Jolley Prize 2013 (Shortlist): 'The Accident' by Kim Mahood

Later, Katherine seemed to remember a run of light around the box, the way desert air shimmers on the horizon. What she did remember clearly were the two women walking, flat-footed and rolling-hipped, dark limbs like animated hieroglyphs inscribing the space through which they moved, an inflated plastic bag capering at their heels like a family pet. It was one of those ubiquitous white supermarket bags that festooned the low wattle scrub surrounding the community. Simon said they were the deflated skins of white people who had been sucked dry and discarded. The bag bounced and leaped, higher and higher, until it could no longer resist its own euphoric elevation and went on up into the deep of the sky. She watched it until it had blown far out over the cliffs, as if out to sea. When she dropped her eyes, she saw the blue truck from the Twin Lakes community with Adam Sinclair at the wheel, wearing the wide-brimmed black hat that made him look like an extra in a spaghetti western. He swerved to avoid a cluster of children playing in the road, one wheel clipping a discarded cardboard box on the edge of the road.

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Kim Mahood

Kim Mahood

Kim Mahood is the author of two non-fiction books: Position Doubtful (Scribe 2016) and the award-winning Craft for a Dry Lake, (Random House/Transworld, 2000). She wrote the much-circulated essay ‘Kartiya are like Toyotas – white workers on Australia’s cultural frontier’, and co-edited Desert Lake: art, science and stories from Paruku, (CSIRO, 2013). Her work is published in art, literary, and current affairs journals.

Published in October 2013 no. 355