It was important that no one took your photograph because you didn’t want to end up a rude picture for bad men to download. We were very sure of that, very certain in our certainty. ‘Noah Potnik has a program,’ Felix and Otis swore, ‘that strips the clothes from any photo to show what the person looks like underneath.’ Noah Potnik had nude pictures of Gal Gadot and Emma Watson and Gigi Hadid, and Felix and Otis told how he’d flashed these images to them with a horrible grin on the bus one afternoon, their eyes growing as big as paper plates because with this power a person could X-ray past the clothes of anyone they wanted, but that meant that even though for some reason Noah Potnik didn’t have any pictures of boys it must be possible that they, too – Felix and Otis – could end up flying around the internet where people would stare at them with their clothes off.... (read more)
O.G. and Tebita sat down by the river. Several minutes of confused communication had concluded, once again, in a revelation of O.G.’s obtuseness. O.G. had asked the name of the river, as it wasn’t yet the Nile. But Tebita kept saying iteru, which O.G. knew meant river. So O.G. pointed again to the water and said ‘But how is this river called? What is the name on it? Which river is this?’ And, despite the frustration, was impressed she could even ask the question three different ways after – was it five? – weeks in Abydos. Time, her friend, her enemy, had become difficult to reckon.... (read more)
A crow-shaped shadow flies across the river. Juna knows that her daughter is coming, so the right thing to do is make her favourite feed. Juna casts a fishing net over the river with her mind. The net drifts onto the surface, slips under the skin, and is swallowed by the water. The net descends through the deep water slowly, resting on the bed. River grass unflattens and pokes up between the spaces. Juna sings a song to attract fish to the area.... (read more)
When I walk by the security-office door on my break and it’s open, I snatch a look. The supermarket guards keep the door open when it’s hot, over forty. Right now, mid-February, that’s most of the time.‘You must get boiling with that headscarf on,’ my friend Skye says, almost whispering. We’ve been friends for weeks before she says this. I’ve seen the other girls wear strappy tops under their brown supermarket overalls.It’s only us in the staff tearoom, me and Skye in the plastic chairs, Mo standing against the wall in his silver trainers, drinking Nescafé. Mo glances up, he doesn’t miss a thing ...... (read more)
Certain days: it is easy to imagine this small, once-prosperous river town (barely distinct from many other small, once prosperous river towns) as if you are only passing through it, shunpiking the thruways in favour of the scenic rural two-lanes on a road trip in your better, your best life. The life in which your formidable boxer-turned-human-rights-lawyer wife has simply pointed to this town on a much misfolded map and declared: Here, lunch.... (read more)
I am a girl who knows how to hold a gun. On weekends, Dad drives me out to the pistol club, while Mum pulls white-sapped weeds from the garden. She plants natives that can handle the salt in the air; angular, bristling plants with angular, bristling names: banksia, grevillea, bottlebrush. A line of Geraldton Wax along the verge to replace some mean and blighted ...
Tom wasn’t supposed to bring the wig home; it was peeled from his scalp like a banana skin every night. Then it was arranged on a faceless polystyrene head that sat in front of his dressing room mirror.... (read more)
That winter it was bad and he often woke a little before midnight with his teeth aching and he would dress quickly and walk through the snow for an hour or so and later, when he came home, he saw the lights burning softly at her window. She didn’t seem to sleep much. Sometimes he stopped in the hallway and listened at her door but there was little to hear. Once he heard the squeak of a cork but there weren’t any voices and he liked the thought of her having a late night drink, alone, while the building slept.... (read more)