My husband and I are working as border guards for people who try to enter via the coast at the topmost end of Australia. It’s hot and dry, yellow scrub everywhere, and in the middle of a dirt patch we stand at a flat table covered with documents.
In time my husband goes off to a different section and leaves me in charge overnight. He rings on the telephone at one point and asks me to arrange a sign that we can hang from a tree. The sign must read:
‘All visitors, please shake hands with the official party as you enter the coastline.
I see a family arrive at one stage. The woman/mother of the group holds back from crossing the border, a thin strip of land between the ocean and the shore. The others race ahead. They want to come here; she does not. They skip across easily while she is not looking and then once alone she has no choice but to follow.
My daughter helps me with the sign. She sticky tapes together two sheets of A4 and pins them to the tree.
When my husband finally returns in the morning he tells me he had trouble sleeping. It was so hot outside. But I, on the other hand, slept like a baby.