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Six year old Cindy Watson is curled up in her bed afraid to make a peep.

Her parents are out in the living room having another argument about money ‘ Bob why can’t you get off your big fat arse and get yourself a job? you have a family to support in case you haven’t noticed’

‘Give it a rest Gail, you know that i have a bad back and the doctors all told me to take it easy for a while’

‘Christ Bob it has been over nine months since your accident and i notice that you don’t have any trouble bending down to get a beer from the fridge every hour’

‘Please Bob first thing tomorrow morning go into town and see what jobs are going because the money i make at the supermarket is barely enough to put food on the table let alone pay the bills’

The summer of 1976 in North West NSW Australia is stifling and Gail Watson is frazzled trying to cope with the heat out in the middle of nowhere plus trying to make ends meet because of a good for nothing husband who just wants to sit around drinking all day.

When they were married seven years ago in Sydney Gail was a striking 20 year old who worshipped the ground that her husband walked on.

He was a stockbroker with a bright future and she planned on becoming a nurse but a few months after the wedding Gail fell pregnant and Bob had the great idea to move out to Dunnedoo to escape the rat race.

But now Gail is struggling to cope with no relatives to lean on for support and Bob promising future turning into dust.

Cindy finally drifts off to sleep around midnight but it is a restless night for the little girl because her parents constant arguing has been giving her nightmares.

At 8 am her mummy shakes her awake’ Wake up Cindy, time to get out of bed and have some bacon and eggs before school and we both know that you wouldn’t want to miss the bus don’t we?’

Mother and daughter share a quiet smile because they know that Cindy would rather ride for rocking horse all day. ‘Five more minutes please mummy’

‘Now pumpkin you can have a quick ride because the bus comes’

Even though a strong breeze would probably blow her over Cindy scoffs down a huge breakfast before she scampers out the front door to be greeted by her rocking horse that takes pride of place in the corner of the verandah.

The horse is old with chipped paint and a broken stirrup but to Cindy he is her whole world.

She loves nothing more than to rock back and forth with the wind blowing her long ginger hair into a tangled mess.

Patting the horses neck Cindy whispers’ One day we will ride all the way to Dubbo and rob a bank just like the bushrangers did back in the old days’

‘I will give every cent to mummy and daddy so they would stop fighting and perhaps find time to give me a baby brother’

A flash of yellow catches and reluctantly Cindy climbs from the rocking horse and races down the driveway to catch the school bus. ‘ Goodbye mummy see you this afternoon’

She is a pupil at Dunnedoo Public School and Cindy is a good student popular with the teachers and the other students ( all nine of them ) but sometimes her mind will wander and Miss Walpole an old battle axe with the temper of a mule would scold her ‘Miss Watson please try to concentrate on the lesson because if you don’t you will fail and never amount to anything of substance’

A few of the other kids laugh at Cindy’s discomfort and she is tempted to give them the finger but decides to ignore the brats and knuckle down until she can go home and ride her rocking horse.

Cindy Watson has just turned twelve and she is no longer the tangled haired first grader with a fondness for ice cream and chocolate.

Now she is almost a teenager who started to attend Dubbo High School two weeks ago, she is sill shy and to her annoyance she has a nasty pimple in the middle of her forehead and a pair of braces on her teeth.

But on the positive side her father has given up the drink and returned to work and her mother is now the manager of the supermarket.

So the Watson household is a happy place to be and Cindy likes her new school despite being teased by the school bully Elizabeth Hardcastle.

She still rides the rocking horse most days which gives her a chance to unwind and think of ways to bring her tormentor down.

The latest is to replace her lip balm with a tube of super glue which should keep the arsehole quite for a while.

But deep down Cindy knows that she couldn’t hurt anyone else no matter how nasty they are so she closes her eyes and rocks back and forth until the tension drains from her body.

Just then her mothers voice breaks the spell’ OK Cindy it is time to come inside for your bath young lady and if you behave i will let you watch The Brady Bunch while you do you homework’

Cindy sighs in frustration, dismounts and gives her rocking horse a friendly pat ‘Goodnight Lightning i will see you in the morning’

At the sound of the screen door slamming a quiver runs down the flank of the horse and his tail flicks in anticipation.

Unbeknowns to Cindy a local aboriginal boy has been watching her as she rides her rocking horse like a jockey steering home a Melbourne cup winner.

14 year old Warren Mundine knows that the girl has a desire to move from Dunnedoo and try her luck in the big smoke.

Every night for the past month he has waited until the lights were extinguished for the night then he would sneak up onto the verandah and sprinkle sprigs of Banksia and Bunya Pine all around the feet of the rocking horse.

And under the light of the moon he would perform a ceremonial dance that his ancestors have done for thousands of years.

Adorned in ochre and lithe of limb Warren would dance for hours until the sun started to peek above the horizon.

