Thomas Bruijnius, Grade 11, Pittwater House
Everything holds its breath. Then, the sun inhales, drawing its bright breath below the horizon. The sky exhales, an ink-black rush. Night. He stands balanced, waiting to fall. The decision is not yet made. He can’t yet know.
He falls forward before he can really understand what it means to do so. Shadows have grown like trees out of the earth, nourished by the still silence. The pavement rises beneath his feet, still hot. The night air swims, drowsy and stupefied, thick and liquid.
The boy walks faster. This time will be different. He doesn’t know how yet, but he radiates potential into the aching streets. The houses squat like sleeping giants in the dry grass, a thousand shades of tasteful neutral. Windows glow like eyes in a masked face, spilling light that falls like liquid amber. He notices how it seems to run. He knows that light is supposed to travel in rays, but surely it can’t be that simple. No, surely it must fall like tangled ribbon, bright and sinuous. The boy treads the puddles of light, casting drops of shadow in his wake.
He falters now. He is unsure. Does the cause warrant the effect? He remembers the grate of the words in harsh throats, the hard glitter of falling tears. Something crashes in the distance, beyond reach. Somewhere screams reverberate. Yes. He is sure now. The path is clear; unobstructed by the herbaceous tendrils crowding the trees, by the grasses that spike cracks in the pavement. The sky is darker now, velvety and rippling. He cannot believe its vastness, yet he knows its emptiness. He knows it well.
This close the air is salty and warm, bloody. It eddies and swirls in dark places, and drags through the sprawling green. The gloom rasps with the sound of a million shivering leaves. The track is undefined now. The earth has claimed her territory; this is no place for those of flesh and blood. This is where those born of fire and stone and millennia of growth hold sway. He strides forward.
The dusk has shed its beckoning warmth; a cool skin has taken its place. He shivers. The stars wink into existence, as though they are curious themselves. They shine sharp and hard, beautiful and distant.
The heave and drag beneath him seems to sing. It’s a voice too slow and too deep for the mortal, the yen, however, is clear. Fall, it begs, consume and be consumed. Fall. The voice hisses from beneath the sand. It implores from between rocks. Fall.
He does, gravity clutches him like fist and he plummets faster than he thought possible. The water foams as he strikes it, he is red hot and it foams around him. The rush and push drag him. He kicks to the surface, speared with crystalline light. He breaks into the still air. The colours are so sharp now you could cut yourself, in this crisp new world.
He laughs, breathless and fallen and freed.