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It has been one week since my friend took his own life. I sit on the bus, the very same I used to catch every day, and the hour’s ride crawls by tediously. Just as I used to, I sit on the same blue-patterned seat, two thirds towards the back of the bus, one seat behind and one up from the rear exit, looking out the window and not reading the book in my hand. The book is Dante’s Inferno, and my friend is tossed wildly as a seed to the wind, growing into a tortured tree in the forest of suicide. The only note of hope is a return trip to Earth on the day of judgement, to retrieve his broken body and hang it on his own branches. Outside the window, I see graveyards and funeral houses and never knew there were so many. It has become all too real.

***

The house I used to live in has changed little. The sunshine flows in through a skylight, and just as whenever I am here, I am happy. I drop my bag – a backpack, I’m travelling light – into the backseat of the car, besides a dissembled bike.

***

We travel south cross land, and a chill wind cools the sun and disorientates me. Another graveyard. Shitty coffee in a roadhouse. On the road again, and clouds threaten rain. Mountains loom on either side of me, and I feel small.

***

The roof is down, I look up at cloudy azure skies and I feel vertigo. We’re in grassland now, the beautiful yellows, browns and greens of farmland, dotted with eucalypts and cattle. I remember this land, and I am home. Mount Warning hails us in the distance over sugarcane fields, while ducks fly from lake to lake. I am happy.

***

Over a huge valley, I glimpse the ocean, and am at peace. I gaze entranced; I could spend my life here, become another hippie artist inhaling too much weed and paint fumes, clothe myself in rainbows and go as brave as the zodiac. Yet, I am not so brave as to try.

***

Faded signs of shops, passing by too quick to read. The paint peels, and I feel sorrow for each and every one, a lost dream of a proprietor. Casino is deserted and desolate, and I wish to move through here as quickly as I am able.

 

***

In Lismore, the way to my old home comes back to me easily. The town has gone to hell, rubbish piling in the streets in front of failing ramshackle houses and street drunks. Trees planted when I was a child tower over me, even as the road winds higher. My road is gravel, worse than ever, and the car stalls. A crazy lady’s geese block the road as I rejoice seeing my own surname still affixed to the front of my childhood home, beside a Poinciana I planted. The air is cold, evening coming soon, and as the light goes down so too do my spirits. We stop on the side of the road to put the roof on again. Standing there staring at yellow grass stalks, I cannot quite place what I have lost.

***

It is dusk, and only a soft glow from over the horizon illuminates the world. We pass a valley, and hills covered by blue forests silhouette each other. The night is cool and still. Looking to a Eucalyptus, I understand its loneliness.

***

We pass twenty trucks on the side of the road, stuck on a detour from high waters. These plains flood easily, and going is slow as we become entrenched in a long line of vehicles.

***

The night is utterly dark now, and finally the car pulls into Coffs Harbour. I book into my accommodation, the cheapest I could find. It’s a box with a bed, a broken TV, half a shower, and an unlockable window on ground floor next to the carpark. The quilt is insufficient, and I am cold. With a head full of thoughts, a body that thinks it’s still moving, and an empty stomach, I cannot sleep.

 

The work ends here, unfinished. Rest in Peace, Sam.

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