'The 900s Have Moved', a new story by Gregory Day

Georgie heard it too. On the very first morning of this story, though so much had gone beforehand. The usual warbling of the typical magpies, if anything so mysteriously complex as a magpie’s song can be called typical. There she’d lie, day after day, alongside Muir in their countless beds, in cramped corner flats and large creaking homesteads, in cold fibro shacks and bedsits baking for the lack of ventilation, listening to the warbling giving birth to the light upon its loom: the many coloured strands of light that, no matter where they were, began each ordinary day. Muir would hurrumph in bed – he was a cranky sleeper; he dreamt of his novels’ characters, he told her, was not to be disturbed, except for sex – his thick freckled shoulder would rise against her and she would sigh and listen, to the coming of the light, until it was eventually strong enough for her to muster the energy and get the kids ready for school. More often than not it was a new school.

But here, in this two-bedroom bungalow on the inlet, with its boxy kitchen and only one wall big enough to hang Muir’s portraits the way he liked, she’d heard it too. The way the subsong of the day had changed, the way it was different then.

As usual they’d arrived at night and nothing could be seen, but in the morning the eldest two, Gus and Jo, had found the yard was flat, there was a cubby out the front, a barbecue made out of beachstones, a towering woodpile too, a flowering gum with a rope swing, the freedom to call and roam. They were straight out amongst it, running the corduroy paths with milk lipsticks and marmalade on their tops, breasting the air. But the youngest, Mossy, did not emerge. When she went in to stroke his head and see if he was sick or sad he only looked up at her and said, the magpie sings a song here Mamma.

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Gregory Day

Gregory Day

Gregory Day is a writer, poet, and musician whose debut novel The Patron Saint Of Eels won the prestigious Australian Literature Society Gold Medal in 2006 and was also shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for a first novel. Two novels since, Ron McCoy’s Sea of Diamonds, which was shortlisted for the NSW Premiers Prize, and The Grand Hotel, are also set in the southwest Victorian landscape of Mangowak.

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