Chapter 21-25

Chapter Twenty-one


Karolina's car door slams. She kicks off her shoes, hauls shocked Bonegilla off his favourite cushion and sinks onto the sofa. She is not in the frame of mind to cook for Rory tonight after his Glenrowan performance, but he's coming soon to lay the new paving. Karolina hunches up on the sofa. .- Flaunting that Albertine dame! Rory's protestations of innocence are in vain. Best feed the man though. - Potato Bread with the Cabbage and Mince casserole would be the quickest and easiest. Karolina hoists herself up. Upstairs she throws her brief-case into the bed-room, sits down heavily at her desk, withdrawing the torn banner pieces Matilda had flung at her.

She fingers the fabric, putting down the remnants, taking them up again, smoothing them with her fingers, repeating Matilda's parting words, 'Nothing ever did fit.' - Always with Matilda the love and the hurt.' - Why does Matilda say these things? There is no pretending. Only the silences - on Matilda's part as well. - Today I have prised open the doors of the past. Karolina sinks her head into her hands, her fears confirmed. When the black mists surface, there is no healing. - How much of the banner has Matilda destroyed? And that other, more fearful destruction. Will her daughter fly off again to wild and distant places?

Karolina feels - somewhere in depths she had not known, a shift like the buckling and overlapping of tectonic plate as if in tors of granite a cry is entombed and pushing, pushing against the rock-face. What did she say today to crack the rock-face? Admitting the whole sorry business? - Not what Matilda expected! Or the photograph? How could I have showed her! Karolina stands up urgently, swivelling her chair aside..

"The photograph !" She stands on the chair to reach the embossed, leather compendium on the topmost shelf. How could I have showed Matilda when I don't even know which child is me." Karolina stretches, gripping the folder, "Nor which one is my - " - The seat swings, the wheels roll. Karolina feels herself falling. She grasps at the edge of the desk and breaks the fall with a jolt of her shoulder.

"Karolina! Are you allright?"

- Oh, Christ! That'll be Rory. Karolina struggles to rise. The arms enclose her.

"Just stay there till we see if any bones are broken." Dzaved's eyes are troubled

"Dzaved! What on earth?" Karolina forces herself upright.

"No, Karolina. Stay there. You shouldn't stand on that kind of chair. Here. I will help you up"

Karolina, a little shaky, gets to her feet. "I wasn't expecting - "

"Oh, yes. I'm very sorry. I rang the doorbell many times. The dog was barking." Dzaved looks a little embarrassed. "So I came round the back. There is something that I must show you. But first a cup of coffee. No tea would be better. Stay there." Dzaved bounds dawn to the kitchen.

Gingerly Karolina moves her shoulder. There is the beginnings of a bruise on her forearm. She hauls herself upright holding on to the desk. She scrabbles in the drawer and swallows the tablet. Dzaved has the tea made when she reaches the kitchen. She doesn't disagree when Dzaved insists that she would be wiser t put her feet up on the sofa.

Karolina's hands are still shaking. She grasps the mug of tea in both hands. There is a long silence.

"Karolina, I am really - "

. "Dzaved please don't apologize again. If you hadn't arrived I would probably be feeling a good deal more miserable than I currently am, which is -" She pause.

"Which is bloody awful? Dzaved looks at her a strange expression on his face. "Karolina when a story locked away for many years comes to the light, all that people will see at first telling is the dust on the pages."

"You mean Matilda? You saw her cut -"

"Yes I saw her. But no. I mean that the first telling most harms the teller. - And that would also be true for your daughter." Dzaved pours boiling water into the tea pot.

Karolina smiles a little. "First time I've seen a Yugoslav make tea."

"I am not a Yugoslav," Dzaved doesn't return Karolina's smile. "And it is this matter which troubles your daughter, the matter of - origins."

"That's not the only thing that troubles my daughter." replies Karolina sharply enough to remind Dzaved that he is the student and Karolina is the teacher.

"Yes, I have no right." If Dzaved is hurt or chastened he gives no sign. "Karolina would you care to look at this?" Dzaved hands Karolina a rather dog-eared photograph.

"Your family?" asks Karolina as politely as she can, scrutinizing it briefly, then handing it back to Dzaved.

"Yes. It is not familiar to you?"

"If you mean do iintensely peruse every 1940's photograph of somebody's Yugo - somebody's former Yugoslavian family in case?"

"Karolina, there is a well in the photograph."

"Dzaved, there is a well in every village in - in Eastern Europe." Karolina turns her head away. "My photo is quite different. Very formal. " Karolina feels a great heaviness in her heart, in her being. - No going back, though. She takes a deep breath. "Look, if it will satisfy you Dzaved, I'll go up and get the photograph and that will be an end to it." Karolina rises, but Dzaved is already at the foot of the stairs.

"A brown leather folder - embossed with gold. On the desk." she says, trying to keep the tension out of her voice. Bonegilla pricks up his ears and subsides back on to the mat at Karolina's feet. There is a rushing sound in Karolina's head, not loud but disturbing nonetheless. She slips outside to clear her head.

Rory is in the outside shower, enveloped in comfortin clouds of steam, wrapped in the warmth of the water and proud of a job well done. Karolina will be pleased with the paving. Hot jets of water prick his skin, trickle down his cheeks, course their way cleanly down his back. In the sprinkle and tinkle of the water, he twists this way and that, humming his bathroom hum.

"Calloo.Callay!" he yodels. "Oh wade in de water,chillen. Wade in de water! God's gonna trouble the wa-ter!" Luxuriating in the rolling vapours and the sweet fragrance of Karolina's bath-soap, Rory fancies the years rolled back, dares hope in the warm, scented, steam, that his Glenrowan dream may yet be realsed, that he Rory, accompanied by Karolina and Matilda may yet do great things together.

"O-o-o-o-h!" Rory gasps at the sudden shock of cold water. "A-a-ah! Karolina.! The water's gone cold! Karolina, could you have a look. See what's wrong!" Rory leaps out of the shower. He swathes himself in Karolina's bath-towel and pokes his head out the laundry door.

"You are what's wrong!" Karolina/Athena, Goddess of Plumbing and the Depths stands affronted, her hand still grasping the water meter.

"Karolina. Dear woman. What have I -" Rory towels himself desperately.

"Get out of my house !" shouts Karolina.

Rory still wet, scrambles into his clothes. At the kitchen door he sees Dzaved standing puzzled on the stairs. - So. That's what this assault on my person is all about! Rory opens the car door and throws in his spirit level and tile-cutters. He leaps into the car and takes off down the drive.

Dzaved hovers uncertainly on the stairs.

