Hush Little Baby

The new kid stood in the front of the room. Uniform from the school before last dangling around her knobby knees, worn shoes and odd socks testament to her awkwardness. Rolling one of her ankles, her finger trailed the inside of her nose.

The sideways glances from the expressionless class. The cool indifference of her teacher, the latest in a long line.

The squiggles on the page in front of her, bizarre. She knew nothing. Not enough.

‘Well, what have you been learning?’ The question from her teacher. There were no words in answer.

Unpacking her plastic bag at lunch time she sees the children stare. They unfold Tupperware, bright and maternal, and a smorgasbord awaits them. She nibbles her bruised apple. Her sandwich – stale bread and vegemite. Packed with love by her nicotine smelling, hung-over mother as she shouts at her ex husband down the mobile phone.

The class thunder past her. She walks to the door, aware she has no hat.

And then it starts. The gentle shove. The remorseless giggle behind a hand. It becomes open laughter, animalistic and cruel. Word spreads through the yard and children come towards her, laughing and pointing at her difference.

The stomping of school shoes on concrete, the bouncing of balls and the vile sniggers of cruelty.

‘Just leave me alone!’

She retreats into the corner in the school courtyard. She lowers her head as the group surrounds her. Getting bigger by the moment, it advances and frenzies. She presses her body up against the brick of the bounce ball wall.

She lost her words as the hands grabbed at her. Fistfuls of uniform and hair were gathered as she began to silently weep.

‘Leave me alone.’

She whimpers, with all that is left of her.

She feels the fingers and hands grab at her, now. Clumps of skin is twisted by strangers. Red and raw, she closes down and surrenders. Rag doll like, subservient and beaten, she becomes numb. Watching from above she sees her body flung, tossed and soiled.

In her head, she hums.

‘Hush little baby, don’t you cry.’

As she is thrown onto the concrete, a discarded toy, she sang.

‘Mummas’ gonna sing you a lullaby.’

She sees herself, crumpled. Bare flesh now exposed. Blood running from all parts of her.

‘Hush little baby, don’t you cry..’

 

The Lighthouse

You are the lighthouse.

The rays of light encroach upon me, tease me. Warmth floods through me. I’m stunned. I breathe deeper.

Bright, dazzling, blinding…binding…I sit in the light, waves thrashing around me.

The first rays hit me I am dazzled. Initially confused. At times reluctant. Eventually resigned. The rays capture me, entice me. I hear the sirens of the mermaids echo across the choppy surface of the water. My senses awaken, enliven.

I duck and dive in the warmed water. I bask in radiance. Every drop of water glistens on my skin, goose bumps prickle and tingle. As I leap from the water the light brightens my hair, my eyes, my face. People rejoice in me. I sense them in the shallows, watching, envying and applauding.

The fish and I school together. We dart and twist to the depths and back. We play. No longer looking over my shoulder, I join in the song.

I am confident.

 The light turns.

Darkness descends.

I see it coming, I watch the darkness begin to creep back as my arms reach to hold onto the light. My hands grasp nothing. I can hold the light no more than I can curl my fingers around the water. I flail about, swim faster. I chase the light. I desire it. The tendrils of it tangle in my hair, hurts me as it leaves.

The fish and I separate, enjoyment is done. None of us fast enough to catch the light. We nip and tear at each other, no longer schooled. The wind chills my skin, bight it. My eyes dart backwards and forwards as your darkness envelopes me.

Bit by bit, I slow. I tread water. The light leaves. For one moment I am eclipse itself. Then..

I wait, gasping with shallows breaths as your darkness places its hands around my neck and pushes me under.

I am still.

I am done.

Then…

The rays of light encroach upon me, tease me. Warmth begins to flood through me.

this one

 

 

 

She Sits.

She sits. Watching the action from the mantel. Enclosed within her urn.

She says nothing – she can’t now, she is dead.

Yet… I still hear her shrill voice echoing through the hallway. She whispers into my ear of an evening, or taunts me from the backyard.

I hardly knew her when she was alive. Too young. I didn’t even attend her funeral, ‘too young’ the maiden aunts spoke in sullen undertones outside the bedroom door as my mother flustered and preened and readied herself for the funeral. I sat at home with my Uncle Kevin. A strange man with a lisp and gap teeth. We watched Sesame Street as they dropped her into the fire that would shrink her into the urn.

Sometimes I catch a whiff of some sort of perfume and I recall her. Not the whole her, just a glimpse into the cavern of my memory. My mother has passed now. I can’t quite subscribe to the idea that they are frolicking up there in ‘Heaven’ as if it is a holiday destination full of rainbows and sunshine and harp playing. They’re gone. That’s that.

I did attend my mothers funeral. I had denied a cremation. I stood, stoic and stone like, as they threw the dirt over the box. It was when I was sorting through her things some months later I found the urn. Faded purple, once majestic.

Seriously, I thought about turfing it. I mean – what was I going to do with it? With her?

