The Luminary


Bessie crouched in the bushes at the top of the paddock. Kangaroos grazed nearby, a joey peeked out of his mother’s pouch as she nosed the grass. The sky was a pale blaze, grey blue with the menace of heat.

The house was below, its slate roof dotted with patches of moss, like countries on a map. She spent her days drifting through its rooms, like the sweeping beam of a lighthouse, making sure all was in order for when they came. She would run her finger over the marble mantle, press her face against the glass. Waiting.

Bessie was content to be a protector, a guardian. In her day, she had been a defender. She had marched in Melbourne, holding her placard for suffrage. She had attended meetings with Vida Goldstein and other luminaries of the age. They had depended on her. She had sat in the corner of…

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