Ninth Sunday Salon. 19.00
Just had a little break from HURTING DISTANCE to read a couple of stories from an anthology of short stories that arrived yesterday: BACK BURNING by Sylvia Petter. This is a POD volume and it has come out very well - it is difficult to spot any difference from the conventional type of printing. The author is an Australian living in Austria. This in itself intrigues me because as a child I used to confuse the names of these two countries and they remian forever linked in my head.
The stories are very short and extremely well-written with lots of symbolism and interest. I've read the first three so far and my favourite has been the first which shares the same title as the volume. It is about a woman travelling back to England from the funeral of her step-father in Australia and it captures perfectly the odd intense friendships that form on a long-distance flight; how you get to find out the story of a stranger's life and share confidences:
The woman pats my hand. Her skin is soft and I smile weakly. I sip my drink . A taste of dried out tomatoes grates on my tongue. I bite back tears.
Then there is this at the end of the flight when they have disembarked from the plane which I always find endlessly fascinating:
Standing in line, I catch the scent of coriander. I turn and see the Indian woman. She raises her hands, palm to palm, to her forehead. Our eyes meet once more and she smiles.So much is shared and then you separate and never see each other again.
Lives echo and bounce off each other in this story, and passions are symbolised by bush-fire:
'People were hurt. It had been a long hot summer. No rain. The brush was dry. All it took was one spark. Luckily we didn't lose all that we had.'In the end it takes this meeting of strangers to point out the truth in a life and initiate the epiphany.
The Indian woman looks ate me and smiles sadly. 'Fire cleanses,' she says, 'but it can also bring devastation...'