Devil’s Spawn

Image

 

Gasping for breath, I stopped and leaned against the wall. Closing my eyes I started to sink back, imagining how nice it would be just to stop and sleep right here and now against this hard, cosy wall. 

“WAHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!”

The piercing wail of the baby threw me back down to earth with a thud. I mentally ticked off what I needed to do to get the rascals I was babysitting into order so I could stop running for just 5 minutes. Change the baby’s nappy. Change the 2 year olds nappy. Give the 2 and 4 year old food laced with sedatives – no, I corrected  myself, no sedatives, no sugar. Just wholesome warm milk and sleep inspiring foods. Put the baby to bed, chase the 2 year old around the house in some twisted ‘game’ she came up with before putting her to bed. Put the 4 year old to bed way too late after the 2 year olds shenanigans. Fall down and die.

Sighing, I reluctantly pushed myself off the wall and headed back into the nursery. No time to waste, time is money and sanity people! Smiling ruefully, I walked back through the open doorway and headed over to pick up little Jamie from his cot. Screaming his lungs out, I managed to get him onto the change table where he proceeded to twist and squirm and almost roll off the table were it not for my firm hand across his abdomen. Sighing, I attempted to get the nappy off with no success. He was moving too much for it to even be possible. I didn’t know what to do, the smell coming from him was horrendous, and I couldn’t put him to bed in a wet nappy for his parents to come home to. I’d never work again!

The delighted shrieks of the other two children floated through the air to my ears. I stiffened. Delighted shrieks are never good with those two rugrats, I thought worriedly. Still holding Jamie, I almost passed out in relief as the imposing, dark figure of my best friend Luke darkened the doorway.

“Oh thank god” I breathed. “You don’t know how much I need your help right now!” I cried.

Laughing, he made his way over to me and took Jamie in his arms who, miraculously, stopped crying. “I’ll take care of this one if you want to get the other two ready for bed?” He asked, chuckling at the horrified expression that crossed my features. “I’ll be there in a moment, to help” he added.

* * *

Two hours, three nappies, four toilet trips and five glasses of water later Luke and I finally collapsed onto the couch in exhaustion. Looking over at him, I saw a smear of mashed potato from dinnertime still adorning his brow, the lines of fatigue firmly etched across his face. Laughing, I reached across to wipe the potato away, wondering ruefully what sight of beauty I portrayed at the moment.

Gently I ran my thumb across his forehand and into his hairline. I’d never noticed before how soft his skin was. He turned his head to look at me, his face all of a sudden so close to mine. I felt my stomach flutter and the breath whoosh out of my body and I looked into his eyes and felt his nearness to me. This was a strange feeling, it was Luke. Just Luke. I’d never felt this way about him before. I slowly lowered my hand from his forehead, but before I could place it back in my lap he grabbed it in his rough, large hand, softly holding on and stroking the inside of my palm. My breathing stilled as his head moved slowly towards mine, his eyes darkening with lust. As his lips met mine, my stomach gave birth to a herd of stampeding cattle. I felt the softness of his lips against mine as he pressed small kisses to my mouth at first, slowly intensifying the pressure as my body responded. As the kisses became more intense and hungry I marveled at how amazing this felt. All along it had been right here in front of me. 

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.

Image

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

 

Marry her or marry me, I’m the one that loves you baby can’t you see?

Image

The flowers were arranged. The guests were assembled. The grass was greener than green, the sky bluer than blue. The band struck up a perfect slow, jazzy tune as people shuffled down the vibrant red-carpeted aisle to their seats. Women giggled as they clung to their partners to prevent their heels from sinking into the soft dirt and toppling them head over heels into the perfectly arranged, white wooden seats. The Minister stood beneath the perfect arch adorned with small white roses re-reading the script in front of him; his figure ensconced in a perfect halo of light from the afternoon sunshine through the archway. Guests chattered between themselves, the soft laughter of women floating on the light breeze and mingling with the bright chirp of birds in the distance.

Oohs and ahhs filled the air as the groom and groomsmen made their way to the front of the group. Their black suits and freshly combed hair made them look suave and handsome, and small titters from the women in the audience debated which man was single and looking for some action tonight.

