A thick layer of frost covered the ground as the Turner children walked briskly down the 2km drive way to meet the bus. The middle of winter in Peak View was harsh and the air hurt the skin. Although not likely to snow, Peak View was close enough to the Snowy Mountains to make the mornings cold and gloomy. In summer the children would use the run about car to drive to the road but in winter the car was almost always frozen over.
The school bus was quiet and Meggie took her same seat behind her sisters Josephine and Therese who were both eight. The one thing that Meggie really enjoyed about the winter was the fog that was always low and when the sun managed to shine through the fog, it made for the best scenery Meggie could ever imagine. The normally dry land was full of silhouetted gum trees and the frost glistered. At “Athlone,” which was the name of the farm, the Barron children boarded the bus. There were five Barron children and between them and the Turners they made up majority of the bus and the school. Anna Barron was Meggie’s best friend and as usual took her seat next to Meggie. The bus took half an hour and picked up a total of 16 children. The school was Jernangle Public School which had 19 students and one teacher, Mr Burns. The school was from Kindergarten to 4th form. After that most of the children went to Monaro High in Cooma, or started working. As the day progressed the fog lifted and the Australian sun defrosted the playground in time for recess.
Half way through what had been a normal day for the Turner children, their father, Bill Turner, strictly “father” to the children, came into the classroom and told them to get into the car. This was extremely abnormal as father never came to the school and was always working. Meggie and Catherine, her elder sister, exchanged glances of concern and fear. Mr Turner was a quiet man and was always distant to his children, perhaps because he never really knew what to do with children and became worse as they got older. The car trip home was silent and still; due to no one being game enough to say anything. It was not until they reached home that Catherine asked,
“What is it father?” Mr Turner breathed very deeply and slowly started to explain what had happened.
“Your mother got a call around 10 o’clock this morning. It was from the hospital. Your Grandmother…,” and there was a long suspenseful pause and several more deep breaths before he continued. “Your grandmother had a severe heart attack and probably will not live through the night.”
Mrs Purcell had been a strong woman, who had been widowed for many years and had worked hard to maintain her farm, lining alone. Once she passed away, as was written in her will, the Turner family moved into her house. She had lived in Bunyan which was only ten minutes out of town. The children moved schools to the Catholic Primary school, St Patrick’s. This school had many more kids and Meggie who was not the most outgoing child was a little...