Friday, June 24, 2011

Where is My Mind?




Where is my mind? . . .Off with the Pixies. A durge for widows. Death knell for lovers and friends. Gone crazy so leave her be.. She's dull, needy, lacklustre. No play for dull girls.  

Where is my mind?  Floating upwards, zephyr bound on the Freemantle Doctor or Southerly Buster. Flighty and flustery like flying in a dream, skimming trees with toes. Not quite reaching its zenith but elevated. Before the fall that is.

Where is my mind? Hard landings like a lame duck in a pond of stagnant scum. Tangled in the weed, bound by fishing wire. Strangled in the stench. Held under by the firm hand of  faux authority and self-imposed restriction or think about it - a self-imposed lack of will to escape an even stronger willingness to submit. Slave to the music. Wage slave. Where's WIRES when you need them. 

Manipulation of the mind can be self-induced, self-destructive, self-willed. Blame others for the sword of Damocles but Damocles is dead. The sword an apparition. A dead legend. It's all your fault. Accept it, work with me baby.

Where is my mind? Somewhere in between elevation and depression. Saturated with the wrong thoughts. Distracted by shiny things. The equilibrium eluded.  Don't tell me to make lemonade when life gives me lemons. It still tastes sour no matter how much you sugar coat it. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Ha! Only the dead know for sure.

Where is my mind? Wondering now among the Koi. Light, floating, aqueous with a three second memory.  Lucky on the end of forgetful Pozzo's rope. Brilliant!  I wish I was a fish. There's some virtue in forgetting. If only I didn't want to remember.


Friday, June 17, 2011

Aura

He sits at the head of the table, unimpressed with the 'sex in the city' Chardonnay set. His mother, dressed to kill chatting incessantly about her needs and the trials of single parenthood with like-minded women, who all cooed at him and fed him "My how you've grown!" He barely knew them and he knew he was a runt. He hadn't felt well this morning. The nausea exacerbated by things he'd seen, felt, done the day before. A bird repaired, a wound tended. She'd let him have the day off school only to drag him here. He was tired, no exhausted, and would rather have stayed in bed.

Bored with Prada prattle, he twists in his chair, unnoticed by the gibbering women - then he sees the man. Eyes burn through the large pane of glass which opens onto the street and there he is. Huge in stature waiting for the 'walk sign'. The look of a frightened animal on his face. Dressed in scruffy army fatigues. Arms thick as birch branches and trousers too tight for his gargantuan frame. Boots and fatigues, so out of place in this swish neighbourhood. To Joel, he looks like a giant. A man who could slay dragons but too afraid to draw his sword. Then he sees something else. Around the man is a shimmering light, golden and bright. A halo, a force field, something to which other pedestrians were oblivious.  Across the street, in broad daylight, between traffic and the pane of glass, the noise of the restaurant fades and their eyes meet - The man shines.  

There is something about the boy. Diminutive, pale, at odds with his surroundings in faded jeans and a surf brand sweat, surrounded by jabbering women in a restaurant they probably can't afford. The eyes of this child burn into his soul and he lets out a sigh. The child's aura shines so bright it makes him wince. Someone like him, someone with a gift, an unwelcome gift.

Boy and man compelled by the moment move forward towards each other. The child unnoticed rises from his chair and makes his way through the crowded restaurant, eyes focused firmly with head turned sideways through the glass. Vision blurred as if in a moving train but also transfixed on the huge man waiting to cross. The man, steps forward into the road, traffic adding to the streetscape melee and amid the confusion and cacophony of horns. 

Child runs across three lanes of traffic and stops, transfixed. Man leaves the kerb with similar urgency. A woman falls from the traffic island hopelessly reaching to recover cans which roll like children down a grassy knoll as she scrambles and grabs her chest. Man and boy dart across the road. Beast and prey, David and Goliath both single in purpose and joined in acknowledgment.

