‘Is this your Mum?’ Adelaide asked the girl who had stuffed the pamphlet into Adelaide’s letterbox.
The girl stopped, turned, looked at Adelaide. She squinted, then nodded at Adelaide in a what’s-it-to-you kind of way. She took a jelly snake – an orange one – from the bag in her pocket, wrapped it around her pointer finger then sucked it off her finger with a loud and squelchy pop.
‘D’you have to stuff these envelopes last week?’ Adelaide asked. Her own fingers pulsed with the paper cuts of elections past.
The girl nodded again. There was a small piece of orange snake stuck to the front of her tooth.
‘Has your Mum promised you a sleepover when the election’s over?’ Adelaide asked.
‘Four,’ the girl said. ‘And boys until midnight.’
Adelaide had never thought to ask for boys.
‘How much you getting for election day? For handing out the how-to-votes?’
‘Tell your Mum my Dad promised me twenty five in 1983.’
The girl squinted again. She bit at her top lip, then her bottom.
‘D’you ever get paid?’ the girl asked.
Adelaide smiled and wished that a grown woman could ask a fifteen year old to share her jelly snakes.
‘Do you want your Mum to win?’ Adelaide asked.
The girl’s shoulders slumped just a little before she lifted her chin, flicked her hair and took two jelly snakes from the packet. They were both that dark pink – almost maroon – that had always been Adelaide’s favourite.
‘You’d better get going,’ Adelaide said. ‘I bet you’ve got this whole suburb to do.’
The girl sucked off the last jelly snake, then turned and walked away.
Adelaide moved to the front of the letter box, took the texta from her pocket, bent down and added a line to her ‘no junk mail’ sign.
And that includes all material related to the democratic process.
Adelaide stood back and cocked her head to the side as she looked at the letterbox. The words looked a little stark. She moved back in, added another line.
What you tell me now will make no difference to the way I vote.
Then Adelaide got in her car and drove to the shops to buy her own packet of jelly snakes.