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“I’m Vicki Hastrich and this is from my novel The Great Arch which is about an Anglican clergyman, the Reverend Ralph Anderson Cage, who is obsessed with the Sydney Harbour Bridge which he can see being built from his rectory verandah.
6 March 1930
Stella pauses by the bedroom window with the folding. Since they came this morning with the news of Nipper Addison’s fall she finds herself stopping in the middle of her work, sometimes with an arm across her stomach as if she’s falling too and is trying to stop the air being forced from her. Ralph is over there, probably on the barge waiting to see if the diver finds the body. She knows Ralph in his thoroughness will sometime go and stand at the spot where the worker slipped from the bridge.
She wonders where Addison will be found exactly. Is he hanging in some mid-strata of water, curled over like an embryo, in the dirty, gurgling, stomach of the harbour? Or does he take up a muddy stance on the bottom, his white face ballooning in and out of clouds of silt stirred by the diver’s lead-booted feet? She decides on the latter and wonders if he still holds the spanner. Perhaps he leans to one side, tide-pushed, as if listening hard for something.
She wonders, too, what Mrs Preston, that artist from the Home magazine, might make of it – how she’d carve the now still life of Addison into one of her woodcuts. A man planted to his knees. One hand out by his side, palm open, his fingers gouged with her fine chisel until they’re bath-withered – the other hand outstretched and holding, in place of the spanner, perhaps, a bunch of flowers. Red. All around him, black ink.
At first glance, Stella thinks, this may seem a modern way to die, a steel man and a great bridge – but no, she realises, it’s age-old; it’s simply falling.”
ABOUT VICKI HASTRICH:
Vicki Hastrich lives in Sydney. She has a Doctor of Arts degree (Creative Writing) from the University of Sydney. Vicki earns a living writing heritage-based articles for various organisations and also works as an oral historian and archivist.
“For my first novel I was the fortunate recipient of a fellowship and a mentorship, and for my second, received an Eleanor Dark fellowship. This support was been vital to my development as a writer and I am very grateful to Mick Dark and the Eleanor Dark Foundation for the ongoing treasure that is Varuna.” Vicki Hastrich
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