Last year, two close friends of mine died of breast cancer, while my sister-in-law was fighting a rather gruelling battle with it and facing obscure complication after obscure complication and a run of very bad luck. One of those friends never told me she was sick and I found out after she’d died. The other was seemingly cancer free and after a gruelling eight year battle, the cancer came back with a vengeance and she was gone in a week. It was like one of these fierce Australian bush fires, and it consumed her. They both had teenage children, and the loss was obviously focused on them. However, grief rippled out. They were much loved, and it’s still so hard to believe they’re no here.
I hope you’ve had a great week!
This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields at https://rochellewisoff.com/ We’d love you to join us!
There are times when every parent, and maybe even doting grandparent, wants to disassociate with naughty or over-exuberant children, and pretend they’ve never seen them before. Whether we admit to that in public or not, is another matter. However, we all know it’s true.
Things were doubly complicated with my two, because from the time our daughter was born and our eldest was only two, I developed a debilitating muscle wasting disease called dermatomyositis, and I couldn’t keep up. Hence, my parents had a much more active role with the kids and often had to step up and into my shoes. Well, that’s my justification for why my father was in charge of our rather unruly four year old daughter better known as Miss who could do no wrong.
This wasn’t the only sign of misbehaviour either, and to be perfectly honest I’m sure someone gave her red cordial, orange Fanta or something else along those lines` that night. Our kids were strictly “no artificial colours or preservatives”. However, strict adherence doesn’t mean the system was foolproof.
Anyway, my aunt was having an official book launch at Gleebooks in Sydney by Julianne Schulz from the Griffith Review. This won’t mean much to many of you who are overseas, (or in Australia beyond academic circles for that matter). However, my aunt is a professor and an award-winning author and she’s spoken at numerous writer’s festivals, including the Sydney Writers’ Festival ( which gave yours truly access to the Writers’ Greenroom. I was in heaven!!)
So, in other words, this was no backyard launch, and quite a serious affair. One of those events where parents always give their kids a talking to before you all arrive about being on their VERY BEST BEHAVIOUR!! They are to be seen and not heard. Of course, “not seen and not heard” is capital letter TROUBLE in these situations, and to be avoided at all costs.
However, 12 years down the track from said book launch, the behavior of Miss Four, (and indeed it was only Miss Four who was playing up) appears rather funny. She was pure mischief that night, and her brother and their friend were pretty good. Indeed, when I look at the photos, I think the friend is wondering what she’s on. Mind you, both the boys were already at Big School so they had an unfair advantage.
While we’re on the subject of taking unruly kids into adult situations, I also found a photo of the kids when we were visiting Concordia College in Toowoomba. My grandfather, Pastor Bert Haebich, was the first Acting Principal there back around 1948, and we were given a lovely tour of the school by the Communications Manager. She was such a kind soul and as we’re in the very prestigious boardroom which has my grandfather’s portrait in the very stately line-up, she gave them whiteboard markers and allowed them to write on the whiteboard. She was someone who really understood young kids and parents. At the same time, it does look funny and out of place.
As for the title of my aunt’s book, it’s full title is Murdering Stepmothers: the Execution of Martha Rendell. Martha Rendell as the last woman to be hanged in Western Australia, after being found guilty of poisoning her three stepchildren with medicine. It’s a great read but might be hard to get hold of.
Of course, my aunt adores my kids, and still believes they can do no wrong, despite this eventful night.
Do you have any stories of your kids having a moment? Of course, you do. Even parents of cats and dogs have stories of pure mischief.
Well, my two are about to turn eighteen and sixteen and let’s just say the perimeters have changed, but we’re not out of the woods yet.
As the plane touched down at Sydney Airport, Jamilah knew she was safe and they’d never find her working at Macca’s Woy Woy, wishing the world a “nice day”.
Quiet and unassuming, Jamilah passed right under the radar, barely the shadow of a shadow.
Then, she met Jerome.
Of course, she’d never planned to fall so deeply in love, fusing into one exulted flesh. Giving herself to someone so entirely, that she disappeared, engulfed by the flames.
It wasn’t her fault, or was it? That he got caught in the flames and burned. Yet, now she was a wanted woman.
Sometimes, I like to provide a little background into my flash fiction efforts. However, this week I wanted to leave it open to interpretation and see what comes back. Initially, I was tempted to write about when I was in Europe as 21 year old back in 1992. However, this story took on a life of its own.
I set this piece in nearby Woy Woy, which is a bit of a backwater with a funny sounding name, as a tribute to Spike Milligan and the Goon Show. Spike Milligan’s parents and younger brother moved to Woy Woy and Spike was occasionally jocularly referred to as “the boy from Woy Woy“.
“Woy Woy”is a corruption of the indigenous term apparently taken from the local Darkinjung Aboriginal people, and reputedly means ‘big lagoon’ or ‘much water’, referring to the deep tidal channel adjacent to the town centre.
“Macca’s” is Australian for McDonald’s and is where many of our local teens find their first job and is a popular after school hangout. I also found myself hanging out at McCafe when our kids were young and the play area with it’s locked high gate was heaven-sent.
