gossip, picking apart other peoples’
reputations, as we do. The morning
stream calls. I ran out of the house,
missing the fern by millimetres. In
a way this flood is funny. It washes
so much of the year away. It’s as if
we were caught stealing or smoking
bombs deep in the lungs. The Alpine
green of mucus, the waxheads down
on South Beach. I saw my future in
that churning wave of debris. Star’s
jeans are way too tight for her to sit
down. She prowls the outside of our
conversations, keeping guard. We’re
tennis. I’d imagine the courts are all
underwater now anyway. Blow the
semi-pros, their try-hard crews. You
lose. Like when Clint stayed up late
to watch Pat Cash win Wimbledon:
loser, take two. Still, a kid’s got to
have some kind of hobby that’s not
school. The rock bulges out under-
neath the drooling peppercorn tree.
I suppose that was a bit harsh. Nah.
That’s what big sisters are for, hey?
Ha. Pass me that, before it goes out.
Ta. What’s the time, anyway? Okay.
Yeah, I guess so. Don’t even mention
the boys. My tight school tunic hugs
me like a wedding dress, creamed.
Be glad to rip it off for the last time.
Here comes the post-storm breeze.
Cold against our pale forearms, the
miniature hairs. Sun’s coming out –
while American Creek sickens still,
clay-coloured torrents of hill vomit
rushing past us four teenage girls.
Watching the water swirl. Hey Jess,
Star goes, Jess. Demanding that we
watch, she dangles spittle above my
face. Daring her to suck it back inside
her mouth, half hoping she chokes.
Very funny, Star, ah how old are you
again? We’re laughing, though. Fuck,
we can’t help it. Older than you think,
says Star, passing me the burning
leaf. Jason and his magnifying glass,
all over again. They’d make an ideal
couple, if he wasn’t a moron. I must
tell him that, again. So many insults,
too little time. Just my way of being
kind. I mean it. What would he know
anyway. Star’s pointing me with the
stick, we get your mum next year –
like I care, or will remain. Year 10’s
the end of the line, my ticket, I say.
She laughs, in that knowing way. But
she doesn’t. Never will. I’ll save my
breath. Star lives just down the road
anyway, like it’s a kind of umbilical
cord that joins us, bitumen and all.