Creative Writing: The Gum Tree

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There are days when time moves so quickly that it seems like the day ends before it has begun. There are days when time moves so slowly that a day stretches and expands and there seems to be no end in sight. Jo’s days were long days. Monotonous and repetitive. She longed for change but the only change on the horizon was the sentencing and prison. She didn’t allow herself to think of prison. It would come soon enough.
‘You should sell the house soon,’ Jo said to Mandy. They were sitting on the edge of the back deck, and looking across the bush garden with native flowers and plants, with native herbs, at the old ghost gum.
‘That tree should be cut down, one day one of those branches is going to fall on me when I am in the back yard, and
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It was impossible to see the gum tree and not the Bridge. It was impossible to step out of the front gate and not be aware of its looming presence. It was a grey span across their skyline. It was embedded in local community, over the years becoming a symbol of the west – West Gate motors, West Gate computers, West Gate Pasta Supplies…..
The only place on their small block where you could stand or sit and not see the Bridge – though you could still hear it – was in the left hand corner of the front yard, under the canopy of an old plum tree. The front yard was a mess of trees and bushes that Mandy had let grow as a filter for the dusty dirty oily air. They were there to block the view of the oil tanks across the road, of the trucks and semis, of the Bridge – they were only partly successful but whenever Jo suggested they might cut some of the trees down, replace them with natives, tidy up the front yard Mandy refused, she couldn’t bear to be exposed to the
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The family had filed in and sat on the right side behind the prosecutor. Alex, Rae, Jane, Rae’s sisters and their husbands, Nicki and Thomas, and he and Paolina took up the first two rows. When Jack arrived with his mother, they sat behind them. Jo’s mother Mandy was already in the courtroom. She was sitting on the other side, next to her two other women. An older woman, ‘Jo’s grandmother,’ Paolina had whispered, ‘I know her from church.’ Like Paolina, this woman had rosary beads in her hands, she held them tight allowing each bead to slip through her fingers at regular intervals. A third woman, sat between the other two and occasionally whispered something to Mandy. Antonello wondered if Jo had a father, he had a vague recollection of some story about a divorce and another family
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