Life stops. It all stops. There's a blue drift of light, a moment, faces of onlookers freeze in anguish, traffic slows like cooling lava. Both man and boy dive towards the woman, the cans, the bags. His bulk now light as a feather, the boy's heart heavy as lead - surroundings blur and eyes meet. They say nothing but both still kneeling and aiding their charge, make eye contact and hear that ethereal voice that has plagued their lives "You? You have it too?" The other acknowledges with a nod.

The woman is scraped to the sidewalk, dazed, shocked, unconscious. As the crowd gathers, the big man touches his thumb to her forehead and puts a huge hand around her wrist. She coughs and splutters but wakes and smiles a grateful smile. Confused but knowing that something very special just happened. Just seconds before, she'd seen herself from metres above, limp and lifeless.

"Joel what the hell are you doing?" His frantic mother roughly grabs him by an emaciated bicep. She's terrified and tempted to shake him but relief prevails and she holds him close. She looks towards the giant, "What were you thinking? He's a kid!"

The big man spoke slowly, "He was helping this lady . .   we were both just helping." 

Not convinced that the huge man wasn't trying to abduct or pervert her son in some way, she flicked her head with arrogant disdain and left, Joel tucked tightly against her, trying hard to look back at the stranger with whom he felt a deep connect.

They're having breakfast. Only the two of them these days His father left when he was a baby and she's never settled for anyone else. "Mum?" he asks, "You remember that man yesterday?"

She rolls her eyes and demands  him not to talk about it but clearly she needs to.  "You can't just go round making friends with strangers. You don't know who he is or what he does. He could be an axe murderer for all you know, a criminal, a retard."

"He's not, he's like me!" objects the boy.


"Joel, what do you mean he's like you?"

The boy sat back in the kitchen chair and stopped playing with his now hard rather than over-easy eggs. "He can do things, with his head. He does things with his hands."

She's torn between wondering if the two of them have had some clandestine meeting before and the inappropriateness of a grown man and a small boy doing things with their 'hands' isn't lost on her. "What do you mean with his hands? You know him? Did he hurt you? Touch you? Ask you to do something you didn't wanna do and then tell you not to talk about it?"

"No nothing like that, you're not listening! He does things with his head and his hands. He can talk to me without speaking. I know what he's thinking and he knows what I'm thinking. We're the same. That lady. . . that lady that nearly got run over, she didn't drop her bag, something went wrong inside her and he touched her and she was alright."

She can't believe it. She thought the woman had simply fallen. "What's his name?" she asks.

"His friends call him Forty-Two but his real name's Abel. He was in a war you know."

He begins to prod the now cold eggs with his fork, she removes the plate to prepare two more. "Then he went to a hospital for people who do strange things and had stuff stuck to his head. It made him feel funny so he just left. Put on his soldier's clothes and just left." She's stunned to hear her son talk about a man he's met once, and so fleeting in such detail. Her curiosity is aroused.

"Where does he live?" So much for not talking about the stranger she thinks.

"Across the lines in an old train."

The eggs are slipped onto a clean plate and she pushes them towards him, "Eat . . we're going on an adventure." He smiles and gorges the refreshed breakfast.

"We're going to see Abel aren't we?" The question needs no answer.

She's beginning to trust her son's intuition. Why? She doesn't know. She's fought against this for so long. Wanted him to be 'normal', to play with other children, to graze a knee, dress like a super hero but he's different. She's always known but her denial now gives way to curiosity and they hit the road. "Buckle up kiddo."

His glee is obvious, he likes Abel. "He shines mum."

She keeps her eyes on the road, "Shines?" Joel waxes lyrical about the man's aura, the sparkles that emanate. "Do you have one?"

"Everybody has one but not everybody can see it."

She nods in recognition, not quite believing what's coming from his mouth but hoping. "Can you help people by putting your hands on them, like you did that cat?"

His head slumps low in a disappointed gesture, "Only people I don't love." He knows, he'd tried. He'd laid hands on his Nana in the hospital as she wheezed her last breath. He'd laid hands on Buster, his beloved dog to no avail and once, he'd snuck into his mother's room and laid a hand on her forehead hoping to ease the pain that doubles her up without notice but to no avail.

