On Titirangi Road my grandfather’s dog was squashed dead. My grandfather hiked dry-eyed up the drive, and scraped her off the concrete. He said that he knew this would happen.
Cars hurl angry along the street’s arc, and thin footpaths cower by the roadside, often vanishing, alternating sides, forcing pedestrians to dodge between SUVs. Thorny rose stems and mean branches snake over fences, poking walkers further towards the traffic. In the dark, gold flashes below in either direction. This ridge doesn’t fringe heaven, but city light.
On the night of the squashing, this street was red-handed with a fox-terrier-sized stain.
My grandmother buried vacuum cleaner dust in the ironsand at Piha. Suzie, beloved fox terrier, had died. Getting her body back was expensive. Little black and white hairs from the vacuum bag were almost the same.
A year later, we released my grandmother’s ashes to the feet of a Piha pohutukawa, its flowers the same red as the polish on her bed-bound toes. The West Coast ocean pummelled and foamed. It sucked in its breath then roared.
Now, my cousin and I walk the shimmering black sand, soles burning. We dig our toes in. She says: This is The Sand.
The Porsche Cayennes are like ants swarming Remuera Road. They whisk the scab-coloured boys of King’s Preparatory School back home behind privet hedges and security gates. Their world is one where the jewellery store has an intercom and where, at Christmas, shop windows are decorated with matching stencils.
But I am there to work; I am tutor to the Porsche Children. Their maroon backpacks wait beside them as they study, each embroidered with a golden, trust-funded name.
I told one boy I’d never been overseas. He looked up at me, blue eyes wide, and said: ‘Why? Do you have allergies?’