I phoned my father when I arrived.
He said ‘Your mum’s just round at Aunty El’s’ in such a way that I knew she wasn’t; that she’d left the room with her hand to her mouth when he’d first said hullo, love, and I felt so sorry for us all.... More
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 ... More
I walk in the door and Gran tells me that a month ago Leslie Mulligan was taken by a shark while trying to save a stranger. Imagine, a national hero. She actually says that. As though dying in a world of pain in an ocean filled with his own blood was a heroic choice.... More
1. You are going to die
Malcolm has every reason to believe that he’ll be fine. The word ‘fine’ laps gently in his mind like the outgoing tide in a sheltered bay. From resting heartbeat to penile erecti ... More
A visitation of Kindly Death is recorded by the Law List in a glass cabinet beside the sandstone doorway of Court Four in the City Courthouse, the sole item for the day’s business, and for many days:
Trial: R v Ali Bashir. (1) Murder (2) Assist Suicide.
The second count, rather than the first, is the reason f ... More
In 1979 in the town of Paradise Lake, women of fifty favour blue knitwear and Peter Jackson cigarettes. They cook sponges without a recipe, don’t mind a brandy and dry, and love their grandchildren with an intensity that takes some of them by surprise. They’re most readily distinguished, one from another, according to their golf handicaps and the generosity of t ... More
My sister watched the river drink me, and offered not a finger to pull me free. She was a colder creature than the water on my skin, and I should have known there was no turning her once her words were thinned, and her eyes dusk-rimmed. She watched me bob and nod to the river, her skirts clotted in her fists, and I don’t think she cared if I became wood or stone, ... More
The first time she came was remarkably with someone else. He had been doing more or less the same thing for about a week when it happened and she was glad but as is the nature of such thresholds it became a due before she could remember it being any different. Few things blow you away. Though it was mysterious at first she soon had it in her own power. Once years la ... More
Behind the houses the river slides away all night. Buttery and resinous, the air hangs heavy with the river murk, the wet stink of the mudbank. Across the water, the railway sidings with their abandoned boxcars lie quiet, generations of graffiti hiding whatever colour they may have been. Beyond, the ibises stalk the salt flats, reeking brackish plains filled with se ... More
Let us take a look at this place. Marshlands. All the way to the horizon. The land drained, but nevertheless sinking. Sinking into nothing, nothing but itself. Frogs volleying noise in the grass unseen. The hazy movement of mosquitoes low to the ground. On a blade of swamp grass a sleek cricket. Blacker than night and – look closely – its antennae twitching. Jus ... More