The sun roared up over the horizon. It had been in a temper for weeks. But the continent of Australia, merely shrugged. This was summer since the fall of man, and would remain so until the Creator called enough. In the meantime relief would come in the form of cooling breezes and saving rains. Eventually.
Likewise the inhabitants of Australia have learned patience and endurance. Displays of emotion are condensed into laconic monotones and stoicism is highly prized.
Even when the fledglings leave home. Though it is a searing loss.
Such was the case for Maggie.
‘That was good grub we had last night Maggs”, Bill eyed his Maggie May with real affection then tilted his head to soften his coming question. “But why so much? You don’t need to work that hard anymore. We’re retired. Empty nest an’all.
Maggie closed her eyes and let the early sun warm her heart. She needed time. Instinctively she wanted to fly off the handle and upset the only one left in her life.
‘The food will keep’. She half opened her eyes as she turned to him in reply. Bill could interpret her slit-eyed look which ever way he saw fit. How many times had she asked him to cut the Aussie vernacular from his vocabulary? ‘Grub indeed!’
‘Anyway’, she continued, I was half expecting a visit from…’ Maggie strangled a cry that rose in her throat. She had not seen her offspring since he’d left home. He had not even dropped in on a flying visit.
From where they were in the garden the neighbourhood stretched from left to right. But nothing stirred. No cars, no bikes and even the nearby golf course was deserted. She studied the fairways with a jaundiced eye. When her baby was small she had been obsessive over the danger of flying golf balls and even more paranoid over the trustworthiness of those who barged along trailing carts and acting as though they owned the place. Bill had been just as protective or more so. How could he let go so easily? Maggie sighed and dropped her head. Perhaps she was just tired. After all she had given herself to the role of mothering completely. Was this the definition of retirement? Left over food, an empty nest and an exhausted body?
A car door slammed shut making them both jump.
‘Stone the crows! I got a big enough fright to make me drop clear off “me perch”’. Bill laughed and gave a fluttering sign over his heart to indicate an erratic stop start.
Maggie wondered again why her mate thought everything was so funny, but she skittered along closer to him until their bodies touched. Reassurance.
‘You silly thing, that’s the family from Number 33. This season, I’ve been watching their young ones grow up. It’s been back and forth; come and go. But it looks like today’s the big day. The car is so packed up it probably couldn’t carry another feather.
Maggie eyed the mother and daughter as they embraced and parted. The woman stood as straight and as a majestic as a river oak, though tears flowed down her cheeks.
‘Don’t forget to call when you get to Brisbane’, she raised her hand in a wave; and then her fledgling was gone.
‘It’s time I got to know that woman Bill. Maybe I can comfort her, since I know how she feels.’
‘How you gonna do that Maggie May? Seeing how you’re … ‘ But Maggie was gone. She’d found a way to be useful again.
The woman from 33 Golf Links Road wiped her tears and looked down at a black and white bird that had just flown onto the driveway.
‘Hello Maggie May’
The magpie had no idea how the woman knew her name.
‘I saw you over there perched on the handle of my well’. The beginnings of a smile appeared though the voice was sad. ‘Is that your mate Maggie? You‘re looking very thin lately. I’ll bet you gave everything to that squawking baby of yours and now it’s flown off and left you. Just like that’. The woman looked off in the direction of the disappearing car and sighed before turning back to her feathered companion.
‘ How about we go around to the garden and start digging. Lots of food out there Maggie. We girls should stick together. We can share how it is to let go.
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