An old Aboriginal man in a Stetson hat appeared from the mist at the foot of Billy Goat hill. He stopped when he saw her walking on bare feet through the rivulets of red water.
‘G’day’ he tipped his hat, stalactites of rain dripping from its brim. Underneath was a soft, battered boxer’s face. She pushed wet hair from her eyes. They smiled at each other. Rain in the desert. Dry earth swelling with water and singing.

‘Storm coming from the North,’ he said. They turned to the roaring clouds that blacked out the daylight, silhouetting the red mountains. ‘Goin’ up that old hill ay?’ She half-nodded back, suddenly unsure, was it OK? Alice Spring’s Aboriginal people had invisible boundaries across their land that she tip- toed around in awe. She was in love with the place, and its people, whose afternoon chatter from the riverbed sounded like the birds in the trees above.
‘Good. I appreciate that,’ he said and walked away.

She began her descent, clutching the permission to her, the blessing. Pink galas screeched overhead, swooping down towards the river filling up with promise below.
Grey-green Spinifex thrust sharp fingers from the hill’s hide to touch the rain. The sandy orange earth was transforming to a deep, throbbing red. The land she thought she knew was showing another face, a deeper personality. And she knew what she had to do.

The smooth, old rocks were slippery as glass. She pulled herself up, a tiny ant on the skin of time. A wet grey wallaby bounded ahead, its ears twitching frantically, as a boom of thunder rolled across the land.

She reached the top of the hill and stood on the highest rock. The tiny Lego town below was nestled in a ring of wise mountains that were being devoured one by one by thick cloud.

The rock under her feet was a wide oval, the perfect rock for a sacrifice to a Goddess. She took off her clothes and lay down under the sky. She promised herself to the land if the lightning didn’t kill her. Loud thunder echoed her frightened heartbeat, but still she lay there.

When she opened her eyes she could see nothing but a tide of clouds engulfing her. Rain slapped her eyes shut and lightening strobed over her lids, flickering her heartbeat faster and faster. She said her vows again. A deal between human and land. It was done. And she didn’t want to die.

Rolling off the rock she ran, bent over, like the stunted trees. She slid a little way down the hill and squeezed inside a rock crevice. Peering out she saw a sharp tongue of lightening lash her rock. The smell of electricity singed the air. She pressed her cheek against the rock’s rough face, watching the colours change, feeling the storm pass through them. When a blue tear of sky appeared she dressed and walked back down.



Joined April 2008

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Artist's Description

story of a storm sacrifice…

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