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Hello, my name’s Peggy Frew and I’m going to read from a novel I’m working on called “Hope Farm”.
They stood on the porch, their baggage in a heap at the bottom of the steps. Down at one end the boards were rotted through, and straps of long grass stuck up out of the hole. From inside there came the sound of a baby crying. Silver stepped across to one of the windows. The little squares of glass were furred with dust, and two of them cracked. She put her face close but there was a curtain drawn on the other side, dark blue or purple.
‘Hello?’ Ishtar tapped on the door. ‘Sunny?’
A small girl came around the end of the porch. ‘Sunny’s not here,’ she said.
‘She’s gone.’ The girl had snot in a slug on her upper lip. She looked about four. “My name’s Jindi”. She brought her arm up and wiped the slug onto the sleeve of her jumper, where it left a gleaming trail. She was looking at Silver. ‘What’s your name?’
Silver turned back to the window. She ran her finger along its sill, making little pellets of dust.
‘I’m Ishtar,’ said Ishtar after a while. ‘And this is Silver.’
The crying sounded again inside. ‘That’s Willow’s baby,’ said Jindi in an important voice. ‘He cries all the time. He’s gunna drive Willow crazy.’
‘When will she be back?’ said Ishtar. ‘Sunny?’
But before Jindi could answer the door swung open and the crying came bursting out. A woman stood there. She was tall and seemed to lean over them, even Ishtar in her cowboy boots, and her hair looked pressed onto her head, running flat from its centre part down either side of her long face. ‘Hello?’ said the woman, and her head twitched further forward. She had small eyes that blinked a lot.
‘Hello.’ Ishtar did one of her quick smiles. ‘I’m Ishtar. I’m a friend of Sunny’s.’
‘Sunny’s gone,’ said the woman flatly. She folded her arms, and under her jumper the shapes of her breasts drooped onto them. From behind her the crying blared on, loud and rhythmic, like bagpipes.
‘Oh,’ said Ishtar. ‘Well …’
‘She left.’ The woman craned even further forward, blinked past them at the pile of bags. ‘On the move are you?’
‘Yeah. Come from up north. Been on trains the past two days.’
The woman twitched and blinked. It was hard to tell if she’d heard. ‘Oh well,’ she said after a while, and stepped back. ‘You’d better come in then.’
ABOUT PEGGY FREW:
Peggy Frew is a musician and writer. Her story ‘Home Visit‘ won The Age Short Story Competition in 2009, and her writing has been published in New Australian Stories 2, Kill Your Darlings, Meanjin, and The Big Issue.
Her novel, House of Sticks, was awarded the 2010 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript by an Emerging Victorian Writer and was published in September 2011 by Scribe.
Peggy is also a member of award-winning Melbourne band Art of Fighting, which over the past decade has toured Australia, Europe and Asia.
“I spent two weeks at Varuna (Second Book Fellowship, 2011), and have never felt so focused on my writing. The house provided the ideal balance of isolation and company: the daytime atmosphere of quiet productivity, and then the evenings of food and talk with some really interesting and inspiring people. It was one of the best creative experiences of my life.” Peggy Frew
House of Sticks, Scribe, 2011
Women of Letters, Penguin, 2011
Kill Your Darlings, Issue Four, Jan 2011
The Big Issue Fiction Edition 2011
Meanjin, Vol 70 No 2, 2011
New Australian Stories 2, Scribe, 2010
Curtis Brown: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scribe Publications: email@example.com
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