Jealousy

gone to meet a lover
outside the queen’s chamber
naked finger to her lips
whispers before the fire
as if there were no ghosts here
no secrets hidden in my bodice
just blood staining my hands

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Molly #24

The next morning at breakfast, my sisters were talking about how we were going to be moving to a different town. I didn’t understand what they meant at first, and then Samantha said we would be going hundreds of kilometres away to a town in the south western part of the state.

All I could think about was Stephanie and how I would get to see her if we were going to be so far away. I felt numb at the thought of leaving her behind and missing all those things that were comfortable and familiar.

At school that day I told Stephanie that I was meant to be moving away.

“You’re kidding me aren’t you Molly?”

“No,” I said sadly, “It’s true. We go at the end of the month.”

“What about all our plans? Who am I going to sit with at lunchtime?”

“I’m sorry, Steph. I don’t want to go.”

We hugged each other and moped around the playground until every day started to be full of last things – the last game of soccer; the last time I went to Stephanie’s house; the last day of school.

As the time drew closer, I had to start to pack all of my things, feeling sad as each toy or book disappeared into the bottom of the box. I wrote my name on top in big letters using a marking pen so that it wouldn’t get lost when the men came to take it away in a truck.

On the morning we were leaving I woke up very early, before anyone else was awake. The house was quiet and I walked slowly around looking in each empty room, trying to soak as much of it into my memory as I could so I would never forget. I went outside and sat down under the mulberry tree, looking up into the branches and thinking about all the fun times I had played with Stephen there.

I closed my eyes to hold the tears in and then must have fallen asleep because I woke up hearing my name being called from the house.

“Molly,” called Mum. “Molly, where are you?” The men with the truck had come back to take the last of our furniture. I looked up in time to see my bed disappearing into the back of the truck. I sat there with tears in my eyes when Mum came along and picked me up. I felt really heavy and sad.

“Oh Molly, there you are. What are you doing out here, sweetheart?”

“Mum, do we have to go? I want to stay here forever.”

“Come on Molly. This is just something we have to do as part of growing up. It will help you grow into a big strong girl.” Mum kissed my head softly.

“But I don’t want to grow up.”

I pressed my face against her shoulder and cried as she carried me back to the house. I was still sniffling when I climbed into the car and Dad drove out of the driveway. As I looked back through the window and watched the house disappear, I could see Stephanie standing on the corner waving goodbye.

A girl with a guitar

A girl with a guitar written by Molly-Louise and performed by Ain’t Life

I’m going to find a girl with a guitar
And play her tune all night long
Lay on the beach under the stars
And sing her Frank Zappa songs

I’m going to find a girl with a car
And drive her ‘round all night long
Park somewhere under the stars
And sing her Van Morrison songs

I’m going to find a girl with faraway eyes
And hold her tight all night long
Park somewhere under the stars
And sing her Rolling Stones songs

I’m going to find a girl like you
And dance with her all night long
Do whatever she wants to do
And sing her Foreigner songs

Molly #23

Stephanie and I walked out of the pavilion and into a world of rides, clowns and show bags. With all the excitement and noise spinning around me I soon forgot to be sad and we lined up for a ride on the dodgem cars. Mum bought some tickets and Stephanie and I climbed into the same car. She steered because she was bigger than me and I couldn’t reach the pedals or steering wheel. The bell rang and we were soon off, whizzing around and around, sometimes bumping into other cars and swerving all over the place. We were laughing our heads off the whole time and I was quite breathless by the end.

My head was still spinning after I got out of the dodgem car and Mum had bought some fairy floss for Stephanie and me. As we walked along holding hands and eating our fairy floss I told Stephanie that I had never had so much fun in my life. We swore we would be best friends forever and I felt my eyes sparkling with joy. We gave each other a big hug and I thought how amazing it was that I felt so perfect and happy when I was with Stephanie.

I was really tired by the end of the day, but I was floating with happiness as I sat in the car. I kept watching the showground through the back window of the car as we drove away and I could see the tops of the ferris wheel and some of the rides poking above the trees. There was still some fairy floss left on my stick and I licked it with my tongue, giggling at the way its sugary spider webs dissolved in my mouth. When I closed my eyes, I could picture the clown’s heads with their wide open mouths turning from side to side in the middle of all that noise and dust.

