Mar/Apr 2017 • Vol. XXXIX No. 2 FictionMarch 1, 2017 |

The Houses That Are Left Behind

One Sunday afternoon the intercom buzzed, just as I was setting out the things I needed to cook a meal for my husband's children. I'd already set the table. I wasn't expecting them so early. My husband was barefoot, reading a newspaper in a cane chair in the sun. I laid down my knife and went to the screen, which showed an image of the caller, shot from a vantage point above her head. It was a stranger, a girl in ugly sunglasses. When I greeted her, she began to talk, immediately, about a cell phone; she thought we had given her a phone or she had our phone. Her voice was metallic, an electronic interruption in an afternoon of low, winter sunshine. We were going to have to investigate. I waited for my husband to pull on a pair of shoes, looking at the girl as she folded her arms and twisted miserably from side to side. I could see her shoulders clearly, her cheap sweater, her dark springy hair. We didn't plan to invite her upstairs. We could deal with whatever she wanted in th

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Brenda Walker has written four novels and one memoir. The most recent novel, The Wing of Night (Penguin, 2006) won the Asher Award, the Nita B. Kibble Award, and was shortlished for the Miles Franklin Award. Her memoir, Reading by Moonlight (Hamish Hamilton, 2010) won the Victorian Premier’s Award for Nonfiction and the Nita B. Kibble Award. She is chair of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia.

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