V/Line Vignette 7

Digging 11.06.19

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.

As soon as the sun rose, with the first light piercing through the eastern shed window, he’d sigh, stretch, say ‘another day another dolla’, pop a pie in the pre-heated warmer and step out of his shed, or site office as he called it, to start work for the day. Without a crew to manage, he only had himself to blame when shit hit the fan, like that time he cracked a pipe running from the outdoor dunny to the main sewer, but the upside was, he could  take all the credit when things went right, like all the other times he’d dug without hitting an underground service.

Shovel in hand, he’d carved out progress each day on the hole that was encroaching the colour bonded perimeter on two sides, the third spared because of Bernice’s roses. What started as a search for the rumoured buried lotto win of the man who’d previously owned the house but died with nothing but the house to his name turned into a much larger task— it gave George a reason to wake up each morning. A month into the dig, he’d resigned himself to the rumour being unfounded, but what the hell was he going to do with his time otherwise? And so, he dug. He dug Monday to Friday and occasionally worked overtime for half a day on a Saturday, dipping a little more into his savings for ‘payment’ when he did so, and treated himself to a Sunday roast at the Royal. Evenings were quiet. Henry’d get a feed and George would scrape together a meal for himself from at least 3 different tins for variety –chopped tomato, champignons and butter beans into which he’d throw in slices of fried sausage. That’d be it for the night, bowl of dinner in front of the telly until the next workday.

George’s project took an unexpected turn on an otherwise unremarkable day 15 months into his dig. Henry had been fed, his pie was in the warmer, Robbo and Jonno had bantered, and George had been digging nonstop since morning smoko when his last scoop before lunch made the clinking sound of steel on concrete that reminded him of the sound just before he was sprayed with sewage the one time he’d uncovered anything other than broken bricks, dirt or tree root. He stepped back to avoid a mess and was pleasantly surprised when nothing happened. Closer inspection of what he’d hit revealed the metal edge of something, and so for the rest of that day, he continued to dig with a renewed commitment to the project which now had a glimmer of its initial purpose. His digging got closer to the edge of the no-go zone, and still, despite the meter or so of the metal visible, there was no end yet in sight. George was faced with a choice that became increasingly urgent— the more he uncovered, the greater his discomfort and the clearer the answer; he began scooping up spadefuls of dirt into his gaping hole. He estimated it would take months to backfill, but there was no fortune large enough to make him disrupt the neat row of roses where he’d scattered Bernice’s ashes.

 

 

V/Line Vignette 6

Actual Stream of Consciousness. Literally, Really 03.06.19

I entered the carriage and immediately registered the smell of curry and the many faces looking tired, dishevelled and defeated by the wintery Monday. They’d done their time and now the journey home was as comfortable as their fellow passengers would make it. There was the annoying whistling sound of two women speaking quietly, wet umbrellas without a designated place to rest till their owner disembarked, and the smell of snacks and early dinners. A four – seater was waiting, only steps into the carriage so I took it and removed my coat, placed my bags in the overhead compartment and got comfortable before realising the curry was coming from the seat opposite and diagonal to me. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 5

Traveller 27.05.19

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

V/Line Vignette 3

Cloakroom 6.5.19

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

V/Line Vignette 2

The Drive 29.4.19

‘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.

‘Shit!’

She slammed on the breaks, bringing her ricocheting into the present. Continue reading

V/Line Vignette 1

Golden 1.4.19

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

Awakening

Close up photo of a highland cow with cloudy sky background by Jacco Rienks used for sonya's three line tales microfiction prompt.
Photo by Jacco Rienks on Unsplash

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