Friday, June 20, 2008

Excerpt from 'The Changes'

The following is an excerpt from my short story 'The Changes', submitted to the Australian Jazz Writing Competition:

... Julian came to Melbourne from Sydney in 1967, the year I was born. He was twenty-three years old. It was that year in a man’s life when his freedom dawns on him. It was the Summer of Love, and even if Australia was six months out of sync, seasonally speaking, still he could feel the changes moving, something momentous and signifying behind the somniferous hum of lawnmowers and bees. Restlessness was in his skin, an itch for wind and loneliness and sunburn. When he played his guitar it was all diminished scales, edgy and unresolved, evading the root and rolling on like a tumbleweed.

He’d been seeing a girl himself at the time, kind of seriously: they’d even moved in together. But as he lay in her arms in the old Balmain weatherboard they were renting, the mosquitoes whining in the dark and the moon making a slick of light on his chest, he’d felt her slipping off him, like a drowning person slipping from a rock. With every inhalation of the redolent summer air he felt he was growing bigger, too big for her, this pretty, good-natured girl. Her arms were slipping off his gigantic chest.

So he left, drove away down the grassy drive, her image bouncing and shaking in the rear vision mirror and her tears still salty on his lip. It was already late afternoon, and the sun burnished his cheek and the wind through the open window was warm and smelled of wisteria and exhaust. He forced the gear lever into second and caught a last glimpse of her turning and walking back towards the house. Then he faced the road that climbed ahead of him, still hot enough from the dying day that at the crest of the hill a puddle of sky leaked into the bitumen, evaporating as he approached.

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