The car draws up against the railway siding, she gets out, straightens her skirt, smooths her hair, takes a huge breath and locks the door. "Which one?" There are three abandoned carriages set back from the workshop sheds. One surrounded by a tiny picket fence, the kind you buy in a roll from Bunnings encircling a small garden of herbs and marigolds.

"That one!" he points. How he knows, she's beyond asking but she has a problem and if the big man is as gifted as she hopes, he can solve it. He can make everything right.

There's no need to knock, the door opens before they've traversed the tiny path, "Joel! Buddy . . good to see ya!" The two embrace like old friends and she's flabbergasted, they've barely met!

"Hi Abel, this is my mum, she wanted to meet you."

He gesticulates for them to come in, his huge form bent beneath the carriage door, "Come, come . . I've been expecting you both."

The carriage lacks the comforts of home. It's former seats removed, only the luggage racks remain. It's sparse and rudely furnished with little more than salvaged chairs, a small coffee table and photographs of Black Hawk helicopters in desert landscapes on the wall. The smell of coffee is inviting and he pours her a cup of joe - the kid a glass of milk. "Mr . .What shall I call you?" She hesitates.

 "Abel's fine ma'am" he says and bids her sit.

She's nervous and her tone a little formal, "Joel's quite taken with you . . . and I'm sorry I was so rude yesterday. He scared me running through that traffic and I thought . . . "

The big man laughs a deep James Earl Jones kind of laugh, "It's alright, we have  . . an understanding."

She wants to ask him questions about the aura, the gift but he begins to talk, to explain his situation. He's a vet, shell-shocked and damaged who spent 3 weeks in a military hospital for psych evaluation. They picked him up shaking and silent after an insurgent bombing.

"I don't remember much," he said, "other than when they put those things on my head, I felt weird. Kinda light and giddy. When the sedation wore off, I looked in the mirror and all I could see was me, with a shroud of gold. I sparkled, I shone." She's lost in his narrative, no time for disbelief and Joel sits mesmerised with an 'I know all this' gaze and a comical milky moustache. "Before I left, there was a guy in the next bed. He was hurting. Drugged up and dopey just to keep him comfy you know?" She nodded, not really understanding, "I went over, touched his hand, just for comfort you know? Just to tell him that his last hours weren't gonna be spent alone. I felt it. This shot of somethin' just ran down my shoulder, and into my hand. No sparks, nothin' like that but he opened his eyes, said 'thanks man' and fell back to sleep. I damn near collapsed after that and slid back into bed. Felt like a bomb had hit me.  The next morning, he'd gone. Dead, or so I thought. I'm in the bathroom havin' a shave and who should come up behind me all dressed in civvies and ready to leave. He'd recovered! Fit as a fuckin' (excuse my French) fiddle. That's when I knew. Them sparkles had somethin' to do with it."

"I can fix things." A tiny voice pipes up from the corner, "I fixed a cat and some flowers. I fixed a bird's broken wing without a splint but then it makes me dizzy and I spew." She's now lost for words and fighting to keep a gaping mouth delicately closed, her attention firmly back on Abel.

"You healed a dying man?"

He clasps his enormous hands above his lap and lowers his head, "I guess so."

"But you could use this. You could help thousands of people with this. Nobody need ever know. Her excitement accelerating, she's on a roll, "You could cure cancer for Christ's sakes."

He nods. "Ain't right. There's a time for dyin' those that need to go, should be let go."

She drives home in a daze. Doesn't know what to believe. Doesn't know fact from fiction but begins to hope.

She hits the fridge as the kid wonders into the lounge and turns on the TV. Her aching hands struggle with the screw top of the bottle but she manages and pours a large one. Begins to drink and empties the entire glass. She wipes the moist white wine from her lips with the back of her hand then clutches her stomach. The chill's brought on the pain and she doubles. "Joel! Joel!, quick, go get my pills, they're in the bathroom on the vanity."

