Voting time for BWI June Flash Fiction

1          THE JOURNEY

The orchard stood on the crown of the hill in Mount Pleasant many years ago, but on the return of servicemen from the war, the need for more housing led to its demise. A few brave trees resisted this destruction. The gnarled apricot trees stood as silent testament to the orchard that had once thrived and every spring produced orange fruit in its upper branches.

The fruit was shared between the lorikeets, a family of possums and Ben and Caitlin. Sugar, lemon, ginger and apricots over a low heat made the jam that went into sterilised jars and used at picnics.

Grey clouds slowly rolled in from the west as Ben and Caitlin finished the last of the apricot jam on their scones baked earlier in the day. The rain hit suddenly and everything was loaded into the car except the empty jam jar which was abandoned to the storm.

The jar rocked on the old wooden picnic table and finally succumbed to a stormy blast, dropped off the slab and rolled down the grassy bank into the swollen creek. The Southern Ocean was no great distance away and the creek gurgled its way into the briny carrying the jar with it. The waves welcomed the jar and the next high tide carried it up the beach ready to greet the morning sunrise.

 

2          Still dark night

Momentarily content, I lie waiting in the silence until the world awakens. This treasured time is so fleeting. Before I can make a sound, birds are chirping. Cold air nips my skin, distant car engines scratch my ears, irritating my mind. Give it back- the quiet that is so quickly snatched away the moment one re-joins the waking world.

Darkness becomes dawn. Peace is now gone, emptiness dissolved. My bucket reminds me that it is still full. I fight with the sheets that tangle around my upper body, I battle with the crowd trying to climb into my bed. Responsibility, obligation, expectation, judgment, regret, commitments, concerns… they make no ordered cue but instead push in indiscriminately. Fatigue, heaviness, anxiety, depletion and survival all press against me like bargain hungry customers at a Boxing Day sale.

Pleading with the light to stay at bay, to let my eyes pretend that day has not yet intruded upon me, I tug at those same tangled sheets and bury myself under them. This cave is warm. This cave alludes to be safe. The weight of the covers is enough to remind me I’m alive, but is not enough to suffocate me. The dull glow creeping in at the edges, enough to guide me but not to blind me.

How I long for the return of the still dark night.

 

3          The Sands of Time

If I could put wisdom in a bottle, I’d set it to sail upon the pounding waves of the sea in the hope it would land in some far off foreign land. There to be found by a small child, scurrying along the beach, searching for lost or discarded treasures left there by well-off foreigners.

I can picture her in my mind’s eye as she looks with wonder at the strange object. She knows this is meant for her; for it is a message from her father, whose spirit she has always felt, but whose presence she has never seen. She hides it in the pocket of her straw bag.

She hurries on, holding it close, then catches sight of a bright trinket half covered by the sand. She pulls out a beautiful bracelet, with ruby stones attached to a gold bangle. Her eyes light up with joy; this she will keep for herself. Looking around quickly, she tucks it in beside the bottle.

She makes haste as her mother will be waiting for her return, bringing bits and pieces she has found to be cleaned and sold at the market. Heading towards the house, she can see her mother collecting the eggs. She hurries to a tin hidden beneath the mattress of her bed, quickly places her treasures and closes the lid.

Each night she strokes the bottle, and with it comes the wisdom of understanding:  her father is with her always.

 

4          A Quilt full of Memories

She sat on the edge of the beach a quilt covering her lap.

Every square evoking a memory from her life.

Her husband.

The honeymoon.

Their son.

All but memories now.

No grandchildren.

Nothing but this quilt left.

 

Her eyes once sparkled like the ocean.

Now her hair the colour of the white sand.

A quilt full of memories.

Love, the thread holding them all together.

The flowers her husband planted.

The medal awarded to her son after the war.

every square a marker in time.

Each memory as precious as the next.

 

An empty jar in her hands.

They met at this spot at dusk in 1959.

It was were they’d said goodbye to John.

Now she was saying a final goodbye to her Bert.

As the last rays of sunlight laid his ashes to rest in the waves.

Her gaze was lost in the horizon.

 

She pulled the quilt tight around her.

Her white hair covering the flowers her husband planted.

The places they had visited formed an edge around the quilt.

Memory after memory as their camper travelled mile after mile.

It sat in the parking lot now with a for sale sign in it’s window.

 

The moon illuminated the centre of the quilt.

6 hand prints all joined together in the middle of her back.

As special as all the other memories were.

Family was at the centre of it all.

 

5          Salty tears

In a bottle is a message,

Of love in times gone by,

Hope sees it floating aimlessly,

Through a silent anguished cry.

Tossed away regretfully,

This heart could not hang on,

So into the waves I set you free,

My favourite memories, gone.

 

The pink dusked sky grows darker,

It’s so real that you’re not here,

Recollection fails me

To recall your words so dear.

I look into the distance,

And realise my sad mistake,

I call out longingly to you,

But no sound can I make

 

My salty tears of nothingness,

Fall into the empty ocean.

Null and void of tenderness,

Understanding and devotion.

Now absent of all feeling,

I wade into the vacant space,

Gasping for breath as I slowly drown,

Reaching out for your embrace.

 

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