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    quokka
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Country Retreat - 37. Phone Call

Warning: mention of suicide in this chapter.

After some constructive discussions, which only lasted for about twenty minutes, we called an end to the meeting and decided to relax for the rest of the weekend, just as my mobile rang. Looking at the caller ID, I smiled. “Hey guys, it is Hugh Calling from NZ,” I said and everyone fell silent as I answered the call and put it on the speaker. “G’day mate, how are things over in sunny New Zealand?” I asked.

“As far as I know, it’s ok last time I was there. I am actually on a working holiday in the UK, and you wouldn’t believe who I ran into while here,” Hugh replied, “G’day mate, I hope you are behaving yourself over in Western Australia… Oscar… I am truly sorry for what happened,” a new voice said, and it took me a few moments to recognise it and when I did, I dropped the phone and dashed out of the building.

Back inside the admin building, Jarrad picked up the mobile which was still connected, “This is Jarrad speaking, who is that with you Hugh? As Oscar dropped the phone and ran out of the building?”. “Oh hi, what building are you at? It is the former classmate from Oscar’s old school, I don’t think you have met him,” Hugh said in response.

“If you are talking about the guy who assaulted Oscar, which resulted in him spending time in a Psychiatric unit, then we do not want anything to do with him. Thanks to you Oscar has had a relapse in the way of a panic attack. Call me on my phone next week and when you are alone. Goodbye,” Jarrad said before ending the call and heading out to find his mate.

Jarrad found me sitting outside on the front patio of the compound, staring out to the ocean as I tried to calm my breathing down. It had been some time since I last had a panic attack, and I was now very angry at Hugh for creating a situation that had triggered one again. “Hey, are you ok? I spoke briefly with Hugh before hanging up on him. That was a very stupid thing that he did just now, and the others and I are not at all happy with him,” Jarrad said to me, as he handed back my mobile phone, and we sat there staring at the Indian Ocean in silence.

When the mobile rang, I jumped in fright, and the mobile fell onto the ground. When Jarrad bent down to pick it up, he frowned when he saw who the caller was. “I told you to call my mobile and not until next week,” Jarrad said angrily when he answered the call. We both heard sobbing coming from the phone, and we looked at each other, and Jarrad shrugged his shoulders.

“Hugh, is that you? If it’s not Hugh and someone that we do not wish to speak to, do not call this number again,” Jarrad said, and all silence and sobbing sounds, were all we could hear, as I grabbed the mobile disconnected the call and threw it as far as I could out into the paddock. “You know I am going to have to go and find that damn thing sometime,” Jarrad said to me, and after a while of thinking, I sighed, “Sorry,” I responded.

We sat out on the patio for about half an hour, hearing my mobile ringing somewhere in the paddock a few times, which we ignored. Eventually, I headed inside, while Jarrad went looking for my phone. “Are you ok? Where is Jarrad?” Giles asked me when he saw me approaching them, as they sat in the centre of the playing field chatting. “I will be ok in a while I guess, I just need time to get over it. Jarrad is out looking for my phone, which I threw out into the paddock somewhere,” I replied. Giles and Marcus went out to help Jarrad, while I sat down next to Rebecca and tried to relax.

When the lads returned with my mobile recovered and turned off, Jarrad handed it to me, and let me know that he had messaged my Grandmother, to let her know that I had a call from Hugh and one whose name is not to be heard. He also informed her that I had another panic attack and that my mobile would be off for the rest of the weekend, and to call him if they needed to contact Oscar. The rest of the weekend was spent doing mostly just nothing, with my friends making sure that I was well looked after and protected, with at least one person with me nearly all the time.

Back at home, I decided that I needed to get out of Perth as soon as possible, and after having my mobile number changed and letting just my grandparents, Jarrad, Marcus, Rebecca and Giles know it, I made a few alterations to my planned flight back to Canberra, just three days after the weekend. Once back in Canberra, I kept myself very busy with farm work, as there was always plenty to do, along with the occasional fun ride on the Kalamazoo.

