the bite of the aggressive southerly. It nipped at his
protruding ears and neck, unperturbed by any attempt to cover his
face with his beanie. A lone seagull wafted unwillingly towards the
jetty, the arc of its wings folded inwards as it battled feebly against the
unrelenting wind. The weather was formidable – Redburn’s inviting
blue coast unrecognizable. Most had retreated from the jetty, the
triumph of a catch not worth enduring the cold. Only Jake Camper
and Jimmy Whett remained. Their fathers had gone for a drink. The
scrawny kid was whimpering, hugging himself so tightly he might as
well heve been in a strait jacket.
Jake rolled his eyes. Stupid girl, he thought, what a wuss. Bored,
he started breathing heavily out through his mouth, watching the fog
that escaped mingle with the wind before disappearing completely.
A sudden cuff of wind nearly knocked him off his feet and he ran to
catch the upturned bucket before it fell into the depths of the
ferocious waves below. When he looked up he was alone. Jerking his
head around, he searched frantically for the red jacket that seemed
to consume Jimmy Whett’s lean body.
‘Jimmy!’ he shouted, peering desperately at the bleak horizon.
The wind hollered back at him. ‘Jimmy, where the hell are you, this
isn’t funny! Jimmy!’ He stared down at the inky water. His stomach
churned. A splash of red flashed in his peripheral vision and there
was Jimmy waving his hands as his pale face bobbed between the
rough waves. Jake didn’t jump. He turned up towards the jetty,
frantically searching for the men. But he was one insignificant,
solitary figure standing at the end of the jetty, one step away from the
The wind shifted.
The red jacket drifted further and further away. He stared at his
worn out sneakers and willed them forward, but it was as if his body
was frozen from the inside. He couldn’t. Suddenly, he was spluttering
violently – he had forgotten to breathe.
. Had he jumped? He
felt dry, faint. Numb. His father’s windbreaker sliced through the
water, closing in on Jimmy’s thrashing arms.
. Miss Healy turned up her lips, winked at him. He
avoided his teacher’s gaze and disturbed the moaning herd of
students as he sidled his way through the blocked corridor.
‘Mate, we’re going down to the jetty, you coming?’ Ryan wiped his