Sundays are fun days, particularly during a Melbourne summer heatwave. But after spending the day swimming in the cooling bay waters and making towering sandcastles and baking under a scorching sun and eating ice-creams that melt and dribble down your hands and walking home in a thunderstorm with hail pin-pricking your sunburnt back, you just know the real pain is coming. Getting home, you will cop a blast from Mum for being stupid, and Dad will slink off to get the fish and chips for dinner, keen to avoid the wrathful eye of Mum, who is always blaming him for your childhood indiscretions. On Sunday night, you will get the chills, and as you try to sleep, your body will glow in the summer twilight like a Chernobyl sunset. Monday will see you irritable, with headaches and a shirt too painful to wear on your back; inevitably, one of your brothers will apply a Chinese burn to your red-raw arm or, worse still, slap you on the back with a ‘M-a-ate’ salutation, resulting in a painful tussle between two warring lobsters. On Tuesday, squishy, translucent blisters will emerge and inventive ways to pop them will be sought. Then Wednesday arrives and the itching will begin, and by Thursday, despite Mum’s copious application of Calamine Lotion, the itching will be unbearable, and you and your brothers will be like a sloth of bear cubs, desperately seeking out door frames or tree trunks, even Mum’s spaghetti ladle, to try to ease the itch. Friday will be spent peeling the dead skin off your arms and legs and shoulders, and flicking rolled-up skinballs at one another. The weekend arrives, and Saturday will be devoted to serving out your punishment for your misdemeanour: Mum will banish you to weed a stone path or wash the car or hang up the washing, but eventually you will drift down to the backshed to Dad and talk about cricket. Come Sunday, you will be ready for another day at the beach.
Martin Smith lives within walking distance of Santa Casa beach in Queenscliff, Victoria, Australia. Most days you will find him walking on the beach between Queenscliff and Point Lonsdale on a low tide, leaving footprints in the sand and weaving stories in his head.