He doesn't hear, absorbed in superheroes and sound, he curls up on the couch.

"Mum what's for dinner?" She doesn't answer. "Mum!" Finally he unfurls spindly legs and wonders into the kitchen. She's on the floor, out cold in a foetal position, the bottle of Chardonnay lying in a pool of spilled wine, the drip from its lip amplified by the sudden silence. He kneels and strokes her face, she's warm but her breath is faint and he lays hands on her shoulders but feels no buzz, no electricity coursing through his veins. He loves her, this isn't going to work.

Abel's massive fist bangs hard on their front door. Joel knows it's him even though he's never been to the house before. "Joel! Buddy! Hurry man" The boy bolts for the door and lets the big man through.

He's beginning to cry, "She just, just . . .  I tried . . "

Abel saunters through in seven league strides, "Oh man . . she didn't say but I knew!" He kneels and gently turns the fading woman onto her back. He glides his hands from head to hip and rests them quietly across her solar plexus. His face begins to grimace and his arms tingle at first then explode in electric pain as he presses hard against her chest. "C'mon, c'mon" he utters in a whisper.  He's sweating now and Joel runs to fill a glass with cooling water, "Here .  " Abel continues, the colour draining from his face as hers begin to flush.   A small boy drops the glass, shards shattering and water droplets reminiscent of that day the traffic stopped. He watches his friend shine, shimmer and glow. She breathes, gasps and he slumps - the aura gone.

"I don't know how Mrs Carlton but, there's just no sign of it" The white coat examines her MRI, no vibrant green where the cancer had once invaded, "There's nothing, you're clear!"

She waivers and threatens to faint, steadying herself with an outstretched arm on a whitewashed wall. "But you said six months max?"

He turns, face blank and unable to explain, "Can't explain it. Never seen anything like it but trust me, this MRI's clear. It's gone."

She holds her son, no longer thinking him odd or weird. She holds her son with renewed life and love. The sun shines its own aura, golden, warm and shimmering amid blue skies as both watch an oversized casket lowered and a military salute expelled by the pristine weapons of six comrades. At the wake, each has their tale of rescue whilst recovering in that vet's rehab joint. How Abel had laid hands.  How a gentle giant had conquered demons.  How the big man had shone an cured their wounds, soothed their souls, made it right.

Tears streaming now, she holds her son "Don't you ever, ever, ever . . . lay a hand on anyone!"

Written for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Two Over Easy and a Nice Chardonnay"

Monday, June 13, 2011

Plans



For months they made plans to kiss the sun at night. To achieve the impossible, attempt the improbable. Hopeless dreamers colluding on hopeless plans and wild ambitions, they fed each other fantasy until both believed that it was real.

It's his desire to meet her. She hasn't a face, a look. She isn't a type; just serious yet funny, plain but full of character; sad and he wants to make her smile. He's had the pragmatic, the time wasters, the shallow and the shifty. This time he dreams hopefully, not hopelessly for the impossible or so it seems. 

Then there she is, she makes him weak yet brave. Takes his hand and tells him not to be shy, she gives him confidence and hope. It's been years since he felt so safe, so uninhibited. Yes him, the one with outward self-assurance, he, the one who plies assertion. He who falls and rises, falls and rises, brushes off the dust and begins again. He, damaged by love and betrayal now hardened and aloof.  Only she sees the softness inside. Only she pushes beyond the arrogance and guile. 

They're hopeless dreamers, hopeless types. Life has been cruel and kind. Given both joy and desperation. Taken those they love, wrended them with heartache and self doubt. They give each other life and breath and love and courage. 

He finds it odd that she never invades his dreams despite being a constant in his thoughts. Perhaps allowing her so much cerebral space when conscious, denies her access when he sleeps, if he sleeps.  Why wouldn't someone so vital to his existence or so he believes, not appear in his dreams? Why can't he hold her close, warm hearts, warm breath in warm climates. That's what he wants, he and her together, adventurous and on the move. Ambulatory not sedentary, always turning. Like when they finally met. Each day exciting and full even when they did nothing it was as if some great kinesis propelled them forward, effortlessly, one's momentum clicking repeatedly against the other in a wave of perpetual motion.

