By the time Donna and Tim arrived back at the Station, the clouds had darkened and red dust swirled. They rode by uneasy corralled cattle and horses that were pacing the fences of an adjacent paddock. Flashes of lightning lit the lat horizon of rocky outcrops and stony plains where cattle were grazing unprotected from the elements. Moments later, the two men were rubbing down the sweating horses and preparing a night’s feed, when Donna arrived. Both horse and rider had obviously galloped frantically, the storm nipping at their heels.
Jo left her stall and walked up to Donna. She whispered, “Don’t get on the bus, tomorrow. Stay here, the boss will have some work and then we can decide things.”
“Can’t. Anyway, I’ve got no feelings for you, sorry.”
“That’s fine with me,” Jo responded. “What I wanted from you had nothing to do with feelings. Plenty more fish in the sea.”
Jo walked away, unaware of the tears forming in Donna’s eyes. She thought, life could be so unfair. Blast the broken down bus and now, this storm that would rob her of precious moments with Jo. She had been right to lie and deny her feelings for Jo. This would put distance between them. She knew that Jo had lied also. What they experienced out by the billabong was more than sex. Donna saw it in Jo’s eyes and Jo had asked her to stay at the station. They were in Shakespeare’s words, “Star-crossed lovers.”
Donna sighed and made her way to the main house. She would ask to make a satellite phone call to the town of Alice Springs, the destination of the broken down bus.
The Missus cheerfully led Donna to the main study and indicated the phone. She discreetly busied herself in the kitchen.
What she overheard caused her to bring out a bottle of rum and a bottle of vodka. There was also beer and wine if Donna would drink it. The Missus knew that after such a phone call, no one should be alone. Jo, she knew was busy with repairing the bus.
Three hours later, with plenty of Bundy rum inside her, Donna thanked the station owner’s wife for the phone call. As Betty Walker poured, Donna Evans talked. Betty, at first had spoken about life on the Station, but as the alcohol took effect, Betty was aware that her story paled against the life and death drama of the aboriginal woman before her. Betty sat for a long while after Donna had left. She racked her brains for ideas to help Donna.