Beyond the crossing, p.1
Beyond the Crossing, p.1
Beyond the Crossing
Copyright 2014 Lorraine Watts
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Beyond the Crossing
About Lorraine Watts
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The author has a special feeling for regional, rural, and remote parts of Australia and the people who live there. She has lived in capital cities too, but it is the outback of Australia that captures her heart and provides much of the raw material for her writing. In this short story, Beyond the Crossing, two of the main characters, Liz and Martin, met and started their lives together in 1972 in Melbourne. This was a time when the Hari Khrishnas chanted in the centre of Melbourne. It seemed that nearly everyone was attending antiwar protests, and smoking dope in dimly lit folk clubs in city basements. Liz and Martin, along with thousands of other young people, saw a need and opportunity to change the world to a kinder more loving place. They wanted a revolution.
A few short years later, they married, had two young children, and were grinding their way through the rat race along with the rest of the population. That is, until an exciting opportunity arose for them to go north to a remote Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land. This experience was to shape their future together: for better or worse. They returned to Melbourne in 1981 but not for long. Next time they went to Fitzroy Crossing in West Australia's North West. This very different experience brought about a crisis in their lives. This story commences with the main character, Liz, in 2003, as she reflects on her time at the Crossing and wonders what the future holds for her. I hope you enjoy this story and that it gives you some insight into the human condition we all share.
Beyond the Crossing
A young Aboriginal girl, about three years old with jet black hair, long and matted, is skipping amongst the stones and grasses in the hot, midday sun. Her skin is dark and her big brown eyes sparkle with life. She takes some cooked goanna and bites into its white flesh. What is in her other hand? It is a cream filled chocolate éclair. The chocolate éclair seems so out of place here but that is so much like life in the Kimberley: contrasts, and contradictions!
It was 1983. I was living in Fitzroy Crossing with my family and teaching literacy skills to a small group of Aboriginal women. They invited me to go hunting with them. We squeezed into my old station wagon and Nada told me where to drive. When we stopped, she told me to gather some wood for a fire. An elderly woman, Budji, was in charge of the fire.
The women and children headed off in different directions. I could hear excited noises carried on the wind. Near our campfire, they found a big hole with a venomous snake inside. The women poked sticks inside the hole to get the snake out so they could throw rocks at it until it was dead. They dropped it on the ground beside me but it was still moving. I jumped up and asked them to remove its head. They laughed at me. They also caught three goannas but put only one on the fire to cook. The fat of the goanna was the most treasured part (dating back to lean times in the desert I presume). They shared the rest of the goanna between them. I had some too – it tasted a bit like chicken.
We headed back into town with the tucker in the back of the station wagon. They actually asked me if I would store it in my freezer. I found a good excuse to say no. Can you imagine putting your hands in the freezer and finding a snake, albeit, a very cold one? At our next class, we wrote a story about the outing. I remember that day as if it was yesterday. I have so many great memories of my time up north, especially the little girl with the chocolate éclair.
Beyond the Crossing by Lorraine Watts / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on16 votes