Flash Frontier

March 2023: RĀ | SUN

All Issues

Manu Berry, Prehistoric architecture
Manu Berry, Prehistoric architecture

About Manu Berry

Five Billion Years Wouldn’t Be Enough

Salena Casha


The day Mr. Meniari told Callum’s class the Sun was dying, Callum turned off all the lights and piled supplies in the living room.

The items included a ring light, two sandalwood candles, a matchbook from someone’s thirtieth, and the lemony flashlight he kept by the side of his bed. Its batteries were dead.

I remembered when he lined up all his Lego people to dance on his bedroom floor. He still slept with the lamp on.

“What’s going on, bud?” I asked

The Sun had dunked below the horizon, so he was just a shadow against the couch, only as tall as my hip. The ring light towered over him like a one-eyed cyclops.

“The Sun’s. Gonna explode. In a big ball of fire. And then. It’ll be dark. Forever,” he said. He swallowed between words.

I didn’t know how to tell him that he should worry about the ice caps instead. That he’d be long gone before the Sun’s core expanded and swallowed the Earth whole.

If I said that, he wouldn’t sleep for days. I sank down so we were the same height.
“It’s true,” I said.

“It is?” he echoed.

“But we can learn to live in the dark,” I said.

“How?” he asked.

“We practice.”

“For five billion years,” he smiled.

“Yes, for five.” My eyes stung. I’d be lucky if I got another few years of him like this.

That night, we had dinner in the dark.

About Salena Casha

Queuing has too many ‘u’s

Hayden Pyke


When I first moved here, the idea of the motorway terrified me. Now that I’ve been living in Auckland for five years, it’s simple enough. At this hour of the morning, everything is straight, everyone seems to hover above the road. It’s still dark and the Sun is just pulling at the edges of the sky. Later it gets more difficult. Later, when it comes to a halt.
There are not enough stages of cancer. Four is far too few, especially when the last two are basically irrevocable. There needs to be at least eight, or subsections like one (a) and (b).
I take exit 7 towards the hospital by accident, my mind on autopilot. I grizzle as I try and find a spot for a u-ey in the light of the fluorescents inside. I might get a phone call today to come and see you and I wonder what that will mean.
When I visited on Sunday, you asked for the shades down. It was too bright outside and we had silence to get to. What possible conversation was there left? I began the verbal stagecraft of not putting anything into future tense. 
The clouds are thick when I pull in, only fractionally late for work. I think what I resent the most, is that we’re all meant to pretend this is how we’re meant to go on.  Without the Sun to mark it, there’s no way of knowing what kind of day this is.

About Hayden Pyke

Ilkley Place

Jackie A. E. Ritchie


My first flat had a pool. We signed the tenancy in the mallside Maccas. I repeated this to everyone I knew, smug about our sweet deal.

In reality, it was an eight-bedroom shit flat. We did use the pool a few times, brushing away drowning insects, getting out when the slightly weird Facebook-sourced flatmate got in with us.

But when autumn came, the Sun hid behind overgrown trees and left dank in the walls, mould on the windowsills. Her absence hung over us in the house; we easily became sick and depressed. The black spot in the hallway – purely cosmetic, the landlord had assured us – grew, and the ceilings sagged when the rain came, as if tired of holding the roof’s weight. Artemis, a lively SPCA rescue cat, joined us that winter. She helped me through dark-induced depression; I let her snuggle down into the covers on freezing nights. But sometimes in her eyes, I thought I could see the question: when; where; how will this ever be different?

It took us two years to build up the courage to move out, and upwards. Now we live in a smaller flat, just the four of us including the cat, with big windows, no pool, no ceiling leaks. Artie spreads out on the carpet in bliss, her light belly fur glowing in the sun.

