Short fiction writer Keren Heenan is one of a number of selected writers shortlisted for the Aesthetica Creative Award and published in the Annual. The Award is open for entries until 31 August, and is accepting works from writers at all stages of their career and on any topic. We present an extract from Heenan’s short story, Lament.
Keren Heenan is the winner of a number of Australian short story awards including the Ellen Gudrun Kasten Award (2007), the Southern Cross Literary Competition (2009), the Hal Porter Short Story Competition (2010), and the Alan Marshall, Local Section (2012). She has been published in Australian journals and anthologies, including: Overland, Island, Wet Ink, Award Winning Australian Writing 2010 and 2011.
Since being selected for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award and published in Aesthetica Annual 2014, she has been selected as one of 4 winners in the Alan Marshall Award 2014. Heenan is a member of Io Writers, and lives in Melbourne, Australia.
The morning of the day that Armstrong walked on the moon, my father danced a jig on the kitchen table and my brother built a model Apollo from toilet rolls and foil. My mother cooked a pancake and saw the face of Jesus on it and fell to the floor crying, “Prophecy, prophesy. Turn back. Your footsteps are not for that place.”
My brother frowned over his work, his fingers sticky with glue and my father downed a whiskey neat to herald in the new age.
“Profanity,” my mother wept.
“Insanity,” my father said. “It’s the Man in the Moon,” and he lifted the pale pancake to the light taking a bite.
My mother shrieked and took it from his hands. “There is no man in the moon, fool.”
Watching from the doorway, I saw the dark contours of the pancake form the shape of a conch shell, its curved lines drawing me in to secret, silent spaces where the rush of waves drown out the things that make no sense.
My silence is a wall – sheer, thick, impenetrable. My silence has no doors.
At school this silence is no longer enigma. My teacher pats my head and neither asks questions nor waits for words. He has ceased the expansive gestures with his hands as if he thought my ears had been captive to the same immutable wall as my tongue.
We watched the moon-landing on television. Crowded into an airless classroom, the breath of anticipation made the room strangely warm in July. We were told there is no atmosphere on the moon; all is deathly quiet – as quiet as a stone – no trembling, no wind to stir the surface. “Imagine Earthrise from the moon,” our teacher said, his eyes bright and feverish. I remembered the slow ascent of the moon over a smooth, bald hill and into a purple sky.
To read Keren Heenan’s Lament, pick up a copy of the Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual here.
Entries close 31 August for the Aesthetica Creative Writing Award. For more information and to submit visit www.aestheticamagazine.com/creativewriting.
1. Caroline Jane Harris, Untitled. Aesthetica Art Prize Painting and Drawing Finalist. Courtesy of the artist and Aesthetica.
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