Everything has a beginning and an end.

After six months, Julia had only been in Australia a short time. The day of the Melbourne Cup is a big deal in the horse racing community. A unique opportunity to immerse oneself in Australian culture awaits. She agreed to attend horse-racing with Brian when he invited her.

When she received the invitation to the Melbourne Cup, Julia was deep in the middle of a mystery book. Even though she'd only been in Australia for six months, she had no idea what the place was like. Brian had made the call. His younger brother was in the same class as Julia a few weeks earlier and the two of them got the opportunity to get to know one other. Brian was 19 at the time and had just graduated from Julia's high school. Right now, he was trying to figure out his next move. He was now working in a city restaurant as a part-time employee. To which, he said, "I have no idea. It's hard to say." Surely you haven't heard about Melbourne's famed horse racing day. A day off is granted to anyone in Melbourne who want to participate!" Brian's response was one of mockery. "I'm sorry, I didn't know." To top it all off, I've never been much of a lover of racing in the first place.

That's OK with me, but I'm not interested." I can't answer that for you. You'll have to see for yourself." A need. I thought you wanted to know more about us Australians, didn't you?" Brian continued to push the button. Then again... "There are no excuses. "This is a one-of-a-kind event, so please come!" The notion crossed her mind, but she persisted in her inquiry: "What is the dress code?" He informed her, "Oh, you must wear a hat!" 'Funny hat?' inquired the girl, perplexed. Brian replied, "I'm talking about a lady's hat, not a man's hat," he said. "You know, there are rewards for the best-looking one." Her first reaction was, "Oh my God, hats are not my style." In any case, it's not something my father would approve of." I can obtain one for you if that is your preference, Brian said. In response to Julia's offer: "No, no, I'll do it myself, but thank you." "How am I supposed to break this news to my dad?"

When she finally got off the phone, Julia felt better. Before Cup Tuesday, she had a whole week to figure things out. Being an emigrant from Romania, where horse racing was banned under communism, it was merely the mystery of it. Even after the fall of communism, unrestricted betting on horses remained unheard of. And the fact that her father was so rigid about her going out with men would make things much more difficult. Julia had followed her parents to their new home in Australia.

It took her eighteen years to grow into a tall, thin woman with deep-set black eyes. Despite the fact that she had missed a year of school due to the transfer, she remained unconcerned. It was difficult for her to learn a new language and make new acquaintances at the same time. She didn't reveal her emotions to her parents since she didn't want them to see her feeling vulnerable. As an emigrant from Romania to Australia, she had to deal with her mother's personal and financial issues, and her father's new work at a drilling equipment spare parts warehouse was not yet secure, so she had to deal with her own personal and financial worries as well. Fatherly love and respect were instilled in Julia by him. In his arms, he used to lift her up and toss her toward the ceiling, catching her just before she landed on the ground with her small hands. It was an exhilarating experience. It was their match.

Things began to change for her after she reached the age of majority. She was no longer his "little girl," and work had replaced her in his heart. To make matters worse, we had to relocate to another country. It got difficult to communicate with him. Julia forgot about Brian's invitation since she was too busy with schoolwork. The passage of time whizzed by. There was a lot going on. Julia's father was either working or slipping out to the bar with his new work pals while her mother cooked and took care of the home. Julia convinced her mother to let her and Brian go to the races on Monday. They promised to keep it a secret from her father. By the time she returned, he would have already gone to work.

As soon as they arrived, they headed to Parramatta's retail district in search of the perfect headpiece. But, oh, the costs! Suddenly, their excitement began to fade. Their lack of funds made it evident. Her father would not approve of the cost of the vacation. It had already been too late for Julia to cancel Brian, and she didn't want to disappoint him. The next day, she might easily say she had a migraine and not show up at all the next day.

Her mother had a different plan in mind for her daughter. To buy black glossy material, threads, and a feather, she took Julia to the fabric store. Cutting the cloth into rose petal shapes, they stitch them together at home. Inquiringly, "What's happening on?" When he returned home at night, Robert inquired of them. "You're running late!" Maria responded to it, as well. "The oven is preheating for supper." To go to the kitchen, Robert removed his work jacket and stumblingly walked along the hallway. They completed the hat at four in the morning after Maria and Julia had worked through the night. Finally, they sewed the black feather to the rear of the headpiece. Julia's palm was the size of the finished hat. Julia's rich brown hair was beautifully highlighted by the dress. Julia fell asleep on the sofa as soon as she tried to hold back a large yawn.