About Jackie A. E. Ritchie


Desna Wallace


In the midday sun my shadow is short, squat, yet it tries to run ahead of me searching out its own adventures. I follow fast trying to catch up with myself but I may have to wait until dark and search amongst night’s blackness. I taste the wind, fresh, with a hint of dust. The smell of fish and chips takeaways on the corner tickles my senses. I tell myself I’m not hungry but my stomach protests just the same. The war memorial sits half in and half out of the sun and shadows, like the soldiers who returned; here, but not quite here. A monarch butterfly dances, spreading its wings darting over the memorial, a gentle kiss for each named and lost soldier who did not return. The rusted, Victorian-spiked, chain fence protects the monument as it stands, longing for the Sun’s touch, if only for a moment. Beside the monument, the dry creek aches for the wet taste of rain. I change direction and my shadow walks beside me. Dark on the footpath, it doesn’t show the colour of the flowers I lay at the foot of the war memorial.

About Desna Wallace

Communion -Jo Ann Tomaselli
Jo Ann Tomaselli, Communion

About Jo Ann Tomaselli

Buried Treasure

Benjamin Jardine


Midday sun hit the ocean and made everything diamonds and emeralds, and they tugged the boat’s rough rope to the crashing waves and Maeve, the oldest, hopped her sogging togs on the centre thwart, pointed at the distant island and shouted, “Look thee landlubbers! The pearl of the seven seas, Little Teapot Island!”

Helen and Karma, still tugging and out of breath, followed with an oar in each hand. The trio pushed off into lapping waves and a coastal breeze blew the smell of sunblock and seaweed into their faces. Helen and Karma paddled in unison for several minutes, before Maeve shouted, “Land ho!” and pointed at the cliff outcropping that, to imaginative eyes, looked just like a teapot spout.

And when the boat’s hull scraped to a stop on the rocky shores of Little Teapot Island, the girls clambered out onto new land, feigning relief, like they’d been at sea forever.

Last December their cousin Derek told them there was buried treasure somewhere in the rugged bush and sharp rocks of LTI; they were here to find it.

So they ambled up the hill and along the way described their plans for spending their share of the treasure: a bird sanctuary (Maeve), going to space (Helen), and a big cake (Karma).

In the distance and in the past, they will examine this memory until they are all grey, and living in different cities, with children of their own who will go on adventures, too.

About Benjamin Jardine

Shadow of a Boy

Tracie Lark


The building was infinity stories high, with grey shutters like dozy eyelids on each window. The elevator was broken so Chim had to manoeuvre the manky carpet stairs to the bottom each day to school. His mother Ani barely waved him goodbye; she was too busy mopping slop from her mother’s chin with a bedraggled towel. If she had peered out the window for a second, she might have seen Chim’s shadow cross beyond the yellowed grass.

In the evenings, Chim collapsed on his mattress, making pictures from green and black spots on the ceiling. His mother wrapped a faded apron around her waist, tidied her hair with her hands, and squeezed her blistered feet into her wearied sandals. Chim waved her goodbye with a floppy hand, receiving a slammed door in return.

Gran rattled.

“Okay, where were we?”

Chim sat up. “I snuck behind our building again, Gran.” Hepulled a scrap of paper and some crayon fragments from his sock. “See how the yellow of the Sun seems to put light on everything? And then that makes these dark outlines here, see?” Chim smiled. “This is all hidden behind our building.”

Gran murmured.

“I feel like Mum only ever sees the darkness.”

Gran rattled, again.

“I will try for a blue crayon at school tomorrow, so I can draw the sky.”

Gran’s face twitched the flicker of a smile.

About Tracie Lark


Janis Freegard

as chaos took its grip and flooding forced us onwards, we used the fire of the sun to blow enormous glass spaceships, each sufficient for a thousand desperate passengers, then filled the ships with plants of all kinds and tiny creatures, terraria for the journey into space; beetles we took and lichen for dyeing our clothes, micro-greens, all manner of mosses, a dozen species of lactobacillus;  our poor, tired world was too wet, too hot, too windy, we couldn’t bear it; we flew our chariots towards the sun in panic, in the hope of some sort of future, surely the sun, surely the sun; we are salamander, we sang, we will be saved; now the glass is cracking with each further furlong, crack crack, we try to seal it with our tears and blood; oh how we wish we’d tried harder
what was wood was next ash and now gas; what was water is now vapour; what was intention was next loss and now void; what was life is now memory; now the sun

About Janis Freegard

Alex Reece Abbott , Paint the Dull Marsh Gold
Alex Reece Abbott, Paint the Dull Marsh Gold

About Alex Reece Abbott

Facing the Fence

Michael Buckingham Gray


She wipes the dust from her eyes and blinks at the barbed wire fence that stands before her. Runs towards it and leaps up it like a cat. Throws one leg over the top, then the other, but catches it on a barb, hears the sizzle of skin, and falls backwards.

