Tag Archives: #fiction

Life after writing

images

Writing and blogging, expressing thoughts and more writing … it means something different depending on whether you’re the writer or reader, or both. For me, I like to write about life, to share my thoughts as real as life is and in the gorgeous and ghastly glory it strikes us.

It’s been some weeks since I posted my last blog, my longest absence from blogging since I began about eighteen months ago. That’s because my focus has been on completing my Snippets of Sadie manuscript, which involved an intense period of waking early at around 4am and sometimes earlier, to write diligently before going off to my ‘day job’, looking after my family and keeping up with life and all its quirks. I think many writers do that, wake early to write before going off to another job. I know Bryce Courtenay did!

A few weeks ago when I was nearing the end of Sadie, I was asked to participate in a blog tour on my writing process. When the tour began months earlier, I had no interest in it. However when I was asked to contribute, I thought it an opportunity to share my writing process to finish the manuscript.

Now, two weeks after completing Sadie and with time to catch up on sleep to feed my brain to think clearly and function again, I’m back with little interest in the blog tour and have decided not to take part. I hope that doesn’t disrupt the tour and I apologise to those that are part of it, if it has.

Writing for me, allows me the freedom to share my thoughts on life at any given moment, to write without constraint. It’s is a joyful expression of me and the opportunity to play with the sound and lyricism of words to evoke strong feelings and emotions that readers can relate to and empathise with. I play this way when I blog and push boundaries I wouldn’t normally push. I’m sure it has helped me to finish Sadie and I’m very pleased at how Sadie has developed. The realism and forthright honesty of her life and the challenges she endures, the rich and gritty expression in my words are that much stronger because of my ability to experiment through blogging.

Snippets of Sadie is now off with a publisher and what a feeling it was to finish it! Once I packaged the manuscript ready to send with a letter, I crashed onto the couch with a glass of sparkling wine and chocolate while on the phone to a friend hundreds of kilometres away. She sipped a beer and had a bowl of chips by her side. Relief, elation and exhaustion all rolled into one that evening and the next day culminated in feeling very unwell, I’m sure through exhaustion!

So life after writing Sadie … well it’s more of the same really, more writing, more thinking and sharing. I’m on leave from my ‘day job’ to be with my boys over the school holidays, which is helping my head to clear and think through a new story plot. My research for that is underway and I’m also revisiting a children’s chapter book. The next couple of days by the beach with family will help to continue the clarity in my thinking and surely move my next writing projects along!

Life after writing Sadie is more writing, about life in its entirety and reality, with a splash of mischief and humour, an underlying intent to affect change in thinking and being, and always a dash of love. I don’t want much!

Oliver

The Scream - Edvard Munch - Google Cultural Institute.htm_20140224113011

Mum’s asked me to pack a bag for Oliver and take it in to her as she waits in hospital.
Heavy dread bears down on me. I’m so fearful of visiting Oliver in hospital, fearful of what I may see and even more fearful that he’ll stay there forever.

I go to his room that reeks of mouldy cheese and that is strewn with pizza boxes. As I shove the boxes into a pile to get to his drawers for his clothes, they jiggle with hardened left over pizza ends and I find under some of the boxes, barely legible handwriting on the backs of ATM dockets on worshipping Lucifer, the leader of the fallen angels. There are meditation CDs too, with scribblings across their wrappings about God and Armageddon.

I also find small glass pipes, many of them. I know instantly what Oliver’s been doing and I begin to scour his room to find weed and crack stuffed behind his bed head and inside shoes, and white powder in little snap lock bags in amongst his socks.

The next morning, I take the train into the city to give Oliver’s things to Mum. My folded hands sit on my lap, fidgety to the click of the train. With each ker-plank, my stomach hiccups. I burp up breakfast and could vomit at any moment. I arrive in the city and walk the ten minute to the hospital. I approach the big grey structure and walk into the formidable building. Thankfully, Mum’s in the foyer waiting for me.

‘Hello, darling,’ says Mum. She seems different. ‘Ollie’s asleep and we should leave him sleep. It’s best you don’t wake him.’

‘Okay,’ was all I could say. Mum wraps her arms around me and I feel ashamed at the silken veil of relief that shrouds me and calms my stomach, relief at not having to see Oliver not behave like Oliver.

‘Come,’ insists Mum. ‘Let’s go have a cup of tea.’ Mum takes my hand and leads me to the cafeteria where others sit. One man about the same age as Oliver, walks past alone and rambling in mumbles I don’t understand. I can’t take my eyes off him. Mum buys two chamomile teas and we take them to a table to sip together. Two tables away, another man sits with his hands in his head. A woman is by him, crying.

