That Itch

It was a curse. A gypsy thing – to keep looking beyond the next moment, around the curve, over the next hill. To always be looking beyond where she was now.

Binini had two things: the backpack with all the hooks and catches; and the roll-up doona, otherwise known as a mountain-grade sleeping bag. Oh, and a third thing, the pillow. A bit mangy now, but still the best pillow she’d ever slept on.

They were laid out on the desk, ready to pack. There were very few possessions. Clothes were the easy part – and easily replaced if necessary. And the essential things like water bags and the multi-purpose cooking utensils, the fold-up knife-fork-spoon. A cup that fitted inside the food bowl with a clamp down lid. A place for all these things so she could walk all day and feel balanced and alive. And moving. Going somewhere.

The pictures, though, were like rocks. If she took them, she’d always remember, always feel the tug to come back. Just to see, not to return. Just to look. At what could have been. Just to be sure they were safe.

One hand reached out to pick up the top painting. Stammered to stillness over the bright colours that almost resembled something that might have been an animal with four legs – or maybe it was two people. Her eyes blurred.

What Binini saw was his bright upturned face, the golden eyes glistening with joy as the paints were splattered over more surfaces than paper and wall and floor. His face a multi-hued striation of attempts to dip the end in pots that flipped up every time he got too close with his clumsy appendages.

She saw his tiny little body as the legs tried to keep up with the speed of his need to be here and there and everywhere – all at the same time. A breath hooked in her chest. The fingers clamped shut as the arm pulled the hand back to her body, held it there.

The young girl, older than him, who tried to slow him down, be the mature one. His sister was the one who understood what it was to be left. Alone. Who recognised the signs.

The sadness in her eyes over the last few days were mirrored by the look given by the overlord. No, she shouldn’t call him that. He was their carer. Their foster father. He was trying to be an example. Of stability. Of security. Of … normal. He was trying to not hold Binini back, not force her to do anything she didn’t want to. All he wanted was for Binini to talk. He thought she’d stay if she spoke.

But Binini couldn’t do it. Her dreams drew her further and further each night. The cries that woke her called to her soul. She had to go, had to find out … had to leave.

One picture. She’d take one picture. Her hand leaned in again.

The door banged behind her. She looked around. The young girl with dark brown eyes, the golden edges of pain and loss that glowed in a direct echo of the pain in her heart, closed to evade the answer she saw. She turned away from Binini, closed the door again.

The back pack slid under the bottom bunk. The sleeping bag went on the top bunk to make a smooth cover. The pillow got plumped up and laid against the wall. The picture got blue-tac on the back before she hung it on the wall.

Tonight. Binini would stay tonight. Tomorrow was another day. She’d stay and see what it brought. If the pack stayed out of sight.


Copyright Cage Dunn 2017

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