Camilla Eustance is a Naarm-based artist, writer and musician. Her artwork and written pieces have been published in various online and print publications including Going Down Swinging, Voiceworks, Stylo, and n-SCRIBE. She has had commissions from clients such as The University of Melbourne, Vanity Projects, and The Royal Childrens’ Hospital Foundation. From 2017-19, she was the Arts Editor for The Suburban Review. Camilla has exhibited in multiple spaces including NOIR Darkroom (2020), The 1897 Window Gallery (2016), Laundry Bar (2016) and Carolina Cafe and Bar (2018). She currently works at the University of Melbourne in Learning Design and plays in her sibling’s band, Fiz.

Soft digital brushstrokes in deep turquoise and blue, representing a body of water. They fade to lighter tones towards the horizon line, which sits at around one third of the illustration’s height. Above this, light blue shading fades to white at the top of the frame. In the middle ground, centre frame, is an unshaded perfect circle, drawn with one crisp black line. A young person stands directly in front of this circle in the picture’s foreground, visible from the knee up. The take up almost the whole height of the frame. They wear a cream turtleneck with a red t-shirt layered on top, a grey skirt and black tights. They have long, dark hair, falling behind their shoulders. Their gaze is straight-on to the viewer, and they are rendered with detailed shading and fine line-work. They extend their arm on the left side of the frame directly out from the shoulder, with the palm down. Beneath their palm floats a second, smaller circle, shaded in deep blue with a luminescent white glowing from its centre.
Illustration ‘In the Sky, Near the Lake’ by Camilla Eustance

Sarah stood alone at the edge of the Great Lake. The air froze her nose and her ears ached at the intensity of this particularly hostile morning.

              Gazing out across the mist, the horizon blurred into one big motionless grey. Perfection, she thought to herself, wondering why others would find such a sight intimidating. Tom, her younger brother, described the lake as ‘eerie’ and ‘disturbing’ during their last visit. Sarah, however, felt at home here.

              She watched and waited. Waited and watched. And there it was. The sky thing. A puncture hovering in mid-air. An iridescent hole no bigger than a five cent coin, causing a ripple across the stillness. She had seen the sky thing two days prior and told her father.

              ‘Sarah, you need to give yourself a break from watching those crazy sci-fi movies,’ he’d sighed. ‘Your imagination is running away with you.’ But this wasn’t a figment of her imagination nor like anything she’d seen in a movie before. She felt compelled to return to that very same spot at the edge of the Great Lake, before their return home, in the hope she might see it again.

              Sarah’s father had booked accommodation at the Great Lake to celebrate her coming of age. Thirteen. The first teen in the family. Sarah didn’t like crowds and she couldn’t imagine celebrating with a party. Who would she invite anyway? Her only friend in the whole world, Ryan, moved to Queensland last year. Gosh, she hoped he was doing okay up there. Ryan hated the hot weather, just like she did. When she spoke to Ryan on Discord the week before she left for Tasmania, he told her that the weather in Townsville was bearable, but he dreaded the summer humidity yet to come.

              Sarah adored the wilderness. The further away from civilisation, the better. She hated crowds and despised big cities. The Great Lake was her happy place, and luckily her father had been more than obliging when she asked to visit for her birthday weekend.

              Today, her second sighting of the sky thing confirmed the air puncture’s existence. But how? Why? Could she… reach out and touch it? She prodded the perforation with her forefinger. A warm sensation travelled from her digits down to her elbow as the sky thing expanded and swallowed her arm. She retracted and glanced at her jacket sleeve and exposed hand, covered in a sticky substance resembling that of a shimmery soap bubble. But she wasn’t hurt and she wasn’t scared either. This is amazing. She inched forward towards the swirl of the sky thing.

              ‘Sarah,’ her father called. ‘Sarah? Hey Tom, is your sister not back yet?’

              ‘Nope,’ Tom replied with a shrug.

              This is ridiculous, they were due to leave soon, where was she? He knew Sarah had some stuff going on. While other kids of her age were gleefully galloping into their teen years at full speed, Sarah wasn’t particularly thrilled to be entering the ‘dark side’ as she called it. Perhaps moving into her teen years meant letting go of her childhood. Her happier times. He didn’t mind that she was using this weekend as an excuse to escape her troubles for a while, but was it healthy to spend so much time alone at such an impressionable age?

              He threw on his jacket, announced his departure to Tom, telling him to stay put while he went in search of Sarah. He stomped through the mist-covered trees. Ah, so cold. The fog hadn’t lifted yet. He worried then, thinking what a silly idea it was to let Sarah wander off alone into such an unforgiving climate.

              ‘Sarah. SARAH…?’he bellowed.

              He heard something. The faint echo of a ‘Dad’ in reply. He was sure of it. He raced his way down to the lake’s edge. He saw her. She stood staring at the sky. She was covered, head to toe, in a glowing goo. She collapsed into a heap.

              ‘Oh my god Sarah, are you okay?’ He collected her in his arms. She stared back at him with a vacant look in her eyes.

              ‘Dad. I saw her,’ she whimpered.

              ‘WHO?’ he answered.

              ‘Mum. She’s here. ’

              The blood rushed from his face. He looked up to see Elsie, his wife, glaring back at them with a vacant stare in her eyes.

              ‘E-Elsie?’ He whispered. She didn’t reply. She was wearing the same clothes as the day she died. 

              Behind her, an iridescent hole punctured the sky.