She lies on her spine, stares up at the sky and groans. Rolls onto her stomach and crawls towards the fence. Starts digging. Puts aside a hill of sand and hits something hard. Peers down the hole, and sighs at the fence sunk in concrete.

She tugs at the mesh, but it is as taut as a tennis racket. She grunts and kicks the fence. Follows it over the field, a hill, and another field. The Sun bears down on her like an oven. And she falls. Pushes herself up, and fumbles on.

About Michael Buckingham Gray

The sea nymphs lie down in the Sun

Ryan Padraic


Everything shimmers beneath the Sun: the sand, the sea, the people. The beach is a never-ending mirage, and out of it, like apparitions, come the most beautiful girls in the world. Long-limbed, luscious-lipped, they strut past in synchronised step to a likely spot below the dunes, from where they can watch, and be watched, on those long walks to and from the waves.

They are not merely sun-kissed, but sun-licked; Helios has made love to them and wrapped them in his arms, and now they return to his bed still bronzed and gilded from their last tryst. Dumping their bags, they flick open Disneyfied towels and wiggle out of fraying denim shorts. Bikini strings are pulled taut, sunglasses tilted, phones tapped. They settle back into an Insta pose, waiting for Sol to take their snapshot.

All of Queen Mab Bay gazes upon them. Boys from their classes, warped and hobbled by puberty, amble along in slack-jawed wonder; sublime seventh-formers follow, sneaking glances, fixing the girls’ hearts to new tempos; then grownup men and women, toting tents and toddlers, looking on with subterranean lust, or envy; and finally, the spindle-armed, potbellied grandsires, who stare in sagging melancholy at this latest sample of unobtainable beauty.

Experts in innocence, the girls pretend not to notice. They simply laugh and gossip and spritz their bodies with subtle potions, before rolling over and offering themselves to their blazing god above, who is always strong and dependable; the only one whose caresses they do not refuse.

About Ryan Padraic


Nicole Brogdon


I never held it against you – you didn’t sleep when you were little. I could feel that roulette wheel spinning in your skull, memories and monsters till sunrise. You won’t remember how I lifted you, wet-faced and howling from your crib at night, nursed you. I was your tree trunk, you were my branch, inclining toward me. When you were 18 months, I opened your bedroom curtain. “See the moon? Stars? It’s night.”

Your black eyes found the window glass.

I had to explain sleep. “See Mama’s tired eyes? People sleep until the Sun comes up!”

But I knew what it was like to swallow pain for your mother. So I added, “Unless your body hurts, don’t call me!” I kissed you hard. You slept through that whole night in your crib.

School age, you still crept into my bedroom. “What?” I whispered. “Climb in on my side, not Papa’s. Pretend you are a stick.” You slid into bed, a warm baguette against my leg. You rolled, jostling me. “Don’t wake me again,” I mumbled, “unless your foot is on fire.”

Next night you stood glowering by my bed. You hissed, “Mama, my foot is on fire. It’s burning, burning!” You lifted your foot. I lifted my blanket. Indeed, your feet were warm. We lay together, drowsy and quiet. The fiery Sun finally rose, reaching through windows for us with orange arms. Sending light over your closed eyes, casting citrus color over the dark hole of your open mouth.

About Nicole Brogdon

Keith Nunes, Rubik's Sun
Keith Nunes, Rubik’s Sun

About Keith Nunes

The Heat O The Sun

Steve Charters


I’d warned him. Repeatedly. He heard, not listening, thinking he knew best. Boys will be boys. After long imprisonment freedom is intoxicating and young men, arrogant in their inexperience and heedless of consequences, will always crave the thrill of action. Which is a useful attribute in warriors, for when you consider yourself indestructible fear melts away. Like wax. I blame myself. Somewhat.

