Molly #43

We left the airport and travelled all day to arrive at our new home just as the sky was getting dark. I was so tired that Mum carried me inside and put me in bed straight away and I slept soundly all night without waking at all. I had no dreams that night, just the blankness of sleep until I woke up with the sun and the birds in the morning.

I forgot where I was for a moment and just lay there in this strange room trying to work out how I had come to be there. Slowly as my mind started to wake up I took in my surroundings. The room had only one bed and it was along the wall underneath the window. From my pillow, all I could see out the window was blue sky with a few grey clouds that looked like puffy cotton balls. My toys were all in a box in the corner and my books were placed in a bookcase against the wall on the other side of the room. I guessed that Stephen had unpacked and put my books there, and I started thinking of him again and felt the sadness that was still sitting inside my stomach.

I decided to get up and see where I was before anyone else woke. I kneeled on my bed and looked out the window and marveled at the beautiful palette of autumn colours falling from the trees. There were piles of leaves in the yard and I could see a wisp of smoke rising into the air from one of the piles.

I couldn’t see where the road was from here because of all the trees, but I could see a laneway that I thought must lead back down to the road. The front yard had what looked like the traces of an old circular driveway and I could see where there had once been a fountain in the middle. There was another yard to the side of the house that was terraced with a rose covered archway leading to the lower level.

I hopped out of bed and went to the front door and walked outside to get a better look. The house had verandahs on all sides and I pushed the door open and stepped out into the crisp morning air. There was a building out the back of the house that I later found out had once been maids’ quarters a hundred years ago. Attached to one side of the house was a ballroom and there was a shed at the back that had once been stables. There were lots of rainwater tanks around the house and one of them stood on a tower high above me and I could see a little dribble of water running down its side. The tank looked all grey and rusty and I didn’t think I would ever want to drink any of the water that came out of it.

I went back inside and started walking quietly through the house to explore. At the front of the house was the lounge room, and when I looked into the next room I could see Samantha and Jasmine asleep in their beds. To the side of the lounge room there were two little rooms. One was the bedroom I had first come out of and the other one had Stephen’s bed and things in it, with a door that led outside. I went back through the lounge room and down a long hallway that ran down the middle of the house. A room at the end had the door shut but I could hear the sound of Dad snoring inside, so I guessed that was the main bedroom. There was an open door on the opposite side of the hall and when I peeked inside I could see Catherine’s head sound asleep on the pillow and her arm thrown over the top of the blanket.

I tiptoed away and followed the hallway as it turned right and led to a door on the side verandah. At the point where the hallway turned was another doorway that led into a dining room and at the other end of that room one door took me back into the kitchen and the other was a double door that opened outside to the ballroom. There were so many doors I thought I was going to get lost.

The kitchen was a huge room with a dining table in the middle. At one end of the kitchen was a large wood-fired fuel stove, and beside it was a door that led to an enclosed verandah with a walk-in pantry on one side and a little room on the other. Mum later used that little room for her sewing. Off that was the bathroom, and I soon discovered another bathroom that I could only get to from outside the house.

I found my way back to my bedroom and sat on my bed, looking out the window again. Mum had been right, it really was a beautiful spot and I felt a thrill of excitement as I thought about how much space there was to explore. It was just like the wide open spaces of Ellen’s farm, but so different because instead of being dry and dusty everything was moist and vibrant.

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springtime thoughts turn to love

springtime thoughts turn to love
new life springing forth
flowers bursting
hibernation ends
as the first warm fingers
of sunshine stroke her skin
she closes her eyes
to soak up the feel of heat
that makes legs quiver
she wills every sensation
to be etched into memory
every part of him
for tomorrow he will be gone
like a seed blown on the wind
she has just one chance
to sow that seed
to keep one little part of him
to ensure he will return
next spring
her hand strokes his cheek
stubble coarse beneath fingers
wanting it to be real, tangible
lips press to her collarbone
the flowers nod their heads
as the breeze stirs their petals
and she sighs

Letters to myself #1

Dear Molly,

I hope you are okay this morning. I know how stressful the last few months have been and my thoughts are with you. Remember that you’re not alone, not matter what it might feel like. Things haven’t been going that great here for me either and this past week was just the worst!

Monday I started off tired, but it was my own fault because I had stayed up too late reading on Sunday night. But that’s okay, I got through the day and had an early night. I met up with Hayley at lunchtime and we sat in the university refectory to eat. I’m tired of the construction going on all over campus and long for the days when this was a grassy peaceful place to hang out!

Tuesday is when everything really turned to sh*t!!! It started with that kangaroo leaping in front of my car. I had nearly came to a stop and just gave her a nudge and she gave me such a look of shock! I thought the damage wasn’t too bad but then the engine warning light came on and the mechanic said I needed a smash repairer and they said I needed to talk to the insurance people and suddenly I was without a car and left feeling helpless. I had been keeping my anxiety and some sort of control up until then but now it’s in overdrive!!!