Black clouds gathered in the dawn and soon thunder boomed and lightning lit up the rocking rock that began to sway back and forth of it’s own accord.

‘Lightning by name Lightning by name’ the lad whispered before disappearing into the landscape like a ghost from the past.

Cindy wakes early and after a quick breakfast she races outside for a quick ride outside but something is different this time.

The rocking horse is surrounded by leaves and twigs that must have blown onto the verandah in last nights storm but they seem to have placed in some sort of pattern.

Climbing onto Lightning Cindy forgets about the plant arrangement when she recollects a dream she had just a few hours ago.

She dreamt that her rocking horse grew a pair of wings and like Pegasus he took flight taking her away from Dunnedoo as he flew to every corner of the world giving her a glimpse of what she is missing out there in the big wide open.

Also in the corner of her dream a small aboriginal boy appears out of nowhere and he climbs aboard Lightning and together they ride off into the sunset.

Cindy shivers in the morning air as her eyes gaze out past the front fence where orange dust twirls in the wind.

The aboriginal boy looked so real could he really be out there somewhere?

After another day boring day at school Cindy is anxious to get home and ride her rocking horse.

She squeals in delight when the bell rings and quickly boards the bus as it prepares to make the daily grind from Dubbo back to Dunnedoo.

In her hand she clutches a report card and it doesn’t make for good reading, C in English, D in History and a big fat F in Maths.

She is tempted to throw the card out the window but the headmaster informed all of the students at assembly this morning that their parents were expecting to receive a report card today so Cindy hangs on to it and thirty minutes later the bus pulls up outside her front gate.

As she meanders down the aisle she spots an aboriginal boy sitting near the front who looks vaguely familiar.

When she reaches his seat Cindy glances over and gasps out loud ‘Holy shit it is the boy that appeared in my dream last night’

Warren smiles in recognition and he knows that tonight is the night to kickstart a thousand tomorrows.

Cindy walks inside and hands the report card to her mother and after grabbing a huge slice of carrot cake she goes out to the verandah where her rocking horse waits’ Hello Lightning why don’t we ride all the way to Sydney because i have a feeling i am about to get yelled at’

As she rides Cindy thinks about the boy on the bus today.

She is positive that he doesn’t attend her school so why was he sitting on the bus and also he seemed to recognize her like they have met before.

Her mind is thinking overtime so she doesn’t notice the horses hooves jitter as he readies himself for a gallop but she soon gets the drift as Lightning rears up onto his back legs and after leaving a steaming pile of rocking horse shit behind the wooden horse takes off down the driveway.

Cindy loosens her grip on the reins when Lightning slows down to a canter to get his bearings.

After flaring his nostrils to taste the air the manic steed takes off in the direction of Merriwa.

The lonely schoolgirl laughs out loud knowing that soon she will be living in Sydney surrounded with friends living the dream.

In her excitement Cindy fails to notice a small aboriginal boy running behind Lightning but he cant keep up and soon he vanishes from view.

BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ BUZZ

26 year old Cindy Watson hits the snooze button to silence the annoying sound that wakes her up every morning.

As she gets dressed she vaguely remembers dreaming about the rocking horse that she used to ride when she was a kid.

Cindy still lives in the same house that she grew up in but sadly her parents are no longer alive to offer guidance to their only child but their presence lingers in every room even though it has been eight years since they perished in an awful car accident.

As she goes about her morning routine Cindy talks to her parents without even knowing she is doing so.

At 8.30 she locks the front door and walks the short distance to the local pub where she pulls beers for the locals and travelers alike,

As she wipes the bar clean only half listening to a story from one of the regulars Cindy will often gaze out the window thinking about what her life would have become if she ever worked up the courage to leave Dunnedoo.

But at the same time Cindy loves her sleepy little town and really wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but hopefully one day she will meet a man and settle down to life in the country.

She takes one last look outside and remembers a saying from long ago ‘It doesn’t matter how close you get to the horizon because it will always remain in the distance’

In a storage facility on the other side of town a dusty old rocking rocking horse sits forlorn and forgotten.

It has been fourteen years since anyone has sat in his saddle, fourteen years kept in the darkness.

In all of that time his wooden black eyes have stared at the roller door daring it to open.

But the rocking horse knows that sooner or later the door will open and the sun will stream in and he will run like he has never run before.

PS

Three doors down from the storage place a man in his late twenties is bent over the bonnet of an old Holden ute trying to fix a faulty brake cable ‘Hey Warren when you have finished over there can you give me a hand with this Toyota?’ ‘No worries Nigel i will only be a minute’

The man straightens up and looks longingly at the pub up the road.

Sure it would be nice to sink a few schooners but the main reason to visit the local is to walk inside and walk up the courage to ask Cindy Watson out on a date.

THE END

Part Two is coming just hold your horses.