A wave of chocolate-scented air engulfed me. The brown cosmos nodded in the flowerbed as the small wind softly caressed their petals. I sat on the step, the book had fallen unheeded, from my hands, onto the cracked and broken concrete. The cream pages were creased and crumpled where they lay. My eyes were focussed on a point on the horizon. I watched as the dot appeared. At first, it didn’t seem to move and then it approached growing larger by the second. I felt my heart beating in my throat, a little flutter like a butterfly caught in a web. The tickle of my heart made it difficult for me to breath. Totally oblivious to everything around me I sat there, so still, in the hot sun, unaware my skin was beginning to change colour from pink to red. The dot was changing in shape as it grew closer it was like watching a dream unfold slowly ever so slowly, dragging out the suspense second by second, minute by minute until I felt compelled to rise to my feet and start walking towards the growing shape.
At first, I hesitated and then walked more quickly, my feet did not feel the sharp stone cutting into my flesh and then I began to run. To run as if my life depended on it. The shape shielded behind the shimmering heat haze changed from a dot to an oblong and morphed into the shape of a man. I ran through the haze and burst out on the other side. He stood there his arms outstretched. I flew into his safe embrace. He laughed and grabbed me by the waist and lifting me into the air he held me at arm’s length before enfolding me in a hug so tight it almost hurt.
‘I’m back my sweet, I told you I’d be back,’ he said as he held me close, ‘I’m back.’
I kissed the stubble on his cheeks and threw my arms around his neck and cried, he must never go away again.
He set me down and lifted his pack from his shoulders and placed it on the parched red earth. He swept up a fistful earth and threw it into the air. He laughed.
‘I will never go away again I promise,’ and taking off his hat he placed it in my hands. I looked at the badge with the rising sun and ran the feathered plume through my fingers, his boots were dusty and his khakis were stained with sweat. We turned and hand in hand walked slowly towards the house.
She was shaking my shoulder, yelling, ‘Mum, mum, wake up, wake up. The Prime Minster is on the radio making a speech. Peace. They have declared peace. Dad will be coming home.’ I opened my eyes and blinked, I had been asleep. I looked out across the paddock and could see a dust cloud hiding the truck driving down the track. It was the postman’s truck.