VERNA MALVERN

You know it�s just that every day this wave of International Roast it just hits me, in the common room, and I want to run. I see a pile of papers that may never get marked, handwritten notes, attendance rolls, and I just want to bolt. I navigate classrooms, listen to the bells but it�s as if I�m a starter�s gun. Take your marks, get set, then go. Mrs Malvern! shouts the small crowd, Peace, land, bread! As if it�s some re-enactment, not two unit History. Summer has stolen its march on the end of another school year. I could smell it on the bridge by the Creek. Mrs Malvern. Mum. Here he comes, turning into his father once a minute, slouching like a fucking hat. Swiped. And then seated. Eighteen years old. Two weeks of exams. His first adult Summer. Barely ready. Pretends to read. Has got a lift to the city library with Ralph every Saturday this year. Later than usual, with a look on his Face like Mt Nebo in fog. Blackout. Won�t answer me in class. Somehow I gave up long ago. He�ll get through. More than I can say for some of his mates, those two girls in particular. What he sees in that one Mac Davis Alone would know. Or The Shadows. Their last high school summer day. Zippedy. That strange feeling in the Empty car park, experienced every Year, like a loop of teen graduation Footage. Drawn in for one more lap. Each curriculum�s circumnavigation Bringing me closer to no, didn�t buy Any smokes. Sure Brian�s got some. Relief�s like the change that brought Ralph home early one evening once. I�d support the seniors� demands for a smoking room myself if I wasn�t already compromised. All they ever go on about. Life without mum. Ha! I can�t see the look on his face but He�d get used to it. They�ll have to. Hot morning. The creek swells under its bridge, and traffic banks up along the highway. Assembly, then lunch, then sweet relief. House to ourselves for the first time in weeks. Five silver comet children, spinning out of orbit into the bleeding Wollongong night. Might even hear a sound of the creek. By the old iron footbridge I watch it. Often changes colour, a kind of khaki tone today. Sometimes rust, or blood. Never have followed it down to where It meets the river, or the sea, if it even Does. What does the creek remember Of me, of us? How will we get through an afternoon of revisions, corrections?

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