The Night My Father Drove Into the Sea. Titahi Bay, New Zealand. July 21, 1969

The car bumps along the tide line.

Geoff drives, Stuart is a passenger.

Later Geoff says they’d had a couple of beers and it was Stuart’s idea.

The rising moon is as thin as paper. The seven sisters sit low in the gas and dust from which they were formed.

Stuart tunes the radio and the beep of the news programme cuts the static. A gravelly voice announces that a

few hours earlier a man walked on the moon.

‘Geez imagine that,’ says Stuart looking for the moon.

It has disappeared behind a cloud.

Which way? yells Geoff in the darkness.

The tyres sink into the sand, a wave crashes over the car.

The Boy on the Ward

I walked past the boy’s room on the way to visit my father. A nurse was closing the door. I heard him say “Dave, this is going to hurt.”

I walked past again later and the door was open. Dave lay on his back, still, his eyes black and closed.

I asked Mum why Dave had his own room while Dad had to share.  She said she’d heard the nurses talking about the boy who climbed up the side of a parking building.

I sat with Dad that night and he was as silent and still as Dave, his eyes swollen shut. But we were used to that and knew he’d soon be awake and abusing us for not bringing his slippers and asking if he could drink beer.  The people sitting around the bed across from him started to cry, they twisted themselves over the woman who lay in the bed. Then the nurse came in and pulled the curtains and asked us to wait in the corridor.

They sent Dad home five days later. By then he was in trouble because he called the surgeon a bastard and got out of bed still attached to the catheter. I walked past Dave for the last time that day.  He hadn’t moved. 

My friend Bill owns a café, says this kid comes in every day. He’s a bloody nuisance, pinches the waitresses’ bums and uses the toilet without buying anything. It’s a sad story, he says, he has brain damage, was trying to climb a parking building and fell.

“What’s his name?” I ask.

But Bill doesn’t know.

I see him then. Dave stands outside the café, looking through the window, trying to reconcile the closed sign with the lit up room, the customers. I lift my hand and wave.

Annette Edwards-Hill lives in Wellington, New Zealand. Her short stories and flashes have been published in New Zealand and overseas. She was nominated for Best Small Fictions and the Pushcart Prize in 2018.  She has been shortlisted for New Zealand Flash Fiction Day, Micro Madness and the Sargeson Prize. She won second place in the Reflex Fiction Autumn 2021 competition.