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They bound through the house, their elephantine footsteps making the floor shake.
The raucous laughter and jeering reverberates off the walls as one of them falls in the hallway.
The fallen, quite unabashed, joins in laughing, not too proud to laugh at themselves.
Their energy electrifies the household; always somewhere to go, something to do, someone to annoy.
Gumboots pile at the back door, a deathly maze that only the experienced can navigate.
Jackets and leggings are in crumpled piles on the floor, shed like old skin.
Always the smell of eggs, patties and spaghetti cooking in the air.
Booming music dances all through the house, assaulting our eardrums.
Motorbike races; taking the paddock racer for a spin; sliding down a snowy hill on a skateboard with the wheels taken off; army games at the monument; mockumentaries of their futile escapades of trying to bush-bash a four-wheeler track; backyard fires in a ring of bricks so they can cook their cans of Christmas spaghetti; trying to cover up the fact they had driven the motorbike into a pond or got it stuck or rolled it, even though Mum always knew.
Their energy is unlimited.
They're gone now.
No more bouncing down the hall and straight to the fridge.
No more food fights because someone got the last potato.
The house is practically empty; the faded and worn furniture are the only things inside apart from the last two occupants.
The back door is relatively clean; the gumboots are lined neatly out of the way, the wet-weather gear hung neatly, the concrete swept and void of any traps for the townies.
Vegetables are eaten now, and the music is down to a level where you can converse without sign language.
The floors in the rooms are sparkling, the beds neatly made, awaiting their return.
And they do return, for this is home.
• By Carolyn Leslie Year 11, Catlins Area School