The first morning of autumn galloped through the vale, rolled over the hills and tumbled onto the towns and villages that sat scattered in the valley. Dragging its chilly winds behind itself, the new season murdered any trace of summer that had been left upon the air. With a great gust, it flung the yellowing leaves over the vale, the crisp confetti finding even the almond orchard, hidden at the edge of the valley, and the witches dozing inside. Elsie woke first.
My childhood was one of hand-me-downs, and mud-stains, and air so clean you could have swam though its beauty. Summers sweltering heatwaves and drought, and warm rain swelling at the bottom of molten metal water tanks. The winters whispered frost, squelching boots and shivering limbs under infinite layers of woollen blankets. Fingers turned numb with the chill that bored into every crevice, cell, and plane of grass. Weaving in and out of it all were only the sounds of the dairy cows, singing their songs amongst the spray of gum trees swaying their leaves in defiance of the breeze.
Sea salt sprayed the knees, the knuckles, of silent citizens; the speargrass and pennywort, waltzing with the ever wanton wind, permeated by salt saturated air, sprinkled itself with love upon the crevices of every nook – of every plant and every person. Brontide. Where the sky rolled past in mirror of its beloved sea. Relentless and eternal, the waves beat at the beach, the dough that never toughened. The ocean wind, an infinite rolling pin, set upon the water below – green-blue, green-grey, like the colour of the piers and the lanterns that sung from the bay. Brontide. Of peace and cobblestone streets, leading back to the sand like all streams lead to the ocean. Brontide, for love and peace. In solidarity: It paused.
The train station had an eerie, iridescent sheen that morning. The metallic turnstiles glistened, cold and silent, waiting with patience, waiting to be chosen. So, too, did the dawn staff, yawning and frozen, mid-sip of Styrofoam bitterness, behind the far counters; more like statues than people, they waited patiently. Silently. As I sauntered from the platform, and passed the churning ticket machine, the loneliness stung … It assaulted me in that instant: the all-encompassing stillness. The six a.m. silence kissed the floors and the walls. It caressed the dusty air. As the potency became more obvious, it built. The noise ricocheted towards me, bouncing off the walls, and pounding upon my ear drums. My senses were deafened with whispers of bellowing nothing. As I felt each tap, tap, tap of my shoe on the cold marble floor, the metronome surfaced.
A half empty Styrofoam cup of bitterness resides as the barrier between father and daughter. I sip gingerly, feigning apathy at the aroma that floods nostrils like disappointment at the bottom of a dam- cracked and broken, water rushing over the, once child, now ‘adult’.