Red Dust Prologue

A taste of what is to come … here’s the Prologue from Red Dust:

Tears rolled down her cheeks as Gemma stood looking into the grave, a lonely figure in the hot January sun. All the other mourners had since left for the coolness of the church hall seeking welcome cups of tea or cold drinks.

With her arms wrapped around herself she couldn’t decide what hurt most: the fact that he was gone, or what he’d said before he died.

In her mind’s eye, 29-year-old Gemma saw herself driving over the hill in the ute. There was dust everywhere; more than was usual for shifting a mob that size. The red dust was swirling, the wind was blowing so hard she could only hear the roar in her ears, not the bellows of the cows nor the noise coming from the plane.

All she saw was the plane coming into land as usual … but something was wrong. He wasn’t supposed to land there – there wasn’t room – and he was coming in too fast. What the hell? had flashed through her mind as the plane carrying her husband hit the ground.

Beside the grave Gemma shook herself. Don’t dwell, she told herself. You’ve got to be strong. She turned towards the hall.

If she’d turned only moments earlier she would have seen a man she didn’t know leaning against the doorframe of the church hall, staring at her with such intensity it would have startled her.

Heads turned as Gemma walked through the door and a hush came over the room. Everyone started to talk again, trying to fill the silence.

Someone rushed forward with a cup of tea and someone else whispered how sorry they were. It was all a blur.

‘Gem?’ A voice at her shoulder made her spin around. Seeing her best friend brought tears to her eyes again. ‘Jess,’ was all she could get out. Jess put her arms around Gemma.

‘Come on, let’s blow this joint. You don’t need to stand here like some sort of freak show.’ Gemma allowed herself to be led away, as family, friends and neighbours watched in silence.

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