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“Hi, I’m Catherine Cole and this is from a novel I’ve almost finished, The Cyclist.
Strange the noises of a Collingwood night: fragmented voices, boom-beat from a passing car, cats caterwauling. Crickets. An inconsequential breeze offering no respite from the heat, teased music from the leaves of his neighbour’s apple tree. He wandered back in and stood beside his bike. He’d been riding to work now for a couple of months; across the Carlton Gardens, home again. He loved its sounds, the smooth acceleration of it, wheels on cobblestones, on the gravel outside the Melbourne Museum or the thick push of grass if he strayed onto a lawn.
A ride would help him sleep.
He opened the front door and wheeled the bike out. A few neighbours were sitting on their front verandahs, fellow insomniacs. He waved, rode down to Brunswick Street and turned into King William. No traffic on Nicholson Street, no cars, no trams in sight, the silver strings of the tramline rising up the hill to Preston. He stood on the pedals and, feeling the cheerful compliance of the bike, rode into the gardens. The bicycle wheels made an odd, fluttering sound, lachrymose in the still night. All the while on his left the ornate pile of the Exhibition Building, the dome alight. He rode in peace, undisturbed and disturbing no one. Round and round the gardens, the dome, like the nibbled moon, keeping him company. He reached again the long path that led to Victoria Street and pushed the bike forward, his excitement growing.
The whoosh of the elms.
The low throaty hiss of an old bull possum. He laughed aloud, his head thrown back.
Then the sky reached for him. His body lifted.
The air, slower now, the bike no longer his. Up and up, his body turning inexplicably, so he saw the dome again, could touch it, and the elm leaves, the lights rendering them transparent. He reached out, didn’t he, to touch their soft, cool green? The moon still above him, still ragged and worn, peered down through the branches. Oh, the moon. He could see the soft blue shadows of the seas. He loved their names: The Sea of Fecundity, the Sea of Crisis, the Sea of Tranquility.
His body turned again and with a cry he saw the ground come rushing back. The path played its hard, cruel joke against the soft night:
And then it claimed him.”
ABOUT CATHERINE COLE:
Catherine Cole is Deputy Dean of Creative Arts at the University of Wollongong. She has published novels, short stories, poetry and non fiction. Catherine has received writer residencies in Paris and Hanoi. She has judged literary awards and prizes and reviewed books for the Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“I am currently a Board member of the Eleanor Dark Foundation (Varuna).
As an emerging writer I first visited Varuna on a fellowship in 1996. Varuna’s support and quiet writing spaces have assisted me enormously in my work.” Catherine Cole
Dry Dock, Skin Deep (Harper Collins 1999 and Duffy and Snellgrove, 2002)
The Grave at Thu Le, Picador, (2006),
Private Dicks and Feisty Chicks: An Interrogation of Crime Fiction (Curtin University Press, 1996)
The Poet Who Forgot (UWA Press, 2008)
Editor of the anthology, The Perfume River: Writing from Vietnam (UWA Press, 2010)
Co-editor with McNeil and Karaminas of Fashion in Fiction: Text and Clothing in Literature, Film and Television, (Berg UK and USA, May 2009).
Cole also has published poetry, short stories, essays and reviews.
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