The Betrayal of Bindy Mackenzie (8 page)

There was a strip of red paper curled around her wrist. And some kind of animal was sketched, in squiggly black ink, onto the red.

‘It's a komodo dragon,' Emily explained. (It was not.)

‘Is it?' I ventured.

‘Yeah. I'll do that speech thing you want me to do, the one about stain removal? I'll do it on the weekend. But I made this as a tribute to the team. Because
I am the komodo dragon.'
She assumed a hoarse, dramatic voice, and Cassie giggled. Now she touched the wristband, and Lydia leaned over and tightened it for her.

‘You like it?' said Emily, holding it up towards me again.

There was no doubt about it.

She was proud.

 

Reverie

 

Reverie

 

Reverie

 

ANTI-CLIMAX
9

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Monday, 9.00 am
SUBJECT:   Message for Your Mother!!

Dear Bindy,
Great to hear from you! Although, I have to say, I have no idea what you're talking about—a Christmas party with a Slip 'n Slide? I have a vague memory of Christmas parties, but what's a Slip 'n Slide? Well, I guess I'll take your word for it . . . glad you had fun at the party.

I've told your mum you'd like to speak with her. She actually does check e-mail while she's on the road—that auto reply is just for the sake of clients—so she would have got your e-mail the other day. I'm sure you'll hear back soon!

Cheers,

Megan

Assistant to Cecily Mackenzie
Mackenzie World Pty Ltd

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Monday, 10.30 am
SUBJECT:   Re: Re: Re: Permissions . . .

Dear Bindy,
If your school needs ‘written permission' for ‘extracurricu-blahdy blah', why don't you just print out my previous e-mail and take that along?

Re your funding requests: driving lessons do not fall within the terms of our agreement (required education expenses) so they'll have to come out of your own pocket.

Assuming gym membership is compulsory for school, that's fine, use the credit card.

When can I expect your next Business Proposal?

Best,

Dad

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Monday, 1.00 pm
SUBJECT   The Point of Permission

Dear Dad,
I think the point is that we need to get your
signature
for permissions. A printed-out e-mail won't suffice. Perhaps I should resend the FAD notes, so you could print them out and read them?

At least then you'd know what you were permitting. You might even exercise your right to
refuse
permission! Who knows?

With respect, I believe that a case can be made that driving lessons are directly related to my education. If I had my licence, I could drive myself to school each day, and to Kmart, babysitting and piano, thus saving time now wasted on public transport. I would therefore have more time for study, and my education would benefit accordingly.

(Furthermore, I could drive into the city to visit you and Mum.)

Best,

Bindy

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Monday, 2.30 pm
SUBJECT:   Re: The Point of Permission

Nice try, kid. But nobody likes a smart alec.

You know you can visit your mum and me any time. Just give a shout.

Get your Auntie Veronica or Uncle Jake to sign the permission forms for you. You have my permission to treat them as:
in loco parentis.

Best,

Dad

PS How's your brother, anyway? Do I assume he lives and breathes? I never hear from him. All getting along there?

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Monday, 3.30 pm
SUBJECT:   Hello

Dear Mum,
I know you're on the road but Megan tells me you still check your e-mail. Did you get my note last week about permissions? And do you think you could talk to Dad about driving lessons? He thinks I should pay for them myself . . .

He also asks about Anthony a lot, and I don't know what to do. I wish we didn't have to keep this secret.

How was your weekend? Mine was just fine. On Saturday night I babysat for my favourite client, Maureen Brentwood. Have I mentioned her to you? She's a new client, but she's already started giving me historic books, as thoughtful gifts. I read them all the time. Furthermore, when I arrived on Saturday, she pointed out a plate of apple-and-cinnamon muffins, hidden at the top of a cupboard, and said they were for me!

‘Word to the wise,' she whispered as she grabbed her keys. ‘Keep them out of sight ‘til the kids are safe in bed—turns out they've both got wheat allergies, and I'm sure you don't want them throwing up all night!'

I didn't know what to do, because, actually, I didn't feel like a muffin. I've been a bit unwell lately—I even stayed home from school last Thursday, and it's taking me a while to recover. In fact, I feel awful again today—but enough school was missed on Thursday. I will ignore these symptoms.

Anyhow, I crumbled the muffins into pieces and sprinkled them onto the lawn. Hopefully, the birds will spot them.

