From Melina’s Facebook post:
The Review of Australian Fiction () has a great concept where a well-established writer asks a talented writer, who may be lesser known, to also submit a short story…
My short story is called When Rosie met Jim. It’s about a young woman who finds herself stranded in a Queensland town during a flood, where she meets a guy named Jim. (the title is quite literal, and yes, it’s him for those who know my previous work).
Mine will be the first chapter of the novel I’m writing, which unlike the short story, is set in the same part of Sydney I tend to write about in my contemporary novels.
Here’s the first line;
It’s rained for forty days and forty nights, so when a guy who looks like Jesus in orange SES overalls comes to stand next to her, Rosie thinks it’s all a bit biblical.
I was lucky enough to be sent a sneaky early copy of ‘When Rosie Met Jim’ … and for anyone who knows me even a little, you’ll know what a big deal it was for me to start reading this story. And if you don’t know me at all – well, – here I am in a Buzzfeed article, writing about how Melina Marchetta basically changed my life.
‘When Rosie met Jim’ landed in my inbox when I was at Sydney airport, flying home after the Writers’ Festival. I glanced at my phone, felt a rush of blood to the head and heart … then promptly walked to my gate, sat down and started reading. And crying.
I was crying because it’s kinda sad. And beautiful. But mostly I was crying because I’ve missed these characters … well, character in Jimmy Hailler (though others are alluded to). He first appeared in the 2003 novel ‘Saving Francesca’ – then was conspicuously absent (but mentioned) in Melina’s follow-up, 2010 novel ‘The Piper’s Son’.
I’ve worried about Jim in the intervening years. I have wondered what he’s up to, if he’s okay, and who he loves. ‘When Rosie met Jim’ is but a taste of those questions about to be answered in a full-length novel.
This teaser also includes our meeting Rosie – the female protagonist of said novel. And what comes across so achingly clearly in this short story is how lonely Rosie is. And Jim too.
He’s gone when she wakes in the morning and she’s relieved they don’t have to do the polite stuff. Outside, it’s drizzling and steamy and her tee shirt’s pasted onto her with the grime that comes from humidity and sweat. A couple of utes and four wheel drives pass her by, packed with possessions being taking to higher ground. Rosie wonders if she’s left it too late to get out of this town.
Rosie, to me though, is another indestructible Marchetta heroine. The moment I read the line "Rosie doesn’t believe in anything hopeful" I instantly thought of Violette and Quintana ... and Taylor Markham. All the warrior women; the defiant ones who stay with you long after the last page. I can’t wait to read her story, and how it’ll (hopefully) become Jim’s story too.
Back in 2010, after I first read ‘The Piper’s Son’ I wrote a review – and hit on the closest thing I think I’ve ever come to explaining what Melina’s novels do to me. What they mean to me;
… this follow-up book is like catching up with old friends down at the local; we know and love them, we’ve missed them and now they’ve returned, just like we've always known they would.
This is still true – of ‘When Rosie met Jim’ too. And it’s why I cried, because these characters mean something to me. I hold them dear. I hold them dear.
And I’ve missed them. Missed him.
He shakes his head.
‘It got to me a couple of years ago when my grandpop died and I had to get out of our flat because it was housing commission and someone else was waiting in line for it. And I realized I didn’t have a home so I disappeared for about a year. My friends aren’t the type to let go, which is a good thing, so I ended up back in Sydney couch surfing. A couple of months ago, I’m living with my best mate’s family and she convinces me to track down my mum.’
Thank you, Melina.