Once her mother had finished cleaning up the mess, the first rays of sunlight signaled the dawn's approach. In order to get Julia to the community center, Brian had to pick her up at 10 a.m. and drive her ten kilometers. At precisely nine o'clock that morning, Julia emerged from her shower, her eyes still swollen shut from the lack of sleep she had had that night. That morning, she hadn't heard her father leave for work, like she always did. The first time she had gone out since moving to Australia, she couldn't believe she was really going out on this day. She wept when she saw herself in the mirror. Her under-eye circles were enormous. That's OK, she wasn't meeting her soulmate. Neither did she. Neither Brian nor she had any romantic feelings for one other.

The truth is that deep in her heart of hearts, she hoped she'd meet someone hot, soon, even though she couldn't describe precisely what "hot" meant. The door to the restroom was opened by her mother. "Let's do it now, while we're young," he said. Julia looked in the mirror again and made some expressions. As she finished rolling her curly hair, she thought, "When I have my own apartment, I will not allow someone to hurry me out like that." That's when she caught a sight of Brian, who was standing at the front gate, across the street. She yelled, "Great, he's here already!" and ran to get there. If my father finds out, I'll be in big trouble." How did Julia know? She ran to her room to find out. "Leave it in my capable hands, my sweetheart.

Her mother yelled, "Get yourself out of here!" as she got ready to go to the market. A pleated silk dress in black and white accentuated Julia's cleavage and curled down to her thighs and hips. Everything about it seemed right. The hat is the last thing to go. The best of the best. Julia positioned it to the left, at an angle. For some reason, she'd seen this in a movie, where you grin seductively from down-up while flicking your eyelashes. A few minutes of practice, a few swivels on her high heels, and a confident stride out the door later, and she was ready. Brian had a cigarette in his mouth. After seeing Julia, he said, "Holy crap, you look wonderful!" "Thank you," Julia said, blushing slightly at his words and, more so, at the way he looked at her. The expression a young guy gets when he first encounters a gorgeous lady.

It's like he's from the countryside, she thought. "At the very least, he could have attempted to hide that perverted expression in his eyes." A few more seconds later, he was ready to join them at the festival. The two of them walked inside the already-crowded auditorium. Brian was on the lookout for his pals. That's what he really wanted everyone to see: him kissing Julia. He was elated. A few people turned to look at Julia as she entered the scene. She was lovely and unfamiliar with the surroundings. She was observed. There were a wide range of people in the building, from neighbors to foreign investors. Dressed to the nines, the women sat occupied, holding newspapers and betting cards.

There were a lot of fancy hats all around the place. "I believe stitching mine last night was worth the work," Julia chuckled to herself. Wilma, Brian's aunt, sat in the center of the table. The light sandy dress she wore highlighted her toned figure well. Her attire had a good V-cut, with stunning Majorca pearls and a smart hat in the same color as her necklace. Her gaze was aglow. Brian remarked to Julia, "Please meet my aunt Wilma," before walking away. Julia's face became flushed as a result of the situation. She tried to respond, but nothing came out of her lips. As she sat down, Wilma presented her with the racing cards. She asked Julia, "Who do you have your money on?" Finally, Julia said, "I'd bet if I knew how.

The aunt patiently explained the rules of the game to her niece. The first race was fifteen minutes away. A newspaper was picked up by Julia and she flipped through it to see what horses were being raced. After that, she caught a peek of their odds, but she couldn't make sense of them, so she ignored them. So, she started at the top of the newspaper and marked her selections like she was an expert, then went down the page by page marking her selections for each race of the day. She relied only on her intuition while making her selections. 'Each way,' she placed two dollars, for a total of four dollars. Only thirty of them were available for her to use, and that was quite a challenge for her.

Wilma asked the cashier what horses she had chosen and compared them to her own list as she made her way to the register. Wilma said, "Are you sure you don't want to understand more about yours, before you make your final decision?" In Julia's reply, she said, "I'll stick with what I chose." Her mind wandered to other possibilities when she felt she recognized a voice and shifted her head to the left. As Wilma screamed, "Off we go and put them then! ", the first race was about to conclude! Fortunately, they were able to arrive just in time. After a few seconds, the first race began. Some in the room were standing, while others remained seated. People were all glued to the large televisions adorning the walls.

