the summers in nan’s garden

the light is hot and gold, spilling across our faces. daytime sunshine burnt our cheeks and our foreheads, but now the sun is dying, cooling, seeping like a wound across the skyline. the air stays thick and humid, unmoving. our little bodies sweat. i am eight, my brother and sister are six.

then the sprinklers erupt with a sizzling, tired hiss. crumbs of cold water scatter in sharp rivulets against the red of the sky. they pelt our skin, suddenly, shockingly. droplets are like metal coins against our chests, dripping down our arms, from our fingertips.

squeals of delight shoot through the drowsy neighbourhood. they dip between the eucalypts. through nan’s parched flower bushes. across the road. our skin slides against each other as we dance, slimy, soft. my grandparents watch us from the red brick porch.

the grass is orange and scorched and sharp and stinging the skin of our bare feet. but it softens as the sprinklers turn the ground to mud.  my brother yelps, and retrieves a prickle that has wedged into the cranny between his two littlest toes. the world smells like arid australian summer, steaming asphalt roads and wilting buildings. it tastes like the sweet, faintly grass-flavoured, water as we tilt our head backs and wiggle our tongues. it sounds like giddy laughter. it feels like summers in nan’s garden.

minisaga, #1

title: Her brother drinks from the milk carton

She squints as he lumbers to the milk. As lips press to it, she growls, “Glass?

Triumphant, condescending, he explains, “It means I’m drinking the rest.”

Next day, after packing away the groceries, she apprehends him–

“No glass?”

She smirks. His eyes widen.

Hours later, he is pale, still drinking.

those on the bus, #2: finbar

finbar sits in his ragged shirt; it is unbuttoned, and the wind is slinking across his chest and into the sleeves. yellow shoots of scorched grass press into the backs of his legs. a surfboard lies beside him. he runs a brown hand through brown hair, pushing it off his forehead and behind an ear. he is callused and dry and sunburnt and windswept; eyes red from the salt water. his lips are chapped. there is skin peeling above his collarbones.teetering on the outskirts of his thirties, finbar left his home in eltham, victoria, at nineteen, and never went back, drawn to the sea. he epitomised the traveller: unruly and brashly confident, warm with charisma but isolated. he blazed across the world, sometimes quietly, adrift to people and unanchored to time. he smiled and thumbs-upped his way into backpackers and three star motels and out again, into cheap meals and free rides–

there are seagulls croaking at him. he throws a handful of sand at them, then looks guilty. the breeze runs hot, unkind fingers through his shaggy hair. the fabric of his shirt winces away from it. he has to pick up his son in an hour. but he only stares at the ocean.