Fi (Fiona Maxwell)
A character profile of Fiona Maxwell (Fi) from the Tomorrow
Series by John Marsden
Note: As always these are just my opinions and thus subject to
change at any time. If you disagree, think I have missed something, or have something
to add, please use the link at the bottom of the page to send me a note.
WARNING: Partially blows plot
of each book
Please don't read on if this concerns you
For those who like stereotypes, Fiona Maxwell is behind the eight
ball. She is set up to fail in the environment the group finds itself in. She
is unassertive, pampered, with no real knowledge of camping or the bush. She is
someone who has never done a day's hard work in a her life and even she knows
it. She also missed the school's "Outward Bound"
course (she was on a horse riding camp). Even she doubts she has what it takes
to resist, to survive. But Fi is not a stereotype, instead she makes me wonder
about just what courage really is.
So what is Fi ?
Fi is a survivor.
While she is totally out of her depth at the start of "Tomorrow, When
the War Began", well illustrated by her packing for the initial trip
(1) and she is the one you would expect to be lost first, she
actually comes through the whole war seemingly the least changed. On
the way she shows an extraordinary resilience in the face of the disasters that
overrun them. There is only one occasion when she comes totally undone, after
being chased through the night by the soldier at the end of the encounter with
Harvey's Heroes. Even then she manages to hold herself together until her friends
have a chance to intervene. She only fails twice more, and then only partially.
First when they are trapped in the paddock with the horses though she recovers
within minutes and saves Ellie's life in their wild ride to freedom, her second
minor failure coming after fleeing the wrecked 4WD in Wirrawee, and on that occasion
everyone is a write off except Ellie (2).
In the mean time her skills develop. She is never good with guns nor comfortable
by herself in the bush but she advances remarkably compared to where she started
Fi is continually underestimated
by and never fully understood by Ellie.
Ellie has known and loved Fi since they were both 5 years old, yet when the pressure
is on, she realises that she does not really know her at all. There is something
powerful inside Fiona Maxwell. With her soft polished voice, her grace, her beauty
and tiny body Fi has always seems like an ideal to Ellie, someone Ellie "...
looked up to as the perfect person, When she did something wrong I'd say, 'Fi!
Don't do that! You're my role model" (Tomorrow, Ch 1, p14).
Ellie had put Fi on a pedestal and blinded herself to who Fi really was.
In seven novels Ellie never really seems to understand Fi. She realises that
she has spent most of her life with a wrong impression of who her friend really
is, and she considers this while they wait to attack the bridge (4)
and again, at the start of "The Dead of the Night" (5)
but she never really reaches any conclusions and Fi maintains her ability to surprise
Ellie till the end. (6)
If there is one constant about Fi, it is that she looks scared. If there is
a second, it is that she just won't stay inside the mental image Ellie keeps building
Fi is a
nurturer, but one with insight and perception who is willing to risk her relationship
with Ellie to try and save her.
As time goes on and Corrie and Robyn die, and Lee gets lost inside himself, Fi
steps in as Ellie's major emotional support. Ellie comes to depend on her very
much, just as Fi depends on Ellie in a different way. At the end of "The
Third Day, the Frost" (ch 28, p275) when they are recovering in New
Zealand, Ellie writes of Fi "Even now I get terrified if she leaves the
room for a few seconds and I don't know where she has gone."
Again and again, through the rest of the series we see Ellie
turn to Fi for support, though none more than at the end of "Burning
for Revenge" when Ellie struggles back, seriously injured, from rescuing
Lee and again as she sits with the dead child in "The Night is For Hunting"
But Fi is no simple crutch, instead she is a mirror, forcing
Ellie to look at herself ("Darkness, Be My Friend", p52 "'Well
Ellie,' said Fi, who never let me get away with much ...").
Fi has an active intelligence, and she often responds to Ellie
much more powerfully than any simple "Its OK" could ever be. A good
example is the discussion they have in the tree outside Tozer's (8).
But, for me, the greatest example of how much Fi loves Ellie and cares for her
is what she says as they climb the spur near the start of "The Night
is For Hunting" (9). Fi risks her entire relationship
with Ellie, which must be the most important thing in her life at this point,
to try and reach her friend, whom she can see self destructing before her eyes.
