Surviving Is All

“Get me out of here!” Cindy mumbled as she threw open the heavy door and tore outside. “That was possibly the worst class we’ve had yet! Now – don’t get me wrong, Mr Fitz is extremely sexy in all ways – but did you see how intense he was?”

“See how intense he was?” Drew replied. “I felt it in the way he slapped my upside the head – I didn’t think teachers were even allowed to do that these days!”

 Frowning, I looked back at our group. “He was a little off today.” I admitted.

“Personally, I just think he needs to get some.” Holly said matter of factly. “It must be hard teaching girls like me everyday and not being able to do anything about it.”

A collective groan ran through our group, as the odd spell that had hovered over us as we left the lecture room was broken. Laughing, Holly and Cindy linked arms and started gushing over Holly’s latest beau, while Drew and Caleb started chucking a football back and forth; their passes getting longer and more dangerous as they got more confident with their throwing skills. Walking slowly behind them all, I kept musing about Mr Fitz’s behaviour today. It wasn’t just the unusual way he had snapped and slapped Drew, but the way he beared down on all of us – his eyes squinty and bloodshot, his mouth so close to my face at one time I could smell the coffee and chocolate on his breath as he whispered my name. “Eva…” Usually having his mouth so close to my face and whispering my name with such passion would have done funny things to my stomach, but there was something definitely off about him today that made me feel sick rather than anything else.

“What the –“ Drew stopped short at the front of our procession and stared in shock at the sight before him.

“Dude, come on!” Caleb called, coming up behind him and scooping up the football where it laid abandoned at his feet. “You can’t just keep dropping the ball, man!” You’ve already lost like five of our – whoa!” He exclaimed, his rant cut short as he moved in next to Drew and stared.

Frowning, I shuffled forward nervously. There was something about this whole day that just felt off. And moving up beside Drew to see the spectacle taking place in Mr Fitz’s office only served to intensify this feeling. 

My eyes seemed glued to the scene of their own accord. I wanted to look away but I just couldn’t. There were uniformed guards ripping the office apart. Papers floated on the soft breeze whispering through the open window, while pens and pencils slowly rolled onto the ground; their nibs leaving small stains as they hit the carpet below. The guards, dissatisfied with what they were; or more precisely weren’t finding, were throwing Mr Fitz’s belongings in frustration. My eyes widened in shock as I watched his coffee mug hit the wall first, leaving a splattered, watercolour like artwork across the wall. The coffee mug was closely followed by the computer monitor that fell to the floor with a resounding crash and tinkle of glass. Drew grabbed my arm and started tugging me away as two of the guards each lifted an end of the desk and prepared to throw it against the window.

“Eva, we need to go.” He said urgently, pulling me away. Stumbling over my feet, I turned and let him lead me away. Cindy and Holly were already powering ahead, their arms linked and heads close as they most likely gossiped about what was going on. Caleb stood behind Drew and myself, his face white as a ghost as he shakily grabbed my hand and started pulling me down the hall as well.

Quickly, the five of us made our way towards the front of the building. My nerves felt increasingly jangled as I took in the growing number of guards running past us, shouting orders and responding to the constant crackle of static emitting from their radios.

“What is going on?” I hissed to Drew as he pulled us quickly and determinedly towards the exit.

 “I’ve got no idea.” He replied, checking over his shoulder as the sound of footsteps beared down on us. “But we need to get out of here now.”

All of a sudden in front of us Cindy and Holly stopped short, with Caleb holding up not far behind them. Turning around to look at us, their faces drained of colour, they gestured frantically for us to break off and go to the right. Looking past them, I took in the flock of guards standing over the staircase and blocking anyone from moving down into the main foyer and exit of the building.

Drew pulled me to the right, and headed over towards the large, bay windows that lined the hallway. “Stay here.” He ordered, sitting me down and turning away. Cindy and Holly came over and flopped down next to me, their eyes wide and bodies shaking as they took in the scene before them. My eyes, however, remained trained on Drew as he moved towards the toilet.

