Like fire on a house V

b136459301So, the reason my father’s eyebrows were singed way back then was because he had rescued a man from a burning building the night before.

The reason my car stinks like smoke today is because I’d parked it in front of a fiery housing commission unit last Monday, only to be parked in by two firetrucks as the building’s black breath billowed for hours.

I’m standing on the footpath, same spot I sat one week ago, right out front of where Jack used to live. The descendant of some troglodyte is directing the reins of a petrol-powered brachiosaurus, removing the last few gigantic charred timber ribs from the body of just another roasted leviathan.

The job done, he switches the engine off and leans back into his seat. The beast clunks obediently into stillness, jaws tilted skyward.

He has seen me but does not acknowledge me. I don’t really want to talk anyway. I’m just looking at the black dirt square where someone’s home used to be. It seems so small…

“Housing won’t rebuild it,” he uggs, chin pointing at the empty space. “Not for another five years. Policy.”

I say nothing, my eyes surveying the location where something became nothing.

“It’s policy not to rebuild for five years,” he reiterates. “Otherwise they just burn ‘em all like dominoes.”

I cross the road in silence, eyes fixed on the almost imperceptible pea-green specks throughout the sable earth. Just above my line of sight, he is clambering out of the machine.

“Yeah, nah,” he continues, black boots thudding like Clydesdale hooves into the muck. “Won’t rebuild it.”

We are now standing a couple of metres apart, staring at that space where red bricks became blackened and then became someone’s first job on a Monday, at the chocolatey loam where a concrete slab used to be, and at the tiny emerald blades pushing peacefully towards the blue.

Then I hear my voice.

“I had no idea grass could grow so quickly.”


~ by Daniel Townsend on April 23, 2013.

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