A Pretty Red Sofa

 

A Pretty Red Sofa

 
 

A pretty red sofa was left out one day, it’s life was over,

So to say

 

It had lived so happily, inside that trendy home 

Now it’s a symbol of fashion decay

 

It was a gift of roadside rubbish, for anyone to take

Preloved and worn but still in tack

 

Grabbed in the dark of night, by a man with no ute

That little red sofa seemed back on track

 

He heaved and he howed, and he dragged that sofa 

When suddenly his poor back gave way

 

Painfully he rested there, under a trainless bridge 

Until the morning birds bid him G’Day

 

He gathered up the cushions, and carried on home

Sofa incomplete it now lay

 

Twice abandoned, is this pretty red sofa

Much to an op-shop lovers dismay. 

 

This poem is a tribute to all the roadside hard rubbish that has adorned the streets of Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs these past few weeks, sadly awaiting it’s December 1st fate of the Melbourne rubbish dump.  It’s been crying heavy tears of spring rain recently which has made the collection of mouldy beds, cracked chairs and old TVs  all soaked and soggy and thus no longer appealing to the opshop lovers, parts collectors, and backpackers looking for temporary furnishings.   Rest in peace dear Roadside Rubbish, and to you too Pretty Red Sofa.

 Written for & linked up at Magpie tales.
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Whole weekend free, think I’ll write!

It’s a rainy spring weekend here in Melbourne, summer starts on Thursday, but with all this rain as of late, it still feels like we are in the midst of spring.  It’s been raining heavily all day, but I don’t mind as it’s it’s always easier to write when my garden isn’t calling me.  

Sam is off all weekend long making a film for Tropfest.  It’s the first full weekend I’ve had to myself since he was away in Europe for a business trip last April.  The idea of writing all weekend excited me and my only worry was that I would run out of inspiration and get sick of the computer half way through.    

I’ve never actually taken a whole weekend to write before.  Paint yes, meditate yes, garden yes, but writing, that’s a first.  I figure if I’m going to write a book someday I’d better get practicing because books don’t write themselves and one of the few things that never changes is the constant ticking of time. 

So in honour of the beautiful cool Melbourne rain that’s watering my garden, and cleansing this gorgeous city, I give you this little rhyme. 

 
He says good things can happen in the rain. 
But only to those who don’t mind
 
For the rain is for the heavy hearted
As it brings a sense of time
 
It washes away a dirty scab
And cleanses the inside
 
It calls deep into a heart within
Where hurt and pain reside
 
For no one can see you cry in the rain
As droplets and tears become one
 
Not everyone is ready to go there you see
Which is why I write this rhyme.
 
But I tell you this as I know its true
It’s actually not so bad
 
For when it’s finished cleaning and clearing
A sense of new appears

 

Written for 6 Word Saturday at Show My Face.  🙂

Weighty Ghost

I tried to share a video here of song Weighty Ghost by Wintersleep to play while you read the story below.  Unfortunately WordPress isn’t exactly like Facebook and I can’t just share it for you all to see.  So if you’d like to hear the song anyway, click HERE for the Youtube Video of Weighty Ghost. 

Ghosts are most evident in the countryside and it seems that is the direction they were headed.  She would have to find a way to block them out before she saw them as they drove down a country highway heading north west.  She had no choice.  It was to be a surprise, there was someone he wanted her to meet, and she had reluctantly agreed to go.  She would have declined had she known what it required.  She really liked him, but she wasn’t really up for the circus coming out to entertain only to get chased out, again.  Because isn’t that what always happens?  Isn’t that the way?  And so she played the card of hard to get, so as to shield her battered misunderstood heart. 

All she secretly ever wanted was to be loved and accepted for who she truly was and that had proven impossible to have.  So she cursed what she saw and she cursed what she heard, because it had cursed her first.  In time she had developed a hardness for life that was evident in the lines on her face, because it never really ended did it.  She had moved to the city years ago, where no one knew who she was, or knew what she could do.  She could be the circus act, and everyone would just avert their eyes and pretend she wasn’t really there.  There is just something about a city, all those people crammed into such a dense area, no one really knows where the other belongs, so they don’t care and they carry on their way getting lost in the crowd before they are even found.

They turned down a gravel road which seemed to have been mostly gobbled up by the forest.  There were plenty of potholes, and the jolting of the car with each bump made her sit upright.  Her hair started to stand on end, and her head started to pound.  She wanted to shut it all out but she couldn’t.

She knew what was coming.  She felt it growing stronger by the minute and there was nowhere to turn around. 

