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But Home Is

No More

Calida Evans

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing

Highly Commended

The day he turns six, his big sister decides to mark their heights on

the doorframe leading into kitchen.

She steals a big fat permanent marker from their father’s study

and drags over a chair from the dining table. It’s a heavy wooden

chair, and the legs scrape and scratch, decorating the floor with four

identical scratch markings. While she clambers onto the chair, he

stares out the window, at the trees and the fields and the grass. He

wishes he were outside, roaming free, but it’s been raining for two

days straight. The heavens have opened up and let loose a torrential

downpour of epic proportions, thick grey clouds smothering the

landscape in their hungry grasp. The rain falls heavily, pounding out

a steady rhythm of pitter patter, ear splitting and all consuming.

‘Chin up, stand straight – no, stop standing on your tippy toes,’

his sister says, and his attention snaps back inside to the warmth and

safety of their home.

‘There, done. Now we’ll be able to see how much you’ve grown,’

she tells him, smiles and ruffles his hair.

‘What about you?’ He asks, grinning back.

‘I don’t know about that, pipsqueak, do you think you can reach?’

‘I know that!’ He squeals, ‘but what if I stand on some books or


‘Fine, go ahead’

He races up the stairs, the steps creak and groan underneath him

and he bursts into his room. In the gloom his glow-in-the-dark

dinosaur stickers light up the ceiling, like stars on a canvas of black

void. He pulls out a couple of heavy books fromhis bookcase. They’re

the encyclopaedia set that he got last Christmas but never actually

looked at. The spines are thick and strong and dig into his hands.

With a grunt he lifts them into the air.

Holding a bundle of books tightly in his arms he races back down

the stairs and carefully arranges them into a tower.

‘Be careful,’ his sister warns, handing him the marker. It’s a bit too

big for his little hands, and when he pulls off the cap the weird smell

tickles his nose. He drags the tip of the marker against the rough

grains of the wooden door frame.


Later that night he lies in his bed, squeezes his eyes shut and tries to

pretend that he can’t hear his parents arguing downstairs. His father