Native ~ Naturally

The thunderclap came out of the blue and so close that all the horses reared and screamed in fright. Scattering they bolted through the scrub some dragging unseated riders, some riderless, some with screaming terrified novices clinging to main and pommel for dear life. My terror ride was soundless except for the thundering crashing drumming of my mounts terrified hooves. The second clap accompanied a bolt that hit a tree only several yards to the left and my mount reared so suddenly his head collected my face. Spinning on his back legs he bolts to the right away from the thunder unknowing that he actually flees before the path of the storm. Was it hours later or only moments when the land ran out? Skidding screaming he slides to his death over the edge of a massive gorge leaving me clinging to shrubbery with two petrified hands nothing beneath my feet except the smashed body of my mount a thousand feet below. I hang too shocked to cry out, too scared to try to save myself. The storm rages over me and fizzles out into the gorge. Unable to decide I whisper ‘Mother I love you’ and close my eyes to die.

But I do not die. When I open my eyes I find I am not in heaven’s glory but in a dark dank cave full of smoke from burning eucalypt wood, sheltered from the rain outside and not alone. I am warm, I am dry I am whole and I am unable to speak. The other’s silhouette sits before the fire working at something held in the lap. A mass of curly hair makes the head seem huge, yet the body seems bare of all clothing. As my eyes adjust to the dimness, the gleam of the fire shines on dark skin of legs and arms, thick with lean muscle. His head turns and pauses. I can make out a thick brow, flat nose and bushy moustache and beard. He wears a band of yellow around his forehead then he turns to look at me and I freeze in fear, my last thought before receding to the safety of darkness, he is native.

It is days before I can sit without returning to blackness. Sometimes he is there when I wake other times he is not but the fire is always there. I am rolled in fur skins and naked beneath but as he is also naked I would feel strange in my skirts and corsets. He had never tried to touch me other than to push pulp food into my mouth or hold me so I could swallow water from a bark tray. When his arm slides under my shoulders I feel his strength and warmth and it gives me comfort.

I have seen the darkness of his eyes watching me. His teeth flash when he tries to engage me in conversation but aside from my lack of voice, I cannot understand his words although his voice is of a deep rich timbre. He will hum abstract tunes as he works and the music will relax me as I lie and watch him.

He uses his time wisely, spending it making our food and more fur coverings or sharpening his crude tools, spear, boomerang and stone knife. I would wake in the mornings to roasting meat yet he would not give me chewable pieces. I was shocked when I first saw him prepare the pulp he fed me. He would tear the meat with his teeth then mix it in a wooden bowl with the paste of ground seeds and water and then he would put the whole lot in his mouth and chomp on it for some moments before returning it to the bowl from which he would then feed me with his fingers. I was horrified the first time I watched his preparations and realised it was for me. Then I reasoned he had been doing this for me for some time now and I was alive because of it.

I ate gratefully from then on looking up into those dark warm eyes, knowing I was safe and sound and he was protecting me. Dare I say falling in love?

One dark night I awoke to thunder echoing inside the cave as if it were in there with us. The fire was all but dead and the rain was flying sidewards into the cave. At first I thought I was alone, truly alone, that he had gone. Then he entered the cave mouth as a flash of lightning outside lit up the sky. I did not recognise him. His hair was plastered to his head and his cape flew about him. I screamed a small squeak lost in the sound of the thunderclap and pushed myself back into the darkness of the cave. He saw me, offcourse he did, the light from the storm came in past him and showing him where I was and what I was doing. Rushing in he dumped his armful of wood to one side and came to me. I squeaked again in fear still not knowing him until his hand touched my shoulder. The warmth of him despite the chill of his fingers, flooded into me. He was speaking to me I understood none of it until he made the universal ‘Sh’ of a mother soothing a child. His hand stroked my shoulder, gently pulling up the fur cover and then rubbing me through the hide, repeating the soft sound over and over soothing me.