The car pulled up in front of on a rundown wooden homestead overgrown with weeds.  A few of the windows had been boarded up.  There was a large jacaranda tree in the front casting shade over the front veranda.  She sensed the presence within the house, standing near the window.  Someone was still there despite the fact that this place had been abandoned for years.  She felt sick to her stomach, and her heart was pounding.  He was going to find out if they went inside and there was no where to run.  The feelings were too strong now, she couldn’t hide them, or escape into a crowd of people staring at the ground. 

He unlocked the door and with a gentle smile on his face beckoned for her to come in.  She walked towards the door clutching a little too tightly to the handrails.  Her palms sticky and sweaty, her breathe heavy. 

Inside she was greeted by an old lady who approached.  Her hair was tied back in a bun, she was perfectly kept despite all the dust and cobwebs in the house, and she had soft eyes so similar to his.

“Good morning love, it’s good to meet you,”  the old woman said.    She wanted to close her eyes and make the lady fade away into haze like in the movies.  She felt truly ill now, too afraid to look at John.  She could feel his eyes on her.  Her world was spinning and at any moment everything was going to start exploding like fireworks and she’d be labelled damaged goods and tossed aside.  But to her surprise, John spoke, and it  clearly wasn’t to her.  “Hi Nana, I’d give you a kiss but I’d just end up kissing air again.  Hahaha. Your looking the same as ever, sorry I haven’t been by to visit in ahwile.” “Hello John, your girlfriend here is a pretty little thing, I’m so pleased you brought her to meet me.  The old woman turned then and met her eyes.  “Are you alright dear, you look like you’ve just seen a ghost!”   The old lady laughed and gracefully reached out to her and touched her arm, to reassure her that everything was ok.  The air seemed to have left the room.  She stopped breathing.  The circus was all set up, the other actor was on stage, she felt pressured to perform but at that moment she had stage fright.   She started to back up slowly reaching out for something to support her, anything, as she felt as if she was going to faint.  She wanted to run, fast, to leave her one woman circus behind her forever, she didn’t care where to. 

But everything was all wrong.  John was supposed to be in the audience, booing his disapprovals, throwing curses at her misunderstood heart. How did he get on stage, how did he manage to join her circus?   

John wrapped his arms around her, gave her cheek a little peck then whispered into her ear “I’m just like you, you know, I see her too!” 

I actually wrote this for writeonedge.com.  The prompt was to share a scene from your book which will someday get made into a movie, what song would use for the soundtrack during this scene.  Well I haven’t started writing a book yet, so I just wrote a scene.  There was a word limit off 300 and I exceeded 800, oops!  Greatful for the imagination the prompt triggered, and the writing that ensued.  🙂  

I had my Aura Photograph Taken!

Twice a year, November and June is the Melbourne Mind Body Spirit festival held at the Exhibition centre.  The MBS has been something I have been visiting each time since I first moved to Melbourne more than two years ago.  It’s a place that I feel re-connected to my past.

When I first moved to Hong Kong 6 years ago, I found a little shop called the New Age Shop where I used to frequent.  Later I worked there for a year. The shop brings healers, readers etc from all over the world to work for two weeks at a time in the shop.  Twice a year for the last 20 years it has been bringing Krystyna, Karim and their aura photo camera. 

An aura camera is a bio-feedback imaging system which scans the energy of the hand and passes that information to a computer program which creates the colours around a persons image on professional instant film. 

Karim and his partner Krystyna are my link between my 4 years of deep spiritual exploration in Hong Kong, and my current grounded practical life in Melbourne.  I knew them then, and I know them now as they visit each MBS fair in Melbourne. 

Krystyna took my photo today.  I was smiling as I excitedly told her the past 6 months of news and happenings, while trying to hold still for the camera.  I had been looking so forward to having my photo taken today.  I have had several over the past 6 years, but this one was by and far the most beautiful.  Unfortunately my partner is out filming auditions for his latest film with the nice camera, so below you can see a photo of my aura photo, taken from my dodgy HTC camera.  Sorry HTC, but you just don’t give this photo the true brilliance it deserves.   

I’m all happy, smiley, sun-shiney yellow and orange.   And when I was told the meaning of my colours, I was so happy.  Before me was a physical representation of all that I have been working towards, all my efforts, and hard work.  It really highlighted for me how everything up until now has been leading up to this very moment.

