Category Archives: #weekendwriter

It’s about time

weekendwriter-11It was a lightbulb went on in my head. Here I was, 40, recently divorced and I felt like I still had so much life to live. What was I going to do?

I bought myself a ticket to skydive. My mother had a veritable heart attack. My best friend eyed me over her coffee cup and told me that it was not like me. But smiled as she said it.

I didn’t think about it until I was getting in the plane. A hand in, and a small comforting smile from my tandem jumper and I barely realised we were in the air. I felt locked up tight. All of my nerves twanged.

“Ready?” my companion yelled in my ear, and his face seemed strange and alien.

I must have nodded because then we were plummeting. I screamed. I swore. I flailed. Nothing I did changed our trajectory or the wind rushing against my face. Somewhere in those endless minutes I gave myself over to the universe.

My fate had been decided however. The ripchord was pulled and the parachute opened with a snap. We floated, over a little village with a fountain and small stone bridge. Paddocks with bemused cows passed beneath me.

Somewhere, my cries turned into whoops of excitement. As we landed at a run, I found myself face down in the field. As my harness was snapped up, and my legs stopped shaking long enough to let me stand, the adrenaline kicked in. I ran around the paddock like a crazy person, jumping and fist pumping in the air. The guys from the skydiving company just smirked at me – they knew how it made you feel.

Sitting across from my best friend, I explained how light I’d felt, how free. And that I wasn’t afraid of myself anymore.

She looked over at me, and in that wise old voice of hers said, “It’s about damn time.”

Falling again

It was a warm, soft evening beneath the apple trees. I could smell the apples ripening on their boughs. Overhead some shooting stars chased across the sky and made me smile.

I had your note crumpled in my pocket, with the love heart speared through with an arrow. It had the small map, with the arrow marking this exact tree I lay under. Not that I needed it, this had been our makeout tree for years.

I remembered the night I had rolled the dice with you, and swung my arms around your neck and laid one on you. Your lips had been tense beneath mine until you realised what it meant. And then we had been rolling in the fresh grass all evening and getting to know each other.

As I lay among the sweet smelling grass, I fingered the beads around my neck, clicking them together, like the sounds of an abacus, counting up the happy memories together. Remembering the slow burn of desire before we made love, the excrutiating flicker of lust as we took our time exploring each other.

I heard your footsteps crunching in the grass before I saw you, a dark outline against the night. A gleaming smile in the dark. You pulling me to my feet, holding my body against yours. We stand in silence, easy with each other, but the curiousity in me builds.

Stepping back a little, stroking my hair, you tell me how much you love me, and I feel something cool in my hand. My heart swells like a parachute in my chest and I could be flying with excitement as I look at the ring in my palm.

“Marry me,” you say, your voice hoarse.

As my lips meet yours, I hope that’s all you needed for an answer.

My masked man

The party ebbed and thrummed with the deep base drum music. Contorted faces swirled as people danced, in full masked regalia. Everywhere the finest clothes had been acquired for the ball, but the shoes were optional, and if you looked closely, you would see the swish of bare ankles as the ladies danced.

She moved through the crowd assuredly but gracefully, her figure clothed in the finest silk, dyed indigo blue, the trim blackest ink. Her mask was exquisite, looking as if the Ulysses butterfly had landed daintily upon her nose. Upon the warm coloured skin dripped amethysts tangled in shining white gold. The crowd stood back briefly admiring her as she flitted silently amongst them.

A man in a top hat dared to stop her with the crook of his cane, catching the gentle bend of her arm.

“Do not fly by so fast,” he breathed, looking into the chocolate brown eyes before him.

A sweet smile behind the mask left him confused as she moved on through the crowd. Quietly she took a seat at the fountain, her eyes alternately scanning the writhing bodies or the magestic castle turrets that overshadowed the dance. She waited patiently, still like a pond. Only her hands, gently arranging her skirts, showed her agitation.

Two hands lifted her to her feet. She allowed him this, as she allowed the whisper in her ear.

“Follow me, cherie.”

Without seeing him, she allowed herself to be led out of the courtyard, up winding turret stairs, to a room nestled right at the top. The warmth of a crackling fire greeted her, a four poster laid out in white, simple linens.

“Welcome home my darling.”

He turned her toward him, held her in his arms. She breathed him in, crushed against his chest. Her face rose to his, to see a golden god before her, his green eyes sparkling.

“Ra?” she enquired, raising her eyebrow.

“Well… I am the light of your life you keep saying.”

