Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  137 / 156 Next Page
Show Menu
Previous Page 137 / 156 Next Page
Page Background


It was the beginning of January whenOlivia was sent away. Instead of

the graceful leap from the nest as she had imagined, it was more like

a forceful shove. She had plummeted from the secure bubble of home,

wheeling and screeching. Where her friends had either made plans

for University or were arranging gap years to exotic places, she had

fallen face first into the red dust of the Australian outback. And she

hated it. She hated the feeling of gritty sand in her socks and sweat

sticking stray hair to the back of her neck. Within the first minutes of

leaving thedingy airport her lipswere cracked andflies had attempted

to launch themselves at the canals of her ears. By the first hour in the

bus she was ready to sell her soul for some air conditioning. Hell had

nothing on this place.

Once the two-hour bus ride (which was more like a rolling tin


for the three weeks. The cabin she was staying in was less like a motel

and more like a rundown shed. The wooden beams that supported a

tin patio roof were rotting and the front door didn’t seem to be in

any better condition. Minutes after entering the stale bungalow she

found herself staring dejectedly at rusted pots and pans on a lopsided

shelf as she attempted to hold back tears. The place was a dump.

Just after her father had booked the plane ticket to send her

here, Olivia had delved into the trusty TripAdvisor website. There

had she looked up the best accommodation in the Australian

outback and spent hours admiring hotel rooms with working air

conditioning and luxurious pools. However, after the sobering

thought that she had to pay for everything on the trip, she had

decided on this small and cheap cabin. The website had boasted

three star accommodation with a white tiled bathroom and a small

but fashionable kitchenette. Turned out the people who ran the

website were liars. The one thing they didn’t lie about was the time

it took to get in and out of Alice Springs. This tin shed was only

half an hour from the government school where she would spend

her days volunteering. Funny, the word ‘volunteering’ made it

seem like she wanted to be there. How ironic.

Two days after she arrived, Olivia visited the school to learn the

ropes and take her first class. It was a grim place, more like a jail, with

high wire fences, asphalt yards and bricks the colour of the sand. The

classrooms were stuffed with mismatched desks and faulty chairs

and the carpet was half dirt and half dust. Yet as she wandered

Of Dust And

Dirt And Other

Godly Beings

Emma Bannister