The attack came out of nowhere. I flew to my feet and strangled my scream as Drew’s head snapped back against the doorframe. The guard who threw the first punch stood poised for action, and I cringed as Drew removed something from his belt and went on the offensive. The guard never stood a chance as Drew’s punch threw him against the wall and his arm hooked his neck in a strangle hold. My eyes bulged as I watched the first spurt of blood fly from the guards stomach as Drew’s hand pulled back again and again, stabbing the guard until he fell at his feet motionless.

Bile rose in my throat as I watch Drew drop the knife at his feet and run his bloodied hands through his hair in disbelief. Running for the female toilet next to him, I threw up the seat up and heaved until my stomach was empty, then retched some more.

Falling back against the wall, I closed my eyes and savoured the harsh chill that penetrated my pores from the ceramic tiles on the wall. Surely none of this is real. It had to all be a dream. Drawing myself shakily to me feet, I moved over to the sink and splashed cold water on my face again and again, revelling in the shock it gave my system. Gripping the edge of the sink, I stared at the girl looking back at me. My brown hair, so neatly styled in a ponytail this morning, stuck out and flew crazily around my face. My mousy brown eyes glowed with fear, adrenaline and instinct making them seem almost a luminescent green. My cheeks were streaked with black runs of forgotten mascara; making it look like I had put on some form of bad tribal war paint. Sighing, I smoothed my hair down and splashed my face one more time in an attempt to make myself look slightly more human before I turned and walked back out into the hall.

Amazed, I took in the people who now lined the top of the hall, the people who were clumped below in the foyer and the guards who stood stationed attentively every few meters. Meeting my friends’ eyes, I read their relief that I was ok and saw the fear etched firmly across all their features. Moving over to stand with them, I looked down as the announcer starts his spiel.

 “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here today.” Someone behind me snorted and mumbled, “Like we had a choice.”

“These people down here have volunteered themselves as an example to you all. As you may or may not be aware, the people in the south islands of the pacific have been all but eradicated over recent days due to the modern day plague that has swept through their populations. Unfortunately, this plague has also hit us here on the East Coast of Australia.” Pausing for dramatic effect, the announcer looked around the room, his stare seeming to penetrate each and every one of us to our core.

“If you’ve been listening to the news, you will be aware that this plague leaves no survivors. In fact, thanks to these people standing down here with me, you’ve all now been exposed and infected.”

Worried murmurs, desperate shrieks and unrestrained sobbing filled the room as people frantically tried to escape. Ignoring it all, I focused on the announcer. This had to be some kind of joke.

“The guards will collect you all now.” He said, raising his voice to be heard over the din. “We can’t let this spread any further.” With that, the first shot rang through the room as the first victim was taken down. I felt the bile rise in my stomach again as Cindy and Drew tried to pull me away.

“Eva, we have to get out of here NOW.” Cindy said, her eyes wide and frightened. 

“No.” I said softly. “I’m really sorry, guys. But we can’t leave.”

“What are you talking about?” Holly shrieked, looking at me like I’d gone mad.

“Guards!” I called out, motioning over the group standing closest to us. “These people are ready to be taken too.”

“What!?!” Cindy screamed as a guard grabbed her arm and started pulling her away.

“What the hell is going on Eva?” Drew yelled as three guards attacked him and fought to get him under control.

Sighing, I reached over and accepted my gun and radio from another guard. “Mr Fitz was a little strange this morning, wasn’t he?” I mused.

“What!?!” They all gaped at me.

“I’m so sorry, guys. I’ll always remember you.” I said, trying to hold back the tears that pooled at the corners of my eyes as I turned and walked away, blocking out their desperate screams and sobs for their life.

Looking towards the stairs, I saw Mr Fitz staring up at me. Winking, at me, he turned and walked away. Sighing, I rubbed my arm where he’d jabbed me with the antidote halfway through class today. I did what I had to do survive. I just hoped it wasn’t for nothing.

