The Stingray by Miranda Gillespie

I go down to the bay in the dark.  We meet at the pier; dressed alike in our second skins.  The sun begins to come up somewhere behind Arthurs Seat, air-brushing the sky turquoise.  We shiver and wrap our bare arms around ourselves while we wait for the stragglers; giggling in the half-light, making jokes about what new hell we will experience today.

‘Okay ladies,’ the trainer says, and the torture begins.

 Eventually, red-faced, exhausted, I collapse on the sand.  We have pushed up and chinned up and kneed up and I am finished.

The sun is over the hills, glinting off the mirror of Port Phillip Bay, the dog walkers are filtering down to the water’s edge, clutching bags, nodding to each other.  The small waves curl against the sand in a gentle rhythm, my pulse begins to slow.

Kate comes back from the toilets and says ‘ready?’

We take off our shoes and run into the water in our lycra, screeching as the cold meets our skin with a shock that feels electric.  I dive down in the shallow water and my face skims the sand.  Our voices amplify across the surface of the water, stealing minutes from the hectic morning ahead. 

 A dark shadow approaches.  We freeze and fall silent and my heartbeat seems to shimmer the water as a stingray passes, gliding between us, smooth and purposeful.  It disappears into the blue; we both release a rush of breath and laugh with relief.

I drive home, leaving a large wet imprint on the seat.I will see it later on the school run and amongst the rush and noise and screams to hurry up I will remember the stingray, its powerful grace as it flowed past us and away.

This is my voice.

Unsigned by Paul Wattie

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‘Hurry up, Jade!’ said one of the boys behind me. ‘Just wait!’ I said. Several kids pushed in excitement, eager to have fun on the school excursion. Miss Hammond told us to be patient. We piled out of the bus. I held my hand to my forehead like a sun visor and looked...

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