sudden writing comp winner: penumbra

Oct 28, 2021

By Evelyn Lee

Content note: this story contains mention of an animal death, and intimate partner violence. 

The boys tumble out of the sea, their golden limbs caught in the afternoon sun.

My boys, she thinks.

They drive silently, settling into the freeway as the sky begins to darken.

She pulls off the freeway and onto a long stretch of road lined with low-lying scrub. She flicks on her high beams and rolls down the windows. The air is warm and still. A cyclist comes around the bend; a flash of lycra in the car’s headlights. She speeds up.

The car’s headlights illuminate an irregularity in the road ahead. She slows then pulls over. It’s a wombat, knocked flat, its dark organs spewed across the road.

The wombat’s wide, blunt nose is laying in a pool of dried blood. When she gets closer she can see that there are flies nesting in the corners of its eyes. The stench of it cuts through the stillness.

There is no need to check for a joey. If there had been one, it would be dead by now.

She pulls two plastic bags from the boot of the car. Using the bags like gloves, she grasps the wombat’s hind legs and pulls, steering it carefully into the ditch beside the road. Its organs remain.

She looks back at the road and thinks, very briefly, of her own blood smeared across the bathroom tiles; caught in the fluorescent light.

Only the top of the wombat’s back remains visible, the coarse dark hairs glinting like broken glass in the car’s headlights.

She climbs into the driver’s seat and glances back at her boys. They are both asleep. The youngest has his left hand gripped around the lip of his plastic booster seat.

Good, she thinks. Better that they didn’t see that.

 

Evelyn Lee is a creative writing student in her third year at Swinburne. She loves short form fiction and fractured narrative structures.

 

Photo by J W via Unsplash