Here & Now with S Sorrensen - Apr 15

Tuesday 8.05am:

When I awoke this morning something seemed strange.

I turned and checked the bed. She was still there. That’s not strange. (I mean it’s a constant surprise but not strange.)

It was early – the sky was light but the sun still hadn’t peeked over the ridge to the east of my shack.

Uneasy, I slid out of bed and wandered out onto the bedroom porch. Something was different. I couldn’t figure what. It seemed a regular autumn morning; cool, but not cold. (No need for my winter sarong yet.) There was a light mist which was already evaporating, but...

Then I twigged – it was still; absolutely still. There was no wind.

The apple gum, the ironbarks, even the olive tree just outside my door showed no movement at all. Not a breeze nor a zephyr pulled at a leaf or puffed a spider’s web. And as to emphasise the stillness, no bird sang, no wallaby thumped across the grass – even my bedroom clock, whose ticking is usually annoying, was dead quiet.

It was sort of ominous. Eerie. It made me reflect. We live in such a noisy, flashy world. The idea is to stay distracted until you die. Maybe buy some stuff on the way. Never get serious.

I’m thinking about this as I drive down Casino Street into the South Lismore shopping area. Behind me is a line of cars bringing workers in from the hills. A black 4WD approaches from the opposite direction. A woman, with her hair strictly permed into a bouffant that looks like a mangled mushroom on her head, sits high at the wheel. She has a face like a pinched nerve.

Suddenly, with no indication either from her car or her squinty eyes or her sphincter-like mouth, she swings her black behemoth across the road in front of me, tyres squealing.

As if to make up for my morning experience of absolute stillness, now there’s a glut of action.

I slam my foot on the Barina’s brakes and my hand on the horn. Looking for possible escape routes, I see a white Commodore with a red P plate on the other side of the road. The girl driver, who looks about 12, goes into shock and shuts her eyes.

Cars are parked to my left. Behind them a pedestrian with a football beanie and ridiculous Aussie flag boardshorts jerks on a leash and pulls his little dog to halt as he hears the screaming tyres.

In my rear-view a young fella in a white ute hits the brakes and stops talking on his mobile.

With the mad woman’s 4WD now directly across my path, with my horn blaring and car skidding, my mind strangely becomes still. Yes. Like an autumn morning.

I notice the mist has completely lifted. I notice the mad woman has a necklace like a ‘cut here’ mark above her grim suit. Rudd is in town today. I wish he was here with me now in this hectic stillness. We could get serious. I notice I’m not angry at either of these people. I should be.

The Barina misses the 4WD by a metre as the woman plunges her oversize hearse into the lane next to the deli and disappears. The little dog barks at the huge wheel flashing by in front of its nose.

It’s over.

The P plater blinks. Ute boy restarts his mobile conversation. Beanie bloke bends down and pats the little dog. I take my hand off the horn and get going.

The world returns to its usual noisy self (where the winds bluster and bother and blow your house down).

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