It takes more than half an hour to put on all the layers of the dry suit. First the woollen thermals, then the thick undersuit and the neoprene seals around the neck and wrists. Finally, the membrane shell. All this before we even look for the hole in the ice. By the time we hit the water we are as plump and blubber-thick as the more cold-adapted creatures: seals, whales, little penguins that leave trails of bubbles blurred behind them like a zoetrope strip. Pierre calls it our sumo suit, the ‘Japanese Squeeze’. Will tells him it’s the closest Pierre’s ever got to an exotic embrace. Pierre says he is innocent and pure and doesn’t want to know about Will’s sordid carry-on. We’ve been working together so long that this kind of thing seems funny. When we step off the Zodiac onto the ice, we move like one gangly animal. We scan the horizon and sniff the air. The centre of gravity low in our bodies, every bit of us on high alert to feel if the frozen sheet bends at our step. There are no shadows here. It makes it hard to see what we’re looking for: a place where the ice opens and we can slip down into the hanging cathedral beneath.
Jolley Prize 2015 (Shortlist): 'Crest' by Harriet McKnight
Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month. We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen. If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Harriet McKnight lives in Melbourne. In 2014 her work was shortlisted for the Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize, and published in The Lifted Brow: Digital Edition. In May 2015, she featured as the writer in residence for The Suburban Review. Harriet has worked since 2013 as the deputy editor of The Canary Press.
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to email@example.com. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.