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Out With Lanterns

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Jane Downing

Ros Watt got back into the motel room and collapsed onto the bed. It had more sag than she expected and her lower back screamed in response. She figured the physical pain was better than the one eating away inside.

She’d gone out for a walk the day before, a long, serious bushwalk that had unfortunately grown more serious by the hour when she’d found herself lost and the sun was dipping towards the horizon. Even the hideous motel wallpaper featuring red-capped dwarves was a relief after the midnight blues of the bush. She was exhausted. She closed her eyes on the motel room and regretted that she hadn’t pulled the blankets out before she’d collapsed on top of them. She was cold. And to add to the litany of exhaustion and cold, she was hungry. The Ziploc bag of trail mix and a litre of water should have been enough to see her through the walk, but then, as she’d already discovered, no preparation is ever enough for what eventuates in life.

‘Get away, have a break,’ her sister had told her from the safety of her city apartment. ‘See it as freedom. All those years living centred on your family… You deserve time doing something fun for yourself.’ Next she was throwing poster poetry at Ros, something plucked from Emily Dickinson probably, about hope being a thing with feathers, as if vultures and bin chickens weren’t feathery too.

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