Out the Office Window: Ginger

Backstory for a character in Out the Office Window.

Ginger was born in the town of Gore on New Zealand’s South Island. Gore is a small, rural town which is not getting any larger. Ginger’s father spent the greater part of his adult life working for Fleming and Company, makers of Creamoata porridge. When the company moved to Australia in 2001, he switched to dairy-equipment sales and service. He was never happy about the change. Ginger’s mum was carried off by cancer when Ginger was only two.

Ginger was a pretty girl with five older brothers, who raised her and treated her like a little princess. This had the effect of nourishing her feminine side; she didn’t grow up to be a tomboy. She was a bright penny, an innocent flirt when she got older. She had high hopes for romance and adventure in her life, despite the countryside around her, mostly inhabited by cows. She would visit Invercargill and Dunedin with her family, but neither was the big city she had in mind when she daydreamed about her future.

A young fellow named Aperahama Snow came down to Gore from Tapanui in the forests at the foot of the Blue Mountains, after graduating from Blue Mountain College. He moved to Gore to continue his education. He became close to Ginger’s brothers, hunting and fishing with them. They’d bring home brown trout from the Mataura river and Ginger would clean and cook them and serve them to the boys, including Aperahma. In time, Aperahama was spending more time with Ginger than with her brothers.

Before they became absolutely serious, however, Aperahama began missing school due to a peculiar lack of energy.

“Are you ill, do you think?” Ginger asked him.

“It’s Tapanui flu,” he told her, from under the covers in his bedroom. “I’ve had it before and now it’s come back. I’ll need to go home to the clinic for treatment.”

“Oh, Appie, I do hope you’ll get well soon!”

“She’ll be right,” Aperahama said weakly, not moving in his bed.

Ginger knew of this flu, which was in fact chronic fatigue syndrome, and understood her young man’s need to go home. Rather than waiting for his return, Ginger realized, she wanted to leave Gore too.

Home life was gloomy with her unhappy father, who was short with her and her brothers. None of Ginger’s girlfriends – the girls she had grown up with – seemed interested in doing anything other than marrying local boys, setttling down, and starting families. How could they stand that, Ginger wondered. Didn’t they want to see the world, have adventures? She understood that she had grown apart from these young women. She realized that all along, while they had enjoyed listening to her talk about her plans, none of them had ever had any intention of joining her in them.

With her boyfriend gone, she was ready to leave. She wasn’t interested in country music, cows, or any other of the blandishments of the area. She craved crowds and lights and department stores. Especially department stores. And boutiques.

When she graduated from St. Peter’s College and found herself doing no more than mooning over her lost love and imagining herself in a big city, it was away with the fairies and off to Auckland for her. She left home with a hug for each brother and the greatest of delight, off to a place that in her mind had acquired the status of Oz. She was ready and anxious to make new friends, learn about the latest trends and fashions, and shake the dust of the Southland region off her new Overland fashion boots.