Waves lapped gently against the old, battered wharf. Sitting on the edge, Chris dangled his long, thin legs in midair, looking out to the orange sunset that was swallowing the horizon. He anxiously glanced at his digital wristwatch every now and then, eagerly anticipating the arrival of that particular person.
“Been waiting long?” suddenly said a voice behind him.
Chris quickly spun around. There she stood, dressed in a tank top and khaki shorts, hair short, and tanned a bronze orange. She made a ‘V for Victory’ sign towards Chris with her fingers. “How have you been?”
Her name was Kara. Chris and her went back a long way. They were born in the same hospital on the same day fifteen years ago, and their parents were the best of neighbours. However, when he was ten years old, his father’s new job in the city forced them to say an abrupt farewell.
Luckily, their friendship survived despite the physical separation, and they constantly exchanged letters, photos and emails. They’d even stay over at each other’s homes once in a while – Kara’s in summer and Chris’ in winter. Despite the close nature of their relationship, it never developed past a platonic stage, perhaps since Chris regarded the tomboyish Kara as a best friend more than a love interest.
This summer marked the end of Year 10 – a relatively uneventful year for Chris. Kara had sent him a message that said she wanted to take him to a special place tonight. She also told him to wait at old Lachlan’s wharf as soon as he got off the ferry.
Getting over the immediacy of seeing Kara, Chris stood up slowly, carefully trying to maintain his balance on the shaky wharf. With his eyes glowing with happiness and anticipation, he said, “Long time no see! It’s great to be back for summer, Kara!”
Chris walked up to her, and engaged in general conversation about their common interests – games, music and sports – until the sound of beachgoers and speedboats in the background died down.
Kara looked at her watch. “Crap! We’re late! We might miss the thing I planned!”
“What?” asked Chris. “Never mind. Just follow me,” replied Kara dismissively. She firmly grabbed Chris wrist with a strength that was several times that of the average girl, but then again, Kara wasn’t exactly an average girl. She was on the state team for swimming, having spent all her life at the beach.
After a few minutes of being pulled along by Kara, they made their way to a secluded section of the beach. The shape of the coast hid this place from surroundings areas. The beach was deserted, with most people opting to go home before the mosquitoes came out. Kara moved eagerly towards the shoreline and scanned the water for a few seconds, before running into the sea. Chris looked closer, and realised what Kara had been trying to locate a sandbar. It wasn’t obvious, but he could see that the water looked slightly shallower.
“This sandbar only emerges once in a while at low tide. I only accidentally found out about it this autumn. Anyway, it leads to a small island with some trees and rocks,” Kara explained.
“Let’s go then!” said Chris enthusiastically. He and Kara had been recklessly adventurous since their early years. “I’ve got my mobile just in case something happens.”
Before he knew it, Kara was again pulling his hand as they walked up the sandbar. The Sun had just fallen below the horizon, and the sky began turning dark. The sandbar was wide enough for a small road, though it became narrower halfway to the island, like the shape of an hourglass. Soon Chris and Kara managed to reach the little island with relative ease, albeit covered with sweat and sand.
Kara plopped down on the secluded beach, facing the ocean with a nostalgic look on her face. Chris sat down beside her, placing his backpack to the side.
“The view’s great, isn’t it?” commented Kara. Slivers of moonlight reflected off the ocean, combining with the rhythm of the waves and the ambient glow of the town on the far shore to create a pleasant atmosphere. Chris laid on the sand, hands behind his head. “Yeah,” he replied.
Kara continued. “Chris, the reason I brought you here is because I wanted to have one last special memory with you.”
“Wha -?” Chris was taken aback. What did Kara mean?
“I’m moving to New Zealand in two weeks. Just like how you moved away five years ago, except we’ll be in different countries now.”
“…Why didn’t you tell me earlier?” Chris was unable to make eye contact with Kara as he said it.
“Mum and Dad were having more and more fights. Last week, they just suddenly both snapped, and Mum’s going to move back to her old home in New Zealand. I’m going with her.”
“What about our friendship?”
Kara turned and looked towards Chris desperately, like she didn’t know what to do as well. “It’s not the end of the world, Chris. We can still phone and email each other. And I’ll come back to visit my Dad every once or so.”
Chris exploded. “Every once or so?! What does that mean? Are you suggesting that our friendship just ends like this?” Kara was almost in tears. It was hard for her too. Seeing this, Chris quietly withdrew from the argument and turned his face away.
“No, it’s not your fault. I would be upset as well.”
“So what are you going do about all the loose ends here? School and friends? Your job?”
“Mum’s arranged for me to transfer into a girls’ school as soon as I get there. I’ve said my goodbyes to my friends. You were the last one I was going to tell.”
“Why? We’ve been friends for eternity.” Chris was trying as hard as he could not to guilt-trip the already depressed Kara.
“I know, Chris. It’s just that telling you would the hardest out of all my friends. You are very special to me.” Kara was breaking down. Instinctively, without any hesitance, Chris embraced her. She let out a gasp before crying, and then hugged back with all her strength.
“I put you through the same experience five years ago. So I know how you feel. You dealt with it for the sake of our friendship. Now it’s my turn. No matter what happens, we’ll always be the best of friends. Always.”
“Chris….” Kara let out a sniffle, before collapsing into Chris’ arms. “She must have not gotten any sleep last night thinking about how to tell the news to me,” Chris thought to himself. He picked her up piggyback-style. “Hold on tight. We’re going home.” Kara locked her arms around Chris tightly.
“Ouch! Easy does it. Here we go…”
Chris stepped onto the sandbar, taking one last look at the island. This place would become a bittersweet source of memories in the future. He then started walking down the sandbar, into the near darkness of the night.
When Chris and Kara had walked here, the moonlight made two separate silhouettes. Now on the way back there was only their combined one.
This is a puzzling one. The year it was written and submitted it achieved 15/15 at a top 5 NSW school. While it engages with the AOS perfectly, the sheer mundane nature of this narrative drives me to distraction. Personally I would give this 13 tops. Despite the shallow surface of the narrative it actually has well thought out dialogue and very good mastery of punctuation – a rare sight in today’s HSC narratives. Furthermore it also plays with a cliche while still keeping the reader interested with snapshots of intimacy. Nevertheless, I really should have made further inquiries as to why this scored so unexpectedly high. If you think you know the answer, comment away…