She’s not going to understand about time. When I say it was because of time, she’ll think I left the baby on the road because I had to go somewhere, or I was late; or that I left the baby on the road because I didn’t have time to look after it. There’s a form to fill in. The lady slides the form across the table. She’s got a wrap dress on and I’ve seen it in a magazine: ‘Who doesn’t look good in a wrap dress?’ Her eyes are pointed down so she won’t have to look at me when I talk. What I say doesn’t matter; it’ll make no difference. The lady pokes her telephone and looks into it. Her lips slump over her teeth. ‘It’s after five,’ she says. I’ve missed Judge Judy. You can have a wrap dress that shows off your tits or you can have a lacy collar, but you can’t have both.
The next day the lady takes the history and I tell it all up until indoor cricket. I tell her that Darren has a bag you could fit a bale of hay in with his pads and his bat and his blue drink. He’s in men’s south-eastern division three. The sponsor is Scoresby Meats so they have a chop on the back of their shirts with their nicknames and you can hear them slap each other’s hands and say ‘Go the meats’.
The nets are where it comes apart. I look at the lady as I say this. She nods at me and her hair moves about. One long hair falls onto the table. The hair on her head is straight, but this one hair on the table is curvy as if it doesn’t belong to her. ‘Go on,’ she says. ‘Keep telling.’
The nets are green plastic rope that’s knotted together. I try to see through the nets, to see past them, but they cut everything up. When I think I’m seeing Darren running or hitting, he comes apart. I see lots of green diamond pieces jerking about as he moves and they don’t fit together properly. The edges of the green pieces overlap and hit into each other and he looks like a swarm of something. Flies, maybe. When Darren runs the green pieces rocket around him the same as on the cartoons when roadrunner goes fast and his legs turn into a saw. The nicknames ironed on the backs of the players are jumbled up like eye tests. The players clap and call out to each other and that’s in pieces too—the words are bitten off in pieces and it’s hard to hear them in the broken-up air. There’s a lot of standing around at indoor cricket. They still sweat though and the wet bits of their shirts get sticky from touching the meat of them.
The lady says I should talk about the baby. She wants to know if I was angry with the baby at indoor cricket. She tells me that she has a little girl who is just starting prep. On her way home from work the lady has to go to target and buy some blue bike shorts. The lady says all the girls in prep wear bike shorts under their school dresses so they can do the monkey bars at lunchtime and recess and it doesn’t matter what they show. She says to me, ‘Being a mum is never-ending.’
Today the lady is wearing a skirt with big buttons on it at the front. The buttons aren’t for doing it up or holding it together. I don’t understand why she’s going to target; kmart is cheaper and it has the same stuff. Darren’s sister is casual at kmart and can fix barcodes so everything is 99 cents. The lady asks me what I’d like when she comes in again and I say I like to do colouring and she brings me one book and a packet of pencils. I don’t need all of the colours but I do need a sharpener so I can use the tip of the pencil and make sure there isn’t any smudging. I show the lady how to start at the edges of a shape and go in towards the centre until there is one last dot of white left and how you can save that bit for special. When she comes back after her lunch break I show her what I’ve done; whole pages that I’ve done with the white dots saved up for later. The lady asks me about the baby and colouring. She asks me if I imagined doing colouring with the baby. What I like about colouring is staying in the lines and then choosing if you do the finishing or leave it until later. When there are pages and pages of the finishing undone I flip over quickly so I don’t have to look at the white eye looking at me from under the colour. Darren won’t buy me books any more so I do the junk mail. Fridges and dishwashers are good shapes. It was better when things were white, lots of things are grey now because of the aluminium look. The junk-mail paper is thin. You have to use a biro and when there’s too much biro on the paper it rips.
The next day the lady is wearing good jeans and a swing top and a necklace made of square bathroom tiles with a hole drilled through them on a circle wire. The wire isn’t droopy like a chain; it holds its shape. I touch the tiles and she tries to smile at me and I tell her that one of my dad’s ladies had those tiles in her shower. Dad said it was a playpen and that it was safe. They had an occy strap to keep the door shut. Dad’s lady put a towel down and I had snoopy. The towel didn’t cover the corners and that’s where I licked the tiles. The shampoo bottle was in a wire basket high up, but I could taste the shampoo on the tiles and even stronger on the grey lines in between them. They don’t have that shampoo any more because it was a two-in-one. These days it’s all separate and you have to buy the matching conditioner as well. It smelt like flex, but it tasted like pert. Neither of these is exactly right.
The lady is rubbing her shoes together as I say this and her eyes are looking right at me. She looks like a cat that can hear something in the ceiling. She goes out to get another pen. When she comes back she turns over to a clean page on her pad and she says I have to tell it from further back. Now I have to tell it from dad and me.
I don’t remember it all, but I remember when we were at Whorouly South and there were four cats. Dad took me out for the rabbits and foxes. It started after tea and then it was in the night. It was on other people’s places so we couldn’t take the ute. Dad shot the rabbits and the foxes and I carried them. He knotted them around me—all the bodies around my shoulders and my tummy tied up with their ears and their broken legs; and I had their blood on me in patches where they spilled.