His smirk moved back to her mouth as his hands covered her body. He loosened her bodice, stripping her slowly as she returned the favour, removing a beetle that was a poor representation of a scarab. They stood naked, huddled together, before falling back passionately on the bed. Slowly, they explored each other, mouth and hand. As they climaxed, overhead fireworks spluttered into life.

“Happy elopement my sweet,” he mumbled, kissing her neck, slowly.

She smiled eloquently and fell back between the sheets with her new husband.

Kiss the sky

You had pushed me out with sad eyes and soft hands. I had become unbearable – I needed to be out there. In the world.

I was left without anywhere to turn, standing abandoned at the crossroads. Which way would I go? What had I done that measured up to my grand schemes?


That was it! I had nothing left tying me here. I was going, leaving all I’d known.

19368_275749091137_658806137_5036581_869488_nThe plane took off and I felt panicked. I wanted off and I looked out the window. Through the oval shaped plastic, a rainbow shone in the mist, wreathed by the softest, whitest clouds. Somehow, I knew that I was kissing the sky and that it would all be alright.My heart burned with trepidation. I almost turned back a hundred times. But before I knew it, I had all my belongings in a pack and was standing awkwardly at the airport. I was boarding the plane when I saw you, your hands scarily pale against the glass, more than the glint of the reflection in your eye. I almost didn’t make it then but you nodded and I turned, choking back my own tears.




Dark Melbourne streets held an extra chill this Easter, and I jumped as the door to the apartment block slammed shut behind me. Ever since I’d be working on this exhibit, I’d been jumpy. Tutankhamun was in our museum. And every single gold foiled Easter egg reminded me.

Now, I know that the stories of the curse associated with his tomb were phooey. After all, Howard Carter lived such a long time after he was in that tomb. But dead bodies made the museum feel eerie, and I resented the masses who came to boggle at the body of a boy.

It didn’t help that the curator had died suddenly from an aneursym, working late one night in the office, her pyramid paperweight lying askew on the ground. I had never seen her face so white, which they told me was just the paleness of death. I knew differently.

As her assistant, I was nominated to head to her home, where she lived alone. No children, a niece in Queensland who could not come and settle her affairs until next week. And she had a file the administrator needed. So here I was, in this old dark, creepy building in a dead woman’s apartment.

The elevator creaked ominously and smelled that aged, neglected smell of old buildings. On the 4th floor, I headed to apartment 7, the auspicious Egyptian number. Opening up the door, I was bombarded by the smell of antiquities.

Walking into the hallway, I noticed the old fashioned cane in the umbrella stand, the lilies on the table. It was beautiful appointed, everything in its place. I walked straight into her office, to her desk, where the manila folder was closed neatly. A stone scarab rested in front of an old photograph. I looked closer and recognised a young girl, resting on the lap of a man who could be her grandfather. Looking closer, I recognised the features. It was Lord Canarvon, the financier of the opening of Tutankhamun’s tomb. I recognised him from the photographs in the exhibition.

It must have been the curator’s mother. She was too young. But I could imagine Anne, the great-granddaughter of the famous backer, being enchanted by her family, pointing out the amazing discovery that happened all because of her great-grandfather. I smiled at the history, and wondered if anyone knew.

The window was open slightly and I went to look out over the park at the back of the building. A shooting star made me smile, until I realised it was headed straight at me! I squealed and dropped to the floor, as it sailed over my head. I turned around and found a flaming arrow, buried in the carpet. It started to shower on to the carpet and singe. I leapt up and grabbed the lilies, tipping them over the arrow, to stop the flames which spluttered out. I saw a little papyrus attached to the arrow.

That was it. I was out. I grabbed my file and ran, ringing the administrator and squealing the story out down the line. The door on the building almost hit me on the way out.

As I rounded the corner to my car, I saw a boy in a dark robe duck around the corner, near black eyes sparkling as he threw a dark smile my way.

My keys jangled loudly as I tried and failed to put the keys in the ignition. This was going to be one long exhibition.

Little piece of whole

I wrote the last notes in a book, lit by the unromantic light of electric lantern sitting on the edge of the camping table. This was it. The divorce papers sat on the table, glaring up at me, golden in the circle of light.

She and I had travelled the world together. Camping in many places across the world, making love in a thin-walled tent in the flickering of the campfire. At home, we’d lain in each others arms, reading books or playing on our phones in the evening. Every memory, I associated with a glow. She had been my sun, my moon.

Perhaps that was where we had gone wrong. Put too much upon each other. I expected to be her everything and expected her to be mine. But there had been too much pressure and we had caved when our foundation had shifted.

I remembered when we were pregnant… As if I had done more than a 5 second job in the whole process. The gentle swell of her belly and the paternal pride that swelled dually in me. With every day she’d become incandescent, so much more beautiful than before. I could not have been more enchanted.

