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Different Planets

Page 5

Alison Knight

Although I’d welcomed the opportunity to spread my wings, I missed my parents. They phoned me constantly at first.

Bridie would roll her eyes. ‘Always checking up on you! It’s about time they let you grow up.’

Finally, I stopped answering their calls and only occasionally responded to their emails. I didn’t want to annoy Bridie. Nevertheless, I did feel lonely sometimes, especially as she went away so often.

When Bridie had a meeting one day, I decided to go exploring. I was stupid. Her property was far more extensive than I’d realised, the terrain growing more inhospitable the further I travelled. Before long I found myself in a hostile, alien landscape where scraggy patches of vegetation clung to dusty red earth. Skidding on some loose rocks in a shallow arid gully, I turned my ankle, which began to swell. As the scorching sun beat down and my water ran out, my chest tightened like a vice. Every breath became a struggle. I fumbled for my phone. I had mobile reception—just. I messaged Bridie.

She found me eventually and helped me hobble home. ‘Don’t you ever go out on your own again!’ she shouted. ‘You have a heart condition! You could have died!’ I cried.

Later, she apologised. ‘It’s because I care about you.’

I loved that she was so protective of me.

Sadly, I couldn’t see my parents for Christmas. Bridie was too busy to drive me to Melbourne and she didn’t like me travelling alone. Mum phoned me after Christmas lunch. She seemed a world away. At the other end of the crackling line I could hear peals of laughter and my brother’s children tearing around in the background. They were having a good time without me.

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