I ended up popping it in the box alongside my mother’s frog collection. It – she – sat in my roof space for two years. When I was looking for boxes to help an ex partner move out I found her again. I didn’t carry the frogs down stairs, I did bring the urn.

I’d seen photo’s of her, of course. Skirt short and tartan, high necked blouse sitting prim like against her carefully curled hair. Perched on the hood of an early Holden, not long after her arrival in Australia, steam liner in the background. Another, in bright orange bell bottoms, arm in arm with my Grandfather, my mother, an infant, playing at their feet.

I popped her on the mantel. Later, eating dinner on the couch, I found my eyes drawn to her. Checking on her.

As I bounced around my newly empty flat, she became my company. I was home…but home with her. There came a tacit understanding between us. I was no longer eating dinner alone…she was there.

As I wrote of an evening, denying the half empty bottle of wine, she would silently encourage me, just by being company. She would edit with me, at 3am, she would almost cajole me to write more, do more.

At what point did I decide that I needed no one, nothing else? It’s hard to say.

But. It doesn’t matter. I’m happy. I’m not lonely.

Because.

She sits.

th

Envy Me, Envy You.

She laughs as she tilts the glass towards her ruby, red lips. Naturally straight, soft hair falls down her back. I watch as she reaches out towards him and strokes his arm, gently…seductively. She glances at me, a challenge is issued from under her dark, heavy eyelids.

I turn away.

(This is a response to the Five Sentence Fiction challenge set by Lillie McFerrin. How to tell a story in five sentences? I spotted this challenge just today on Waywordness.)

Queen Mab and the Queen Bee

‘O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you. She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes In shape no bigger than an agate stone On the forefinger of an alderman, Drawn with a team of little atomies Over men’s noses as they lie asleep’
Mercutio
I have broken a promise.
I have broken a promise to one of life’s most fragile creatures.
Only fifteen, she was.
She was one of my lost students…one of those rubies amongst the rough that let me know what I was doing and why I was doing it. Skirts too high, make up too thick. She would look at out me from under her fringe and snarl, or smile, depending on what I was asking from her. Her eyeliner smudged, her frown real. A uniform well worn and too tight.

The others looked to her. She was the Queen. She allowed me to do my job – I was fortunate, she’d liked me. And I her – truth be known her forthrightness and that backbone of steel taught me much as she sat in my class, either as a physical presence or as a memory.

When she smiled, you knew she meant it.

Romeo and Juliet was a painful text study. I was dragging them through the play. They loathed it, as much as I liked it. I tried. I really did. References to Home And Away plot lines didn’t even help. It was 75 minutes with a tough crowd with a tough text…I admit, I was a bit lost. Shakespeare would have been shocked at the unwillingness felt by my class.

The day we illustrated the Queen Mab speech was the day she died. She had actually liked it. The task. She’d hated the play. She didn’t see the point. But for some reason she had really liked the Queen Mab speech and loved the art we did. I can still see her, stretched at the desk. Scratching her pencil as she drew the carriage, the alderman. The dictionary was opened as she tried to work out what it meant.

‘Can we work on it tomorrow?’ she’d asked, bell chiming.

”Definitely.’ I said. Resolute.

‘Really,miss”

‘Really!’ I replied. More terse than I had intended to be.

‘Promise?’

‘Yes. I promise.’

Such a wonderful speech.

Such a terrible day.

I lived in the area. A rough, tumbled down area that bred their kids big and angry. I had earned my stripes at the high school. I knew I had because I never once – then – had my house egged or windows broken even though all of the kids knew where I lived.

The knock came at the same time the phone rang. A single Mum, I was carrying one child under my arm and spoon feeding the other. Ruffled, I picked the phone up, to silence. The radio was on, a tune and a scene that will be forever in the 1990’s.

The click of a payphone receiver.

‘Miss?’

Came the muffled voice.

‘Yes?’ I answered. Worried that (finally) this was to be my prank call.

‘It’s bad. Something bad…’

There was sharp inhale. The line went dead just as a sharp knock came on the door, again.

I tugged my toddler to the door and opened it.

I opened the door to a girl from my Year 10 class. Bedraggled, upset and tear stained she stood broken in front of me.

‘We’re all there, Miss. We all saw.’

‘Where?’ I was confused, I reached out to touch her, to bring her inside my house.

‘She’s gone. We were all there. We saw….the car, Miss. The car. It rolled on her.’

She wept. She left.

I cried. I wandered my house. I opened  my door to student after student, all searching for an answer I could not give them. All wanting my truth, my solutions.

I didn’t have them – not even for myself.

Six months after the day she died, in a paddock bomb bought for $50, from a local panel beater, with no seatbelt, front seat or working passenger window, driven by a Year 9,  I left. I ran.

