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river had two bridges, one far to the south of where we 
lived was made of concrete and steel.  Traffic, both local and 
the stream of touristsí buses, which poured over to border to 
the pokie machines that we were famous for, crossed it 
 The other bridge, a mile away from my home, which 
backed onto the river, was made of wood and carried 
human traffic only.  It was covered and slightly curved, the 
railings were high and when I was young and my father or 
Janice took me across I couldn't see over them to the river 
Although Mary's house was very close to mine, it was also 
across the river.  Soon after my sister began taking care of 
Mary in the afternoons it was delegated my duty to return 
her safely home.  So every day at seven thirty I would begin 
the journey along the riverbank for one mile.  Watching the 
current washing junk and tree branches to the sea, watching 
the birds and small animals as they enjoyed the small forest 
environment that was allowed to exist for a scant few yards 
around it.
There was yellow gravel along the path by the river on my 
side, dotted about with red rocks.  Then we would cross the 
bridge, her clinging tightly to my hand, for she was afraid of 
the river.  In all the time I knew her, she didn't ever seem to 
get much bigger.  The twins seemed to easily out grow her; 
she stayed small and childlike even at thirteen.
The other side of the river was the worst part of the journey.  
We had to travel almost the same distance back in the 
direction we had come to reach her house.  The river was 
still surrounded by nature; in fact the area here was covered 
with trees and dense thistle bushes.  Even in summer the 
other side of the river seemed darker, as if we knew our 
time together was almost through.
We were teased, almost as far back as I can remember, by 
school friends who didn't understand how a boy and girl 
could spend that much time together.  The war between the 
sexes started young.  I suppose, because of Mary I missed 
out on having all those times with the boys that I later saw 

Copyright Jackie Bulner 1999    

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A Vision of Mary

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Jackie Bulner
Melbourne, Victoria

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