Fi is a
We are all a mix of strengths and weaknesses, and while Fi is a great carer she
needs someone to provide leadership. Fi does become more assertive and there is
one occasion when she takes the leading role in planning, when they are in the
wreckers yard after the attack on Cobbler's Bay (10). But that
plan of Fi's, and its flaws (take the Jackaroo for one) leads directly to their
capture, their imprisonment and the death of Robyn. After that experience Fi never
takes the lead again. She becomes more assertive about wanting leadership and
contributes plenty of ideas (11) but she is never again willing
to be responsible for the planning. Instead she reverts again to being a follower,
Over and over again, Fi looks to Ellie for leadership and accepts
her judgment. She explains while they wait to deploy at the start of "Darkness,
Be My Friend" (Ch 3, p23): [Fi says to Ellie] "'...You've always
had the guts to do things. You're not allowed to stop. We'd all give up then ..."
Even in the desperate situation of the Airbase, Fi looks to Ellie.
Then a few pages later she will follow Ellie to what seems like certain death
(12). She is terrified, but she just accepts Ellie's judgment
that now is the time to die, and for this. She moves onto the next logical step,
how do they deal with Kevin?
Even right at the end of the series, when they are all back together
and Homer is explaining what they did after they lost Ellie, it is obvious that
Ellie is the one Fi trusted to plan. (13)
Ellie and Fi have a strongly cross dependent relationship. Fi
supplies emotional support to Ellie, which Ellie desperately needs. Ellie provides
inspiration and leadership to Fi, two things critical to Fi being able to keep
going. Only when Ellie does not provide it does she look to others and it is Ellie's
failure to assert leadership in "The Other Side of Dawn" that
allows Homer to just about get them all killed.
Fi is both
the most frightened and also the most courageous.
When I was reading the novels the first time, I came away with the impression
that Fi was not very brave, just someone who hung around in the background and
let the others do the fighting. One of the constants of the series is how regularly
Fi looks and acts frightened. But reading through the second time I have reversed
my impression. Now I think that Fi, who is routinely terrified, may well be the
bravest of them all. Despite her continual terror she keeps performing, she keep
going, she keeps her perspective when others are losing theirs. She is cursed
with a memory she can't control, that throws messages of horror into her mind,
but she is the one who controls her actions, not the horrors she can't push away.
With the start of the war Fi seems to be the weak link in the
team's lineup, but as the team discusses what to do Fi's qualities start to show
through. (14) She decides to act, despite her fear, because
she can't cope with the thought of doing nothing. Then at the next decision point,
whether to start active resistance, she is obviously terrified but she again decides
to go ahead, because she can't bear to let her friends down (15).
She will, even then, put her life on the line for them.
Understandably Ellie is not comfortable being teamed with Fi
for the attack on the bridge, again from "Tomorrow, When The War Began"
(Ch 20, p250): "I was a bit nervous being paired with Fi. I guess true
courage is when you are really scared but you still do it. I was really scared
but Fi was really really scared" thought that soon changes to admiration
as Fi leads the tanker to the bridge "I have always admired so much about
Fi, but now it was her courage I was admiring, instead of her grace and beauty.
She looked like a breeze would blow her over, but there she was, going alone through
the deserted streets of a town in a war zone"
Fi is terrified, the curse of an active imagination, but she
is not initially undermined by what they are doing, unlike the rest of them (16)
though even she does not survive what happens in "The Third Day, The
Frost". Her shell is cracked and she becomes the person least able to
push from her mind the terrible events of Stratton Prison, they come to her whenever
the action starts and in her dreams (17). She can't stop thinking
about Robyn and the prison, as well as the new horrors that pile up, such as the
That is Fi's reality. She can't push it from her head. But while
these things infest her thoughts, they do not control her. She is terrified, her
thoughts are full of these memories, but she continues to plays her part. Who
is the more courageous. ? The fearless ? Or the frightened individual who acts
despite the fear ? In continuing to acting despite having her mind filled with
these terrifying memories, Fiona Maxwell shows a courage that is humbling.
Fi does have her limitations, plenty of them, but she plays her
part. She normally takes on supporting and nurturing roles, but when the situation
requires she will try just about anything, regardless of what she thinks she can
do. She does not want to let the team down. Not really a combatant, Fi fights
- and kills - when the situation is desperate: (19)
Fi defers to no one in courage, be it the cold courage to continue
to function calmly when you mind is full of horror or the hot courage required
to climb through a tiny hatch into a burning and wrecked vehicle in the middle
of a firestorm to rescue a friend, or on one other memorable occasion, to risk
everything to save Ellie, her closest friend (20):
Not bad for a pampered girl from town.
