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 →
Dorcas’ alarm wasn’t helping Ned’s paralysing fear of living out the rest of his life on a sugar restricted diet; he’d only spent the past 47 years perfecting his gelato recipe, having picked up secrets on the Mediterranean trade route with the Merchant Navy in the 1940s. He didn’t know what was worse— giving up his one pleasure in life or warnings about the Millennium Bug that could impact his sales and inventory software, threatening absolute chaos to his careful stocktake of flavours for his sweet enterprise. Continue reading →
George was on his way home from an interview with a construction firm. It was the first interview he’d had in over 37 years and he had to admit, he was rusty. What did diversity and inclusion have to do with laying reo and pouring concrete? He’d been given ‘voluntary’ redundancy following the merger of LH Kirby & Sons with a conglomerate that was buying up all the work along the northern sprawl out of the city and unsurprisingly, squeezing all resources to maximise profits. He didn’t need the money, but after 18 months spent excavating then backfilling his backyard, he decided it was time to return to the workforce.
To remain ‘in the game’ as he put it, he woke at 04:35 each weekday, donned his work gear, fed Henry his green parrot and meandered to the shed where he kept a bar fridge full of supplies for work lunches and smokos. Cranking the pie warmer on the bench was his first task for the morning, then he’d walk the length of the drive to the front lawn where the rolled-up paper lay waiting in its blue plastic sheath. To make up for the lack of banter, he’d turn on 3WAWA and listen to Robbo and Jonno talk about the traffic, sport, weather and the latest political and or celebrity scandal. 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 →
Every morning—I assumed it was morning, but couldn’t be sure as the only light came from stark fluorescent tubes that were always lit—my horns were clasped and measured with calipers cinched by gloved hands.
‘Growing too slowly…’
The man in the white coat would mutter to himself each time before shuffling away, almost tripping over his too-long trousers, to top up my trough with a bland oily porridge that was served cold and congealed. It was unappetising but I’d eat it all, nothing escaping, not even the irony of all the meals I once snapped and shared with friends as though they’d mattered (the meals that is); the freedoms I’d taken for granted had never been photo worthy. 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 →
My last terrestrial memory is that of zooming plains through the dirt-speckled windows of the cabin we shared. Crossing the mass of land, and multiple time zones, it was my unwitting farewell to life on firm, solid ground, although I didn’t know it at the time.
I had gone along with Liam’s suggestion to take the trip, guided by a strong sense that everything I would be doing was destined to unfold, that I only needed to go with the flow, so to speak. We shared our second-class quarters with a soldier on his way home from a posting in Moscow, and a grieving widow heading to Irkutsk to collect the body of her fisherman husband who’d met his end while navigating the cruel seas. In that confined space, I’d learnt a lot about my Russian cabin mates, with crude sentences pieced together from the weathered Lonely Planet, and the outpouring of human emotion born of rowdy card games and shots of vodka. Liam however, remained a mystery. Continue reading →