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General

He gazed up at the fading stars and yawned. Waking up before dawn was a daily chore, but unnecessary on a Sunday. If he had gone back to sleep, he would have slept until lunchtime, and he wanted to explore while he still had time. He had let his wife sleep on, reluctantly leaving her, savouring her beauty without touching her. He had been lucky to marry the woman that he had admired from afar for years. Her hair flowed around her pillow, soon to be lit up with golden sunlight, highlighting all the subtle colours within and making them sparkle.


There was a chill in the air, reminding him that it was winter. He was glad his heavy coat, beanie, gloves and scarf kept out most of the cold, but the icy air on his face was great. The air was fresh and invigorating. Perfect without smog and dirt, although farm smells could take a bit of getting used to.


He strode out onto the frosty grass, hearing and feeling the crack beneath his boots. You don't get that in Sydney, he told himself. It didn't drop below freezing out where he normally lived. Near enough to the sea to catch the faint smell of salt, and to see the boats puttering about in the harbour. A reminder of how far he had come from the original property. A made man, as his great aunt had told him, as she had greeted him and his new wife the previous night.


It was interesting how this place never changed, always seeming like a oasis of peace, even though he knew his family had battled droughts and floods and depressions of all sizes. They had endured, and the property was still family owned, and still supported the family as it always had done. Memories of school holidays laughing with cousins, running through paddocks and getting into mischief of all kinds. 


His parents had died in an accident, while he had survived. He could barely remember that day, being young. He had spent years and a fortune trying to banish what had stuck with him. The stuff of nightmares. Blood and pain, and darkness. He shook his head, it wasn't good to dwell on it. 


He had gone to the same boarding school as his cousins, and many of the family before them. Some of the teachers had taught his mother. They treated him with kid gloves most of the time the first couple of years, but when he had found his feet he was joining his cousins in detention and in the principal's office. 


He wondered how the cousins were going. Several of them had been given parcels of land to manage, slicing the property off the main estate. They were still on the land as far as he knew.


He had walked down to one of the home dams, watching silently as wallabies attended to their needs. They were not aware of him, and he didn't want to disturb them and disturb the comfortable peace. He wouldn't even move to take a photo, although it could well be a good photo. He would probably end up with a blurred action shot as they startled and dispersed into the bush. He smiled at the thought, but he was content to watch them. One by one they went on their way, in a slow relaxed way.


He walked over to where the chickens were housed, the smell meeting his nose before he saw it. There were a lot of chickens. Eggs and bacon were the standard breakfast, as the men had traditionally worked very hard physically. The tradition had become a culture, an expectation, He was happy to have the expectation, it was a reason for diverging from his own habits of a piece of dry toast and a rushed black coffee.


Great Aunt Margaret was collecting an early morning harvest of warmly laid eggs, and she noticed him. She waved, and returned to her work. She wasn't fussed by him, knowing his quiet contemplative nature. He smiled to himself, putting his hands deep in his pockets, suddenly aware of the cold biting through his gloves.


Deciding to make a round trip of the walk, he passed the old shed. It was the size of a four car garage and was empty apart from the old ute parked there. He remembered the day when he had climbed to the top of a pile of wheat, almost as high as the roof, and had rolled down, ending in a heap at the foot of the pile. His cousins had shook their heads, and refused to join in.


He had itched for a week, and Aunt Margaret had covered him with calamine lotion. His favourite t shirt had to be thrown away as the wheat 'itch' could not be washed out. His aunt had laughed about it eventually, but at the time she had grumbled about how he took after his lawyer father and had no clue about farms. It was definitely something he would never forget, and would probably caution any children he had about the dangers of such an act. Probably.


He had put off this visit for too long. He had missed this place. The air was different here, different but not better or worse than home. He liked living where he did - he knew it was seen as a status symbol, a mark of a successful man, but he loved the sea as much as he loved the land.


The last time he was here he had been a child of eighteen. Not a man yet, not quite. A boy in transition, a boy-man, or man-boy, without a plan. The only thing was his university studies. Law, like his father. It was the last day of his real childhood, saying goodbye to home, to family and to the past. The eve of something new, a new home, a new city and the future. 


He was proud of his past, even with the tragedies. His parents were barely remembered, but his aunt had become his parents, his cousins the brothers and sisters he never had by blood. 


When his wife woke up in a few hours, he talk to her about his past. And then they would consider the future, with all the new things life could bring.


He walked into the house and stood staring at a picture someone had painted of constellations familiar to him. He wondered if their futures were written in the stars, or formed by the past. Destiny and family legacies or free will and choices?


He shrugged off the sense of eeriness and straightened his body, pulling his shoulders back. He'd find out.


July 23, 2020 03:48

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2 comments

Mustang Patty
19:20 Jul 26, 2020

Hi there, Quite a bit of introspective for your MC. I enjoyed the story and wanted to be with him in the brisk cold. (We haven't had a really cold winter here in Oregon for a while, and I miss them.) One of the things I noticed was some 'bumpiness' in your sentences, and a lot of 'passive voice.' Characters need to be active, so it's a good a idea to avoid passive voice whenever you can. I would make the suggestion to get a style guide and study about commas, and hyphens. Your writing is pretty clean with the exception of some missing...

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R L Brewer
05:55 Jul 27, 2020

I like to use commas too much and no hyphens, and Grammarly fixes them. I will rethink that, and think about it more. It might be that my commas are not wrong etc. I suppose a lot of the passive voice came naturally because of all the introspection. I'll keep an eye on that too. Thanks for the comments, as I am new to short story writing, and my confidence is a little off. I am trying the supermarket prompt this week, with the baby, but all my mind can focus on is dystopias. (lol)

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