Dominique Hecq – Honeymoon

Hecq LE P&W Humour June 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing, Special Edition on Humour June 2024.

Honeymoon, story by Dominique Hecq.

Honeymoon, again

Son’s driving, beanie pulled low over his head. Hubby and Dolly are in the back. I’m seated shotgun, staring out the window, wishing we were there already. But it will be another hour yet.

Hubby mutters something about air. That he’s not feeling well.

Hazza, open your window.

Naff you. Open your own damn window.

Water beads on the windscreen. Trickles. Whoosh. Whoosh. Whoosh. A flash of sunshine cuts through the grey of the morning.

This was once grazing country, spotted with orchards and market gardens. Now it’s a wasteland of rib-roofed factories, fast food joints, storage facilities and new housing developments.

Look at those burbs, says Dolly who doesn’t seem to have ventured beyond her old one. And what’s that dust bowl?

A raceway, I say.

Our suitcases are so heavy the car’s moving at one mile per hour. It smells like Dolly the widow. And the odour of a musty bookshop. I imagine it’s the whiff of her dead husband—smoked rollies to the end.

I look in the rear-vision mirror. Hubby looks like a missionary of the Sacred Heart. His eyes have a faraway look. He’s cranky, but long-suffering. The window, and too much of butter and honey on his morning crumpet. It seeped through the bottom and out onto his sleeve. Dolly looks miles ahead, a hand-woven scarf over her white bob, creases behind her designer specs, lined face and a frilled dragon throat poking out of purple mohair. Miles ahead of this expedition to Disney town, spa country that drowned years of my life. She too needs a change.

Rain soft but persistent. Windscreen constantly fogging up. Eucalypts shrouded in fog glide in and out of view as we cruise down the valley. We’re nearly at Woodend. Little way to go yet. Above the tree line, snow clouds threaten: sullen, angry fronds scouring the ground. It’s mid-winter; soon this rolling expanse of grass and heath will disappear beneath a thin crust of snow. The snow won’t last. It never does. Even at Bullarto.

I look in the side rear-view mirror. Hubby leans forward as if wanting to say something. Sinks back in his snow beard and tweed. He rubs shoulders with Dolly, ready to offer sympathy, give succour.

Don’t know what to think of Dolly anymore. A convert. They’re the worst. Always needing comfort. The only daughter who disappoints. The spouse who self-hangs. The best friend who dies. The difficult wife who rocks the boat—the brittle one who creates out of her flesh and pen.

I see snatches of my life in the febrile silence. Snowflakes falling like lint from the night sky on our wedding night as he turns his back to me, his Bible on the bedside table, gold letters glaring. The bone-splitting cold. Flaring gossip of a far-flung town. Weatherboard church. Unkempt graveyard. Six kids I barely know. Days and days full of nothings: wake to a baby’s crying, split wood, gather kindling, light the fire. Dump self-rising flour, cream and lemonade into a bowl. Mix, roll dough onto a floured board. Cut out circles, bake. And scrub and scrub. Hold words close to heart and run them to ground through the night under a fluorescent lamp, glass of wine at hand. Drift in a direction that’s not your own. Sex, birthdays only. Sometimes Christmas—missionary.

Forecast is snow in Disney town, I say, glee in my voice.

Son casts me a sideways glance. The first born; a burst condom. We were not there yet, but when his brother, another condom, died, the long Catholic Road seemed to wound and wound until it caught up with my sleepwalking. Four girls I prised open from the nuns’ clutches after I stopped drinking. Two estranged.

Mum, a hawk.

Watch the road, love.

I accepted her invitation, said Hubby the first time he and Dolly went out for dinner. I bet! Look at him: all smiles with her. Never mind his bad faith: she’s just a friend; a nice old lady.

One night, for fuck’s sake. What’s in these bloody suitcases, anyway, I ask.

Show some respect, Hezza.

Not interested.

We’re in the same boat.

That’s only for you to say.

I’m pulling over, says Son. At least I can get some blood pumping back into these legs. And get some fresh air.

Frosty gravel, roadside pull-over spot. Son’s sitting on the bonnet of the car, eating a sandwich I packed—ham and cheese with pickles. He looks down on the gravel, hunched over a little. I watch him eat, wonder what he makes of this party.

Dolly’s standing on a big, jagged boulder, looking at the trees above, squinting as though a noose might materialise. I’m thinking about the four of us in that bubble of a car. What we’re doing here. The rift between us.

Where’s dad?

A piss, maybe.

He emerges from the bushes, beams at Dolly: sorry, call of nature.

I shuffle across the back seat, not to get close to Dolly, but to check on the cases that poke out behind. They’re army suitcases. RAF badges embossed. I meet Dolly’s gaze.

Will’s cases. Two crates of Shiraz. Brokenwood Rayner vineyard. The best. Ever. She sniggers.

Son starts the car. It whirrs like a fridge that’s about to conk out.

Come on. Mum, in your seat.

I sit. Shut my eyes. Where has my life gone—run out of road, rolled over?

Oooh, little lambs, says Dolly.

Manly grunt. Bit early for lambing season.

Only one lamb in a fenced paddock. One munching ram and one ewe. Nice old lady. Meek and calm. Compliant. And sentimental. Why be anything than that?

Is this Woodend? she asks like she can’t read.


Why be that when you can create?

Fancy scones over an open fire? asks Son. Winks at me.

Nah. Push on.

Left turn. Right. On towards Spring Hill. Romantic way. Mostly open paddocks right down to the narrow bridge where we once waited for yonks as an echidna crossed over, a tiny snout poking out of its pouch. Clumps of iron barks, scruffy she-oaks, skinny barks. Out the front of lone farmhouses, post-boxes like miniature barrels.

Pulling over, sorry, says Son. Not too good.

The hell is it with people not feeling good today?

But we’re only minutes away from Daylesford, says Dolly.

Hubby’s quiet.

No offence, Heather, but why d’you call it Disney town?

Hubby shrugs.

Such a lovely place.

Gotta go, I say. Hop out. Crouch behind a bush.

Pink and white heather in bloom. Wild orchids. Swell of wattle.

The car drives away, weatherbound. I watch it getting smaller and smaller. Air in equipoise. Snowflakes twirl through it. The heather hums.

Hallelujah! Let it be done. I turn back to the promise of a wood fire and scones. Waltz on the open road, snow sweet on my tongue. In the distance, wings spread out against the shellacked sky, a hawk.

© Dominique Hecq

Dominique Hecq is a widely anthologised and award-winning prose poet, fiction writer, essayist and translator. She lives and works on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung land (Naarm / Melbourne). Her latest bilingual collection, Pistes de rêve has just been released by Transignum. Volte Face (Liquid Amber Press) and OTOPOS (Beltway Editions) are slated for publication in June 2024.

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