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An Aversion

Page 4

Jack is eighteen, sitting alone in a beer garden. Nearby, ivy has camouflaged a low fence. The night is warm, but he can’t relax. He wishes Carl would return. He hears voices— arguing in the street… groans… there’s a shimmer of silver… He’s immobilised… heart pulsing. Lights flash, then darkness… Jack is crying. Carl—his protector… war hero… dead.

Day Two

Dawn breaks. Constant pain and fear of predators keep Jack awake. The jungle is alive with sounds:  whooping monkeys, screeching birds and a percussion of crickets. Jack trembles. His wound has been oozing pus. He’s not sure how long? He dry retches. Huddled on his side, his eyes close… He smells something sweet. Immediately, his stomach aches.

* * * * *

It was an afternoon when, in seconds, icy-poles turned to liquid and asphalt scorched bare feet. Young Jack had finished slurping a raspberry iced-treat and his lips and tongue were red. Drenched by the sprinkler, it was his job to move it around the garden. When he heard a scream from the house he had rushed inside.

His mother with eyes wide, a cut above her temple, sat crumpled on the kitchen floor. Ewan, the older brother of a kid in Carl’s class, had grabbed a vinyl chair and flung it at a glass, wall cabinet. Shattered glass and crockery covered the tiled floor. Jack wrapped his hands over his head and crouched over as the burly youth continued his rampage, ranting and sweeping things off benches.

Suddenly, Carl appeared in the doorway and roared, ‘Stop, you bastard.’ Jack looked up. He would never forget his brother’s eyes—Carl’s pupils dilated like a cat before attacking its prey. ‘Pay back for yesterday? Your brother’s gutless sending you.’ 

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