Molly #34

As the hot summer weather came along, streaky white clouds started to float in the wide blue sky each day. Every morning I would look out my bedroom window and wonder if it was ever going to rain again, because I hadn’t even seen a drop of rain in the whole time since we had moved here from the north coast.

I hadn’t been invited to stay at Ellen’s farm again, but Ellen often stayed with me for the weekend so that we could play together. In the warmer weather we spent most of the time on the weekends at the swimming pool.

“Come on you two, hurry up,” Samantha called from outside. She was always in a rush to get to the pool. I just liked to take my time and enjoy the walk with Ellen. We walked holding hands and Ellen never stopped talking.

“We’re coming,” I called out from the kitchen. I was dressed in pink swimmers and a white tee shirt and Mum was busy covering my face in sunscreen. She always said she was terrified of me getting sunburnt and so she slopped extra layers of sunscreen all over my nose. I had to close my eyes tight so that I didn’t get any sunscreen in them because it really made my eyes sting. As soon as she finished I put my hat on my head and tucked my towel under my arm then raced outside to catch up with the others. The girls had already set off, so I climbed through a hole in the fence next to the rusty iron shed in the backyard and hurried after them. Ellen climbed through the hole behind me and our sandals raised little clouds of dust as we moved quickly across the dry ground, skipping to catch up with Samantha, Catherine and Jasmine.

Samantha took her hat off as soon as we are out of sight of the house and I watched her straight black hair bouncing against the back of her white tank top as her long brown legs strode along the footpath. I thought she should have kept her hat on or she would get sunburnt.

Ellen and I caught up to the girls when they stopped to wait for the traffic at Hoskins Street, and then we all ran across the bubbles of melted bitumen to get to the park. The sun had started to get quite hot by then and the grass in the park was brown and spiky. There was a little bit of shade every now and then from a row of date palms that lined the footpath through the middle of the park. Each time we came to a tree, Ellen and I would stop in the shade to rest before racing each other to the next tree.

As we stood in the shade for a moment, I looked up and saw some high school boys watching us walking through the park. I hurried after the girls when I heard one of the boys say something and the other boys started laughing. I wasn’t game to look around again when another boy whistled loudly. Catherine and Samantha didn’t seem to notice though as they just kept on walking. Samantha was busy pushing some stray hair behind her ear, and when Catherine leaned toward Samantha and whispered something they both giggled. Samantha looked back over her shoulder to where the boys were standing. I started walking a bit quicker in case the boys followed us, but we were soon at the safety of the pool entrance.

It was cool in the shade of the little shop at the front of the pool, and I lined up behind Catherine as she paid the lady behind the counter. As soon as we went through the turnstile, the bigger girls disappeared into the change room and Ellen and I raced to put our towels down on the grass. The pool was surrounded by soft grassy lawns, and there was a big shady peppercorn tree in one corner.

“Last one in is a rotten egg!” yelled Ellen. She was already half-way to the pool so I just dropped my towel and raced after her, leaping into the cool clear water. At first the water was so cold it took my breath away, but then I bounced to the surface laughing and Ellen splashed water in my face.

“Ellen!” By the time I splashed back, she had already swum away from me like a little seal and I started chasing her. She swam much faster than I could but she eventually slowed down until I caught up to her. We spent the whole morning in the water like that, swimming around, playing games, and chasing each other until we eventually got tired and climbed out to lay on our towels for a rest. I lay there watching all the colourful bodies splashing around in the pool.

“I wonder where the girls have gotten to.” I looked around the pool from my towel but I couldn’t see them anywhere amongst all the rainbow coloured swimmers.

“I thought I saw them over there earlier,” Ellen said as she pointed toward the back fence. I looked over to where Ellen was pointing and saw a group of teenagers sitting around on their towels. There was Samantha was lying on her side, one tanned knee propped up in the air. She was talking to a boy and running her fingers through her hair. I thought he looked like one of the boys that had been outside in the park and he was lying on his side as well. They seemed to be leaning quite close toward each other.

Catherine was lying on her stomach with her eyes closed. Every now and then she lifted her head and said something to the others, then lay down and closed her eyes again.

I kept looking around until I found where Jasmine was. She was with a different group of girls, sitting on the edge of the pool with her feet splashing in the water and talking to her friends.

I turned back to Ellen, content now I knew I hadn’t been left behind. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could play here forever and never have to go back to school?”

“Except when your fingertips get all wrinkly from the water,” Ellen laughed. I smiled into her sparkling eyes and felt as happy as the sunny day.

“Ellen, what are those marks on your legs?” Suddenly Ellen’s eyes lost their sparkle and she looked down at the blue-grey bruises at the top of her thighs. They were normally covered by clothes, but I could see them clearly now she was in her bikini bottoms. There were four of them, shaped like fat sausages spread out in a fan.

“It’s nothing,” she said quietly, “I just bumped them.” She didn’t want to talk about it and I was sorry that I had brought a cloud across our sunny mood, but I couldn’t help myself.

“Ellen… I’m really sorry. Was it your Dad?”

“I don’t want to talk about it. Let’s just swim.” Ellen leapt up from her towel and jumped in the pool. I sat there feeling helpless for a few moments until I thought of asking Catherine what I should do. I stood up and walked over toward her group.

As I got closer I could hear them talking.

“It seems Lauren is the flavor of the month,” said a girl in a strawberry-coloured bikini.

