I will try to unconditionally love you again


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Jo Newman is a twenty-something Yamatji writer, born and raised on Whadjuk Noongar Boodja in Perth, Western Australia. They studied Environmental Biology and Professional Writing and Publishing at  [+]

I move into the lake house when I am twenty-three. Spring is turning to summer. The air is heavy with the smell of decomposing algae. I have just finished my degree and I am at a loss; adulthood is not what I expected.

I spend the summer crouching at the edge of the lake, watching the tiny fish dart back and forth, back and forth. I wonder if the fish are aware of the world outside of the lake. Do they know they’re never going anywhere, except maybe in the guts of a migrating bird?

At nights I lie under the stars and think about the city, about the lake. The earth is still warm from the afternoon sun. I can see the Southern Cross, the bright band of the Milky Way, countless constellations I never learned the names of. The vast distance between them.

There’s a gazebo in the middle of the lake. I find a padlock, engraved, clipped to the railing: I will try to unconditionally love you again. I lean against the railing and trace the words with a fingertip. I try to imagine the hand that carved them.

I lean over the railing and look down at the still surface of the lake. I drop a pebble into the water and watch my face ripple and disperse, like I never existed.

I look up. The trees on the horizon block the city skyline. The sun dips low in the sky and sets the clouds on fire.
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