"Dzaved!" shouts Karolina. "Stop standing there like a scalded chook. . "Show me that bloody photograph!" Still Dzaved does not move.

"It is better perhaps that I go?"

"The photo, man. Show me the photo for Christ's sake!"

Dazed hands over Karolina's photograph. "No No. Your photograph!"

Dzaved holds the two photographs together, side by side between thumb and forefinger. "What do you think?"

Karolina rolls her eyes. "Dzaved, your photograph looks like some under-budget shoot of 'The Sound of Music.' Mine does too, but not so much. And the kids all look like the Famous Five on Dress Up day."


"Oh Dzaved," says Karolina briskly trying to hide her disappointment, "all 1940's photos from Yugo - from Eastern Europe look the same." Karolina hands back Dzaved's photograph. "Since you're here, you might as well eat. - " Karolina stops, embarrassed at her own off-hand manner. "Oh, I didn't mean it to sound that way. I have dinner in the oven. You have been very kind and I would like you to stay for dinner - that is if you're not doing anything else." Karolina finds a bottle of wine and somewhat peremptorily pours one for Dzaved. "Oh! Do you like Riesling? I didn't ask." - Karolina, you idiot, she says to herself. Bloody calm down.

"Riesling will be fine thanks," Dzaved takes both of the glasses to the table. "but Karolina," he says in a rush, "there is a well and a mineral spring in both of the photographs!"

"No, there's not." says Karolina re-corking the wine. "There's a well and a mineral spring in your photograph. My photograph only shows a corner of a well, or to be more precise, the wall of a well. Also, your photograph is an action shot." Karolina smiles, feeling she has regained her equilibrium. "Dzaved, Yugo -in the Former Yugoslavia there would be many wells, mineral-springs too I would imagine. You came from-?"

"Bosnia, but - "

"Well take Slovenia for example. I remember a little of Slovenia. - It is very mountainous, right? There would be lots of mineral springs there." Karolina goes to open the oven door.
"No, let me." Dzaved springs to the oven. "Bosanski Lonac!" he says, "Bosanski Lonac and Pirusa Krom! My God! - Indeed Karolina. one's ethnic customs take a long time to die."

- That they do, Dzaved. A long time dying, says Karolina bleakly to herself.

Dzaved searches for place-mats. "When I was a child we travelled all over Yugoslavia, so I love it all. - My father was an engineer. I have Hungarian origins, from Vojvodina in Serbia. My mother was Bosnian. A Muslim. But when that photo was taken, we lived in Sarajevo, where I was born.. The village wasn't far out of Sarajevo. We often went there. My father had work in this village. Always I went back to Sarajevo." Dzaved's face tightens a moment. He puts the dishes on the table. "In any case Karolina, you have seen your father's papers, you would therefore I assume, have seen his passport? So. You have other reason? As you would know, mostly these days, if people call themselves Yugoslavian, this means Serbian. Your daughter would know this. I respect your desire for - privacy," says Dzaved hesitantly, slicing the Pirusa Krom , "but could you not simply tell your daughter that you have a responsibility to your father, that you were brought up promising silence?"

Karolina puts her fork down. "Dzaved, I was more or less working up to that. Goodness knows I've hinted at it for ages." Karolina's eyes darken. "Obviously my crass attempt has brought about the division I've feared for so long"

"Your daughter has a fine, free spirit, deep and unpredictable as the headwaters of the Miljacka River. But she is sad - lost like the mists wreathing over the rivers." Dzaved reaches out across the table and briefly touches Karolina's hand, his eyes intense, in pain perhaps. "I have seen those lost faces in the children and young people of Bosnia. It is the reason Karolina, that I brought my grand-daughter to Australia. - My grand-daughter is eight. Her lost look is fading. Your father did the right thing."

- How the hell would you know! thinks Karolina. She leaps up saying too brightly.

"Coffee? Bosnian style coffee - Black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love!" Karolina falters a moment. "At least that's what I think they used to say."

"So!" You are Bosnian?"

Karolina sits down as suddenly as she had risen. "Dzaved, I don't know." She rubs her fingers back and forth across her forehead. "How do I know if I can trust my father's passport? He got me out - through Slovenia and into Italy. Even his name - my name. How do I know?" says Karolina miserably, choking almost with the tears of fifty years, tears she has always known how to control. - Just swallow your tears. That was what Karolina had learned all those years ago in her coat, her good, grey coat. And it was sound advice . Swallow your tears and they'll let you alone.

Dzaved takes the coffee-pot. "Come." he says, "You need to be more comfortable." Karolina thankfully sits down on the sofa beside Dzaved. She sips the coffee. "No." Dzaved is not satisfied. "If you will pardon me." he says, .sliding down off the sofa onto the rug and, in one movement lifting Karolina's feet onto the sofa. "Now, the photographs. Shall we compare them?" Dzaved holds the two photographs together between finger and thumb. He has, Karolina notices, very long thumbs with wide- splayed thumbnails.

"The big man in the striped shirt is the baker. He is playing a gadje - a goat-skin bagpipe. The baker's wife is sitting on a stool near the well. They have five children. Their oldest boy, the one in the peaked cap is working the pump handle for his older sister who is holding the bottle under the tap. Her other sister - she looks about ten, is also waiting for a bottle to be filled. The baker's baby sits on its mother's lap. I do not have the names of the family of the baker - perhaps they were only acquaintances?

Acquaintances. Yes. Well I suppose Dzaved would only know the names of his immediate family, thinks Karolina, immeasurably disappointed. - So there goes my hopes, small as they were, she says to herself as Dzaved continues.

"The other baby - me." Dzaved grins slightly. "I also am on my mother's lap. My father - he looks a lot like me, only with a bigger moustache is singing - bass I would think. My father's name is Draga. My brother, also named Draga, is sitting on the grass. The baker's other son stands singing beside his father. In his hand he holds a large Serbian flute a duduk - you know it?" Dzaved glances questioning, under his heavy brows. Karolina nods, disappointed, impatient. - God, this endless family photo routine!

"Go on Dzaved ,"she says.

Dzaved shifts on to one knee, holding on to both photographs between finger and thumb. He points with the other index finger. "My mother, Amina is the other woman with the baby. The one who is my grandfather is the older man playing the fiddle - Grandfather Ludovic. My Grandmother Kateryna is singing beside him," Dzaved flips his own photograph over a moment, reading the names on the back. "Here, the school-teacher, Milos. He is difficult to see. Here - partly obscured by that big baker fellow. Dzaved smiles. "And here, the writing says - standing singing, with her little daughter hanging on to her skirt, is the school-teacher's wife. Her name is - "

"I know her name. - Karolina. - Her name is Karolina."