Fi is also
still Fi, the girl from Town who Ellie sometimes thinks is from another planet.
Ellie thinks of Fi as having a "butterfly mind", sometimes with good
reason. There are some lovely lines. Two minute noodles (21),
feeding the ferals their greens (22), "a garden gnome would
know more about life" (23), Christmas (24),
Water Fairies (25), Santa Claus (26) but best
of all swearing (below).
From "The Night Is For Hunting", Ch 11, p195
" I was wrapt to see that. Natalie laughing was
was about as common as Homer crying, or Fi swearing or emus flying.
I said exactly that to Fi a couple of minutes later, when
we were in the toilet area.
She was indignant.
'I do swear!'
'No you don't!'
'Yes I do! I swear lots of times.'
'Oh Fi, I've never once heard you swear.' Although as
I said that I had a vague memory of Fi saying 'bloody' when we were organising
the break-in to Tozer's, the night we were nearly trapped in Wirrawee.
'I do, I do.'
I couldn't help teasing her. She was so anxious to prove
she was a rebel. The truth is, she was as much a rebel as I was a supermodel.
'OK, so when was the last time you swore'.
'At the farm, at the Whittakers'.'
'I didn't hear you. Where are your witnesses? You've got
to have witnesses.'
'Well, it was to myself. No-one actually heard me.'
'Oh! You can't count that!'
'Yes I can' Fi said, totally unreasonably.
The war had changed many or most things, but Fi was still
as innocent, as untouched by badness, as she had been at the start. I don't know
how she did it."
What more can you say ?
Fiona Maxwell. A most remarkable young woman and my favorate character
from the "Tomorrow" series.
Supporting Extracts - Used
There are some lovely lines in here, have a browse.
Fi and her pack when they first set out for Hell
"Tomorrow, When the War Began", Ch
2, page 20:
"Fi's pack was in direct line of vision from
me, and the more I looked at it the more I began to realise how swollen it seemed.
'Fi', I said at last, 'just what have you got in that
She sat up, looking startled. 'What do you mean? Just
clothes and stuff. Same as everyone else.'
'What clothes exactly?'
'What Corrie told me. Shirts. Jumpers. Gloves, socks,
'But what else ? That can't be all.'
She started looking a bit embarrassed.
'Dressing gown? Fi!'
'Well, you never know who you'll meet.'
'What else?' 'I'm not telling you any more. You'll all
laugh at me'
'Fi, we've still got to get the food into these packs.
And then carry them God knows how far.'
'Oh. Do you think I should take out the pillow then?'.
We formed a committee of six to reorganise Fi's backpack
for her. Fi was not a member of the committee."
Fi fails in the field only very rarely
"The Dead of the Night", Ch 11, page
"By then Fi was at the top of the tree and looking
'Come on Fi,' I called from the bottom.
Lee started up the tree as Fi began tentatively to reach
out and feel for a handhold. Homer and Robyn we like stereo speakers, urging her
on. She went very slowly, using the sides of her shoes instead of her toes, and
halfway up she froze. I could see her legs shaking. 'Come on Fi,' we were all
calling. 'I can't,' she cries. 'Come on Fi,' Robyn said urgently. 'The soldiers
are coming.' They weren't, but it worked. Fi gained another meter with a little
scrambling movement, then flung her arm up and grabbed at Robyn's. Luckily she
caught it. I hate to think of what would have happened if she hadn't. Even so,
Robyn had to haul and haul before Fi, handing like a dead weight, was dragged
over the top.
Fi had been brave so many times, shown such strength,
but it was like she'd been wiped out by the last twelve hours."
"Darkness, Be My Friend", Ch 11, page
"We huddled together and talked in the faintest whispers. Three of us
talked, anyway. Fi just wept, silently. The awful relentless pressure had got
3: Fi's skills in outdoor living develop - somewhat
"The Other Side of Dawn", Ch 4, p55:
Ellie comments: "I smiled as I watched Fi carefully rolling
a jumper and stuffing it deep into her pack. For a moment I thought back, remembering
how Fi had been so hopeless about packing when we first set out for Hell. Has
she really brought a dressing gown ? I could hardly believe it, but when I searched
my memory, where it was: Fi on the top of Tailor's Stitch, looking embarrassed
as we gave her a lesson in outdoor living. This time the roles were reversed:
Fi caught me sneaking in the rock Lee gave me for Christmas."
