A car-buying episode stood in for her discomfort with the polished, brand-spanking new. Inevitably, she looked for a small, economical car. She said to the salesman, and it was a man, that she couldn’t understand why anyone would buy a luxury car – leather upholstered, colour coordinated, gadgets galore. The car was judgemental, judged her.
. ‘I do.’ The salesman responded in emphatic non-debate.
. She found herself always in these liminal spaces, the borderlands where things weren’t mapped. She lived on the border of two councils, at the end of the power line. And the power cut out regularly.
. Residential properties were far between because of ‘acreage’, and many residents had post-boxes and not property letter-boxes; the entrances to their properties weren’t all that clear, the suburban fence now noticeable as a signature of obsessive hoarding, an agoraphobic’s deluded enclosure, a motif of the absurd, dada.
. In a rainforest area, the damp and heat kept life in swell. The bush was thick through a combination of heat, water and the invasion and inundation of weeds.
. She kept candles and matches in sight, to hand, in every room. Outside, on the veranda: more candles and citronella incense sticks and oil burner for mosquitoes, and flies, and fruit flies, and wasps, and mites. She stacked her medicine cupboard with antihistamines and calamine lotion, and one snake-bite kit for which she memorised the instructions. If you were missing a makeshift splint, tie the two legs together. But what if she were alone? What could she do? Lists of contacts for wildlife rescue and snake removal tucked into the car’s glovebox. Information sheets on minimising or eradicating weeds as a responsible property owner filed into a householder folder.
. ‘Precipitous hills in impossible lushness’ was the description forthcoming from a long-term resident.
Moya Costello is a writer, and Adjunct Lecturer, School of Arts and Social Sciences, Southern Cross University. Her books are novels (The Office as a Boat; Harriet Chandler) and short prose (Kites in Jakarta; Small Ecstasies). Her recent work is in the journals TEXT, Rabbit, Plumwood Mountain, Mosaic and Transformations.