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An Aversion

Page 5

Carl had grabbed a broom from the cupboard and raised it in the air as Ewan lunged at him. Their mother edged backwards into a corner. Carl slammed the broom-head against Ewan’s back, and then hit him repeatedly on the head.

Jack pressed himself against a cupboard as he heard the sounds of thwack, thwack, interspersed with moans and a crack. Ewan collapsed onto the floor. He no longer moved.  

Jack vomited. Ewan was looking for Carl. Jack had told him to go inside, but Carl was in the backyard fixing the fence. Jack had felt uneasy when Ewan approached him. His eyes were glazed.

The incident made it into the papers. Carl was only fourteen and spent time in a juvenile detention centre. Their mother didn’t cope.

Day Three

‘Señor, Señor.’ Jack opens his eyes. He is propped up against a tree. A small, native girl of about twelve, skin coloured like honey, is bending over him. Her coarse black hair brushes his arm. ‘You’re okay.’ She is wearing faded, grubby jeans and a baggy green t-shirt down to her thighs. Jack smells smoke and his body tightens. The girl steps away from him, her worn thongs make slapping sounds in the mud.

In a coconut husk, she pounds strips of bark with a stone. The underside of yellow fibre produces sap. She mixes in a handful of water, returns and motions him to drink, pouring a little in between his lips. It is warm and tastes sour. Jack splutters.

‘For head, but your hand not good.’

Jack nods. 

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