From the high parapet we watched them wheel and glide, envied them their flight, baited them with crumbs, devoured their flesh.  A year to gather a sufficiency of feathers. Wax scrimped from our candle ration. For weeks before we fasted, seeking that fine balance between strength and load. Then oh! The soaring freedom!

Perhaps he lacked the will, the stamina.  Had his aerobatics drained his energy?

I’ll hear eternally his high thin shriek, that sudden crescendo dopplering down, headlong pinion-folded plummet and slight splash far below into the wide immensity of sea. Shocked, I lost my wingbeat, flapped rapidly again, then circled back to witness. What else could I do?

In that vast green wrinkle of ocean he thrashed a little till my rickety superstructure of wicker, thread and feather dragged him under. I gasped a prayer, some wild entreaty, but no miracle transpired. No mystical transformation into gull or albatross. He slipped under and in that instant slipped into the past. Which is freedom of a sort.

To save myself my only choice was flight. Survival requires detachment. Memory, regret and guilt came later. Who’d raise sons?

About Steve Charters

Skins Anonymous

Jeff Taylor


It was Jeremy’s first time. He’d finally ceded to Tania’s pleas.

“It’s different for you,” he kept arguing. “Yours is hidden.”

“You won’t be embarrassed,” she encouraged. “Wait and see.”

But he was. He was the only albino in the small room that on other evenings hosted community drug counselling and AA groups. His white hair, pale facial skin and pinkish eyes were bared to all. Somewhat anxious now, she clutched his sweating hand as they sat at the back in worn leather chairs stained with heaven-knows-what. A dartboard on the wall had a picture of the Sun.

Her stomach birthmark, inflamed red like serious sunburn, and shaped strikingly like a map of Africa, was hidden under a fashionable top.

There were several other unfortunates, all too preoccupied with their own afflictions to be concerned about a newcomer.

Despite deliberately low lighting, there were things on display that should never be exposed to the Sun’s rays: sensitive skin grafts and scars from excised melanomas, pigmentation deficiencies, patches of vitiligo desperately short of melanin.

Whiffs of floral sunscreens and pine-scented healing salves wafted about as dermatologist Alan Shum smiled around his group.

He spotted the newcomer. “Oh, hello. Welcome. Would you like to introduce yourself, young man?”

Jeremy shrank into his chair, shaking his head, eyes fearfully averted.

Later that night, as his colourless lips caressed Tania’s lower midriff somewhere around the Cape of Good Hope, he promised her that at next month’s meeting he’d be more forthcoming.

About Jeff Taylor

Johnnie was right

C G Thompson


Anita was eight, jumping rope on her parents’ patio, waiting for the partial solar eclipse. It was July 1963, the heady days of the Space Race. A time of renewed health, when eating a sugar cube made polio disappear.

Miss Ellison spent Friday afternoon explaining how the moon would pass between Earth and Sun. The young teacher’s charm bracelet jingled as she drew circles and arrows on the chalkboard.

“What if the Moon gets stuck?” Johnnie asked. He was class clown but seemed to be serious. “Part of the Sun will be gone.”

“That won’t happen,” Miss Ellison said over everyone’s laughter. “I promise.” Her voice was kind.

Saturday morning, Anita’s father sat at his garage workbench, making a pinhole box from cardboard, paper, and aluminum foil. She heard him coughing, a familiar sound.

“Make sure you don’t point the box at the sky,” he cautioned as he and her mom joined her on the patio.

The box was magical, a miniature movie theater, images projected onto a paper screen. For an hour and a half, the Moon took slow bites of the Sun.

“Now the process reverses,” her father said. “The Sun lives to tell the tale.”

She remembered his words when his suits fit more loosely and an aspirin bottle appeared at the kitchen table for his headaches. There were whispers, doctor visits, and a surgery. In February, he went to the ER and never returned.

Nothing was the same again. The Moon kept the pieces.

About C G Thompson

NAMASTE - Jo Ann Tomaselli
Jo Ann Tomaselli, Namaste

About Jo Ann Tomaselli

When I was young

Jeff Lightly


When I was young, the days seemed longer, summer was muggier, winter colder. Everything seemed so far off and we couldn’t wait to turn thirteen, eighteen, twenty-one. People over thirty really were old it seemed.

