‘ “It was a dark and stormy night…” The cliché line was written in font reminiscent of a typewriter’s singular offering, with a deliberate smudge of the printed words for added authenticity. The otherwise blank sheet of paper was wrapped around the platen of the typewriter cake* from the iconic Australian Women’s Weekly Children’s Birthday Cake Book, with pastel icing of sage green and peachy creme, mint slice platen knobs, liquorice typebars, a musk stick space bar and keys of multi-coloured smarties. The aspiring author blew the candles and made her usual wish of publication before slicing through the cake as party guests whooped and cheered. That was me, Mek, 80s tragic, birthday cake baker, engineer, and increasingly, adopter of the label ‘writer’ as one of the many facets of my identity…’
That was a snippet of my 500-word statement that formed part of my application for a university course that has been on my radar for quite a while. Continue reading →
“Bombardier approaching Bridge over Troubled Waters. Repeat, Bombardier approaching Bridge over Troubled Waters, estimated viewing time fourteen hundred hours. Roger that.”
Roger was on his 5th ‘tour of duty’ but could still not work out if Vince (the driver) was taking the piss because of his name or really thought it a military operation, though to be fair to Vince, there was manipulation of the masses and a political agenda involved— it was an assault of propaganda and faux-cheer on holiday makers who if the ruse went well, would be future investors, so one might as well call it a war effort and use military parlance.
Once alerted to the train’s approach, Roger checked his watch and did the math. It would be fifteen minutes before the train would glide over Crescent Fields Viaduct which ran parallel to the campsite of settlers 1497a. Like clockwork, he gathered dried dung from his stockpile, placed it on a retro barbecue and carefully positioned sticks on top of its grill. From the vantage of the train riding audience, it would look like sausages or even prawns, if they squinted and used their imagination. It was normally a two-person effort, but due to an incident on the worksite below that was spoken of in hushed tones, this time, Roger was alone. A substitute for the merry scene was Verity, Roger’s AI mannequin and confidant. Roger positioned Verity on a sun lounge, certain of the convincing act of her ready smile and silent complicity while on ‘standby’. Continue reading →
The bell painfully warbled Green Sleeves, only just powered by its almost-dead battery, with no consolation of Mr Whippy approaching. Faye looked up from her stack of boxes and saw the last digit of the wall mounted clock flip; 6:13 AM, the first for the working week. She pulled open the metal hatch on the early collection window. The heavy opacity of the wrought iron hatch kept out the cold and the peering eyes of passers-by while she sorted, stacked, and amused herself with a life-sized game of Tetris. The window was narrow, taller than it was wide, meaning she saw most people with spliced faces, depending on where they stood, until she found their parcel, and if it was too large for the window, she’d open a side door and see the whole person. Continue reading →
The walk across the elevated platform then down the escalators was messy. Rob and Elaine had been playing tag on the phone all morning so when he rang again, despite the awkwardness, she cradled her phone on her shoulder and pressed her left ear against it while tackling a pillow under that arm and with her right, dragged her two-wheeled cabin luggage and tried to not spill a freshly pressed juice that was filled to the brim with a week’s recommended dosage of sugar, no more wholesome for the antioxidants and ‘super’ ingredients optimistically touted on the colourful disposable cup. Her cabin luggage was the cheapest option at the Reject Shop that morning after her heavy rucksack’s flimsy stitches unravelled at the straps before she made it to the station. Continue reading →
Lenny drove an unmarked van. He could have been a tradie or a grocer, no one would have known. It was early enough that there wasn’t anyone around who’d care, but just in case, he drove past the one-way street to scan for passers-by. It was day three of early voting and on previous days he’d only noticed old ladies shuffle from car to indoor pool or indoor pool to car for the keen ones who’d been up since the crack of dawn, but no sense in tempting fate and a run-in with what were predominantly left leaning locals in the Labor safe seat, he reasoned. The coast was clear, so he did a U-turn and parked in a disabled spot despite only one other car parked in the street, a fluorescent notice ordering its removal. What are the chances a disabled person will come by now? That thought was in the deeper recesses of his mind, on the surface was in fact no thought.
He opened the back door and saw that the items he’d lugged- a pole, a base on which to mount the pole, and a placard, had rolled around and were now at the far end of the van’s boot, resting against the cage that separated the driver’s cabin from the rear. He had no choice but to climb in. A little contortion was required to move a sandbag out of the way while crouching in the confined space. It was a race against time, he wanted to set up and leave before a confrontation. Bang! Lenny was suddenly enveloped in darkness, the wind howling in such a way that the two doors swung shut in the right sequence. His keys were on the other side, swaying on the stationary door. Continue reading →
She adjusted her cloak then pushed open the heavy arched door. Of course, the cloak wasn’t real, but neither was the door, yet when her phone lit up and ‘mum’ flashed on the muted receiver, it was what she did. Her parents were of an age now where L dared not risk ignoring The call. The one she’d imagined all her life. As a child, she’d pictured herself living in a large, echoey house, all timber and marble with generous servings of sweets in crystal bowls and lots of room to pace while having long conversations with friends on the phone, or if she was done pacing, she’d sprawl out on a soft shag pile carpet that would be used solely for late night talks that required the phone to be dragged on its extra long cable, the curly cord draped beside the round of carpet like the tail of a poodle, but longer. Continue reading →
‘It’s not over till it’s over’ he’d said. If it hadn’t been such a heated conversation and had she not been walking out on him, D would have burst into song, repeating his lines and adding ’till I’m over you’. It was 5 years since that day, also his birthday. The reminder had been in her phone up until last year, but by then the date was lodged in her mental calendar. She’d felt horrible doing it on his birthday, but there was hardly an opportune moment to talk with him, and he’d given her his full attention in anticipation of being showered with gifts and adoration.
Pauline’s husband died on the eve of their 50th wedding anniversary. A heart attack. It was no surprise as he had been one of a dying breed. A smoker who over the years had to trade the convenience of smoking anywhere he chose for surreptitious drags in the shadows wedged between the looming office tower where he worked and the adjacent apartment block where he kept four walls for late nights at the office, doubling as a faux bachelor pad for the high class hookers he was dependent on. He’d work late into the night, billing clients for time that would never be his again. Pauline had been busy with arrangements for their anniversary party that coming weekend. It was just another of a long list of projects that kept her occupied through the course of their marriage. Their secret for longevity, they’d only half joke to anyone who cared to ask, was that they were both too busy to have any marital discord. This was of course not entirely true. There was discord, but it was spoken of in the hushed tones of their body language, separate beds, and dreams on divergent paths. Continue reading →
In the unseen timelines of the mortal trio, that day was marked as the occasion of the light dimming in each of their hearts forevermore, disconnected as they were from the source.
They’d slunk out of the forest triumphant, leaving behind an unrecongnisable world: sacrifices made in the name of gods they didn’t believe in, although flashbacks were tinged with fear of the wrath of those same dieties.
Meanwhile, the sun continued to rise and set, bearing witness to daylight thievery and acts of grace with the same silent intensity.
We stopped at Novosibirsk and waited on the platform; as with all other stops, there were locals selling soda, peanuts, pickled fish, two-minute noodles, and the powdered mash potato that had been my staple; I’d get hot water from the surly samovar attendant and with a little stirring, giving me that sense of having cooked a meal, I turned out a delicious starchy mush that paired nicely with whatever vodka was going. Continue reading →