A Body of Water
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 mud bank. Across the water, the railway sidings with their abandoned boxcars lie quiet, generations of graffiti hiding whatever colour they may have been. Beyond, the ibis stalk the salt flats, reeking brackish plains filled with seawater gone soupy, which the sea breeze blows across, filling the town with smell of rotting kelp. And then, last, the sea itself, tin-grey and wallowing, thick and cold like old blood. Between the flats and the water the smooth sand stretches a kilometre or more, and here the ships lie, the metal of their broken hulls slowly being eaten by the salt air. The sky above is the colour of ocean, the horizon gone. A flock of cormorants punctuates the grey, oily wings stretched black, hanging themselves in the wind to dry. All around the rusting hulks sit silent, unmoving.
'A Body of Water' was highly commended in the 2011 ABR Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Award.
The story was published by Australian Book Review online and you can read the full piece here.