I’d watch Walter Cronkite rattle off last week’s Vietnam casualty count, a perverse Death Scoreboard; Viet Cong: 289 dead, U.S: 74 dead. My reaction, “YES, we won!”, not unlike my reaction when the Vikings won a football game.

When I was young, I usually was told what to do, at least for any decision above, though not always, what shoes to wear. I had to go to school, to church, to Grandma’s. I’d protest to deaf ears.

I’m no longer young but the days can still seem long, summer certainly is muggier, and I’m tired of the cold weather. I wish I was thirteen again (sort of), or eighteen again (yes), or twenty-one again (definitely). Thirty is young.

Walter is gone and I reconciled my youthful ignorance about war. It is nothing to celebrate, not ‘our’ team’s side or ‘theirs’. They all had families who ached then and now.
I get to make most decisions in life. I like that. I enjoy taking online classes to keep learning. I’m at peace with my spirituality.

I miss Grandma.

About Jeff Lightly

Until we meet again

Joanna Niederer


She waited for him. Without fail. Tall and willowy, her delicate skin pale to the point of translucency – yet the minute he descended the distant hills and made his way home, she was transformed. Aglow, her love for him shining in her cool, grey eyes.

He was so very different to her. Strong of body, with mercurial amber eyes. A whirling ball of energy – leaving his mark everywhere. His enthusiasm for his work burned bright some days, less so on others.

“How was your day?” she asked. “Your tea is ready. You look exhausted. Come … sit a while and rest. If only we had longer …”

His smile was dazzling, yet his eyes began to fade in intensity as the minutes slipped through their fingers. He could already feel the distance between them. “I left quite a few people burnt out there today.

“You know me.” He paused and sipped a mouthful of his favourite brew. Perfectly prepared.

“Don’t be too harsh, husband,” she said, delighting in the feel of his hand on her arm. Warmth rippling and shifting beneath his skin. Comforting.

The light outside was hazy now, their surroundings fading as they watched. Knowing what was ahead.

“It’s time, Rā.”

“Until we meet again, my darling Mārama.”

He watched his wife disappear from view, then light up the darkness with her luminous smile.

That night, the Sun god slumbered, dreaming of her touch.

About Joanna Niederer

Manu Berry, Harbour side
Manu Berry, Harbour side

About Manu Berry

Dazzled by the Brilliance

Emily Macdonald


It’s in the moment of blindness. The children buckled asleep in the back on sand-crusted towels, mouths slack and heads lolling within their protective seats. Her husband, asleep too, fully relaxed.

Leaving the long dark tunnel faster than her eyes can adjust, she is too slow in flapping the visor against the bloody setting Sun. The miracle of seeing again occurs too late and she slams the brakes too hard, swerves too far onto the wrong side of the road.

It’s no longer a bikini knot prodding her back or salt crisping her hair. It’s not her sandals rubbing her heels or sunburn blistering her skin.

In a suspended moment before never seeing again, she sees the children splashing in clear shallow water, the debris on the table after a long lazy lunch. She hears the satisfied sigh as her husband lies back on his sun lounger, warm, content, and replete.

The August setting sun purples sheer arid peaks, and the sapphire sea deepens from blue to blue-black. Shadows darken the gorges and silver-green slivers of broom wave a gentle, tender farewell. And the grapefruit moon rises, brimming large with longing, beckoning, bigger than the blazing Sun has been all the slow day.

About Emily Macdonald

When the sky is a heartless blue and the Sun a yellow flame

Joyce Bingham


She closes the door on the sultry heat, but inside the air is thick and trapped in the corners like ghosts of past summers. Evening will come, but she knows there will be no respite. She pulls the heavy drapes, dust swirling up. The cloth is unwieldy, the folds stuck in their tracks, like ancient railway carriages left in sidings.

She closes her face against the Sun, scorns its rays of blasting thermal energy. She longs for rain, the softness of a drizzle and the violent kisses of a cloud burst. She dreams of the splash of a bucket in the well, the slither as it sinks into the cool water, the hauling of the wet weight, sated with moisture. Ground down bone is stirred by whipping storms, the dust crusts the edges of her nose and stings her eyes. The dead ribs of father’s rowing boat, embedded in the petrified mud, lie exposed like giant’s finger bones.

