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“Hi, my name’s Sandy Bigna and I’ll be reading from my young adult manuscript ‘Scar.’
My novel tells the story of Frankie who runs riot with her spray-can and gets sent to the Mountain Valley residential centre for girls after spray-painting her teacher’s house.
In this scene, Frankie is out for a night horse riding session with the stable-hand Jesse.
“I got a tattoo for my sister,” Jesse says, after a small pause. It’s her initials with a dragon curved round them. He lifts his arm to show me where the tatt is and the skin under his arm in the dark looks soft and exposed. “Keeping her safe,” he goes, dropping his arm back down by his side, looking away from me.
Ellie had told me that the dragon tattoo symbolised protection. The dragon was a valiant defender. I wondered what Jesse was defending his sister against.
“So … so where’s your sister now?” I ask, speaking quietly, looking down at Sugar’s silky mane and hoping he doesn’t think I’m being too forward.
Jesse shrugs. “She’s with her foster parents. She’s OK now.” He looks straight ahead and doesn’t say anything more.
I suddenly hear myself saying, “I’m going to get a tatt for my sister too.”
I hadn’t even ever consciously thought this until I heard my voice saying it aloud in the dark.
“Yeah?” Jesse’s looking at me now. “Watcha gonna get?”
It’s my turn to shrug and look away. “Dunno yet. Maybe … maybe I’ll get Ellie to design it.”
“Yeah? That’s really cool.”
I can hear the softness of bats wings in the dark.
Then Jesse goes, “So … where’s your sister then?”
I look down at my hands, the way they loosely hold the reins, the way the slightest pressure on the reins sends a signal straight down to Sugar, the way the reins connect me to the huge pumping muscle of her heart.
“She’s dead,” I say.
My voice sits feathery and dark in the shadows.
I imagine my words huddling up in the trees with the bats, hanging there still and secret.
My heart quickens. Sugar turns her head slightly.
“I’m sorry,” Jesse goes, looking away.
I shrug. “Yeah.”
We ride on in silence. My heart slowly begins to quiet.
Sugar moves easy beneath me.”
ABOUT SANDY BIGNA:
In 2010 I was awarded a Varuna Publisher’s Fellowship for ‘Scar,’ and in 2008 I was awarded a Varuna Longlines Residency Fellowship to work on ‘Scar.’ I have had various short stories published, and in 2004 my collection of short stories, titled ‘Secrets,’ was published by Ginninderra Press.
My short play ‘Carters Birthday’ was performed at Canberra’s Short & Sweet festival in 2009.
Secrets (Ginninderra Press, 2004)
Facebook – ‘Sandy Bigna’ – http://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/profile.php?id=599432475
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