by Kathryn Lee
You know, I wonder what’s going to become of her, the way she keeps heading off into the bush.
What would you know? she’d yelled the other day before she disappeared with the dog. I’d asked her to make a pot of tea for the men when they came in for afternoon tea, but she refused. All I’d said was, You’ll need to know one day, Em, when you’re married.
One thing’s for sure, she likes to get out of this house. She’s still getting about in her brother’s flannel shirts, won’t wear the clothes she’s given, not at all interested in the usual things. I’ll say to her, Come on Emma, come and I’ll show you how to make scones, wanting to show her something. But she’ll just give me one of her looks and bolt out of the house.
She takes the dog down to this patch of bush near the wool bales shed. I went and had a look once and found she had pulled pieces of corrugated iron and furniture from an old shack into the bush to make a cubby. She was really upset when Jim cleared some of the bush to make a new rubbish tip. But she still goes down there, to a new spot in the bush.
Anyway, she came home from school the other week and told me she had a role in the Christmas Carols. She’d originally been picked to be Mary but the strange thing asked to be one of the wise men instead. For a quiet girl, she was very set on having a purple tunic with a matching turban made out of some old material.
You know, I think I’ll always remember coming home from shopping today and finding her standing in front of the mirror. She was in her Wise Man costume and had taken a bird-of-paradise brooch from my jewellery box to put on her turban.
As I entered the room, she turned and said, I have come from the orient and I bring you the gift of frankincense. And for the first time in my life, she really smiled at me.
published 11 June 2016