Split lip, split up, split the difference, split it down the middle — that’s what they did.

Hugh convinced the judge to give him half the house. I was gutted.

Sat in that cold courtroom and imagined our Queenslander with a ‘For Sale’ sign, prospective buyers tramping through our living room — where Luca took his first steps, where we’d blown out candles on birthday cakes for 13 years, said hip hip hooray.

I pictured a real estate agent: dyed blond hair, too much lipstick. What happened next was worse.

It was a Tuesday morning in May; I was making porridge. Outside a crow cawed. Inside a gecko scampered cross the kitchen wall. Luca heard a truck, ran to the living room, opened the blinds.

Oh my God.

Outside a man in high-viz said: ‘Yous got two hours to empty it.’


‘Which half you gettin?’ High-viz held up a chainsaw.

Luca cried when he watched half our house on the back of a truck disappear down Elizabeth Street on its way to a property in Rosewood.

That night it didn’t rain — thank God — but I couldn’t sleep. The wind blew Luca’s Spanish flash cards round the room. I lay there under the imperfect for iryo iba, tú ibas. I could feel passersby staring in. Never felt so exposed. The next day neighbours came with hammers, helped board it up.

‘Now there’s like zero light,’ Luca said.

‘Least we’re not fighting.’

‘Dad says you wanted to split.’

‘The marriage, not the house!’

These days I sleep in Luca’s room. Hugh’s got the main bed, bath, and living room out in Rosewood. I have the kitchen; Hugh doesn’t cook.

There’s nowhere to sit down, no room of my own. At night I lie on the floor, listen to my son’s breaths and wonder how I could’ve done things differently with that literal man.



IMAGE CREDIT: Photo at top of story by Nikolai Chernichenko


  • Sarah Klenbort

    Sarah Klenbort is a Brisbane-based writer and academic. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Best Australian Stories, Overland, Island and Eureka Street.

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