Windward Review


Volume 18, 2021

Marabooka Creek’s dry bed.

The old pickup made slow time

dodging the many smooth rocks,

almost as thick on the road as on

the rest of the gibber plain, but

that didn’t matter. Cam wasn’t

in a hurry. The track ended or

became indistinguishable from

the surrounding landscape after

about ten miles, at a couple

of large and currently empty

cattle yards built right in the

dry channels of the creek—although

in the Channel Country,

almost everything from horizon

to horizon became creekbed

when the rains arrived.

After pulling onto a slight rise

out of the way of the primitive

road, he switched off the motor

and opened both front doors

As he was about to climb out

of the pickup, Cam saw a two-metre-long

eastern brown snake less

than three yards away, trying to fit

into the shade of a rock the size of

a volleyball. He considered picking

up the snake and cuddling it

but decided that that would be

a quicker but more painful end

to his quest. Besides, he thought,

they have inland taipans here and

that might be even quicker.

Cam climbed out of the cab

and circumambulated the pickup,

then climbed onto the roof

and scanned the country to the

southwest. Once he felt satisfied

he knew where he needed to go,

he climbed down and made two

cheese sandwiches. He’d left

Windorah with twenty-two gallons

of water in the pickup, two

ten gallon jerry cans in the cargo

bay and four half-gallon milk

jugs in the back seat. As he ate

his sandwiches, he finished off

the last of the half-gallon jugs of

water. Afterward, he refilled all

four from one of the jerry cans.

Thinking the notes he’d sent

the previous morning inadequate,

Cam decided to spend the

last hour of daylight writing to

his kids. He wrote separate but

nearly identical letters, telling

each of them how much he loved

them and how proud he was of

them, of who they had grown

to become. He told them how

much he appreciated their intelligence,

their strength, their essential

goodness, and their integrity.

He told them he intended to

go for a walk and recognized that

there was a possibility—as there

always is in the desert—he might

not make it back. “In case I don’t,”

he wrote, “I know you’re strong

enough and intelligent enough to

do just fine without me.”

At least in this drought there

aren’t any mosquitoes, Cam

thought as he climbed into the

Civility + You


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