 

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Time Stands Still

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The tram hasn’t even rolled to a complete stop before I leap out the door onto the asphalt; squealing as it burns through the soles of my thin, dainty sandals in its quest to slowly release the scorching heat of the sun. The lights, sounds and smells of the city assault my senses and I fling my arms out, raise my face to the sky and twirl in a circle letting the place, once again, accost me; overwhelm me; take me. As my skirt flies out around me, I breathe in deeply smelling the sweet scent of jasmine and roses on the breeze mixed with the putrid odour of manure caked into the road. Laughing, I lower my arms and smooth my skirt, taking in the sights and sounds of the French Quarter once again. People jostle past me, chattering loudly and aimlessly as they go about their business. No one minds the quiet girl standing alone in the middle of the street laughing and rejoicing alone. That doesn’t bother me – I’m just so happy to be back in New Orleans once again.

The blast of a horn startles me from my trance, reminding me that I’m standing in the middle of a road. Hurrying to the footpath, I try to gather my thoughts, taking in the unfamiliar shop fronts and buildings with new eyes. Where am I anyway? I muse to myself, feeling the familiar panic starting to rise in my chest. People continue to pass me by; their shoulders brushing against me, their eyes averted as they hurry along. Reaching out, I try and grab some attention, hoping someone will tell me where I am. One by one they shrug me off, avoiding meeting my desperate gaze or responding to my pleading tone. My gaze darts furtively around, seeking a familiar landmark to no avail.

Sweeping the streetscape I take in the old, faded buildings around me; their rickety balconies littered with people enjoying the warm night air. The streets are full of people – businessmen and women, children, families, tourists – all chattering away and ignoring my frantic search. The streetlights have turned on in the increasingly encroaching darkness of night; their small glass panels emitting a weak, warm glow that gets lost in the bright spotlights of the restaurants, voodoo shops and chic boutiques that line the road. All except one… My attention focuses on one streetlight in particular whose light is luminous, brilliant and enticing. Making an unconscious decision, my feet begin to move towards the light; my eyes fixated on what it reveals

She sits there, hunched over. The bright light does nothing to hide the harsh lines of age that weather her face. Her body is encased in a dark aubergine shawl; it’s girth hiding away any form or feature of the human body that lies beneath it. But none of that is particularly shocking. What captivates me is her eyes – a bright, piercing blue that seemed to scorch right through me. Hypnotised by her gaze I move slowly forward, unable to break the stare, unable to look away. She seems to beckon me; call to me. I move through the crowd silently and seamlessly; their bodies parting naturally to allow me through.

As I get closer and closer to her I start to make out more features – the dark smattering of freckles that adorn her nose, the small hunchback that stoops her posture, the aged assortment of rings and jewellery that embellish her hands, wrists and neck. Slowly, she reaches her gnarled hand out to me. Without a question I take it; surprised at the softness of her old, wrinkled, calloused hands. Turning on her heel, she starts to pull me along behind her.

I know I should break away; I know this is wrong. I’m so far from home in a place I’ve only been once before. But I can’t seem to break away. It’s as if she’s held me under some sort of spell. Ducking through an alleyway, she drags me under an old, faded fascia and inside a bleak, dusty room.

“I will give you tonight to dance.” She says softly, her heavily accented voice croaky with age. “Do not waste it.” With that, she was gone.

Confused, I look around me. Where had I let her take me? What in the world was I thinking? The room looked like it had been shut up for eons – the furniture was draped in dusty white sheets; the heavy drapes faded and crusted with age and neglect. A large candle provided a soft glow to my surroundings as it flickered and flared as the dust I stirred up reached its tip. Despite my apprehension, I couldn’t help wondering what had happened here to erode such beauty. Beside the candle lay a dress bag. As I unzipped it, I gasped in amazement as the red, silky layers of the dress emerged. It fell to the ground; its bodice laced tightly at the back and embodied with tiny little flowers and gems that looked suspiciously like diamonds. As I struggled into it, I reached down to the large box that lay on the table beside the bag, tying the red, feathered mask tightly behind my head.

Time to go.

The skirt swished softly through my legs, its soft folds melting into my skin and becoming a part of me. I felt beautiful, mysterious and wise all at once. I felt like I was a part of this place. Walking out of the alley back into the street I was amazed at the transformation. No longer did families, tourists, locals traverse the street. Now the road was filled with masked suitors and belles. The tinkling laughter of the women floated on the warm evening breeze and became one with the deep, throbbing timbre of the men. The clink of champagne glasses resounded through the air and accentuated the soft, dulcet tones of the jazz music being played from a makeshift stage.