‘How are you?’ asks Mum, holding my hand from across the table. She startles me, even more so when I notice her smiling. I hadn’t seen her smile like that in a while. She seems very different. Her eyes are wider and she’s more alert to what’s around her, at other people at tables. I feel a strength in her I hadn’t seen in a while and relax into it to tell Mum what I found in Oliver’s room. She’s not surprised.

‘Drugs can flip a mind,’ says Mum. ‘That’s probably what’s happened to Ollie. The drugs have damaged his brain.’

Chills spike through me.

‘That’s what the doctors are telling me.’

‘Poor Ollie,’ I finally manage, until I realise what she has said. ‘Drugs can do that? Really?’

As Mum goes on about the research and its impact to the brain and how so many are affected, I decide there, sitting surrounded by these people looking weird and scary, that I would never smoke or take another drug again.

I go home and pull my stash from my junk drawer, and go outside to yank out my plant from behind the shed, chop it into bits and stuff the lot into a garbage bag. I dump the bag into the bin. And I collect all of Oliver’s stash in a bag and bin that as well.

* An excerpt from the next chapter of my novel-in-progress, Snippets of Sadie.

The pits

Image

 

‘You okay?’ I hear from beside me. It’s Wendy.

‘Yeah I’m good. Just thinking about Dad. Every now and then I drop into these thoughts about him.’

‘I get that,’ says Wendy, fidgeting with her singlet. ‘Here, watch this. Watch what I can do with my eyes.’ Wendy teeters on the tips of her toes in front of me and turns her eyelids up over one another to reveal their pink undersides and a slither of the whites of her eyes. With arms swaying, she says in a heavy European accent, ‘I’m going to drink your blood.’

I smile.

Wendy unfurls her eyes. ‘Now come with me, for a bit of partying. We’ve finished school. We deserve some fun.’ She lugs me out of the chair and inside for a drink tinged with a touch of speed.

Last night repeats but with eyes darting to search and notice much more than everything and anything, and without the undressing on stage. Dancing, drinking and chatting have been turned up to ‘max’ on the dial and at three a.m., I’m not ready to finish. None of us want to finish.

‘We’re going back to Jock’s for a party,’ yells Tim. ‘I’m driving.’

‘No you won’t,’ says Pascale. ‘I’ll drive. I’m better than you.’

‘No,’ says Tim. ‘I’m driving because you my pretty little thing, don’t know where Jock lives.’ He kisses Pascale on the tip of her nose.

‘I wanna sit in the back of the ute,’ says Wendy, dancing to music that must be playing in her head.

I skull the last of my beer. ‘Yeah, me too. Let’s go.’

‘You can look after the esky,’ says Pascale.

We go out to Tim’s ute where Wendy and I lift our dresses to climb over its side, and stumble onto a rolled up mat in the back sitting beside the esky that Tim’s shoved in. We take out a stubby each and open it as Tim drives off. It’s dark and after only a few minutes, we stop with a thud. I find myself slumped on an angle, my right shoulder leaning heavily into Wendy with my left hand holding my stubby high up in the air.

‘What are we doing?’ I ask Wendy.

‘Dunno.’

I hear a car door open and Tim soon beside us asking, ‘You girls alright?’

‘Yeah. Why?’ asks Wendy. We struggle to sit up.

Pascale suddenly appears rubbing her forehead.

‘What’s going on?’ I ask as I try to sit up from the heavy lean.

‘We’ve crashed,’ mumbles Pascale.

‘Crashed?’

‘Yeah. I’ve hurt my head.’

Tim helps Wendy and me out of the back of the ute. He lifts my chin and inspects my face, and does the same to Wendy. ‘Shit,’ he says. ‘You’re both okay. Shit, shit, shit!’ He turns back to Pascale. ‘Just you hurt, babe. Probably concussion.’

‘Yeah, my head feels weird.’

‘So you’re saying we crashed?’ I ask. ‘We actually crashed?’

‘Yes!’ Tim leads us towards the front of the car. The moon reflects onto the lime green duco and gives enough light to see the car tilted on its side. The front of the ute seems partially swallowed by the road.

‘Fuck!’ says Tim. ‘What the fuck!’

‘What happened to the front of the car?’ I ask.

‘It’s in the road?’ says Pascale.

‘I drove over a mechanic’s pit!’ scoffs Tim. ‘How the fuck did I do that! And who leaves a mechanic’s pit uncovered anyway!’