She closes her eyes, sitting on the porch, listening for the crack of trodden twigs. The shotgun lolls over her thighs, the barrel heavy and searing hot against her thin cotton dress. She caresses the stock, the kerosine and ammonia of her father’s gun oil and rags embedded in the wood. Now the well is dry and cracked. She is ready for them: the townsfolks who prattle their deceit and thin-lipped smiles. They are not convinced, they are coming tonight, they want what she no longer has.

About Joyce Bingham

The day I swallowed Te Rā the Sun

Teoti Jardine


I didn’t mean to. As Te Rā the Sun rose that morning, my mouth, in awe, fell open, and in the Sun popped. It filled every pore, every thought, with a clarity I had been longing for, because it held the truth.

That longing for truth had been with me even before my birth. It came from an ancient place, a place that knew the fiery truth of everything. Everything hidden in Te Kore and everything that appeared in Te Ao Marama.

These truths that Te Rā has always carried I had now swallowed. Well, I didn’t mean to, all I did was open my mouth in awe.

About Teoti Jardine

Jo Ann Tomaselli, Unus Mundus 3
Jo Ann Tomaselli, Unus Mundus 3

About Jo Ann Tomaselli

When Actions Could Have Meant More Than Words

Amanda Hurley


There’s a gap in the curtains through which the Sun streams and you have angled yourself so that your body is spread out in the patch of warming light and you have let your eyes close against its brightness and there’s a sheet partially covering your back and partially not. I think you might have fallen asleep again when you say, as alert as if you had been facing me and you were dressed and it was evening and we were sharing a bottle of wine in the kitchen, “Eric, I’m still moving out.” As if your pale shoulder imprinted with lines from the mattress has always been a mistake and those half-empty glasses downstairs on the counter-top are symbols of our clothed-conversations and baldly-tossed words and not the truth of the matter, which is that this is all I have ever needed. A window, a ray of sun, the white sheets of our bed and you

About Amanda Hurley

The returned serviceman

David Howard


By the end of his life I had mastered the art of insulting my father. As he spoke my smile made a dash, when he stopped it would curl upward. There were no sunny days left. Regret had turned to contempt. For both of us.

He never looked down, he looked through me to the past, beyond the coal-box he tenderly sat me on when I lied to my mother about missing ANZAC biscuits, down an overgrown drive best defined by the orange undercoat on the neighbour’s metal fence, and across Marshland Road to the Green Bottle Store; farther, as far as the Scarborough shoreline littered with anonymous footprints, even into the cold salt…

Years younger, he emerged on the west bank of the Suez Canal, let the Sun wipe him dry, claimed his uniform from God knows where, and half-danced back to RAF Ismailia with the confidence he had already lost when I was born.

What I read in his expression was a list of instructions, but those instructions (I suppose, when he closed his eyes, there were coloured diagrams) let him fly. Now I watch a Vickers Wellesley with its single engine coughing along the runway into the Sun.

About David Howard

Alex Reece Abbott, Midday, Midwinter
Alex Reece Abbott, Midday, Midwinter

About Alex Reece Abbott

I Can See Clearly Now

Ali Mckenzie-Murdoch


Behind us, the brick barracks shimmer like smouldering embers in the ashen dawn. We walk away from the hazy mirage, bunched together, shoulders jostling, our breath sour. Painted in acrid sweat, we shuffle forwards, a shapeless creature, the edges frayed and torn. Up ahead, a solitary figure flexes his knuckles. Wearing the softest lamb’s leather gloves, he’s warm in his worsted wool coat. Ready to pick off whomever he pleases. A child with an air rifle, shooting red balloons at a funfair. I squint at the emerging Sun, a sore eye swelling in a milky sky.