“May I have this dance?” The voice cut through my consciousness, it’s deep tenor sending thrills down my spine.

“Of course.” I replied, breathlessly, placing my hand in his and letting me lead me into the middle of the road. Looking up into his face, I took in the deep, chocolate brown eyes behind his black mask. His jaw was strong and chiselled, yet too be etched with the lines of age. I furrowed my brow in confusion. I almost felt as if I knew this handsome stranger.

“Welcome home.” He whispered as he whisked me away into a waltz.

Looking around, I realised I was home. The little old lady stood on the sidewalk and smiled at me, nodding as she watched the realisation dawn on my face.

I was never leaving here. This had been the last night of my life 98 years ago. And I was doomed to repeat it again and again; never moving on.

Sighing, I relaxed into my partner. At least I’d forget in the morning and experience the fun and excitement anew.

Photo Credit: http://desirablenightmare.deviantart.com/art/Masquerade-73296194

Escaping the Onslaught

Plonking my suitcases down beside me I turned to survey the landscape before me – and what a landscape it was! Rolling hills frolicked with blossoming flowers and trees everywhere my gaze travelled. Right in the centre of it all stood an elegant, careful crafted cedar house complete with floor to ceiling windows and the family guard dog stationed out the front. Not that they needed pooch when the screech of my sister ripped through the air as she caught sight of me.

“AHHHHHHH!” Amy screamed as she flew up the driveway and launched her self into my arms. Gasping for breath as her hug squished the air from my lungs, I laughed and hugged her back just as tightly.

“It is so so so so so good to see you” She murmured into my shoulder and she gripped me close to her.

“I know I said back, smiling and relishing the feeling of her physical body in my arms once again. “I can’t believe you moved all the way to America and got married and didn’t invite me!” I exclaimed breaking the hug. “I mean, I’m happy for you and all and this place is just – holy shit it looks incredible. But I was always meant to be there Ames!” Catching myself before I went any further I mentally reprimanded myself. Over and over again I’d gone through it – do. not. guilt. Amy. for. getting. married. without. me. So what do I do? I start guilting her. Watching her face fall I kicked myself again.

“Sorry Ames, I’m so happy for you. I just really miss you is all” I apologised. A soft, watery smile spread across her face.

“Me too.” She replied.

Making our way into her magnificent house I couldn’t help but marvel at her life now. She truly had it all.

“And this is my handsome, sexy, hunk of love husband Brian” she introduced me. Snapping my head back around I realised that whilst I’d been daydreaming and taking in my surroundings Brian had come to meet us in the front foyer.

“Lovely to meet you Brian.” I smiled. And it truly was I thought to myself as I watched them smile blissfully at each other.

After a thorough tour of the house and coffee and cookies with Amy and Brian I finally retreated to the guest room to unwind after my 17-hour flight from Australia. Resting my head back against the fluffy pillow, I closed my eyes and started to drift off into a light sleep.

BANG.

Startling awake I shot up out of the bed to my feet. What in the world was that? I wondered, standing still and listening out to see if there was anymore noise to come.

“You stupid, lying bitch!” Brian screamed words reverberated through the house, and my blood went cold as I started to move out and give him a piece of my mind. How dare he talk to my sister like that!

Making my way down the stairs to the first floor, I could clearly make out Amy and Brian standing in the kitchen. Brian’s tall and stocky figure loomed over Amy menacingly, whilst she cowered against the sink and cupboards. I hesitated as I watched them for a moment. He wasn’t being violent, was it really my place to intrude? Then the first plate smashed. Followed by another and another as Brian lost his temper and started hurling the plates as through the were Frisbees at Amy.

Running into the kitchen I grabbed my screaming, crying sister who was lying on the floor and hurled her to her feet. Turning back to Brian to give him a piece of my mind I recoiled. His eyes were bloodshot and filled with passionate hate and anger. HE was scary – really scary. He looked out of control.

