A tangerine lands in Tom’s hands, thrown from the across the pond, over the squids and whales and the ships, the continents drifting without a care. The tangerine is the right shape, loose enough to peel though not so loose as to be off and he looks at the seabed, at the water wetting new sand and the tide growing higher and wonders as he bites into that tangerine (nearly sour yet he doesn’t flinch), how long it will be before it gets here.
They say he has five days, but that water is too insistent and he knows better.
This is my place
There’s a glory of flowers in her front yard, yellow and fuchsia, proud like bold trumpets that bristle in the breeze and lean toward the rockwall that holds back the aqua waters of the bay; waters she once floated in, that coated her like bathwater. She frames this scene from the hammock on her porch and runs her feet over sand scattered by her grandchildren, wild and full of screaming joy at life, thinking how long will this house stand? Her fingernails scrape at paint, unconsciously, as she whispers, they’ll have to drag me from here.
Whiskey for breakfast
John likes to break the fast with a whiskey, which he does neat, a clean straight glass resting on his belly as he lies flat on the steeply graded boat ramp. Did you ever see anything as beautiful as the sky, he wonders, asks out loud, though to no-one. The tide comes at him through the amber liquid in his glass, the world more spherical than the naked eye ever lets on. He turns to face the old woman on her porch behind him, rhythmically waiting, the two of them made nervous by the man on the shoreline now shouting at the horizon.
Shut the shed tight
When the storm flies in across the bay, the first gust takes out her shed. Why, she wonders? She shut it tight /bolted it /made sure it was secure. She keeps her three small bubs away from the windows though she is prepared there too, the glass taped and the doors sandbagged. The storm will not take them. They are not finishing, not letting it roll through like her mother on her porch. Too much life to be lived for that much grace, that level of acceptance. No, her huddling three are just starting. May this be no more than an exciting memory, she hopes, as they hide in the laundry doorway at the back of the house, as far from the bay as there is shelter. Her three have not made their mistakes yet. Keep going, she whispers to each.
We know how to huddle, we know how to fix
Storm season’s not unusual now, though they’d tell you otherwise, pretend that it’s all so strange, so surprising that the floods run in streams down the local streets, that just yesterday Mr Barrie’s car washed clean into the river and he watched till it went then he caught the bus home, not a word spoken. Whiskeyman’s drinking and grandma’s not moving and that man on the shore is still shouting. We know how to do things you don’t, is what we could say. We know how to hide and to fix and to tape, we know how to sandbag and dredge—but we don’t say a word because they look so sad, the grown-ups.
They talk about all that was lost, but we don’t know any different.
EC Sorenson an Australian writer, recently returned from two years in Toronto. Her work has been published this past year in MonkeyBicycle, Tiny Essays, XRAY, Tiny Molecules and is forthcoming at Emerge Literary Journal. She has previously been shortlisted in the Writers' Digest Short Story Competition and long listed for the Fish International Short Story Competition. To pay the bills she has worked variously in film and TV, from production roles on Moulin Rouge and The Matrix, to post production work on drama series for the BBC and Channel 4. Image: Evacuation of an Island, Victor Hugo, 1870