Academic journal article Hecate

Sex after School

Academic journal article Hecate

Sex after School

Article excerpt

'I think you'd better read this'.

Matthew looked up at his aunt, standing beside him at the kitchen bench. That was an uncompromising command. Scarey! He bent to the folder of printed pages that she had slapped in front of him. He slid his eyes sideways: was she going to get him his chocolate milk?

'Read!'

ROMANCE 1950s-STYLE

The vase hit the tiles and shattered, glass tangled with anemone stems cracking and splashing onto the floor. In the heart-beat of silence, afterwards, the water from the vase pooled so that when Caroline's mother gasped, and stepped, her shoe skidded. She landed with her right thigh and her right wrist - both - on the edge of the largest splinter. Blood spurted. The folder of papers that she had been holding fanned and floated down, drifting over the struts of a chair, drowning in the puddle. In the distance, at the end of the driveway, the gate slammed. The electric clock in the kitchen clicked, and down the passage the ornamental stable clock's tick-tock echoed.

Once outside the gate, Caroline put her head down. She did not want to run into neighbours or school friends or mothers; it was a small affluent suburb whose daughters mostly attended the same private school, and many people knew each other. She headed through the dog-leg little streets away from the big houses, and made it to the park before her legs jellied. On a bench beside a peppermint gum she collapsed and growled with fury. The violation! Her poems had been locked in her desk. How had her mother found them?

Then a blanket of cold crept around her: dread. Whatever would happen now? So exposed she was. He arms clasped across her middle she crouched her head onto her knees. And so entirely bewildered. What her mother had cried was 'But you're mine!' A cry of outrage. But - nerve-endings at the edge of Caroline's face tightened - there was something else there, too. Anguish?

'What's this all about, Auntie Jane?'

'Read some more and find out'. Rage seemed to have given way to impatience. She'd stopped pacing up and down the galley kitchen and was mixing his Actavite with milk and heating up the frothing wand on the cappuccino machine in the corner of the bench.

Well at least he'd get a drink, then.

They had been talking about his day at school, where she had collected him in her sports car. He was relieved that he could still fit his legs into that car; Jake and Tudor had asked him about the retractable roof, very cool. He'd brought her the essay that he'd just finished for Eng. Lit. This one was on Brokeback Mountain by Annie something he couldn't pronounce. He'd thought Jane would be at least interested. But he hadn't even been able to tell her about it. Instead, on the way back to her place, she'd suddenly gone quiet, and had then gone ape and flung this wad of print at him.

He turned a page.

As an adolescent, Caroline used to stand on the grass tenniscourt at the back of the house where she had grown up and yearn at the stars with an inchoate restless longing. It was not an entirely inappropriate spot; she had watched Sputnik blink across the sky above it in 1957. It stood in for the world, even as she strained at the littleness of her world.

She wanted to be a film-maker. And live in a penthouse looking out over Sydney Harbour. But first she had to become a writer. Prizes at school had been precious. But now she was at university, taking English Literature in a department asking her to specialise in different readings of Piers Ploughman and in the fine-drawn sophistications of the period between 1740 and 1780. She retreated into Christopher Fry's slightly arch comedy, The Lady's Not For Burning, found by chance on a library shelf. But that didn't help her become a writer any more than did reading Anne, Countess of Winchelsea.

Maybe this was autobiography? But why should that make Jane so angry? And why should he have to care about it? …

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