The sand is so white I can’t see the sand it’s the colour that it is it’s white colour.

I’m walking beside my Dad, down the beach, and the sun is bright and the desert is red and the sky is blue and it’s all a line. I feel the sand on my feet and it’s hard to find my feet in the sand, the sand is moving, my legs are small and I try to keep up with Dad, my Dad has big steps, and I want to catch up to him and hold his hand but we don’t really do that all the time so I don’t this time.

The jeep is back there, we left it, and we are walking, me, my little brother, and Dad, and Mum and my sister are back at the jeep and my sister is small, smaller than me, and smaller than my brother. I am bigger than my brother. I am the biggest.

I look at the ground, and the sun is shining and it hurts my eyes a little but I know we’ve only been here not long and my eyes will get used to it, they will stop the water coming out. My father has brown sunglasses and he has a moustache and my little brother’s eyes are green but they see better than me, he has no water, he has special eyes. My eyes are big, they are bigger than my brother’s, they are the biggest, except for my sister.

I like my sister. I remember when she came back with Mum it was so long ago now I can’t remember when, it was like half my age my Mum says, and I am seven and that’s sooo long. I wonder how long Mum and Dad have been? Were they alive when there were dinosaurs? I heard humans were monkeys once but I don’t think it’s true, I think Scott at school is lying, like how Mum and Dad kiss and how when they are naked and they do stuff and I don’t think it’s true, and that is sooo gross! As if they would do what he said. As if! Scott is weird. Scott is my friend.

My father is fast, down the dunes, down the sand, and my brother falls into the sand for a moment, he is even smaller than me, but he is bigger, and sometimes I wonder if he’s my brother ‘cos we look so different. His skin is white and his hair is yellow, and he is so quiet. I am brown, and my Mum calls the spots on my brother’s skin ‘sun kisses’. I don’t have any spots, not as much as Andy, and why does the sun kiss my brother? Scott is gross.

How long have we been walking? It seems like forever, and are we there yet?
‘Are we there yet, Dad?’
‘Not yet, son.’ I always ask him this. We are always moving from place to place.

It’s hot and I love it. I love the sun. Why doesn’t the sun love me? I can’t wait for the reef. My Dad says it’s good and we will love it and I can’t wait and my Dad, my Dad and my Mum, they bought a house here in the red desert, at X. I can’t remember the name, I only see it in my mind with a letter X, that’s how I remember it, but I can’t remember it, it’s a word I can’t remember, I only see the sign, like those signs on the road when we drive with the emus.

My Dad hit an emu once. I don’t think my Dad likes emus. They run next to our car and they are sooo fast, it’s like they are as fast as our jeep, but sometimes they go in front of our car and one did once, and it did, and it died. My Dad hit it with the car, and it died.

He ran over it, he said that we ‘ran over it’ but the emu was running. I don’t think he knew what he said, ‘cos we weren’t running, the emu was running, but I didn’t tell my Dad. The emu was running and my Dad said we ran over it and then my Dad stopped the car, and we all looked back out the back window and the emu was on the road and then he pulled up his head and looked at us, then his head fell back down and he died, and my Mum and Dad thought it was funny, and I don’t know why, and I laughed because they were laughing I think ‘cos the way it raised it’s head and they are kind and I don’t know why and this is the way of my Mum and Dad, and all the big people who smile at me and laugh, and I don’t know why they do things, but I want to know as much as they do about things so I laugh. If I laugh maybe I will know things too.

