Seagulls squawked noisily above, mirroring the human chaos below.
They circled and swarmed in the blue-blanket sky, commentating on
the scene beneath which looked like grey, brown and black ants
wearing intricate patterns of industry around the dock. But the ants
were really people and many of them smiled and exclaimed as they
clung to their hats and stared up at the towering ship.
Water sloshed around the bottom of the ship. Its vibrant, red base
was just surfacing in between waves, while its high black walls stood
tall above the minute people. Four gigantic, yellow funnels topped
with black paint sat on the deck resembling enlarged cigarettes.
Planks leading up to different levels of the ship carried lines of
passengers waiting to come aboard or porters carrying the luggage of
the wealthy. They turned around and beamed at the spectators
below, shuffling their bags to present their gleaming white tickets.
Other passengers lined the deck of the ship, some yelling and waving
down to the crowd.
A seagull settled on a pile of luggage and watched a little girl cling
to the leg of her father as he tried to pick up his bags. The father’s
eyebrows pinched together as he stared down at his crying daughter.
‘Mary,’ he pleaded, ‘I’ll be back soon, I promise!’
When Mary continued to wail, her mother leaned down and
placed an arm around her shoulders.
‘Mary, darling, he needs to go. He needs to work, you understand
‘No! No, he’s not leaving!’ Mary lifted her head to face her father,
‘Daddy you’re not leaving,
The father knelt down and put Mary’s hands in his own. ‘Mary, I
don’t want to leave you –’
Her father raised his hand and the girl quietened.
‘Mary, I don’t want to leave you, but don’t you like your new
dress?’ He pinched the dress’ collar between his fingers and Mary
couldn’t help but smile at her pretty new dress. ‘Don’t you like your
new toys and your new shoes?’
Mary looked down at her shoes, fresh and clean and she shuffled
Her father continued; ‘well I’ll be able to buy you even more
dresses and shoes and toys, and we can go and live in a fancy house
and maybe own a car! Don’t you want that?’
Mary’s eyes glimmered as she imagined the dresses and the shoes
Isobelle Carmody Award
for Creative Writing