Without another word, I grabbed Amy’s arm and yanked her out of the kitchen away from Brian. We ran out the front door, down the carefully and perfectly paved driveway out to the main road, not stopping until we reached the town centre.

“Are you ok?” I finally asked Amy, gasping for breath after our marathon run.

“I – I think so.” She hiccuped, tears still streaming down her face in torrents. “I’ve never ever seen him like that.” She said, “it was like he was possessed. That’s not Brian, he’d never even hurt a fly!”

Gritting my teeth I started to look around me for a place we could stay and get cleaned up. Obviously there was a lot Amy didn’t know about Brian, but right here and now probably wasn’t the place to get into that.

“Let’s just find somewhere I stay and –“ my sentence was cut short as I was tackled to the ground, the air whooshing out my lungs for the second time that day as my shoulder hit the asphalt hard. Dazed, I tried to turn around and see who had taken me down and found myself staring into a set of brown, bloodshot eyes tainted with the same evil Brian’s had been. In fact, they looked identical. And this guy wasn’t going to stop, he was going to kill me.

Ignoring Amy’s screams and pleas for help, I started groping the ground around me searching for something – anything – to help me get away from this guy. Eventually my fingers brushed across something cold and hard that had fallen from the crazy mans pocket when he had taken me down and I stretched my fingers until they could firmly grip the object.

Swinging my arm up with all the force I could muster whilst pinned underneath his seething bulk I managed to make contact with his cheek, realising all too late that my mystery weapon was a knife. Blood dripped onto my face and I managed to use the distraction to my advantage and scramble away as he roared in pain. Looking around, I noticed that this wasn’t the only instance of violence of the street. Everywhere people were fighting. There were bodies littering the streets of people who had gone down, others were jumping on cars, ripping their doors off and pummelling the innocent victims inside.

Amy grabbed my hand as I backed up towards her. “We’ve gotta get out of here.” I said firmly to her, not taking my eyes off the horror unfolding in front of me for a second.

Moving towards the docks, we managed to stay undetected. I don’t know if people were past paying attention or they were all too busy fighting it out with each other, but we were able to get away. Jumping into a small tin boat, we fired up the motor and pushed away from the dock. Droplets of water splashed up and attacked our faces as we flew down the channel towards the open waters. The wind whipped past us, taking away the scenes of devastation, horror and violence. We were getting away from whatever epidemic was sweeping the town. How far it had travelled we didn’t know. We had no plan, nowhere to go. But at least we were together.

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Photo credit: http://www.swanseabay4watersports.com/swansea-bay-mumbles/watersports-operators-in-swansea-bay-mumbles/historic-olga-to-set-sail-again-this-summer/

Happy Mothers Day to the most wonderful, inspiring woman I know

ImageMother’s Day is a time to celebrate the wonderful women in our lives who gave us life, love and laughter. So rather than retell my dream from last night today I thought I’d take the opportunity to send out a tribute to my mum; the best mum I could have ever asked for.

As a child, I think we all have this innocent, unwavering belief that our parents are the best parents in the world. It seems obvious to our developing brains that these people who provide us with unconditional love, warmth, food and a home are the most amazing people in the world. Lucky for me, I never lost that view. I still think my parents are the most amazing people in the world.

As a child, my Mum was my best friend. Some of my best childhood memories are from all those times we spent together and all the lessons in life she imparted to me. She taught me how to cook – we would waste away days concocting cakes, slices and cupcakes together. The most important thing she taught me about cooking though would have to be the beauty of licking the beaters and the bowl – a tradition I still engage with now as an adult! My mum also taught me how to sew – every rainy Sunday she would pull out her sewing machine and set me up with a machine designed for kids. Whilst she spent time mending clothes, curtains and odds and ends, I spent time carefully following her actions to sew my few bits of paper together. As I grew older and was allowed to move on from my toy machine to the real thing, she taught me how to thread the needle, change the settings and sew together anything that needed fixing – an invaluable skill I have thanked her for repeatedly when things need altering and mending again and again over time.