I quietly sat and studied the groom. He looked dashing in his suit. He always did. His hair was freshly cut to the perfect length, and he was biting his lip in a way I intimately knew meant he was nervous. I knew I should feel happy for him; today was his big day. But I couldn’t as I remembered, once again, that even though his intentions were honourable he could never marry me because he would always be married to her. He shot me a look of apology and sympathy, before turning his attention back to the aisle as the first of the bridesmaids approached. Unable to stomach what was about to come, I thanked god I had chosen one of the seats on the edge of the row as I slipped out and covertly and quietly slipped away from the group.

Making my way towards the house, I couldn’t stop the tears that started streaming down my face. This was meant to be my day. My goddamn perfect day. And she was stealing it all from me. I would never get married now, I would always have him but I would never really have him. And she didn’t love him. This was all just to appease their parents. A farce that was ruining my life.

Making my way inside, I blindly stumbled through the hallways until I reached his room where I had stored my bag and belongings. Sobbing quietly, I began to gather my stuff together to leave. I just couldn’t do this. Hearing footsteps in the hall I froze. I didn’t want anyone to find me like this. I didn’t want their pity – or worse – their scorn for coming between two people who didn’t want to be together.

A soft knock echoed through the room as the door opened slowly. A large figure filled the doorway, and I found myself looking into the kindly face of his father.

“Are you ok?” He asked, coming over and pulling me into a gentle hug.

Sniffling into his jacket, I replied. “I don’t think so. I’m sorry, but I have to leave. I can’t be here for this – I can’t do it anymore.” 

Pulling me back, he pressed a large wad of money into my hand. “I know,” he said, smiling softly at me, “and I know how wrong this is. That’s why I want you to take this money and run – both of you run – and be together. Be happy.”

Startled, I started at the money in my hand. “But-but- he’s still out there.” I replied sadly. “He doesn’t want me. This.”

“That’s where you’re wrong” came a voice from behind me. “We have to leave now, before they realise what’s happened.” He came over quickly and grabbed my hand as we walked onto the balcony. “After you.” He said, helping me climb over the side of the ledge and grab a hold of the vine scaffold to climb down.

In shock, I started making my way down, wincing as my heeled feet slipped and I almost lost my grip. Reaching the ground, I gasped in shock as he grabbed me and pulled me into a passionate kiss.

“I love you” he said, looking deep into my eyes. “I will never leave you.”

Smiling and crying in happiness, I kissed him back. Maybe I would get my perfect wedding after all one day.

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.

Image

What Goldilocks Taught Me

Image

So the past few weeks have been jam packed with work, study, exercise and eating with precious seconds available for rest, relaxation and sleep. It’s been exhausting to say the least and I am more than ready for a bit of a break! So when I hit the hay last night and got swept away on a relaxing weekend away to a cabin in the woods with some close friends I was overjoyed and enthusiastic to keep sleeping and dreaming for the rest of the year.

Perhaps I watched way too much Friends last night as I patiently waited for dinner to cook, or maybe I just have a fascination with Matthew Perry. Regardless, when I entered the secret spot in my head reserved for the kooky and wonderful, it turns out my good mate Matt had built a cabin high up in the trees and had sent me a letter inviting my friends and I to stay for the weekend. And really, who can say no to Matthew Perry and an invitation like that!?!

So off we went.

The car trip seemed long and tedious as Cameron meandered the car around winding bends, up and down steep mountainsides and along the never-ending dusty roads stretching into the wilderness. I’d been exiled into the backseat by the ‘lovers’ and had spent most of the trip listening to their sickly cooing to each other. Ahh, the sweet mating game of little innocent pigeons. I wanted to bang my head against a brick wall within the first five minutes of it – are we honestly all that infuriatingly annoying when in love? Listening to the soft giggle of Ellie’s voice for the umpteenth time as she leaned over and laid her head on Cam’s shoulder did me in. Five hours of this was long enough. I would never, ever, ever be that sickly in love again in front of people. Ever. Sighing, I leaned my head against the cold glass separating me from the icy dusk settling over the landscape. The chill from the window seeped into my head, numbing my thoughts and emotions. The orange blaze of the setting sun illuminated the trees around us; and the small ice crystals starting to harden with the encroachment of night glittered and shone like hidden, beautiful stars throughout the landscape. But it all just seemed flat without my Andy.