My Aura Photo

My aura photo taken this morning

The meaning of yellow:

Yellow is the colour of the intellect.  Yellow also shows an affinity to variety and happiness.  Its represents a cheerful, intellectual and humorous person.  A lady helping Krystyna told me that she can see in the photo that my mind has been very active, and that I have been sharing much of my mental activity with the world.  She also noticed how truly happy and content I am with my life and how positively I feel about my future. 

The meaning of Orange:

Orange is the colour  that relates to ambition, drive and lateral thought, where self expression is important.  Orange is ambitious, expressive and dynamic.  It is creative and full of new ideas.  The lady told me that the positioning of the orange also signifies that I have recently just achieved some goals I have been striving towards, and am now in the process of creating new ones. I’m a very determined person who doesn’t walk away from what I want.   She is very right about that.  This morning before we went, I decided I definitely want to write a fiction novel in the future, and I will. 

Why these colours made me so happy:

As a child, I dreamed of becoming a writer someday.  But then stuff got in the way, school mostly, and a mom who pushed me to excel when I didn’t really want to. 

One of my proudest childhood moments was when my Grade 3 teacher read a story I wrote about a Bubblegum Tree to the whole class.  Of all the stories she received, it was mine that she read. 

But as I got older, the writing I did was for school, essays, projects, term papers, exams, you name it, I wrote it, and I hated it.  I actually failed first year English in University.  The topics were boring, the literature drab, and I didn’t like writing arguments.  After 4 years of University, I hated writing with a vengeance.

I first learned that I had a creative writing ability when I lived in Japan (in my mind, Grade 3 didn’t count).  I lived in a more rural area outside of Tokyo and found I was pretty much immersed in a Japanese speaking environment everyday, and I really only got to speak proper English once a week when I met a couple of North American friends in Tokyo.  A lady in Tokyo was offering a creative writing course for expats and I jumped at the opportunity, mostly because I felt like I was loosing my English mind.  But when the course ended, so did my writing, and my job.  I packed my bags, moved to Hong Kong, and never touched a pen again for a very long time. 

Since the Tokyo writing course  I have wanted to write, but for years I didn’t write.  Then one day earlier this year, April I believe, I didn’t just want to write anymore, I needed to write.  And that need felt like it came from within the very depths of my soul and it came with a burning fiery determination. The only problem was, I couldn’t write.  I spent months determined to write.  I tried everything I could think of such as, spending time in the forest with a notebook, bringing the laptop into different rooms, doing some meditations, and spending countless hours on Skype with my best friend in Hong Kong trying to figure out why I had writers block extreme and how to fix it.  The more I tried to write, the more I couldn’t, and the more I couldn’t the more frustrated I became, until one day, I almost threw the computer off the bed.  I remember I sat in my bedroom for hours that night fuming.  The door was closed, and my partner stayed in the safe confines of his office until I was asleep (smart man!).  I was ready to light up writing that night and toss it into the bin forever with a big explosion of my temper.  I was that mad at myself for being so useless and unable to do something as simple as writing (see what I mean about the fire?). 

But then I found a blog for those with writers block (it’s called Aliventures), and from it I found some tips and alot of hope.  I also stopped working overtime at work and my stress levels started lifting.  From it emerged the occasional poem, several half finished stories, alot of rambling, and then finally after 6 months of putting myself through self-induced hell, writing started flowing.  It came with plenty of struggles at first but eventually it started to flow.  And to the flow I give credit to blogs with writing prompts, such as Six Word Saturday where this post is going as soon as it’s done.  Finally, I had achieved what I had wanted so badly, to become a writer, to be able to write all the time, anytime, anything.  To push my own boundaries, challenge my ability, surprise myself with the finding of tucked away forgotten little packets of creative brilliance, and to prepare myself for what’s next. 

Writing has brought a lightness and joy to my life in a way that nothing else has.  It has become something very precious, special, and I love getting lost in my own imagination.  Others around me have noticed how much happier I have been lately.  And now I own that happiness in the form of a physical representation of my aura in an aura photograph. 

So where to from here?  Where is this writing taking me?  Where does it want to go? I’m pretty determined to find out, so I’m pretty sure I will know soon enough, and hopefully have alot of fun in the process 🙂

Written for 6 Word Saturdays at Show My Face.  “Describe your life in 6 words” Click on the Linkey to see what others have wrote. 

The Walls Between Worlds

They say the walls between worlds are the easiest to penetrate in the fog.

She had learned this quite some time ago when she had become lost while out for a walk, to catch a breath of heavy air that weighed down her heart like a paper weight .  That was the day she was reunited with her childhood friends.

