Chapter One

You could tell She wasn’t keen on the idea, and we soon found our why.

The locals call her Aunt May, even though she was an only child.

She’s probably in her 70’s and is bent over, like the trees on her place. They tell me the only time it stops blowing on her farm is when the wind changes direction, and it only ever blows from the West. Took me a while to get the joke.

She doesn’t like phones, I learned that when I rang her up.

“Best you come over, and I get a look at you.”

We had a hang of a job finding her place, it’s tucked behind a hill, her driveway just a memory, overgrown with weeds and rank grass.

Aunt May was waiting for us in the dark. She had one of those old silver torches you see in the junk pile in second-hand shops. Its feeble yellow glow next to useless. I thought she was looking for something in the grass, that’s how bent over she is.

“No need to come up to the house, I just want to have a look at you.”

I turned my torch off, embarrassed by its brightness.

“I’m Bryan, this is Sue.”

She didn’t seem to hear me.

Her head only came up as far as my stomach as she pointed the torch at me.

“You ever been to jail?”

“No.”

“Are you scared of horses?”

“No.”

“Been divorced?”

“No.”

“Good.”

She turned the torch on Sue.

“Does he treat you well?”

Sue giggled. “Mostly.”

“Make sure you shut the gates.”

“Always do.”

She started to shuffle back to her house.

“Could I get you to sign this permission slip, can’t come on your place till you do.”

She turned her torch off, saving the batteries. The roar of the surf made her long silence a little less tense.

“Give it here,” she finally said, ”I’ll need to read it, you can pick it up tomorrow.”

“I can’t do that, its got other landowners details in it.”.

“You’d better come up to the house then.” She said it with a sigh.

You could tell She wasn’t keen on the idea, and we soon found our why.

She made us stand in the remains of her front porch as she fossicked around in the house, looking for her glasses. The place stank of mould and was full of junk. Aunt May is a bit of a hoarder.

The curtains were in tatters so I could see into the lounge. The walls were covered with pictures of horses and award ribbons. We found out later that she was famous for her line of horses. But judging from the state of the ribbons, it was a long time ago.

She found her glasses and came back with the signup book. She looked at me accusingly, daring me to judge her for the way she lived. I had been.

“So you’re just using traps?”

“Yes, there’s two line of 10 traps on your place.”

She read the form.

“It says I need to tell you about farm hazards. Well, there’s lots. What was your name again?”
“It’s Bryan. Just write them down on the bottom panel, it covers you if I end up hurting or killing myself.”

“Good.”

Sue had walked back to the car, I was looking forward to escaping too.

I tried to strike up a conversation by talking about horses. She gave me a steely look.

“You ever owned a horse, Bryan?”

“No.”

“Do you ride?”

“Not really.”

“Thought not.”

After reading the form through twice, she filled it in, tore off the top copy, and thrust the pad into my hands.”

“When will you be finished?”

“Should only take about 5 days, depending on the weather.”

“Good. I’ll tell my brother, you might see him up the back.”

“Thanks for letting me on your property.”

“As if I have a choice.”

She turned the porch light off as she went back inside.

It was a dark night, and I tripped over a cactus trying to find my way out.

When I got to my feet, I could see her peering in my direction through a dirty window.

She was smiling.

More on Aunt May in the next Blog.

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