Sometimes I thought their hearts thumped against me because they were only nearly dead, not properly dead, and their hearts were trying to talk to my heart and get into rhythm with it so they could be alive again. They had sharp pieces, teeth and bones and claws. But most of the pieces of them were soft and heavy and I got tired carrying them. When it was dark and I was carrying them I thought it wouldn’t ever be day again and I would never stop carrying them in the dark. Their insides dropped down and puddinged together inside their skins. Sometimes their insides would jerk and bounce with kittens, or if it was a fox it was a cub. I was happy when they stopped jerking and bouncing because I knew they would never be born and never get shot and tied on me in the paddocks.
When dad had a smoke I had to stand still as he lent the rifle up against me like I was a tree or a fence. Even when I stood still some of the rabbits and foxes (mainly it was rabbits) would sway about me and dad would laugh. If I cried he said he couldn’t leave me home on my own. He said I was safe with him.
There aren’t meant to be flies at night, but there were always flies on me. They hung on the holes in the rabbits and foxes or their eyes and noses and mouths and shit holes. I swatted them, but they didn’t go away. They went up in the air a short way and came down again in a nearby place. I’m not saying that it was just me that carried the rabbits and foxes because my dad did too. When I was tied all over and he couldn’t fit more on me he draped them over himself. The rabbits stretched out long like a shawl and they dripped blood on the ground in front of him and wet shit on the ground behind him. When we were all full up we turned for home. He walked too fast. I had to run some bits to catch up. It took a very long time. It took much, much, longer than on the way out so it seemed like a whole other day and night had gone past before we got back to the house. I knew then that time was different when you had something heavy on you. When we got close to the house the cats came out to us because of the smell. It wasn’t just a blood smell or a meat smell, but different pieces of smell—livers and kidneys and loins and tongues and stomachs had banged into each other inside the rabbits and foxes and made their own smells. All of these smells talked to the wet hairs in the nostrils of the cats and told them that we were coming and what we had.
The lady goes to get me a big m. She isn’t wearing one thing from the other days. Everything she has on is fresh. She asks me if I need toiletries. She says she’ll get a few things for her dinner when she gets the big m, but she won’t be too long. I hope she hasn’t got much shopping. I left the shopping on the road, but only once. I couldn’t keep carrying it. I needed that piece of time to be over so I could get on with the next piece. The shopping was still there when Darren went back to get it. Except for the ice-cream.
The lady opens the big m and puts the straw in the top. I like to push it through the hole on the side. She asks about my sleeping. I tell her Darren knows I don’t like anything heavy on me. We don’t have a blanket; we have a doona. Everyone has a doona now, but silky blankets you throw on the sofa are in. A doona is better than blankets. If I wake up in the night and Darren’s arm is on me or there’s something heavy on me I won’t go to sleep again.
They bring the baby in to see me. She looks all right; but she smells bad. I don’t know if she’s done a shit and nobody has changed her or if someone has been holding her with perfume that’s off and it’s gotten onto her. It isn’t Darren who’s been looking after her. I hold her out to the side so the smell doesn’t go in my nose.
The lady is typing something on her phone. She picks a letter with her finger and it peels away and flies up into a box and becomes a word. I try to read it upside down but I can’t make all of it out. When she’s finished typing she says we’d better get down to it because someone else is coming in soon and they need the room. She says she just wants me to tell the last bit now. The last bit of indoor cricket and the bit with the road.
At half-time Darren comes out and the others come out and they stand around rocking in their sneakers. I try not to look at them because I don’t want to see if they are in pieces. Darren comes over near me so they can see whose I am. I look down at the baby and when I look up I just look at the middle part of them where they tuck their shirts into their cricket pants. There’s a cord that ties up their cricket pants the same as board shorts have. Some of them flip the waistband over so the cord is on the outside and there are knots in it. I’m glad that Darren does bows because knots are hard to undo when you have acrylics. They squirt drinks in their mouths and then they go back inside the court. The two of them who hold the bats put their hands down their pants and squeeze their dicks. I don’t stay for all of the second half. Darren has a lift home and he knows I’ve got aldi. He says the car will be all right because he took it to auto tune. But I know that he didn’t.
The toll pass beeps when you are driving on eastlink and you know there’s money coming off you. It’s only small money. The sign says 30 cents, but then it says 30 cents again and you haven’t gone far. The car flattens out and goes quiet and I get it to dribble over to the lane on the outside with what it has left. I don’t leave the baby in the car because I know you can’t do that. Even with dogs in the summer you can’t do it. Someone will call the cops or they’ll smash your window with a brick. So I take her out of the baby safe and I carry her. I go backwards not forwards because of the little motel. That’s what some of the money that comes off you goes towards. Further up there’s a bird made out of steel and some yellow sticks.
The baby is asleep. She’s hot and heavy. She has bubbles coming out of her mouth and they burst on my arm. When we get to the little motel there’s no phone. People have gotten inside by smashing the plastic windows and started fires on the floors. It isn’t a real motel; it’s art. I go back to the road and start walking towards the off ramp. The cars go at one hundred. Nobody stops. The baby has always been heavier than she looks. She wakes up. She’s wet underneath first, but it seeps through and the wet goes in the blanket. Whatever nappies you buy the wet won’t stay in. I hold her a different way but it doesn’t help. I put her down.
The lady takes the tape out of the machine and goes to type it all up. Before she goes out she gives me a packet of tic tacs in an orange box. You think when you tip them out they are going to be orange and then they are white. When the lady comes back in she taps the bottom edge of the pages against the table to straighten them. She gives me the pen. She says I can add anything that I like. I turn to the last page. I write: ‘When you have something heavy on you time turns to blood.’ Then I sign my name.