Image of farm house with long grass in the foreground

Finally, a taker for the hutch comes to me through Marketplace. The hutch is free, but she offers $25. I say she can have it. Maybe she didn’t read the ad. It’s free.

She asks if I can deliver, she has heart failure, and cannot come. No problem, I’m driving past anyway. Even though the hutch is large and awkward I can shift it on my own, perhaps with the help of a passerby. She calls me luv, and says to take my time. I’m guessing she’s an old lady.

The day is sweltering, and smoke from the bushfires cloaks everything, it’s hard to breathe. ‘I’ll give you $30 luv,’ says the lady on Messenger, ‘because of all this heat and this smoke luv, you shouldn’t be out in it.’ Still I only want a clear room, and she’s doing me a favour, this hutch has taken up space for 3 months.

I arrive at the house. A beaten up old cottage, lead paint flaking onto dried yellowing grass. I approach the screen door, a sign on it says visitors should inform next of kin, if there’s no response. I am taken aback.

She comes to the door, a large woman, not much older than me, face puffy and red, and skin terribly sore and peeled. She offers to help, but I ask her to wait inside.

As I drag the hutch inside I notice very little furniture. A small dog scrambles at her heels. She says thank you luv, thank you for coming in this awful smoke and heat.

She has $30 scrunched up in her swollen hand, and pushes it into mine, I push it back, ‘no that’s not necessary’, but she insists, putting both hands around mine, scrunching them with the bunched up bills. Drawing me to her, she pulls me into a big hug and tears fill my eyes.

Photo credit:
Dan Meyers