It was a hot morning, My parents and I sat in the kitchen.
They didn't say much but their eyes said everything they couldn't, they looked defeated while I felt the frustration of failing to protect them. Mum sat in her nighty and sipped the coffee that dad had made for her.
I stirred my tea slowly, watching the sugar crystals swirl around at the bottom of the cup. "I'm sorry I wasn't there sooner, I heard him when he first came in, but I couldn't change."
"It's alright Son, you did your best" Said Dad, who added "I feel pretty useless myself, I would've still been in bed but damn well started bleeding."
"He didn't do that?" I asked, surprised.
"Nah, I picked at a scab, bled everywhere so I got up to get a facewasher... needed a pee anyway... saw the bloke when I put on the light... tried to grab him but he pushed me back and next thing I knew he had a pipe in his hands, mad bastard." He shook his head and frowned
"I don't remember much after throwing him through the window" I said, "I don't believe I just picked him up and threw him out the window."
"Throw him out the window?" said Dad quietly"...I thought you were gunna fucking eat him"
I looked at Mum, her pale blue eyes seemed washed out and there seemed to be a lingering trace of fear, was it for the intruder or for me? When I grabbed that man and held his trembling body, his shakey breath catching in his tight throat, the veins sticking up in his neck, in his eyes... the look of a rabbit who was about to be food for a hungry wolf. and then the effortless way that I hurled his almost weightless body outside.
I looked back to my Mother, who's face had changed from a look of defeat into the kind of determination that older Australians had cultivated through the war years, and then she said in an angry sort of tone that I wasn't expecting, "Well if you did eat the bugger, who's fault would it have been? not yours, He came in where he wasn't wanted, and that happened, so stuff him." She slammed a hand down on the table and frowned...
She continued "If you go into the ocean when the sharks are there and you get your leg bitten off, you can't blame the shark, can you?"
She was right, absolutely right.
I took a deep breath and let it go, Mum had found her fire and would be fine, and so would we, I suppose when it came down to it, Mum was pack leader.
She got up off her chair and decided to cook breakfast, which wasn't something we saw much of as we mostly had toast and cereal, but it looked like Mum had to do something now, in her mind, she was giving the whole thing a two finger salute. We had sausages, bacon and fried eggs, and left more for later.
The phone went and Dad answered, Laddie sat down next to me and was given the rind from the bacon which he thought was delicious, but probably wasn't the best thing to give a dog.
"That was the police" Said Dad, "Apparently they'd been after that bloke for some time, They said they'd like to come back and ask us a few questions... They said that we should probably not go to work today."
For a moment I expected Mum to say that she was going to work regardless, but she was tired, she sighed as she put the last of the dishes in the sink and nodded.
I stood next to her and filled the sink with hot water "Go back to bed Mum, I'll do these" I offered. She smiled at me and kissed my forehead and turned to leave.
Dad and I washed and dried.