They embrace at the airport "Don't forget me," her tears on his jacket, "I won't, and thank you." His parting phrase as he walks into the terminal and she out into the sun. She daren't look back and wonders if she'll ever see him again, touch him, smell him. He is the same, walking forward, not looking back. Both knowing that their differences far outweigh their commonalities despite the inextricable entwining of souls. If she believed in souls.  Another time, another place? Perhaps it would work. Probably not.

He's broken her cool resolve and doesn't see his impact on her as she undresses, no longer needing to wear the lace and silk, she reaches for flanellette.  Who's going to see her, who will notice her beauty scars now that he doesn't share her bed. "Don't forget me," she weeps into the pillow as he sighs into his.

She has conversations with the invisible driving home. Rain beading on the windscreen and the irritating wipe of rubber interrupting her thoughts. "You know this don't feel right . . " she tells him, "Who knows what we feel?" He quips. She reaches over and smoothes the sheepskin car cover where he once sat and retrieves a silver hair.

"I just met you I can read your thoughts and what they tell me is what I want . ." A companion, a traveller, a romantic, an intelligent mind. I want to be your mystery, I want to share your secrets, not your lies." He doesn't answer other than to say, "Your thoughts tell me what you want but I'm not giving anything away, keep guessing . . I'm your mystery," even though he isn't.

She's at the traffic lights, visibility almost zero as the red light dances refracted by the pouring rain. "Light up the stage, make your move, give me something," she begs. But he is silent. He is absent, just the seat, and sheepskin cover and a sad song on the radio as she wells up to match the torrent streaming from the windscreen. 

He drives through peak hour traffic, 'This could feel right' . . the lyric plays drowning the other words of sense and rationality. "THIS" could feel right but what is this? "It's a tryste, a fling," she echoes in his head. "It was what it was. Is what it is, nothing more, nothing less." His heart sinks. His memory recalls. Warm days, cool nights, bodies tangled, laughter exchanged, toothpaste shared, small bottles of unimportant unctions collected and left on foreign shores where she retains each one as if their memories are locked within the fragrant contents. "Don't forget me . . " Words spoken by both, heard by neither.

She's cooler now. Matter of fact, reserved when he wants her to light up, feed him something, reassure, reconfirm. She who once danced upon his stage sheds a dimmer light. The rhythm is gone from her song, she no longer plays to his tune. And he laments the loss.

She knows the truth and says aloud though no-one listens, "We know who we are. We know what we are. We know what we had, what we did, what we were" and locks it in her heart. 

 "Take off your mask, show me what I'm missing." Sometimes when they talk, not often, but sometimes, the mask is torn and the faces they hide remind them both of what was. They reminisce. And yet, they still make plans to kiss the sun at night. Hopeless dreams and best laid plans. "If you come .  . " he says, "Of course I will . . ." she hopes. 

Plans become what they 'might', rather than what they 'will'.  "Sometimes there's no going back," she says. Yet he thinks, "There's always hope."  There are always the best laid plans.



Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cork Sniffer

My mother wasn't a 'funny' woman. That isn't to say that she didn't have a sense of humour. She could throw a pun up the flagpole and watch it fly with the best of them and understood clean jokes but wasn't known for telling them herself. She was a homemaker, nurse, gardener, golfer, awesome cook and excellent grandparent but no . . . she wasn't funny.

She was a stickler for manners which is probably why I judge people by their behaviour at the table. Whether they hold a knife and fork properly, shovel their food or bite tiny morsels.  Whether they reach across or say "Excuse me" or take the last of anything without asking. Whether they offer to clear the table or push in their chair after a meal. Yeh, I'm shallow like that. I blame my mother.

