these are the echoes of the dream time

The tailgate is rusting out and the F on GOLF is off-kilter, like the street sign on the front of a haunted house. And it smells like fossilized McNuggets, and there's a film of greasy dust over the whole thing, even the engine, and the alarm goes off at 12:30 AM in the driveway: WEEE-OOOP! WEEE-OOOP! WEEE-OOOP! 4:12 PM at the Save-Easy: WEEE-OOOP! WEEE-OOOP! WEEE-OOOP! (automotive translation: don't make me stay with her, that neglectful cow.)

If I'm low, I conclude that stuff falls apart in my care. Baby, marriage, Volkswagens. A photographic history, gone. A little tumble into the ether and there's only scattered proof of my family the way it was. I cried and cried when I saw that it was all gone, him slipping out of my vision again, and dripping and puffy I said I miss you out loud, and there was no reply. There used to be. Not anymore. That's how it is.

But there's a bundle of new hostas, and eleven new windows, and a kitchen plan, and mice repellants that plug into the wall and play supersonic mini pops on repeat, and exhausted paint that waits to be scraped, and fourteen tonnes of fresh, seed-awaiting dirt.

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It's that time of year. Four weeks in, and two weeks to that annual night. I remember everything burning, me running around alternately screaming, begging for help, and dragging cloth bags full of water, sandbags, dousing while it grew. Then after, everything burnt, glimmering with ashes and smoke, what was left of the trees leaning toward me, whispering. Fragments of clouds walking the woods, and warm graves, and observant stars, the burntness feeling like a home when everyone else fleed the stench. Grief by Tim Burton, and I was the slight, black-haired pale kid with the part in the middle. But years ago it stopped smoking, revealing that everything falls apart, slowly, and maybe, if I can get my head around it, that's alright, as long as there's fresh dirt.

+++

I poke around in the rocks absently, looking up every now and then to watch a set of sails slide its soundless way across the bay. I find two pieces of slate that are chalk-like and board-like and scratch out a three-word message. I palm it for a while. Then I stand up and I throw it as far as I can into the ocean, which isn't very far at all. The words dissipate under every hull as it passes, carrying my loves, maybe, accompanying them when I do not.

The air is thick with fish and chips and drying nets and diesel fuel and motorcycles, and the lupins are out, trembling at the advance of sticky little fists.