The sea peeled back from the bay, sucked by a force stronger than tides. Laid bare beneath the sun, fish glittered and flopped, and deep furrows in the naked ocean floor traced the line of the currents. The horizon bulged. Ahli gaped, as cries went up around her.
Her father, Yune, dropped the net they were piling into their little round bowl-boat. He grabbed her shoulder and pointed inland.
The sight of his normally cheerful face twisted into a mask of fear gave her a speed she’d never possessed.
The ground scraped his nose as he bowed low before his majesties. As he straightened he pulled the rough cloth off the prize with a flourish.
They gasped. The sound shivered and bounced off the grey slate walls.
“What is this, sisters?” The multilayered voice buzzed with harmonics as each mouth spoke in unison.
The man waited. Their husbands—mute fools that they were, white and black and brown with jutting erections—clapped and capered. He averted his eyes from their folly. Instead he observed the offering.
When he’d found it upon the slopes of the windiest mountain, it let itself be taken. The long neck bowed, it kept its wings folded by its sides. It could have flown away.
“Oh sisters, I know! Mercy is white, mercy is wise!”
Chelsea chases storms, frequent visitors to the Queensland coast. It’s not just a photograph she is after; she chases the past and a mistake that can’t be undone. But maybe, if she’s close enough, she can try… SY
“There’s a big one forming up near Rollingstone. You coming?” Paul’s voice distorts as I hold the phone away and glance at my boss. He boxes a pizza, tosses it onto the warmer and faces me, one eyebrow raised expectantly.
“Please, Billy?” I turn the puppy-dog eyes on and pout. “Paul says it’s big.”
Billy rolls his eyes. “It’s always big, Chelsea. Who am I to stand in the way of glory? I’m sure we’ll manage.” He flicks a tea towel at my hip. “Go on, bugger off.”
“You’re the best boss in the world,” I say with a grin as I hang up my apron.
“Just make sure you share the photos on Facebook!” he yells as I hurry for the door. Just before I leave the pizzeria I hear him explain to a puzzled customer, “She’s a storm-chaser. Bloody crazy, but she gets good photos!”