The Drought

At some point in the last couple of months, the crunchy dead grass gave way to exposed dirt and the wind kicked up this dirt, which now hangs in the sky.

A couple of days ago it threatened to rain and the dust slowly descending on clouds, two horizons of earth meeting.

When it did rain, it rained dirt and the next day every car in town was covered in streaks of it, lines at the local car wash now regularly extend into the street with people banned from washing their cars at home.

Washing your car on your front lawn now seems like a luxury almost too wasteful to have ever been true, much like sprinklers, which are now foreign objects, nostalgic symbols of bygone Australiana like really tanned dads in high-cut shorts, holding cans of VB.

Amongst this though, roses bloom, flowers of the desert.

Roses

 

The Funeral

The road that leads to my house is flat, but curves gently to the right and then left. It’s lined with a mixture of homes and businesses: Storage sheds set back from the road, a vacant lot being turned into one of the town’s dozens of petrol stations.

On this road there is no reason to stop.

One afternoon I was driving home for lunch and was startled to see the entire stretch of road, a kilometre or more, lined with cars. Each side street I passed was full, ending with a dark blue Mercedes parked outside my house.

It felt apocalyptic, something must have happened to bring this many people to this part of town and yet besides the empty cars everything was quiet, nothing seemed out of order.

I sat my driveway and checked social media – in a town this size anything unusual is noted and speculated about, but there was nothing.

Finally I messaged my sister, a local journalist, who immediately knew.

A funeral, a young women her age, mother of one, a brain tumour.

Opposite what will eventually become a 7-Eleven is a fairly nondescript church of blonde brick and all the cars belonged to people, probably hundreds of them, who had come to this church in the middle of the day to mourn her.

The scale of their mourning shifted the entire appearance of the neighbourhood, made it seem hushed.

It made me pause, it was touching that one life could bring all of these people together in one place to love her, to be around one another as they loved her.

I finished my lunch and I drove back to work, past small groups of mourners making their way back to their cars. When I returned that evening, they were all gone, there was nothing to suggest this street had been crowded with heartbreak just hours before.

 

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