A whiff of mildew in the bottom of my dirty clothes basket travels me to the memory of the old out-buildings at the back of my childhood house in Wycheproof. There was a laundry and another two rooms adjoining. The rooms are distinct and yet also hazy at the edges of recollection, the pair of concrete sinks, sharp smell of mould and mildew and endlessly wet things, planks and benches and shelves lining walls. Wet grime and Mallee dust. Small, slatted glass windows looking out to the yard behind. They are remnants of time passed, a bridge now swallowed by the relentless pile of days.

I recall the round bakelite lightswitch in the laundry whose front I once screwed off, or it came off some other way and when I touched it I thought that someone, perhaps my twin brother was with me, had struck me hard across my shoulder blades. A day later, I illustrated this trick to my friend Kylie, we held hands and absorbed the shock of it together, the thudding thrill. My parents never knew, and then either the cover was replaced or it lost its charm, and we had moved on to something else.

In another of these mysterious rooms, near the tank on its wooden stand with the tangled halo of blackberries beneath, our German Shepherd, Kina jumped up at me and I fell onto a piece of glass laying on the concrete outside the out-buildings. The skin between two fingers was cut, and needed later to be stitched. I have it still, this small scar, a emblem of demolished places, it is faded, inscribed as a faint white line crossed on one end with a single dot, as if a hieroglyph, untranslated, concealed between pointer and ring fingers of the right hand.

Unknown woman. Taken from the collection of Maggie Spence (dec).