The Road

I can hear the breath speeding in my ears as I approach his house. Shallow, quick breath. And the sound of a distant car. A bird. A dog. And the car is closer, turning into the road. Behind me. I walk into the lantana, imagining my body thudding against his solid car bonnet. I can hear it. Feel it in my legs, my back arching. My head flipping. I turn to see his face.

But it’s not him.

I haven’t walked down this road for three years. Since he started visiting. Usually around 10pm he’d come, sporadically. Parking at the top of our driveway, doing burn outs. He’d have music blaring, windows down. He’d yell obscenities at us.

We’d offended him. We’d done the wrong thing for sure. But this was intense. We live fifteen minutes out of town, and an hour’s drive from the 24 hour police station. We called them a few times and they’d turn up four or five hours after he’d gone. Shining torches into our windows to ask us questions.

I’ve always been a little jumpy when I’m alone with the kids at night but it’s been worse since he started coming. I’m not certain what he looks like but I have a mental image. It’s like Friday the 13th when you don’t see Jason’s face. It’s worse because we place our worst fears there.

He moved about a year ago. I haven’t walked his road, past his house, until today. And while I was nervous, it was good to do. I can see he’s really gone. I’ll still be jumpy when Simon’s away and I know that out here I’m very alone, there’s no triple 0 back up here.

There are many reasons to criticise police, and more widely justice system, for sure. That’s another blog. But it is good to know that if you need support in an immediate, violent, moment; you can call on them. When you’re the victim they can support you in a moment of need. In rural areas we don’t have that.

The fear we felt was a small moment in our lives. We had a fear of violence, a fear of the unknown. Think of women or children facing domestic violence out here. Real, regular, violence. There is absolutely nowhere for them to turn at night. They can’t call the police. And an AVO means nothing when you don’t have anyone to back you up. Terrifying.

About Liz Keen

I live in rural Australia with my partner and our three kids. I dabble in freelance journalism between packing lunches, doing the school run and coordinating 12words.com.au. I'm also on the board of MicroLoan Foundation, Australia.
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