I left home two weeks after I got my driver’s licence. Took to the road in the HX ute dad fixed up for me. It rattled and whistled the song of an old car on a dirt road.
I was heading for Sydney.
(‘Make sure you check the oil, Sonya.’)
In the back Daisy grinned at our plume of dust. I couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t been my dog. Even now, with her cloudy eyes and her stiff legs, she still went everywhere with me.
(‘Don’t forget Daisy’s tablets Sonya.’)
I was leaving my mum and my dad and a sticky little brother. Behind me was small town dramas and stale gossip. Behind me was spiky grass in the summer and frozen pipes in the winter and always sheep. Sheep ripping the grass out of the ground, sheep dying after crows stole their eyes. Sheep bleating, sheep running, sheep slippery after birth, sheep bloated in death. And flies.
I had my cousin’s address in Clovelly and a new suitcase. I was going to work in a bar or a café.
(‘You will keep in touch, won’t you Sonya?’)
Under the midday sun, I stopped for lunch – roast lamb sandwiches. I picnicked in the shade of the casuarinas along a dry creek bed. Daisy sniffed and stretched and scratched. She snuffled through the weeds on the roadside for lizards.
I heard the truck coming but Daisy was deaf. There was a thud and that was the end of chasing lizards and riding in the back of the ute. When I reached her she had stopped moving. Her eyes were open but blood seeped from her mouth. Dust caked her tongue. The truck, heading for the saleyards with a hundred hot sheep, didn’t even slow down.
I carried her to the creek and sat with her on my lap for a long time, until I heard a crow call, and then another. I wanted to bundle her up and run back home but I didn’t. Instead I buried her in the dry sand and piled rocks over her grave.
I drove on and cried all the way to the city.