That night at dinner, the girls were still talking excitedly about the show.

“Did you see how cute the lambs were?”

“I didn’t go anywhere near the animals,” said Samantha. “It was too dusty and smelly in there.”

“Oh, but they were so cute, and the smell wasn’t that bad,” said Jasmine.

“What about the trick riders?” Catherine said, “They were fantastic. There was this one guy that leaned right down off his horse and picked a girl up from the ground and then she climbed on his shoulders as they rode.”

“Yeah, I saw that. They were so amazing.”

“I’ll tell you what was amazing was the rides. Did you go on the zipper?”

“No way! It made me feel sick just looking at it.”

“I nearly was!” said Samantha as she swallowed a mouthful of peas.  “It looked tame but as soon as I climbed in the cage it took off, and then I was upside down and suddenly spinning around. My legs were all wobbly when I got off.”

“Aw yuck!”

There was no way I would have gotten on a ride like that. I thought about how much fun I’d had with Stephanie on the dodgem cars and smiled to myself.

“Well it’s a good thing you all had fun,” said Dad, “Because next year we’ll be at a different show.”

“What do you mean?” Mum suddenly put down her knife and fork and looked sharply at him.

“I just heard this afternoon, we’re moving again. It’s only a rumour, but you know how these things work out.”

“I thought we had decided to stay here while the girls were at school?” I watched Mum’s face because she didn’t look very happy.

“Well, we’ll talk about it after dinner,” said Dad.

The girls had gone quiet and everyone had forgotten about the show.

As I lay in bed after dinner I could hear Mum and Dad talking in the lounge room. Every now and then Dad would raise his voice, not quiet yelling but I could tell he was putting his foot down and wasn’t going to budge.

When Mum came into my bedroom to tuck me in bed, I knew she had been crying. I gave her an extra hard hug when she kissed me goodnight.

“Mum, what’s happening?” I asked quietly.

“There’s nothing to worry about, Molly,” she said. “Just go to sleep, darling, and everything will be all right.” She turned out the light but left my bedroom door slightly open.

That night I had a dream that was full of images of colourful things spinning around. Suddenly I was on the back of a horse, riding over jumps and through hoops; then I was in a dodgem car and laughing my head off, but when I turned to smile at Stephanie it was actually Dad holding the steering wheel and we were driving out of the showground.

Midsummer blue

I don’t care
to blame others
for thinking of the past
of things that have gone out of style
love, marriage, family, first kisses
wandering the shadows, morning mist
cyber secrets like ancient charms
traded after dark where words are power
dancing flames of hair, emerald eyes
glance sharply, voice echoes
a witch’s refrain to leave it alone
because midsummer blue
will always be a dreamer

Molly #22

When I was seven years old my class at school started drawing pictures and writing stories to enter in the local agricultural show. Mrs Mills made us do them again and again until she thought they were perfect. She ripped one of my stories out of my school exercise book and screwed the page into a little ball. I watched as she threw it in the rubbish bin.

“That is for being so untidy, Molly,” she said. “You need to keep working hard on making your handwriting neater or I will start to make you write with your right hand. I really don’t know what to do with you.” She hadn’t even bothered to read my story and I felt so sad.

I went back to writing my story and tried to remember as much of it as I could. It was about a girl falling asleep at her desk and dreaming that she woke up in a strange world a thousand years ago. There were knights and kings and princesses and the girl had to find her way back home, before she eventually woke up back in her own classroom. I wrote really slowly so that it would be neat enough for Mrs Mills and eventually she said it was okay and that she would let me put it in the show.

Everybody at school was talking about how exciting the show was going to be. I had never been before so I was really looking forward to it and every day I could feel my excitement rising and I had trouble sleeping at night because I kept dreaming about clowns and rides and fairy floss.

When show day finally arrived, I wore a pretty white dress and nice sandals. Mum said it was important that I dressed nice because there would be lots of people there. There was excitement in the air as we crossed the river to the showground and parked the car, then followed the crowds in through the dusty gates. There were lots of people lined up to buy tickets and Mum handed over the money and suddenly we were inside the showground.