About Ali Mckenzie-Murdoch


Mandira Pattnaik


When she calls Meso, Woama frets like the Kuiper belt hanging about her waist, those thousands of irregular orbiting objects, none too familiar to embrace, none to let go either. She asks if they’re coming for Bihu, but what she essentially wants to discover is if Masi is okay, because she has lost weight after the miscarriage and stays in an Oort cloud she’s puffed around herself. I hold the lantern when Woama goes to the bathroom afterwards, fifty metres from the main house, pitch darkness above, toads marrying and moaning below, louder than the force of coronal flares carried in gusts to Solapur. I strain hard to hear – she might call for help. Back, we read the solar calendar, again, count dates to Woama’s sons and daughters arriving, and I wonder about the chicken gravy, red and hot as the Sun, orbiting its way to us, and the meals we’ll lick from plates made from rations they bring us from the cities. Before Woama dozes off, I hurry to peel a few potatoes and put them in the boiling rice, even though she’s still talking about her children, their back-breaking work, and how they must circle back to her. She says there’s a pull like the heliacal magnet, and I convince myself I see a halo around her head, yellow-green flare like the shimmering aurora, brighter because of extra bursts of love.

About Mandira Pattnaik

When They Asked You to Describe the Moments Before Impact

Emma Phillips


It was a clear morning; the sky so blue it almost wore out the crayon and made you wish for cloud. That’s what you remember, the scrape of wax and a paper sun as round as the senbei your father brought home that tasted so good you tried to lick every trace from your fingers.

All July you practised circles until you could sketch the outline of the Sun the way it rose on the Imperial flag. Your mother said it was the shape of maru mochi. Afterwards, when radiation made her sick, you put a wet cloth to her lips and described her favourite flavours, starting with aduki beans and ending with tako yaki.

You were just about to draw the river when the plane appeared. If your father had seen it first, he’d have called your brother back indoors, made you practise earthquake drills, each of you a corner of the table like kotatsu. “Make yourself small,” he whispered. “We Japanese gain strength in numbers; a single grain of rice will never be enough to fill a bowl.” The plane drew closer then and the Sun became a target. This is what you remember: a flash, the crash of crayons rolling onto tatami and a half-formed river before it was flowing with bodies.

About Emma Phillips

The Grammar of Snow

Rayna Haralambieva


To my son for when all memory of snow is lost because the swoosh-swoosh of pudersnö under boots cannot be reproduced by any app on Google Play and neither can be the playful glow in the eyes of an arctic fox and the heart picking up speed when I stretch out my hand and it trots toward me eyes holding eyes and rolls in the fjöcksnö and the air smells clean and pure like a new beginning and the snowflakes are simply skön and I pray for the Sun to be kind and think how they are so different from one another and what a journey this is the iskristaller forming around tiny bits of dust carried up into the atmosphere by the wind and the complex shapes that emerge as the snöflinga moves through different temperature and humidity zones and what a beautiful lie it is that snow is white as it’s made of clear ice but appears white because of the reflection of the whole spectrum of light by the small crystal facets of the snöflinga and I watch the prisms and needles and plates dancing their way down and in the sliver of time before they hit the ground before this small magic is brought to an end the sky is a blank page where anything is possible.

About Rayna Haralambieva

Adam and Eve in the Garden

Doug Jacquier


Adam lived in a weatherboard cottage, surrounded by his apple orchard.

Sales of his annual apple crop were declining due to the perfect storm of the market’s demand for certified organic versus the demands of their Japanese customers for unblemished perfection. As Adam’s hitherto simple life began to unravel, his nights became increasingly apocalyptic.

His nightmares always began with a tympanic pelting storm besieging his eardrums akin to being duct-taped to AC-DC’s concert amps, punctuated by thunderclaps of Biblical proportions and the sound effects of Cyclone Gabrielle.

The overflowing water flooding into his brain began to short out his synapses and sizzling spark-fests criss-crossed his lobes in a chain lightning reaction.

The ventricles of his heart began to sport stalactites, transported via the ice in his veins, and driven by the Antarctic blizzard invading his gasping mouth.

He loved God but now saw him as a sadist.

Then, miraculously, a new day dawned in his head and the Sun came out, heralding the arrival of Eve, carrying a backpack, and asking if he had any work available. Adam was immediately smitten and invented a job on the spot, with no idea how he was going to pay her.

He needn’t have worried because Eve immediately took stock of the situation and re-positioned the business as ‘Hissy Fit Cider – The Asp-irational Drink’ and she appeared on the label, picking apples, naked.

