This piece was originally published on my InkAshlings blog in 2015 as part of the If Book Australia project, but I recently re-shared the piece with my newsletter so thought I’d also re-post to my author website. Enjoy!
My hips wedge against the boat rim. I can taste the roughness of knotted rope at my mouth. Thick braids constrict my hands, feet, waist. With the movement of the boat, I roll into cracked and peeling painted edges.
I had defined myself by him and me: Paul and grey stone pylons, pebbled sand underfoot, waves crashing, shoreline to shoreline. Back then, I imagined that our love would run free, our feet taking wing. Like Jesus we’d walk on water into sunset, coming out the other side, unscathed…
“Hestia, Hestia,” he said early in.
“Not Hestia. Ruthie, remember?”
Too dark. Too reticent to be flaming Hestia.
He stroked my cheek.“My island worshipping Hestia, darling.” His eyes burn smoke rings on my retinas as he flings liquid all over.“Sacred heart, sacred flame, burn bright for me.”
The boat lulls gentle on cresting tips. He hasn’t shared salt spray or the scaly damp of silver fishies. Rainbows reflect in slick oil.
He drops the match, leaps ashore and pushes the crackling boat into deeper sea.
Blistering skin. Obscured by smoke and flame.