Chapter 1

I'm supposed to be keeping a "journal." I guess this is it.

I feel quite alone. It's been a terrible few months. Mum and Dad have been upset and I've been upset.

Mary died. She had a cough and didn't feel well and Grandpa Rob took her to the hospital. She had a "malignant thymoma." They operated but she died six weeks later in the Sir Charles Gairdner hospital. Rob was very upset. I could see that. He's still upset. Mum was upset because her dad was upset. Dad was upset because Mum was upset. I was sad and lonely because Rachel was gone. She's in Japan for the year. Visiting her grandparents. Her grandfather retired and they moved from Singapore. When Rachel comes back, she'll be going to Perth College – Mum pulled all her old girl strings to get her into the middle school.

I'll be going to Scotch College. It seemed nice when we visited. It was founded in 1897. It's all boys. Perth College is all girls.

Grandpa Rob is in bad shape. Mum says it's "depression." I just feel it as dark. Very dark. Mum drove to see him a week ago. She spent hours crying when she got back. The house on Margaret River was a mess and Grandpa hadn't washed or shaved and he'd just been eating whatever there was. Mum cleaned up and washed his clothes and bought food. But Grandpa sent her home to Dad and me and Sarah.

I see him sometimes. He sits and watches the river. I can't tell what he's thinking.

It's very sad. And I have no idea what to do.

Rachel sends me e-mail nearly every day. And I answer her. She says Osaka, where her grandparents live, is "interesting." She goes to a special school because she knows so little Japanese. Many of the kids tease her. She's a "Jap" here and a european there. Being different is a problem everywhere, I guess.

Mum's out in the garden. She said she was "weeding," but she's just pulling things up. She's angry. There's nothing she can do, so she's angry.

Sarah's singing. I don't know what. She does that a lot.

I hope Dad gets home soon. That'll make Mum cheer up a little.

Mr. Simmonds said we all have to read a history book. I've chosen Keneally's A Commonwealth of Thieves. It's about the establishment of Australia. Rachel says being a "Jap" is better than being a transportee. So I'm learning about transportees. The last transportees to Western Australia arrived in January 1868. Kenneally doesn't talk about them at all. He only talks about the first five years, 1788 to 1793. He also writes about the aborigines who were the first to encounter the European settlers. The stories are awful. I kept thinking about Jacky and the nungungi and Martha. Even now, we're terrible to the tribes.

Our invasion upset a fine balance of land occupation and allocation. When the Europeans fished or hunted, they upset that balance and reduced the Aborigine's resources. Coupled with that, we brought smallpox. The Aborigines had no idea what smallpox was, nor comprehended why it had been imposed on them, but they knew well its source. We're awful. Just awful.

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