Chamberlain Variations

Hours later, when her thoughts emerged from the daze, Lindy recalled the taste of metal seeping from her teeth. She could still taste it, silvery on her tongue. It was accompanied by a sound that was going to haunt her, dried branches breaking underfoot. She knew it was the sound of the ruthless jaws of the dingo crunching on her daughter’s tiny limbs.
She had been furious at Reagan. The dingo had stepped on his chest and woken him. She had demanded to know why he hadn’t stopped the dingo. She shook the whimpering boy until he screamed that he was sorry. That it was his fault his sister was gone.
The metallic taste seeped down her throat and settled below the pit of her stomach where her daughter once lived. It seemed to erode her from the inside. Since leaving the womb, Azaria hadn’t lived long enough to witness a full turning of the seasons.

Across the sea of flickering blue lights, Michael watched his wife slump against the bonnet. She was a woman in the process of being devastated. No one believed her story; a dingo walked over one child to take another.
In those moments void of rational thought, Michael was concerned with the other losses he was still to experience, and not of what was already irrevocably gone.
He will mourn that they, his family, will never sit in the front row of church, with its faint musty smell of over cleaned carpets, and feel the love of God ever again. The children will, in years to come, be bullied into hating that God.
Michael had read somewhere that a baby’s teeth were called deciduous. She hadn’t had the time for her teeth to unfurl.

The sea of running students pushes the blue doors open and I wash ashore gasping for air. The unfamiliar light from the new yard washes over me. Once my eyes adjust I realise that I am stranded in the vast emptiness.
If she had still been alive, my sister would have been here with me. She was meant to have started prep. I still dream that I had protected her from the dingo. That when it stood on my chest I reached a hand up and stopped it.
Clusters of students stand staring, whispering or pointing at me. The first pulse of urine is caught just in time. I scan the yard hoping to find a quiet place.
I walk past a group of girls and they run from me screaming.
Behind the aluminium shed I crouch down amongst the fallen leaves of the oak tree. The scent of something dead hangs in the still air. I reach my fingers between the buttons of my school shirt. I can feel the very spot where the paw pressed down onto my chest. I feel for the gentleness of the dingo and try to cling to that moment, the moment just before my world brutally erupted. Names called out in a schoolyard won’t sooth what is broken inside me.