After the Fire, A Still Small Voice
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After the departure of the woman he loves, Frank struggles to rebuild his life among the sugarcane and sand dunes that surround his oceanside shack. Forty years earlier, Leon is drafted to serve in Vietnam and finds himself suddenly confronting the same experiences that haunt his war-veteran father. As these two stories weave around each other—each narrated in a voice as tender as it is fierce—we learn what binds Frank and Leon together, and what may end up keeping them apart.
Set in the unforgiving landscape of eastern Australia, Evie Wyld’s accomplished debut tackles the inescapability of the past, the ineffable ties of family, and the wars fought by fathers and sons.
you were feeling good about Stuart.’ ‘Yeah, sorry for causing a scene there,’ said Frank, reddening. Linus shrugged. ‘Caused less of a scene than I was about to. Sometimes you wanna stab the idiot in the guts. He’s not such a bad bloke, though, not really. We go back a bit.’ Linus settled himself back on his elbows, face to the sun. ‘Wife left him a couple of years back – left him with the two kids. Snot-nosed little buggers they’ve turned out to be – not surprising, though. He was only a kid
place, got enough violence in the dirt to strike a cow dead, but I like it here.’ The man looked exhausted suddenly in the dark. Bob said, ‘There’s two hens, the first two Sal named, right after Emmy died. She calls them Mum and Dad.’ He rubbed at his eye so that it looked red. He sucked on a cigarette, keeping the smoke in his mouth, tasting it. ‘Vick’s got this thing about them – won’t let any of their eggs get eaten. All the ones that hatch out are left as layers. That winter she died, Dad
dawn before everything, when his mum was sleeping in that creaky double bed of theirs. ‘Come and we’ll see what the crab pot’s sucked up,’ his dad had whispered. ‘What about Mum?’ ‘Man’s work.’ ‘Hokay.’ He’d felt an odd gravity to the situation as they tiptoed out of the shack, not closing the door in case the noise woke her up. They wore just the pants they’d slept in and he’d felt yesterday’s sunburn wince on his back. When they got down to the water, his dad disposed of even his pants and
the lumps there – hives, maybe, or boils, something growing under his skin, hatching out. He stood outside the house and looked at the place. The big veranda all around hung with seashell wind chimes and pot plants that wrapped themselves round the corner posts. A small wind moved his hair, cooled the burn of his beard. Vicky appeared at the door in a loose white shirt, her bare legs flowing out of it, her chafed ankles and scarred brown knees. She mumbled something that Frank couldn’t
sat holding a paper cone of water. He nodded and Frank nodded back. ‘Mr Collard, I am placing you under arrest,’ the officer said. ‘What?’ Sand began again to be tipped into his belly. ‘On what grounds?’ ‘For suspicion of the murder of Sal Haydon and Joyce Mackelly.’ ‘I haven’t done anything.’ ‘I suspect you have, which is why I am arresting you for suspicion of murder, not for murder.’ ‘You can’t arrest me for going away for three days.’ The officer sighed. ‘I don’t know what small-town