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White Tail

Although it had been well over a year since she had seen him, he looked the same. Great wedges of his stomach overhung the belt of his trousers, his steps were measured enough to count as she watched the giant bell of his body toll its way up the path.

Kura raised her hand in a deferential wave and fortified herself against the curt, open-handed salute, suspended in the air for the duration of one toll of the bell. The Wellington wind gusted but her father’s face, below his black suede hat, was set. He walked up the slow incline to the doorway.

With his last step her father snapped his legs together and locked his knees, balancing the barrel of his belly. Now that he was close, Kura could see his lips alternately smacking together and pursing as if he were a fish. She leaned in for the customary peck on the cheek and a deafening ‘kia ora’.

In the hall, Kura manoeuvred to pass, but her father led the way straight through the lounge and directly into the kitchen. With her dodging around behind him, he did one circuit of the tiny room before sitting in the corner at the table.

Kura offered him black coffee and he sat back in his chair, folded his arms over his belly and stowed his hands under his armpits. Belly lifted, Kura could see the yawning zip of his open fly.

‘Looks like his mother.’ Her father lifted his chin in the direction of one of her photos on the window sill, his voice obtrusive in the small room.

‘What did you call him?’

‘Pono.’ The shouting to one another, regardless of the available space,
was mandatory.

‘Doesn’t suit him.’

Kura smiled at Pono’s pale skin.

‘He’s just turned one,’ she said.

The only available seat left both of them cramped and silent. Her father sculled his coffee without taking a breath and shifted uncomfortably in the chair. Kura lingered over hers, engrossed in the pretence of sipping and using the vapours to obscure the smell of leather.

‘How have you been?’ she offered.

‘Good.’ He gave a short bounce of his head.

‘How are Steff and the girls?’

‘Good, good.’ Another nod.

Her father breathed in and out suddenly, like a great bellows, and cleared his throat, but nothing followed.

‘So what brings you to Wellington?’

‘Had to drop something off. Watch out!’

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