We pack your bag. You are dressed once again in your city clothes. Both of us are on edge. Your mother is due to arrive in thirty minutes. I give you several prepaid telephone cards Joanna got for me the other day, so that you can call me whenever you want to without Jules and your mother knowing. You ask me if I have a spare piece of oilcloth and some sticky tape. When I ask you what for, you tell me that as soon as you get out of sight down the road, Jules and your mother will stop the car and search your bag. They will throw away everything I have given you – they always do. You want to tape the cards to your tummy, inside your knickers, to keep them safe until tomorrow when you can give them to one of your friends at school to look after for you. You will have to take a shower tonight, but you will make sure that you are alone. The oilcloth will protect them.
Luckily I have an old waterproof parka in the shed that I have been meaning to dump for years. And I have plenty of surgical tape in the first aid box. I cut the sewn-in breast pocket out of the parka. It is ideal. Totally unselfconsciously, you undo your jeans and pull them and your panties down to your knees. Once again you confront me with your nude girlhood. You hold the small package containing the phone cards where you want it and ask me to tape it to you.
I have to kneel down and put my face near to your sex to do the job. When I have finished you stroke my hair. “Daddy, the other night…I was dreaming you were doing what Jules did to me…and I didn’t want you to stop. You can kiss me now if you want.” You move your leg slightly to one side to make your cleft more accessible. My head is spinning. I lean towards you. The feminine scent of you overwhelms my senses. I am lost. Then at the last second I chicken out and merely kiss the patch of silken skin above the soft swell of your pubis.
You look hurt and disappointed. I hug you to me, clasping your bare buttocks, and tell you that I have a war to win…for you. We hear the sound of Jules’ car coming up the hill and you quickly tidy yourself. We say our love and our goodbyes. At the same time you tell me, of your own accord, that no word of “us” will pass your lips. By the time they pull up we are standing, waiting on the porch.
Your mother’s eyes glare at me coldly as you carry your bag down the steps. She asks you where Adam is and if Joanna is still here. As if in answer to her first question, the blast of a heavy rifle echoes around the hills. You point silently to the implement shed where Joanna’s Toyota Starlet is parked.
I declare the opening of serious hostilities: “Gabrielle has told me everything about the rosebud…and I mean absolutely everything. I also have a tape of the Hero Parade.” Your mother turns on her heel without a word. There is a quick, heated discussion when she reaches the car. Jules fires me a look of pure venom.
You are driven away. You don’t look back.
I hear more shots from up in the tops. Adam is firing far too rapidly to be sighting a rifle in. He is expressing his anger and his sorrow. It is good that Joanna is with him.
I am also filled with grief. My only consolation is that you are safe from THEM for a while. But I am acutely aware that I have only gained a temporary, tactical advantage. I shall have to hire city help to build more evidence so that they will never dare to make a move on you.
You are also safe from me.
And I am safe from you…until next time.
Loopy: A Central Otago farmers’ term for people from the city.
Kohanga Reo: Literally, “Language Nest” - a schooling system for young Maori where all the lessons are conducted in Te Reo, the language, instead of in English, so that the Maori tongue will be preserved for posterity.
Tanga te Whenua: People of the Land – the Maori race, first recorded human settlers of Aoteroa New Zealand some 12-1500 years ago.