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The Secret Journal

  • A cabbage moth flies round the distant weeds, but as I approach the window it ducks behind the plastic sheeting.

    I can feel it watching me.

  • A magpie stares at its feet, trying to remember something. With a sigh you can almost feel it turns its head and chooses some floppy thing to shake and drop, to stand on and pull at. Not really feeling it. The magpie pauses. It stares into space, still chasing that elusive thought while something floppy dangles from its beak.

    Exasperated, it tosses its head back and swallows.

  • A tall, slender woman walks past the theatre. She has long blonde hair, a loose blue top and skinny black trousers. Her hands sway with the movement of her elbows, and each contains a white-topped something. She brings the left one to her mouth, and drinks.

    Entering a driveway, she rests her cup on the roof of a blue car parked rear-on to the street. Lights flash and she opens the passenger door. She sits sideways in the vehicle, feet on the driveway, cup beside them, one elbow on a knee with the second white-topped object lifted so she can see inside. Fingers delve. Her hand goes up to her mouth. She chews.

  • Three Noisy Miners are on the ground beneath my window, pecking at buns the demolishers have left behind. They are two parents, I think, and a nagging adolescent. One of the parents flies up in a huff. It’s just on the other side of the glass and seems to rise in slow motion, as if its beating wings can find no traction in the air.

  • Parking his mother by the work site fence, a small boy presses one eye to a hole and expertly assesses the demolition.

  • Dawn. Three kookaburras sit in a line on Elsie’s guard rail, close together, facing west. They lift their beaks to the sky and laugh.

  • A sound like the wind swells to become an engine drawing close then switching off. Thunder cracks, right outside the window, as the Dinosaur dumps rubble into an empty truck.

  • Piglet, the Portaloo, is once again completely surrounded by water.

  • 6.00am: on the sleeping work site, light shines inside a window of the half-demolished flats.

  • Sunday morning. Strange things happen when building sites are closed. Overnight, a big plastic supermarket food container has appeared, lying upside down beside the drink bottle diving through mesh, and a Pepsi can is perched on the nearest ball of twisted, tangled rebar.

  • The view from my window keeps broadening. I can see new rubble piles, new houses on the street beyond, and the perpetrators having tea in their cabana.

  • The dinosaur drops crashing, banging, rattling loads of aluminium into a dump truck and squashes them down. The cherry-picker bleats in the car-park because Homer, standing on the platform, keeps moving it. Two men work with shovel and broom and the sun beats down.

    A butterfly drifts through the concrete clouds, over the dinosaur’s neck, beating its wings till their colours flash in the sky.

  • The floor is shaking under me. It’s Monday morning, and the demolishers are back.

  • Four ravens are in the car park this morning. Two at first, then a third flaps down and another shortly after. They strut about. One approaches the ends of the timber beams still bound by a webbing strap and actually bends down, tilting its head to peer into the shadows underneath.

    Today I’ve remembered not to whip the blinds apart, but my phone taps the window and a bird flies up onto the wall. In seconds, less than seconds, all four ravens are gone.

  • Two ravens take flight the instant I move the slats of my blinds apart. They are so attuned to their environment, so aware of the slightest hint of movement. The leader climbs the broken hostel wall in stages, short hops of flight from level to level, and pauses on the very top. When I return with my camera theyโ€™re gone.

  • For the first time ever, in all the days and weeks he’s been on-site, Foreman is wearing a high-viz vest - a bright yellow one that looks new.

    He still won’t wear a hard hat.

  • Elsie is gone and the dinosaur is back on top of the rubble. Motionless.

  • Elsie reaches past the broken wall and pulls out lengths of rusty steel, a broken necklace threaded with lumps of concrete.

  • Two figures sit on the balcony, all but concealed by the mesh that covers the scaffolding. They look like blow-ins, trespassers in light blue hoodies, but then they move and it’s clear they’re dressed in the flimsy over-suits that pass, on this site, for hazardous materials protection. One is an old man in a hard hat. The other is a youngster with blonde tips forming a band across the top of his head. One talks, one listens. They lean back.

  • A man crosses the demolition site, brandishing a pole with a scythe-shaped metal object on the end.

    Death in a hard hat.

  • An orange man stands beyond the broken wall, with only his head and shoulders visible. He talks towards the tea area, and nods.

  • The demolishers are back. Rattling sounds and a reversing beep. Ah. Homer is driving a cherry-picker into the carpark beneath my window. It’s orange, but its tyres and part of the hoist are tan. He locks the gate and walks away up the lane.

  • The demolishers haven’t come to work again. Yesterday was a public holiday. Today they’re just being nice.

  • Elsie is stuck fast after 24 hours gnawing on the flats. Her teeth are locked in the concrete but no one can help her. They haven’t come to work today.

  • Two dragonflies are circling in the car park heat, multiplied by their shadows. A lizard climbs to the top of a terracotta fragment, scans the horizon, then hurries down to cross the hot white surface in a run of darts and dashes.