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As the harsh yellow light crept below the horizon, Dad walked

through the front door. His skin was pink and distressed from the

aggressive sun. He looked wilted, like the rows of corn that stretched

across our land. My sister and I were beached across the lounge room

carpet, too lethargic to even turn our heads towards the rustle of the

door. Mum sat staring at the table, either deep in thought or

fascinated by the crochet doily in the centre.

It was only when Dad broke the silence with a simple, “Hello”,

that Mum snapped out of her daydream. She slightly crooked her

head and offered Dad a gentle smile, the kind of smile that depicted

how we all felt those days: tired. Dad curtly smiled back and his

dried lips cracked.

The latter few weeks had been stagnant, in all sense of the word.

My sister and I had barely moved from the couch for anything less

than food or sleep. The heat overwhelmed our bodies so that

sluggishness took over, as if the world was in slow motion. It was too

hot to play; too hot to go outside; too hot to even move. So instead,

we would lie motionless on the ground, holding cool ice wrapped in

floral tea towels to our heads. Occasionally, if we were bored enough

I’d hear my sister slide out a board game or some cards from the

cupboard and it would entertain us for a while. But once I won and

she threw a tantrum, the game was over and we’d settle back on the

ground into a languid quiet.

We sat down for dinner after dusk. A cool breeze travelled

through the open doors and windows of the house. The air revived

us from our lethargy, and my sister began to persistently kick me

from under the table. My parents exchanged tense pleasantries, and

I watched the ice cube in Mum’s finished drink slowly melt away

into a watery puddle at the bottom of her glass. Precious droplets

slowly teased down the sides to form a wet ring around the table.

Mum and Dad spoke emptily about anything, which was nothing.

Crops were the same; money was the same; weather was the same.

Conversation gingerly waned into silence, until all that could be

noted was the continuous clink of cutlery against the china. As

Mum’s glass lifted from the table, the excess condensation streaked

across the wood, slightly soaking into the grain. I couldn’t help but

see it as a waste, a mark of carelessness.

The concept of rain was both a fading memory and a distant

promise for us now. The past weeks had offered no relief from the

The Drought

Grace Zimmerman

Isobelle Carmody Award

for Creative Writing

Highly Commended