Waiting for the Train
Minna found the three bobtail goannas among the cartons of empty cans and rubbish stacked at the back of the yard.
She placed them in the separate races she'd built from the broken stones which she'd carted from the tumbledown house at the end of the road.
The goannas refused to move. Minna prodded one. It opened its mouth and showed its blue tongue.
Suddenly the goanna at the far side took off, waddling furiously on its short legs.
"You'll be last." Minna warned the defiant one, still mouthing its rage and fear.
The goanna in the middle race scrambled over the dividing wall of broken stone.
"Naughty." Minna scolded as she put the creature back behind the others in punishment. "You have to keep in your race track."
The goannas were moving nicely now. The defiant one caught up with the other two. "Come on," Minna cried to it. "You can win."
The goannas reached the end of the race lanes and scuttled to safety among the wooden boxes, empty forty-four-gallon fuel drums and kerosene tins at the back of the yard.
"Minna," her mother called from the verandah. "Can you see the train?"
Minna climbed the peppercorn tree and stared southwards across the flat treeless plain in the direction whence the train came. "No, Mumma."
Minna's mother closed the gates at the rail crossing when the trains came through. It was her father's job but usually he was out rabbit trapping or kangaroo shooting or doing a bit of fencing for a pastoralist. Minna and her mother closed the gates even when he was home.
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