In the beginning they always came to her.  They would stop by for a cup of lavender tea, or a giggle or two, and always when no one was around to witness.  They listened to her pour her heart out as she recited sweet poems of innocence not yet lost, they watched her cry, they made her laugh, and they rubbed arnica on the lonely bruises which formed little black welts on her body.  Then one day her friends stopped coming.

That was the day she decided to grow up and be a big girl.  For big girls don’t cry.  Big girls are seen but not heard.  Big girls do big girls things, like cook the evening meal, clear away the foul empty bottles, sweep the floors clean, and pour Father his evening bath.

She was taught to read by Mother before Mother got sick, and she traded in her imagination for someone else’s thought up reality, which believed that the other world belongs only to children’s fairy tales which Mother said she had now outgrown.

Mother had an assortment of dusty yellow books stacked neatly in a chest, tucked away for safekeeping.  Mother’s books never interested her much, but she did as she was told all the same.  Mother knew big girl things that Father didn’t know, for once she lived in a town, though she mentioned this only once when Father was out, and refused to speak of it again.

It was after Mother died that she had grown weary of being a big girl.  With no arnica to soothe the lonely welts of bruising spots, she felt the constant pain.  It was a pain she could take no longer that drove her out of the house that day, it was the pain that reduced her to tears, to a little girl who cried.

The thick fog masked those tears, covered her sobs, and coated her with comforting invisibility the day she found her friends.   She was forbidden by Father to enter the forest that surrounded their farm.    Forests are dangerous places for girls.  She had only realized after the fog had dissipated that she had broken the rules.  But by then she did not care, because the pain by this point was constant.

Her friends started to visit again, but unlike before, they only came when the walls between worlds were easiest to penetrate, on the misty mornings of  spring, or just after the storm.

She would talk, she would sing, she would dream aloud of another place, prompted by her friends who adored her sweet voice, her stories of new found imaginings.  She would climb up on stage and perform a ballad, or lie down under the willow tree where they caressed her cheeks and rubbed arnica on her lonely bruises.

With each passing spring when the rains were frequent, she would forget about her big girl life with big girl responsibilities, and she would do as she pleased when her friends came around.  For these days Father was home less and less.  She knew better than to ask why.

One hot summer afternoon, after the storm passed, she knew her friends would appear as they usually did.  With Father away she was practicing a poem, and had decided that when the rain stopped, she would pretend to be on a great stage in town.  All the townsfolk would come to watch and delight in her clever words of innocence not lost.

She had brought out all the chairs Father had built but never sold, because one leg was too short, or the colour all wrong.  Her friends came in the dozens, and filled up those chairs.  Excitement filled the air as she belted out to a very large crowd, her poem full of nuances small and great.

She heard a sound, and turned around.  There stood Father belt and bottle in hand.  Her friends already dissipated into fading mist.  Poem forgotten from her lips.

I wrote this short story for Magpie Tales.  The prompt was the photo at the top.  I saw the photo on the train today.  It captured the magical mystical part of my imagination, and from that this story was born.  Click on the Magpie Tales link if you are interested in reading some of the other stories and poems others have written.

Glad I’m not a Mechanical Engineer

I had a bad dream last night.

I was recruited by a company and was given a big fat salary rise (6 figures!), a car, a blackberry, a quiet private office overlooking a beautiful  park, and the job title of Mechanical Engineer.  I was given sheets of paper with numbers and symbols and had to solve the equations.  I was expected to perform with only paper, pencil, and a calculator.  There was no computer, no Microsoft Word or One Note, no Email, and no need to write any words.

Realizing I had just signed the next year of my life away to a wordless, computer-less job, I woke up quite upset.

I’ll keep my job as it is thank- you, it may not come with all those things, but it does come with lots of words and a speedy computer.  🙂

 

This was written for Show my Face 6 Word Saturdays.  Click here if you’d like to take part.

The Rubber Duck

Annabelle picked up the knife from the counter and slid open another taped up soggy box.  She dug around to see what was inside. She found an assortment of Japanese knickknacks, photos, an old scarf, and a rubber duck.

“I forgot I had this” she thought as she pulled the rubber duck out of the box and held it gently in her hands.  She remembered the day when the Typhoon 8 signal had been hoisted and all ferries to and from Lamma island had been cancelled.  She had spent that day lazing around the house with him, grateful for the day off work.  The storm battered her little island just south of Hong Kong’s main island throughout the morning and into the afternoon. At times she was worried the palm tree out front her tiny 1st floor apartment would snap in two from the high winds and go flying through her living room window.  She never trusted that tree.  Trees aren’t supposed to bend to 90 degree angles, it’s just not natural.

