Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The washed sky

Elise's small job in the tiny publishing house - shuffling papers and replying to letters of enquiry in a low-ceilinged back room of a terrace off Missenden Rd - no longer held appeal. Ideals aside, if life was going to be that short (aunty Veri had only been 52) then she wasn't sure how long she wanted to spend in a hunched position over the uncomfortable desk. Summer was about to begin - the jacaranda's took liberty with the colour of the grass, lorikeets dangled shrieking in the branches, the scent of the jasmine that was tangling itself with the front gate began to get too strong and waft around turning putrid on the warm days. The funeral had been perfect in the rain – they had sat on Veri's perfect cream silk covered french chairs and drunk tea with lemon, just as she always had. The rooms felt too tall. The house, though full of people seemed almost to know the loss it contained. Vince got drunk, spoke too loudly. The cousins formed a knot of young people and walked down to the harbour. Outside the sky had washed itself clean, and the sea was slick and silver, almost oily. Elise found herself watching her feet as she walked home in the afternoons, thinking about her brother, her cousins, her lousy job. She would occasionally wipe her eye and unless you looked closely (Eddy did) you wouldn't see the moisture there. Perhaps they were tears of self pity. It was difficult to define. Maybe she missed the aunt she rarely saw. Maybe in knowing Veri was about, racing along George St. in the red Lotus, doing the cryptic crossword in her kitchen with her half-moon spectacles falling down her nose, or walking her labradors along the harbour foreshore, allowed Elise to define her own place as short-skirted arty type girl of the inner west. Instead of stooping to pick them up Elise crushed the frangipani flowers with her Doc Martin boot.

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