"The Night is For Hunting", p77:
Talking about the Ferals Fi says "'I don't understand them going
into the bush unless there's someone with them'. [and Ellie comments] I
couldn't help thinking Fi was talking more about herself."
4: Ellie thinks about Fi as they wait to attack the bridge
"Tomorrow, When the War Began" and
Ellie thinks about Fi and Homer: Ch 21, p266
"... there was no secret now that there was more to both of
them than I'd ever realised. Fi seemed delicate and timid, and she even claimed
herself that she was, but she had a determination I hadn't recognised before.
There was a spirit to her, a fire burning inside her somewhere. One of those Avgas
fires maybe, that burn invisibly"
5: Ellie thinks about Fi again at the start of "The Dead of the Night"
"The Dead of the Night", Ellie reflects
on Fi again: (Ch 1, p5)
"Opposite Homer, sitting with her slender feet and her perfect
ankles and her ballerina legs dangling in the water, was Fi. She still looked
like she'd always done: ready to pour tea for your grandmother, and hand it over
in a Royal Doulton cup. Or ready to step onto the cover of a Western Rose clothes
catalogue. Ready to break another guy's heart or make another girl jealous or
make you own father go red and laugh and chatter away like he was twenty years
younger. Yes, that was Fi: cute, pretty and fragile. That was Fi, walking alone
through the dark night looking for enemy patrols, lighting a petrol soaked fuse
to blow up a bridge, riding a motorbike across country in a wild scramble to escape
bullets. I'd been awfully wrong about Fi. And I still hadn't got her figured out.
After we'd blown up the bridge she'd been giggling, saying, 'I can't believe I
did that! Let's do some more!' After Kevin drove away with Corrie unconscious
in the back seat she cried for a week"
6: But Fi continues to surprise Ellie to the end
Ellie is surprised by Fi in "Darkness, Be my
Friend" (Ch 19, 229) when she insists on breaking into the tank farm
"But Fi shook her head furiously. 'No! I'm coming in with you.
You're always taking the risks.'
I was surprised, deeply surprised, but this was no time
to argue. I was moved, too."
and again, a few pages later, as they run from same tank
farm in "Darkness, Be My Friend" (Ch 20, p236):
" 'The car!' I gasped, in case
she didn't realise that's where I was heading. She just nodded without looking
round. I'd underestimated her again; I was always doing that."
and again, as they wait for a the motorbike patrol to
run into the trap in "The Other Side of Dawn" (Ch 5, p84):
" Beyond him Fi watched with her hands
to her face. There was a gleam in her eyes though, that was just another of the
confusing things I'd noticed about her during this war."
and again, when Fi admits she is still in love with Homer,
from "Burning for Revenge" (Ch 15, p211):
" I lay back, mentally shaking my head.
One thing about Fi, she was unpredictable."
Despite Ellie's comments about Fi not being a rebel and
her incredibly 'proper' upbringing, under the surface there is a little of the
rebel in her. From "Tomorrow, When The War Began" (Ch 20, p258):
" 'That's our target,' I said. I turned and found
a rock, picked it up and came back to the window.
'Wait,' Fi said.
'Can I do it? I've always wanted to break a window.'
'You should have joined Homer's Greek Roulette gang,'
I said, but I handed over the rock. She giggled and drew back her and and smashed
the rock hard into the window, then jumped back as glass showered over us both.'
7: Fi increasingly becomes Ellie's support. Sometimes mentally, sometimes physically
"Burning for Revenge" (Ch 20, p261)
" When we got to the house Kevin was
on sentry. He started to say: 'Where the hell have you been?' but one look at
me and the words died in his throat. He jumped down and ran into the house. I
stopped and leaned against a wall, thinking 'It's all right now, I don't have
to do anything. Fi will be here in a moment.' Then she was there and she took
me inside, and in one way everything was OK: I was lying on a sofa and getting
wiped down and they were trickling water in my mouth and tucking rugs around my
feet. Homer was there too, but I didn't want him; it was only Fi I wanted. And
she was fantastic. She sent Homer away quick smart and she found some burns cream
and some stuff for my bruised ribs from deep inside one of Grandma's cupboards.
She supported my head with a pillow and she stayed there holding my hand until
I fell asleep."