She was prim, proper and blissfully unaware of the colloquialisms of youth when it came to the language of her teenagers. Even upon meeting the parent of a kid my brother used to hang with she declared, "Oh hello, you must be Wanker's mum." Unaware that the kid had been awarded a rather unfortunate nick-name by his peers. And one to which his own parents were not privy.  Yeh, we had to explain to her what a wanker actually was to the point that she definitely felt like one! Naive? A little.

Yes, my mum was a sober and pragmatic type, until she had a drink. I don't mean getting sauced or roll around drunk. I mean 1 drink. One single nip. The woman was a cork sniffer and whilst well below the driving limit got smashed on one whisky and dry. Her eyes glazed over and her complexion flushed and this stupid closed grin would fix permanently on a normally stern face. I blame her for that as well, I definitely inherited the 'abrupt' look.

Anyway, it's Christmas Eve right. We've had a lovely meal and are replete and digesting quietly in easy chairs in the lounge room, when someone pipes, "Let's play Charades". Each has their turn analysing the gesticulations of the other to determine the book, song or movie being depicted with wild gestures and stupid postures and there's laughter and criticism all round. Then it's my mother's turn.

She stands square at the front. Extends an arm in a camera rolling motion, her other hand against her eye, notifying all that she's about to 'act out' a movie title.

Then .  . . .  nothing. Minutes go by and she just stands there, We're all like "What the?" Then it happens, she lifts a leg ever so slightly, lets one audibly rip and dashes into the kitchen like a frightened rabbit. We all piss ourselves laughing at this rare alcohol induced moment and at the clear embarrassment that has driven her out of the room so quickly.

Until, after doing the runner she pops back through the door and says, "Well? Did you get it?"

Silence. Nothing. Just blank stares between the five of us.

"Gone with the Wind"


And God's honest truth . . that's the only time I ever heard my mother fart!



Bless you Pam Dunn .  not funny , , hilarious
Posted for the Tenth Daughter of Memory "Mother Dearest"

Just to prove I can be light on The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Mother Dearest"

Monday, June 6, 2011

Like His Father

Never try to change a man.

"Why? . . . Aww c'mon, he loves me he'll change!"

"Nope, won't happen."

She tried. Sent him home when he turned up for a date in tartan golf pants and a sweaty polo shirt. He came back dressed clean but just as badly.

"What!" he asked, arms outstretched and staring down at his sartorial error, "Darling you're blue. From head to toe. Blue shirt, blue pants blue socks . . it's just so . . bloody blue."

"But it matches!" the disappointment at her disapproval clearly marked upon his face, he's become a child again with raised eyebrows and that disbelieving look, wondering why she disapproves.  She forgives and goes with him anyway even though he looks like a bus conductor.

"Can't you ever get home on time. I've never seen the first 10 minutes of a movie."

"Sorry. Got talking to Mitch in the car park."

"Shit, if I'd seen the twist at the beginning I'd have enjoyed the end. . "

Such was their life. Her trying to change his lateness, his careless dress, his lackadaisical attitude and lack of drive. She wanted him smart, ambitious, punctual. Even the way he kissed became passe and she complained.  She didn't think much when his friend found him sleeping in the car. A sign? Was he not well? He died a few weeks later, now she'd give all to see him again, all monochrome and matching. She'd sell her soul to miss the first 10 minutes of a movie.

She asked him to put the toilet seat down after he'd peed. And for fuck's sake, flush. "But I don't want to wake  people up with the flushing noise!" He left it up just to irk her. And to stop waking sleepers during the night.

"Pick up your wet towels, just hang them on the rail. And tidy your room, it stinks! What the fuck is wrong with you? Why is it so hard. These are little things, they make me happy when you do them?"

"Oh stop going ballistic. What's the big deal if I don't soak the frying pan or piss in the toilet and never flush. It's my room. Back off!" Don't you have more important things to worry about? Where's my black tie?"

"Are you kidding? Why would I know where your tie is in that Tipperary midden of a bedroom."

"I need it, I've got a wedding to go to tomorrow!"

"You're not going dressed like that?"

"What?" he says, arms outstretched with the same incredulous look. He thinks he's gorgeous in a swag of mismatched checks and stripes, all the colours of the rainbow. She raises her eyebrows this time, "Never mind, you look fine."