Just as I relaxed there was an almighty crack as the lightning hit above the cave entrance sending rock and trees down past the opening’s overhang. Terror forced me to leap up and grab hold of him, shooting my arms about his neck and burying my face into the warmth of his chest. His arms held me tight sensing my need for his protection. He held me close to him sheltering us both from the storm with his cloak. His face nuzzled into my hair and his whispers hushing me gently as we waited out the storm’s passing.

The warmth of him relaxed me into sleep. I knew not how long he held me before gently returning me to my soft fur bed, the movement waking me, but the storm had passed and the sky outside was brightening with the coming of the day. I looked up to him and he stroked my hair his mouth relaxing into a gentile smile. I raised my arms to him and he was beside me in one smooth motion. Only then did I remember our nakedness. Only then did I wonder of intimate actions. But as his nose rubbed my eyes, his hands stroking my neck, I knew I wanted to love him.

I slid my hand up into his wet hair, my fingers feeling the contours of his head. He pulled back to look at me. I did not smile I was scared he might leave me. I reached my lips to his and softly kissed him. Had he never been kissed? I lowered my head to the pillow of fur; he looked down to me and raised his hand from my shoulder to his lips to touch where my mouth had been. Then he touched my lips and I kissed the calloused fingertips. Hesitantly he lowered his mouth to my lips and let me kiss him again, letting my lips manoeuvre his into motion so that he soon understood the gentile pushing sucking caress. He was an excellent student and showed swift initiative in trailing kisses over all of my face, throat and shoulder. But he returned to my mouth and lingered there kissing me sweetly.

Cheekily he repeated his trailing over and over then kissed my lips over and over quickly. Just before the last of these I smiled and he kissed my open mouth. He opened his own lips to match my lips and his tongue touched my teeth. He pulled back abruptly all traces of his innocence fading as his eyes searched mine. Then slowly he lowered his lips to mine and deepened his kiss to include his tongue filling my mouth and tasting my teeth. The kiss took my breath away and sent tingles all through me. He rose for air and the desire in his eyes was as naked as our skin.

Of all the strange times to wonder, I wondered of his age. I was nearing twenty, he looked older, his body felt thicker than the boys I’d known and played childhood games with, more like that of my father’s stockmen. Yet there was no strangeness about him lying beside me, his thigh between mine, his manhood thick on my hip. I had never known a man more intimately than a stolen kiss behind a shed that earnt the male in question a sharp slap and his marching orders from my father’s property. But I had helped breed cattle and horses; I knew what was to happen. I waited.

He heaved a great sigh and rose from me.

The cold chilled where his body had been. I lay exposed to him, stunned at his withdrawal. He stood before me glorious in his humanity and I waited.

He turned built up the fire and left.

For a while I lay exposed in complete amazement then pulled the furs over me. I decided it was time to take my life back. I struggled to sit up and managed without too much wooziness. With the fire burning and the morning sunlight flooding in, seemingly brighter for the storm’s wash, I was able to see deeper into the cave to where my clothes lay. I crawled to them and inspected them. Creased and mud stained the openings were torn and other tears were in places, but they were wearable. I discarded the stays and pulled on the petticoats and dress. Feeling somewhat better for the semblance of returning to normality I realised I knew nothing of where I was.

Using a rock outcrop I stood up on wobbly legs. It wasn’t that my knees gave way but that I tripped over my skirts that had me landing into the dust of the cave floor. So I crawled again to the mouth of the cave to look out.

He found me there, sitting with my back to the cave and staring out over miles of wilderness. I had no idea where I was nor which way was back to civilisation let alone home. I had spent the time of his absence trying to remember why I was so far from my father’s semi-urban property.

I could remember the homestead with the stone main house and the wooden workers cottages. It was only two miles from town and the town was only a day’s ride from the city, six hours on the new steam trains. But this was miles from home. The cave was set high in a cliff face and, from the shadows cast by the sun, it faced southeast. But the sea was just a faint glimmer on the horizon which put this particular mountain much further east than the hills of home where the southern sea could be seen quite clearly, even passing ship sails spotted. But here there was nothing to be seen of any civilisation.

