The boy is running again. You can tell by his feet that’s what he is doing. It takes you some time to understand he is running – in the beginning the sound of those feet isn’t any way peculiar to the other morning sounds. I was once a boy myself but I was never like that: my steps never made that small smacking sound, smacking in their little rhythm along Sadlier Street.
You are: stiff lines, hard colours, corporate setting. Pleats ironed, turtle neck immaculate, hair pulled back. You are: an intern, savvy, eyes-bright, tail-bushed.
In the 2018 Overland Victoria University Short Story Prize, 863 entries were divided between us, the four judges. From a pooled longlist of thirty stories, we selected a very strong shortlist of thirteen. Then came the difficult task of choosing just two runners-up and one winner. We are thrilled to announce the three stories that placed this year.
I always hated school. Hated the teachers who beat us at the first nervous twitch of the morning. Hated sitting in a box of a room, watching the hands of a clock crawl across its own face. Hated being barked at by teachers: ‘Look this way, Birch!’ they would yell whenever I became transfixed by the river flowing outside the window. But I did love reading.
You won’t even bother to call it a funeral. ‘We are disposing of my grandfather’s body today,’ you will say. ‘Family only.’ Later that evening, on the car ride back home, you will switch on the digital copy of grandpa and the two of you will resume the conversation you were having the night before on his deathbed.