"Yes." Dzaved is silent.

Karolina takes the two photographs from Dzaved's hand. She looks long and close, comparing the two, the child with the wide mouth, the dark hair, the mother, small, dark-haired with the same strong jaw, the same wide mouth.

"So this is me, she breathes. And this - oh Dzaved. This is my mother ." Karolina in turn kisses each of the photographs. "And you, Dzaved, if you had not been so - patient, so - bloody persistent." Karolina swings her two legs down from the sofa, takes Dzaved's shoulders in her two hands. "I nearly sent you packing along with Rory. I was so - I have to admit it, so downright scared. It seemed simply too much to hope for."

Karolina does not drop her hands from Dzaved's shoulders, but rather she slides her hands around his shoulders and locking her fingers, she cradles his head in her two hands. Dzaved kneels upright as Karolina draws him closer. She kisses him gently on the cheek, a circumspect thank-you kiss. They move apart a little, but still Karolina holds Dzaved's shoulders. The two stay there, not moving, eyes meeting. Karolina smooths Dzaved's shirt-front, her eyes questioning.

Dzaved nods. "Yes Karolina, I would very much like to - "

Upstairs as they lie together, Karolina is filled with sudden compunction.

"Dzaved, I have several - responsibilities and all of them are in jeopardy. I must say these things - first, you understand?" Dzaved sits up. He moves away. - Is he offended? No. - Karolina thinks not, but his face is very serious. Karolina hunches up, the sheet across her shoulders. "First of all there is my study, my Masters. I am in a very tenuous position. I - don't do what my supervisors like. My job. It's very - precarious. - In trouble a lot. Then - Rory. It is very - unclear, our relationship, I mean. Been like this for years." Dzaved strokes Karolina's cheek. He leaves his hand there as she continues in a rush. "And Dzaved, I am greatly worried about my daughter, Matilda. It is likely that she will leave Melbourne, flee if you like. - Ever since she was fourteen, Matilda has reacted to trouble by flight. No explanations.Not even a good-bye,"

Karolina, Dzaved can see, is very close to tears. He would not be surprised to be told that Karolina never cries.

"That grief. I know it too." There are answering tears in Dzaved's eyes. "My son's wife was killed by a sniper. I saw her fall. My son. My wife - there were mortars while she was shopping. I have only my grand-daughter now. My parents were shot. The war. The World War." Dzaved rests his forehead against his hands, his elbows on his knees. "Karolina we are a pair. But it is not the way to put these things behind us. Then this grief it will only eat us from inside.

"So you think we should wear our suffering on our sleeve?" Karolina is surprised by the salt taste of Dzaved's tears - but no they are her tears as well. And the taste is somehow sweet.

"Black armbands Karolina? No. Just carry it, the suffering - with truth. Love too, I think. There is a dance in Croatia, the Kolo. The men dance in the circle and then the women. They - alternate? But the circle still goes round."

"Dzaved, that is very - enigmatic." Karolina can barely speak, though surprisingly, it is good and strong to speak through the tears. " You are not making this at all clear."

"No. Not at all clear." Dzaved ruffles Karolina's hair very slowly. "It just goes round. - Waltzing Matilda and the voice in the billabong . All quite uncertain - Isn't that so?"

"Dzaved, please don't remind me of Matilda again." Karolina is openly weeping now. - Is it for Matilda, for Rory, for the little girl who was cold on the road?

"Forgive me." Again there is the faint glint in the eyes, or is it that tears also glisten? "I thought it was you who wanted to talk about Matilda." Dzaved rests his hand on Karolina's cheek, stroking the wetness, not brushing it away. "Has Matilda ever reacted with anger before, with destruction?"

"No." Karolina purses her mouth. "I have the anger. Matilda has the, the - what is it?" Karolina stops, thinking, holding Dzaved's hand on her cheek. "the grief, yes. And a terrible urgency."

Dzaved slips between the sheets. He takes Karolina's shoulders. She slides down, slowly, as if in a dance, the dance that is quite uncertain, sweet, sad and for all that, delicious. "So, Karolina," murmurs Dzaved, lying beside her, so that she feels the vibration of his voice against the hollow of her neck, "with Matilda this may be a time of reversal, mm - m? - Role reversal?"

"No more talk." says Karolina as she draws him down..

"You're sure it's okay to keep this?"

"Oh sure," Dzaved had said, "I've got another couple similar to that one anyway." He glanced at her under his eyebrows. "You might like to see them sometime? Tonight? - Or is it more - sensible to leave it

for ...?:"

"Oh definitely more sensible to leave it for a few days."

Dzaved's eyebrowss lift, "Next week then - but not after class. I must be with Angeliki."

"Angeliki?" Karolina keeps her voice steady.

"My grand-daughter." "Oh yes, of course." says Karolina in her practical morning voice, reflecting how complicated her life may soon become, has become.

"Yes, my grand-daughter," said Dzaved, kissing her - a light brushing of lips, the kind of kiss that could be interpreted as distancing, letting go - or simply as making space, moving away from passion to daily life, saying with the kiss, this night may have been just one night - we must wait for what might be and Karolina is glad of that.

Karolina stands at the back door. Dzaved has just gone. The post has arrived early and she holds in her hand a large brown envelope. She stands with Dzaved's photograph musing, looking down the drive

She selects fresh sheets and doona-cover from the laundry and throws last night's sheets, together with Rory's towel into the washing machine, dancing together - the kolo, wasn't it? in unlikely unison. - Oh God, Ill have to explain to Rory.

- No, why should I? thinks Karolina. He didn't explain to me about Albertine. - No, he did try to, but I wouldn't hear of it.

Karolina sighs as she flings the fresh sheets across the bed. It is a grey morning, humid. Almost there could be rain. The thought of cooling rain! Too much to bear in the dry of spring after the dry of winter. Karolina plumps up the grey pillows. She feeds the doona into its fresh grey cover. She folds the cuffs of grey sheets tightly across the bed - neat and chaste - a virginal bed. Karolina shivers slightly and drapes a cardigan across her shoulders. She catches sight of herself in the mirror, the grey cardigan over the grey satin-cotton dressing-gown. Then un-seeing, she stares out at the sky, oppressive in its greyness, like some flat, grey lizard sleazing between flaky clouds. Abruptly she sits on the bed. Her grey satin-cotton dressing-gown parts a little and her two breasts spill out pinkly. Frowning she pulls the garment together roughly. - So it's puritan grey, judgement-day grey, is it? she asks herself. - I find her and I feel the loss more keenly.

