Notes: Written for a kink meme prompt examining the damage left on Australia's psyche by Terra Nullius. Bit short, but oh well.
He's twenty five, seventy, a hundred and ten, two hundred and twenty five, forty thousand. He began, he must have began or else he would not be, but there's no point he just popped into existence and it's becoming a bit of an irritation.
Arthur told him what he was; gripped his hand when he was a small boy (however long he had been one for) and told him You belong to me, boy. And for years upon years Australia believed him; held tight and kept quiet knowing what he was - he was for England, and he should have been proud of that fact.
But then England let him go, pushed him away, told him to live his own life. Then came the rest of the world - men with golden and sea-green eyes, who settled and lived and became a part of him. So Australia didn't have his purpose anymore.
And then he had to remember...
Of all that's missing from his memory, one thing he recalls is a giant bloody snake. Which is ironic because that probably never happened. But it's important enough to remember, even if it's not real; this great creature which shaped his land and created mountains and gorges. If he ever began to exist, such a process would have to start with the physical.
Sometimes he thinks he remembers; sometimes he thinks he remembers he's supposed to remember. His elders are no help; they don't seem particularly concerned with his unending existential crisis. Even if it turns out he began before it, he still wears the face of the white men who stole their land. So he cannot blame them.
He's a mongrel of a country and he knows it. He can't be proud of it the way America is - he hates to admit it, but Alfred has taken all these different elements from all these different nations and created something thrilling and new. Australia has taken all these different elements from all these different nations and just... been. He's not sure what he is. When he sees what he seems to be to others reflected back at him, it seems off. Like they've copied the surface elements while missing the absolute core of his character - but he's not sure what exactly they've missed, so he can't complain.
And despite being such a menagerie of different things, he's so scared of different things. And he hates himself for it. He tries to stop all these people coming to him, changing him, and yet he desperately wants them to be part of him.
There's another person too who he met long ago, though after Arthur and his elders (if that ever happened). The man who mined his gold and buys his coal; who has never stopped coming to his country no matter what he does; who always calls him a reckless child (aru) but grasps his hand and helps him to the modern era. He is always brand new and always forever, and Australia can't have known him more than a few hundred years, and maybe that makes the argument that a few hundred years is all he's had, but if he's known the man all his life why does he feel like a stranger so often?
His earth is burnt and cracked under the southern sun; the serpent still crafts even if he was never real. And those lines in the earth, they widen and widen and one day Australia will fall right down the rabbit hole.
A few explanatory notes:
-The various ages: 25 = 1986, when the British court officially ceased to be part of Australian government; 70 = 1942, when Australia effectively achieved independence from Britain; 110 = 1901, federation; 225 = 1788, first British settlement of Australia; 40,000 years ago is first indigenous settlement of Australia.
-England 'letting him go' = independence was pretty much forced upon us. Then lots of migration, largely from southern Europe (men with golden and sea-green eyes = Greece and Romano)
-'Giant bloody snake' = the Rainbow Serpent, important aspect to many Australian Aboriginal creation myths.
-Chinese people have migrated to Australia since the 19th century, particularly during the gold rush; currently China is an important economic partner to which we export mineral resources. Attempts to curb Chinese migration have occurred.
-Rabbits are an introduced species to Australia who have caused much damage.