Line marker

“It’s not so bad actually. I quite enjoy it!” Horatio said, grinning broadly.

We were miles from nowhere on a deserted northern highway. Horatio was part of a road crew painting the white centre lines.

“I’ve been doing it for nearly five years now. I thought it would just be a fill-in job while I looked for something else, but I’m still here. I don’t know, it’s kind of peaceful. The quiet. The boys don’t say much during the day. Everyone has their job and we just do it. My city friends think I’m nuts, that I must be so lonely. But you know I’ve never been lonely out here. It’s back there if anything.”

I looked longingly at him. His great name, his jet-black skin, his white teeth, his sinewy frame. His CHEER. Yes, that was it: his cheer. Goodness knows what he’d come from. His previous life I mean. Sudan, I was guessing. Maybe Ethiopia. It would almost certainly not have been good, hence him coming to Australia. And that little glimpse he gave of life "back there" in the city - Perth I assume - didn’t sound great either.

But here he was free. Free to be happy. And wasn’t he!

I looked longingly at him for I realized that, deep down, he was me.

He could be me.

I just hadn't had the courage to jump.

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