Otto Baker Hawkins 2019
As I plunged into the icy water, my face reflected off a million shards of ice, shimmering in the water as they flew through swirling currents that battered the waves. The cold shocked me like lightening and my eyes glazed against the freezing wall of water. I was thrown around like a rag, my bones ripping, and red dust flew out of my pores as I sunk slowly down to the depths.
The blackness was black beyond sight, I could feel it within my bones as they creaked and shuddered. Pure white fish drifted past me with unseeing eyes and glowing hearts, glimmering and shining in the darkness. They howled at me as I passed, the water ripping them apart in their rage. As their shining bodies passed me they faded into everlasting gloom leaving me alone in the frozen night. The water was like ink, still and soundless, I could feel it pressing against my skin. The cold was immeasurable growing and writhing within me as I rose ever downwards, I felt its presence in droplets of red dust all sinking slowly downwards.
All panic was driven from my mind by the cold, icy beyond comprehension, pulling me closer and closer to oblivion. Chunks of ice swarmed around me and time within me passed slower and slower. My eyes closed and I found myself, deep within my mind. It was a strange dark place, where movement did not exist and my life swelled as if within an endless dream which refused to end.
I could see myself, trapped in a boundless depth where I was not reality, it was a strange sensation that I felt as I looked at my broken scarred body and left it behind. The stars shined in my eyes as red dust slowly wormed into my blood and poured out of my veins.
I was. Or maybe not. The cold was far more real than I was.
My realization pulled me out of my dream and left me dazed. I was falling now. Faster and faster toward the waves and currents. The shards of ice resonated and rang through my soul as I left them behind in the sea of red dust.
Then I flew, and all was left behind in the ocean.
He runs, white face, black gloves, muddy robes. He runs, through the darkness and failing bands of light he runs. Through narrow gritty streets and twisting alleyways he runs, he fears what is after him. He is running ever faster as the sun crawls its way into the horizon, he looks back and stumbles but still he runs. Everything is darker in the twilight and the shadows loom large, twisting and flickering, all is distorted in the darkness.
He sees something ahead and darts into a side street. Everything here is broken and cracks crumble in the cement and mortar. His face is a blur as he runs jerkily along twisting paths in the black, trying to get away from what follows him. And all the time he glances back at what he fears until exhausted he collapses on the street shivering and moaning a long dreary animal moan of fear.
As the weak light seeps through the smog he is limping barefoot along a path, clothes covered in bloodstains and frozen mud. His surroundings look so different in the light and the edges of the shadows are blurry and dark. His pale face has no expression and his blank eyes are staring straight ahead.
He is limping more now as he walks through an old dirty doorway into the darkness inside. The blackness jumps out at him as he scurries through, glancing around as if looking for something. He starts to search around the shadows of the room frantically. As the minutes pass his search seems more and more desperate and he scans every minute detail of the room. He jumps over to a corner as his eyes catch a trick of the light, but then goes back to searching.
It is growing darker now as the shadows stretch out over the walls, he sinks to the floor then all is pitched into darkness and a name is howled.
u In Wattle Glen the wattle trees are everywhere. Some are yellow, some are red. Some glow at night, covering the bush with little sparkling lights, others have a sickly sweet scent that pervades the air like honey or rotting eggs. Sometimes when I was smaller I would eat them, but then one day I started to see little wisps of light floating around the wattles and my parents told me never to touch them again. After that they stopped smelling so much and the glow of the wattles at night started to fade. But I still hang around the wattles occasionally and if I look carefully then I can still see them shine at night. Sometimes, when I am studying for school or going for a walk I remember a time when I was carefree and I catch a whiff of rotten egg and feel happier again. I remember the wattles less and less now as I grow up, I guess I just have more important things on my mind.
u My family has always called me wombat. I never quite knew why they said it but I always liked it when they called me wombat. Maybe it was because I smelled like a wombat, maybe it was because I sounded like one when I sneezed. I just couldn’t get them to tell me why, no matter how much I inquired. When I asked my mother about it she would always laugh and say it’s just like that. When I asked my father he would just mumble something and smile at me. My grandparents teased me about it and told me I looked like a wombat because my forelegs were so short and my siblings just barked at me. Maybe I really am a wombat but something just doesn't feel right about it. After all, my birth certificate says I’m a greyhound.
u When I was 8, little Cousin Jennara came to stay. She was only 5 but she brought her own sleeping bag and carving knife. She was as fierce as a lion and knew how to have the cake and eat it too. She could do all sorts of tricks on her bike and my little sister helped her sneak into the cupboard at night to steal sweets. She always beat everyone on the trampoline and I was the only kid who could beat her at chess. She taught my little brother, who was 6 to make a fishing pole with only twigs and grass and she beat everyone at tag. She never stopped getting into mischief. One day, I woke up in the morning and she was packing her bags and riding her dog back to New Zealand. She never did say goodbye but after she went my family always felt more adventurous. We felt like we could climb the highest trees and swim through the biggest duck ponds. We felt free and happy. In summer we went outside to play despite the heat and in winter the cold did not bother us. We will always remember her as the roaring little tiger that she was.
The Forever Hill
u Somewhere near our house there is a hill that takes hours to walk up and seconds to run down. Nobody could ever find it if they were looking for it but just when it was most inconvenient you turned round a corner and there it was, blocking your way like an insolent child. No matter what time of day or year it was it always looked the same, gloomy but restful. As I grew up it kind of turned into a sort of impartial neighbour. It had this presence that you could feel, like just before a storm when all your hairs are standing up and you can feel the tension in the air. Sometimes my brother and I would walk up the hill when it appeared and find a long winding track which only led back to where we started and left us dusty and tired, feeling like all the world was just a ball of dust and heat. The forever hill has been here forever and is here to stay. Forever hill will be here after we have been and gone and only the animals remain to climb it. Forever hill will watch all that happens, always there, always listening, forever.