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Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Ripples - A Work In Progress

I wish I could fly. Just soar up into the clouds and float along with the wind. Completely free from the force of gravity. Maybe, if I could fly, I could escape the torment of memories, the corruption of insomnia and the depression of solitude. Or maybe I should wish I could swim to the deepest part of the ocean (what’s that? The Mariana Trench or something?). Just feel the silence of the water surrounding you, the only evidence that you were ever even above the water being the ripples left on the surface. This makes me sound like a coward right? Just wanting to run away from all of my problems. Well, if you knew what I went through you might understand a little better.

I guess that’s the reason I’m writing this down, so people understand. I hope this is easier for you to read than it is for me to write. Trust me, it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, and I’m pretty certain I won’t be able to do the events justice - I might as well say that now before we even begin. But everyone tells me, to continue on with my life I must "first confront what happened", and it's weird but I feel like I can trust all of you. I'm not entirely sure why. It's not like we've ever met before...

Have we?

Right now, I am down at the river at the bottom of my dad’s property, sitting on the fallen tree that fell in last night’s storm. It’s not an old, rotten one that’s been eaten from the inside out by termites and grubs, but a young sturdy one with a smooth white trunk and a few deep green leave still connected to the branches under the water. It’s hard to tell why it fell – I mean I know the storm knocked it down obviously – but still, why was it chosen? I mean there is plenty of other, taller, older trees around that could have quite easily been bowled over or struck by lightning, but it was this strong, young healthy gum whose life and prospects were ripped away so un-expectantly. Funny how the universe works, huh?

The part of the river I am in now is only about six metres across, knee deep and crystal clear. There are these constant little concentric ripples from insects touching the surface as they skim across. I wonder where they sleep – the insects I mean, and when. I wonder if their eyes close when they sleep and if they worry about waking up. I wonder what their names are, and do they have families? Poor, nameless, sleepless insects.

This was our place; Danny and I, I mean. This was where we used to come and sit, swim in summer and camp in winter. It was the only place on the farm dad never comes and it was totally ours, down to every rock and witchety grub. We knew it back to front and front to back. An echidna couldn’t scuttle through the night before without us noticing the place it had gone from and too. If a wasp built its nest in a tree on the border it would be the first thing we noticed as we walked in.

To be honest, I am only writing about my surroundings to avoid what it is that I am meant to be doing. Danny would never have done that. He was a straight forward action man. Maybe I should get on with it before you stop reading, if you even are reading…

Well, here goes nothing.

It all began on a foggy morning on the outskirts of the little outback QLD town we like to call Mirambrook. Danny and I were on our way to school.

Oh! I’m so dumb! Let me clarify one thing, my name is Dana Blake and me and Danny are, were twins. Maybe it was some sort of cruel joke by our parents; naming me Danielle and my twin brother Daniel, but that is just how it is and we have learnt not to question it. It’s still a great joke to our friends though. You would think after 17 years they would have gotten over it!

“Hey, after school, do you want to take the bikes down to McGuthers? It might be a good idea to get out of dads way this afternoon, he’s got the new head to count” he said, pulling a face as he finished. I laughed so hard I almost choked on my burnt vegemite toast. He laughed as well and patted me on the back. I nodded my head in agreement as I took a sip of water, my throat tingling slightly.

McGuthers Ridge is about a half hour away by bike and a beautiful place for hiding when your dad is in a bad mood. Imagine a red rock cliff, topped with trees and a grassy patch, which suddenly took a severe plunge down thirty feet. We did not have any idea of what was at the bottom of said drop, nor did we feel any inclination to find out. We didn’t go to the Ridge very often because it’s such a trek but when we did it always put us in a good mood for ages. Sitting on the edge of the cliff you can see farmland and hills for what looks like miles all around, and on the very distant east horizon, you can just barely see the ocean. At least we used to imagine we could.

Anyway, that morning, Danny drove to the bus stop like usual, we caught the bus with the other uncivilized farm kids and got out at the Mirambrook High School as normal. I met my friends Quinn, Mason & Stevie outside, and Danny ran over to where his mates Jacko and Zeke were playing a game of footy against some other guys. After I ran over and we talked for a bit, Quinn and Stevie had to go do something for the school fundraiser that was happening later that week. That left me and Mason to wander to our side-by-side lockers together, talking about everything from the cattle, to the cake stall, to the State of Origin. He kept subconsciously running his hand through his messy blonde hair, and every time he did it I would reach up and fix it again for him; he was 5’10 and I was 5’3, so it was always a bit of a stretch.

