Queenie stood in her dressing gown, wind lashing at the hem, looking across at the old gum. At the sound of it crashing across the road we’d all come out to gape. We were the newcomers. We’d bought plots when Queenie subdivided. Our fancy houses surrounded her cottage on the land she’d farmed for decades until Ern’s death and the drought and the creep of suburbs all around had forced her hand.
Though the developer christened the place Loxton Valley to Queenie it would always be ‘the farm’. She knew us by name, like her new herd.
My neighbour, Sam, a laconic old bloke, came out to see what the fuss was. ‘Jeez, Queenie,’ he said, ‘the big fella’s down. I’ll call emergency services.’
‘Unless anyone else has done it?’ said Queenie, casting her eyes sceptically towards the rest of us.
No one replied.
‘Figured as much,’ said Sam. A look passed between them. Sam was an old farmer himself. His children had set him up in a townhouse here after his hip gave out and he had to relinquish his own place. There was a practicality to the two of them that those of us from the city never quite grasped.
‘Ain’t gonna clear itself away, you know,’ said Queenie. ‘C’mon Sam, lets you and me sort it out.’