by Jessica Migotto
It is summer and the grass and the bracken have become the same colour. Sylvia's dirty feet are sweating in her gumboots. She holds up her cotton dress to prevent the hem from catching on the foliage. The sharp twigs are scratching her thighs and snapping underfoot. She is heading for the Black Dam. At first sight of the barbed wire fence she breaks into a run and her breath is in time with the squelch of the sweat inside her boots.
Sylvia crouches down and places her left foot upon the second wire of the fence. With her right hand she lifts the wire above the second and pulls upward. Her head ducks under and through the fence and her belly scrapes along the wire and her hip bone catches. She lifts her bottom and moves her body to the right until she is free of the fence. She heaves herself up and straightens with a deep breath. The bush is dense in this paddock. She is no longer on her father's land. She has entered government property.
Sylvia wanted to see the strange black water which was concealed from the dirt road. It was a dam built for some obscure purpose long before she was born. It was beautiful and beguiling and it calledto her from the road for as long as she could remember.
She sat on the bank of the dam and listened for the screech of the cockies. The dam's banks were pure white. All the dams on her family's land were varying shades of brown. The weater, the surrounding wall, the grass covering; all brown. The Black Dam, however, contrasted in black and white against the bush.
She heard the familiar sounds of the Meer family in the adjoining farm. They had once owned the piggery and as a small girl she had played with the strange smelling Meer kids. Scrambling in the pig feed and looking for whole potoatoes to squash between her fingers or throw at the innocent pigs. She had watched Stacey Meer try and stuff these whole potatoes in the arses of the stinking animals. The pigs were long gone and now Brian Meer made the trip everday to Kyneton to work at a garage, repairing farm machinery.
She is curious about the new family who have moved into one of the new subdivisions next to the Deers. She walks toward the boundary line and keeps her head down in an effort to be invisible.
Sylvia has squatted behind a fence post and wraps her arms around it to steady herself. Her first impression of the new brick house has shocked her because there is a bare chested man on a ladder painting the window frames with undercoat.
The sight of his strong body makes her gasp. Quietly, with the expulsion of her breath warming the post in front of her, the senventeen year old girl watches the rise and fall of this stranger's right pectoral as he reaches high to cover the timber of his window frames. She is alarmed and aroused by the soft curl of hair around his nipple. It's richness is alien in comparison to the awkward punctuation of hair which surrounds the nipples of the men in her family.
It is time to return to her own farm before anyone notices her absence. Before she rises Sylvia presses her crotch against the fence post and feels the pressure of her swelling.
When Sylvia enters the house she finds her mother plucking a mountain of quails. Verdi's Requiem is being broadcast on the ABC. They smile at one another and the young girl sits opposite and picks up a small bird and begins pulling the soft feathers away from the puckered skin.
Later in the day Sylvia has crept into the hayshed She climbs to the highest layer of bales and she lies down and pulls up her dress. She slides her underpants down and grabs a fistful of hay and she holds her hand above her crotch, at a distance from her body, and lets go of the hay. She watches the hayseeds separate from the stiff stems and swing gently down to her pubic hair.
Sylvia hears an old truck pull up and sits upright. She hears the truck door slam and she jumps up and moves toward the sounds coming from the other side of the shed wall. She puts her face to the holes in the corrugated iron and sees the man who was painting the window frames.
He has jumped down from the old International. Now he is wearing a police officer's uniform . She sees her father walk toward the stranger The viewing hole does not offer enough so she straightens and moves away from the wall.
She stands up and shakes the hay from her and jumps down the layers of bales, watching that her gumboots don't catch in the twine.
She stops short of the shed's opening and peers around the curled lip of the pressed metal of the shed wall. Her father has extended his hand in a gesture of welcome and the cop has done the same.
-G'day. -Mark Wakefield. How yer going?.
-Sylvio. Good. Thank you.
The old Italian takes in the casual appearance of the new country cop. He leans against the wheel arch of the truck and admires its durable elegance.
-Good truck, too bad they no make 'em like this any more, eh?
-Too right. I bought her off the bloke who used to own the old piggery.
-Aw, yeah, Brian. Good bloke. They get the smell outa the place yet?
-No. My wife and I just bought the place next door, so we can only hope that'll change.
-Very nice bit of land there.
-Yeah, t'is. I was actually looking for some hay to buy for the kids' horse. Brian said you might have some spare.
-No worries. You come with me. You like homemade wine? -Never tried it.
Sylvia has moved away from the shed and she is heading toward the house. Her father calls out to her.
-Sylvia, prende due bicchiere.
The girl turns slightly toward her father and nods once. She continues walking. Mark smiles and salutes the girl. She smiles, but only once she has turned around and is walking toward the house. The cop has seen the flash of pale skin between the top of the girl's boots and the hem of her dress.
Later that night, for the second time in her life, Sylvia had to remove a hayseed which had embedded itself in her clitoris. In the darkness of the room, she thought about the cop lowering his head to the place where the hayseed had been. Her bed creaks and she hears her parents snores through the thin masonite walls. Her three brothers sleep in the beds next to her. She takes her hand away from her cunt and rolls over. She falls asleep listening to the mice scratching in the space between the sheets of masonite.
It is early morning and Mark yawns deeply, openly, in the privacy of the squad car. He has parked behind some melaleuca on the long dusty government road. He has checked the speed camera, taken out his log book. He checks yesterday's quota. Six. A vast improvement on last week's tally. He had learned quickly. Take it slow, Ransom. He remembers walking into the station at the end of his first shift. He proffers his book to his superior, who glances quickly at the quota of speeding tickets the new cop has issued that day. Fifteen.
-Take it slow,Wakefield. Yer not in the big city anymore.
Mark smiles. He reaches down to his right and turns the adjustment lever until he feels his stomach muscles begin to stretch. The magpies are feeding on a sheep carcass in the middle of the empty paddock to his left. He squints as he watches them. For a very brief moment he closes his eyes and again he can see the soft looking skin above the shiny black gumboots. . He hears the lonely warbling of the magpies. He shifts in his seat because his cock is growing and it is pointing in the wrong way and so it has become uncomfortableThe birds have begun fighting over the eyes of the sheep. He curses their greed and leans across to open the passenger window to let in the morning breeze.
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