By all accounts she ought to be floating on clouds, sun-rise golden clouds, not mired in grey on a grey morning. - Grey is sadness, grey is grief. Karolina gazes again at the photographs. - Grey is perhaps a threshold to blackness, to death, to the emptiness of years.

And then a new thought strikes Karolina, a thought so utterly new, that she picks up the photographs, staring intensely into the black and white, the shadows of grey. And it seems to Karolina for the first time that there is a fullness in the grey. - No. There is perhaps a luminosity there, in the grey abyss, the empty centre. Karolina touches the photographs with fingers of love and in her mind she says the words, over and over she says them,

" - Mama. Mama Karolina. Mama Karolina, Mama Karolina," and in her mind her voice is small and high, piping, like the voice of a gull in the wind. She breathes deep and tries to find the threads, but her father's grey shadow falls across the wisps and fragments of memory.

Karolina shakes her head to clear the shadow. She thinks of Dzaved. - This man has come into my house, she says to herself, but she knows in her mind she had meant to say something different. - Into my ... my life - yes. - And now everything is turned this way and that, flipped over like last nights sheets of love, tumbling in the washing machine - cleansing? No. She holds up the photographs again. - Grey is not black- is not guilt. Grey is waiting. - It is the confusion and the tumbling that is grey.

Karolina puts down the photograph on the fresh-made bed and tears open the envelope. She reads in spurts and jags, as the roaring begins.

' ... Performance highly unsatisfactory ... non-compliance with management guidelines ... '. The final words are a blur ... 'mandatory attendance ... Performance Appraisal meeting.'

Karolina's hand trembes. "Oh Christ." she whispers above the roaring. She bites her lip, tries to breathe, but the roaring takes over and the letter crumples in her hand. The room spins - slowly at first then faster - misting over, dissolving into darkness and the darkness is grey.

Chapter Twenty-two


In the green light of the heart monitor, Matilda watches Karolina. - Only this doesn't look like Karolina, this thing of pale flesh, invaded by machines that bip and bleep, scribbling wild patterns on green screens. Matilda leans closer.

"Mum? Mum, can you hear me?" She catches sight of Karolina's shoes, her mother's comfortable indoor loafers under the bed. Matilda's stomach lurches. - Karolina may never be able to wear those shoes again! Matilda learns what all those who lose loved ones know - that without asking for it, you swing into grief-mode immediately the crisis hits. Matilda urgently needs to cry, but in the green light to cry would be out of place. She touches Karolina's hand, but the hand feels hot, quite unlike Karolina's cool touch.

Karolina feels the touch, hears the rhythmic suck of the machines. Suddenly there is complete stillness. The suck and the swoosh turns to a roar. She is caught in that recurring dream - The scent of violets, the rocking and rattle, the roar of the bullet train in the night. - The Berlin Train! The long, silent line shuffling forward . Little Karolina in the good coat, the Good Grey Coat holding hand of father, hand of mother in the vast Gorgon's cavern, that is the Berlin Station. Then the shouting. The barking of the dogs, huge dogs with teeth of steel. - The coat, the good grey coat - torn, the shoulder ripped completely off in the roaring and the green-cavern light. Karolina drifts in that light. The green is now green leather seats, the train an old red rattler, the electric train that used to make the bush run from Eltham to Hurstbridge. Karolina drifts and in the green light sees herself a child among children, leaping high - making it, the train roof , playing leap-frog on the train's roof, scrambling onto each other's backs, standing balanced , giggling in a perfectly executed pyramid on each other's shoulders, as the train sets out across skies and oceans. A train station flashes past, 'To Kelly Country' says the sign.

"Matilda?" Karolina snaps awake. "Matilda, I must tell you. - The war. They took my mother and father away. - No, listen!" Karolina speaks fast, breathless as if she must say this thing. "They took my mother and father away. I was with them at first. A forced labour camp. They took us to Berlin. There were dogs - like Bonegilla, only big of course. Bonegilla's my link. The dogs - they tore my coat.. "Bonegilla - is he allright?"

"Yes. He's outside. Mum, don't worry. It really - "

"I was boarded with a German woman. My mother visited me sometimes. But Matilda I truly remember very little. Later my mother died. Hints, - Hushed up. As if she'd died in prison - while I was on the road searching." There is anguish in Karolina's eyes. "No, Mum, please -" begs Matilda.

"I had a photograph which I showed no-one. - I didn't know which of the women - in the photograph was my mother. - Even which of the little girls was me. I just couldn't bring myself to . . ." Karolina's voice trails away.

"Mum. Don't !" begs Matilda.

"No Matilda, I must tell you . - I have another photograph now and it - confirms, who she is - my mother, in the photograph - and who I am. Do you understand, Matilda?"

"Yes, yes. I have the photos with me, the notebook you were working on . .The nomads? - " Matilda halts, unsure whether to proceed.

"And the letter, you have the letter?"

"Yes, it was open on the floor beside you. "

Karolina's eyes flicker. "Too many shocks." she murmurs, "The joy of that photograph, then that idiotic letter. - They're gunning for me." she says too calmly.

"Mum, you're not to worry." insists Matilda "You've got to rest." Matilda hesitates and then all the grief - and something like guilt surfaces.

She struggles to keep her voice even, "I have been really short-sighted, self-centred actually, insisting you were hiding things from me - "

" I was hiding things Matilda. I should not have."

"I simply didn't think that - from what you've told me just now - I, well it didn't occur to me the enormity of it - your childhood. - I'm still trying to - get my head round it. At first, when you told the students, I couldn't cope - And, Karolina to think that I cut the banner. I - I'll get it fixed." Matilda brushes away the tears.

"Matilda, of course you will! Don't bother worrying about that sort of thing now." says Karolina. "Just hear me out." Matilda settles back on the chair, her fingers twisting and untwisting. "After the war, as I said to the class, there was still bombing you see; I was on the road for months - , sometimes returning to the same place several times. Something to do with refugee policy, or lack of it, I think. - You have to remember that I was only about six and my father, for some reason never would talk about those days. I was quite uncontrollable - a difficult child they said in the children's refugee camp. I was classified an orphan, you see." Matilda nods at a loss. "Well you can imagine, Matilda why I never got involved in your father's rural adventures. - I was a nomad from a very early age, after all." Karolina turns her head away. Her voice is barely audible. "Our family was separated, each from the other. - I never saw my mother again." Silently Matilda hands her mother the photographs. Karolina looks for a long moment, then focuses again on Matilda.

"Eventually my father found me. We headed back to Yugoslavia - by train, truck, on foot. We got turned back many times." At that moment Matilda catches sight of Corey and Marcia at the door of the ward. She waves them away. "I got left with relations in Serbia." Matilda's brows shoot up.

