“Hurry!” shouted Dad. “Get in the car! We shoulda left an hour ago!”

“Not our fault, ” grumbled Jacko. “We waited all day, for you. ALL DAY!”

Jacko was angry and got into the back seat, shrinking into the corner. Five children were squashed along the back seat with the baby held on Mum’s lap on the front bench seat. The eldest daughter was sandwiched between Dad and Mum.

Dad strapped the provisions onto the roof rack and strapped the open boot over the various shapes poking out. The family and all supplies needed for the next two months were crammed into every nook and cranny of the old beat up Holden sedan. The drive home would take five hours.

When all was secure Dad jumped in the car and they drove off. Dusk was a dangerous time to drive. Dad continually slowed and swerved to avoid the roos eating at the side of the road. Just an hour onto the dirt road, a bump and more bumps, caused Dad to stop the car. A flat tyre. Although expected on these outback roads, it was a nuisance they could ill afford. Especially when the spare tyre was under all the day’s shopping that was in the boot.

Silent and edgy whilst changing the tyre, Dad jumped back in the car and started off again with a skidding of wheels and shower of dust behind.

“I’m hungry, ” sobbed the toddler sitting on Betty’s knee in the back.”Betty, get the sandwiches out and share them around, ” said Mum.

“Where are they?”

“Please tell me you haven’t got your feet in the basket.”

“Oops. Sandwich, Essie?”

Essie grabbed the sandwich and gobbled it down within moments and reached for another. Everyone ate, except Dad. They imagined the frown that couldn’t be seen in the dark.

Typically there wasn’t any other traffic.

Dad reached for the rear view mirror and twisted it. Again and again, he did this. Finally Mum asked, “What’s wrong with the mirror.”

“Nuthun. The bastard follerin me won’t dim ‘is lights.”

Mum looked over her shoulder and saw the light.

“It’s a fair way back. Shouldn’t bother you.”

“It’s gettin’ closer. Goin’ too fast on this road.”

Dad began to speed and Mum to plead.

“Slow down! What’s got into you?”

“That mongrel’s tryin ta run us off the road!”

Jacko started to cry.

Arla said quietly, “Dad.”

“What?”

“Dad, that’s not a car or truck coming.”

“What is ut then?”

“I reckon it’s a Min Min light.”

“I never thought you’d be stupid enough to swallow Aboriginal superstition, Arla. You’ve got a brain, you ‘ave. Min Mins are just for the ignorant.

Arla sat back in her seat, embarrassed. Dad hit the rear view mirror several more times and the light stayed right with him, coming closer and moving up and down. When the landscape changed after four hours of driving and there were a few hills, the light came really close to the car, then vanished upwards.

Arla didn’t say a word. Neither did Dad.

Note: Min Min lights are known phenomena in outback Australia. I never saw one, but then I knew better than to drive across vast distances at night.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/stories/s818193.htm

http://www.bepacked.com/content/AboutAustralia/en_au/myths.cfm

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