Had he carried me so far? Why had he carried me anyway? It was slowly dawning on me that all I could remember was the homestead, a town, the city, trains and spotting sails on the distant water. And that man’s kiss behind the shed. I knew there was a father in my life but I knew not who nor could I conjure up an image of him in my mind. Was there anyone else? What was my father’s name? Suddenly a coldness chilled me, what was my own?

He found me staring horror struck out at the wilderness. He was beside me in a flash, the morning’s kill, a possum, dumped on the ground at our feet. Concern furrowed his brow and his dark eyes searched mine.

Feeling foolish for worrying him when he could do nothing to help me, I gave him a smile, too false, too big, it made him frown deeper. He took the rabbit in to the fire and began preparing our breakfast. I shinnied myself up the rock at my back to my feet and then tentatively attempted to return inside. He looked up as I entered and smiled. It struck me just how handsome he was.

I’d always thought the natives were beautiful with their cherubic faces and their deep, intelligent eyes and brow. I envied them their skin and their seemingly happy nature. I longed to have been one of them but they held too many secrets for me to understand as they patiently smiled at me. I knew there had been natives in my life. I thought hard; bark mia-mias beside the river; Children laughing as they played with a leather ball and toy spears; the women dressed in white frocks but wearing nothing beneath the dresses, discarded as soon as we left. ‘We’, me and who else?

His arm was about my waist as he helped me back to my fur bed. His fingers flicked at the dress I wore and I smiled like a child playfully scolded. He grunted something and returned to the possum. A moment later he looked over to me and frowned. Pointedly he repeated his words and waited. I smiled back blankly, not understanding him for a moment. Suddenly he was before me, pulling at the dress, saying a word over and over. Instinctively I pulled the dress across me protectively and frowned back at him. He glared at me for a long moment then with an indifferent shrug turned and left the cave.

I had cooked the possum and eaten a portion of it but he didn’t return until the sky was growing dim. When he came in he had a bag, crudely made of woven grass and inside it he had a baby koala. He handed me the bag and saw to the fire and reheating his portion of the possum. The baby purred as I pulled him from the bag and cradled him in my arms. The man looked up at me and stared, a very strange look on his face. Sighing the man went out again.

He returned after dark and with him he had a billy of milk. I stared at the billy. Civilisation was close enough after all. But what was the milk for? He had also brought in some branches of gum leaves and tossed them in a distant corner. He had a few in his hand and proceeded to chew them spitting into the dirt every now and then. Then he took a mouthful of milk and continued chewing before spitting the lot into a bark dish. He handed it to me and pointed to the sleeping bundle in my arms. Did this man feed every stray with munched up pulp?

Feeding the baby was messy until I realised that the animal could drink after his sucking mouth followed my finger into the dish. It was how we taught calves to drink from buckets. Why hadn’t I thought of it earlier? What made me think of feeding cows? Had I done that or was I the watcher in the past time? When the dish was empty the koala curled up and slept. I returned him to his grass pouch and left it to the side of my bed.

Then there was just the man and I. I hugged my knees and watched him eat. He drank water from the animal skin bag and I realised how thirsty I was, which made me realise how needing of a lavatory I was also. How had I managed all the weeks I was in bed? I don’t remember going even. I stood up and carefully walked around the fire towards the door. He watched me until I paused at the door. It was pitch black out there, no moon and no starlight. The lack of moon reminded me of my cycle coming soon; that would be interesting. But for now, how did I find a bush to squat behind?

He came up behind me with a burning branch. I took it gratefully and carefully picked my way away from the cave mouth and a little way down the track to a bush. Sticking the branch into a crack in the rock I saw to my business then returned somewhat relieved to a smiling native still standing at the cave mouth watching me. I shoved him in the chest frowning as I passed and he laughed.

