This month’s parameters were:
Length: 250 words
and so the entries are…
Title: Rubber Dreams
Word Count: 210
Seasons change and so do I. Lately they’ve been turning into dust while my silvery lantern sits beside the mightier lights trying to not be so dim. It’s with an ill-will that I must land again on this infertile wish of being next to you. How hopeless can a test be to test the unwilling and the ones without a hope. Bearing these traits is such a sad affair. Most tend to avoid the ache inside their chest. My lantern, oh lantern, turn your light on once more and let me see your flicker. Let us be confined together, but free for one last moment. Rubber-like-dreams bring you back for secrets. Secrets leading to lies of fun and fancy. Just think, thoughts and sights and smells of our moments, and fresh moments bouncing back. Lantern you bring these don’t you? You don’t need to hide it from me. I’ll be okay. Just bring them back, please lantern. I know it must be you who is granting my wish, or will be soon. Please oh lantern, burn the rubber dreams, and let them be real. Wish upon wish, promise that’s what you will do, that it is what you are doing? My dear rubber dreams. My dear lantern. My dear you.
Title: Rubber Stamp
Word Count: 170
‘With all due respect Val, I don’t see what the fucking problem is.’
‘Well, that is the problem-‘
‘It’s just a rubber stamp-‘
‘If you think this is about a rubber stamp-‘
‘It’s political. Ever since that woman got murdered by that bloke on parole. I’m not a murderer Val.’
‘Not a murderer through luck, I believe. You are an armed robber-‘
‘It’s about your behaviour. It’s about you. And quite frankly you are giving me very little to show that you’ve changed.’
‘I’ve done enough time-‘
‘It’s not about time. It’s not about politics. It’s not about stamps. Can you please just tell me about your recent behaviour in here, and any plans you have for when you get out?’
‘Val, every few months we go through the same thing. You come in here, looking all pretty, smelling like sex and-‘
‘This interview’s over. Someone else will see you in six months time.’ Val stands and an officer opens the door for her as she moves out quickly.
Title: On the Road to Bessiebelle
Word Count: 250
They were heading to Bessiebelle for the final footy match of 1958. Taking the back road from Macarthur, Lionel was driving his old Chevy, with Jack in the passenger seat. Maisie and Shirl sat in the back. Tommo followed behind in his Ute – the kids were piled in the back.
Lionel and Jack were smoking and joking as they drove up over the hill. Below a narrow bridge stretched across the river. Lionel put the brakes on. Jack shifted in his seat, looked around and frowned.
‘I can smell rubber burning.’
Lionel looked across and saw smoke coming from the side of the car.
‘Jesus, that’s not good.’
The steering wheel starting shaking and a screeching sound vibrated throughout the car. Lionel gripped the steering wheel. Jack heard the thud as the front wheel dislodged from the car and flew down the hill in front of them. Maisie and Shirl let out a scream.
‘Hang on’, Lionel yelled and pushed his foot hard on the brakes, as the car skidded along the edge of the road, sparks flying as it headed for the bridge. Finally, with a shudder, it came to rest a few feet from the wooden palings. Shaken, they climbed out and looked around with relief.
Tommo pulled up and the kids ran down to the river. ‘The tyre’s sinking,’ Johnny yelled out.
Lionel took a drag of his cigarette, spat out a fleck of tobacco and looked at the bridge.
‘Struth that was a bloody close shave’.
Title: In The Attic
Word Count: 250
Robert clicked the latches of the weathered suitcase. Dust rose in sunlight from the attic window.
An only child, there had been silence surrounding his early life. His mother, dead twelve years, would never speak of it. Now Robert was clearing out his father’s house, having buried him just the week before. He didn’t remember him. He could have tried finding him, but he’d concluded long ago that his father must have been off enjoying life somewhere.