“I know, both Peter and John have asked her out.”

“Oh my gosh, what did she say?”

I tried to get Catherine’s attention but she had her back to me, so I stood there uncertainly for a moment.

“Hey Catherine, is that your little sister? How cute!” one big girl said. I felt my face blush bright red and the boy that was talking to Samantha looked up and grinned.

Catherine sat up and didn’t look very happy to see me standing there. “Molly, what do you want?”

“I wanted to talk to you, about Ellen.”

“Can’t you do this at home?”

“It’s just that she is sad. I made her sad about the bruises on her legs.”

Catherine stood up. “Okay Molly, let’s get an ice cream.”

As we walked toward the canteen I told Catherine about the bruises on Ellen’s legs, and how she wouldn’t talk to me about them. I told her that when I asked if it was Ellen’s Dad she ran off. Catherine gently put her hand on my head. “Why don’t you just go and play with her. I think she just needs you to be her friend and make her happy.”

Catherine bought two ice creams, and I took one over to where Ellen was sitting on the side of the pool. She was looking down at the water and slowly kicking her legs back and forth. I sat down next to her and gave her one of the ice creams. As we sat there eating together silently, I put my arm around her wet shoulder and she leant her head against mine.

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Cicada song of summer days

Cicada song of summer days
lazy crazy hazy days
distant rumble of thunder
hanging heavy in the air
a time to be alive
a book to while away the day
as close to perfect happiness
shadows are my only companions

paper girls have paper hearts

tt seemed like any other day
the sky was mostly clear
small puffs of cloud
cool breeze ruffling the trees
I canhear a morning television show blaring
another political scandal — riots in Melbourne
I close my eyes and try to block out the noise
In my head. The voices. The memories.
paper girls have paper hearts
they tear too easily

being stuck in my head

being stuck in my head
—breathe―
do the opposite
run like a girl
for this is real
if I am alive—safe
then I’ll be fine
running toward my happy ending
self-control before the mirror
―breathe—I am fine
it will all be fine
everyone watching―my humiliation
—too many eyes
see me falling apart
in one heartbeat a dream
becomes a nightmare

Road trip to the Gold Coast – day 2

After a long day of driving over the mountains yesterday I woke refreshed to see the sun just rising over the horizon. I left Stephanie sleeping and went for a stroll around the grounds of the motel to check out my surroundings. It was so beautiful now it had stopped raining and in the daylight I could see were on the edge of a beautiful green valley.

I woke my sleepy-headed friend and we decided to drive down to Bellingen for breakfast. The Waterfall Way lived up to its name with plenty of water splashing down the gullies after last nights rain. It made me feel light and happy.

Bellingen is a river town that began its life as a service centre for the pioneer cedar-getters. The town later became known for shipbuilding and dairy farming. Now Bellingen is a beautiful and historic-looking town that has been well preserved by it’s community. Wandering through town I see a mix of bohemian, hippy and farming-types living together.

The town is just waking is Stephanie and I find a cute little cafe for breakfast by the side of the Bellinger River. Bacon and egg roll to fill an empty tummy and conversation with my best friend soon has a big smile on my face. I could stay in Bellingen forever to enjoy its music and atmosphere.

We are back on the road and after before I know it we have arrived at Grafton. I haven’t ever really stopped in Grafton before so we decide to pull over and wander the main street. Apart from the amazingly wide Clarence River, there isn’t much to see in Grafton. Even though it is still bustling I feel it has the air of a town that had already seen its hey-day.

Next stop was Bangalow. This is one of my favourites places on the planet. It is beautiful little town just inland from Byron Bay and it has a real sub-tropical feel. It’s a kind of classy hippy place where the boho dresses have price tags that make me gasp. I love looking though!

Lunch in the park under the leafy bangalow palms and then it’s a short drive to Southport on the Gold Coast. That is for another day, so until then safe travels.

Molly xx

Girl power

Imagine you are a twelve-year old girl and one day your body changes. People say girls are developing younger and younger. I blame the chemicals in our food. I mean, what else would suddenly make boys look at you strangely? And it’s not just boys, if you know what I mean! It’s as if I suddenly became scary. Shifting shape continually. Not quite one thing or another. None of my friends had developed their powers yet. Only me. But nobody would talk to me about it. Like, there are some words we can’t even use in public, not even on Instagram. Instead they use words like ‘hysterical’, ‘unstable’, and ‘attention seeker’. Sometimes I just want to go out in public and shout ‘TAMPON!’

The pressure to perform

The main news story this week has been about the Australian cricket team and the ‘ball tampering’ issue. The outcry has left me amazed. Yes, it’s cheating. Did it affect the outcome of games? Judging by the result in favour of South Africa I would have to say no. Was it the worst thing to happen in the world this week? Was it worth the public humiliation and shaming of these three men? We pay our sportsmen huge money to perform and win (and yes, I deliberately excluded women because they aren’t being paid the big dollars). The pressure to win is immense. Seemingly, the penalties for losing exceed the rewards for winning. Is that what drives a grown man to scratch a cricket ball? Even our main government sports funding program is titled ‘The Winning Edge’. You must win at all costs. But step over that fine line and you will be publicly castrated. Sent home in shame to reflect on your evil ways. How dare Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft shatter the illusion that Australian cricket is above all others. Meanwhile, in the real world, war and poverty and inequality continue to thrive. But at least Cricket Australia has made a stand!

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