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“Hello. I’m Stephanie Buckle. I’m going to read to you from my novel, ‘From the Ashes.’
There was a man sitting on her doorstep. The oddness of him sitting there; she had an impression that he’d had his head in his hands, just before he’d heard the car turn into the drive. The tremor started in her hands again as she gathered her things together. She had a vague thought about ringing Helen, but didn’t because the man stood up. Dumbly, stupidly, she thought it was Peter.
It was visceral, disorientating as if her front garden had become an ocean and her house drifted without an anchor. Was he real or had she conjured something? And he just waited for her to come up to her own front door, his hands thrust in his jeans pockets, slightly hunched, as if making himself submissive. His dark eyes had a look of intense appeal. Perhaps he was a Mormon or a Jehovah’s Witness, but the roles were strangely reversed because he stood between her and her own house.
He put out his hand to her. ‘Miss Connor?’ he said. ‘It is Miss?’
She was struggling with her bags and her library books; she didn’t want to commit herself to taking his hand. ‘What can I do for you?’ she managed.
‘I’ve been given your name.’ He said. ‘I think we have a connection.’ His eyes were suddenly, dismayingly, filling with tears. So then she knew, with instant and complete certainty, who he was.
She’d got Helen’s number up on her mobile, and she had her finger on the call button, clinging to the known world.
‘I’m so sorry..’ the man was saying, ‘to have shocked you like this.’ He was wiping the tears off his cheeks, but he might have been dripping blood on her doorstep, like some wounded animal, she felt such a swamping wave of guilt.
She thought of the beginnings of things she might say, but her thoughts drifted away like flotsam, and she just stood there.
He clasped his hands in front of him. ‘I’m Simon Metcalf,’ he said, ‘and I think, well, I know, I’m your son.’
ABOUT STEPHANIE BUCKLE:
Stephanie Buckle has lived in the UK and New Zealand before settling in Canberra. She has been a teacher and a counsellor, and began writing in 2003 after the Canberra bushfires. Her writing has won numbers of awards, and several of her stories have appeared in Island. She has written two novels, both as yet unpublished, Listen to Me, and From the Ashes, and is currently working on her third novel, as well as continuing to write short fiction.
“I won a Longlines Fellowship in 2006, for work on my first novel, ‘Listen to Me.’ I won a Read, Review and Consultation Award in 2009, for my second novel, ‘From the Ashes’. I also had a self paid residencey at Varuna in 2009 to work on my second novel, and I’ve been a member of the Varuna Alumni Association since 2006. Varuna, (in particular Peter Bishop and Carol Major,) has provided me with immeasurably valuable support, affirmation and encouragement for my writing, as well as connections to other writers and the writing world.” Stephanie Buckle
2004 ABC Radio Storyteller, ‘Where the Heart Is.’
2004 Community Radio 2XX, ‘The Fire.’
2005 ACT Write, ‘The Things That Matter’
2006 Island (Spring edition 106), ‘Acting the Part’
2006 Word You Up – Winning Stories from Boroondarra Literary Awards, ‘Behind the Lines.’
2006 The Envelope Please, ed Colin Peterson, ‘The Facts of Life.’
2008 Island,(Spring edition), ‘False Witness.’
2010 Best Australian Stories, ed Cate Kennedy, ‘Lillian and Merdith.’
2011 Best Australian Stories 2011, ed Cate Kennedy, ‘Fifty Years.’
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