"No, I'm not Serbian. I think my father may be. - His passport could well be false. But I was brought up in Bosnia - I think. And I think my mother was Bosnian - mainly from some of the things she said when she visited me - but I would have been only four at the time - so -o." Karolina draws a long shuddering breath. Matilda, I surmise - that my father did something very wrong. - Or perhaps it was simply the suffering that he went through. He was very - embittered and that wrong is passed on - I passed it on too."

"But why didn't you ask or - "

I was always too frightened. Once my father got the job at the Snowy, the past was a closed book."

"Oh Karolina. I'm sorry, so sorry." Matilda leans her cheek against her mother's. She leaps up. "I should go." Karolina grins crookedly.

"Matilda the best thing you can do right now is to get me out of this green cave." Karolina reaches out and rings the buzzer. "Go and find a nurse. - Oh and get Corey and Marcia in case they don't allow me any more visitors."

"Corey, Marcia! Now don't you make a fuss too." says Karolina her face pale above Corey's roses. "I've still got five more lives."

"Five?" asks Corey.

"Yes. One near miss in Germany and another doozy in Serbia, I think it was - on the way home to Bosnia."

"Oh, so you're promising to be with us for some time then?"

Marcia stands nervously beside Corey, eyeing the wavering patterns of the heart monitor with concern. "Looks like a Scribbly Gum."

"Yes, I thought so too - Scribbly Gum telling the story of your life." says Karolina.

Marcia's eyes widen. "Who told you that?"

"Oh, someone way before your time, Marcia. First friend I ever had in Australia. My Australian friend's mother was married to my father's friend. He was a Czech. We lived with them at first. Then I used to spend school holidays there."

"In Heathcote?" says Marcia.

"Nearby. Up the Wild Duck. In the Whipstick Forest. This girl, Anna her name was, showed me the Scribbly Gum, the tree that bends over like a blessing woman and writes the story of your life." Karolina smiles at the memory. "I never forgot. Her mother had lots of stories. She gave me a stone - a butterfly in amber coming out of its chrysalis. I took some stones that didn't belong to me, so she gave me the gift-as a replacemen. I think Anna got into trouble over the matter." Karolina pants a little with all the talk. "That was the last time I ever saw her."

Marcia's eyes flicker this way and that. "Did they ever call her Lowanna?"

"Yes, indeed. She was tall. I didn't understand the Australian sense of humour then. - Low Anna Highland they called her."

"It's not Low Anna. It's Lowanna." Marcia's face breaks out in a smile. "She's my mother."

Corey takes Karolina's hand. "Karolina, this is wonderful. More than a coincidence. Serendipity! We called in to set your mind at rest about the banner. Bonny will trim and hem the pieces. Then, if that doesn't work, Marcia's mother - your childhood friend, has some kind of system." Corey releases Karolina's hand. "So, you're not to worry. Now we'd better be off."

"No, no. Wait a bit." says Karolina, her face ashen, the old determined glint in her eye. "I want out! I need you as evidence that I can't tolerate this bloody green cave any longer."

Chapter Twenty-three


Matilda struggles to diminish the ragged gasps of her breath in the whisper-quiet studio. She concludes from Rory's unflurried grin that he hasn't heard of Karolina's heart attack. - Why doesn't he check his answering machine? Best get it over with. Matildas hates commercial radio interviews, but it has to be done.

She is taken aback by the high-tech studio, the control panel that community radio stations would die for, and by the overgrown gnome of a man at the panel in too-tight jeans and open shirt, neck wreathed in gold chains, the massive head-phones giving him the appearance of an inter-galactic insect. Rory's interview has just finished and a song is belting out about the world needing a big melting pot to render everybody down into one colour.

"Rory, have you heard about Karolina?" whispers Matilda, but the overgrown gnome intervenes.

"Matilda? Jacko Jockson, the radio shock-jock." He lets go the handshake in a slow slide. "A five minute interview. Okay?"

The black-currant eyes snap full alert. "Welcome back listeners! This is Jacko Jockson with a big hullo to Matilda Kelly daughter of festival coordinator, Rory Kelly. You heard it first from Jacko, - Rory Kelly announcing a decade of Festivals" Jockson presses a slide on the console and a sustained burst of cheering breaks over the airwaves. "Now here folks is the lovely Matilda Kelly!" There is a broad smile in Jockson's voice but

not at all in the shrewd eyes. "I understand your main portfolio is to promote and develop a state-wide, Green Corridors project That right doll?"

"That's right, Jocko - promoting the understanding of Bio-regions, but then your name's not Jocko and my name's not 'doll'."

"Oh ho listeners, I think we have a feminist here. That be right Matilda?"

"Good thinking Jacko. And you've obviously done your homework."

Jockson smiles pleased. "Yes listeners the policy is to restructure all health, education and employment regions on a bio-regional basis, so that we can all be green, clean and work-ready! That right Matilda?"

"I can only tell you about Bio-regions, Jacko."

"O-kay! So let's say that most of the listeners know that Bio-regions are climatic zones often shaped around watersheds, where inter-dependent living and non-living entities evolve and interact?" Jockson glances up quizzically with his small eyes twinkling a little. Matilda surprised, begins to warm to Jacko as he continues, "So your brief then Matilda would be to encourage responsibility regarding not growing exotic plants near bushland, responsible curtailment of domestic pets, use of non-chemical cleansers, responsible factory and car emissions and elimination of logging in native forests, so as to restore the land to its pristine state before white settlement?" Too late Matilda realizes that Jockson is having her on.

"Um, a bit extreme; you put it very well." says Matilda uncomfortably, "But you're not describing my job. Mostly I'm liaising with local Green Corridor and Land Care groups and schools, putting them in touch with flora and fauna advisors so that . . ." Jacko cuts in.

"Flora and fauna, exactly. - Matilda isn't this whole project simply another example of the radical Deep Green agenda of putting cuddly animals first, usurping the rights of humans to exist on this land?" Matilda wishes she had her mother's skill with repartee as she plunges on.

"Jacko, your - attack on a mistaken view of environmental standpoints isn't consistent with your initial support for all creatures' interdependence on a healthy Bio-region."

"So no crops, no organic farms?"

"Farming's not in my job description, only the restoration of thirty metre wide river corridors, through extending and widening existing corridors."

"But, Matilda that's just the problem with you environmental people. You don't look at the big picture. You'd have us all going back to being hunter-gatherers." Matilda flounders for a moment. She glares at Rory who attempts to intervene.