Besides the practical things in life, my mum taught me to share and be kind to others. My first real childhood friend spent a lot of time at my house and vice versa, and Mum taught me the value of letting her play with the best toys just for a little while because she was the guest. I’d get them back after a few hours when she left and making our guests happy and content was an important part of making us happy and content. As a four year old, I have to admit I was not very happy about handing over my favourite Barbie doll or my best pair of fairy wings… But I did it anyway. And as much as I wouldn’t have admitted it back then, it was a very valuable skill to have learnt and I’m so glad I had someone there to teach it to me.

My mum taught me how to love. She showed me the value of loving and cherishing others for who they are, not where they stand or what they do – just for them. As I’ve gone through life, this lesson has been more than valuable to me. Throughout the different stages of my life I’ve seen people discriminate against others for their status, gender, disability, socio-economic status, race; really anything they can pick on; and I’ve always prided myself and cherished the lessons my mother taught me around treating everyone equally. I especially recall how proud I was one day in kindergarten when my best friend was dragged away from me in morning assembly one day (no small thing I assure you – standing alone after this was life social suicide). Rather than follow like a sheep and subject myself to ridicule, I did what my Mum would have wanted me to do – I approached the girl in line who was always picked on and teased for her weight and race (5 years olds can be so cruel I tell you) and I made friends with her. There were so many other people in that line I could have chosen to stand with, but it was the wisdom of my mother than led me to embrace those who are excluded or on the perimeter and show them that someone cares. It is something I have always carried with me and tried to do throughout school and the workplaces I have been in. I can honestly say though, that I would not be the person I am today without her input into my social development and the way she taught me to love and accept people for who they are.

As I grew older, I became a rebellious teenager in many ways (because that’s just the thing to do these days apparently). I went though a few mental health issues, and am aware I scared the crap out of her a few times when things got really bleak for me. Without her by my side through it all though, I don’t know where I would be today. She was my rock – and still is my rock – and it was because of her that I got through things. I can’t even describe how important she is to me, except to say that without her I don’t know if I would be here today, or if I would be the person I am today.

As an adult, I can look back on all the fond memories I have of my Mum. We laughed and sang our way through 80s and 90s pop music into hairbrushes as we danced around the kitchen working up a sweat many, many times. We cried together over broken hearts, wiping away each others tears and cuddling throughout the night in bed when needed. We devoured cookie dough and chai lattes as we perused our favourite tv show, Charmed, every week together. We still like to engage in this tradition when we can as we catch up on Revenge and The Vampire Diaries – though we’ve added Garlic Prawns to the menu and a run the next day to work it all off!!! We shared books, commiserated over great book hangovers (and real alcohol hangovers), scorned the books we didn’t like, and shared in the excitement of Sookie Stackhouse’s experiences together. Now that we’re a similar shape and size, we share clothes, ideas, dreams and travel experiences together. I never needed a sister or a best friend – I always had it in my mother, and I always will.

Another amazing woman in my life that I feel I also need to say a few words about is my Aunty. This woman is one of the single strongest women I know, and has taught me so much about the hard times in life and how to get through. As a child, she was always around and I spent quite a lot of time with her. She was forever fixing my hair into ponytails and plaits, but I always felt so jealous I couldn’t have her long hair that trailed down to her waist. My cousin was a few years younger than me, and born with severe cerebral palsy. I got to spend a lot time with her and my Aunty, and was introduced to the not so nice side of life very early on. I would go with them most weeks to the Spastic Centre and play with the kids there. I would spend my days laying next to my cousin and help my Aunty feed and care for her when I could. And I grew up with an attitude of respect and reverence for both people with a disability and those who look after them. When we lost my cousin at the age of 13, I watched her crumble and saw her spirit crushed. But she recovered – and seeing someone come back from that had to be the single more inspiring thing I have seen in my life. She has faced so much heartache, been through so much and she is still so strong and wise. She now works in the disability industry, putting her skills to work and improving others quality of life. She has been there for me when I need her at any time of the day or night, and is such an amazing woman. Just like my mother, she has held me and consoled me when I needed it. Laughed and enjoyed the good things in life with me. I just want to let her know how amazing I truly think she is, and how much I love and value her in my life.

