by Daisy Skerritt Content warnings: imprisonment; drug administration and addiction; violence. Beyond the window of the rattling train Cattle grazed the thirsty hills In search of greenery Lost to the burning rural sun. It was six hours into the silent journey When the weary eyed man Extended a calloused hand and a Mintie To the bright young woman, and began to speak “My name is Charlie And my son used to have a mother. Well, he still does I guess. But she’s not who she used to be. Not since she got turned into a junkie By the bloke with eyes like blood-stained glass. He changed me too you know? Sent me to prison, ‘e did. Well, maybe I did that to myself. But he was the one who made me see red When one day I walk in me front door And he’s sliding a needle into ‘er arm. Red mist and a white rage rose And I saw like my eyes were his eyes Red. Blood on me carpet, spilling from his eye. Me own bloody hand holdin’ his needle right there in his stained-glass eye. Me son and his mother watched me and cried. And I shouldn’t say this. I know I shouldn’t say this. But I don’t regret it. And I would do it again. ~ “I spent twelve days in Silverwater. The prison, not the suburb. You ever been there? I was there twelve days. I have BPD and ADHD. Prison’s made to break people like me. Spent twenty-two hours a day in the hole; Two in the yard. Caged all day, Bashing and bashing and screaming, becoming the animal You all think I am. They throw people like me in the hole Then spit us out. Which is why I don’t regret it. And I would do it again. ~ “When me grandparents found out That I was in Silverwater They hired me one of them lawyers Who can get you out of gaol Even if you stabbed a bloke with a needle in his stained-glass eye. They spent all their money on her, Me grandparents did. ‘Self-defence’ she told the judge And there I was standing out the front of Silverwater, Ticket in me hand to get me back home to them And to me son Who’s spent twelve days Without a father And even longer Without a mother Because of the bloke with the stained-glass eyes And what I done to ‘im.” Charlie falls quiet, chews on his Mintie. The hills appear browner The cattle are raw-boned and spent And egrets are stalking the crackling pasture. Still chewing Charlie speaks again Of his son’s mother. He says she’s in some hospital. Cold turkey with the shakes. “Me son might never have a mother At least not the one that he used to. But I s’pose it’s not ‘er fault and I s’pose it’s not Red Eye’s either. When ya got a monkey on your back like that It’s sure damn hard to come back. When I get home I’m never going back. And if I could be sure I’d never end up back in the hole, I would do it again. And again.”
'After the Rapture' by C.T. is a shortlisted entry in Tharunka x UNSWeetened x UNSW Health's 2021 SEXtember Erotic Writing Competition.