After the Typhoon signal 8 was lowered, she would slip on flip flops and wander through the muddy island to assess the damage, treading carefully as branches, leaves, and random pieces from houses were strewn all over the path.  She particularly loved the beaches where all sorts of interesting things washed up from the typhoons, as so many cargo ships lost some of their precious multi-coloured boxes stacked so neatly on-top of all the ships that come to Hong Kong from all over the world.

She turned right at Grandma’s Tofu shop and followed the narrow path to Power Station beach where dogs are allowed.  Several other Chinese and non-Chinese locals were already on the beach.  Dogs were running about, happy to play after being locked in stuffy apartments for so many hours.  There were children screaming, and old people shuffling, but it wasn’t the people or the dogs that she noticed as the path led her out of the trees, and into the clearing of the beach, it was the spots of dotting yellow in the water and all across the shore of the wide beach.  To her surprise, thousands of rubber ducks were floating happily to shore.  A cargo ship had lost it’s container full of it’s precious yellow cargo earlier in the dat, fresh from a Guangdong factory whilst passing the island on that stormy typhoon created holiday.

The wind at the beach was still strong and warm as it whipped her hair, a drying relief from the stickiness a typhoon always brings.  She picked up a rubber duck that had already washed to shore, wiped the sand off it and brought it home as a little keepsake, a memory trigger, a story to give her future children.

Two years later she is in her new apartment, in her new city.  The memory makes her sad, she misses Lamma island, the quietness, the birds, the shuffling feet of the elderly Chinese ladies on their morning walks, the frogs, the mixture of languages and accents, and all the familiar island faces.

She arrived in Melbourne a month ago, alone.  Another new city, another new country, another new start.

Two Indian men in fluoro yellow shirts delivered her things this morning.  Up until now her apartment had been empty except for a bed and her half unpacked suitcase.  The boxes filled the room with the stale smell of Hong Kong summer, the scent of greasy damp dust and mold.

Annabelle  had worked through the day unpacking all her things shipped from her Hong Kong past, whilst trying to wash the mold and dusty grime off everything.  Clearly there was no airconditioner in that Hong Kong storage facility or in the shipping container itself.  Dirty and reeking of another country, she found some bath salts & oils and started pouring a bath.

She had been savoring this moment since she had moved into this apartment last week.  She had not had a bath in a bathtub since her business trip to England 3 years ago.   Just the fact that the apartment came with a massive tub sold her on the place immediately.

Annabelle switched on the IPOD speakers and scrolled down her music list until she found Sarah McLachlan, whose soothing music always calmed her.  She grabbed the rubber duck and crawled into the tub, slowly sinking into the hot steamy water, she savored the smell of the oils, and melted into the joy of having a bath after far too long.

Holding onto the rubber duck she closed her eyes.  Sarah’s voice, of songs of Sweet Surrender played for years on repeat, took her back, back, back…

She was 5 years old back in Canada, and in the tub with her little brother Jason.  Their tub was always filled with bubbles, their toy rubber duck always floated on it’s side, toy boats, toy people, a little toy bath town for two little bath people.  They played, they imagined, and they explored in the tub.  It was what they did, without question, without fuss, two innocent children preoccupied, night after night, best friends.

She hadn’t spoken to Jason since last Christmas, and even then it was a brief conversation as the phone was passed around to everyone in the room, each not taking too long for fear of the expensive long distance phone bill.

Her brother never understood why Annabelle chose to leave, she never understood why he chose to stay.  They eventually agreed to disagree.  Life split them like a fork in the road and carried them further apart.

The realization of all that she had left behind set in as the smell of the oils dissipated.  The mouldy Hong Kong smell harshly greeted her nostrils, alone, in a tub, far away in a strange country, with a smiling rubber duck floating upright reminding her, and the soft voice of Sarah sweet surrendering to comfort her.

She pulled the plug, sitting in the tub until all the water had drained out, soggy and still dripping, she threw on some clean clothes, dug through her suitcase for her address book, picked up her mobile phone and rang her brother.

“Hello?”

The croaky voice of her brothers girlfriend answered the phone.

“Hi, is Jason there?”

“Who is this?  It’s 3:00 in the morning for Christ sake.”

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize.  It’s Annabelle, I’m calling from Australia”

“He’s asleep, can you call back later?”

“Umm…sure”

Annabelle hung up the phone feeling more alone than ever.   She crawled into bed, and cried herself to sleep.

I wrote this short story for the blog Blueberry Books: Short Story Slam Week 14.  Click here to read some of the other entries.