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By Robert Macklin

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Even when I said she’d gone to heaven it didn’t help. I was looking on the bright side but even though they agreed with me they didn’t want to hear. It was very confusing; it was almost as though they said it about heaven but they didn’t actually believe it. I thought it might be because when she died she had eczema. Maybe they thought she would have eczema for eternity. That year we had the best bonfire in the world and the worst cracker night ever. The bonfire was in Engles’ paddock, which was on the other side of Westerham Street and the creek down the end of Sundridge Street and Brasted Street.

He would take the money and write out a receipt and put it and the change back in the cylinder. Then you could watch it coming all the way back to you. Allan and Stark’s system was even better. There they put the cylinder into a tube full of suction. They’d have to lift the lid of the tube and you could hear the wind being sucked past at terrific speed. Then in it would go, the lid would pop shut and you could hear your cylinder heading off to some mysterious place. Next thing you knew, it was back again, dropping into a little wire box with a wooden bottom, and inside was your exact change.

Then we didn’t have a car of our own because he became a traveller for King Tea and they gave him a van with the King Tea sign on one side and the Billy Tea sign on the other. The smell of tea made me sick. ‘It’s only tea,’ my father said. ’ I didn’t get sick very often but I did feel very bad one time when Uncle Vic was there. It was just before they left and my father had decided to kill a rooster for my mother to roast. I didn’t mind him killing roosters, they were no friends of mine, but he tied it by its legs on a beam under our house where he usually parked the van.

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