A screaming girl directly across the way wouldn’t let up, yesterday early afternoon in continual fits and starts rising and falling. Then in the morning renewed again. There was no end to it over more than two hours; child kept on without wearying herself. A four storey $3-4m corner house where some weeks ago a gathering in the front courtyard showed traditional conservative Malay, or Indian-Malay. Neighbours on the other side and across the street must have heard. Was it up to an outsider to go over to investigate? The girl was not being beaten; the screeching unvaried, all in steady, even rhythm on and on. There was no-one tormenting the child; but then neither was anyone pacifying. Six or seven year old perhaps; unlikely younger or much older. Had it been some kind of abuse the prolongation was unlikely so long; the uniformity suggested otherwise. Somewhere in the front part of the house she kept, unmoving and trapped in her misery. The windows on the north side of the house gave directly onto the street, some fifteen metres away on the other side of a narrow lane separating. How could there be no help for the young girl and no end to her trouble? Going out for the morning teh cars and motor-cycles parked in front. An odd white cloth the size of a tea-towel was hanging from a stick tied to the lamp-post. Beyond and only visible on the turn amongst the other vehicles, the polished black van with raised hatch and gold lettering like a purring beast set to devour its prey.
Australian by birth and Montenegrin origin, Pavle Radonic has spent eight years living in SE Asia. Previous work has appeared in a range of literary journals, including Ambit, Big Bridge, Orca, New World Writing Quarterly and Citron & Antigonish Reviews. Panoply carried an earlier piece of Pavle’s May, 2020.