Lantern

A fragment.

###

Dreary days rarely entertain inquisitive minds. Kept inside by watchful parents and the intermittent storms, the children cuddled up around the glass doors watching the rain as their father watched the cricket on the tiny portable TV. It was plenty hot to swim, but the beaches were all closed and the caravan park didn’t have a pool.
The rainforest surrounding them dripped, wild green of an untamed place deep inside her heart. Or, any of those old cliches she loved. She had never been much for originality – she surrounded herself with children, a loving husband, did housework even on holidays.
She made them all lunch as the cricket took their break. Down south where there wasn’t rain to sully the heat-wave, the men gathered around to bat around balls with sticks and call themselves great Aussie heroes. Her husband rose from his chair just as lunch was done, the tiny tin-box had reeked of fried fish for an hour but still he claimed innocence and said he would have gone out and bought something.
Tomorrow he’d probably go out fishing again, leaving her alone with three fidgety children in the rain. Today he was a doting father, ignoring the predictable cricket match to entertain the girls – playing Uno and Monopoly until it was time for dinner. Again she cooked, this time sausages for him and chicken for the girls. After dinner she joined them for their games and slowly forgot the rotten day she should have spent on the beach.
Finally the girls went to bed, she was alone with him. He turned on the TV and managed to find some old movie that was already half over before falling asleep part way drunk.
She moved herself from the lounge down to where the children had been sitting – her shoulder pressed up against the glass. It was raining again, gushing from the skies – slightly silver in the dim light of the caravan park’s lamp-posts. They were the caravan up against the fence, raised on bricks and facing the rainforest surrounding the park. The thick trees of green and rust, nearly disappearing into ink as the light against them faded into the feathery leafs of ferns and gums. What caught her attention most through the chain-link fence was an ancient lantern hanging from a low branch, chipped white paint with patches of moss and rust. It seemed to have grown into the tree, that ancient lantern which must have run on whale oil or barbarism of some sort.
The thoughts of that rotten lantern simmered in her mind long after she fell asleep against the glass. In her dreams it burned, bright light illuminating the wild green forest for all to see – an ember in the darkness slowly spreading warmth through the rainy world until everything was bright orange.
The children woke her and the lantern outside was dim – the forest untouched. It was raining again and once she rose to do her motherly duties the children took her place to watch the rain trickle down through the canopy.

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