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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Winter (the season) (08/13/09)

TITLE: Meeting Amelie Brunet
By Rachel Barclay


Georgie's letterbox stood empty. She slammed the tin door, nearly busting it off rusty hinges. A whole week with no response.

She crumpled at the foot of the banksia. No hope of mail deliver over the weekend crushed her heart. Winter was nearly over. Only a few idle autumn leaves plastered the muddied ground.

At the first sign of spring, her opportunity would be lost. Amelie Brunet, the photographer Georgie adored, gone from the region forever.

Three months ago Georgie sent photographs of the property lining the Murray River. She knew they were amatuer, but she'd written after reading of Amelie's proposed visit to the region, certain that this area would be the place where Amelie could capture on film the essence of where the rugged outback met the life of those who toughed it out on the land.

Amelie had obviously found what she needed to emanate from her published pages on prestigious properties--inheritances that made the blockie life look like a luxury. Georgie knew her property would never match that. It was a reflection of historical reality--alife running a block started out rough as the surrounding gnarled eucalypts, never altering from the sweated track. Some years were better than others, but home was still home, and the hours spent keeping the block in shape left nothing to spare for the old, sturdy homestead. The weatherboards warped more each year in the near fifty degree heat, and rattled on their nails through the dust storms and frost bite.

No, those millionaire properties didn't reflect anything of what the pioneering returned soldiers strived for. Georgie had been certain Amelie's work resonated the rugged depth of the Australian outback history. She couldn't contemplate being wrong on that.

Georgie went indoors to light the fire as the early winter evening sunset turquoised the far reaches of the Mallee sky.

Georgie woke to the neighbour's distant rooster. Neighbours were five kilometres apart along the river front. She parted the curtains to an auburn sunrise. Every morning greeted a cloudless sky and miles of frost glazed dust, scribbled with mallee desert scrub.

Mist moored the river surface.

Georgie watched the first rays tinge the mist when there was a sudden reflection. Quiet murmurs filtered through her window. The sun had flashed off a camera lense!

Georgie dressed over her pyjamas and rushed outside. She stopped short at the sight of a stocky lady approaching her.

'You must be Georgie,' Amelie's accent was so strong.

'I hoe you don't mind. I wanted to start work before daybreak. I couldn't afford to miss the kind of captures you sent me. But you are so humble. Please, tell me. Who did you study under? Well, maybe later? I don't want to miss this daybreak.'

'You... you came?' Georgie whispered.

'Yes, of course! I hope you don't mind that we started. We didn't want to wake you, or miss this!'

'You found me.'

'How could I not? Such an incredibly raw part of God's creation on the edge of man's work by the sweat of his brow. The perfect imagry from Genesis, don't you think? The edge of Eden. That's it--the title of our next book! My goodness, Georgie, you're a genious! You will do a book with me, Georgie?'

Georgie rushed for her camera.

Together, her and Amelie filled film after film on that final winter's morn.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Joanne Sher 08/24/09
Beautiful, vivid descriptions. This piece has an atmosphere to it that is captivating. Very nicely done!
Val Clark08/26/09
Love to read a story from a fellow Australian! Thing to remember, though, if you wanted to place in this challenge is that most of the judges will be North Americans and they will understand Winter in a different way. Plus winter is not integral to the story you've written - which is really about hope and would fit well into a topic like photography or careers. Having said that, your descriptions of the environment are very evocative, giving a clear sense of place.
Suzanne R08/30/09
Beautiful imagery! I just finished reading 'All the Rivers Run' - an Aussie classic - have you read it? I love the touch that she threw on her clothes over her PJs ;-) Good work!