"Not at all. But we do need to learn from our ecosystem - what's sustainable, what is over-use, which land and water use activities are dangerous. We just can't go on with over-production and over-consumption. Otherwise by 2020 we won't have a - " Jockson's small eyes light up, "

Twenty Twenty! So Matilda, you subscribe to the revolutionary platform of the 20-20 group! You've heard me warn about the 20-20 listeners! Self-styled 'new republicans' who advocate a society of self-sufficient, permaculture communities, with a minimalistic, central administrative body, and the right to affluence limited by thought-police! Jockson slides a disc into the console, "Lets take a station-break, listeners for word from our sponsors."

"You cut me off!" Matilda is ropeable. "You didn't give me the courtesy of a chance to respond."

Jockson shrugs, "Matilda, Cool it Hon. This is commercial radio. Neglect the sponsors and you're dead."

Rory leans forward. "Give her a break, man. That was selective editing." Matilda casts a withering glance at her father.

"Rory, butt out! You didn't even reply to my message about Karolina."

"Message? The only message Karolina would be givin' me these days is to butt out too." Rory pauses shocked, staring at the coral necklace encircling Matilda's neck. "So it was you Matty, who raided me precious sea-chest. Matilda how could you?"

"Because you're untruthful." Matilda hisses, "Because your life is a fake, because ever since Corey's party, I've realised Rory, that you have concealed so much, that it would take a whole truck-load of leprechauns with picks and shovels to separate out the contradictions in your fucking stories!"

Never before has Matilda responded so explosively to her father. Rory is stung to the quick. His fuse crackles.

"Contradictions! Contradictions!" he whispers fiercely. "And who are you Matilda to be blathering of contradictions, when you can't even decide whether it's boys or girls you'd be loving?"

Matilda is stunned into silence. The hurt and anger harden her resolve. - She will get to the bottom of this - and without the assistance of any truck-loads of leprechauns.

Jockson raises a be-ringed hand. "Right of reply comin'up - on the signal." His index finger jabs the air. Matilda takes a deep breath.

"Mr. Jockson's leading listeners away from the point. He's mentioned a group I know nothing about. Then he linked a government decision to create green corridors to that group. He is sensationalizing a sensible project committed to making a difference regarding land and water degradation." Matilda takes another breath as the producer gives the wind-up signal. Jockson's hand hovers over the control panel. She leans over swiftly, pushing the sliding knob upwards. "I urge all the good people listening to contact the station regarding responsible approaches to the serious question of environmental danger. I'm suggesting that this radio station host a series of in-depth discussions on how we can rescue this Bio-region." Matilda keeps her hand on the panel, speaking rapidly, "And before I finish, may I just send my best wishes and love to my mother, Karolina Brankavic Kelly who is in hospital in intensive care. Bye for now." Matilda rises and is out of the studio before Rory can even assimilate the message.

Chapter Twenty-four


Matilda holds the canoe steady in the current, staring up at the overhang. - If anybody is there they must see her. She looks down-river, to where her father had built the canoe, her first canoe. Before that, there was Rory's own canoe. - What a swift beauty she was, fast - graceful, riding high and in Rory's hands a living thing.

- Why did Rory no longer row on the river? Why didn't her message about Karolina's heart attack get through to Rory? - Why it is that Rory has stuffed up so badly on two public occasions. Then there's the papers she'd filched from her father's seachest; there are worrying inconsistencies. Matilda ponders the duplicity of her father at Glenrowan. Losing concentration, she has let the boat drift back within eyesight of the Boatshed. She glances over to the east bank surprised at the sight of a huge Red Gum leaning perilously over the water. Matilda can hear a creaking in the branches. At any moment the tree could fall. With the advent of summer the river-level has dropped alarmingly. The mud at the river's margins, crazed and cracked like peeling sun-burn, exposes the tree's roots to the blasts of hot northerlies, eroding further the fine soil clinging to the tangle of those de-stabilized roots.

- Red Gums get a bad press, because they age early - snake their branches out every which-way. - People don't like old trees - same way they don't understand old-growth forests. Forest industry likes their trees to be young to mid-life - uniform shapes ripe for the chain-saw. Trees in a forest though; they're a community. The young in the shade of the elders - like Gary Snyder says, the really old trees with their extravagant gestures - are the poets and painters among trees, laughing ragged and fearless - yes.

Matilda's mind drifts back to that blazing summer in the Western District - a sheep station near Castlemaine. In those days you got a cool change after two or three days of heat-wave. Rory and Matilda were sitting up late by the camp-fire embers. They had performed together, their last father and daughter act, as it turned out. Matilda loved singing in that ancient wool-shed, the air pungent with the greasy-wool and sheep-shit, the crowd lounging on wool-bales they sang , 'The Bullocky's Ball' and 'The Lachlan Tigers.' For an encore, Rory accompanied Matilda on his violin, Matilda singing solo - 'The Convict Maid.'

"You lads and lasses all attend to me,

While I relate my tale of misery.

By hopeless love was I once betrayed,

And now alas I am a convict maid."

By the dying fire, Rory told Matilda that Liam was coming down and Matilda was looking forward to seeing her grandfather again after so many years, but Rory didn't sound pleased. The wind changed to a vicious, hot squall, blowing up dust, sending the camp-fire flames shooting up to the cold stars. Matilda threw dirt on the fire to damp it down, while Rory went fo corrugated iron to fence in the flames. Rory told Matilda that having reached thirteen, there were to be no more bush, week-ends for her and that he had agreed with Karolina that it was time that Matilda went to a proper school.

"But you can still go to Uncle Marco's or come away with me in the holidays, Matt." It seemed that he and Karolina had come to what he called an amicable agreement to separate for six months and that Matilda was to live with Karolina while Rory looked for an apartment and a full-time job. "The truth is Matt, I needed you to have this kind of life - living free, you know. To me it was important - vital. But it hasn't been fair on you really, because you need to be able to live in the real world." To Matilda, Rory's face belied his words, as he stirred the ashes and the fire sprang up anew from the furry white coats of fire-blackened logs.

"I - used you for my own healing, Matilda and a parent should not do that." Matilda saw that Rory was speaking in the past tense and her heart ached for her future. "But I have passed on to you what is precious." Rory glanced intently at Matilda, his face shadowed in the fire-light, " - what I am convinced is precious and true." Rory glanced skywards as a sudden thunderclap cracked its menace from the hills. Almost immediately a sheet of lightning electrified the horizon and a fat blob of rain splashed on Matilda's nose. Nearby campers were dousing their fires with tea from their billys. Matilda reached for the billy-can, but Rory had already grabbed the spade and was shovelling earth on the embers, so Matilda left him to it and ran for the shelter of the shearing-shed, bullets of hail peppering her face.