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So, to sum this all up, I just wanted to take the opportunity today to say thank you to the most amazing, strong, beautiful and wonderful woman I know. You’re my mother, my best friend, my confidant and my idol. I love you more than anything Mum, and the lessons you’ve taught me have made me into the strong, steadfast, successful woman I am today. I wouldn’t be where I am without you and your belief in me no matter what path I choose (and there’s been a few) has been unwavering and so important and cherished to me. So thank you for putting up with all my crap, getting me through all the bad times and celebrating with me through the good. I look forward to the next stage in our lives, and I can’t wait for my children to meet you one day and to benefit from your loving and wonderful nature as I have throughout life.

I love you so much Mum, thank you xxxx

 

Lest We Forget

Two and a half years ago I lost my grandfather. He was a man of the 1940s- a WWII veteran always full of stories, spirit and love. But there were some things he always held close to him regarding the war – the darker side – which he never really disclosed to any of us. But we knew it was there.

This mornings dawn service in commemoration of Australian soldiers who give their lives for the freedom of our country brought back a lot of memories for me about Gramps. I cried as I watched the servicemen march down the street towards the memorial, remembering the many times I had done so holding his hand as a child. I cried for the lives lost at Gallipoli, on the Western Front, on the battle grounds of Europe, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, East Timor and so many other spots in the world where our brave war heroes fought and continue to fight for our freedom and lives. And I cried for the way my community draws together every year to commemorate and honour these heroic men and women of times past and present. It’s wonderful to see such spirit is not only still alive, but growing every day.

So in memory of my wonderful grandfather; a Stoker in the Royal Australian Navy; I wanted to share this piece I wrote. It was something I wrote up based on a photograph taken a year before we lost Gramps of my brother and I with our grandparents. Originally I started it for a creative assessment for university, and ended up putting it into a book of stories, photos and cherished memories for my grandmother who is still with us.

So Gramps, this one is for you today.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

Lest We Forget xxx

BANG. What in the world was that? I wondered looking around. Laughter emitted from a group of people over by the deck, but the sound had already sent me deep into the recess of memories. Even 60 years on I can still recall things like they were yesterday…

 

The incessant pop of gunshots reign around me as I crouch on the sea-soaked deck next to my comrades. The adrenaline pumps wildly through my system, I feel as though my heart is about to burst out of my chest it’s beating so hard. My clothes are stuck to me from the mixture of sweat and seawater that soaks my navy uniform.

 

It’s getting hard to protect myself from the flying chips of wood, scraps of metal and flecks of blood that adorn the air with every bullet fired at us. I just want to, no, need to stay alive. Crouching behind a barrier, I heave and struggle for one breath to make fill my lungs. I close my eyes to try and calm myself in the midst of battle and disarray, falling into a lulled sense of respite as my shocked senses provide both silence and darkness. The most wonderful image swims before me, a woman of tremendous beauty, my own personal radiating beacon of hope… She is what matters, she is why I need to make it through this. She is the reason I will continue to fight with everything I have in me until she is once again protected and held tightly in my arms when I am finally home.

 

But I am home. I am with her. And our amazing children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. They make me happier than I’ve ever felt in my life. I just wish they could erase the horrible memories, take away the night terrors, erase the stain that has tainted my life. But all I can do is smile and hide the pain. One day it will be erased.

 

A memory lasts a lifetime. But isn’t that the purpose of a photo, to preserve a memory? Beneath the smiles, beneath the lines of age, wisdom and experience lurks many memories no photograph would wish to capture and immortalise.

 

 

If I’d just had more time I could have figured it out. The tank was the key- its bulk hammering across the field, almost majestic as it raised to shoot. It was perfect, I had him lined up through the porthole, I was finally going to have my revenge. It makes my heart beat faster even now to imagine the arch of blood splatter that comes from the perfect hit, the cry of pain, the finality of death. For at least a moment until he was resurrected.

 

Come on everybody, get the hell out of my house so I can get back to my game!

 

Some memories cannot be captured, yet they resonate so wholly and all encompassing throughout a life. The most gruesome, horrible and gut wrenching ones however are more generally absent from the family album of precious memories; they fail to pervade the memories of others. Innocence sometimes, can be a blessing. But isn’t that the essence of this photo – to preserve a memory of familial bliss untainted by the throes of reality and life?