I ran from the multitude of kids clustered at the makeshift pits, waiting their turn in the car. I ran from the pits themselves, only hundreds of metres from my house and which now hold a brand new housing estate. I ran from the after effects of grief at the loss of a tribe member. I ran from the image of her mother at the funeral and a brother who would also later be lost to drugs, by choice. I ran from the memory of her father standing outside the funeral venue, leather jacket slumped over his shoulders, cigarette in hand. I ran from all of those children, hollowed out with grief and street wisdom, crippled by their loyalty…

I ran, under the guise of promotion or location.

I had felt like Holden in Catcher In The Rye, trying to catch the kids before they tumble over the cliff. ‘Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around – nobody big, I mean – except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.’ (Holden Caulfield)

And I was failing.

I wont ever teach Queen Mab again. I can’t.

I wasn’t able to keep my promise to her. For her, there were no more tomorrows.

every breath you take puff daddy

Liebster Award – Makes Me Happy

 

During my crisis of confidence (we all have them), I was also nominated for the Liebster Award by Dreamer Girl, who is a sensational writer. The award is for an up and coming blog/blogger….so I certainly take that as a compliment.

Here are my responses to her questions. My nominees and questions will be edited in this afternoon, as I am shortly heading to work.

What is your biggest inspiration to write/blog?

I think there are many reasons for me to write. I think it has been ‘one of those things’ that I love to do…mostly…but have always put off doing regularly and seriously. I am in a ‘helping’ profession and see writing as a natural extension of that – a way of modelling the world…one sentence at a time. (I know that sounds a bit trite, but I’m nervous, and can’t think of another way of putting it).

What are your goals for the next year, or further into the future?

I would like to establish a regular writing routine. I write ‘outside’ of my blog, as well, and I would definitely aspire to continue some of those ambitions. I teach full time and in addition to that I have many children who I quite like, and a husband who I adore…so I really would like to find the holy grail of work life balance. And. On a purely selfish level. I want more tattoos 🙂

What is your best quality?

Although it has tempered somewhat as I get a (little) bit older, I am an extremely compassionate person. It takes a lot for me to get to ‘the point of no return’, and – in general – I see that as a great thing even though it comes at great personal cost, at times.

What is your worst habit or trait?

Hmm. Where to start? My family could definitely point out several that I wont mention here…but…I know I can be extremely pig headed.

How do you cope when you feel stressed or down?

Wine, chocolate, cry. Wine, chocolate, cry. (Repeat cycle)

What kind of music do you like?

Any and all. Especially on those rare occasions I am in the car. Alone (or not). Volume up. Windows down. At those moments I am not a forty -a -couple woman, I am, actually, really cool. Strangely, it’s the only time I can carry a note!

How long have you been blogging and what have you achieved since then?

About a year. On and off. What have I achieved? I have challenged myself to ‘put it out there’, to stop talking about it, and just do it.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live? Or would you stay where you are now?

Without one question or doubt in my mind, I would most certainly stay where I am now. I have a beautiful family (chaotic, but actually really good) and an ‘in-progress’ home in an amazing part of Australia – South Gippsland. My feet have grown roots, and frankly, I am so grateful and appreciative of that. I am pleased that I found home. I am pleased to share this with my husband, who makes me laugh every, single day.

Who are your favourite writers?

There, actually, is not enough room for me to list them. But, JD Salinger has stayed with me from when I was a young teenager. And even featured on my birthday cake last year I am so besotted. Tim Winton, certainly.

Do you speak any languages other than English? If not, which language would you like to learn?

I speak a small amount of Italian. I think I love still learning the English language. Yes, I am a native speaker of English…but there are so many nuances and twists and turns in our words, so much to learn.

Who will always cheer you up when you’re down?

My husband.

……The Post Where I Actually Feel Confident.

award

A while ago I was nominated for two awards. The first one was this one: The Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I was nominated by a blog I enjoy reading, My Book Self.

Why the delay? Nerves, I guess. A lack of confidence. But. While I didn’t think My Book Self was playing a trick on me, and I have been secretly ecstatic at being nominated for Anything, people who place themselves in Any vulnerable position, whether it be writing, artistic pursuits, sporting pursuits…anything, really…know that it comes at a cost. There is Always the risk that when you put It out there, It will fail.

So. Here I am. Accepting – finally – the nomination. I would like to thank My Book Self for the nomination. I am late…but honoured 🙂

My nominees:

http://waywordness.wordpress.com/, The Eclectic Eccentric, It Can Be Complikated, Barbara Pyett, Melissa Holden, The STruggle To Be A Writer, The Jittery Goat, Manuscript Tunes, Counting Ducks, Dreamer Girl.

The rules are:
The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.
The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.
Write three things that inspired you the most this week.

Inspiring for me this week:

1. My husband. Who inspires me every single day with his humour, his love and his new found love of mustard yellow.

2. My children. They make it through surrounded by our love, our chaos, our disarray…and are better for it.

3. Tim Cook, CEO Apple, for the level of inspiration.

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