A war, an attic, a gun

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  • Published 20080902
  • ISBN: 9780733322839
  • Extent: 296 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

WHEN MY SON was young – six perhaps, or seven – my mother made him a promise. We were stacking books and cleaning shelves on a soupy summer’s day, the three of us preoccupied until then with dust and wasps’ nests in spines. Brisbane’s humidity plays havoc with old books. I remember a kind of honey from an abandoned nest on the cardboard cover of A.A. Milne’s The Day’s Play, and wondering how to dissolve it – eucalyptus oil? – when I heard my mother’s voice. If they ever bring back conscription for an overseas war, she said, you won’t be going. I’ll hide you in an attic. Or in a secret room somewhere.

The groove of the P in Play was sticky. I frowned, glanced up; my mother had paused with a pink cloth bunched in one hand and a book in the other. She looked into her grandson’s wide, brown eyes. If I have to,she said evenly, I’ll get a gun and shoot one of your toes.

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