Rebekah Clarkson is the author of Barking Dogs (Affirm Press), a short story cycle set in Mount Barker, South Australia where the author lives. Her stories have been recognised in major awards in Australia and overseas, including the ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize, Fish Publishing Short Story Prize and Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open. Her short stories have appeared in publications including Griffith Review, Best Australian Stories and Something Special, Something Rare: Outstanding Short Stories by Australian Women (Black Inc.).She has taught fiction writing at a number of Australian Universities and at the University of Texas at Austin. Rebekah is a Board Member of the Society for the Study of the Short Story.

Her eyes are perfectly symmetrical, black and small, like polished stones. I won’t meet her gaze – resolved as it might be – though I know she wants this. Beckoning with her chin, boring through me. She wants to speak to me and this is the only way: quick shot with her eyes, imperceptible shake of her head: No more, she will want to say. Desire slices through the wind, skates over the brittle grass between us. I won’t look into her eyes. Look at me, she implores, look at me. But I won’t.

I stare at her leather boots, laced tight, peeping from her long skirt, hemmed in dust from her walk across the paddock. I imagine unthreading those laces, lifting her calf to rest on my knee, pulling the boots up and off, her naked foot, and then the other. The thought of her feet in my hands catches the back of my neck like a current, shimmies down my spine, electric. I close my eyes for a beat and travel her body, secretly in my mind’s eye, up her legs, her soft white thighs, closer, closer, her stomach, hips, up, up.

I open my eyes, her face a blur in my periphery, the sun lighting up her hair. Her lips thin, wide, turned upwards, so slight – if you covered her eyes you would think her smiling, but if you covered her mouth, you would be surprised by how stern. Her eyes and mouth are in juxtaposition, so she is hard to read.

But I can read her. I knows what her mouth tastes like.

Her husband is here, his hand firm on her shoulder. His fingers thick and clammy and I know this because she’s told me: her skin crawls with his touch, moments after he moves away.

His lips are pink and full, closed, framed by a close-cropped beard and moustache.
He wants to talk about the fences. And so I wait.

My Two Sons, for Winifred

Today I know I am never going to breathe again
and here’s you, still
tugging at my dress, twirling your fingers in and around mine, twisting the gold
around and around and around.
And here’s you, too
still playing in my bloodstream, fistfuls of nutrients,
oxygen for then, antibodies for later.
My bones will forever bend for you, my darling
my skin stretch parchment thin
leaving translucent trails, perfect, as they were,
for your brother’s matchbox cars.
I broke over you and I will die broken.
My two sons,
sitting quietly at the base of my skull.
Nothing left to do or say, now.
All I want and all I wanted, was.