Flash (nonfiction): And the sky was silvers and pinks, and boxes

I am thinking about a dead doll named Tim.

But, paddle back to earlier. I am thinking about a little boy whose sister knitted him a person and how the boy, with his older sister’s help, knitted his person a scarf, and how he called his knitted person Tim. And how this doll, Tim, was the boy’s favourite thing. I am thinking of how this little boy lived directly beside a curve of the river called the crescent and how he played with Tim in knotted mysteries at the water’s edge. And I am thinking of how the river was rising.

I am seeing the banked-up clay road to the crescent and how the sky was silvers and pinks, and gum boughs—stretched and fat, patterned like cows, and bent—mingled with boxes of possessions: wooden and clamped shut like riverboat cargo, set up next to the window jambs of the house, to outsmart the river’s wet feet when it came tiptoeing through, as authorities and good sense predicted it would. I am thinking of the contents inside the boxes bunched up like shelducks, and the air smelling wildly wet.

And I am thinking of this boy at a safe house in the town waiting out the water’s tide and of his father, on second thoughts, going back to the crescent house to collect all their belongings. I am thinking of the little boy’s father hurriedly leaving the crescent by feel along the banked-up road, suddenly six inches underwater. And this little boy’s father’s friend saying, ‘We can’t come back, Bill, I’m sorry. We have to leave the rest,’ which was most of it because the water was too fast, too deep, and rising. And I am hearing the river’s flow, like semi-quavers on a harp, like wind through a horn, like years rushing by

and I am thinking of how the little boy’s father and father’s friend made it out alive by feel, towing a too-small load, and of the rain socking down and piling up on their car’s windshield. And I am seeing the little boy evacuated from the flooding town with all the other river children—and Tim squished near a window jamb with all the other favourite things. And I am thinking of the little boy and his sister gone while the river’s wet feet sloshed in up to the house’s neck. And the roof of the house glinting at the surface of the risen river as if a quiet raft, and I am thinking of boats with their cargos rippling loose

and how, when the little boy finally returned home, his family’s dairy shed was unborn, the riverside an eaten cake and the walls of the crescent house crumpled, its bones too wrecked to be rebuilt. And I am thinking of this boy’s boxes of comforts gone or scattered, leached and watermarked. I am seeing him traipsing the riverside clay to find his Matchbox cars silt-logged and crashed, their doors jimmied off their hinges or gone, their paint peeling

and I am seeing the little boy finding Tim dead on the river flats. Reedy worms twisted through his muddy torso, his right arm severed, his knitted skin drained pale and brittle—I am thinking of the boy lifting these lifeless remains and holding them, carrying his dead person across the clay.

Paddle forwards. I am talking to this little boy whose sister knitted him a person, and he is my father. And he is packing up boxes in his home farther along from the crescent beside the stretch of the river called the town, and he is putting the boxes up high for safekeeping—up near the shed’s rafters—in case the river wets his house’s furniture and feet, as authorities and sound logic say it might do. And I am thinking about his dead doll named Tim and of the comforts he has knitted for himself since, this little boy who is my father and now in his seventies, and I am seeing his roof glinting in the rain and sun

And the river is deepening, rising.


Photo by Zac Edmonds, Renmark. You can also find him here.

~A brand new draft, so forgive me and it. I don’t do finished work without time.

That bloody river, though! Be safe, Renmark.

And all.

#1956murrayriverflood #eatyourheartout #murrayriverflooding2022

note: my dad’s doll was actually named Timothy and I am not 100 per cent across the aesthetic details of Timothy’s demise although I’ve been told. I can confirm he was dead when my dad found him. That much is true. Never abide a writer.

Photo credit here

4 thoughts on “Flash (nonfiction): And the sky was silvers and pinks, and boxes

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