There was something eerie and chilling to the bones about finding this old dead Chev dumped deep inside the woods. While Jane had seen deceased, decrepit vehicles rusting into the dirt on local farms, she’d never seen something like this in the woods before. As she cautiously edged towards the car, she almost leaped out of her skin, as leaf litter crunched under foot and she remembered a story about young lovers who disappeared without a trace. She thought they’d been driving a Chev, but how had it resurrected from the dead? Why now? Where were they?
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming the local Coroner, Jack, it’s how to die with dignity. Funny how we all die, yet nobody talks about it. We keep both eyes fixed on the here and now, and completely deny the hereafter. That’s including the religious folk. When the bell tolled, many of them were also caught out in their holy underwear with the dodgy elastic. What’s the world coming to? Didn’t their mothers ever warn them to wear their good underwear just in case? Apparently not. Never fear. I always come prepared with a range of spares.”
I was struggling to think of something for this scene. However, it did look like somebody ha been called away suddenly. Being Friday Fictioneers, this thought led to the subject of death. How could it not?
“The king is dead, long live the king!” Iris flung her arms around the legend she’d created. Despite all but proof they’d murdered the golden boy of Australian racing, Bob was now Lead Driver of the Red Bull Holden Racing Team and she was the Queen. It was just as the psychic predicted. In ten short days, Bob was going to win the Bathurst 1000 and be crowned the King of the Mountain. Yet, what was this spot stuck to the palm of her hand? No matter how hard she scrubbed, it wouldn’t wash away. It was driving her mad.
If you’ve ever read Macbeth, you’ll realize that my contribution this week was based on Shakespeare’s tale of ruthless ambition and the pursuit of power at any cost. You see, I’ve been re-reading Macbeththis week, to help my son who’s getting his dose of Shakespeare like generations of school kids before him. Although I’d read Macbeth at school, I couldn’t remember anything more than “bubble bubble toil and trouble” and while he actively resists my efforts to help him with his homework, I thought it might help to talk it over. So far he hasn’t agreed, but I’m quite chuffed that I’ve almost reached the end.
It’s so much easier to understand Shakespeare now that I’m in my 40’s and could consult the great Google guru before I’d even read the text and had a frame of reference. Back in the day, all I had was my teacher who stood out the front spoon-feeding us understanding, which we memorized and regurgitated in essays. There was none of this thinking for yourself kind of stuff. My son is needing to create a picture book based on Macbeth. That’s a lot of thinking and I’d personally find having to draw as well write rather terrifying. That’s what illustrators are for.
By the way, the Bathurst 1000 is a 1,000-kilometre touring car race held annually on the Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales, Australia. It is currently run as a championship event for Supercars. Wikipedia
Leaving court, the victim’s elderly mother was propped up by her two strapping sons. Justice served, the violent ex-husband was guilty as hell.
Yet, was I the only one who questioned the verdict? The only one struck by their own guilt?
The writing was on the wall. So, why didn’t we act?
More than once, I’d seen the tell-tale, heavy makeup. Yet, I never tried to wipe it away. Call a spade a spade. Rather, I observed the code of silence, and touched up my own face.
Peeling off this mask won’t be easy, but I’m changing course.
I will survive.
In parenting circles, you often hear the proverb that it takes a village to raise a child. However, what you hear less often, if at all, is that it takes the village to keep its citizens safe. Moreover, that we as individuals have a responsibility to look out for each other. To step in, especially when a mate is in trouble. However, where the waters start to get more murky, is when it comes to domestic violence. Interfering in someone else’s relationship is seen as a no-go zone. However, it can reach a point where someone’s life might be at risk and we need to step in. Yet, what are we supposed to do? We’re a friend, a brother, sister, parent…not an expert. The one thing I do know, is that we somehow need to find a way, and a quiet place, to ask the next question. Present yourself as a safe place…a harbour in the storm. That at least leaves the door open for someone to turn to us about a whole swag of issues before it’s too late. Don’t just ask if they’re okay. Follow your gut and never give up.
By the way, I’d just like to add that men can also be victims of domestic violence.
It’s not altogether surprising that I addressed this issue tonight. The body of a young woman was found beside the freeway today, when my Mum was driving up to see us. It drove home yet again why we can’t turn a blind eye.
Before Grandma’s body had even turned cold, the aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my own father were all out in the backyard digging, searching for Grandma’s buried treasure. A fanciful storyteller, all my life she’d spun wondrous tales of the Romanov’s and Russian royalty. Yet, that didn’t correlate with the woman working at the Hobart Jam Factory. Of course, she was Russian. Her accent was straight out of a Bond movie, but Russian royalty? Then, the spade hit metal and Dad unearthed a metal box. She might not have been Anastasia, but her grandfather had been her killer.
Henry clocked on, praying he’d get through the day without screwing up. Broke and dossing down on Steve’s couch, he couldn’t go outside without freaking out. The bitch was lurking on every corner. Nowhere was safe.
It was too soon, but Steve had got him the job. He was a union man. No questions asked, all his troubles slipped under the radar. Surely, it wouldn’t matter that he couldn’t pick red from green, or that he read things back to front…
Yet, even before his first smoko, he’d spotted the “Thomas” backpack lying by the wharf.
He didn’t even think.
This has been another contribution to Friday fictioneers, a weekly challenge set by Rochelle Wisoff Fieldsto write a 100-word story in response to a photo prompt. You can find other stories here.