“We really spend way too much time together don’t we” he laughed after about the sixth time we had done it. I laughed and nodded my head, totally agreeing with him. We had known each other since we were two and our dads introduced us on the farm. We spent every weekend together since, and yet we never get sick of the others company.

Anyway, that afternoon, after we got home from school we ran to the sheds where the bikes were kept. While I wheeled my Yamaha out I started to notice a soft rattling coming from inside, but stupid me decided to ignore it and go anyway. When we were about three quarters of the way there the noise was really starting to get on my nerves.

“Danny! There’s some annoying rattling going on in my bike!” I yelled over the hum of the engines.

“Alrighty, let the man take a look” He said, pulling his four-wheeler to a sliding stop, jumping off and strolling over to the Yamaha in a fairly comical way - with his hands on his hips and taking overly long steps. I couldn’t help but let out an unladylike snort at the ridiculously sexist comment, but of course I knew he was joking. “Yeh, that’s no problem. I’ll ride it from now on so that you don’t have to put up with it!” he grinned at me and sat on the bike. Only then did we hear the rumble of thunder a few kilometers away, and we looked up to see the sky turned almost black with clouds.

“Looks like we should go back though, that storm’s gonna be fierce!” I shouted. Danny nodded and I sprinted over to the four-wheeler, and we set off at a monstrous pace. We wanted to get home before the storm reached us, but that was definitely not meant to be. The rain started bucketing down, drenching us to the bone and making it hard to see the next meter, and the thunder was so loud we could barely hear each other’s bikes, even though we were mere feet away from each other. What happened next, I did hear though, and the sound will haunt me until the day I die.

The sound of cracking branches and rustling leaves, twisting metal and dirt falling away. I stopped the bike and looked in the general direction of where I heard the noise and ran to where it was. It’s not anything. I thought to myself. It was just a branch falling in the storm. But my optimistic thoughts could never have been so wrong.

As I looked down the fallen-away slope, between the disturbed foliage and the broken branches, I saw the Yamaha a laying few feet away; crumpled and half submerged in the water. It looked like a tin can that has been kicked around a schoolyard for too long – squashed and broken. My heart started pounding in my ears, and I slid purposefully down the slope feet first – not caring at all for my own safety as I neared the knee deep water. I tripped at the bottom, falling face first into the cool stream, but getting up immediately and scanning the general area for Danny. I could smell the fuel leaking from the machine into the crystal water, and it made my stomach almost turn over, with the added stress of not being able to see my brother anywhere. I half expected him to jump up from under the water, shouting one of his classic one liner’s - “Watch it! That first step’s a doozy!”, but inside I knew something was terribly, horridly wrong.

The rain was still roaring all around me, but otherwise it was completely silent. No bats shrieked, no possums scurried in the trees, and no signs of life could be heard at all; except for my sloshing of water as I pressed forward, my pounding heartbeat, and my heavy breathing.  By now my clothes were absolutely waterlogged, and my hair was matted to my face, but nothing mattered to me except finding my brother, and walking home together. I tried to hone in on my twin senses, but for some reason I was feeling absolutely nothing – not even a flicker of anything from his side. Suddenly, I heard the sound of labored breathing to my right, closer to the bank than I had been searching. I ran as fast as my clothes, the river, and the rain would let me in the direction of the sound – scanning with my eyes, ears, and even my nose to lead me to Danny. Then I saw him.

He was slumped up on the bank; half out of the water and half in, lying on his stomach, trying to crawl up the embankment. I sprinted to him, grabbed under his armpits and helped to haul him up onto the shore. He turned over weakly in my arms, and I gasped as I saw him.

His face had cuts, bruising and scrapes all over it, and his right eye had a deep gash above it. I scanned my eyes lower, and saw that his wrist was bent back in a horrible way, his lower leg seemed to be almost dangling from his knee down, and he had a large shard of metal dug deep into the center of his torso. It looked like the handle bar of the Yamaha, but I wasn’t really about to analyze it, was I? What scared me the most was the fact that he was starting to cough weakly, with blood coming up into his mouth. He turned onto his side and crimson spilled from between his lips, onto the already saturated green grass.

He turned back onto his back and stared at my face from his heads position in my lap.

“Dana…” he gasped so quietly I barely heard him above the growling and pounding in my ears. Tears started to form in my eyes as I had a feeling I knew what was about to happen. “Don’t forget me…” he breathed out, blood again trickling down his chin, mixing with the cold water that already covered the both of us.