Stephanie was waiting for me just inside the gates and we wandered off together to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the farm displays and the sideshow rides.

The first thing I saw was a display of vintage cars and antique motors sitting in the warm spring sunshine, and then we were off to the noisy poultry pavilion. All the different coloured birds were amazing to see, and so noisy with all their crowing and clucking. Stephanie and I then headed to the main ring to watch the show jumping as the horses went up and over, through the water and past the barrels again and again. We lingered amongst the cattle displays, watching the deep red and white cows, while I liked looking at the dainty Jersey dairy cows best with their big sad brown eyes. I thought they must have been feeling sad to be locked up in that smelly shed when it was such a beautiful day outside and they would much rather be roaming around green grassy paddocks. I stood there staring into those sad eyes for ages, until the sound of galloping hooves attracted my attention and Stephanie and I hurried over to watch the horses.

Next stop was the woodchop, where big men in singlets were preparing their logs. The clock started running and with axes swinging, chips flew through the air and the logs disappeared before my eyes.

Then we moved off to the pavilion full of arts, crafts and local produce, and it was there we found our drawings and stories from school. Stephanie’s drawing had a blue ribbon on it and we jumped up and down in excitement. I gave her a big hug and then looked for mine. My story was pinned to the wall, partly hidden under some other pieces of paper. It didn’t win a ribbon.

“Don’t worry, Molly,” said Stephanie. “I loved your story and I’m sure you will get a ribbon next year. Maybe they just forgot to read it.”

“Yeah, maybe,” I said doubtfully.

just dance dance dance

dark night escape
from life space
society seeks efficiency
technology towers
take people’s live
fleeting myths
suspended on instagram
but don’t worry
just dance dance dance

Molly #21

It finally stopped raining after a few weeks and eventually everything dried out. There was a loud cheer in the classroom one day when Mrs Mills announced that we would be going on an excursion to a rainforest. She frowned at the noise and then said we wouldn’t be going anywhere if we couldn’t control ourselves better than that. When the boys at the back of the room eventually settled down, she told us about how we would be visiting a very special place that was one of the last patches of big scrub rainforest that used to cover most of the coast before it was cleared for timber and farms. At recess, Stephanie and I were excited to think we were really going to be explorers.

I could hardly sleep for the next week until the day of the excursion arrived. Mum packed sandwiches for my lunch in a bag and she made me wear sturdy shoes and long pants, even though I thought it would be too hot in the rainforest. She drove me to school and kissed me goodbye before I hopped out of the car and joined all the other children waiting on the footpath for the bus. It was running late and Mrs Mills was trying to keep everyone quiet and sensible, but there was just too much excitement about the trip. Eventually the bus came around the corner with a cloud of greasy smoke and some of the children cheered. Mrs Mills frowned at them and told us to line up and be quiet.

Stephanie and I sat together on the bus and watched the world passing by outside the window. It felt like we were making the first steps on our journey of being carefree explorers of the world. That was until I started to feel car sick. I closed my eyes and rested my head on Stephanie’s shoulder as we drove along, trying to ignore the way my stomach churned as though it had been dropped into a washing machine. This wasn’t how explorers were meant to feel.

Soon I was in a magical place with a dense leafy canopy, unusual birds and the sound of rushing water that made me feel peaceful. There was nobody else around and I wondered where Stephanie and the other children were. I started to feel a little afraid when I realised I was all on my own, but explorers should be determined to be brave so I started to look around my surroundings. The dense atmosphere of the rainforest was closing around me and the path was wet and slippery. I knew I was lost, but I had to keep moving through the seclusion and smell of decay, carving my way through the scrub and searching for a hidden kingdom. When I got tired, I sat down on a log and started to feel hungry. I thought about the little snack Mum had packed in my school bag and closed my eyes to rest. I could feel the log swaying and I started to feel car sick again.

Suddenly I opened my eyes and Stephanie was right there beside me, resting her head against mine and the school bus was pulling into a car park. I grabbed my bag as we all piled out of the bus and lined up like little soldiers while Mrs Mills read the roll. I could already hear the wind whispering high up in the trees and an occasional cracking noise like something was moving through the bushes. It was just like in my dream.

