Plover (Susan McCreery)

Edited by Michelle McLaren

About midday by the sun. She should have been an explorer — but what is today if not an exploration? Been walking for hours. Four hours. Him sleeping it off. She’s Lawrence of the dunes, with a wandering thirst. Bowlo appears to her right. She could do with a schooner.

Not a member, she signs the pointless slip. Eyes adjust to carpet, the stale smell of brine. Walruses lift beaded eyes in her direction. The clammy chums. Or chummy clams. She clenches butt-cheeks. Settle, fellas. Not alone, but waiting. You’d think a sheila rare in these parts. Even bar-towel-woman is curious. Look at their red necks.

Car park. Beer-laden, sun-blind, dizzy. Parp! Watch out love —  barnacle arm out window — sweetheart, tootsie, name her shame her blame her for walking talking drinking asking for it, smile on auto, if no smile the question is why not? and cheer up and is that a hearse she sees before her? Agleam, aglow? She turns to go.

Across a post-season pockmarked sports field. Jab that boot. Score! Score! Did you score? Ball between posts. Spunk between legs. Slam it through. Old sport. A sporting chance. Locker-room banter. Boys will be / Won’t be / Might not be —

Ah, look, a plover. All alone and dainty. Why choose here to nest? To be mown down by a John Deere? Such exposure, risk.

The station now. She knows this kerb, those steps. This the spot. These the echoes. Here his punch. There her fall. Commuters muttered, stopped, stared. No intervention for this staggering female. No helping hand. By the dim light of the stupid moon. Drunken bitch

But a dragon she is, breathes fire, roars fire. Stutters, slurs, grabs her temples until at last she cries, sinks, but what pity what disgust what a cur he prods with foot as she lies. Spits on her and leaves. He has the keys, the lurch the big lurching lurch. Don’t drive she calls and stumble-runs to pound on the window. Door locked he passed out, open mouthed. Raining now. A bench, not far. She curls and waits, exposed, and when he wakes, it’s all so tender soft the stroke cheek lips warm brush arms lift carry. Take to nest. This is love must be.

Susan McCreery is a writer from Thirroul, NSW. Her poetry collection, Waiting for the Southerly (Ginninderra Press), was Commended in the Anne Elder Award 2012. Her microfiction collection, Loopholes (Spineless Wonders), was a finalist in the MUBA 2017. This Person Is Not That Person (stories) is forthcoming from Puncher & Wattmann. Susan is working on her first novel. Find her on Twitter @SusanMcCreery2.