Isobelle Carmody Award
for Creative Writing
If one was to walk past 63 Cogdon St Pittsborough, at around 6
o’clock, without fail one could spot Matthew Taylor. His strange
evening ritual had become something of the small town’s circular
gossip. In the cool, blue crispness of the early evening, Matthew’s
bright yellow, rectangular window beamed in cosy happiness,
unaware of the town’s judgemental stare. Every night with religious
punctuality, he sat on his maroon couch opposite his unusual
companion, engaged in storytelling. Sometimes, on warmer nights, if
the window was open wide enough, snippets of the tale were caught
by eager young ears at the window and churned through the town’s
rumour mill. These tiny excerpts, rashly slapped together like an
easy-bake cake, came together to form the infamous story. The story
of Matthew and his companion. In order to ensure this story and its
accuracies do not die with the current generation, I have decided to
include it this journal. So follows, ‘Matthew and The Straw Hat’.
About twenty years ago, that makes it 1920, when Pittsborough was a more
quaint, respected country town, the Villors moved into The Grange. The Grange
was a sublime country residence on the outskirts of Pittsborough, set on 480 acres
of prime pasture land, with small forestation areas and a modest number of
running creeks. This small mansion was something of a Tudor beauty, with
intricate pale daffodil coloured lattice work climbing three stories high, hugged by
mysteriously dark green ivy vines. The day the Villors arrived, the shutters were
flung open by a cohort of no less than fifteen maids, and the family was helped
from the carriage by a brigade of footmen. First came Mr and Mrs. Villor (who
remain mostly unmentioned ) followed by their daughter, Meredith, who poses
centrally to this story.
Not an hour after their arrival, the town’s milliner, Matthew Taylor, hoping
to make a good spot of business promptly appeared at The Grange. Now, keep in
mind Matthew was a country born lad, fairly simple-minded, but a handsome
gentleman none-the-less. With the maids busily fixing the rooms, who else should
open the door but Meredith herself. The anaemic beauty wrenched the door open
in a flurry, her pale blonde ringlets swinging anxiously, falling about her narrow
shoulders in terrific disarray. Upon seeing her visitor, her neat pink mouth
formed a sweet little sideways smile, and her cheekbones dimpled in pleasure.
‘Good Afternoon Ma’am,’ Matthew breathed in surprise.
‘Good afternoon,’ she chimed back.
‘I’d like to offer you a selection of hats. All half price for you today, milady.’
‘Call me Meredith.’
And so the conversation continued, with little to do with hats. The animated