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‘Mum’s a friggin’ mess.’
Sue shoved the glass of red in front of me.
‘Bloody Jase, don’t know why he doesn’t ever go round there.’ The red wine slid down my throat in a couple of gulps.
I glared at Sue. ‘Don’t say it, don’t say anything.’
She sighed, refilled my glass and took a sip of her vodka and soda in her small, neat mouth.
‘Fuck.’ I pressed my palm against my right eye, and pushed the heel against the socket bone, trying to squeeze the headache away. ‘She can’t live alone anymore.’
‘Who’s with her now?’
‘No one.’ I swirled the red and watched it bleed against the glass, slow moving as a church procession. ‘I put her to bed and gave her something to knock her out but I’ll have to go back there in the morning, first thing.’
‘What about work?’
I gritted my teeth.
Sue put her hand on my wrist.
‘Lally, don’t,’ she said. ‘Call Jason. Tell him to go and sort it out.’
‘He won’t.’ I drained my glass and pushed it back in front of Sue. The skin around her eyes crinkled as if to hold her eyeballs in place and stop them rolling. But her hands didn’t move.
I lunged across the bench and grabbed the wine bottle. Her lips puckered at the edges.
I opened my mouth, picked the bottle up, closed my eyes and poured the wine down my throat. One gulp, two gulps, three. The stool shifted under my feet. I slammed the bottle down and gripped the bench.
‘Jesus,’ Sue hissed.
‘He’s not here to help either.’
I stood, steadied myself against the bench, picked up the second wine bottle, went and sat out on the verandah. I plonked the bottle on the small plastic table in front of me.
A car revved on the long stretch of road behind us, heading to the lookout. Three doors down a fractious toddler screamed a bedtime protest. Next door’s curry sent its tender aromas across the fence.
I picked up the wine bottle and inspected the label. The verandah light spilled through the glass bottle, and an amber shadow fell across my thighs.
Amber like the rusted water leaking from the fridge.
Amber like the fluid leaking from my mother, seeping into her bed.
‘Remind me,’ I yelled in to Sue, ‘to get Mum’s script checked at the chemist in the morning.’
Sue didn’t answer.
I picked up the bottle and let the wine drip onto my tongue while the late cicadas chirped chemist chemist chemist.
It doesn’t matter what they give her. The medicine never works.
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published 19 July 2013