Still no news on my car and when lunchtime came I Hayley was running late and in the end sent me a text to say she had been held up at work and couldn’t come. I finished reading my chapter (Runelight by Joanne Harris, great book!) before leaving. I really needed some friendship company today but not to be. My anxiety is deepening and I can’t stop the tears flooding my eyes every now and then. I haven’t been this low for ages.

Thursday was wet and although I like a nice rainy day as much as the next girl it didn’t help my feelings at all. Not even the glistening leaves could make me smile today. I spoke to my dad on the phone for a while. Mum wasn’t well enough to talk and dad just said ‘stuff happens’, or something like that. I fell asleep crying into my pillow.

The worst thing is I feel like a complete failure. I know that’s is wrong but when bad stuff happens it just magnifies everything! I met Hayley for lunch on Friday and we had a nice chat. Then Stephanie and I had a fight while I was cooking dinner and we both went to bed feeling crap. She came in later and we made up but it was a rotten end to a rotten week.

I’m off to Adelaide for a week tomorrow so today is about relaxing and packing. Everything has to be up from here, doesn’t it?

Anyway, have a great trip and remember that you are loved.

Your friend,

Molly xx

Molly #42

During the couple of weeks we were staying with Grandma, Dad and Stephen had hired a truck and moved all of our furniture and things to our new house. Mum said Dad had found us a big old house that was just on the edge of town and it sat in the middle of an apple orchard. She said it sounded like a really pretty spot and she couldn’t wait until we got home.

Dad had already started working in his new job on the railway and Stephen spent the time getting his things packed and ready to go to Western Australia.

As we neared the end of the school holidays, Dad drove up the coast to take us home. We all piled into the car late in the afternoon and waved goodbye to Grandma and Grandpa and set off back down the coast road toward Sydney.

Dad said we would have to drive right through the night because we had to be in Sydney by morning to see Stephen off at the airport.

The sun was just starting to set behind the mountain near Grandma’s house as Dad turned the car onto the highway and we joined a long line of car lights dotted up the hill as far as I could see.

Mum had made some sandwiches for dinner and as we drove along I ate them and watched the copper sunset getting darker until the trees alongside the road became dark ghosts.

Every time a car came the other way its headlights would light up the inside of our car for a moment until it looked like all our shadows were racing along the road, and then we were plunged into darkness again.

After a while I started to get sleepy and I leaned my head against Mum’s side. My eyes would flicker open every time a car went past, until gradually the lights were bobbing around on the horizon like ships at sea. I felt like I was floating on the water and sometimes one of the lights would suddenly come whizzing towards me and then disappear with a loud whoosh.

I began to dream that I was on a pirate ship that was all dark and sailing towards the lights. Shawn was there, standing at the front of the ship and staring out into the distance. Every now and then I heard his voice call out, “Come on, Blue, run!” before he disappeared over the edge of the ship. I leaned over the side to see where he went but all I could see were fish swimming around. They were big flat fish with bodies made from curved lines that wriggled and wriggled until they vanished when another bright light came whizzing past.

I looked up and this time it was Stephen standing at the front of the pirate ship. He turned his head and looked at me and just stared. I called out to him, but my voice didn’t make any sound. I tried to run but my legs were stuck to the deck of the ship and when I reached for him with my hand his face slowly disappeared into one of the bright lights.

I could feel sadness sitting inside my stomach and as the wind rippled through the ship’s sails I fell to my knees and started to cry.

All of a sudden the ship landed with a thump and I opened my eyes to see the sky starting to get lighter on the horizon. My eyes were itchy and when I rubbed them they felt wet from tears.

I sat up straighter and through the windscreen I could see the distant lights of the city’s skyscrapers gathered together like they were waiting for the nighttime to come back.

We were driving in traffic now, and I recognized one of the schools we had gone past the other time I had been through Sydney. The playgrounds were empty this time because it was still school holidays and the buildings stood in the early morning light looking lonely and sad.

As we got closer to the city centre all the tall buildings blocked out the morning sun and we started driving through shadows. Then we were on a bridge and the harbour below sparkled like a million diamonds. Little boats moved around on the water and there was a big ship tied up to the shore.

Dad had to keep stopping because of the traffic and I could tell he was getting anxious about being late because he started muttering, “Oh, come on,” every time the traffic lights turned to red.

Eventually we turned into the carpark at the airport and then we were all out of the car and running into the terminal. Mum had my hand and was dragging me along, trying to get me to run quicker but my legs wouldn’t go any faster.

Then we stopped running and there was Stephen sitting with some other people in front of a big glass window with a huge aeroplane on the ground outside.

