Cast Ashore — a novelette in 15 chapters

Cast Ashore: Chapter 13

Tide and Time

Steve Fendt
7 min readNov 10, 2023

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Basalt blocks in an old, flooded quarry reflect in the still water. Norfolk Island pines and a white jetty in the background.
‘Basalt Mirror’ — author image

Sooner than I would have liked, the ‘Tide and Time’ exhibition in Lorne opens.

The moonah has become a towering sculpture that I’ve titled ‘Hard Rain’ in allusion to the lengths of rusty chain dripping from its truncated boughs. I’ve managed to produce three short editions of coloured mezzotints that I’m fairly happy with and dusted off an old woodcut series of creekside scenes.

It’s all a bit half-arsed and hasty, quantity rather than quality, but Andrea, the gallery director, seems delighted. There will be works by over forty local and interstate artists, filling three large spaces.

I invite Kaja to attend the vernissage with me, of course. ‘I’d be honoured, Les. Thank you!’

My daughter Sam will be my other guest, sans partner as her boyfriend has to work late. Or possibly, doesn’t want to spend an evening with a bunch of boring, arty types: Gavin’s more at home with footy and beer.

It will be a big bash, quite formal, with a sit-down dinner, speeches by local dignitaries and the arts minister, and a dance band. I never felt comfortable in those kind of surroundings at the best of times, and after two years of sporadic COVID lockdowns and isolation, the thought makes me really quite anxious.

It will be the first time that Kaja and Sam have formally met, too, although my daughter has occasionally visited the store during her fleeting biannual visits to Skeleton Creek. ‘Oh, the blonde woman from the general store? She seems lovely and … quite young, Dad.’

Sam is twenty-nine, so the two are twelve years apart.

When I go up to Kaja’s on the evening of the vernissage, she greets me at the door in a tight, pale green dress of shot silk. She’s wearing a little make-up. Not enough to cover those freckles, I’m glad to see. Bright red lipstick, carefully applied. A simple river-pearl choker with matching earrings. She seems taller, which puzzles me until I realise that I’ve never seen her in heels.

She’s quite the most beautiful sight I’ve ever seen.

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Steve Fendt

https://stevefendt.substack.com Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.