“Sounds like there are monsters in there,” said Darren. I didn’t like the sound of that but I couldn’t think of any other explanation for the noises in the bushes.

“Don’t be so ridiculous,” said Stephanie. “You’re the only monster here.” Some of the other boys laughed and Darren pulled an ugly face.

“Well you better watch out for snakes then,” he said. “They like to eat girls, particularly cry babies like Molly. They sneak up when you’re not looking and take you in one big bite.” He made a biting action with his hands right in front of my face and nearly knocked me over, but Mrs Mills came over and saved the day.

“That is enough of that,” she said sternly. “Okay everybody, take your buddy’s hand, we are going for a walk on the nature trail first. Make sure you walk carefully and don’t get lost.”

I grabbed hold of Stephanie’s hand and we followed Mrs Mills down the path, surrounded by towering trees that went so high I couldn’t see the tops. Ferns hung over the path and I had to brush them aside as I walked along. I was looking carefully for snakes because, although I didn’t really believe Darren, I wasn’t taking any chances.

As the morning went on we looked at all sorts of strange plants and Mrs Mills explained to us how they all lived together in the rainforest and some plants protected other plants from the heat and how the plants were home to lots of little animals. She told us how the early settlers were timber getters that chopped the trees down with axes.

Suddenly we came to a clearing that opened onto a river. There was an old wooden wharf and Mrs Mills told us this was where the timber getters had once loaded logs onto boats and sent them down the river. She said we could rest here on the grass and eat lunch before heading back toward the bus.

High in the trees I could see dried grass and broken branches and the trunks were covered in mud. Mrs Mills said it was from the floods recently and I was amazed at how high the water had been and what it must have been like here when the water was rushing past. Now it was nice and peaceful by the side of the river and I could hear the water burbling along. I was glad to sit down and rest my legs and I thought how nice it would be to paddle my hot feet in the cool river.

As I ate my lunch I kept trying to imagine what the countryside must have looked like all those years ago before the bush was cleared away by the timber getters. I started thinking about the people that had lived here before the timber getters and what had happened to them.  I turned to Stephanie after finishing my sandwich. “Steph, what do you think happened to the people that were here before the timber getters? You know, the Aboriginals.”

“I don’t know.” Stephanie looked at me over the lid of her drink bottle. “Why don’t you ask Mrs Mills?”

“Oh, it’s okay,” I said, not wanting to attract any attention to myself.

“All right, I’ll do it.” She turned around to face our teacher. “Excuse me, Mrs Mills, Molly and I were wondering what happened to the Aboriginal people that were here before?”

“Well that is a very good question, Stephanie. I’m glad you asked. You see, once upon a time there were a lot of people living along the coast. They moved around for food depending on the season and they had many sacred grounds. A lot of it was destroyed by the timber cutters and the Aboriginal people were hunted away. Around this area they were known as the ‘Bundjalung’ and a lot of them were killed by the white settlers in the early days. Any way children, it is time we started heading back to the bus.” Mrs Mills stood up and told the class to pick up any rubbish from the ground and line up with our buddies.

I sat looking sadly at the water and thinking about what Mrs Mills had said. I wanted to know more; I wished I could say I was sorry to all those vanished people. I wanted to understand what it had been like for them.

“Come on, Molly.” Mrs Mills called. “It’s time to go.”

We walked back along the same path past all the tree ferns and strange plants, until suddenly there was a lot of yelling from behind me. One of the boys had brushed against a stinging fern and was screaming from the prickles in his leg. Mrs Mills took him by the hand and we were all marched back to the bus as quick as we could. I was glad that Mum had made me wear long pants after all.

When I climbed back on the bus I saw Darren’s leg all covered in red spots and Mrs Mills was putting ointment on it. There were some tissues covered in blood on the seat beside him and I could see tears on his cheeks and he was sobbing. His face looked sad as he sat on the bus seat and all of a sudden I could feel tears building in my own eyes. As I walked past his seat I stopped and offered him a lolly from my bag of snacks to make him feel better.

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