‘Why is it called Ningapoo Dad?’
My father smiles, and he is laughing again and I don’t know why but he touches me on the head and on my face and I am surprised, he doesn’t touch me like that. I look up at him, he is so tall.
‘Ningaloo,’ he says.
‘Ningaloo,’ I say, and I see the words in my mind. ‘I can spell it,’ I say.
‘Go on then.’
‘N-I-N-G-A-L-O-O.’
‘Very good.’
I am good with spelling. My teacher gave me a gold star last week for my spelling book.
‘Why?’
‘I don’t know, son.’
My Dad doesn’t know. I wonder if my Dad knows what I know. I don’t think so, some of it but. I know he doesn’t see things I do, like that shiny thing, ‘cos he tells me they aren’t true. Wow! Look, there is a big bird in the sky! Can my Dad see it?
‘Dad! Dad!’ I say, pointing with my finger. This finger is an ‘index’ finger, I learnt that in school. I also know that magicians aren’t real, that magic is an ‘illusion’, I know that word too, I know what it means, it means it’s not real, I learnt that in a book I read, the one with the glass ball on it.
‘It’s an eagle,’ he says.
‘Yeah, it’s an eagle!’ and my arms are wings. My brother is looking up so hard he falls back over onto his bum, and he’s still looking, sitting on the sand. My Dad picks him up and the eagle is lost in the sky and I can’t find it, it’s just blue.

We keep walking and I’m singing that song from the TV, Peter Brussel Sprout, he cooks stuff, he has a beard. My Dad has a moustache. It’s prickly. When I’m big I want a moustache like my Dad.

‘Let’s go here,’ my Dad says, and he pulls out some snorkels from the big bag he has and some flippers for me and Andy, and him too.

We go down to the water and the water has no waves and it is sooo big, the water. My Mum says I am a water baby ‘cos I love the water. I am a water baby. I love the waves and my Dad got us boogie boards, me and Andy, and mine is green, and Andy’s is green too and my sister plays in the sand when I catch the waves close to the sand on my board. I don’t have my boogie board now, I have flippers, and my Dad puts them on and he wets the snorkel, cleaning out the snorkel with the water and puts it on my head, and I put the pipe thing in my mouth and I bite the plastic bit with my teeth, I like biting it, it is soft and I like it. Andy has his pipe on too, and my Dad is putting on his snorkel, and I think the word snore and I see my Dad  sleeping in the water. I’m laughing and I laugh and I’m looking at my Dad, laughing, and he is smiling at me and I don’t tell him why. I can know things too. I can know things other people don’t know, I have them in me and I wonder can they see them? Can my Dad see why I am laughing?

We go into the water and I jump and swim and my brother falls into the water and he coughs and he pulls out his pipe thing and he coughs up water and he is crying. My Dad is picking him up and he knocks him on the back with his front hand and my brother has no more water coming out his mouth and now he is not crying and my Dad puts the pipe thing back in his mouth and he says keep the top of the pipe thing above the water and my brother swims and keeps the top bit above the water as he is swimming. My brother learns things quick. He stops swimming and looks back at my Dad and he is happy now.

We swim out from the white sand and now we are kicking and Dad is holding our hands, my hand in his left hand, and my brother in his right hand, and we are floating and the water is taking us back there to the jeep that is so far away like my Dad said it would, and we don’t need to kick anymore, and we are floating, and the water is moving us back.

Wow! Woooow! There is a big fish that is so close to me, and the coral is pink and there is orange coral, and blue, and green, and purple, and I see a snake in the water, and my Dad is pointing to it and he lets go of my hand, I can swim just me. I see him looking at me under the water and his eyes are big and even though he has the pipe thing in his mouth he is smiling, and I am smiling too. I swim a little further, away from my brother and my Dad and I hold my breath and dive down, I want my Dad to see me, and it’s not far to the bottom, and I reckon it’s as tall as maybe two of my Dads, or maybe the BFG.

I dive down and when I’m close to the bottom the sand is all over and I see a big ray come out of the sand and it swims away and it is like that star wars movie, like a spaceship flying in the water, and I remember the spaceship, and my Dad doesn’t know, he says it’s not true. He says it’s an ‘illusion’, but he doesn’t say that word, he says it’s not true. I learnt that word from the book with the glass ball on it, and when I was at the magic show at Scott’s party and Scott is my friend and we both like Melanie so he was not my friend and I stood up and said to the magician ‘That’s not real! That’s an illusion!’ and I looked back at my Mum to see, and my Mum looked at me the way she always does, like I am a surprise.

