Part II from this November series, all about favourites, comes from Katia.
The Giant Prawn
Before she left to live in Sydney, I asked my mother one afternoon where her favourite place on earth was. I told her mine was Antarctica, and she said how can that be my favourite place if I’ve never been there, and I said I’d seen photos in magazines and penguins at the zoo in Melbourne, and I had half a milo tin full of gold coins and I was saving to go there in the next two years.
She laughed and put a fist under her chin and said her favourite place in the whole world would have to be The Giant Prawn. I said where’s that, and she said it’s in Ballina and she said it was her favourite place because I was conceived there. She said it was huge and pink and on the way to Byron Bay, where she met Dad. I asked if there were giant prawns in Antarctica, and she said probably not.
A few months later my mother said she had fallen in love with Susan and was moving to Sydney. I said Susan was a girl’s name and she said Susan was a girl.
Me and Dad didn’t hear from her for ages after she left, but I did hear about The Giant Prawn. I read in a newspaper that The Giant Prawn was going to be demolished, and a lot of people were upset because it had Heritage Value and they thought it would ruin the town’s Historic Fabric. I also heard they might move The Giant Prawn to the Gold Coast and I thought it might be nice for the prawn to be near the sea. I cut out a picture of the giant pink creature and slipped it into my diary. I imagined its mouth opening and closing, its tail swinging back and forth.
When Mum had been gone almost a year Dad said, right, we’re going to find her, and he loaded the boot and off we drove even though it was only Friday and I was supposed to be at school. Dad put on Cold Chisel and I fell asleep. I don’t know how long I had been asleep before Dad nudged me and said, get ready, you’re going to see it. See what, I said, and he said, The Giant Prawn, we’re going to Ballina to fill up.
We could see the creature a mile away. Dad pulled in at the servo and I got out of the car and looked at The Giant Prawn from across the road. It wasn’t pink at all; it was a faded white colour and its eyes were all googly and weird. The glass house underneath it was all dirty and gross, and it looked like the prawn was trying to jump over but it had gotten stuck. I had imagined grass and picnic tables underneath, but there was a vacant fish n chip shop and parking lots and car yards in all directions. Dad said, did I know the whole block had been purchased by Bunnings, and I said no, I did not know it had been purchased by Bunnings.
I used the toilets in the servo and Dad bought me a Magnum instead of a Paddle Pop and we got back in the car. I finished my icecream, took the picture of the prawn out of my diary, and reached into the glove box for a pen. I flattened the picture on my knee and drew a moustache, a monocle, and a tall hat on the prawn. Dad asked if I was disappointed and I said I didn’t care and was he disappointed, and he said he’d let me know when we got to Sydney.kat