Matilda, worrying about her future, worrying about her mother and father, didn't sleep well that night. Next morning, she wandered out of the shearing-shed to find Rory raking the wet earth aside as the fire sprang immediately to life.

"You hid fire in the earth." said Matilda proudly, forgetting the previous night's distressing news for a moment as she popped the billy-can onto the hissing flames. Matilda hugged her father close for he looked sad. "Rory," she repeated, "You hid fire in the earth "

"Indeed I do." Rory had replied, "and one day you will blame me for this deed." Rory straightened up, "But remember the fire is still there though - in the earth." And he released himself from his daughter's embrace as if the hiding of the fire was a thing of great shame.

A team from Park Management zoom down-river in an outboard powered launch, chain-saws at the ready. They rope the area off, leaving only a narrow entry space.

"M ake up your mind if you're coming through." shouts the man in the orange helmet. "We're gonna topple this old fella. - Looks like he's had 'is day." Abruptly Matilda swings the canoe around and makes for the Boat-shed.

"Cal?" Matilda whispers as she drops down to the overhang. "I'm sorry. After I saw your video - you and your father, I thought - " Matilda pauses uncertainly. Cal is sprawled on a rug, a lap-top on her knees. "It's just that something doesn't add up. I - my mother's origins were a mystery - until recently and - "

"Yes, I heard about your mother. Is she out of the forest?"

"Out of the - ?" Cal's accent is so slight that Matilda is a little taken aback by her unusual turns of phrase. "Oh. Yes. At least they think so. But my dad - it's really - distressing me. But I don't feel I can trust his honesty. He exaggerates." Matilda's voice tails off. "Look I know this might seem ridiculous - compared to - "

"Why don't you sit down?" Cal pats the rug. "Saw you out there on the river." Cal glances down at the screen. "Matilda, I was a kid who rejected her background - totally. Didn't want to know, whereas you're hunting yours down - Walked out on my father when I was twelve."

Matilda drops on to the grass beside Cal. "Me too - at fourteen, busted my grand-father's concertina, vowed I'd never sing in public again - took off to Corey's."

Cal returns to the screen. "Whoops! Sorry Matilda. Something. I can't drop." She looks up. "Corey's? That was sensible. Me, I was totally wild. Living under bridges- derelict factories. - Just a tick." Cal stares intently at the screen. "Hah! I'm in! Trouble is Matilda," Cal scrolls down the screen, "It was just luck really that got me off the streets - and Lin."


"Yep. Lin was my probation officer after the cops picked me up - an O. D - back lane in St.Kilda. Lin took me to see a movie about the 'disappeared'. I confronted my father, 'You owe me.' I shouted. And then I understood - wasn't safe to tell a child her parents were in the resistance. "- Hang on." Cal focuses on data rolling down the screen. "Gotta concentrate," She taps in a command and scrolls down the screen highlighing a block of text. "Great!" she murmurs.

Matilda stands up. "I'm sorry Cal. You're busy."

"Sit down." says Cal firmly without looking up from the lap-top. "I'm busy and I'm embarrassed about it." Matilda starts as a flurry of ducks sets up a quacking squabble below on the river. They fly upwards, wheeling above the water and come down again in style on their webbed feet with a swish of wings and a high-flying spurt of water. "The thing is Cal, Rory told me I'd blame him one day. But I don't feel I can confront - that is, question him until I have something - tangible to go on." Embarrassed, Matilda looks out over the river at the scooting, chattering ducks, "I - I took some of his papers."


"There's not much to go on. An Irish newspaper, a few poems what looks like a tourist brochure - part of it hand-written, perhaps from a travel book. They're just the kind of things Rory would leave around anywhere. Not important at all."

"But have you examined them closely. There could be something - "

"No. I do need to go through it all word for word. I've been so busy with the Green Corridors, which is going nowhere. But I have to push on, because after the Festival the government will probably pull out - leave the funding to the Private Sector."

"Jesus, Matilda that must be a blow."

"Oh no. I expected it. It's only been window dressing on their part. But yes, it's still stressful. And Cal, I feel I contributed to my mother's heart attack because . . ."

Cal grasps Matilda by the shoulders, "Matilda. You mustn't go blaming yourself!"

"No Cal, listen." Matilda tells Cal how she had come to cut the community banner. "The problem is, that I - I simply don't know who I am - never have, not just who my parents are, but me - myself. I don't know if I'm making sense, Cal. I just thought that since you had perhaps a slightly similar - "

Cal takes Matilda's hands in her own, "Matilda, when you do find out the truth, it can just blow you away."

Matilda drops her gaze unable to face those strong and gentle eyes. "It's as if a river's in flood," she explains, "departed from its river bed, wandering all over the landscape, lost, not knowing what to do - can't go back, can't find its new course."

"Find out where you came from and then you'll know." Cal takes Matilda's head in both her hands and gazes intently into Matilda's eyes. Matilda feels herself falling, as if into a cave, warm and deep, feels herself swept away in a new stillness. Cal's eyes! Those eyes ... Matilda pulls herself back. She bites her lip.

"Your eyes. Cal. They kind of get to me. When I first came to Melbourne. That first night I met you - when you rescued Fiona. I - I thought your eyes were blue. I really did." Matilda lowers her eyes again embarrassed. "Blue like the sea." She looks up to find that Cal's face has broken out in a broad grin.

"Oh Matilda they were blue! The thing is that for the six years that I was on the streets, I was so out of it that I changed my name, ditched my beautiful Guatemala accent and spent what I couldn't afford on anglo-blue contact lenses."

"So the night I met you, you were wearing - "

"Exactly! I'd lost my normal contact lenses and you thought - "

"I thought I'd gone troppo!"

"Troppo? Oh, the mad dogs and Englishmen situation! Yes. I had to explain the altered eye colour to the cops too. They know me you see. " Cal throws her arm around Matilda's shoulder. Then her face goes very serious. She leans over and plants a polite kiss on Matilda's forehead. A kiss sealing more than friendship and they sit, hands intertwined, watching the ducks skidding in from air to water, sending a wake of water-droplets splashing upwards, while around the bend of the river the chain saws whine as the old feller tree is cut down to size.

2063 2065 2286

. Mick seems to have moved in to Corey's for the duration, though he is up and off somewhere very early. He and Mouse seem to have moved more or less permanently into the old red rattler railway carriage that Corey normally uses as her studio. Every morning quite early the back garden is alive with saws and nail-guns. - Some kind of

construction for the Festival, Matilda supposes

Chapter Twenty-five


Corey's front veranda is a hive of activity. Can I help?" Matilda asks nervously above the roar of the sewing machine. Cal is busy trimming damaged banner-pieces. Corey, spectacles on the end of her nose is pinning the pieces together. Mouse glances up.

