Michelle Cahill



As they walked along the beach, a strong southerly had whipped up the waves. The lake had broken its bank so they took off their shoes to wade through the sandflats. The wind was against them, and there were dead birds strewn every few metres, victims of a cyclone off the coast. She knew the storm must have been a long way out to sea because the lightning was unspoken, without thunder. The girl wasn’t tired but after half an hour she sat with him; his steroid-inflated body folding in a heap. The sky was a coruscation of stars. It was too dark to see the sets but the white foam rushed and swirled like the crest of a wild stallion. They lay on the sand, amongst the wrack and the seaweed, tangled in each other’s arms. When they kissed it felt so strong, so connected, she thought she could get addicted to that feeling. Later she rolled a joint; crumbling and breaking the weed with her fingers, tucking the paper edges with the tips of her thumbs, wrapping it firmly, wetting the glue. They passed it between themselves. Fishermen sat on fold up chairs with their buckets beside them. Their taut, invisible lines disappeared into the night haze. There was something freaky, like a presence out there. Dead sea grass lay in mounds along the shore. The town glittered at the southern end of the beach, and in the nearby houses fairy lights shone on Christmas trees. They could hear laughter and jeers coming from those houses. She was partial to the charms of Christmas, but he was indifferent. For some time he lay motionless on the sand, while the girl ran down to the surf. Teasing the water, entering by degrees, she could just make out the gnarly outline of pohutukawas dangling from the cliff face. She remembered their oystery smell. He once said that falling in love was like a dance between two people; he was ignorant of the steps, how to lead or follow. The girl was naked, leaning and somersaulting, streamline in the face of the waves. When he joined her he, too, was naked. The tide was coming in, bringing dense clumps of algae and kelp, which wrapped in slimy bracelets around their ankles and thighs.



Michelle Cahill is a Goan-Anglo-Indian writer who lives in Sydney. Her fiction appears in Notata and Famous Reporter. This year she has a Literature Board residency grant in fiction at Sanskriti Kendra, New Delhi. Her poems have recently appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Crannóg Magazine, Drunken Boat and Asia Literary Review. She was highly commended in the 2009 Blake Poetry Prize.

Cahill writes: “With its condensed narrative, implied chronology, characterisation and action, Storm is written in the genre of flash fiction rather than prose poem. Collage, metaphor or sustained lyricism are elements of my prose poems.”