are first cousins. My mom and my aunt were music teachers. I majored in college in music. I play several different instruments and sing. I understood everything you said perfectly. Yes!

  21. pennygadd51

    Oh, well done, Rowena! That’s such a powerful story. An excellent synthesis of a true story and the photoprompt – and so, so moving. I loved the way you established her as authentically Australian so quickly and economically.

  22. Rowena Post author

    Thank you so much for putting me onto that beautiful story. It really warmed my heart, although it’s tragic to think of children growing up in warzones where they could lose their lives or be maimed any time. We have such freedom here and we should cherish that and be happy with what we have. I will share that story with my kids.
    xx Rowena

  23. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Penny. I am naturally rather verbose so I’m quite surprised that flash fiction has become my favourite format these days. They might only be 100 words, but the good ones have volumes inbetween the lines and as a reader you get to write your own end.

  24. Rowena Post author

    I drove down to my parents on Monday to drop the kids off. we’re on school holidays here. Mum does a fair bit of accompanying but I rarely meet the people and just hear about them. For the last year or so, she’s been accompanying a Chinese Opera singer. While Opera isn’t my thing, I heard her for the first time on Monday with Mum playing on my grandmother’s Steinway grand, and I was in heaven. It was so special to be treated to such music in Mum’s loungeroom where it’s so intimate. I get a similar experience when I see the older dancers in the studio and I can almost reach out and touch them. It’s so much better than the big stage, at least for a member of the audience.

  25. wmqcolby

    Oh, that is a TREAT! My mom has accompanied many people herself and she sings well, too. SO, yes, this is something my mom would like to hear about.

  26. Rowena Post author

    Thank you very much, Courtney. Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comment. Just when I think I’ve nutted out WordPress, something changes again.
    xx Rowena

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