by Sally Richardson

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by Sally Richardson

One afternoon, an elderly woman, Matilda, finds a strange young man standing dripping wet on her doorstep. She offers him tea and biscuits, warmth and conversation, and then prompted by his curiosity and a question about a photograph of a dark-haired girl on a sail boat, she begins to reveal the story of her past. As she reflects, she re-lives her solitary childhood, her amazing journey around the world with her Father in search of the answer to a question ‘What is the world’s most beautiful thing?’, her meeting and falling in love with Feather, a wild young man she discovers on a beach, and the painful loss of that love, and her sea journey to find Feather and ask him the question to which only he knows the answer; How can you know love, and lose it, and go on living without it, and not feel the loss forever?

The young man who is listening to her tale, becomes actively involved in her storytelling, before he reveals to her who he is and why he has come to visit. He then accompanies her on one more final journey. The Ghost’s Child is a story of great love and deep loss, and how to travel the path of one life in the face of these two all-pervasive realities.

Something sets The Ghost’s Child apart from other stories which approach this very human dichotomy. You are never certain that the man Maddy falls in love with is human, bird or dream. You are never certain whether the places in the story are real or imagined, and you are never certain whether the journeys to and from those places are actual or symbols of catharsis.

Regardless, The Ghost’s Child is told from one woman’s perspective: Matilda, an old lady, sits in her armchair telling a young man the story of her life, from childhood to present day. We see Matilda’s journey towards asking the greatest of questions, and we travel with her as she shares how she has spent the rest of her life living her answer, turning sorrow into joy one piece at a time.

This title appears in:

Stages - a WA retrospective

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