Brian returned to his 'beer mates' after offering Wilma and Julia drinks. When he left this time, Julia didn't mind, but she was curious about his actions. It's clear that her standards are quite a little higher than his. In an attempt to figure out where exactly her horse was in relation to the rest of the field, she sat through her first-ever race. She couldn't determine at the conclusion of the competition which of the top three winners she had missed. There were a kaleidoscope of hues and the event moved at a breakneck pace. A nod of the head was all Wilma needed to show her approval. "One of a kind!" she said, scrunching up her card with excitement. You came in third with it." Julia, congratulations!

You've got a winner in my hat! Julia pondered this and smiled ecstatically. The following race was scheduled to begin in exactly one hour and ten minutes. As they drank champagne, Wilma's two companions spoke about their wins and losses at the casino. Wilma brought up Julia's first victory, and everyone's eyes brightened up. "It was Julia's first race and her first triumph. It's time for us to celebrate, ladies, so I'll present Betty and Thelma to you, sweetheart," she remarked before turning to Julia and raising her glass. Many people had begun to gather in the community hall by this point, including seniors, children, and families with small children who were now free to mingle without fear of being seen. The bar and the two pool tables were surrounded by a group of men. Everyone at the tables, even the women, were laughing heartily. Occasionally, they mixed. It didn't take long for Julia to realize that the people around her were pleasant, even though they were dressed in hats and masks, so she felt more at ease. In Australia, this was the first time she had been away from her family.

It was a good show. This is the second go-round. In unison, everyone gathered around the televisions to show their support. Horses ran shoulder to shoulder throughout the race, making it difficult to see the finish line. The finalist couldn't be determined without a split image, so they had to use it to choose the winner. People were eager to learn the conclusion of the experiment. The men were drinking beer while discussing the outcome and awaiting a verdict. Julia's cheeks began to bleed as she heard the news. She also had a runner-up. In spite of Wilma and the ladies' inability to win yet another time, Julia's triumph was hailed with joy. Inquiring about Julia's third choice, they chin-chinked and questioned her.

Apollo, Julia's next horse in line, was chosen as the ten-dollar wager by the three of them after a fast discussion. Brian complimented Julia and inquired as to how she was feeling. Julia's excitement was palpable. They had a brief conversation about how she was going to enjoy the day without worrying about anything. "That's the way to do it," Brian quipped. After a little moment of silence, she said, "Nice bum, I give him that," as she followed his shadow back to his buddies. Her attention was drawn to three teens and a few adults, one of them had a cricket hat and a green T-shirt on. She couldn't see his face since he was facing the other way, surrounded by his comrades, but she recognized his back. This time, she vowed herself, she would question Brian about this individual.

Julia had a better understanding of the Melbourne Cup spectacle by the end of the third race. They were displaying photographs of the Melbourne Cup racing site between races, and she was blown away by the variety of hats the women wore and how provocative their designs were. The entire area was crowded and vivid, and the colors of the riders were so brilliant. Horses in general had a fantastic appearance. As soon as she saw them, Julia fell head over heels in love with them. In the third race, she finished second again. The women in the vicinity were in awe of her. Inquiries regarding the unique winner of the day were made by several of the males. Julia was awed by their energy. Brian was so delighted at this point that he kissed her cheek. In her embarrassment, she neglected to ask him what she intended to say.

The Melbourne Cup was set to begin shortly after midday, according to the announcers. While everyone was waiting for the signal, the mood became positively effervescent as people chatted louder and louder, broke into laughing all over the place. The euphoria was palpable. Upon the start of the race, the audience erupted in ecstasy, with men spitting in their mouths, yelling and gesticulating while pointing to their favorite horses, and ladies calling out for their own preferred victors. Julia paused for a moment. Her pulse was racing, and she could feel the moisture forming on her bare palms. She rushed up to Wilma and her companions just before the finish line and clinched her fingers in a panic. She lost this time. Her two choices didn't even make the top three.

