No Trespassers

Marj stands at the borderline, mustering the courage for what she must do. She has endured enough: The growling diggers uprooting her world, the concrete monstrosity growing up in its place, the arrogant tradies stomping over the strewn entrails of her former life.

If things had been different, she would have never given up this place. If her old man had just opened up to someone – anyone – he’d still be alive today. And if it hadn’t been for his gambling, she might have been able to pay the farm hands and keep production going. Bloody ‘If’.  

But this was prime land, and it was only a matter of time before she caved. They agreed to let her stay in the worker’s cottage for the remainder of her days. She was fifty-four. In the years that followed there were offers of jobs in the city, an ill-conceived marriage proposal, and the fleeting notion of becoming a Grey Nomad. Opportunities came and went like seasons. Autumn, Winter, and seeds of opportunity gave way to fallow ground. So, there she sat, watching her world contract and the legacy of five generations fall to wrecking balls and excavators.

The sign went up when the new owners moved in. They wandered across a couple of times, probably to gloat. Marj peered out through a crack between the curtains but never came to the door. The large placard bellowed, in bold red:

NO TRESPASSERS

It faced contemptuously out towards the cottage, fifty metres from her bedroom window. It sneered at Marj, reminding her of what she had lost. Each morning she swallowed her grief. But not today.

She pulled on her weathered gum boots, stepped into the paddock and strode towards the glaring obscenity, just beyond the fence line. Today would be its last. No longer would she be told she was unwelcome on her own land. Never again would she wake to that hateful symbol of her public humiliation. She may be old and frail now, but she would summon the last of her strength to uproot that unsightly erection and wrestle it to the mud, where it belonged.

With every step, images of the past pushed past Marj’s defences and stoked her rage: Her husband’s lifeless body, still clutching his shotgun in the back paddock; the bank clerk, suggesting, “maybe you should have kept a better eye on the outgoings, Marj”; the new neighbours scoffing at the crazy woman in the worker’s cottage, over fancy cheese and Chardonnay.

Well, maybe you should all just take a flying…

And then she stops. And she stares at those bold red letters that she knows so well. But now there is something else. Something she couldn’t see from her window, fifty metres away. And as she slowly reads the unfamiliar words, a single salty tear rolls down a leathery cheek.

There are NO TRESPASSERS

…only neighbours we have yet to meet

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