When the new semester of a new university year started, I kept myself very busy with my studies as well as the weekend work on the farm. After the first week, I received news from Jarrad, that he had received a call from Hugh to inform me that the person whose name we don’t mention was now in a coma, after a failed attempt to commit suicide, and that he would be in a vegetative state for the remainder of his life. I was quite shocked to hear this news, and although it would mean I would never hear from him again, I was also sorry that he was in this position, but I tried to forget all about it and keep going with my studies.

Jarrad also mentioned to me that Hugh wanted to apologise for his behaviour, that he just wanted things to get back to where it was before the incident happened, and that he now realised that it was wrong to assume that I would be prepared to consider accepting an apology from him and to partly forgive him for what he did. Jarrad mentioned to Hugh, that I was not happy with what he had done, and that I didn’t want to talk to him, hence the reason for changing my mobile number.

For the whole year, I was either at the University or at one of the two farms working and included during the mid-year 1st semester break and I was seriously considering staying in the ACT for Christmas as well, which I had mentioned to Giles, during one of our fortnightly calls. With a semester of science studies before changing degrees and working exceptionally hard, I was on track to be able to complete my three-year degree in just two and a half years, which I was pleased about.

In the meantime, I had decided that I would remain in the ACT for the Christmas & New Year break, and I let Gran and Gramps know my decision, and although disappointed that I would not be coming home, they wished me all the best for the season, and to stay safe. They also informed me that Marcus was doing an excellent job of looking after the property, where he spends most weekends there.

Now he has finished his two Certificates at TAFE, he spends more time working on the property during the holidays and every weekend and living in one of the pods at the back of the Workshop & Garage compound, where he uses just the staff lounge which has a kitchenette for cooking, and the recreational hall, which he and Gramps had installed a full-size billiards table. Marcus has also started establishing a large vegetable garden, to cut down on food costs for himself and my grandparents, where he already has a plentiful supply of various fruits.

In the ACT, we had done a full renovation of all the bridge crossings along the full length of the track that runs alongside the farm property, plus we had installed additional ballast rock under the tracks to get it level and stable again, as we had discovered a slight lean to one side at several places along the track. Jake had managed to purchase an additional railcar, this one has a flatbed and can be attached to the first one like a normal train.

Jake and I travelled down to the other farm at Billilingra, to spend Christmas and Boxing Day with Sam and Jean, and we had a very nice casual Christmas celebration, with a little bit of light farm work, to check on the stock and water supplies, since it was mid-summer and it had been a very warm one this year. Once back in the city, I prepared for a new semester and my second year at Australian National University, and having completed my Certificate 4 in Training and Assessment, I was now qualified to teach at TAFE and Vocational Training colleges in my specialised profession.

This year I will also be doing a Certificate 4 in Work Health & Safety, and I was considering applying for a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford once I have completed all my studies here in Canberra, which I knew I had a very slim chance of getting, but I decided to give it a try anyway. From the research that I have done so far, Oxford University has three calendar terms of eight weeks, with the first beginning in the second week of October, the second term beginning in the third week of January and the third term commencing in the fourth week of April.

This would be perfect timing as I would be completing my studies at ANU in mid-June, which would give me just over three months to get over to the UK and get settled before commencing studies there. When I was glancing at the options I could have in study areas, one area caught my attention, and I did some more research on this. Once I had done so, I immediately began working on the application process to enter Oxford University, either on a Rhodes Scholarship or as an ordinary graduate student.

This year I had decided that I would travel home to Perth for the mid-year holidays, but I would not let anyone know that I was coming until the very last moment. In the first month of the semester, I met the lovely Julia Webb, a very intelligent young woman, who already has a BA in Arts Specialising in Linguistics, and she also is fluent in Italian, Japanese and Spanish, and a little in Hawaiian.

Although she was four years older than me, that didn’t matter to either of us, as we spent a few hours each Saturday together, usually going hiking or cycling as we both enjoyed the outdoors. Julia was a third-generation Australian with her Maternal grandparents coming from Chile and Peru, and her Paternal Grandparents coming from Japan and Hawaii, so she has travelled greatly because of this, and how she remains fluent in the other languages.