On Sunday night I was ‘babysitting' again, and you know, there is such contrast among people! Because this was for another new client, a woman named Eleanora White. And the reason I put ‘babysitting' in quotes is that
she doesn't go out
! She leads me through to the kitchen (where a bird perches in a cage), sits at the table and makes
gnocchi
!

Apparently, I am there in case the baby wakes up while her hands are sticky. We sit opposite each other, drink tea, eat ginger biscuits, and talk. She asks about my interests and education, but her manner is so cold and distant! It's as if the questions were a
test
rather than a conversation.

And here's something funny. I have been going there on Sundays and Wednesdays for a few weeks now, and the baby has never woken once.

Once, Eleanora looked at me sharply (mashed potato spilling from her hands). ‘Don't go into the baby's room,' she said. ‘She's in that phase where she's terrified of strangers.'

Now, do you see a logical flaw?

If I am not to go into the baby's room, then what, pray tell, is my purpose?

At any rate, I spent the night reciting John Donne's poems to Eleanora and her budgerigar.

Best,

Bindy

TO:  
[email protected]
FROM:  
[email protected]
SENT:   Monday, 3.31 pm
SUBJECT:   OUT OF OFFICE AUTO-REPLY

Cecily Mackenzie will be unable to read your e-mail until Tuesday next week. If your message is urgent, please contact Cecily's assistant, Megan, at
[email protected]

10

Here are some Lines from a Book which Caught Bindy's Eye Today . . .
On Mothers and Daughters

‘[W]ho should hear of the daughter's aspirations, hopes and secrets if not the mother? She it is that can safely and carefully direct the daughter's thoughts as they turn to the mysteries of life or the joy of youthful affection. Is not the mother rich in the experience of a tender love?'

From:
Twentieth Century Etiquette: An Up-to-Date Book for Polite Society, Containing Rules for Conduct in Public, Social and Private Life, at Home and Abroad, embellished with nearly half a hundred full-page engravings and numerous drawings
by Annie Randall White (1900), p 105.

11

The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
Wednesday, 5.08 am
Think of an aeroplane preparing for departure. It taxis into take-off position and aligns itself with the runway centre line. The throttle advances smoothly; the plane accelerates; the engines roar. Any moment there will be lift-off! And then, quite suddenly, everything stops.

The take-off has been cancelled.

What becomes, pray tell, of that build-up and acceleration? Nay, where does the roar and the energy go if denied its embrace with the sky?

The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
5.15
am
Now think of a girl approaching Wednesday afternoon. (Last Wednesday afternoon, to be precise.) She has spent a lifetime biting her tongue at the moronic behaviour that surrounds her—responding to stupidity with sweetness—but now a decision has been made. She will no longer feign indifference.
Speak the truth!
she decides.
Keep nothing to yourself!
She is
exhilarated, terrified, on fire! She has advanced to take-off position! She is aligned with the runway centre line! Her engines roar.
Let it begin,
she says.

And the Venomous Seven arrive.

The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
5.18
am
Oh, they are as stupid as ever. They are amazed that it's going to rain! They reflect on foolish accidents from a
stupid
school excursion to Hill End several years before! (I'm not surprised
Astrid
remembers that excursion.) They dance and climb on furniture!

No, stupidity is not the problem. It's as rife as ever.

The problem is this: their words loop between them and bind them tight. They form a kind of ring which she cannot penetrate. They are much like a circle of musk-ox protecting their calves from wolves.

She is cutting, biting, withering, acerbic and scornful! Yet, they scarcely hear her, and when they do, they pay
not a flicker of heed.

The inanity escalates—the teacher thinks they should meet in Castle Hill! Emily Thompson thinks she should debate! But the girl's efforts to inject the light of truth lead to nothing but vacant stares . . .

The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
5.22
am
It is a cancelled take-off, a postponed pyrotechnic display . . .

So where did the girl's rapid heartbeat go? Where are her hopes and expectations?

The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
5.35
am
WELL, ALL I KNOW IS THIS.

I awoke the next morning with stomach cramps and a headache, feeling exhausted and ill. I threw up several times. And it seems pretty clear to me that my hopes and expectations, finding no relief, had turned themselves backwards onto ME.

The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
5.43
am
Of course, Auntie Veronica came down with the same symptoms the next day. She thinks we just caught the same flu.

The Philosophical Musings of Bindy Mackenzie
5.45
am
But NO!!

I do not believe that it was simply the flu!

I believe that I suffered an acute attack of:

ANTI-CLIMAX

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