 * An excerpt from the next chapter of my novel-in-progress, Snippets of Sadie.

The dread of forty

Dread

To my relief, the questions and comments about a birthday party soon subside, perhaps suspiciously so. Jimmy and Freddy are up to something, I know it. They had better not be planning a surprise party.

The dread of turning forty grows heavy and I become consumed by a countdown to my birthday. What will happen when I reach forty? Will I become an old woman at the instant flick of a switch, too old to walk let alone run? Maybe I’ll suddenly have fifty wrinkles and be fat? Or maybe my dreaded fear around what happened to Dad will become a mirror of my reality!

I caught Jimmy on the phone to Yolander this morning, which is highly unusual, and now he’s on the phone to Freddy. He barely rests the handset on the telephone base and I’m into him.

‘What’s going on, Jimmy? With you and Freddy? And Yolander this morning?’ I demand, standing with arms tightly folded into my chest.
‘Nothing. Freddy just wants to borrow the tent. He’s taking the kids camping in a few weeks time.’

He can’t look me in the eye. ‘Rubbish!’ I scoff. ‘Freddy doesn’t camp. It’s five-star luxury all the way for him. He can’t stand the dirt.’
‘He said he … um … he wants to try camping because some bloke said he should try it, to experience the bush, to connect with the environment … you know, to experience the environment.’

‘What rot! And what about Yolander?’

‘She … she wanted to borrow a saw.’

I storm off, raving. ‘What codswallop! I’ve told you and Freddy already, I don’t want a surprise party. I will truly turn around and leave if I walk into a surprise party. How could you, after all I’ve said? Why doesn’t anyone listen to me?’

‘We’re not,’ Jimmy calls after me. ‘We know you don’t want a party, Sade. It’s only a week to go anyway. We couldn’t organise anything in a week.’

I find myself in the only quiet place in our home – the toilet. Sitting there, with my face buried in my hands, I wonder how I’m ever going to get over this stupid stuff. I have to try to forget about turning forty and tell myself it’s just another birthday. I shut my eyes and I’m flooded with the image of Dad sitting dwarfed in a big, black reclining chair, all skin and bones, complexion grey, only the odd strand of hair left on his head; struck down with cancer at forty and after an arduous suffering, dead soon after. The memories are so vivid, as if it happened yesterday. It’s in the family, I tell myself. What hope do I have? My father’s own brothers and sisters all died young of cancer. I have no hope. It’s inevitable that I, too, will be struck down in the same way!

‘Sadie.’

I can’t even find a bit of peace in here.

‘Phone for you,’ says Jimmy. ‘It’s Yolander.’

‘Coming.’ I leave this alone place, messing my fingers through my auburn curls as I walk up the hallway. Eugene meets me halfway and whines for me to pick him up. I scoop him into my arms and take the phone from Jimmy.

‘Hello. You took your time,’ says Yolander.

I walk into the sunroom and collapse onto the couch with Eugene on my lap. I tell Yolander of my solitary time in the toilet and my anguish at turning forty, not daring to mention my fear around Dad.

‘You know,’ says Yolander in her steadfast tone of you listen to me or else. ‘You’ve got to get over your fear of dying young.’

I freeze. I haven’t told a soul. I’m not sure for how long I don’t move but I’m sure my blood stops pulsing through me.

‘You there, Sade?’ Yolander asks.

‘Yes,’ I reply. My eyes follow Eugene as he walks to play with his trucks on the floor. ‘How did you know?’
Keywords:

Behind that face

Be kind

Every face has a story behind its physical facade. A face of non plus might disguise a story of sadness or be barricading a longing or battle raging within. Look at the next face you walk by and see what you can see.

