The Map. Age Six.

I want to save the world.

I want to be like Steve, I don’t care what Mathew says Im going to do it. Erica and Mum giggle, I’m not sure why.

The map is big, pointing to where all the animals live. I’ll need too take the book. I’ll go up the coast because that’s where they live.

I ask my friends if they will come. Talluha, Tamika and Trent all say yes. 

I’ll need blankets but not too many, there’s lots of walking to be done. Something to carry food in. I pack one container. I know how to catch fish and steal so I’m not too worried about being hungry. I practice catching birds and finding their eggs anyway with spears. I never take anything down with a spear but I practice throwing and sharpening anyway. I know how to take scales off a fish but I’ll need something to cook them, there won’t always be a public sauner to grill them. I pack matches. Sometimes on my way too school Mum notices all these things and takes them away but I just repack. 

I ask my friends one by one but only Talluha wants to go when the big day arrives. I say goodbye to Isaac and promise I will come find him when we are grown up. 

We wait by the stair well until the last teacher leaves and then make a dash for it. We run for as long as we can and eventually settle by a river where I know I can find food. There’s a big shopping mall across from the park so I go and steal lollies for Tallulha and come back to make a fire. It’s pretty small and it was getting dark so I pulled out my blanket and we cuddled and ate lollies, getting ready to go to sleep when a figure starts coming towards us. I hesitate for too long about whether or not too run and they catch us. It’s just a police officer but I know this means I’ll be going ‘home’. Instead though we drive too Talluhlas house where there are lots and lots of police and dogs. They send her to bed but I am put on a chair at a table full of angry faces. 

Isaac curled under the pressure and told them my plan. Mum is not angry she is crying. They want me to be sorry for ‘wasting’ their time but I am not and do not pretend to be. I do not cry, say sorry or explain myself which only infuriates them more.

Why am I the only one in trouble? I don’t need too ask. They think I am trouble and Tallhula was just a victim. No, she was running too. I don’t know what from but it obviously doesn’t occur to them to ask. 

Eventually they give up grilling me and Mum drives us home. I ask for dinner.

No.

 She sends me to bed hungry as a punishment. I was happy too fend for myself but it hurt that she wouldn’t look after me. She was angry, they were crocodile tears. She would not have missed me, this confirms. 

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