By Eileen Herbert-Goodall
Outside her window, the eucalypt swayed and its crooked-finger branches quivered in the breeze. Watching it, Janice was curious about the duration of its existence. Undoubtedly, the tree would out-live her. She shifted her gaze and surveyed the landscape. A sea of rolling brown hills and grey gums swamped her vision. In the distance, heatwaves shimmered. Those familiar with Stonefield understood the place was a paradox: possessing a sheer visceral beauty, its remote isolation could cut a person’s psyche to the core.
The sun had risen only two hours before, yet her husband was long gone. He would be working with the stockmen, droving the cattle to an area with better feed near the banks of the Gladys River, a waterway cutting through the property fifty kilometres north. The men would take days to reach their destination, but it had been a necessary venture. With livestock losing condition, the drought was stamping its mark.
Moving away from the window, Janice approached the dressing table where a framed photograph caught her eye. The picture had been taken on her wedding day, almost twenty years earlier. She and her husband were standing in front of the eucalypt, surrounded by a gleaming carpet of grey-green leaves. Behind them the sky was a deep, infinite blue.
They’d been happy once. Evidently, things changed. People changed.
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