The Summer Series: Wednesday

Words by Maggie McDade

Published on January 30, 2012

It’s been about thirty five all week.  Houses are shut tight and blinds drawn.  Inside the gloom people watch the Adelaide test and drink jugs of water from the fridge.  Kosta and his wife sit inside their milk bar with the door closed.  They watch Greek news on the old tv in the corner.  There’s an air conditioner mounted on the wall that drips water into a bucket on the floor.

The tracks at Burnley station glint in the sunlight, and the tall weeds between the sleepers hang their heads.  Brown mynas bounce around the bins in the shade eating crumbs.  Relief comes when the weary sun dips its head behind the city to the west.  The tracks cool, and twilight arrives.

This day, a man hurries up to platform two and waits anxiously for the Flinders Street train.  A lady beside him reads the paper and rests her feet on top of her shoes, air reaching between her toes.  Two school girls sit cross legged further down, dresses hitched around the tops of their thighs.  The computer lady’s voice comes over the speaker, train now arriving.  The man goes to the edge of the platform, and as if without hesitation, strides out onto the tracks.  The shoeless lady feels a rush of air as the train pulls to a halt, and looks at the empty pavement.  She drops her paper and screams.

Glen Waverley, Alamein, Belgrave, and Lilydale services are cancelled.  At Richmond station, people pile onto the footpath waiting for connecting buses to the outer east.  Everyone on their phones, ‘I’m going to be late for dinner.  Train’s not running.  Someone jumped in front of a train.’ After the sirens, Burnley goes quiet with the absence of trains hauling commuters east.

Shadow the roaming neighbourhood dog sits on the grass behind the privet at number 66 chomping on old bones from the vacant lot.  He cocks his head and stops to lick his lips, hearing wailing sirens, then nothing.  His owner Greg trails down the street, on the way to the Riser for a schooner before he heads home.  Shadow dashes out the hole in the fence, and clicks down the footpath after him.

With the sun now behind the city, people prise open their front doors.  Twilight hangs long after dinner time. In Fraser Street men sit in plastic arm chairs in their driveways and water the silverbeet and tomato plants.  Neighbours hang over fences and contemplate the front garden. Judith from next door takes Buster for a walk up towards Bridge Road.  Megan on the other side of the vacant lot drags her plastic Christmas tree onto the footpath for any takers.

Thursday, it’s cool again.