The sound stunned me. Other than his gentile humming and scattered grunted words there had been nothing aloud. I stood and stared at him in surprise. Had I really forgotten the pleasure of a laugh? Tears sprung to my eyes. I covered my face with my hands. His arms went about me and his whispers hushed me. I looked up at him. He lowered his lips and kissed mine. When he pulled up for air he was supporting me for I was swooning, finding breathing very hard to control. I opened my eyes and looked up at him.
‘Please.’ I whispered, my first word in the cave. Stunned he nearly dropped me in his leap away from me.
‘You speak the white man talk.’ He said haltingly.

I stared blankly unable to project one thought above the rest. He spoke English. He didn’t think that I spoke English yet I’m a white woman with red hair and freckles and green eyes. If he could speak English it was because he knew white men and therefore he knew that they had women who were white also. This was the twentieth century not medieval times! We may live out of the city but there was a road that connected Gippsland with Melbourne, it was down there in all that bush somewhere.

I opened my mouth and a very husky ‘Yes’ hissed out followed by ‘I know no other.’

We sat down at the fire, me on my fur bed, and he on his cloak.
‘But you must be spirit. You were left there for me.’ he waved his hand at the cave entrance. ‘I must pass the spirit test then I go back.’
‘What test? Where?’
‘I a child sent from tribe for not knowing, trusting the dreaming. If the spirits forgive me I am tested if I pass I go back.’
‘If you fail?’
‘What is the test?’
‘No…no…give in. No not that, no me first.’ He tried to find the words.
‘Not to be selfish. There isn’t a selfish bone in your body. You cared for me, you cared for the baby bear…’
‘Koala’ he supplied.
‘Thank you.’
Time lapsed and I looked at the koala and then out at the view through the mouth of the cave.
‘I am from a big Dairy Farm near Warragul. Will you take me home?’
‘My tribe is from there.’
‘What is your name?’
‘I don’t know. I was a child. The men call me Billy. What you called?’
‘I can’t remember.’ I looked down at my hands ‘How old are you?’
‘About five hands of summers’
‘Twenty-five or so. I’m not twenty yet; about four hands.’ I translated and he smiled.

We fell into an awkward silence. It seemed we were more comfortable before we found out we could communicate with words. I looked down at the dress covering my legs. It had been green like pine needles, with cream trimmings, made of velvet and in this cosy cave very warm. I longed to take it off, to go back to being his naked spirit girl in need of his protection. But now I was dressed and I spoke better English than he and I was meant to be superior. My father owned his tribe. I crossed my arms on my knees and buried my face onto them.

‘You right mate?’ he asked.

I shook my head. The real world was seeping into my mind. The trains taking the men away to war. My father was selling the dairy. We were showing the new buyers the boundaries. The storm. Home was around the other side of the mountain. The south west side. I had a father and two little sisters left at home. My mother was dead and my two elder brothers were off to war. I wanted father to keep the dairy, employ women to milk and produce the cream, cheese and butter. Use the aborigines with a fair wage instead of the men.

‘I need you.’ I whispered, ‘I need your purity, I need your love. I don’t want this talking, this white man ways, this façade. We were living before, we were happy before.’
I stood up and pulled off the dress and the petticoats and tossed them into the corner where I’d found them. I stood before him and touched his shoulder.
‘Making love to me is not selfish, not if I want it too and I do.’
He stood up and faced me. ‘It would please you?’
‘Oh I hope so.’ I whispered and reached my hands up around his neck. ‘Name me; make me yours; make me a woman; please me.’ I whispered between kissing him.

His lips tasted tears on my flesh. He pulled back worried. I smiled up to him and drew his mouth back to mine. We lay on my fur bed and he touched my skin with his hands and his lips then with his tongue and his breath. By the time he ventured to touch my centre I was aching with desire, arching to him in a primeval need. The shudders his fingers sent through me only preluded the spasms his lips touching me created. His tongue tasting me made me buck and call out. Catching the excitement he knew it was time to claim me as his woman.

