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