After the Red Dust by Charmaine Clancy (Tales of Australia : Great Southern Land)

Read a little here from Tales of Australia : Great Southern Land.

After the Red Dust by Charmaine Clancy

The day the Reserve people found me, I had walked out of the ocean and killed a beastbird. For a while they stood about, unsure what to do with me. I stood on the shore, a child of no more than four years, naked and weaponless. Still, there was fear in their voices.

‘Look, she killed the beastbird. What dark magic is within this creature?’

None of their hunters had ever brought down a beastbird—roaring creatures that soar overhead, creating shadows vast enough to cover most of Reserve. The immense creatures always travel alone and no one has ever seen one set down on the earth. Now the carcass of the grotesque scaled bird began sinking beneath the waves.

There was a more obvious reason for these people to distrust me. I was not one of them. I was not a child of Reserve, I was not their people. While I stood sobbing, arms stretched out to the sea, my pale skin pink and blistered, the men discussed my fate.

‘The creature walked from the waves. What is she?’

‘What’s wrong with her skin, her hair? What people does she belong to?’

‘Look, she’s reaching for the ocean. She must be a fish!’

‘The dolphins have visited a lot this season, perhaps she washed ashore?’

‘What dolphin can bring down a beastbird? If we do not kill this evil creature, she may destroy our people.’

I understood none of what they said. Although some words seemed familiar, most were just strange noises. Harsh noises, voices full of fear and threat. Then one voice cut through the others. It was calm and low, it was the voice of a mother.

‘Leave her be. Can’t you see she’s just a little girl?’

*** Have a look at the book to read more of this story and the others in the collection… GSLCoverBookweb

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