He moved leaving me aching with need clawing at his body lost without his touch then he was there above me and his hand was stroking my body; my face, neck, breast, stomach, hip; until he cupped my buttock and raised me to meet his maleness and the insertion of his manhood. I cried out and clung to him hanging from him. He knelt so that he could hold me to him better as his body instigated the dance of eternity. Sweat merged from our pores as his mouth sought mine to suck my essence from me while his body robbed me of independence. When I was insensible calling for more, crying for release he dropped us to the furs and crushed me beneath him, as he forcefully buried himself inside me, deeper and deeper, over and over, faster and faster until his guttural cry matched my own and sent us both over the brink of consciousness.

When senses returned he was still on me, still inside me still filling me; and I held him there waiting for his breathing to settle. I stroked his back and froze. There were welts there; old scars across his shoulders. I felt him stiffen as my fingers explored them. I hated who did this to him. My fingers kneaded them trying to smooth out the knotted flesh. Tears ran from my eyes to my ears.
He pushed up to look down at me and saw my tears. Gently he kissed them away.
‘Shh, Ayla, they are old, I have forgotten them, they do not pain me. Your tears pain me. Have I not pleased you?’
‘Oh yes. You could not please me more.’
‘Could we not try again then?’

Smiling I reached up and drew his mouth back to mine. The next time lasted the rest of the night as we languished in the fur skin before the fire and explored each other’s body. Dozing every now and then and once interrupted by the Koala looking for food.
‘You will be a perfect mother,’ he murmured nuzzling into my breast as I fed the Koala. ‘Dare I hope that the spirit world will bless us?’
I stroked his hair as he suckled my breast. Yes I would want his children. The Koala slept and I made him claim me again. Finally we slept entwined draped in fur and breathing the same air as the morning rays began the new day.

I saw to the Koala and the fire as he went out to hunt our breakfast. Would I be happy here, living a nomad native life? I had no longing for the civilised life I led before, but would this last the rest of my life?

I have been educated by the best Melbourne girl’s schools and last year had come out in society brilliantly. My name was known in all the best circles and suitors had been leaving cards ten deep. Then the war started. They all went gallantly, promising to be home for Christmas. It had been a quiet sombre occasion knowing they were still over there and suffering atrocities that were only now beginning to filter home; Gas, Shell shock, Trench warfare, mud. The list of suitors had dwindled to only a few left alive. I had been gone weeks, months even. My horse had been smashed on the rocks below. They could have presumed me crushed beneath him. Was he reachable? Did they even look? Father would have definitely sold the farm now, even if I returned he would want me safely married in some dingy suburban house far away from the dangers of the bush. Would I be happy there? Would my husband be good?

He walks in with a small wallaby dangling by the tail. ‘This will take a long time to cook.’ He said grinning mischievously.

I look at him and try to imagine a white man in his place. I fail. I couldn’t even picture him in a house, I wouldn’t want him in a house; he belongs to the bush. But do I? I finish feeding the Koala and stand up. I look down at my naked body. I feel so free. I glance over at the pile of velvet and linen and dismiss them from thought. But I must go look. I leave him to prepare the roo and walk outside.

I freeze in shock. I don’t need to look down; I know they looked for there they were on the track to the cave not fifty feet away staring at me; my father, my uncle, the head stockman, Billy the black tracker and several other stockmen, and that bastard who tried to have me behind the shed.

‘Tell that black bastard I’ve come for me billy back’ he shouts to me.

I want to faint. I know they’ll accuse my man of rape, he’ll hang for it; “he’s only a black”. I know the cave has no other exit. He is trapped, if they think he’s in there they’ll kill him.

‘Papa?’ I ask in a dazed tone. ‘Papa, where have you been? I’ve been here waiting for you all alone. ‘
‘She’s not alone, that Billy Snake is in there with her. He came into my camp last night and stole a billy of milk.’
‘Where’s your clothes, Lass?’
‘Clothes? Drying. I got wet last night looking for you. They should be dry now I’ll fetch them.’

