The Green Morris Minor

On the weekend with no one home, I climbed inside
the Morris Minor. It took twenty minutes to drive my
fifteen years down the lane. Although terrified, I
bumped out from underneath the roller, changed
direction once, cracked an arc across the garage’s
dividing fibro. Suddenly, the idea felt spongy, spread
thin on the surface of earth, two feet forward in
local colour, splashing sage and chrome between
each picket fence. In the sweet scent of pansies,
violets, lavenders and citrus, open touring amplified the
senses. I could have stayed locked in that mixture,
except for dad’s golf-clubs speaking an end to the game.
Sassy and bright with resourcefulness, I aimed the gear
stick into second, clipped a patch of bracken, paspalam,
a neighbour’s bantam colliding with the rest. It was
murderous fun. But at the end, couldn’t turn around,
laneway opening onto Barrenjoey Road, a boggy
distance looming at ocean’s end in steep sand dunes.
I looked behind me. It was devastation, delinquent
leaves and fences hitching underside. Then the
laneway’s scenery hurried on backwards. The day’s
lesson a blur in reverse. I forgot to check the rear-view,
stonked the engine in the underbrush, scaring bull ants
home. In ruined walls and grasses, tailpipe smoke
ruffled up the ivy, purple trumpets on the lattice.
Diagonals, pollen and spaces subtly joined. Chicken
wire tangled on the bumper was my impasse!

Days later, dad gave us a lecture, finding fibro tiles
and dust, muffler sprouting a fern moustache.
My older brother squinted crimson denial in
my direction. I shrugged, giving it my best.
‘Don’t look at me,’ I said. ‘I’m too young to die!’

Helen Hagemann

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