>THE GONE, PART ONE

>The signs led them there easily, to Magpie Dam. Turning off through the scrub that ran beside the car, thick and tight. The last part of the road was sandy gravel, the car’s wheels whining against the shifting ground. Simon felt sick. The day was almost gone, and it felt like they were heading further away from home. He desperately wanted to be home. Be in a home, somewhere. The signs to the dam were hand-painted. Up the hill, back through the gap in the mountain.

What Simon noticed first was the water gleaming metal-bright through the taller trees that had begun to sprout. They skirted its edge, and the dam offered glimpses of itself, near-miss guesses of what it might be, then the car turned and there it was, Magpie Dam, gaping out below them. The sun had all but sunk behind the low saddle of the mountain; all that remained was a burning afterthought, a memory scattered across the blue water, catching the tops of baby waves, turning them gold. It was so obviously beautiful that it made Simon feel even more insignificant. This is what people noticed, he thought. Nobody recognised the silent point between horizon and sky, the place he occupied.

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