"The Night is For Hunting", Ch 7, p106:
"... I needed the comfort of being with Fi again, the only person I wanted
at times like this, despite the telling off she'd given me on the way down into
8: But Fi is not someone who just comforts, she often gives quite powerful responses
that make Ellie think.
"Darkness, Be My Friend" (Ch 18,
" 'Ellie, are you still thinking about when you
screamed at the man in Warrigle Road?' Fi suddenly asked me.
I nearly fell straight out of the tree. How did she know
I waited a long time before answering.
'Yes' I finally admitted.
I thought she'd launch into a big speech
about how I shouldn't blame myself and so on, but she surprised me yet again.
She didn't say anything. Then I started panicking that maybe she thought I should
blame myself; maybe she was wishing she wasn't with someone so unreliable. So
I blurted out:
'Do you think I've lost it?'
Again she wouldn't follow the script that I kept writing
for her in my mind.
'I guess you won't know until you get tested
again.' She paused. 'You were good when you waiting at the tech' with me, but
that wasn't so dangerous. Out there in the bush, and at the lookout, you were
fantastic, but it was different there too, wasn't it?'
'Yeah,' I said. 'Because it was in the
bush, and because we didn't have a choice, and because it was a matter of survival
'It was in hot blood,' Fi said, 'and this is in cold
She'd said it. That was the big difference."
9: Fi loves Ellie so much she will risk their whole relationship to try and help
"The Night is For Hunting" (ch 3, p62)
" I don't think I've ever had a bigger
shock in my life ...[as] Fi told me a few facts of life.
'Ellie,' She began. 'There are some things friends are
meant to tell you, right?'
I didn't even answer. I knew I was in trouble. There are some things I didn't
want to hear, even from a friend. Fi gave me a quick look, a troubled look, but
she'd obviously made up her mind to say what she wanted and unless I jumped off
the side of the spur, I'd have to hear it ...
'Ellie, you've been terrible lately. That's the truth,
and if I don't tell you no-one else will. Don't you understand what's happening
to you? You've changed so much. This war's making you so hard and horrible, there
are times I hardly recognise you. You just seem to be losing all your kindness
and understanding and niceness. The way you've been talking to these kids. that's
a perfect example ... The war is not their fault ...'
'And another thing Ellie.' I knew what was coming and
I definitely didn't want to hear this. I had my lips pressed hard together and
I was gazing into the distance at the blue ridge on the far end of Tailor's Stitch.
I wished I could tell her to stop, but I didn't trust myself to speak. You can't
keep out the truth and that's the truth.
The words fell from her lips. 'Your not being fair to
Lee.' ...'He let us all down,' I said. 'He betrayed all of us.'
'That's exactly what I mean. He made a mistake. A big
mistake. He's been kicking himself ever since. He doesn't need you to put the
boot in as well.
Ellie, there was a time when you would have been the
first to understand how something like that could happen, and you'd have gone
out of your way to make him feel better. But now you're so hard that you think
no-one's allowed a single mistake and if they make one, you punish them for ...
well I don't know how long because you haven't stopped punishing Lee from the
moment it happened.' ...
'Anyway,' Fi said again, 'in a way it doesn't matter
what Lee did. The whole point is, how long are you going to hold it against him?'
'But even that's not the main thing for me Ellie. The
main thing is, I want the old Ellie back. The Ellie who always helped people in
trouble, who was there for her friends. If the war's killed that Ellie, then there's
no hope for any of us.'"
10: Fi takes charge - for the first and only time - after Cobblers.
"The Third Day, the Frost" (Ch 21,
" The most unexpected thing about our meeting
was that it was Fi who took charge ... [everyone else was out of it] ... but Fi
seemed strong and determined, like she could some times.
'Seeing nobody else seems to have any ideas,' she said
in a firm voice, 'I'm going to say what I think.'
'Onya, Fi, go for it' I said
'Well,' she said, 'I think we have to take care of ourselves
for a while. The best thing would be a three week holiday on the Barrier Reef,
all expenses paid and a thousand dollars spending money. I don't think we are
going to get that, though. But even in World War Two the pilots only had to fly
a certain number of missions, then they'd be rested. Battle fatigue I think it
was called. Well, we've got our own battle fatigue, and we need to take a rest.
If we try and do any more for a while we'll just wreck ourselves. The last few
weeks we've been going steadily crazy, and part of going crazy is that you don't
notice you're going crazy. Whether we do it for our own sakes or whether we do
it because it will make us better fighters doesn't matter; the fact is we have
to look after ourselves.'"
an excellent idea and a thought that they would have done well
to remember in "The Other Side of Dawn". Its the details though
where the plan falls down. Particularly ...
