Cast Ashore — a novelette in 15 chapters

Cast Ashore: Chapter 8


Steve Fendt
6 min readOct 28, 2023


Monochrome photo of shallows with sunlight glinting on wet sand and tiny ripples, foamy surf encroaching from top right.
‘Elemental’ — author image

I’m outside Kaja’s café at five forty-five. Not too keen, not too late, hopefully. The outdoor chairs are stacked and chained, the sign is turned to CLOSED, the blinds are down.

She opens the door on my second knock. ‘Hello, Les. Come on in.’

She looks me up and down. ‘Shoes, Les? You’ve dressed up. I don’t think I’ve seen you in shoes since, ooh, October?’

I look down at my deck shoes. It’s true: I spend most of the summer in thongs, board shorts and a singlet top.

Yeah, well. So much for ‘not too keen’. She’s seen through you already.

‘Come on through to the house.’

I follow her out the back of the café, through to the living quarters. Trying not to notice the swing of her hips, the cute way the tight little curls caress the nape of her neck. Failing.

She invites me to sit at the old pine kitchen table. Then she picks up a bottle of Cab Sav from the bench, waggles it at me enquiringly. I nod in approval and she opens it, pours us a generous glass each. She fills and sets down little bowls with green olives, salted almonds.

Then we talk. Small talk at first: the changeable weather; my work; Helmut; her work; Josh’s plans; the difficulty of getting reliable staff.

Then bang.

‘Ben has left me.’ There are sudden red flecks on her cheeks.

‘Oh, shit.’

‘The bastard has another woman. In Melbourne. A colleague … Apparently, it’s been going on for months.’

‘Kaja, I’m so sorry.’

Her eyes glisten with tears. She gives a curious, strained little laugh.

‘You know what really pisses me off? He was the one that wanted to come down here, wanted the whole “seachange lifestyle”, the beach and the surf.

‘We were going to give up the high-stress corporate life for a little café and store. Only he never did, of course. Always an excuse, never the right time, blah blah.

‘I would have preferred to stay in Melbourne or go back home to Perth. Now I’m wondering if he…



Steve Fendt Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.