Turning I run back into the cave. I can’t see anyone in there. The roo and the Koala have gone also and all the furs. All that’s left is the fire. My clothes are on the ground beside it and on top glinting in the firelight, cream on the dark green is a necklace of fine teeth. Sitting beside the fire is the billy of milk. I dress then douse the fire with the milk. With the necklace in one hand and the billy in the other I leave the cave.

‘This was left outside the cave last night. I thought someone could have taken me home if they knew I was here so I went looking but there was no one. I drank the milk, thank you.’

I reached out the billy to the man I would have cheerfully shot dead. He took it and I snatched my hand away. He grabbed my arm.
‘That ain’t a nice way to behave to yer husband now is it? Where’s me kiss?’
Panic froze me as his horrid bad tooth rum breath slobbering mouth covered mine to suck a lip into his teeth and bite it so that it swelled bruised.

He let me go smiling in triumph and I grabbed where he had held me staring at him in terror. The nightmare of full memory flooded my brain. He hadn’t been given his marching orders he’d been married to me. He hadn’t just stopped at a kiss behind the shed he had succeeded in getting that flaccid fat thing into me, my skirts smothering my screams and my face. Then he’d told my father that I’d led him on. Father punished me by having me married to him. Where was my Billy if that was his name? I desperately wanted to be with him but I also desperately wanted him safely far far away.

‘C’mon wife show me yer cave. I’ll bring her home.’ He told the others. To my horror they acknowledged him and left.
The urge to push him over with the horse was great but he had my arm again and the others were still on the trail. He marched me into the cave. My eyes darted around looking for Billy, he could hide in the shadows from a sun blind man but then once adjusted any eye could pick him out. This husband, Ned, carried a gun.

‘Okay bitch, down yer get and clean it good, ye know where it’ll be goin’ next.’ He tossed me to the ground and saw to wrenching open his trouser fly.
The horror I had been blocking out was flooding back. The memory of the nights forced to service this pathetic excuse for a man. How could I tolerate it any more having known love and the love of a real man? How could I do it here where we loved each other perfectly? How could I do it here with Billy somewhere about watching? Billy would kill him.

Suddenly my hair was wrenched and my face slapped solidly with the back of his fist.
‘Get to it bitch!’ He pulled me along the ground and opened his trousers, flopping out the ugly filthy thing. ‘Open wide for papa’ he said as he always did and pushed my face against him.

‘Fuck yer looked good standing there all naked like that. Yer really are a slut aren’t you yer Bitch. Take yer clobber off again slut I wanna piss all over yer skin.’

Terror chilled me to the marrow. What did he mean? My hair was pulled viciously and with trembling fingers I pealed off the velvet and linen again. True to his word he then let a stream of urine out onto my chest. He flung me to the ground on my back and stood over me happily pissing on me. I rolled to the side to shield my face. My hand felt the warmth of the fire. The coals were sodden but the rocks surrounding the pit were still hot. I grabbed one and sat up with a cry of rage and pushed the heated side of the rock into his groin and hands.

He gave a howl of pain that I didn’t wait for the end of. I was up and out of the cave. He came blundering out suddenly blinded by the sunshine and took one too many steps forward. There was nothing beneath his foot and he fell, screaming, like the girl he was, to his death.

I stood against the rock shivering in the cooling air my skin still wet.
Billy came out of the cave wearing his cloak and carrying mine.
‘My name is Karakul.’ He said draping me in my fur cloak and giving me the bag with the Koala in it.
I held out the necklace still clutched in my hand and he tied it about my neck. We stopped long enough to gather our tools and the morning’s roo then we left; climbing up off the track into the bush and away from the world.

Native ~ Naturally


Frankston, Australia

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Artist's Description

A dream I had once and wrote it fervently when I woke up.
My apologies for the rather ugly crescendo before the ending, I do not wish to offend. Remember it was a dream; a subconscious dramatization of my subliminal beliefs. A dream that almost became a nightmare.

Dare I invite you to enjoy?

Artwork Comments

  • hilarydougill
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  • Sharon Perrett
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