It's the thought of him leaving. You know, a daughter's a daughter for all of her life, a son's a son, 'till he takes a wife. Won't be long before he's lost to her or so she fears.

"You don't need me any more unless it's finding clothes, lending money, doing washing." 

"Fuck you", she thinks. Then, he mows the lawn without being asked, maintains the pool, trims the hedges. He takes out the garbage, he cooks, he hugs her like it's their last. This big bear of a boy is like his father. And she wouldn't change him if she could.

"OK, let's find your tie but can we clean this shit up while we do it?"

"Yeh. If it'll stop you whingeing." The exchange a glance and poke tongues out at each other as she reaches for his head and scruffs his short-cropped hair, still sticky with last night's gel.  Yes, it's pointless trying to change a man. It took long enough for that to sink into her thick skull.

He comes up behind her while she's washing dishes and wraps huge arms around her and his voice is soft, "Love you mum."

"Love you too" she responds as tears of deep affection well and she feels his warmth against her back .

"When are you moving out again?"

Posted for the Tenth Daughter of Memory "Mother Dearest"

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Alibi

His heart feels like it's going to explode and he didn't realise how heavy a 5' Asian woman could be. Being inconspicuous, getting her into the vehicle is a nightmare as he struggles with the limp carcass now wrapped in a heavy woollen blanket covered with a Sulo bin liner. He tries to disguise the thing like a roll of carpet since he knows even under the cover of darkness, prying eyes could be upon him as he lumbers with her in his arms.  She's still fucking warm and it creeps him out.
He's already opened the tailgate but trips on the pavers almost dropping the dead weight before regaining his balance. He's sweating. He never sweats. He's one of those people who could sit for half an hour in a sauna and barely feel it's heat. But this time there's a profusion of glistening beads decorating his forehead and half shaven top lip.
He lugs his cargo into the back. There'll be law enforcement out tonight being a public holiday, and double demerits. He remembers he's unlicensed but has to take the risk. Locks his front door. No wait, it's her front door, how could he forget? "Get a grip, need to focus." Looks around the complex. It's dark except for artificial moonlight shone by solar markers in the driveway.  Nobody seems to be watching as he slips into the vehicle, leans his elbows on the steering wheel and puts his hands to his head; he takes a few deep breaths.  "Fuck . . . fuck, fuck!" he can now enunciate without being heard. "Gotta think quick, this wasn't supposed to happen." His lack of calm uncharacteristic.
The SUV glides silently towards the chasm, only the delicate sound of crushed stone beneath its tyres betray its presence. He hasn't got a disposal plan but time is precious. He needs to get rid of 'it' and quick; then think up an alibi. He's smart enough to do that at least as he stealthily edges towards a point in the darkness where she'll never be found. He hauls the roll from the rear of the vehicle and kicks it carelessly into the black and brackish water below. She's a lightweight, even blanketed and barely makes a splash.
He returns to the four-wheel-drive, engine still running and screams along the dirt track back towards the highway. "Gotta think, gotta think quick."  The voices in his head a stark contrast to the quietness on the roads as his heart rate slows, he has time to think and hatch a course of action to cover his tracks.
He'd been bitter since they separated and had only gone over to her place to whinge about her not paying the phone bill before she left. His bitterness was disproportionate and a fury was raging long before he knocked upon her door. She'd lied to him, kept the secret to herself until after she left. He didn't mean to fight but it escalated as it always does. Screaming matches between them characteristic of a volatile relationship. He can't recall ever having a civilised discussion or a rational exchange.  "You're not the first you know . . " she'd thrown that missile at him in the heat of battle. "You never asked so I never told, you just assumed. But I fucked him long before I fucked you! And I'm fucking him now, long after I've left you!" It wasn't that she'd been with another man, it was that she'd been with his best friend and both had held their liaison close.  He'd suspected of course, but having it in the open was more than he could bear. The rage within him rose and he'd hit her hard against her face with an open fist. She'd fallen, groggy as he grabbed the lamp - a demon took him over and he smashed her face beyond all recognition. She barely murmured, just lay there bleeding and still.
