Fall 2013 • Vol. XXXV No. 4 Fiction |

Teetering

We are sitting at a table by the window. The street is deserted except for a group of black men standing at the entrance to the park, as if they are on duty, or perhaps are charging a fee for entrance to the park. They say things to people who go past, but are mostly ignored. Every now and then someone, usually another black man, will stop and speak with them. They seem menacing to me and make me feel aware of being old and a stranger here and vulnerable without a word of the language. There is rubbish blowing about in the street and in the gutters. Paper and plastic and broken bottles. Large garbage collection bins are parked on the footpath next to the black men. My wife and I of thirty-seven years. So we don't have a lot to say to each other. It is small signs and a kind of telepathy these days. Our silence embarrasses me. Young people see our silence as if it is an aura of old age. Sainthood. We wear it uneasily and would rather be at home where there is no need for us to talk t

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Alex Miller is the author of ten novels. He is twice winner of Australia’s premier literary prize, the Miles Franklin Literary Award, and is an overall winner of the Commonwealth Writers Prize. His work is published internationally and widely in translation. Miller’s most recent novel, Autumn Laing, was published by Allen and Unwin in October 2011.

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