Many years ago, in a little mining town in the north, a newborn baby boy lay ill from pneumonia in his hospital cot. As the wind howled in the fjord outside, he gasped for air and longed for the loving warmth of his mother. Where was she? He felt her alright, even though she was not near, in the same way he could hear the comforting resonance of his father’s voice. Why then, could he not decide whether to live or die?
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, Deborah awoke to the sound of magpies singing in the big red gum behind the house.
“Hmm,” she sighed contentedly, “good morning you guys.”
Unlike many people, she had loved magpies as long as she could remember. She could understand people’s dislike to them in the spring, when they would swoop on passers-by and even peck them. Even so, she believed magpies had a soft spot for her, because she had never been swooped on once. Her mother used to say it was because of her dark hair, as magpies mostly swooped on fair-haired people, but she believed there was something else.
While driving back from work in the evening, Giuseppe thought back to the voicemail he had listened to this morning after breakfast. Especially the man’s husky voice still occupied his mind. Who in hell was this man, he had asked himself repeatedly throughout the day. He jolted his memory but still could not remember anyone in his youth called Dave. And how had this old man gotten hold of his number, was what he also wanted to know. The more he thought about it, the more determined he became to ring the number again.
That evening as she sat on the sofa eating scampi and chips, Deborah looked back on her first day in Rye. After running through the surf with Dougie, who now lay sound asleep on the cushion next to her, she had strolled along the beach for a while. There she came across a surfer who complimented her on her good looks. Even now it made her blush. How old was he, she wondered. Judging by the hints of grey in his dark hair that was beginning to thin out, she reckoned he must have been in his late forties, just like she was.
Ironbark sighed deeply as he left the National Archives building in Canberra and walked to the car park. He loosened the collar of his chequered flannel shirt and wiped the sweat from his neck and throat. It was not so much the abnormal heat for this time of year that was troubling him as the information he had just read in the records.