“I won’t have too. ‘Cause you ain’t going anywhere, alright! Someone’ll come and help…” I whispered, stroking his cheek with my hand, and wiping the blood from his chin. I pushed my hands into the pocket of my cargo pants and groped around for my mobile. I pulled it out of my pocket, fingers numb from both the cold and the shock that was taking over all of my senses. I fumbled with the cover of the black flip, and lost my grip on the slippery, wet metal. The phone dropped into the water and the screen went black. I let out a choked whimper, before gripping my brother tighter, and looked down into his shining eyes.  The water dripped from my hair and face down onto his, mixing with the tears that were falling freely from my eyes.

“Dana… Dana” he coughed out, and I started shaking my head, a few sobs managing their way up from my tightened chest. “Dana – Let me go…” I shook my head all the more and leaned down to kiss his cheek softly, before pushing my face into his chest. I felt gravel and blood against my face, but I didn’t care. His skin was cold, wet, and I could tell that he was getting colder.

“I’ll never let you go. Not for one second” I sobbed, hugging him. “I love you too much” I felt his hand weakly rise up to rest on the top of my hand. I turned my hand over and squeezed his fingers desperately between mine; subconsciously thinking that if I can hold onto his hand, I can somehow hold his life together as well. I looked at his face, and saw a weak smile on his trembling, blood stained lips.

“I… I love you too. More than you could ever know Dana. Please don’t forget…” He trailed off slowly - his chest growing still, his hand surrendering its grip on my own, and I looked up and saw his once laughing blue eyes had clouded over – staring up into the angry sky unseeing. The sobs turned into loud cries into the night, and I wrapped my arms as tight as I could around his cooling body; rocking and holding him, wanting to feel his heart flutter, or his chest rise with a breath, or to feel his hand lift up to hold onto me in return – to comfort me. The winds howled and the storm raged on, but the rain started to slow. Thunder could still be heard in the distance, and the lightning still could be seen splitting the sky in half at every interval, but it was coming to an end. Whatever God controlled the weather could sleep soundly tonight, knowing that he had single handedly brought a new angel to Heavens Gates.

I barely noticed that we were sitting in our spot. In our river.

I didn’t even notice the sound of four wheeled drives pulling up behind me, the smell of the engine fumes, or the light that suddenly enveloped me and my brothers’ body. I hardly noticed the thudding of many running, boot clad feet, or the shouts of the men who poured out of the trucks.  I only acknowledged them when they started to try to pull me away from Danny, who at that stage I still had a tight hold on. A pair of rough hands gently touched my shoulders, and tried to lead me away, but I kept my hold. The tears were still flowing freely down my face, as I couldn’t help but stare into his eyes – trying to will them into becoming bright and colorful again.

Then a set of strong arms wrapped around me, picking me up under my back and my knees, and holding me against his chest. I let my grip on my brother fall and I buried my face into the strong man’s chest, continuing to weep, and I wrapped my arms around his broad shoulders. He lifted me and pulled me closer to him, rubbing his hand on my back to comfort me. But no amount of comforting words or gestures would make me stop crying, stop feeling, and stop grieving. He carried me away to one of the four trucks that had pulled up, and lay me down in the back seat.

I finally looked to see it was none other than my best friend, Mason Sheridan, who also happened to be the closest thing to a neighbor we had. Mason jumped in beside me, closed the door and continued to rub my back. He smelled of sweat, and hay bales, and looked absolutely exhausted. His normally spikey dark blonde hair was slumped down from the rain, and his warm grey eyes showed worry, and genuine compassion. As I lifted my head to look out the window I saw three of the men had taken Danny’s body and covered it with a small tarp that had been in one of the trucks trays. I recognized one of the many men immediately as my father – Warren Blake, cow breeder extraordinaire (Note the sarcasm), who is constantly under the pump, and looked a hundred years older right at that time. Some others were Danny’s friend Jacko - Jackson Marks,  Mason’s dad – Ben Sheridan, Brenton Fuller – one of dads friends, and Chris Pane – the town bakery owner who dad went to school with. It seemed as if they had formed a rather huge search party in an effort to find us. What a waste. 


  1. Original comment:

    This is SO AUSTRALIAN!

    Now comment:

    Oh my god. I am so nominating you for best writer.

    1. Yeh, it really is. I write what I know. :)
      Oh god really? That's so sweet, but I'll never win lol...
      Thanyou so, so much!

  2. Damn, Hayley! That is SO FREAKING GOOD!

    And it was described so well... It made me feel like I was there! THIS WAS BRILLIANT!!!!!!!

    1. Aww thankyou so much! That's an amazing compliment. You are so nice! :)

  3. I loved this the first time I read it.

    I loved it the second.

    I loved it the third.

    Goddammit Hayley, why are you so good at writing?

    1. Nowhere near as good as you bubby, ur amazing. But thanks.
      Thankyou for reading it multiple times and not getting bored :D