Every face has a something behind it. Sometimes that something is clear where a twinkle in an eye cannot be masked, but sometimes, it’s so well hidden that not even the wearer of that face is aware of the story.

~~~|~~~

Jimmy came into the kitchen while I was peeling potatoes one afternoon for dinner, to chat as he always did while I cooked. This day though, he was subdued and he began telling me of things he’d stolen from people at work and the drugs he’d taken. It was odd behaviour for Jimmy, not like him at all, and he was pained by it and people ostracising him, especially his friends. I believed him because I had no reason not to but I’d never known Jimmy to steal or take drugs. He felt that he was growing apart from everyone around him, except for me. He wanted to pack up and move us interstate to begin a new life. I noticed him growing apart from his friends and family and thought it a natural life process. So I agreed because he said that’s what he needed to do to make things better. I loved him and had no reason not to go.

Jimmy cornered me in the kitchen again the next day. ‘Charlene knows what’s been going on, with Joe,’ he said, looking anxiously over his shoulder. ‘She heard Joe tell everyone at a party last week about me stealing from him.’

‘You stole from Joe?’ I asked, leaving the browning onions in the pan.

‘Yes,’ he mumbled. ‘I stole Joe’s electric saw and jigsaw.’ He looked down at his feet.

‘I thought you gave those tools back to Joe?’ I reflected back to last week. ‘Yes, you did, Jimmy. I remember you walking out the back gate with them.’

Jimmy scratched his head and began pacing.

‘Remind Joe that you gave them back,’ I said.

Jimmy stopped mid stride and looked me squarely in the eye. ‘No. I didn’t borrow them, Sade, I took them. I stole them.’

‘One sec.’ I stirred the onions before tossing the wooden spoon on the bench top and turned the heat down low. ’Let’s go look in the shed together.’

‘What! You don’t believe me,’ yelled Jimmy. ‘You think I’m lying?’ He began pacing again.

I stood dumbfounded for a moment. ‘Of course I believe you.’ I walked over and hugged him. I could feel his body pulsate in my arms. I couldn’t believe that Jimmy would steal. ‘Maybe you need to ask Charlene about it, Jimmy, what she heard at the party. She’s your sister, she’ll tell you the truth about what was said.’

Jimmy didn’t answer. He left my arms and went outside. I heard the car start and drive off. I didn’t know where he was going, perhaps to buy cigarettes. It didn’t matter for now because all I could think was to check for those tools. I snuck into the shed and looked in drawers and on shelves, in corners amongst cob webs and spiders. I couldn’t find them anywhere.

Jimmy caught me in the shed. ‘I told you they’re not there.’ He yelled at me with such scorn that I was too terrified to answer him.

I became more confused over the next few days as the story grew and spawned other stories which involved more people. I couldn’t keep up with how everyone fitted into where. I thought about his accusations that went with them, many of them petty. I tried to encourage Jimmy to resolve the stealing issue with Charlene or his friend Joe because I thought it simple enough to do. But Jimmy refused and I couldn’t understand why.

Jimmy’s face became grey and his eyes dark and hollow. When he wasn’t sitting in darkness in the lounge room, probably pondering the accusations that made him out to be the bad person he claimed he was, he was pacing in the backyard smoking cigarette after cigarette, stopping only occasionally to look over his shoulder. I became worried.

I called Charlene when Jimmy was outside one afternoon and asked her to stop by to speak to him. I didn’t explain what it was about, just said that Jimmy really needed to speak to her. I didn’t want to twist the stories anymore than they were. After I’d hung up, I went outside and told Jimmy that I’d called Charlene to come and talk to him.

‘Why’d you do that?’ Jimmy snapped at me. ‘That’s my responsibility.’ His eyes had become dark craters.

‘I was just trying to help you, Jimmy,’ I replied, stunned by his reaction.

‘You shouldn’t have done that, Sade. That’s my job.’ Jimmy stormed off into his shed.

I didn’t like seeing Jimmy so upset and I was almost afraid of him because I rarely saw him so angry, yet I was glad that I’d called Charlene. If anyone could help Jimmy sort this mess out, Charlene could as she was the one he was closest to of all his siblings. My own attempts to help were failing miserably.

It was six in the evening when Charlene stopped by on her way home from work. I tended to the twins in the bath and left Jimmy and Charlene to talk.

Ten minutes later, Jimmy called me out. Jimmy and Charlene looked at one another, jaws gaping. ‘None of what Jimmy’s been saying is true,’ said Charlene.

I looked at Jimmy. ‘But Jimmy,’ I barely muttered. ‘Jimmy, you said you stole Joe’s tools.’

‘No he didn’t,’ said Charlene. ‘He borrowed my Bob’s electric saw a few weeks ago and brought it back last week.’

‘Jimmy?’ I was more confused now than before I’d called Charlene.

‘Yes, I think I remember taking Bob’s saw back,’ said Jimmy.

‘And what about the things you heard Joe say at the party, that Jimmy steals?’ I asked Charlene.

Charlene shook her head. ‘No. I didn’t hear Joe say that, Sadie.’

‘You sure, Charlene? At the party, the other week?’

