In the diffused morning light a boy darted through the forest. Barefoot, Dar leapt over rocks and logs, his feet dipping in and out of the swirling mist blanketing the forest floor. A talisman pouch bounced around his neck, almost as if it were alive. The twisted banyan trees obstructed most of the sunlight, while scorched air wafted around him, hinting at a heat yet to penetrate the world. In Dar’s hands was an enclosed wicker basket filled with millet bread and coal.
At the base of a jagged cliff face, Dar stopped and tucked the talisman into his homespun tunic, pressing it to his chest for luck. The cliff was higher than the tallest tree and the cave halfway up. Dar rubbed rock dust over his palms and fastened the basket to his hip with rope. With a shaky breath he gripped the rock and climbed, with practiced agility, toward the blackened cave. As he neared the cave’s entrance the familiar smell of sulphur ripped into his lungs. Dar inhaled the pungent fumes in bursts and white stars drifted across his eyes.
He does a decent job you know
most nights in the kitchen
The dishes are his masterpiece
we’re not to interfere with
When the mission is accomplished
he grapples with the plug
sets himself down on the lounge with
I’ve finished the dishes
Followed by an expected congratulatory pause
it doesn’t stop there
On his day off last week
I received a call at work
from you know who
The vacuuming is done
and he’d even dusted the decking!
Would he like the job fulltime?
Along with his real job too
but forget about the thank yous
A bunch of red roses at Christmas will do
Mora drove up the familiar hill on the way home from the supermarket in Shepparton. Dry yellow paddocks, scorched by the sun, lined either side of the bitumen road. The road shimmered in the heat. Mora’s sky-blue Cortina glistened, to the point where the clouds could reflect off it. She’d been to the carwash and, while cocooned in soapsuds, had watched the monstrous brushes wash away the country dirt.
It was pension day, and her car rattled along on the solitary trip. One headlight was smashed from when she’d hit a ghost gum near her rundown weatherboard house. Her house was nestled beside the country highway, half hidden by a yard full of equestrian course remains. The rusty drums and wooden planks, tipped sideways and swept over with guinea grass like a forgotten playground.