Now Adam welcomed the cyclone of orders that kept him up all night.

About Doug Jacquier

Manu Berry, Golden darkness
Manu Berry, Golden darkness

About Manu Berry

Green flash

Margaret Moores


I’m in the doctor’s surgery having little carcinomas burnt off my arms with liquid nitrogen and recalling the summer my father spent waiting for the green flash as the Sun descended below the distant, watery horizon. His obsession was annoying. It seemed to us like his way of controlling our mother, who sat with him reading old National Geographics in the dim light until finally, he agreed that she could put the light on, and we could eat dinner.

We didn’t care about the green flash – we spent our days lying on the lawn perfecting our tans with coconut oil, our heads pillowed on our arms and our ears full of sea gull petulance and crashing waves but distanced, as if the surf club were broadcasting the beach through loudspeakers. In the late afternoon, we used to pull sundresses on over our sunburn and walk along the beach to the shop pretending to ignore what was happening in the dunes.

The flash is because of water vapour and refraction – the way the sun’s light bends as if through a prism as it nears the horizon.  I wouldn’t use coconut oil now, just as I wouldn’t complain about spending summer evenings in a holiday house reading and watching the sun fall lower and lower in the sky. While we were peeling sheets of skin off our shoulders, our mother must have been worrying about his tumour. The burned-off places will sting for a while and then scab over.

About Margaret Moores

Child of the Sun

after Katherine Mansfield

Alex Reece Abbott


Dara stands in the greying field looking out across the greying sky. A weak day, not a bad day, but the kind that dawned dull moonstone and would stay pastel till dusk.

Yonks ago, Celeste warned him about the winter sun over here, the way it goes as early as three of an afternoon. And stranded here, draped in alien, pallid light, he believes her. It’s her night-time over there now. Get your head around that unnatural dislocation…mondo bizarro, alright.

It’s pale, chill, bleak. Slow. Doomed to be short, the kind of day that demands…well, sometimes you just can’t manifest what you want. He sniffs. He has necked his daily Vitamin D. He’ll grab some Moroccan citrus from the supermarket.

He has taken it for granted for much of his life, but today he realises: he is subtropical, a child of the Sun. Yeah, he gets it now…of course such a magical being could dazzle and lure a guy like Icarus. For sure. He shivers and silently counts the days till midwinter solstice.

The plants in the field are lingering somewhere between life and death. The light is lowering, even softer. He grimaces and wishes that Maui would have a word with the shirking Sun. But Maui can’t quite hear him from over here. Anyway, being a God, he’s a busy bloke, no doubt snaring Tamanuiterā to give Celeste a good, long summer’s day over there. He’s not sitting around waiting for some hoha request from a homesick man.

…the power to live a full, adult life in close contact [with] what I love – the earth and the wonders thereof, the sea, the sun…I want to be all that I am capable of becoming…a child of the sun.   – Journal of Katherine Mansfield, edited by John Middleton Murry

About Alex Reece Abbott

A Tiny, Tiny Bit of Beauty

Laila Miller


The water by now has lost its mud, settled into a greenish gloom that every so often burps up a consumable: a cushion embroidered gold with peacocks, an empty plant pot, a toothbrush; and it’s like holiday traffic on the single lane to Hamilton, blurry and red and loud with Ed Sheeran at first, then slow, stopped in a glug, then grunting forward and you eventually see why, and don’t want to look, but can’t help but look and you stop the track and wonder if that toothbrush belonged to someone you knew and where were they now and could they get a new one because it was something you needed every day and you wouldn’t purposely lose it or let a monster swallow it, and if you rolled down your car window, held your breath and let the rain in, your toothbrush would be the last thing you let float away even if you were going fast, which you weren’t because time had slowed, then poured its contents out onto the lawn and the street and would you ever get it all back and maybe you shouldn’t think about it in case the car ahead has lost more than you. The Sun’s out now, finally, finally, and you blink at the glistening shards of glass, the sparkling waves, and it’s a tiny, tiny bit of beauty.

About Laila Miller

Manu Berry, First Sunrise
Manu Berry, First Sunrise

About Manu Berry

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