Silent Whispers

“…..beautiful shot…”

I am court side, murmuring in a low and hushed tone.

My 10 year old, Hugo, is seated beside me and peers up from his screen. He must have heard me,

“Mum, you sound like David Attenborough”.

It is a Summer morning,  the second Saturday in February. I’m at a local tennis court in a leafy suburban street strung together with low lying mid-century modernist homes. The breeze is gentle and the morning air, warm.

My daughter is playing. The score is 4:1. She is down.

“…C’mon Nic, you can do it, you can turn this game around, you can, you’ve done it before…”

My stunted and muted exposition continues at intervals under my breath,

“Hugo, it’s her attitude. If she can pull her self together, she has a chance”.

“Mum, she’s 5:1 down now, I doubt it she will comeback…. and jeez, now you sound like that American guy who commentates from the sidelines at The Open, you know he sits in that box whispering and analysing everyone”.

“Jim Courier?” I ask.

“yeah, that’s him, I think” Hugo says turning back to his screen.

Tennis. It is a funny game.

As a spectator you have to be quiet, almost silent. Yet, in a subversive sort of way you can be loud, but only on the inside. You can’t let the loudness out.

Whispers are ok, silent ones.

I am good at it now; the silence and the whispering thing.

It’s 5:2, then 5:3 down.

In fact, I am so good at it now that my nerves can jar if someone near me claps too loudly. It seems crude.

5:4 down.

So good, that I’ve learnt to mutter discreetly, both seething expletives and joyous psalms into the palm of my hand at pivotal moments.

5 All!

I squirm and shift my position in the plastic garden chair. I want to get up and move. But, there is no room here to pace the baseline. So I remain firmly seated and very still; except to turn my head from side to side, following the bouncing trajectory of each ball.

6:5 UP?

I startle at the screeching sound of the sulphur crested cockatoos peering down from the eucalypt branches nearby. Their pitch is as piercing as the sight of them here is surprising. Their flustered squealing echoes the noise building within me.

I remain seated and silent.

Somehow, the beautiful shots continue, one after another, swishing from one end of the court to another. Sweet thwacks punctuating the next four points.

And then, its game, 7:5 up.

The girls shake hands over the net and bag the courts.

Smiling, I look to Nicola and congratulate her, “Well done Nic, Well done”.

And whispering through the wire fence she smiles back at me and says “Yes, how was that!”.

Unreal.

That’s how it was, unreal.

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