I am swimming and I see sooo many things, and I see a shark, and I swim close to my Dad. It’s a big, black shark and I squeeze my Dad’s hand and he can tell I am scared and he looks at me and pulls me close and he tells me to go up with his hand, and we go above the water and he takes the pipe thing out of his mouth and I can’t see below the water and the shark is down there and I am scared ‘cos I can’t see it. I don’t think my brother has seen it, ‘cos he’s above the water too, and he is happy, he is smiling at the water.
‘It’s just a reef shark, it’s OK,’ he says, and he looks at me, he looks right into my eye and I see I am OK, that my Dad knows this thing.
We look back down and we are moving with the water, and I see a platypus, no, it’s not it’s not a platypus, it’s like a platypus but I have never seen a platypus and it has a beak and it’s a fish with a big tail.

The water is warm, I can feel the sun on my back, above the water, and it is warm, and I can feel my back is too warm and it feels stingy but Dad put sunscreen on my skin before we were walking and he said that the scar on his back was ‘cos they didn’t used to have sunscreen. Where did sunscreen come from? Do they have it with the dinosaurs? Do dinosaurs have scars on their back too, like my Dad? Dinosaurs are like big lizards. Do lizards need sunscreen? Lizards are like small dinosaurs. Lizards don’t need sunscreen.

I look above the water and I can see my Mum! Mum! My Mum is waving but her hands are waving in front of her, and it’s not waving, and I scratch my Dad cos he is looking at the fish and I scratch him on his arm and he looks at me, and he is angry, but I scratch ‘cos I am scared ‘cos my Mum is waving funny on the sand and he can see I am scared and he looks up out of the water and we are a long way from the sand, and the water is carrying us out to the bigger water, and the ocean is big, and I am scared. My Dad’s body is tight, and he holds our hands tight, and he is swimming back towards the sand now, and he is swimming fast, and I know something is wrong, ‘cos he is swimming fast, and my Dad is kicking a lot, and I feel like I’m being dragged behind my Dad, and we are still moving away from the sand and I can hear my Mum, and ‘Alan!’ from the sand, and I know something is wrong, and my brother, and his eyes beneath the water, bubbles between our eyes, and we know something is wrong.

I want the electric to come and get me but my Dad is here and the electric doesn’t come get me when my Dad is here, only in my room  when my Dad and Mum and Andy and my sister Ali are sleeping and I can’t move and I am scared and I don’t think the electric will come. We are moving away from the sand and my Mum is small and my Dad stops kicking, and I can feel my Dad’s body rise and he takes off his snorkel, and he is looking around, and we are moving away from the sand and the water is getting darker, and the water is taking us away from Mum, and I can’t see my Mum, she is smaller than when I saw her before and the water is big and we are small, and the water is dark, it’s the colour that it is, it’s dark colour.

My Dad is above the water now and he is holding my brother to his chest and my brother is crying and I am crying and he holds us close to his chest and my Dad is scared and I am scared ‘cos my Dad is scared, and I can see it in his eyes even though he doesn’t know I can see it, and does he know what I know? If I can know his eyes, he can know me, and does he know what I can see? My Dad is scared, I am scared, my brother is scared, and I am scared, and I am crying.
‘Dad! Dad! Where are we going?’
‘Dada!’ my brother is crying, he is crying a lot.
‘It’s OK, Stephen, it’s OK.’ But my Dad is lying, and he is lying and Scott is lying and people don’t come from monkeys and Mum and Dad aren’t naked and doing those things, and the electric won’t come and get me and Mum is gone and my Dad is scared, and my Dad is lying. My Dad is lying.

We are out on the big water and I think of the big black shark I saw before and the water is dark it’s dark colour and the water is slow and my Dad is lying. We are not moving as much as before. We are not moving in the dark colour.
How will we get back?
I like my sister.
I love my Mummy.

(This story will continue next week. Stay tuned.)

Mettā and Peace
– Stephen


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