Stephen jumped to his feet and gave Mum a big hug, then shook Dad’s hand and hugged each of the girls. When he got to me, he picked me up in his arms and gave me the biggest squeeze of my life as I wrapped my arms around his neck and started crying.

“Don’t cry, Molly,” he said, as he put me back down on the ground. “Let’s look at the plane I’m going on. It’s going to be fun.”

He took my hand and led me to the window and pointed to the plane. “Just count back seven windows from the front, and that’s where I’ll be sitting,” he said. I looked at the tiny little round windows and wondered how he would ever fit inside.

As we stood there, a lady in a blue uniform walked up to the counter and announced that it was time to start boarding.

Stephen went round and hugged everyone again, and gave me a kiss on the cheek. He picked up his bag and walked over to the counter and handed his ticket to the lady. Then he was walking down a tunnel with all the other passengers and disappeared from sight for a moment. I got a final glimpse of him as he stepped into the plane and gave a brief wave before the doors closed. We stood there and watched as the plane backed slowly away from the building. Then it turned and started going forward, getting faster and faster until suddenly it lifted up into the sky and was flying.

We all stood there silently and watched as it turned into a little black speck and then disappeared. My face was pressed against the cold glass as tears streamed down my cheeks.

why do I run

why do I run
every single time
a bottle of wine
nearly empty
on the floor
two glasses
one lipstick stained
the other broken stem
shattered, like the night air
by the sound of a slap

women in the void

women in the void
challenge heteronormative ideas
entrenched patriarchal power
speaking loudly of identity
first wave ― second wave
third wave, performance
submerged female artists
rise to the surface
painting female relationships
female defiance, anguished
representations of experienced violence
no longer the performing female body
erotic virginal muse, vulval imagery
belongs to women
women return to their bodies
their own desires
soft curved petals
far from the male gaze
depriving the artist rapist
of his phallocentric power

nobody sulks like a teenage girl

nobody sulks
like a teenage girl
nobody understands
how it feels to hide
nobody cares
if her dreams are alive

nobody sees
her reality depart
when sound melts,
guitar ― bass — drums,
ephemeral — fleeting

Bowral and a blind date

I don’t know why I let myself be talked into internet dating. Here I was on a Saturday morning driving up the highway toward Bowral to meet a girl that I had only swapped a few online messages with. The sun was warm through the car windows on this early autumn day. I was for from feeling relaxed but the beautiful scenery had a calming effect. I let my wander to my early memories of visiting Bowral in my first year out of high school. I was with Rose then and life seemed so much simpler.

Bowral is a fashionable town on the Southern Highlands, surrounded by grazing farms and stud cattle properties. The town had grown up on land granted to the Surveyor General, John Oxley, in 1825, but it was the coming of the railway in 1867 that really kicked Bowral growth along. Because of its mild climate and varied scenery it became a favourite holiday destination for the gentry of Sydney. To outsiders, Bowral is most famous as being the home of Sir Donald Bradman, Australia’s greatest ever cricketer.

I find somewhere to park in the main street and nervously check my phone for messages. Nothing. I hope she is still coming but there is part of me that wishes she wasn’t. I make my to the Bowral Cafe and Pattisserie – handmade chocolate, gelato and pattisserie the signs says – and find a table toward the back. I’m a little early but I hold off ordering until she gets here. The clock on the wall ticks and customers come in and out.

A poster on the wall advertises the Bowral Tulip Festival in September. I remember going to it a few years ago. The flowers were pretty and crowds had gathered to celebrate the arrival of springtime.

I looked up and a slender young woman with blonde hair had entered the shop. It was her. She looked around until she caught sight of me sitting at the back and smiled. I stood and awkwardly offered my hand when she leant forward and kissed me on the cheek. We ordered coffees and then tried to make conversation. I’m not very good in these sort of situations but she was friendly and I began to relax a little.

We finished our coffees and Julie suggests we wander the shops. That sounded like a better option than sitting uncomfortably so I slipped on my coat and slung my bag over my shoulder. Her hand slipped into mine as we crossed the road and entered the bookshop. Now I was in my element, but we seemed to have widely different tastes in books. I look young adult and fantasy and she wanted to look at crime novels.

We wandered in and out of other shops – Country Accept, Mic Mac Boutique, Barbara’s Storehouse. Our fashion tastes were as different as our book choices.

Next stop was a stroll around the Bradman Oval. What a gorgeous place this is! White picket fence surrounding the cricket ground, pavilion and shady trees. There was no cricket on today so all was quiet.

Eventually we arrive back at my car. Julie thanks me for the morning and says she will message. She presses her lips against mine and my heart rate flips. We both know she isn’t going to message. I could tell from her kiss.

I follow the railway line out of town and lose myself in the verdant paddocks of the Southern Highlands. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I suppose.

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