Not Here, Not in Our Town

Guest-edited by Suneeta Peres da Costa & Martin Edmond, edited by Michelle Cahill

EXTRACT

I squat beside my mother, who has her skirt bunched around her pale knees. I peek at the strong stream mak­ing the thud­ding noise, peek at the lit­tle shal­low it drills into the ground and the river it sends run­ning away. A grassy scent fills my nostrils.

To the north—across the yard and, beyond that, the paddocks—a warm glow back­lights Mount Welling­ton and Ben Croachen. Mum is watch­ing the radi­ance. When I gig­gle about how just now Scruff was chas­ing his tail round and round until he bumped his head on the veran­dah pole, the only reply I get is ‘Mmm’.

I try to do as Mum is doing but mine sprays every­where: on my shoes, my bare thighs. It raises a lit­tle dust that sticks to the damp parts of my legs and it is squishy in my knick­ers when I pull them up and walk away. Scruff bounds over to where we have been, sniffs and cocks his leg.

The wheelie bins are filled with water, parked in parts of the yard where the hoses don’t reach. The dry grass has been mown down to the dirt and the sprin­kler is on. Its jerky tit-tit-tittering usu­ally means I can call over the kids from next door, but Mum’s shoul­ders are set squarely today so I hold in the urge to yell out to them.

I fol­low Mum to the car. ‘To Nanna’s’, she answers my ‘Where are we—’ as she puts an arm behind the pas­sen­ger seat and cranes around to reverse out the driveway.

We go slowly. The route into town lead west and, briefly, south, so for most of the trip Mum glances out her win­dow, and then she glances at the rear-view mir­ror. My legs stick to the vinyl and the rolled-down win­dows aren’t doing much to relieve the dry heat; it just gets blown around a bit. The trees rush by, the pad­docks pass slowly and the moun­tains keep abreast of us. My eye is drawn to the glow; it cre­ates a feel­ing inside me I don’t know how to name.

Read the rest at Mascara Literary Review.

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