Jolley Prize 2018 (Shortlisted): 'Ruins' by Madelaine Lucas

In the car we wound around the bay, which, on the map, made the shape of an ear with a tear-shaped island off the coast like a jewel earring. My mother and I were going to see the lighthouse out on the cape – or what was left of it anyway, which was not much, she told me, but stones and rubble. Sandstone stump crowning the headland.

Worth documenting though, she said, since we’re staying so close by.

We had taken up our usual positions – my mother at the driving wheel and me, her navigator. I had only recently got my licence and she had been encouraging, paying for lessons at a school for adult learners. But there was something about us living together – even temporarily, in our rented shack by the beach – that made us revert to our old roles. With my brother spending the holidays at his father’s up north, it was just the two of us that summer. I was my mother’s only passenger again, just like when I was small.

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Published in August 2018, no. 403

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