Siew Siang Tay
When I tell Amanda about the possum, she thinks I am crazy.
"It was right here, I tell you," I say on the phone.
"Youre joking," she says.
"I swear, Amanda."
"Youre sure youre not making this up, Jeff? Possums dont wander
"I know that," I say, "but Im telling you, it got into this flat
Pause. I hear her sighing. I feel her taking five steps back.
"Jeff, you promised. No referring to us or we."
I take a deep breath. "Yeah, okay
sorry. Its been hard for me, Amanda.
Your things are all around me."
"I know. Two months, as I said. No more. Well talk then."
I grip the phone. "But whats that going to do?"
"Lets not go through this again, please. I told you, I need some
I look around the flat. Near the sofa are Amandas sandals that she wore when we
went to the seafront café just three weeks ago.
"Things okay there?" I say.
"Yeah. Ive got a little corner in the spare room. My sisters been
really good. Leaves me alone most of the time."
Another pause. The shrill voices of kids roller-blading outside drift in through the
"So, what did the possum do?" she says.
"It ate the pear on the bench top. I watched it crawl in from the window."
"Was it cute?"
"Oh yeah, just like the one we saw when we went camping last year."
"Yeah, thats right. It was on the tree, wasnt it? I remember its
eyes." Her voice lifts.
"You would have gone crazy looking at this one."
I see softness on her face.
"You would have, Amanda. Its eyes were huge, and it held the pear with its front
legs and nibbled."
thats sweet." She sounds dreamy.
"Furry little thing it was. You should have seen it. I walked towards it, and it
ran back out the window."
I hear the smile in her voice, her steady breathing.
"Well, I gotta go," she says.
"Okay. You take care, honey."
After I put down the phone, I go to the kitchen. I take out a ball of string from the
drawer. I tie the end of the string to the window knob. Pushing the window far out, I step
back and let the string uncoil from the ball. I walk to the hallway, trailing the string
across the floor of the living room. I give it a hard pull. The window slams shut.
Tomorrow, Ill put biscuit and cake crumbs on the bench top, and wait. Mustnt
forget to get a cardboard box on the way back from work. Yes, Ill punch holes in the
box so air can get through and line it with a blanket.
(Authors note: possums are small mammals native to Australia)