Six students from St Mary’s College took on the task of writing part eight of our never-ending story. Our characters are afloat in the wreckage of their plane and wondering what twists of fate lie ahead as a boat appears on the horizon.
THROUGH the thick glass of the oval-shaped windows, Eliza, Johnny and Alice watched as the boat drifted closer to the fl oating wreck of their plane. Salty water licked at the sides of the boat and the words “Lovesong of the Crow” could be made out on its faded wooden exterior.
Alice pressed her nose against the glass, fogging up the window with every hopeful breath. But Eliza and Johnny knew better than to give in to childish naivety. Over Alice’s shoulder, they shared a look of suspicion.
Johnny cleared his throat the way his Dad always did when he had something important to say. “You two stay here. I’ll go check it out.” “You can’t,,” Eliza said, her eyes fi xed on his bandaged arm. Surprised by her own reckless determination, she heard herself speak. “I’ll do it.” “You’re kidding right? I’m not going to let you do that.” Johnny attempted to appear amused by the thought.
But Eliza could tell that this was an attempt to feign typical male bravery. Thoughts of Johnny’s protective gesture and the mysterious boat competed for room in her already crowded mind. But now wasn’t the time for teenage hyperanalysis, nor was it the time to panic.
She was going to do this – she had no choice. “Watch Alice for me.” Eliza placed her jacket around the little girl’s shoulders and Johnny shuffl ed uncomfortably around the cabin as Eliza stripped down, making her way towards the exit sign.
As she plunged into the water, the cold wrapped around her body; it was like a shot of adrenaline going through her veins.
Meanwhile, Johnny and Alice waited impatiently for a sign that Eliza had made it, feeling quite hopeless. They prayed she would return with some sort of good news.
By now, Alice was quite worried, and Johnny too. He comforted Alice and whispered to her: “It’s OK, Alice. Eliza is a big girl, she can look after herself.” From where they stood, they watched Eliza hoist herself onto the boat.
Eliza’s chest heaved with exertion. She hesitated, faced with the unknown. But she wasn’t going to stop. She knew the others were watching and her curiosity wouldn’t let go.
Light-headed and dizzy, she licked her lips. The salty taste made her realise how thirsty she was.
Her stomach growled. She was surprised Alice hadn’t complained about this earlier. Eliza glanced around the boat, looking for signs of life. She called out in an unsteady voice, “Hello, anyone there?” wishing it conveyed more confidence.
There was nothing, no one. As a last resort, she made her way down the staircase to the room beneath. Reaching the bottom, she felt the sunlight warm her neck as it stretched to touch the back of the hull.
Her eyes scanned the dimly lit space before she ventured any further. The light was momentarily blocked out, something like an eclipse. She whipped her body around to get a glimpse of what caused the shift.
Eliza’s pulse began to quicken. She tried to remain unnoticed but felt as though every sound she made was amplifi ed. Each breath seemed to cut through the silence.
To be continued
First published in the Mercury newspaper, Tasmania, on April 24, 2012
A group of English Writing students from St Mary’s College wrote part eight of Lovesong of the Crow. Teacher Jane McGennisken said the project provided an excellent opportunity for students to experiment with collaborative writing. Here is what the students had to say about the experience.