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Strawberries in the Wastelands of Lygon Street


Written by Seb Whitaker | Illustrated by Emily Wildfyre | Translated by Clairine Chendra

[ English / 英语 ] 

2073. Southbank, population: 1.

Every day is the same for Ming. Wake up. Boil water. Scavenge. Sweat. Every day the same quest and every night the same silent refuge.

Ming can’t remember the last time he saw another living human being. He doesn’t mind the solitude though; people complicate things. Ming knows how the story goes when he’s the only one in it. So he wanders about his day that’s like every other day: through the barren wastelands of Lygon Street, over the remnants of the last bridge, and back to Southbank Ming trudges.

Except this time he sees a man.

He analyses him: the long silky grey hair, his tall thin frame, the way the golden sun kisses his brown skin. He looks to be of the same era as Ming, yet he exudes a vitality he hasn’t witnessed in a very long time. The man, noticing Ming, jolts in shock, dropping the handwoven basket he was carrying and spilling a dozen strawberries onto the dirt. Ming scoops them into his calloused palms as the man stands there, paralysed by shock.

“S-strawberries,” Ming croaks, his voice hoarse from having not spoken in days. The man softens as it dawns on him that they’re both survivors.

“Who are you?” The man asks, his voice low and velvety.

“Ming,” he answers, more confidently now.

“My name is Sutan,” the man says.

The two stand in a young, shy silence that is eventually broken when Sutan picks two strawberries from the basket and offers one to Ming. He takes it, the cool sweetness erupting in his mouth, gulping it down in seconds. Ripe red gloss glazes his lips and his fingers show nothing but evidence of his gluttony. He pauses, looking up at Sutan who’s staring at him, uneaten strawberry still in his hand. Ming snickers, as does Sutan, and soon they’re both roaring in unstoppable laughter.

Sutan places his hand on Ming’s arm, his light touch in complete dissonance with the wear embedded into Ming’s skin. Even as the laughter stops, the touch remains. They stay like this, gently soaking in each other’s souls. Ming finds himself lost in the details of Sutan’s face, transfixed by beauty that has long since left this world. It’s not until the sun has already begun to set that Ming notices the dusk that’s enveloping them.

“I need to get back,” Ming says abruptly, moving away from Sutan and looking up at the forewarning of stars in the night sky.

“The sun has set too far, you won’t make it,” Sutan replies as he steps closer and extends his hand. “I can take you to my home; I’ll protect you.”

Every survival instinct Ming has picked up over the last several years tells him to flee and yet despite this, he decides to take Sutan’s hand. The hint of a grin warms up Sutan’s face, and before he knows it the two are dashing through the wastelands of Carlton like two teenagers, alive by the promise of a new beginning.

. . .


[ 汉语 / Simplified Chinese ]


人口数 :1


每天阿明过着重复的生活 -------- 起床、烧水、拾荒、加上满头的汗水。日复一日的挑战还有每个寂静无声避难的夜晚。


阿明已经记不清他最后一次见到活生生的人是什么时候, 但他并不介意这份孤独的感觉,毕竟人都是很复杂。当他是故事里唯一的角色时,他深知这个故事的发展和结局。就这样阿明开始他周而复始的日子,从空荡荡的莱贡街越过遗留的最后一座桥,最终回归到南岸。


可是这一回和平时不一样,这次他瞧见了-------- 一位男子!


阿明仔细地观察了他: 飘动如丝的长银发, 细高挑儿的身材,温暖的阳光照在他黝黑的皮肤上。他们似乎是同一个年代的人,不过他散发着朝气蓬勃的精神是阿明久已不见的。注视着阿明的男子露出了震惊的反应,掉下了他提着的手织篮子,结果把十几个草莓撒落在地上。男子被吓得动弹不得,阿明把掉在地上的草莓都捡了起来,然后把它们放到他那粗糙的手上 。


“……草……草莓,” 阿明用他多日没有发过声而沙哑的声音嘀咕地说。当男子意识到他们俩都是生还者时他放松了。

“你是谁?” 男子开口问道,声音低沉浑厚。

“…阿明” 回答到,此时他更加自信了点儿。

“苏坦…” 男人回应到。


两人腼腆羞怯,肃静无声。当苏坦捡起篮子里的两颗草莓并送一颗给阿明时,凝重的气氛终被打破了。阿明拿起草莓,他一秒钟就吞了下去,清香的甜味儿瞬间爆发在他的嘴里。他嘴唇上樱红的光泽和沾有草莓汁的脏手 都是他贪吃的证据。



“我该回去了” 阿明猛然说到,慢慢地离开苏坦并抬头望着隐隐出现的星星。

“太阳已经下落了,你回不去了” 苏坦一边说一边向阿明迈进一步并伸出他的手。“但我能带你回我家,我会保护你。”


    Seb Whitaker

    Seb is a Melbourne-based writer, composer, actor and lover of all things camp. They are passionate about optimistic and accurate storytelling of queer narratives and strive to make everything they do an act of compassion with a dash of the eccentric. In their spare time, Seb loves a Netflix binge, a walk in a park or recreating the precise choreography from the 2007 classic movie musical Hairspray.

    See more of Seb's work

    Emily Wildfyre

    Emily is a passionate artist fascinated by knowledge and the wonders of our world, determined to discover its inner-workings. This fascination stretches on through a wide variety of topics, a few of her favourites include neuroscience, language, and food science. So, when she’s not painting enchanting, fantasy worlds, she’s busy studying and getting involved in whatever she can. With scholarly aspirations, she hopes she can share her learned knowledge with the world through her art and her studies.

    view more of Emily's work

    Clairine Chendra

    Clairine is originally from Indonesia and is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce at Monash University. Having studied Mandarin and English since she was two years old, Clairine has developed a love for languages and is currently learning Korean. Alongside her studies, Clairine enjoys traveling (especially throughout Asia) and  is passionate about cultural diversity.

    Connect with Clairine on instagram

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