Saturday, August 21, 2010

The size of the yachts

She looked out over that water now, so glossy and harmless and lovely and she remembered the Westerly that came up after that morning of rowing. A westerly wind, they had said, would only blow them home. But, they hadn't thought about the waves it might generate, or the way the water could hide them in its valleys so that the bigger boats wouldn't see them. They hadn't planned that. And Sam, waving down a fisherman who towed them to Deepwater cove leaving them there with a 'Will you be alright to get on now?' where the wind was all up on the shore. Elise couldn't remember being afraid. Was that just because she had a foolish faith that Sam would never let her down? Or had she not let herself think through what she would do if they capsized under the big fast yachts that whirred in the wind and made their own waves as they passed.

Across the Water

The next morning the house was quiet. Specks of sunlight threw themselves out from under the tall spotted gums and up from the water. The wind sprinkled salt on Sasha's newly washed windows. Elise took a cup of tea onto the veranda and perched herself in the corner where a patch of sunlight aproned across the dry splintery boards. She had a pen and the new journal, but she paused there, looking down on the water and the boats. There were children down on the beach laughing and shouting. There was a dog chasing a ball out into the small waves. A shoal of small boats scattered themselves across the view their white sails in sharp relief against all the blue and muted mauve of the hump of national park across the water. What was she thinking? Was it about a day, years ago now - she and the boy she was with (Sam, who held on to her as if she was the only thing he'd ever found, that floated) took a dinghy out across that water. They hadn't set out for the opposite shore - but that was where they turned the boat, bow into the wavelets. Dodging the taller yachts Sam rowed them all the way to the rocky shore on the other side. That day, looking back across the water you could see the many houses and mansions and panels of glass built up on the other side of the inlet. Their small cottage was buried under the trees, invisible from that distance. On that side, when they landed and pulled their boat up onto a tiny strip of sand that usually would have been underwater, there was nothing but trees and vines, rocks and seaweed. They picnicked on a boulder up above the beach, looking out over the water. Elise couldn't remember what they talked about. In fact, she barely remembered anything they ever said to one another. Though there was some distant echo - was it her? - saying that the relationship was so solid she felt she could do anything, branching out of there, reaching for the sky... And that day, the day of the dinghy and Sam rowing all the way across the water, (innocent, she remembered now, of the blustery afternoon that would follow) it was a remarkable tide, so low that mudflats were laid out for them to explore. So low that walking out beyond the tidal zone, rubbish from another era was collectable for the first time in years. Beer bottle of thick unleavened glass, the cursive script on them so worn out by the waves that it was illegible. Elise remembered pulling them out of their comfortable beds in the mud. Later, she used them as candle-holders. But there was something about that day, Sam, she remembered now, had just shorn off his sparkling blonde hair. She remembered him, standing with a quilt around his shoulders, holding a bottle of aunty Veri's beefeater gin.

Broken moment

But, then it was interrupted. Sasha's phone rang, it was her father. She glanced at Elise and got to her feet, taking her wine she walked quickly back along the pier and went up steps towards the cottage. Elise looked at her own small hands with their oval nails and then at the water and the boats. The corellas and lorikeets started to settle. The light got yellower and yellower. Elise waited there, but Sasha didn't come back.

On The Peir

So that is how they ended up there. Sitting on the pier on their first night with a glass of wine each - listening to the corellas finding roosting spots and the lap lap hush of the water on the rocks and against the boats. The hollow tonging of the boats against their moorings. And it was Elise's thought as she wiped the condensation from her glass I must write about this; this is the kind of thing I need to include in my book. This exact scene. The early evening light was catching the gold out of Sasha's hair and smoothing her skin until she seemed almost perfect, sitting with her knees in a triangle looking out towards the island and the open sea. This was the way, Elise decided, she would always remember her - fix her now, this spot, this point in time, this glass of cold clear wine, this breeze. This moment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dreamtime horse

But, to Sasha the conversation was all promises. They had spoken mildly about the idea of moving to Elise's grandfather's waterside shack - to discover what it was they could do without the financial grief of rent. They would hire themselves out as cleaners - tie their hair up in scarves and pour buckets of bleach on expensive bathrooms. They would stay awake all night composing stories and songs. They would breathe the fresh air from the sea and their creative lives would flow from there. They would become famous - because all it took was enough passion and enough time and it would all happen from there. At least, that's how it felt for a while to Sasha, who was old enough to know that Elise's dreams were just that. And she drove off into the rain thinking of an old song she once used to sing. Something about hitching a ride on a dreamtime horse - was it? Or was that just her memory, playing tricks?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This is what SHOULD be happening when I write these paragraphs, but it rarely is


Of course Sasha wasn't magic, but she did change everything. They walked and walked through the rain that afternoon, around the back-streets of Newtown across the Uni campus into Glebe and around the foreshore then back up Glebe Point Rd. Sasha left her car where she'd pulled it up when she'd seen Elise - somewhere near Newington Rd. She put up her large green umbrella and they continued arm in arm, heads together, at talking pace. And it was one of those conversations that covered everything and nothing. From high school boys to Sasha's father, from what happened when Elise met Eddy to how the rain was also talking to them from the umbrella. When she had dropped Sasha back at her car, Elise sat for a moment and tried to recall exactly what they had said. To her, it seemed what had been woven thought their talk was their disappointment in others. One after the other friends, lovers, bands and poets had let them down. Family proved little comfort, possibilities bubbled up in the air. They wanted to write and sing, give the world the gift of themselves. How was it then, that the world was so hard and so heavy and ungrateful? How did you win against such weight? You had to do it for yourself, because you loved it and then move from there. You had to ignore societal expectations and live for your art. You had to get the hell out of here.