It was his birthday, and Grace’s present to him was the freedom to go camping. He arrived early the day before, snaking his way into the High Country. He drove down fire tracks until he came across a tiny clearing that overlooked a valley. It was a sea of eucalyptus trees swaying in the blustery conditions. They shook in random order, their leaves catching the fading afternoon light.
This little campsite, with its crude fire-pit, was sheltered from the buffeting winds. He set up his tent, made a fire, cooked two-minute noodles and drank beer watching the sunset. He stayed awake long enough to see the Southern Cross rise in the blackened sky.
A fitful night’s sleep dulled his enthusiasm in the morning. His head ached from listening to the rain slashing his tent. He dreamt, as the world pelted down, he would be swept off the cliff in a torrent. Any slight movement, often caused by the reverberations of a thunder-clap, would become the first signs of the impending flood.
Throughout the night, he feared it would be his last. What had he achieved? Was raising two small children enough for him? Going to work every day took away from the joy of being a father. He felt trapped by his life, of what it had become. When had this occurred?