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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Australia or New Zealand (01/15/09)

TITLE: My Outback Yard
By Sandra DeHoogh


We were someplace smack between Alice Springs and the Devils Marbles travelling a stretch of desert which could have been confused for the moon. There were no buildings, mountains or vegetation here. Just dirt, heat and the horizon. This meant no trees. Here, trees are your friends as they become convenient camouflage in the need of relief. Retired “Grey Haired Nomads” had told us to avoid public bathrooms as unbelievably, they were often inhabited by locals.

Knowing this, I noisily approached a crudely converted concrete tank my concern for confrontation far outweighing my greater need. I knew I would need to pee now or never. Well at least now, or to never again live down the disgrace that would come from a watery accident. I realised as I turned in that she was definitely not expecting to see me. Her eyes met mine then hit the floor fast. I was clueless what to do next. Awkwardness heightened the longer I stood in indecision, as for me to continue, I would need to physically step over her.

Politely, I dropped my gaze only to notice the last thing I ever expected to see. At her feet, the most beautiful, dark baby lay on a tattered blanket. A mess of wiry black curls and dust was all that covered his plump body which could be but days old. All my female hormones gooed over the sight of him and any fear of my harm or trespass dissolved spying this new life.

Everything in me wanted to scoop him up, to snuggle into his neck, to soak up the smell that only newborns own, to share in details of his birth and wallow in her pleasure of a new son. In an attempt to communicate these feelings, I found that the English language was not something we shared but obviously my maternal gushing gave her cause to relax a little more, so she offered a tentative smile.

Our short but intense encounter was interrupted by a rather protective and clumsy entrance of a tall aboriginal male. I assumed he was the babes father; the young girls man. He assessed the situation nervously but stood waiting for my next move. My next move! What was I to do? I had just unfolded my body out of our dust embalmed Troupe Carrier which had cocooned me with my family for most of the morning. Nature was definitely calling.

Still, do I intrude on what was now their home? There was no furniture but from the amount of cooking debris, kitchenware, and rough bedding, it suggested home. I playfully wondered how their mail was addressed? And even if I felt comfortable walking into their outback bathroom, would my prissy self be able to bring myself to use whatever I found lurking behind that fence paling door? My husband pealed out an encouraging honk from the truck which sank all my indecision. I chose the ugly toilet moment over the horrible generational story.

Slotted back in my space in the people shaker and mover feeling physically relieved, I digested what had just happened. I became emotionally overloaded. Comprehension for how they existed was not coming. Appreciation for their culture was minimal due to my lack of knowledge. Understanding of how I could have sincerely offered help would have been better utilised a good twenty kilometres back.

I berated myself. Should I have given them my own son’s clothes? Or maybe a bit of cash slipped into her hand? My heart was aching for what I perceived as incomprehensively hard. Or was it? A still small voice was revealing an inconsistency in what I believed to what was reality. Who was it that carried more burden? I discerned their lack a prison. But who was travelling trying to buy freedom? Funny, I was seeking freedom from the things she didn’t own; the juggling of stuff and self imposed responsibility.

Revelation was painfully but slowly focusing. 10,000 kilometres were travelled all up for God to use a young aboriginal girl, still reeking in puberty, to start exposing how freedom starts inside of me. How liberty lives in my thoughts birthed from core beliefs. The source of freedom wasn’t in dumping my daily routines, or having financial dexterity. It’s in believing Gods grass roots truths … I am accepted, I am secure, I am significant, I believe the truth therefore I am free.

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This article has been read 470 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karlene Jacobsen01/22/09
Very good descriptions. I liked how you showed the MC's struggle for freedom and revelations.
Connie Dixon01/22/09
It's difficult to know how to handle situations like this when visiting another culture. It certainly brings a new perspective of what's normal and acceptable and desirable. Your descriptions were great, I felt like I was there.
Jan Ackerson 01/23/09
The first part of this is wonderfully described and extremely compelling. I wasn't entirely clear on what the lesson you learned was, nor on how it related to the situation.

This is some very excellent writing!
Valarie Sullivan01/24/09
I liked this one! I agree that it was very compelling at the start. It drew the reader in. There were some sentences that were a little long and the ending was kind of ambiguous. The details were great!
c clemons01/24/09
My, my your use of language is at times confusing but interesting. I'm sure it is your style so I cannot by any means critique that. I agree with the previous viewers that the ending with your revelation was not all that clear. Keep writing.
Anne Linington01/25/09
I personally liked the language and the conclusions drawn at the end as to where real freedom lies.

However, coming from the UK, your word pee made me assume the MC was a man, which put all sorts of different pictures in my mind for the first encounter.
Melanie Kerr 01/25/09
Good descriptions. There were a few missing apostrophes that put me off my stride - the babe's father etc.