***
It's not felt like Charles' house since he retired. A corporate director, lost without his business kudos and adoration of  his underlings in a home that she controls; a kitchen she possesses. He misses the validation of a high-flying position and has resorted to the bottle. Not in a violent way, he's a gentle man but gets sozzled in an armchair and blithers his way to bed, bouncing, uncoordinated along the corridor before crashing on plush pillows and snoring incessantly. She's loved him for 30 years but the snoring drives her mad. Only when she chooses to avoid the night-time ruckus and moves into the spare room, does he realise there's a problem. He swears off the drink. "Fine!" she isn't convinced, "Pick me up from work, at least it'll keep you off the scotch." He agrees, he knows and he really doesn't mind.  It's a short drive, 10 minutes and the roads are quiet at that time of night, he does it four nights a week, a doddle really.  At 10:10pm he reaches for the remote control and douses the late evening news, retrieves the keys to the Honda and heads for the door.  Combs stout fingers through his silver hair, tucks in his shirt and leaves to pick her up. 
***
She's dreaming, or thinks she is. The faint sounds of sirens swim within a subconscious brain. She's half aware of the front door opening. It's late. The children are asleep. She's in that betwixt and between world of dozing that makes her leg twitch and jump as she wakes with a start.  "Liz?" it's a whisper but a familiar voice as she dusts the dog off the bed and peers above the quilt, "Annie? What? What the hell are you doing here?" Her sister's shadow in the doorway is undetailed and dark, she isn't alone her brother-in-law is close behind. "Something's happened to mum," her sister's voice quivers, on the brink of tears.
"There's been an accident, a bad accident. Frank's at the hospital picking up Dad."  It's hard to describe that feeling, that cold wave, heart-thumping moment of dread and foreboding. Why had her father called her brother and not her, she lives next door? What had happened? Were the sirens real? She had it, that sickly surge of panic. She didn't want it. "Is mum alright?" Her sister doesn't answer, she's not sure what to say but the tears give it away, "I don't think so, we're waiting to hear."
***
They chat happily in the car on the way home, her all in white, excitable and talkative. He loves the way she looks in her nurse's uniform, pristine and professional and he recalls how proud he was when she achieved "Midwife of the Year. He'd protested about her going back to work and studying but it had paid off and made her happy. He wanted to see her happy. She prattles on about difficult deliveries and arrogant doctors. He listens and smiles, feeling good that he's not had a drink, doesn't need a drink. Until the flash of white light blinds him. The four-wheel-drive aims and is barreling towards them at speed and with purpose.  Instinct makes him swerve to the right. The sound of twisted metal deafens as the huge vehicle collides with the passenger side of his car. The mechanical scream pierces the silence of the night as everything slows down; the exploding glass, the unearthly noise, the spinning, their movement, her gasp and the trickle of blood from above his eye.


***
As the ambulance speeds the injured into the darkness, a calm man is interviewed at the roadside. He's unhurt, a little shaken but not from the accident. He caused it, he meant to. What better alibi than being interviewed by the police at the time he was disposing of her body 25kms away. What better way to deny involvement. What better way to separate yourself from a crime of passion than to cause a minor incident, a diversion. He's smug as he casts his lies and spins his tale. But they didn't come down with the last shower, his body language is wrong, his calmness uncharacteristic and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to work out what's gone on. He's arrested, first for dangerous driving, then for manslaughter, then for murder. Small comfort for two evil deeds.
For the midwife, it's too late. Tuberculosis as a young nurse claimed half her lung, the collision claimed the other.  A man is widowed, children motherless, grandchildren will never 'know' their Nana. 
A lie becomes a murder. A crime requires a diversion. A diversion becomes a death. A death becomes a trial. A trial becomes a truth. Too late for the mother that four held dear.
Posted for The Tenth Daughter of Memory "Mother Dearest"