SHORTS

Treasure

Mum sits on the hard verandah floor with her rounded back to me, feet on the concrete steps down to the bronzed lawn, shoulders slumped and arms slack by her side—weighed down and emptied out. I wonder if she’s cried yet.

It was a modest funeral without tears. A group of gentlemen from the nursing home came and two previous neighbours, Betty from next door and Mrs Karlson in the downstairs apartment, both with their walkers. Mum had managed to organise all the finer details over the phone; an oak coffin, a simple arrangement of white lilies, Chopin, and a sepia portrait of Grandma at Mum’s age, not a great likeness but the same deep set eyes, the same reticent smile. Mum is prettier, I must tell her that. 

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365 Days with Banjo

I’d seen him the previous day,  in a photo online—a nameless, spotty, and speckled cocker-spaniel cross with gangly legs, oversized paws, and glassy brown eyes. And he’d looked straight through the camera into my heart. So, Wednesday the 23rd of March, last year, we drove up the mountains towards Armidale discussing names on the way. A petrol station in Guyra was the pickup point. When the farmhand handed me Banjo, his whole body was shaking with fear. Only minutes later he was curious and keen to lick my arm, while I signed over my life.

The long drive home, our new baby slept on my lap. Oh, bliss!
Oh bliss? Don’t think so. We’d bought him his very own crate (long gone now because he only slept there at night, didn’t see it as his safe space, and outgrew it anyway).

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A Pearl Anniversary

The kitchen shears were delivered on a silver plate with the gin three minutes after he delivered his gift, seven minutes after he pulled her chair out, sliding his hand down the small of her back—his touch too familiar, too sensual, too sickening. The pair of stainless steel blades were small, curved and sharp. The gin, icy blue like the Antarctic ocean.
Thirty years. Snip. 
It wasn’t her pearl anniversary, but that’s what he’d bought her—three of them on a silver chain. She lifted out the necklace with finger and thumb, held it up, made it swing a little. Looked closer. Smiled an approval. He sipped his Dom Perignon, watching while she fastened it behind her neck.
He toasted her.
She blew him a slow-motion kiss.

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Treading Water

Writing is rewriting. After a short affair with a critique group, I made the tough decision to take another look at Agnes. I pulled her out of the query trench, dusted her off, and took a long deep breath.
The story of Agnes is told in dual time-line. Originally I wrote the novel in first person, but split the two timelines into past tense and present tense. My editor suggested to try rewriting in third person, and all of it in past tense. That was in November 2021. I decided to trust her judgment. I rewrote it in three weeks.
It’s always interesting when you change a POV and tense. The story comes alive in a new light. I was happy with the result, except deep down, I wondered if Agnes’s wedding day shouldn’t have stayed in present tense. But I wasn’t sure about present tense in third person, if I really wanted to go that way, so past it was.

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Brain Freeze

There are two kinds of brain freeze. There’s the one you get from gulping down ice-cream. Painful. There’s another other kind, and much more troublesome. At least if you’re a creative soul with a deadline.
My deadlines are not serious matters. If my newsletter makes it out a little later, like say, the last Monday of the month instead of the Sunday, I will not get the sack or be executed at dawn. However, if you say, you’ll produce a newsletter last Sunday of the month, that’s really what you ought to do. That other brain freeze gets in the way. Always.
Did you ever play that game? Where everyone’s dancing around while the music’s playing and then when the allocated person in charge, turns it off, everyone must freeze in their spot. My brain does this, all by itself—no music needed.

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Banjo Brain

If you’ve been to my place, you may have seen my walk-in wardrobe—though I usually rush to close it, if visitors show up. Anyhow, I have one. It’s long with shelving system on both sides, every surface occupied.  A few weeks ago, I put something too heavy on the top shelf and the whole left wall system ripped out and threw itself across to the other side, scattering all my stuff and then some into a mountain that took up the entire space.

That was one of those moments when I didn’t want to be an adult anymore. Or if I had to be an adult, I wanted to be a rich bitch with some kind of handyman who could come fix it for me. Sadly, Wayne was not home to play that roll. I stood for an awfully long time in the doorway, staring at the shambled heap of clothes, upside down boxes, and bits of plaster.

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