Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sunday January 2 1972. 

104 degrees.

Uncle and aunt said the words I didn't want to hear. We're leaving in five days, heading back to Melbourne via the South West coast. Can't we stay here forever? Apparently not. I've only just settled in, just gotten used to caravan routine.

When we had approached Perth in mid-December I had been looking forward to just being in one place for a couple of weeks. Now it's the countdown to the end of the whole trip, like it's already over. Why do we enjoy the anticipation more than the entire reality? Must be human nature.

Human nature for fourteen-year-olds means getting into a little mischief. One night, Danny and I climbed the hills at the back of the caravan park, ascended the pine-treed slopes, emerged at the top where roads snaked their way up into the suburbs overlooking the Indian Ocean. We looked back towards the inky sleeping blackness. A fishing boat or two showed lights and there was nothing else.

We were on a sharply curved street, treelined and dark. At the point of the curve, there was a small wedge of open parkland. Now and then, a car flashed around the curve, momentarily drenching the parkland white with its headlamps and then was gone.

Danny and I had an idea. It might have been something we saw in a movie. It was probably just our juvenile minds. We were going to give approaching vehicles a scare.

In the darkness, we disported ourselves at the edge of the parkland in our very best imitations of corpses, arms and legs at violent angles. Soon, a car approached, tore into the curve. Blazing headlights lit us for a fraction of a second.

We had figured it perfectly. The car screeched to a halt forty feet down the road, headlamps facing the wrong way. By the time it had reversed and lit the open space, we had vanished noiselessly into the dense tree cover.

We did this for a while. Every car screeched to a halt. Every car backed up. Every car drove off.

Later we climbed back down through the pine trees, through the ti-tree, back into the caravan park. The heat was oppressive in the darkness.

We crossed the road and swam, the moon glinting on the black ocean swell. The sand was still hot even though it had been dark for two hours.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

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