Julia had completed her three-year degree and was now in her second and final year of studies for a Master's in Applied Linguistics after a two-year travelling and working holiday overseas, between courses. She planned to do a lot more travelling, before settling down with a career and family.

Copyright March 2024 All Rights are Reserved, Preston Wigglesworth
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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Chapter Comments

That’s it I am done.
 

Couldn’t understand Oscar’s reaction to Rizen’s action earlier although I read it three times. Either there was more than was reported or there is something in Oscar’s past that caused Rizen’s actions to trigger the reaction, also not reported. 

Perhaps Oscar has some sort of disability, also not reported. 

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Yeah, I’m of the same opinion as Carybr, this story is off the rails! A homophobic spoilt child given to tantrums and a story that reads like a travelogue!  I’m not interest in Country Retreat any more ! You have done better Quokka!

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1 hour ago, RicciRiccardo said:

Yeah, I’m of the same opinion as Carybr, this story is off the rails! A homophobic spoilt child given to tantrums and a story that reads like a travelogue!  I’m not interest in Country Retreat any more ! You have done better Quokka!

How can he be homophobic when one of his best friends in Bi, plus he was very supportive when Jarrad was mistreated on the cattle station…. He is no way like that.

1 hour ago, RicciRiccardo said:

Yeah, I’m of the same opinion as Carybr, this story is off the rails! A homophobic spoilt child given to tantrums and a story that reads like a travelogue!  I’m not interest in Country Retreat any more ! You have done better Quokka!

 

1 hour ago, RicciRiccardo said:

Yeah, I’m of the same opinion as Carybr, this story is off the rails! A homophobic spoilt child given to tantrums and a story that reads like a travelogue!  I’m not interest in Country Retreat any more ! You have done better Quokka!

 

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I don’t think Oscar is homophobic at all. But there is nothing in the story that explains his physical reactions to events, and he expresses no remorse or concern when someone who was once his friend attempts suicide.

 

This doesn’t make sense and I am done

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1 hour ago, Carybr said:

I don’t think Oscar is homophobic at all. But there is nothing in the story that explains his physical reactions to events, and he expresses no remorse or concern when someone who was once his friend attempts suicide.

 

This doesn’t make sense and I am done

I skipped reading this story for many chapters, came back to check, and found nothing had changed. Oscar still has the same extreme reactions and yet we have no good medical explanations. Give us some clues, please.

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5 hours ago, quokka said:

How can he be homophobic when one of his best friends is Bi, plus he was very supportive when Jarrad was mistreated on the cattle station…. He is no way like that.

I am stepping out of my normal single comment on 'some' author's stories, trying not to put editor's cap on, nor play favourites. 

But first, am I the only one here concerned that this 'reply' from @quokka was repeated 3 times? Just saying, hopefully it's just an Oops. 

(Now comes Ed's cap). Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it's more helpful for authors if it's somewhat constructive, and doesn't sound like a rip. Having said that, I agree with many of the sentiments expressed, but I think The Good @drsawzall was more to the point. 

Those who are frequent readers of @quokka may have noticed similar traits (flaws?) in main characters of different stories, and that's every authors prerogative. But in Country Retreat, Oscar appears to have a lot of emotional unclaimed baggage, that has yet to be explained.  Was he abused as a child and if so by whom? Did that screw up his psyche so badly that he's unable to figure out, let alone accept his own sexuality? Is there a nexus that we've yet to know? 

Now, Oscar's on the verge of a possible 'girlfriend' and a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University, that could put him close to 'seeing' Rizen?

(Getting off soap box).

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This is a troubling development, and the end of the story for me.  The character is extremely rigid and unforgiving, runs away from any conflict (only random mention of his parents and siblings, etc). Oscar is written as a sick person (bi-polar, schizophrenic, manic-depressive) with no redeeming qualities and zero introspection. One might think this is a reflection of the author, or just another exercise in mental masturbation. 

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