The day rose fast and hot. We walked down to the river and Jemima showed me how to catch a yabby in a stocking. Digby came with us to the market at the edge of town and we bought grapefruits the size of our heads. Jemima hacked them open with a tiny silver knife and sprinkled them with sugar from her pocket. The road burned. Digby pulled on his rope and Jemima yanked him back, but he pulled free and disappeared down the lane and around the corner.
We walked the long way home around Horace’s place, through his fields of yellow flowers. Jemima’s allergies played up, same as always. She said it was worth it, given how good the conversation was. My feet slipped sweaty from my sandals. Jemima never wore sandals, just a thin chain around her ankle that slipped down her foot to a silver toe ring.
By lunchtime the tips of the leaves had all turned black. Mama stirred the pot of cheese and sweet potatoes and the windows sweated and the house breathed in its thick asthma. The heat drew the moisture out of us; we sat as groaning husks under the fan in the front room and listened to the wind come stalking across the field.
The door fought its hinges. Clang, like a prison, clang clang. It shuddered and thumped and I pretended not to hear it. ‘Damn door,’ Jemima said, and I said, ‘What door?’ She punched my arm with her bony fist and went out to lock it, the banging, pounding door. ‘Damn key,’ she said, and it snapped right off as though to spite her and the door flew right open and the wind came through with its goose honk.
Jemima caught her dress on the updraft, out the door and into the sky. I stood at the window and waved to her, and she waved back, her hair flying all around her and over her face and inside out. Mama wrapped the cheese up in its muslin so it wouldn’t dry out and be wasted.