Excerpt: ‘We’re all going on a summer holiday’, by Rebecca Jessen


Image by abhisawa. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

agreeing on a holiday destination with your mother takes four days and twenty-eight phone calls.


what do you mean you’re not coming to visit for Christmas? don’t you know what that means to me? I raised you. I should get to see you on Christmas Day. it’s only fair.

what do you mean you’re not going to stay at my house? your sister is giving you her bedroom. are you ashamed of my house is that it?

what do you mean you want a hotel near the beach? you know the kids don’t like swimming at the beach. just because your girlfriend likes the beach. we have to do what everyone wants not just one person.

do you want the hotel with the pool view or the hotel by the beach? I need a balcony so I can smoke. if we’re near the shops your sister will run my credit card dry. are you going to pay for that?

okay if we get the hotel by the beach they can only give me the upstairs room. will you swap rooms with me? can you let your sister sleep in your room? well if you have the downstairs room you’ll have to have the inflatable rowboats in there. I’m too old to be carrying rowboats up and down stairs.

check-in is at one. we’ll be there at one. what time will you be there? are you ashamed to check-in at the same time as your mother?


but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. after the four days and twenty-eight phone calls you still have a twelve-hour drive ahead of you. don’t forget check-in is at one. your mother will be there at one.


straight outta Toowoomba. the bible belt is a knee slapper knocking you out with those American thighs. you squeeze your girlfriend’s leg. better not do that around your mother she says. a billboard instructs you to READ YOUR BIBLE. you were looking for a sign. this is it #God. long drives are good for cruising for baby animals. counting crosses by the roadside. resting or Resting In Peace. enjoying Miley Cyrus without irony. avoiding phone calls from your mother.

don’t forget. check-in is at one.


an overnight stay in Bellingen with your girlfriend’s sane family. three champagne coupes by the river. a murmuration of swallows. and an upside-down banana cake.

a phone call to your mother before bed. she doesn’t ask about your girlfriend’s family. she only wants to know how many more hours until you are with your family. where you belong.


an early start heading in the wrong direction. is this the sign you were looking for? there are less baby animals this side of the border and more roadworks. your mother has left before you. have you forgotten? check-in is at one. she tells you the fridge is too small for a case of VB. what kind of hotel are they running here?

if you stop for lunch you won’t get here until four. didn’t I tell you check-in was at one?

This piece appears in full in The Lifted Brow #33. Get your copy here.

Rebecca Jessen lives in Brisbane. She is the award-winning author of Gap.