“I’m sorry Princess, but I’m just too busy to come this weekend” he’d told me. Too busy my ass. Matthew Perry invited us for gods’ sake; who turns down Matthew Perry? Or any famous person for that matter! Regardless, I was really upset he hadn’t been able to make it. Especially when dealing with the overt displays of affection from lovebirds one and two all afternoon.

“Rise and shine sleepyhead, we’re here!” Ellie called out in a singsong voice starling me from my daze. Lifting my head from against the foggy window, I looked around and realised night had fallen and I had, thankfully, managed to sleep through the last hour of our journey. Yawning, I opened the door and stretched my legs out, startling as the crisp, cold bite of winter nipped at my skin and turned my breath to mist.

“Shit, it’s cold out here,” I mumbled, still trying to wake up.

“Yeah, but lucky me, I’ve got the perfect snuggle buddy!” Ellie giggled, again, as she looked up at Cameron with adoring eyes.

“Yay…” I replied, turning away from yet another over the top display of love, lust and sexual desire and rolling my eyes. A whole weekend of lovely dovey PDA. Just what I needed.

I looked around for where we were meant to stay this weekend, and became entranced by the beauty of what lay in front of me. My eyes trailed along daintily draped fairy lights that wrapped around the centuries old trunks of the trees. There were ladders littering the landscape leading into the dense canopy of dark leaves; some were just bits of rope tied together and draped down; others were full on staircases carved into the trees and ascending into the heavens. The hazy glow of torches illuminated the path ahead of us, and small spotlights near each of the ladders and staircases held the names of the properties. I stood in shock taking in the absolute beauty of what lay before me. Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined I’d end up here.

“This way!” Ellie chirped as she grabbed my hand and pulled me along the path towards one of the carved staircases. As we ascended above the canopy I couldn’t help but stop and stare in shock. The beauty of the ground below had concealed an enormous structure of cabins in the treetops, linked together by small wooden bridges. There were hundreds of them as far as I could see, all lit by a soft yellow glow as they twinkled in the darkness of night. The most magnificent of them all lay in front of us though, and it was with awe and wonder that I began carefully making my way towards the large cabin fit for a princess. Never before had I seen something so inviting.

Entering the room, Ellie and Cameron made a beeline for one of the bedrooms. Looking around, I took in the warmth of the fireplace, the cosiness of the worn in brown suede lounge and recliners, and the bear skin rug draped across the floor. There was an aroma of apple and cinnamon in the air, and I looked around to see a freshly baked pie sitting in the middle of the dining table. This just kept getting better and better!

I slowly made my way towards the first closed door, ready to snuggle in for the night. Slowly swinging it open I shrieked in shock as I took in the two naked bodies moving frantically around the room. Flinging the door closed, I stepped back and moved on the next room.

Knocking gently this time, I eased the next door open, halting as it squealed a little on its hinges. Looking inside I could make out the shadow of a sleeping body sprawled across the large bed. Shutting that door, I turned around and walked back to the lounge room.

What a dud of a weekend this had turned out to be. No Andy, no Matthew Perry and nowhere to sleep. Sighing, I sat on the lounge and pulled my feet underneath me as I gazed into the depths of the fire.

Then came the knock at the door. Sighing, I got to my feet. No way someone else was taking my couch tonight! Opening the door I found myself staring into Andy’s eyes as he smiled and held out a single red rose to me.

“I’d never abandon you princess” he said, smiling.

Laughing I threw my arms around his neck and jumped up to wrap my legs around his waist kissing him passionately.

“I’m so glad you’re here,” I murmured. “I’ve missed you so much”. Kicking the door shut with his foot, Andy carried us down the long hallway I hadn’t dared to venture down after my other experiences into the end room. I’d finally found one that was just right. Adorned with a large four poster bed and scattered with rose petals, he lowered me gently down as he gazed into my eyes.

Goldilocks was right all along – the third time is always the charm!