"... We've got enough food, easily, with the cans we
scored here, but too much to carry. We'll have to take the Jackaroo. I think it's
worth the risk ... "
Driving is very high risk and taking the Jackaroo rather than
sinking it in a dam and taking a paddock basher is indeed insanity, a fact they
find out soon enough.
11: Hiding in Stratton, Fi looks assertively to Ellie for leadership.
"Burning for Revenge" (Ch 14, p201)
" 'Well, what's next ? Fi asked eventually. 'We
have to make plans. We can't just sit here for the next 6 months. We've got a
lot of stuff to work out.' She looked straight at me as she said it. All I could
think was how much we'd changed, and in such subtle ways. BTW, before the war,
Fi would never have taken the initiative like this, especially not in front of
Homer and Lee. She would have waited till we two were alone and then we would
have talked it through between us. It was only a little thing and there was a
time when I mightn't have even noticed it, but I noticed it then, and I felt a
bit sad. So many things had changed and I clung even harder to the few things
12: Fi trusts Ellie so much she will allow Ellie to decide when she should die
"Burning for Revenge" Ch 5, p57:
" 'What are we going to do?' Fi
asked as usual. Was it my imagination or was her gaze fixed on me, in the dim
shadowy light ? No, it wasn't my imagination."
"The Third Day, The Frost" Ch 5, p60:
"... He was talking about suicide really, about our deaths. I knew that
straight away. There was no way anyone was going to attack this place from the
inside and survive
I walked away from him then. I needed time to think. My skin was prickling
again. It's not an easy thing to face your own death. Not when you're feeling
young and alive and healthy. But I hardly had a moment to think before Fi came
over to where I was standing. I don't know whether she noticed the way I was shaking,
but she didn't comment on it. She just said, very quietly, so quietly that I could
hardly hear, 'Lee wants us to attack the airfield I suppose, does he ?' I nodded,
hugging myself. Fi started trembling too. In the same soft voice she said, like
she was whispering to herself, 'I thought he would'. To my own surprise I said:
'I think he's right.'
'Who's going to tell Kevin?' Fi asked."
13: It is Ellie, not Homer, that Fi trusts
"The Other Side of Dawn" (Ch 17, p317):
" 'Jeez,' I said. 'I can't believe you're still
alive to tell me about it'.
'It was a great plan,' Homer said firmly ... 'Well, except
that every enemy soldier for 10 k's around would have come for us like bees at
a honey pot' [said Fi]
...[they are discovered before they can carry out their plan and get
'Helicopter?' I asked, being a smart-ass. Homer
looked seriously annoyed. 'Did someone tell you that?' he asked suspiciously.
I laughed. Fi took her hand back and smiled at me and said, 'See? I told you we
14: Fi commits herself to resistance
"Tomorrow, When The War Began" (Ch
Fi says: "I know what our parents would say. They'd say that
the most important thing to them is our safety. They wouldn't want us dead in
exchange for them living. In a way we're what gives their lives meaning. But we
can't be bound by that. We have to do what's right for us. We have to find meaning
for our own lives, and this might be one way that we do it. I'm with Corrie, scared
out of my skin, but I'll do it because I can't imaging the rest of my life if
15: And again at the next decision point
"Tomorrow, When The War Began" (Ch
" Then Fi, who was looking white and
miserable, said. 'I know logically we should do this and we should do that. But
all I know is that the thought of doing anything makes my nose bleed. All I really
want to do is to go down to the Hermit's hut and hide under his mouldy old bed
till this is over. I'm really fighting myself to stop from doing that. I suppose
when the time comes I'll probably do whatever I have to do, but the main reason
I'll do it is because I feel the pressure of keeping up with you guys. I don't
want to let you down. I'd feel so ashamed if I couldn't match you in whatever
it is we decide to do. I don't think there's any way we can help our families
right now, so not losing face with you all has become my biggest thing. And what
worries me is that I can't guarantee I won't pack up under pressure. The trouble
is, I'm so full of fear now, that anything could happen. I'm scared that I might
just stand there and scream.'"
16: Fi survives the best mentally till well into "The Third Day, The
"The Third Day, the Frost", (Ch 1,
" The one who handled it best of any
of us, at that stage, was Fi. Fi was so lightly built that she looked like a grasshopper.
