Burning the Green

Winner, Townsville City Council Short Story Competition, 2013
This story is set in North Queensland, Australia in the 1950s. READ MORE ABOUT HOW I WRITE THE NORTH ON MY BLOG.

T Watercolour

he soot from the cane fires had washed up underneath the benches and Callum was down amongst it. Doris could feel him behind her feet. He was fiddling with the back of her shoe, pressing his fingers up against the stitching. Doris watched him arch his fingers, walk them forward. He touched her skin. She twitched and Callum drew his hands up into his chest for safety. He surprised her sometimes with these little gestures of fear, the way his breath became shallow when he brought her a torn exercise book or his muddied uniform.

Doris looked away, down the bush track, where a ute rounded the corner of the cane fields and pulled up opposite the station. When the door opened, she saw it was Lester Banes, their neighbor, who hurled his stubbies and rotten pumpkins into the gully that bordered their properties. Dorris went down once, to where the refuse pooled between two rocks. She found a woman’s perfume bottle, wrapped with metal fretwork and studded with enamel flowers the colour of violas. Up against the light, the stylus was visible inside, holding the last drops of perfume. Lester wasn’t married and this gave her the idea of him as a secretive man. She often watched his car, wondered how he got the women onto his property without her seeing. Lester sat in the driver’s seat with his head against the headrest and his arms out in front of him.

This story is published in Tincture Journal, issue 11, 2015 and can be read in full here.

Image: ‘Cane Fire’ by Neil Palmer (CIAT).
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