All is not as it seems in a quiet little village north of town.

The folks there wear sensible shoes and decently covering tops. It’s smiles and pleasant nods on arrival, yet there is a foulness to the place that rots and stinks as much as they see here in the city.

“So John, you don’t have many trees in the city where you live,” the P&C president says, pointing out that I don’t live in the village with the family, in front of the principal interviewing us for Chicky to attend school next year.

“Yes, we do in fact. My street is lined with them.”

Chick is writing his name in green pencil backwards. I rub his head.

“Did you know about what’s-her-face?” Dawn asks after the interview.

“No, what is it?”

“Well, apparently, she’s been told by her husband that she’s not contributing to their life by staying at home, so she needs to go and get a job. Just the other day, she told me she had to clean cupboards to justify her existence.”

“Hmmm… but is it true?” I peer at her. “Who would say that to their partner?”

“She told me, and the same as Craig’s mum. He just told her he’s leaving her and she has to move out of the house.”

“What, he wants to live in that massive house alone, and make her and three kids move?” I think about when I left. I took five books and five CDs.

“What a shit,” I add.

I think about the women in question. Both have a cool, calm appearance when picking up their kids from the playground.

I try and imagine what is going on in their minds and lives. How they cook dinner for their rowdy broods. How they open their eyes each morning vacantly staring at the woman in the mirror, wondering how their lives, once sunny, had become so foggy and cold.

As much as I know two lives around the quadrangle are in tatters, it makes our living situation look like a walk in the park.

There’s a darkness in every suburb.

In the bush around the village, there are trees to hide your secrets, but you never know who’s watching.

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