She was all leggy. Maybe that was why I always thought of her as frail, easily
broken, needing protection. But she had a strength that I could never quite figure
out. I don't know where it came from, or where she stored it. How much heart could
she fit inside that little frame? How tough could that balsawood body be? Its
not that that she had no feelings. Fi had always been mega-sensative. She seemed
strung like a violin: the slightest touch made her vibrate. But the terrible things
we'd done didn't eat away inside her like they did the rest of us. She rose above
them. One reason, maybe, was that she was so sure we were doing the right thing.
She was proud of what we had done. I felt pride sometimes but, truth to tell,
I never knew whether to be proud or ashamed."
17: But Stratton Prison and how Robyn dies breaks her composure
"Darkness, Be My Friend" (Ch 18, p210):
" Fi shivered. We were very close together and
I could almost feel the goosebumps on her skin.
'Stratton Prison' she whispered. 'I have nightmares about
that, thousands of them. I can't get it out of my head. Every time we start doing
things like this, it's all I can think of. Robyn's face ...'.
'Don't think about it,' I said, quite brutally.
Suddenly I had to be the strong one again. 'Don't think about it. If you do you'll
paralyse yourself. Think about it afterwards if you want to, but not now'
She bowed her head. 'Yes, I know you're right.'
I thought I'd better change the subject, fast. But for
a full minute I couldn't think of a single topic that wasn't painful."
18: And the airfield infests her thoughts
"Burning for Revenge" (Ch 16, p227):
[Ellie is feeling fairly good] "Fi didn't feel the same though.
As we talked I realised to my surprise that she was doing it hard; harder than
ever. She started crying when we talked about the airfield. 'It was horrible',
she said. 'All that blood. One man, I saw his legs blown off, right under him,
his whole body just shook up and down like some sort of horrible dance, his face
went all blurry, and he went down on the ground and I couldn't see what happened
after that. And another man, I saw the flames whoosh across the ground like they
were chasing him and the caught him before he'd moved even three steps ...'.
'Stop it, stop it,' I said. She was bringing up all the
things I didn't want to think about. 'Stop it.' Suddenly I didn't feel so good.
But I had to shake her to shut her up. She wanted to talk about the jeeps crashing,
about being trapped in the back of the truck with Kevin, about the officer she'd
seen pull out a revolver and shoot himself as the flames closed in. I didn't want
to talk about any of it. I'd more or less convinced myself it was all OK, that
we were soldiers doing it for our parents and Colonel Finley and Ian and Ursula
and here was Fi dragging me back into the world of reality.
'Talk about something else,' I begged."
19: Fi will do whatever she has to when the moment demands
"Burning for Revenge" (Ch 7, p85):
" I made Fi take [a rifle] too, though she was
definitely not calm. I could never quite get used to Fi holding a rifle. It was
like Homer holding a Barbie Doll
... [Ellie glances at Fi (and Homer and Lee) before they start the attack]
I was a bit surprised to see the other three
had identical expressions: thin lips pressed together, pale complexions, sweaty
foreheads, but steady eyes. I was encouraged by that
[... the launch the attack ...]
As soon as we were far enough out of the turn
I slammed on the brakes. Fi had just got up on the seat. Now she lurched forward,
hitting her head on the windscreen ... there was blood running down her face and
she looked as pale as a peeled banana ... I grabbed one rifle as Fi lifted the
other. Fi was the worst shot in the Southern Hemisphere, but at least she was
marginally better at handling a gun now, compared to when the war started ...
I said to Fi: 'You do the tankers.' She looked at me in horror. 'Oh, but Ellie
...' 'Just do it,' I yelled at her. ...
Fi, looking sick, raised her rifle ... I braced
myself, waiting for the huge explosion ... nothing ... I was looking around for
Fi, to see what had happened. She was distraught. 'I missed,' she sobbed. She
was like a kid who's grazed her knee. I couldn't believe it ... 'Go again', I
screamed at Fi ...
Fi finally had her second shot. It felt like
she spent five minutes lining it up. It wouldn't surprise me, because she would
have been so nervous about missing again. She did not miss.
[... they are caught in the fireball ...]
God, how I will never forget that feeling. Now
I know what cyclone victims go through. The terrible noise, the complete loss
of control, being shaken with bone snapping violence, like a rabbit in the mouth
of a terrier, like a sock in a tumble dryer
[... they come to a stop, their 5 ton truck blown 50 metres, they have
been totally smashed around and then Fi surprises Ellie...]
