The moonlight played across the dappled green rooftop of the canopy behind him as he stared down into the forest, the smell of autumn and wood-smoke rushing to meet him. Pins and needles dance through his fingertips, more from the adrenaline coursing through his veins than from the chill in the night sky. His heart skips a beat and he places his fluttering hands against his chest, trying to breathe, trying to stay calm. The screeching of tyres, the smoke rising from brake pads. That first moment as the wheels left the tarmac, as the car began to roll, slamming into the pillared pagoda of the forest walls beyond the lip of the road. His seatbelt saved him, holding him tight in the bosom of leather – he had felt himself catapulting forward, had seen his life flash before his eyes as the car had crumpled around the Paperbark, bouncing to a stop.
“Now what the hell am I going to do?” His world contracts around him as he stares down onto the wreckage. He needs to think, needs to decide what he can tell Accalia and her father. Needs to figure out his explanations and excuses, he had known it wouldn’t end well, had felt the panic rising in his stomach as he had accepted this job, in spite of the dangers. He could see Accalia’s father now, his father-in-law, the old bushman’s smile never quite reaching his eyes. He could see his wife’s worry, her childish terror of her father overwhelming her, keeping her placated and under his thumb.
The orange flickering light of the flames builds around the engine bay of the battered old FJ Holden, and Josiah knows the decision will be declared his own, even though he really doesn’t have a say in the matter. Dry leaves crunch beneath his feet as he steps once more into the understory, picking his way past the saplings and wait-a-while bushes that sidle alongside the road. He begins unloading his contraband cargo, as quickly as he can beneath the stars punctuating the firmament, racing against the flames even as they lick against the eucalypts, as they creep along the length of the car.
Moonshine burns. Eucalyptus oil burns too. They see the fireball from the homestead, and Accalia knows her Josiah is gone. Her father knows his moonshine is gone, and he expresses both his love for her and his rage with his fists, raining down on his prisoner’s face. The old man’s face shines with sweat through the deepening red of his fury. His moonshine has made him blind, blind drunk, blind with anger. But even though he cannot see her she never leaves. He is, after all, the only family she has left.
Just a quick 456 words for #FridayFlash and Chuck over at TerribleMinds…I know, all this and it’s 8 in the morning and I haven’t even had one coffee. The title of the story comes from a The Knife song – Forest Families…and it linked in perfectly with the story I had playing on my mind. Oh and I used my own prompts from my previous post, even though they were hard and no-one else will use them.