 

The silk swished against my legs softly with every step I took, the lace around my bosom itched like crazy though I dared not scratch it for fear of ruining the perfect image my mother had helped me create of myself. Nervously I fluffed my hair and adjusted my veil. My father startled me from my thoughts as he gently took my arm, smiled down at me with such love and affection crinkling his weary eyes. It was time to finally marry the man of my dreams, my war hero, the love of my life.

 

A beautiful memory, a wonderful day. How lucky I am to still have him here, how wonderful it is to see his eyes crinkle and smile the same way it did 65 years ago.  How lucky am I right now to have my whole family around me, it overwhelms me almost to tears to see how incredible my children, my grandchildren have turned out. No photograph anyone could ever take could ever capture the perfect essence of this moment right now, of the overwhelming joy and nostalgia flooding my senses right now.

 

Sometimes a photo can convey a memory worth keeping and holding onto.

 

I can’t contain it, I can’t believe how happy I am right now, am positively jumping out of my skin, cannot wipe this stupid grin off my face! It has been so long since my grandparents were here, so long since I’ve even seen them, especially Gramps. How wonderful it is to see him smiling, unadorned with IV’s, tubes, monitors, machines I don’t even think I want to attempt to understand. He looks the way I’ve always remembered him- happy. I’m a bit worried about Grammy though, what a fake smile, I worry so much about her with Gramps being so sick lately. My family really is so important to me. I couldn’t stand it if anything happens to either of them. Ever. I wish this moment would last forever, a moment of pure and utter bliss.

 

And it has- framed on my wall in loving memory of a wonderful grandfather.

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The journey so far…

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You could say I live in a dream world. To be honest, you could say we all live in some dream world at some stage throughout the day. And I love it. To me, there is nothing better than getting lost in the throes of a passionate love affair over a hot cup of coffee; or letting my imagination take me to the much revered platform at the Olympics as I win my first, and most definitely not last, gold medal as I huff and puff through my afternoon run. I find nothing more satisfying than considering exactly how much more special life would be if I were out living the elusive, sparkling life of a vampire; or experiencing the exhilarating the freedom of running through undergrowth, trees and jungles surrounded by the beauty of nature as a young, tribal woman; or better yet a sleek, powerful jungle cat. Sometimes the darker side of me shows through, and the redness of anger taints my dreams with a spiteful twist; revenge never tasted so sweet over a tub of chocolate ice cream. I think my favourite dream, however, would have to be those where I am ensconced in my large castle in the sky in my pink fluffy, marshmallow princess dress. My prince charming; the most dashing, handsome and suave man on the whole earth courts me from beneath my high perch in my window seat and I blissfully play the damsel in distress as I wait for all the wonders of the world to simply fall into my lap. Ahh life is sweet in my dreams.

Yes, I get a little carried away with my dreams from time to time. But none more than in the night-time when my unconscious really lets loose and starts to live a little. I wake up each and every day filled with excitement from the night before. Never in my life have I experienced such an adrenaline fueled high from winning zombie battles. Never before have I held so much power in my hands as when I lure men to their deaths in the dark sea – my tail hidden beneath the murky waters of the ocean but my voice; so course in real life; transformed into a dainty and powerful entity that men simply cannot resist. I get to stand on the world stage and receive my Nobel Prize after saving the world from hunger and restored world peace to all our peoples. I mean, who wouldn’t want to get lost in this dream world? And to top it off – most nights, if I’m lucky, I get to finish off my gallivanting and adventures with a romp and stomp with Mr Right (or Mr Right Now as the case may be).

There’s no doubt about it – my imagination runs wild when I leave the constraints of consciousness behind. And I love it. A friend of mine said I should start writing it all down, sharing it with people so they too can have a spark of ludicrousness, laughter or even just rueful skepticism in their day. So I’m giving it a go. Writing and sharing my wonderful, fantastical and slightly worrying dreams with the world. Enjoy!

Photo credit: Beyond Impression http://beyondimpression.deviantart.com/art/Alice-In-No-Man-s-Land-305607775