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Sport 10: Autumn 1993


Tommy has his old photos laid out on the table. Rose and Reen and her sisters lean over the table, going through them too. There are not many, one or two a year, maybe, for the first half of Tommy's life.

'Then I met your mother,' Tommy says. 'Mrs Snap-happy.'

'Just as well someone does it,' says Rose. It's true she's an avid chronicler, ready with her Beauty at all the important times and even when they don't expect it. There are boxes of snaps in the cupboard.

Tommy keeps his old photos separately, though, in his tallboy with his old watch, some paua-shell cuff links, the Maori meeting-house he built in Standard Six woodwork, and a small, battered 1952diary that Reen has scoured for clues but found empty except for the dates of her grandparents' birthdays.

Periodically Tommy brings out his photos, to illustrate a story, to prove a detail, sometimes just to reminisce.

Here he is with Berto and Carlo in school uniform.

Here he is with Nana, downtown Greymouth,1942.

School picnic, Punakaiki,1946.

On Lambton Quay with Ray Vogan and Dan Kennedy, 1950.

Knowing everything now, Reen watches Rose, sideways, furtive, but her mother is as ever, a slight disdain, a tart commentary issuing at intervals.

Here is Tommy at Titahi Bay, crouched on the sand, his bare torso shining, his white teeth bright.

Here he is, head poking out the window of his Morris, grinning again.

Here he is, fifth from the left, second row, a group shot, outside the Hostel, 1952.

Here he is, Marist Second Grade, runners-up, team photo, 1953, front row, seated, second from left.

('Rosina,' Teresa said, 'she was the nurse, the nurse at the hospital. The one who had to see his privates.'

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Lost the trophy but won the girl, Reen thinks, looking closely at the photo, searching for some sign of Tommy's secret, a bright eye, a betraying smile.)

There's one last photo, they all know this one, a melee of arms and legs reaching forever upwards, and a ball in the air. On the back it says in Tommy's extravagant script, I am the one with my hands on the ball.

'How do you know?' says Reen, suddenly doubtful. 'How can you possibly know it's you. How do we really know?'

'Quite,' says Rose.

'I worked it out,' says Tommy, 'has to be.'


'Well, it's complicated,' Tommy says, 'but anyway, I remember the manoeuvre.

'After all these years?' says Rose.

'Of course,' Tommy says.

'Well, there you are,' says Rose, 'something that venal, sticking in the mind.'

'Yup, definitely,' says Tommy, looking hard at the picture, 'remember it well.'

Reen takes the picture from him, stares at the black-and-white mass.

There he is, Tommy, her father.


He's rising up out of the swarming circle of bodies, his hands highest, touching the ball. But she can't tell. This whirling mass of limbs has swallowed him up.

There's a hollow at the centre and Tommy may be there, maybe not.