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mop of wiry blonde hair from his eyes. He was a good mate, Ryan.

They’d known each other forever it seemed. When they were little

Ryan used to pull Jake through the water in a yellow plastic tugboat

– even when they were little he had always been taller and broader

than Jake.

‘I’ll see you down there, I just gotta do something first.’ He hadn’t

been down to the jetty since the day his dad had pulled Jimmy’s

coughing body from the water. He looked around the emptying

school yard in an attempt to catch a glimpse of Emily. The day that

Emily Longwood would wink at me... he wondered. What a joke. On

the hill a car horned him onto the footpath. He spotted a smooth

pebble and knocked it back and forth between his sneakers. Their

house looked as if it was on its deathbed: the wooden planks bulged

in certain places, the corrugated iron drooped precariously to one

side, a large crack the shape of a fountain glistened in what was left

of the front window. An annoying abundance of spiky weeds had

conquered the garden and snuck into the pads of your feet if you

weren’t careful.

‘What are you doing home so early?’ His dad was sitting on the

porch. What did he mean? He did not look up from the magazine he

was holding – it was emblazoned with a photograph of a silver fish

flitting in the air, the black mesh of a net lurking in the background.

What was behind his father’s words? The eye of the fish glowed

white. Was he imagining it? No... there was something. Something

there suppressed deep down by layers of control.

‘Ryan had detention,’ Jake muttered under his breath before

sliding through the front door. His father had not spoken to him

that whole day. He had looked at him for one fleeting moment when

he clambered up onto the jetty, brushing off Jake’s open hand.

Disappointment? No, it was worse than that. It was contempt.

It was not the first time Jake had looked into his father’s eyes and

felt so alone. He had been a kid, fiddling with his thumbs while his

father paced outside his bedroom, speaking in a low and urgent voice

on the phone. That night Jake’s mother had not come home. His

mother. He could hardly remember her now. Just the sweet lullaby

she used to sing – not to him – when she would scrub away at a

blackened pan. What was it again?

Water and roses


droplets and petals...

He had seen her smile in old photographs – his parents’ wedding

photo was his favourite – but from Jake’s birth it was as if alongside

Jetty View