"We need somebody to press 'em with the iron after I tack 'em together." The thick eyebrows disappear upwards into his floppy fringe." Bon, she's been complaining about my crooked tacking."

Matilda sets up the ironing board, passing the iron's cord in at the open window, surprised to see her father inside deep in conversation with Dzaved. Rory plugs in the iron and returns to the manuscript. He appears to be discussing a musical score with Dzaved. He's been visiting Karolina every day, but he seems to be distancing himself from Matilda. - At work we've kept to our separate areas too, though with the Festival approaching, there's so much to do. - No, we've both been avoiding each other.

Matilda sets up beside Bonny. Bon, suspicious of Corey's ancient treadle is ensconced at her own state of the art machine, from which she oversees activities like the captain of a Boeing 747 directing the cabin crew.

"Bon. This piece can't be retrieved!" wails Lin, sitting cross-legged like an old-time tailor. "Bon. Stop that racket will you?" Bon inspects the piece.

"The pattern would be damaged. See." Lin points anxiously.

"Okay. Put it in the basket and we'll have a look later."

Matilda sets the iron on low and carefully presses the restored fabric. Her hair, dragged into a loose and wobbly knot, jiggles precariously. "This one'll need backing do you think? It looks pretty fragile."

Bon stops the machine. "Matilda, don't ask me about every little thing.," complains Bon. "Just put it in the basket if you're doubtful."

"Here Matilda. Another basket. This for repairs"; says Corey." the other for re-makes." Matilda takes the basket, grateful that Corey at least recognizes her distress.

Lin takes up the damaged piece again. "Hang on a tick. You could cut this in half. Insert an extra piece. And it just might be possible to salvage with a new border."

Cal jumps up to look. "Oh great. That means that so far the only piece that can't be repaired is the bullion-work!"

Matilda stands the iron upright. She is close to tears. "I, I'm really sorry for putting you to all this trouble. You must think I've been childish. And I have. I've always found it difficult to handle working in the mainstream. I went into the Green Corridors project with my eyes open. I'm not - not surprised that they're handing funding over to the private sector." Matilda glances through the open window, where Rory is still deep in conversation with Dzaved. "There's been personal stuff too." She lowers her voice. "So if there's anything I can do to make up." There is complete silence. Matilda gazes from one to the other of her friends with troubled eyes.

"Certainly is!" Lin breaks the silence. "Peel me a grape, Matilda - one steamy Melbourne night!"

"Me too!" says Cal.

"Grapes. Crikey! They expensive right now," says Mouse, not quite comprehending.

Unexpectedly Matilda grins. She leans over and ruffles Lin's cockatoo-crest hair. "I must just do that you trollop."

But Bon at the sewing machine looks serious. "I just don't get this Queer Politics caper."


"This Queer Politics game. I don't get it." Bon re-starts the machine, raising her voice over the roar. "When I had my entry into the lesbian scene, you either were or you weren't." Bon slows down a mite to navigate a series of embroidered bumps. "But this gender-bender bizzo. Look Matilda, you're born with two hands, two feet." Bon zooms ahead on the machine.

Matilda doesn't need this. She is angry with Bon, Bon bursting into bedrooms, Bon the avenging angel of separatist rectitude. "And born with two sexualities?" shouts Matilda above the din of the machine. "That what you mean Bon?"

"Yes. It's the ones in between cause all the trouble. Set 'emselves up to - "

"Betray the cause?" shouts Matilda, surprised at her own audacity, but fortifying herself with the reminder that it was Bon who had denied her that rightful place on the oral history project.

"Matilda, if you think - "Bon stops short as Mouse holds a red satin piece up for inspection. "Mouse, I said if you're not sure - "

"No Bon. I am sure. I need gold cord - wider than this here - to cover up - "

"Okay, okay. Over there. The yellow box."

"Bon, the women's oral history was dear to my heart. I designed it. Does a person's so-called 'in-between' state disqualify them from the human race?" Matilda hears herself saying. Bon revs up the machine full-throttle gunning down the seams with all the power of the Grand Prix race-track.

"Your sort," she yells, "take the women. Next thing," Bon tosses the finished piece aside, barely pausing as she zooms around the hem, "Next thing you're off - back to the men and . . ." Bon stops as Corey comes over.

"Bon, does this pass?"

"Corey. No. For Christ's sakes. The end's crooked. You'll have to unpick the whole side!' She flushes. "Jesus, I'm sorry Corey." Bon slaps the palm of her hand against her forehead. "I'm having an argy-bargy with Matilda here about sex."

"No." responds Matilda. "About love. It's about love." Bon raises her brows

"Love!" Bon stops the machine with a jolt. Matilda aware of the eyes of Cal and Lin, stands her ground. Her hair slips out of the knot and flies out all over the place.

"Bon I'm not nearly as certain of myself as you are. I only know I can't confine myself - define myself. Neither of those." She lowers her voice. "The issue I just brought up - it's over. I reacted out of uncertainty." The intensity of Cal's gaze is somehow comforting. "This isn't something I want to have arguments about - I'm not capable of arguing about it."

"I didn't quite hear what went on." Lin glares at Bon. "My thinking is in line with yours Bon." Lin's voice is clipped and angry, "But your behaviour." Lin's scissors slide noisily through the fabric. "That's a horse of an entirely different colour. Lin folds the fabric and deposits it on a table beside Bon's machine. "And furthermore -"

"And furthermore Lin, you're all my friends." Matilda touches Bon's shoulder lightly. "Who's for a cup of tea?"

In the lounge Dzaved, puzzled runs his fingers through his hair. There appears to be tension between the two. "Rory, for the Great Concert I would really prefer direction." says Dzaved. Matilda notices the twitch in her father's cheek.

"Can't do that man." Rory answers.

Corey hands them both a plate of biscuits. "Rory, your notes for my harp solo. Could you make them a bit more specific?"

Rory takes a biscuit. He looks away. "It - it'll come."

"But Rory you usually give really precise - "

"No Corey. Not this time." Rory casts a look of anguish at Matilda heading for the veranda with the teapot. He attempts a light response, "My Muse has departed from me, but she'll be back that I guarantee."

Matilda, emptying the teapot runs into Mick and Ahmet. "Matt. We're going on a Southbank Ferry trip tomorrow. Wanna come?"

Lin answers for her, "Art Gallery's got an exhibition on. Early Oz art - Heidelberg School. We could all do with a break, hey?"