"CAN you believe it?" my wife says.
We're looking at an old plywood caravan. Round at the front and round at the back. Faded mint green and windows that curve with the line of the roof.
"She's a bit worse for wear."
Now that's an understatement. There's a long split in the wood across the front and one of the windows is broken. A small jacaranda tree, having started its life under the front axle, has twisted its way up the side.
It's our third wedding anniversary and we're up at the bay for the weekend. The last few years have been tough: disappointments, disagreements. No one said marriage was easy.
She walks over to the van and runs her hand across the cracked green paint.
"My mother called her Delilah, you know?"
I shake my head. "You've never told me that."
She hasn't told me much about her mother. That's because she doesn't know much. On our second date I took her out to dinner and she told me what she did know.
"We were travellers, apparently. Sometimes my father was around, sometimes he wasn't. We lived in caravans and friends' garages and cheap hotels."
She paused to look down at the red and white checked tablecloth, then said, "But my mother died just after I turned four and I was shipped off to Aunt Lori's."
It was an interesting second date. She'd burst into tears.
She later told me she couldn't remember a thing. There were some photos and Aunt Lori told stories, but even she didn't know much. Everything else was a mystery.
I try the door on the caravan but it's locked tight. "What a shame we can't get in," I say.
She moves over next to me, presses her hand on the left of the door, draws her foot back and kicks sharply at the bottom. The door swings open.
I laugh. "How did you know to do that?"
"I don't know," she shrugs. "It just came to me."
We lean through the door and peer inside. I'm enjoying myself. It's been way too long since we've done something adventurous like this together.
On our honeymoon we went to Europe. It was supposed to be the trip of a lifetime but it was tainted by the argument in Paris that continued for the rest of the trip.
"I just don't see myself as a mum," she'd said.
I'd never thought to ask this before we were married. I just assumed.
"You'll be a great mum," I tried. But as the months went on, the bitterness grew.
When a few close friends had children I thought it would help. But our friends all had their mothers hovering about, sharing advice, rocking their grandchildren to sleep. I made one last attempt about a year ago. "Being a mum will come naturally to you. You don't need to be shown how to do it."
She simply shook her head and left the room. We haven't spoken about it since.
She steps inside the van and I follow. The ceiling is low and the floor creaks. The smell of rotting timber lingers in the air.
The wood panel walls inside have been painted the same mint green. The brown lino floor has lifted in one of the corners to expose old yellowed newspapers underneath. Cupboards have been built into the wall next to a small stove and sink.
She sits down at a low table and looks around.
I catch her gaze. "Bring back any memories?" She twists her mouth thoughtfully and nods. "I remember living here. With my mother." She slides her hand slowly across the table top and turns her head to one side.
"She'd sit over there by the window and the sun would shine through her golden hair and she'd smile at me. She made me a cake. A single little cupcake that she had to cook on the stove. Said I was so special I needed a cake just to myself. And she put a candle in it - we only had one candle - but we lit it and blew it out four times."
My wife touches her hair, nodding quickly now.
"She used to crochet. I would lie in her lap and watch her for hours. Working the wool. And she'd sing songs about the ocean and I'd hum along. I'd watch the needle go in and out. Over and over. At the end of each round she'd run her hands through my hair. Then I'd fall asleep, just like that, in her lap."
She jumps up and pulls open one of the cupboards. It's a small cupboard, no bigger than a tissue box. She breathes in sharply when she sees what's inside. It's a ball of yellow wool and a crochet hook. On the end of the hook someone has begun to crochet.
They're three crocheted triangles, linked together to form a row of bunting flags. She lifts them to her nose, closes her eyes and breathes in.
Back at home I unpack the car. It's late and we both have to work the next day. I climb into bed and wait. But she doesn't follow.
At midnight I get up and look for her. She's sitting on the lounge humming a tune. She's been humming the same tune ever since we left the bay. In her hands is the crochet bunting. She's working the needle in and out, looping the yellow wool, pulling it through, turning it over. She must have made 20 triangles.
I sit down beside her. "I didn't know you could crochet?"
"I didn't either." She looks up and smiles. It's been too long since I've seen her smile like that. "I just couldn't leave it unfinished, and I thought it might look nice in. . ."
I put my hand on hers. "Yes?"
She takes a deep breath.
"In a baby's room."
Entrants were asked to write a short story inspired by one of four photos. Short-listed stories will be published every day in the Newcastle Herald until Friday, January 23.