As one of Overland’s fiction readers, I’ve been lucky to read through a vast collection of pieces sent in over the past few years. The submissions themselves were always a perfect showcase for the diversity of Australian writers and styles being produced at that point in time, much more so than the definitions of Australian fiction presented in anthologies or university courses might have led me to believe.
Arthur’s mother spent most of her days waiting near the dark bathtub. The basement flat was always in shadows, even with its small windows at the ceiling that met the footpath outside. All evening she listened to the traffic and watched feet streaking past the windows, and with every car horn she thought of Arthur.
Sardines and sprats – that’s what they liked. The smell was irresistible. They’d approach and retreat. Eventually, one would pad in, too hungry for sense. Even then, once they were lured, it didn’t snap shut. They had to walk right through and put their full weight on the plate.
Maddy was in the third trimester of her first pregnancy when she had a strange dream: a vast desert, umber and red, with patches of scrubby vegetation. It was a place she had never been and yet which her dreaming self instantly recognised. Her chest felt open and wide, as if her ribcage contained this dusty expanse.