What discoveries Robert now made! His father had lived hermit-like—a recluse—after his mother had left over forty years before. Robert had felt indifference regarding his past, but after arriving at the sparsely furnished country house he was unnerved by a feeling of familiarity. He’d fingered the furniture. It looked as if nothing had changed in decades.
The suitcase contained a rolled up mauve quilt. Unwrapping the fabric he found an old rubber doll dressed in red. He lifted it. A black and white photograph was underneath. Robert stared at the image. His mother, very young—he recognised her; she held a boy dressed in a sailor suit; a man was beside her. Sitting on his knee—a small girl, laughing, holding the doll.
Then, a note in his mother’s handwriting.
I trusted you! Don’t let her out the gate, I said. How could you be so careless! I’ll never speak to you again! Don’t bother looking for us! I will never, never forgive you!
Robert’s breath caught in his throat.
Title: The House
Word Count: 249
Nobody lives in that house anymore. The window glass is cracked. Weeds waist-high overrun the garden. Slices of rubber that used to be tyres litter what used to be the road. The path unpaved, torn up by rain and other weathers, no one could drive it now.
A determined person might walk there, but nobody does.
No one wants to remember those things.
The earth has brought what the humans could not. Quiet. A silence broken only by sounds which are natural. Mice have the run of the place, birds nest in high beams. Time is working on the house, breaking it down. Yes, the posts which held up the washing line are still there, but not holding anything. Not the sun-bleached pillowslips or sheets, thin in patches of worn cotton. Not the woman’s dress, or the child’s overalls. The sky holds forever the memory of those garments. It will be the only place the memory lives, as time wears away.
He was taken by a truck into the town. His hands cuffed so he could do no more harm. Though all his harm was spent, for that day. It lived inside him, but where it came from or why it drove him, no one could say.
He sits or lies in a small room, time and it’s weather breaking him down. He will return to the ground too. The years will bring his bones to dust. And no one at all, not even the sky will remember him.
Title: The Young Gun’s Son
Word Count: 246
At his sweltering hot ground level station Noah builds up the tyres, layer upon layer. Sweating away profusely in the livid heat, pressing the raw tread of rubber against the solid steel drum as it moulds into place.
“Get out of the goddam way Noah!” howls Landon from his crane on the sweltering hot top level, his avastly abrupt pitch smothering the repetitious sounds of manual labour throughout the factory. The rookie jumps back like clockwork to the sound of his bosses warning, avoiding the avid cables from snapping cleanly across his face. A shocked Noah takes a deep breath, patting himself down with sweaty pulsating hands ensuring that he remains intact. ‘I’ve done it this time’ thinks Noah frantically ‘I can still taste that dam liquor too; he’ll smell it on me for sure… I ain’t losing my job… Sure as hell ain’t losing my boy!’ Noah turns his gaze scanning the upper cranes for the silhouette of his precariously aggressive yet makeshift hero of a boss; his eyes find Landon in the crane directly above. In a final attempt of sympathy for his callous tomfoolery, Noah speaks “That must be the second time you’ve saved me this week old man!” a mischievous yet grateful smirk splitting open across his young charred face. A furious Landon had already left his crane, rapidly descending down the fleet of steel steps bellowing “Grab your gear and get to the car park!” conveying himself sternly towards the exit.
Title: Rubber To The Road
Word Count: 167
The soles of her shoes pound the earth. The deep beats of the music pound in her ears. Rubber soles, pounding the crusty, gravel track as she throws her feet down.
She turns a corner into a suburban street on the outskirts of town.
To the beat of the music, her feet fall with a dull whump, over and over on the concrete footpath. Staring straight ahead and then dropping her head to the space just in front of her moving feet. Checking her gait, looking at the space again.
All external sound drowned out, she’s in the zone.
Rubber on the path to the beat of the music, challenging herself. Running past house after house, driveway after driveway.
She is engrossed.
Staring at the space, she doesn’t see the reversing car. Her body flies, her legs flay, her feet fall down. On to the road, her rubber-shod feet thump the ground. One final time.