Four entries this month. Please read, enjoy (and vote – if you are a member)
Entry #1 – KOALA BEAR?
Outside the window, a gum tree’s mighty boughs stretched to the moonlight filtering through scudding clouds. High in its branches, a grey shapelessness hung from the main trunk.
The young Asian girl on the ground tugged at her boyfriend’s arm and pointed upward. “Look Guang, a koala bear,” she exclaimed.
The young man beside her looked up, and replied, “No, I do not see it Chizu.”
“There, near the top; it’s hugging the tree.”
“Oh yes, I think I see it – yes, I can. But I can tell you that while it may well be a koala, it’s not a bear. Before we came to Australia, I read that they’re marsupials that nurture their young in their pouch. They’re not bears at all.”
“Well thanks, Guang; you’re such a smarty-pants; but what about the Drop Bears that the nice bus driver was telling us about? Are koala bears, sorry, koalas, the same as the Drop Bears he was talking about? You remember, he said if we look up into a gum tree at night when there’s a Drop Bear in the tree, it will fall onto us as soon as we stop looking up.”
“No, Chizu, I wasn’t there when he said anything like that. I can’t imagine anything only falling on you when you stop looking; that sounds weirdly stupid. Sounds like a ‘let’s trick the tourist’ kind of thing. It’s not real.”
They turned away, and he suddenly screamed as a grey, soft, flat, and empty-looking thing, like a toy bear with the stuffing pulled out of it, landed with a ‘plop’ on his back.
She too screamed as she pulled at it before they both ran, shrieking, to the safety of the hotel foyer.
The bus-driver chuckled as he walked away with his toy and string.
Entry #2 – Easter Joy
Outside the window, I see the woman struggling along the platform as the conductor blows his whistle. He waits for her; she clambers onto the train, trying to catch her breath, and charges down the aisle. Heavily laden shopping bags swing back and forth, whacking disgruntled passengers as she pushes on. The train is packed, and the seat beside me is empty.
She flops down heavily, squeezing herself into the small space. The strong smell of cigarettes permeates the air. Sweat pours down her face and she’s gasping for breath. I offer to hold her bags as she gets out her inhaler, takes a puff and lets out a deep breath.
The bags are filled with Easter eggs. I’d suggest she load them onto the racks above, but this seemed unwise.
Her phone rings, she grabs it, stabs her finger on the screen, and yells out, ‘whada want?’
She listens, and yells again, “I told yous I’d get the f*****g Easter eggs, I’ve got them. What?… I got them at the Salvo’s.’
The woman across the aisle catches my eye, and I quickly look away.
‘What,’ she screeches, ‘you’ve got what?’ Silence ensures for a second as her face flushes red and angry.
‘How’d you get them?’ She sits bolt upright in the seat, ‘I’ve told you never to take money from that f*****g creep, haven’t I? What did he want?’ She attempts a deep breath, reaching for the inhaler.
‘Why’d he give you money?’ she yells again as she takes a quick puff. ‘Don’t give me that bulls**t, he always wants something.’
She’s struggling to talk. ‘I’ve gotta go, yous just wait till I get home!’ and jabs at the phone.
‘Bloody kids’, she grumbles, snatching back the bags.
The train whizzes through Footscray as the phone rings again…..
Entry #3 – Hugs
Outside the window was were I first saw her smile. She was hanging there in the morning sunlight.
I don’t think I’d ever saw her smile before. I knew her daddy was beating up on her bad, but what could I do I was just a kid too. She didn’t look as bad as those kids on TV, but I wished she had someone to help her take a bath and clean her clothes. She never spoke not even when I gave her my snacks from school if I ever forgot to eat them. I’d give them to her when we got home. She would just take them and go inside.
We lived next door to each other on the first floor. She was already there when we moved in. I never heard any noises coming from their apartment. I sometimes wished I would so someone would do something. The teachers never seemed to do anything even when she kept missing days. She wasn’t at school the day they told us about the things parents shouldn’t do to their kids, I only hoped her daddy wasn’t doing that to her too.
That’s why I was so surprised to see her smiling when I looked out my window that morning. I’d asked her before not to do it, but she would often climb into that tree. I think she thought it was a safe place.
It was so dangerous to get there though. She had to climb out her bedroom window, stretch out to then cling to the edge of mine, before climbing over onto the tree. But there she was hanging there with a smile on her face, I’d never seen her happy before.
I think that rope hugging her neck might have been the only hug she ever got.
Entry #4 – Deliverance
Outside the windowless room at last, my lungs struggle with my first breath of freedom.
I’d endured more than two hundred days of confinement in darkness and isolation; silence except for muffled sounds that ignore my attempts to attract attention, with futile kicks and punches against the insulated walls and fortified door. Whoever put me here had prepared the space well.
Day after day, I lay in wait for another chance for rescue. Surely someone will realise I’m here and free me.
I’d woken abruptly from one of my long periods of sleeping. Sleeping had been the only escape available to me and I’d taken greedy advantage of it to stave off the terror that this was all my life would ever be.
It was like something had crashed into the room. Noises started to amplify. The floor quivered and quaked under me. Had someone finally heard me?
Something batters the walls. The room seems distorted and smaller from the incursion. If it keeps going it’ll crush me.
‘No!’ I yell. ‘Stop! I’m in here.’
I wait for the noise and battering to stop but it doesn’t. There’s nothing to do but despair at the irony of being entombed after all my days of waiting for deliverance.
Thump-thump! Roar! The sounds intensify and the room shakes violently, again and again. The forces must be deep and malevolent to cause such disturbance.
My heart pounds out a rhythm of panic. I have to work on the door so I push and push until its weakened structure starts to give way.
I forgot I was tethered, so I don’t think I’ll make it all the way out. Then something grabs me and tugs without mercy.
If birth is this hard, what will living be like?