Until that night. She’d woken up in a panic, and I could do nothing to calm her. I had not listened. I had doubted. After an hour, I had taken her to the hospital, where the doctor had placed his stethascope on the round mount of her stomach. And then the ultrasound. With their words, her lumiscence was snuffed out.

I could not understand, I was not enough, could never fix it. From tears, to shouting, to shutting out. All I remembered was the tiny rosebuds we’d put on her coffin, comically small in my grief, before she was cremated. Our tiny doll, the beautiful gift that had been taken away. She could not look at me.

We’d been apart for 2 years now. Eventually, I’d realised she wasn’t going to come back. We’d done the responsible thing, started the process of separating our lives from one another. It unwound the strands of the fragile life I’d knitted together. Time meant nothing to me. I lost my job. The house was leased, until we were ready to sell.

There was nothing left of the life I loved. When the last of the papers came, I sobbed. There was nothing but pieces. I gathered them and fled to the last spot I felt whole. I went to the place where she and I had gotten together.

I had wept and sobbed, railed against the universe, yelled and screamed. Let it out. And then I took up a pen and wrote. Words poured out of me. Eventually the anger lapsed and the grief started.

Beyond the tears, the joy surfaced, at her conception. My wife, everything we had meant to each other. The simple joy of her head on my chest and her snoring there. A strand of her hair on my skin, the scent of her perfume. The rush when she smiled at me, eyes shining with joy. I could barely breathe with the memory of our lovemaking, in the gentle rays of the morning.

I had written our story then, as a letter for our daughter who never got a chance to be. It was apologies and stories and hope for her soul. It was a love letter to my wife who I had loved more than the sun.

And I finished, and sat surrounded by the darkness. Silent and still. For the first time in a long time I felt empty of it all.

Headlights wound up the hill to the campsite. I wondered who would come to this place in the dead of night. The car stopped right at my campsite and the light died. I could not see past the circle cast by the lamp. A woman got out of the car. Even in the shadow I recognised her.

My wife. She came close, but stood in the shadow, but I could see the sparkle of the stars in eyes filled with tears. She stood silently crying, looking at me.

In a hoarse voice, she simply said, “I can’t.”

I stood, knowing not what would happen next, and took her in my arms. And together we cried, grasping to each other as one would a life raft. And with that small gesture, I felt a little piece of my whole.

A frosty reception

Beneath the glass, her face was soft and sad. Even with preservation, she had aged slightly. It was a mask – hiding the animation and light she had possessed.

He had been travelling the world for centuries searching. Every isle had housed him for a time, as he scoured it for the signs of magic. Since his recovery, he’d known what he had been missing all along. And he knew that she had been protected by the very women who sent her his way. 

Here, he’d stumbled upon the quiet glade as he had walked through the forest. Something about the slanting light had enchanted him. 

This place had not been disturbed for a long time. A hint of the priestesses was there, in the carved steps into a gentle waterfall, the discarded pitcher by the water. Even the turtle regarding him from a rock had been placed for effect.

He’d heard the stories of Snow White and knew it had been a message to him. The poisoned apple, the description of his fair love, the magical dwarves who would have had to carry her here. He heard the message that she was ready to be saved. A directive. 

Beneath the glass, she waited for him. Her fair cheeks still blushing, lips red, dark hair in curly tangles. Unbidden, the memory of their softness and scent against his cheek made him shiver. 

His time walking had made him forget a love that was not without problems. Her indiscretion, he now knew, had been in part his error too. Leaving his wife alone to pace the turrets would destroy even the strongest of loves. His drive to be the best king, to possess that damned chalice. He only hoped that in her dreaming sleep that she would remember him fondly, with the love they once shared. He was sure he looked the brute now, with deep lines around his eyes and mouth, salt and pepper locks unkempt. He knew she would remember, regardless.

Trembling, his hands lay on the glass covering. He slowly removed her sarcophagus, taking care that it did not strike her. With great effort, he placed it on the ground. 

Hoping he had understood the messages of the priestesses, he bent slowly to her, hesitating a moment. His lips pressed hers with love, praying to all that was holy that he was the one meant to awaken her with a kiss. 

Beneath his mouth, he felt her lips moved. He stood up, watching her stretch languidly as a cat, smiling sleepily up at him. 

A second later her eyes unclouded and the rich emerald eyes pierced him with her stare. He could not distinguish which emotion reigned – hurt, distrust, aching love or confusion. 

“Arthur,” she said softy. “You came.”

