Harry Curren Quotes in Past the Shallows
Water that was always there. Always everywhere. The sound and the smell and the cold waves making Harry different. And it wasn’t just because he was the youngest. He knew the way he felt about the ocean would never leave him now. It would be there always, right inside him.
Harry picked up an abalone shell, the edges loose and dusty in his hands. And every cell in his body stopped. Felt it. This place. Felt the people who had been here before, breathing and standing live where he stood. People who were dead now. Long gone. And Harry understood it, right down in his guts, that time ran on forever and that one day he would die.
He used to feel sorry for the abs when he was young. The way they pulsed and moved in the tubs, sensing the bright light and heat. But he couldn’t think about them like that now. He was only careful not to cut or bruise them, because once abs started to bleed, they kept on bleeding until all the liquid inside was gone. They just dried up and died.
And if you didn’t know better, you’d think that no one lived here anymore. That all these places were abandoned. But people were in there somewhere, hidden and burrowed in. They were there.
“What am I meant to do? What am I meant to do?”
And he heard her voice rise up, familiar tears.
“I grew up in that house, Miles. Don’t I deserve something?”
But Harry stayed where he was. He stayed among the piles of Granddad’s things left on the lawn—all the things that were no longer needed, no longer useful—and he wished that Joe would stay.
Maybe that’s why Joe and Miles liked it so much. And he knew that Granddad would have taken him. It was just that he was too little, too small to go, when Granddad had been alive. And if Granddad hadn’t died then he definitely would have taken Harry fishing, too. And it would have been good, like this was.
Then they heard Dad yelling from inside. Yelling at them, at everyone. Yelling at no one. And Miles could hear the words. They came through the brown walls, through the air, and cracked open the night: “I never wanted you.”
And it nearly made Harry cry now, the way Miles’s eyelid was all purple and cut—the bruise on the side of his face coming up bad. Harry put his hand in his pocket and felt for the sock that held his leftover money. He pulled it out.
“You should take this,” he said. “You might need it.”
Miles shook his head. “You keep it,” he said and he tried to smile.
…Harry didn’t see him come back. There was just the backpack with some clothes left by the door of the trailer and inside, near the top, were some chocolates and the bright orange dart gun from his Bertie Beetle goodie bag.
Harry leaned his head back against the chair and thought that if Miles got lost, if Miles never came home, Harry’s insides would go wrong and they might never come right again. If Miles got lost.
…he looked so young and small, like no time had ever passed by since he was the baby in the room and Joe had told Miles to be nice to him and help Mum out. And Miles had thought he wouldn’t like it. But Harry had a way about him. A way that made you promise to take care of him.
He just kept starting at Harry. And his hand moved away from Harry’s hair, moved down to the string around his neck. And he cupped it in his palm—a white pointer’s tooth.
“It’s his,” he said, and his face went pale. “His.”
He let the tooth go. He stared down at Harry.
“She was leaving, because of him. Because of you.”
But ultimately it wasn’t up to you. This ocean could hold you down for as long as it liked, and Miles knew it.
There was a black emptiness inside him and it was all that he could see. He tried to imagine a fire in the darkness, and at first it was just one blue flame too small to feel. But he willed it on, felt the first flicker of warmth as it grew. Then it raged, turned into a ball of fire, orange and red and hungry. It devoured his stomach, moved up to his lungs, his back. Moved into his heart. He shared it with Harry through his skin.
He had been drifting for a lifetime and his mind had lost its way. It was dissolving and he had forgotten about Harry, forgotten about all the things that came before. There was only this vastness, the swing of a giant pendulum—water receding then flooding back. And he was part of it. Part of the deep water, part of the waves. Part of the rocks and reefs along the shore.
He listened to Joe talk about all the places they would go, the tropical islands and clear warm water, the big bright lights of new cities. The free open space of ocean. And he knew that Joe was going to take him with him, now. Wherever he went. He leaned his head down against his brother’s shoulder. And he let himself cry.
Miles let the rip that ran with the bluff carry him. He enjoyed the ride, felt his hands slipping through the cool water, body floating free. And there was this feeling in him like when it had all just been for fun, the water.
And Miles loved that light.
It made the dark water sparkle, turned the white spray golden—made the ocean a giant mirror reflecting the sky. Even the leaves on the crack wattle shone in the light.
It made everything come to life.
Out past the shallows, past the sandy-bottomed bays, comes the dark water—black and cold and roaring. Rolling out an invisible path, a new line for them to follow.
To somewhere warm.
To somewhere new.