Still here

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  • Published 20100601
  • ISBN: 9781921656163
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

ENORMOUS THINGS ARE in the water now. Bull sharks roll below the surface and carp with whiskers like whips slip under the house. A great swatch of brown cloth, the water won’t break – it just bulges and inhales as if it were a single living creature. Peter and I make promises, like when the water gets this high – and we mark it on the stilts with blue Texta – we’ll leave. But we’ve made eight blue marks, first from the ground in our gumboots, and the last three Peter hung upside down from the veranda to draw them. Each blue mark disappears overnight, regular enough to make us paranoid that someone is floating past to rub them out, rather than the waters actually rising. And so, on account of our suspicion, we’re still here.

On his haunches, feet wrinkled and blue from the cold, Peter spits at the water from the veranda. His phlegm clings to the stumps. The air rings with the tinnitus of mosquitoes. The lichen that grew on the shower curtain is spreading all over the walls like a pale green flocking. The carpet squelches under my gumboots. In Beth’s old bedroom, the pink paint is lifting off the walls, bubbling like a rash. Her single bed, neatly made with a colourful crocheted rug, stands solid in the water. The stilts at the back of the house have sunk lower than the front, so the rear of the house is filling with water and collecting in the belly of her old wardrobe. Tadpoles dart through the ground-floor rooms of her flooded dolls’ house.

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