Then she did something really heroic. First
Homer, now Fi. I'm not kidding, we were in big trouble with air. I think all the
oxygen must have been sucked into the fire because I honestly felt I might suffocate.
Fi looked very red in the face, but she suddenly started to to climb through the
hatch. I grabbed at her to ask her what she was doing, then I realised. Kevin
20: Including putting her life on the line for Ellie
"Darkness, Be My Friend (Ch 11, p125)":
" I had never called out to Fi for help before.
Not like that. Not that desperate call for help that says, 'I want you to put
your life at risk for me.' I hadn't ever asked her to do that before. But I was
too panic-stricken to do anything else ... I didn't want to be left alone to die.
I didn't have Robyn's courage.
So I called out, with all the breath I could
find: 'Fi! Fi! Help me, please' Even as I said it I felt guilty. I knew I was
exposing Fi to a terrible risk. But thank god she heard me
She turned her horse as much as she could and got him to pull up, which
... [as she tried to give Ellie a lift a soldier started to line up on
Fi with his rifle] ...
I knew the deadly peril in which I'd placed Fi ... She was about to be
shot dead from behind ... I screamed at Fi ... She just yelled at me: 'Hurry!
Hurry! She'd decided there was no use getting excited about what ever was happening
behind her. That was brave. It gave me the energy to get moving: even though I
was sure we were both going to be killed. It seemed better to die doing something
than to give up.
... [at the last moment Homer rides the soldier down from behind]"
21: Two Minute Noodles
"Tomorrow, When the War Began", Ch
3, page 33:
" 'What are we having?' she asked.
'Two minute noodles for now. We'll cook some meat later, but
I'm too hungry to wait.'
' What are two minute noodles?' Fi asked.
Lee and I looked at each other and grinned.
'It's an awesome feeling,' Lee said, 'to realise you're about
to change someone's life forever.'
'Haven't you ever had two-minute noodles?' I asked Fi.
'No. My parents are really into health foods.'
I'd never met anyone who hadn't had two minute noodles before.
Sometimes Fi seemed like an exotic butterfly.'"
22: Feeding the Ferals Greens
"Burning for Revenge" Ch 14, p202:
" These kids probably don't have a clue
that vegetables grow in gardens,' Fi said. 'They probably think they are manufactured
out the back of the supermarket. There's probably lots of gardens around here
where we would find stuff.' That was a good idea though there was something in
Fi's voice that made me suspect she wanted to sit the kids down at a long table
and feed them greens. It was a frightening thought."
23: A Garden Gnome Would Know More About Life
"Burning for Revenge" Ch 15, p210:
" I went a bit red and turned my face
into the pillow. Sometimes Fi seemed like she'd been born a hundred years too
late. She belonged in the nineteenth century. Talk about innocent. She'd been
in a war and killed people, yet a garden gnome would know more about life."
24: Christmas With All The Trimmings
"The Night Is For Hunting", Ch 2, p14
" My talk about Christmas set her off in a big
way. I think she immediately imagined a happy christmas dinner with everyone sitting
around a decorated table and Santa making a surprise visit down the chimney. I
didn't get the same picture when I bought it up on my monitor. These kids would
eat the reindeer and strangle Santa. But I didn't say anything. I didn't want
to spoil her dreams. Fi, the last of the great romantics"
25: Water Fairies
"The Night Is For Hunting", Ch 7, p120
" Fi's way of motivating them [the ferals] was
to make up a story about the water fairies. 'Do you know,' she said as we sat
in a grassy spot halfway to the top, 'in the river in Hell there are little rock
pools where fairies live? They sit there at dawn combing their beautiful hair
and arranging their gossamer wings.'
... 'And the prettiest fairy, whose name is Princess rainbow -'. At this point
Homer retched loudly over the back of a tree trunk. Fi glared at him, but personally
I was grateful to Homer. I don't know how old Fi thought the kids were
... I had a sudden thought that maybe Fi actually believed in her river
fairies. I didn't want to pursue that idea: I pushed it out of my mind fast, before
it did any damage."
26: Santa Claus
"The Night Is For Hunting", Ch 8, p137
" 'Lets get started with the essentials.
'Absolutely. For Natalie's sake,' Fi said firmly, then added.
'And for mine.'"