In the twilight of two full moons, I watched as the melon whistled past me. I raised my arms but missed. The yellow ball bounced into bushes. I hunted for it in the bushes. Must get that melon. There, perched on a tuft of grass, my quarry.
Liesel, Smith, Fritz and Fahrer were advancing on me. I grabbed the native fruit of this planet and ran deeper into the thickets. I did not know what I was supposed to do with the melon according to this “Aussie Rules Football”. So, I ran away with it.
Previously when I had this improvised football, they urged me to kick it. I tried but failed. The melon would drop to the ground before my foot could connect with it.
Everybody laughed at my lack of coordination. At least now I had it in my grasp, and I could escape with it. I determined to change the rules of the game. This was a different planet, so different rules should apply.
I bolted from the camp clearing and into the darkness of the vegetation. A stone jutted up from the ground and tripped me. I went flying and landed on my front, the melon splattering under me.
‘Uh-oh!’ I had broken the sacred “Aussie Rules” code and smashed the melon. The juice and flesh stained my tee-shirt.
‘There you are!’ Fahrer shouted and pounced on me in a tackle. I fell to the ground again, with my face, this time, in broken melon. I licked my lips enjoying the strawberry flavour. Mmm! Tastes good and I’m enjoying Fahrer’s arms around my waist too.
‘Ugh! Yuk!’ Fahrer sprang back.
‘Are you looking for this?’ I handed Fahrer the crushed pieces.
He wiped his hands on the grass. ‘Get it away from me! Ugh! What did you do?’
‘Sorry, I fell on it. But it would make a nice dessert, don’t you think?’ I offered another slice to him. ‘Here, try some.’
Fahrer reeled further away from me and shook his head as if I was offering him the plague. ‘I hope you didn’t eat any of that.’
‘Er—no.’ I wiped my mouth. I knew all about Fahrer’s fetish for hygiene and didn’t want a lecture.
‘Hey, we’re playing with that!’ Liesel burst through the bushes. ‘I hope I didn’t interrupt anything.’ She winked at me.
What did she mean?
‘No,’ I replied and glanced at Fahrer who paced back and forth.
‘What’s wrong with Fahrer? What did Hols do to you, Captain?’
‘Nothing, except contaminate him with melon splatter. The melon had a little accident and is no more,’ I answered.
Smith approached ground zero of melon-destruction. ‘Oh, no! You killed the melon?’
‘That’s not funny, Smith.’ Fahrer emptied all the water from his flask onto his hands. ‘How are we meant to wash it off?’ He wrung his hands as if he were Lady Macbeth.
‘There’s a dam not far from here,’ Liesel said.
‘Damn you! How could you be so insensitive?’ Fahrer stormed off further into the bushes.
‘Oh, no! I think we upset him,’ Liesel wiped her brow, then smirked.
Fritz sighed. ‘Again!’
‘Anyone for a swim?’ I suggested with no clue as to what all the fuss was about.
Smith, Fritz, and Liesel stared poker-faced at me.
‘Yeah, right we’ll swim in the lake,’ Liesel remarked. ‘Any other brilliant ideas, Holly?’
‘Never mind. I think I will go back to the camp and go to bed.’ I could take a hint. I bounded to my tent before they could see the melon splatter stain on my shirt.
I could hear the three wise people in the background. ‘Do you think it’s a good idea?’
‘Yeah, it is. You’ll see.’
‘Are you sure? I mean—’
I crawled into my tent, wrote my journal, and wriggled into my sleeping bag. I curled up all comfortable. But sleep I could not. Fahrer hovered in the front of my mind and my emotions were playing havoc with my heart.
Playing football, I had seen a different side to Fahrer. He could be fun when he wanted to be.
Why was he so mean? Did he hold my rejection of him against me? Ever since Strahan, Fahrer tormented my sleep—as if the waking hours and total disregard of me weren’t enough.
The dreams were more frequent now. I knew though, that if I went to sleep, he’d be there. No, I could not risk it.
I rationalised and reasoned with myself in an attempt to logically work Fahrer out of my system. He doesn’t like me. The feeling’s mutual, or should be… Then my thoughts would run onto: But I want everyone to like me so perhaps he’s a challenge. I like a challenge. No, why am I wasting my time? Then the unfortunate thought dawned on me that my feelings had nothing to do whether Fahrer liked me or not. Then a scary thought. Perhaps I was in love with him? How tragic is that? Why always am I attracted to such men? Like Johann, his brother? Fox who cheats? Why am I so unlucky in love? Could Gunter Fahrer and I be friends? Could we be more? Hardly, I’m nothing to him.
Only, what about that atmosphere between us; a connection like nothing I had ever experienced before? Surely, he must sense it too. He would have to admit that surely. Would explain his strong reaction against it. Oh, no, here I go again, wishing, hoping, feeling and sensing.
The ache in my heart—the Fahrer-shaped vacuum was unbearable.
I prayed out loud, ‘God, help me! I can’t bear this!’
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2018
Feature Photo: Sunset Brachina, Flinders Ranges © L.M. Kling 1999
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