Day 239: Outback Dreaming

Outback Dreaming
Matt Zurbo

Wajhata was a shy Outback kid.

(Little Indigenous boy.)

Each dawn Wajhata would see the strangest thing.
(Hiding behind tree watching tourists prepare for a hot air balloon rides over Outback.)

(Wajhata looking up at dawn sky filled with four or five hot air balloons.)

When Wajhata wasn’t playing with his mates,
(Others in a scrum, laughing, kicking footy, throwing a rock, etc… pulling Wajhata along. He is still watching balloons, though.)

he was listening to Jack, one of the elder’s of his mob, talk about the Dreamtime.(Wajahata sitting on ground in front of elder Indigenous man with white beard telling tales on his porch.)

One day his teacher asked him; “If you could have anything, what would it be?”
“To ride in a hot air balloon near dawn!” Wajhata shouted.
(Wajhata shouting, big smile, everyone a bit shocked, balloons in window behind him.)

“You’re mad, mate! Only tourists go up in those balloons!” his friends told him.
‘That is a strange wish,’ his teacher thought.
(Playground, teacher watching, balloon in background.)

Yet Wajhata was obsessed!
(Wajhata stomping home, while cockies filling tree behind him.)

“Do you have any roo hide?” he asked his uncle.
(Uncle tanning hides in shed.)

“Do you have any rope?” he asked his cousin.
(Cousin in fishing tinnie, Wahjata standing in water shallows.)

He got the tools from his Dad and a gas cooker from the caravan park,
and with a kiss from Mum…
(Wajhata, determined face, hands so full of tools and bits of wood, he can barely see over them. Mum kissing his serious head.)

Wajhata built his own balloon!
(Patchwork small balloon made of animal hide being sewed together by Wajhata. Small, kid-sized balloon basket using sticks, already half made. Other kids in background, chasing goannas or playing in water.)

And the next morning, just before dawn…
(Wajhata dragging his airless balloon and gas cylinder in a shopping trolley, through desert, stars in sky, dawn just starting to show on horizon.)

Look out!
(Balloon bouncing along desert ground. Wajhata trying to hold on.)

(Balloon bouncing through mob of roos.)

(Teacher, Elder Jack, and Dad holding balloon basket, stoping it from hitting power lines. Mum angrily wagging finger at Wajhata.)

Nobody had thought Wajhata’s balloon would actually fly!

Wajhata’s teacher and Elder Jack arranged for Wajhata to go up in one of the tourist balloons on dawn.
(Teacher and Elder and Wajhata walking towards balloon, flame warming its air. Balloon operator coming out to greet them. Wajhata is behind Jack;s leg, clutching/peering around it.)

“Are you excited Wajhata?” the teacher asked. “The view up here is spectacular”
Wajhata said nothing, just kept looking over the side.

“I don’t think you understand,” Elder Jack said to the teacher. “Wajhata believes in the Dreamtime. It surrounds us. We walk through it every day.”
(Elder talking to teacher while Wajhata continues to look over side.)

“Mountains that are really giant lizards waiting to attack.”

“Gorges that are snakes trying to find their home.”

“Rock shelves, that are really spiders cried by a crocodile god.”

“A sun, that to some of us, is a burning emu egg thrown into the sky.”

“All these legends, these gods and stories, to see them all from up here as the light shifts to day, as they move with shadows…”

“Imagine…” Elder Jack said.

(Double page spread of balloon passing in front of GIANT bunyip and GIANT WAJHATA, GIANT galahs flying about them.)

“Imagine!” gasped Wajhata.
(Front on of Wajhata, wide-eyed, smiling, fingers clutching basket rim, as he peers over it.)

(Wajhata sitting on Elder Jack’s shoulders, pumping fist in air, as they, and teacher walk away from balloon in background. Balloon operator waving good-bye to them.)
The End

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