New life

From beneath the charred black soil, green shoots had begun to burst through. The fire had not broken them, it had given them life, a new start. Tom recognised the snow peas flowering and small tomato bushes taking over what used to be his garden patch. He smiled, knowing the birds would have a field day. It would be good to hear their chatter in the still valley again. What everyone forgot, he mused, was that the animals suffered too. Apart from that koala survivor on the news, there had been so few of them survive.

The day was as vivid in his mind as if it had been yesterday and not two years on. One eye had been warily watching the valley since morning as the horizons darkened with distant smoke. A simple phone call to a local SES member had given him the final drive to move along. The car had been already packed, wife and baby strapped in, before he took off. Everywhere they turned, roads were blocked. They were about to return down the same roads when the radio announced their valley had gone up. White faced, his wife was thin lipped and trembling beside him, and he had no words or time to comfort her.

They came across a pub, filled with other escapees. There was nowhere to go. Tacitly, the two of them agreed to stay. They parked near enough to protect the car, but far enough to avoid injury if it exploded. His wife settled in with the baby, and had her giggling playing with an old abacus. Tom joined able bodied men on the roof, wetting down the walls and roof until it was sodden. Old shirts became masks as they fought to breathe through the ash. The roaring intensified and the heat seared the flesh like an oven. It started to cross the oval at a nearby school, and the men scurried down under the showering embers. Inside, they gathered under the strongest part of the roof. Men were armed with water, aiming to wet the walls for as long as the pump lasted. His baby cried hard, coughing, spluttering, as his wife tried to stop her crying and protect her from the poisonous inhalations. The walls began steaming, and many cried out. The undercurrent of hurried prayers could almost be heard thrilling beneath the angry hissing of the walls.

It began to quieten, and looks of hope had begun appearing in the group. A shrill scream sounded, and Tom turned away from wetting the walls to see his wife wailing. Their baby lay limp in her arms. A school nurse rushed to her side and began CPR. There was someone radioing the emergency services, and all Tom could see was the little jerks made in his daughter as the nurse did compressions. She was so pale, and so still. Shock had him rooted to the spot. Tears were running down his face, and he turned to his wife, to see the exact expression mirrored in her face.

Their daughter had been buried 3 days later, because his wife had refused cremation. Her words, ‘Hasn’t the fire already taken enough?’, haunted his waking moments. Together, they had limped on for a time. In therapy, she’d said he’d never understood her and that he didn’t understand, marvelling at how he survived without their little girl, venom in every word. He knew then that they’d never get past it – he would always be to blame. And he could only take on all his own guilt, not anyone else’s. So he sat with her, and told her he was leaving, because there was no way out of this darkness together, and he was not here to light her way out. Quietly, she had understood, and known it was too late to fix. They parted, each hoping that one day there could be forgiveness and redemption for them both. And not having to be strong any more, he sobbed for weeks.

He broke down to his humblest parts. He ran away. Parts of his world he’d wanted to show her, the world he’d always wanted to see, he went to. And at the end of that time, he wanted to come home, to be close to her memory. So he did.

One day, in a city park in the middle of autumn, with all the leaves raining about like embers, a girl with kind eyes asked him why his eyes were full of echoes and grief. Without meaning to, he spilled his soul out to her. Every hurt was aired, every tear re-shed. It happened the time after, and the time after that. One night in their friendship, she took him to her arms and suddenly he felt light again. The goodness that girl turned upon him healed him inside out.

He knew he had found the woman that was his new life. And he knew he’d had to send off the old, before the new would be free. So on the anniversary of the fire, with her had on his arm, he had called his ex-wife, and asked her to come out and let it go. She accepted. And here he stood, waiting for redemption. Waiting to be free.


I had left to wander the world, as I had always said that I would. Each footstep over tranquil water, sliding beneath beautiful old bridges reminded me of you. Every moment with you was peace, you held me up and kept me safe.

For a while, I had hidden myself, tucked into my hardened shell, carrying the weight of my world. My world and the heaviest heart. I lazed on tropical beaches, basking in soothing sunlight and all I could feel was you by my side.

As I threw myself off a cliff, parachuting into the steamy, aromatic jungle, I saw your wide eyes filling with tears. It ripped the air from my lungs. In the silence over the leafy stillness, I can still hear your voice, it’s sad quietude, asking me to wait for you. But to do so would have destroyed us both. Time will heal it all.

I gave up the exotic, the strange, for places steeped in history. I climbed mountains to temples, prayed, but what I always prayed for was you. This was not what I intended.

Glumly, I reached Venice. I had planned to drink in the romance, but the buildings were dank, lacklustre, needing tenderness and care. Absorbed, I looked at the carnival masks, but their colours had leeched of brilliance.