She was taken aback by the abrupt pang of sadness. She wanted it to go on now that the Cup was over. It was over in a flash. A year of anticipation culminates in a few short minutes of viewing pleasure. She thought, "It's not fair." After everyone returned to their homes, the commotion subsided for a bit. Brian happened to be nearby and inquired about her plans for the future. "That's odd," she mused. "This is the first time he's asked me anything like that." As this was her last round, she said she'd be open to a larger position. She brought up her favorite and inquired about his. "Thanks for the advise," he responded, "but I haven't decided yet." he replied. He grinned and then turned around. "Hey, hold for a second," she recalled, "I have a question for you." You can't do that right now, Julia. We have wagers to put." He vanished through the throngs of onlookers. The following race was set to begin shortly after this one had ended. As she contemplated her last wager, she silently tallied up the money she had earned thus far. It dawned on her that she had racked up sixty bucks in winnings.

Even with the cost of betting and beverages over the day, she had quadrupled her initial wager. So, she decided to put $10 each way on the last race, "a splurge on the last race," she thought. Even if I lose, I'll still be in the lead!" It was then that she chose the horse that she thought would continue her good luck. A loud "This Anenkov has to be the winner" drew Aunt Wilma's attention. What are your genuine thoughts about it, sweetheart?" At a hundred-to-one chance! She put her wager despite not fully understanding what Aunt Wilma was trying to say. She considered her given name to be auspicious. When the race was over, she searched around for Brian so she could ask him to drive her home. Despite this, Brian was nowhere to be seen.

His drinking companions were still there, but he wasn't among them. The fellow with the cricket hat wasn't either. What is going on? She was bouncing on her legs and wondering. The last race has begun. At this point, few people were talking and even fewer had made any wagers, but everyone's gaze was glued to the televisions. After her horse took the lead at the first bend and was three lengths clear of the pack at the start of the straight, Julia eagerly followed the race. Ahead of the finish line, she and her horse were six lengths ahead of the closest competitor. Over and over again, Julia would leap up and down, screaming for the horse to "Run! Run!" as the race came to a close.

The TV announcer yelled, "And the winner is Anenkov." Everyone's attention was drawn to Julia, who was still yelling, "I won, I won, I won!" Those were the happiest times of her life. After a few minutes, the winnings were shown on the televisions. Aunt Wilma's voice trailed off as she gasped in disbelief at what she was seeing. That means you've earned more than $1000, Julia. You're a lucky girl! When Julia realized she might be able to relieve some of her parents' financial burdens for a short period of time, she screamed and leaped with excitement. Both Betty and Thelma embraced Julia over and over again.

Many others sent their heartfelt congratulations to her. As Brian snuck up behind her and kissed her on the lips, she gasped. She said, "Where have you been?" For the third time, he made a break for it without responding. She scoffed, "What a bastard!" Julia wasn't blushing this time; she was enraged.

She anxiously gathered her belongings and fixed her attire. "There is a first time for everything, my love," Wilma said as she stepped up to hug her farewell as she said goodbye to her. Julia said her goodbyes to the women and dashed out the door, no longer giving a damn about Brian's whereabouts. In her panic, she couldn't figure out how to go home. 'Julia, wait!' a familiar voice yelled to her as she reached the exit. "Dad?" Staring at him, her face grew white and she began to quiver. "You'll be OK, my love. There is nothing to worry about. My coworkers and I made the trip here together. "I didn't want to ruin your happiness when I watched you win," he stated. "Dad, I am really sorry," she said, her face covered in tears. "Shut up! Let's hurry up and get you home!" She was given a hug by her dad.

She wished she could spend all her time in his embrace. They prepared to go. When Brian finally emerged, he took a peek at Julia to see how she felt about him. His shoulders were slumped, his arms were dangling, and his whole body was strained. Robert thanked Brian and shook his hand. Asked Brian not to tell Julia, he replied, "I asked Brian not to tell you I was here." To her surprise, Brian didn't notice Julia's facial expressions or gestures as she sat up and lifted her head to gaze at him. They then walked out of the hall. A hundred dollars had been bet 'either way' on her horse, her father casually said as they walked to the vehicle, "You know, my darling." "There is a first for everything," Wilma had said as she lay dying. "Oh, there is surely a first for everything," Julia thought to herself as her brain began crunching numbers.

Hello, my name is Cornelia Ramsay, and I like to write short tales about individuals who have or are attempting to overcome challenges in their life, both personal and professional.

My experience ranges from engineering to the financial services area.

Everything in your life begins with you and your personal growth as a person, which I have learned via my involvement in various fields. When you work on yourself, you're improving your life and the lives of others around you. The satisfaction I gain from assisting others in their personal growth and discovery of the life they really want drives me to create and publish these short tales.



Larry Gaza

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