They’d been playing for most of the afternoon, despite the cold, but as soon as the light began to fade, their mothers began summoning them inside. Time for dinner. See you tomorrows were called with cheer as one by one they left the square, until eventually it was just Martin remaining. He watched the sky swell grand and purple, felt the cold turn piercing, and then made his way out of the square, back to the street, urban branches closing and tugging at his coat on the way. He emerged on the wrong side. The layout was strange and entrancing at this hour, and all roads lead home eventually, he’d been told, by someone at some time. And so he walked, passing long terraces of quiet houses, then he turned right because that felt right, then left because that felt right too.
The latest issue of Roomers magazine is out now.
Includes The Searing, a short story by me.
He pulls on swimming trunks, a loose shirt. His towel he grabs from the side of the bath, keys from the hallway, and he walks the five minutes to the sea wall. He’s nearly alone down there, it’s just gulls, two dogwalkers, a couple of noisy teenaged skinnydippers after an all-nighter. Prompted by their brazenness he also strips completely, spreads the towel along the base of the wall and lies.
For more information on the Roomers project: http://www.roomers.org.au/about/
My short story The House In The Sky will be read by Tim McQueen on Cover To Cover and broadcast on Vision Australia Radio this Friday, 2 November, at 8 PM (AEST), repeated Sunday 4 November at 1.30 PM (AEST).
Cover To Cover is produced and presented by Tim McQueen, and can be heard on the radio in Australia, or streamed online from anywhere in the world.
Radio frequency and other details and an online listening link can be found here:
The program will be available as a podcast shortly after broadcast.
My short story The Birthday was read recently on Vision Australia Radio’s weekly Cover To Cover literary program. The podcast of that week’s program is available here:
Cover To Cover is produced and presented by Tim McQueen. The Birthday was read by Mike Cannon.
‘How old are you?’ he asked.
‘How old do you think I am?’ she said.
She too was wearing a mask, so he had only clothing choices, posture, eyes, mouth, and voice to go on. She was tall. Her hair was thick and dark, though he wasn’t sure what that told him. ‘I’m no good at this,’ he said.
‘No good at what?’ Her voice clear, low, unhurried.
‘At ages. Guessing.’
‘You don’t have to answer,’ she said. ‘Keep it to yourself. However old you think I am, that’s how old I am.’
Later, still masked, on a couch in a different room, they drank bitter clear liqueur from tiny glasses. ‘Have you noticed,’ she said, ‘how I haven’t asked you about your age?’ She licked her lips. Her tongue was deliberate, and pinkly vibrant.
He said nothing, and nothing was expected, then after a while, ‘No, I hadn’t noticed,’ he said, ‘but I’m aware now.’ He thought some more then said, ‘I did notice that you didn’t query the relevance of my question.’
‘Which question?’ she said.
‘The one about your age.’ He thought he’d only asked her the one.
‘Didn’t I?’ she said, and perhaps she smiled. He detected for the first time a delicate perfume, hers, a hint of white flowers, and something else, something suggesting softness and marshmallow, and then it was gone, absorbed in the incense burning from another part of the building.
Later still, when he was alone with the realisation that they wouldn’t meet again, with the knowledge that she’d been accurate in calling their encounter a one-off, he was puzzled by an inability to recall the details of the mask she’d been wearing, other than its having definitely been a mask. Its shape, colour, texture and material, how it had been secured, all was lost and absent. All seemed important, particularly as he’d never once sighted her full face. This vagueness bothered him, and the bother would thrive and sometimes visit, surprising, as the years peeled away.