I hiked to the Fountain di Trevi, to marvel in its brilliance. From this distance, there appeared a supplicant at its foot. Covered in a summer dress, their hair even looked like yours, twisting in a breeze.

You looked up, smiled and the sunshine came out.

You were here.

The End of a Tail

Here is my contribution to #WeekendWriter…

When you have a child in your house that is autistic, everything revolves around them. Forget the other children, they can manage on their own. I was 16 and I had been bitter about it, but what can you do?

Apparently what you can do is almost cause a meltdown of seismic proportions.

Today, this afternoon, I killed my sister Amy’s fish. It was an accident, but it doesn’t matter. Feeding her fish is part of her routine, the thing she does when she comes home from the specialist on Saturday afternoon. What would happen is Amy, who by the way is 10 but acts a lot younger, would open her eyes wide and have a tantrum. Apparently she doesn’t care what devastation it causes. Still, someone has to hold her and sing her that stupid rubber tree song, High Hopes or whatever it’s called. Wish no one had ever sung her that song. But its words will be burnt into my brain forever. But the damage will be done. She’ll be practically catatonic for a month.

So I was having a dialogue with my mother, as it was my dad taking Amy to the doctor this week. It was my best friend Jo’s birthday party and there were going to be boys there. And for once in my frigging life, Mum took an interest. And by interest I mean stand. And by stand I mean delivered an ultimatum. I couldn’t go if there were boys. End of story. Because her parents were going to be in the house. I mean seriously. I wasn’t 14. We’d all been pashing boys for years. As for anything else, that was way too huge a step to take with all your friends listening.

I argued of course. And Mum refused to budge, then went to hang out the washing. I threw the flashlight I had been twirling in my hands at the bench, where it bounced… Right into the fish tank. CRAP!

There was a short fizzing sound and then there was the fish, belly-up. DOUBLE CRAP! I quickly removed the evidence. I yelled out to my Mum that I was cleaning the tank, to which she told me sucking up was not going to help. I barely contained my eyeroll. Tyrant.

Rushing up to my room, I picked up the learner plates we’d just bought so I could go driving. I contemplated “borrowing” the car, but knew if I got caught, I would be grounded from now through to all of eternity. I looked at my watch. I had to get to the petshop, find an identical fish, then get back in 45 minutes? Do-able, right?

I was down and out the door, savings in pocket, before Mum could notice. I practically squealed the tires on my bike in my haste. All I can say is, given some very near misses and some loud swear words, I barely made it to the petshop.

And the guy behind the counter was Max, my crush from school. Seriously. FML. I was going to be a laughing stock. Some sacrifices need to be made but.

I flopped the fish on the counter, saying, “I need a fish identical to this one.”

Max raised an eyebrow at me and took a look at the fish. “The same? Why not another one?”

“Because my sister is a freak and will lose it if this fish is not back in his bowl by the time I get home?”

Max was silent. He moved over to the siamese fighting fish display tanks. Together we looked hard, looked at them all. He turned over the lifeless fish in his hand.

“I don’t know if we have one the same.”

I just about cried. I was going to be the bad guy, all over a stupid thing I did. I hung my head, tears blurring my eyes when I saw him. A little black and blue guy in the back.

I jumped on the spot. “That one, that one!”

Matt got him into a little container for me and told me the price. 20 bucks. That was pretty much all I had. For the next 2 weeks. Ah well, small price to pay for a little peace. He even helped me tie him to the back of my bike. I hugged him, and then regretted it, because he looked stunned. I rode off, my face burning with shame.

I was back in the door with 5 minutes to spare. At least, I thought I was. I could hear the abacus Amy always played with clacking upstairs. I ran out to the laundry, where I’d left the tank. Quickly, I poured the new little guy in, topped up his water and returned him to hollow in our wall when Amy and Mum came down the stairs.

“What did I tell you?” Mum said, leaning down to Amy. “Your big sister was looking after him for you.”

Amy smiled widely and clapped her hands. I wasn’t expecting a hug, though it would have been nice. It wasn’t like that. She got the food and fed him at her appointed time.

My Mum was in the kitchen. I grabbed a glass of water and flopped on the bench. I heard my Mum’s voice in my ear.

“I know what you did Sare-bear. I know you spent all your pocket money to make sure your sister was happy. I’m proud of you- for solving a problem on your own, and caring enough to fix it. You’re growing up so fast and I’m just missing it.”

She hugged me tight, like she often forgot to do nowdays. But what she whispered in my ear was the best.

“My big girl can go to Jo’s party.”