The Big Issue : Edition 439
THE BIG ISSUE 16 -- 29 AUG 2013 47 was drunk through a tightening smile. Afterwards, the lumps were taking shape. Where holes had slowly crumbled, nascent arches now stood, their sides jagging away from each other at sharp angles. Pillars sagged under the uneven weight. Sides seeped, but retained more of their form. Barbarian kingdoms arose, rooms opening into halls and towers, turrets sprouting like damp toadstools. When Jay read in the morning paper that the world's best- known mime artist, Marcel Marceau, had died at the age of 84, he might have commented over the break table that an era had passed, but the noise consumed the air. Instead, he waited until he got home and, going to the notepad that he kept at his computer desk, found the phone number he had jotted under the scrawled words: "shepherd centre for deaf kiddies". In one of those assumptions that seem ridiculous as soon as they are disproved, Jay had thought that a roomful of deaf kids would be kind of quiet. As he looked through the door at the roomful of small bodies fdgeting and squirming, he reproached his assumption even as it shattered on the squeals and laughter, as small limbs struck and squeezed, manifesting a failing, endless energy. The noise, though, had a unique timbre: it didn't thicken, the sounds didn't compete, they hung like a mist. The mist thickened briefy as Jay walked out, as the sounds wove together in a blanket of laughter. He did look ridiculous, the striped canvas of his shirt stretched on his large frame, the waist of his pants forming an equator where his paunch began the journey back down towards his body. But the laughter was without malice; it embraced him as a collaborator, if also its source. As Jay started to move his hands, letting the sand run through his fngers, the mist cleared. The desert revealed itself again, only now he had descended from the foothills and was standing in its cool air, surrounded by its natives. And the delight in their eyes told him that no desert was ever empty. Jay was building temples, carving their walls in silence, raising alters against the clear sky. And the kids, delighted, drawn into communion by his lumpish hands, were as quiet as smugglers. All that betrayed them was the shining whites of their smiles. Their delight prodded a sadness still latent in Jay; its existence meant that it could be destroyed. But building in the glow that aches in all deserts, he knew that no destruction was ever complete, and his sadness was sweet and heroic. And his own smile betrayed him, breaking through a face that shone like lightning. AUSTRALIAN ETHICAL SUPER IS THE ONLY FUND THAT DOESN'T INVEST IN COAL AND COAL SEAM GAS EXTRACTION Australian Ethical seeks out positive investments that support people, quality and sustainability. It avoids investments that cause unnecessary harm to people, animals, society or the environment. Go to australianethical.com.au to join or call 1800 021 227 for more information. super, pensions & investments Australian Ethical Investment Ltd ('AEI') ABN 47 003 188 930, AFSL 229949. Australian Ethical Superannuation Pty Ltd ABN 43 079 259 733 RSEL L0001441. A PDS is available from our website or by calling us and should be considered before making an investment decision. Australian Ethical® is a registered trademark of AEI. Brendan allagher IS A WRITER BASED IN SYDNEY. HAVING HAD FEATURE ARTICLES PUBLISHED IN BOTH NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL MEDIA PUBLICATIONS, HE HAS RECENTLY TURNED HIS FOCUS TO FICTION. 'THE GOLDEN DESERT' IS HIS FIRST PUBLISHED WORK OF FICTION.