‘No, Sadie. There was no party.’ Charlene’s stern face, her square jaw and tight lips, told me she was telling the truth.

I didn’t know what to say or what to believe. I felt relieved that none of it had happened, yet betrayed that Jimmy had lied to me. And why had he lied to me? I wasn’t even sure that he had, as he seemed to truly believe what he told me. I didn’t know what to think. I walked off back to the twins in the bathroom and left Jimmy and Charlene to talk.

* An excerpt from Snippets of Sadie

The growing Want

Blue_Poles_(Jackson_Pollock_painting)I glance everywhere but in the one direction I want to look, that I’m desperate to look in. My eyes ricochet off the cars parked parallel on the roadside, to people clumped in their chatter around me, chatter that I’m lost in.

I look down at the scoria under me and notice my toes curled in my sandals. I realise they’re almost cramping, and my jaw is tight as my top and bottom teeth bite into one another. I ease my clench.

My gaze meanders up my leg to where my knuckles stand erect by my thigh, as shiny red and white bulging sacks that are about to explode from my hand. My fingernails dig deep into my palms, ready to release the effervescence.

I don’t think you know what you do to me, how you make me tremble in this heat. I cannot seem to look your way, although I did glimpse you walking toward me in this crowd of waiting, in your cool swagger and wearing your trademark, dark sunglasses.

My breath labours. I don’t know how much more I can bear, knowing that you’re standing behind me and wanting to speak to you but not knowing what to say. Words about how you make me feel marble and blend in my head. Never have my thoughts been so streaked.

More disconcerting is that you must notice my scramble. I shift my dress around my shoulders and look somewhere, anywhere. As I try to breathe deep, a hint of awareness comes to me and I sense that you don’t know what to say either.

I feel your twitching and searching eyes behind me, your own agitated splashes eager to release. I must find some courage. No one has made me feel like this before. If only you knew.

I spot a seat away from this waiting and head there for a reprieve of my trembles. You’re probably watching me. I tug at my dress to be sure it’s not riding up under the bag that hangs from my shoulder. I sit and breathe deep. A sigh. That’s better. Regroup for a minute, I tell myself.

With some air flowing back into my head, I look up and see you heading toward me!

‘Come to get away from the crowd,’ I say as you approach and without thinking.

‘Yeah,’ you say, and sit beside me.

To my surprise, I feel my body relax. We begin chatting about nothing and my uncomfortability begins to dissolve. Occasionally, my words tumble to land wherever they want, but the more we talk, the easier they flow.

I wish I could see your eyes though, hidden behind those glasses. A lot seems hidden behind them and the clothes you wear, the formal, crisp shirt and dark trousers. Only the curls in your hair seem natural and free to reflect the true you, relaxed as the rubber and leather bands that dangle loosely around your wrist.

Until I notice your knee bouncing nervously. You’re feeling what I feel too! I know it. Those Pollock sparks seem to be blasting brighter and bolder between us.

An attraction that can’t be acknowledged and that remains in my heart as the secret inside my secret.

 

*The growing Want follows on from an earlier blog, The Want

The Want

A coy peek sideways and I hope to catch your glance, or even better, your smile. You must not see me steal that look but then again, l want you to catch me watching you, for then you’ll know.

You must know by now. My smiles and gestures, my hello waves. Surely they paint a masterpiece equal to a Jackson Pollock painting, of this sparking magnetic pull to you. Surely you see it, and feel it.

Standing there in your green check shirt in the late evening sun, wearing dark sunglasses to conceal looks that I hope come my way. I feel my body give in and draw into you.

Your smile that’s shy today, your swag. Great poet Rumi, knows how I feel,

 

In the waters of purity, I melted like salt
Neither blasphemy, nor faith, nor conviction, nor doubt remained.
In the center of my heart a star has appeared
And all the seven heavens have become lost in it.

 

My heart pulsates and moves up into my throat. My head spins. I should’ve been brash and spoken to you this evening. But had I, people all around would have glimpsed the Pollock sparks zapping from me to you.

I want to feel you and look into your blue-green eyes of agate without being afraid that someone will see. I want to crumble at your touch and be with you without time always running away. Our sporadic chats are never often or long enough, even when they snatch an hour in time.

It hurts to want so fiercely, churns my insides to battle as gladiators and fierce animals once did in Ancient Rome’s Circus Maximus.

I can’t tell you how l feel, for if l do, our friendship may be lost. Then you’ll be gone forever, or will you – I don’t know.

At least I have our friendship, as  contained as it is, and I ought to be happy with that. Yet it’s not enough and I want much more. I’m not sure that I can have what I want.

Maybe it’s better to have nothing, then the want will fade away. Eventually.

%d bloggers like this: