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- Happy Christmas
I wonder as I pause just long enough to gaze into his eyes for a split second what this first Christmas means to him. Is he aware of all the extra time people use finding gifts and organising meals at this time of year? The schedule of his feeds and diaper changes haven’t changed any. Are his eyes developed enough to notice all the extra decorations everywhere we go? His love of playing peekaboo remains the same. Has he felt the kick of his sister who’ll have her first Christmas next year, as he suckles on his mothers breast gazing up into her eyes? Seeing how much she loves him pauses me long enough to wonder maybe we would all have a happier Christmas if we slowed down just enough, to remember what it was really all about.
- Different Spelling
“Eyes are meant to be the keys to the soul.” Said Thomas.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before.” Replied Fritz.
“Sole is also a fish, spelt different though.”
“Yeah, I wonder if there’s any in here?
You reckon we’ll catch anything today?”
“I hope so.”
“Seoul’s the capital of South Korea,
spelt different again.”
“We should go fishing there one day,
might be better than this lake.
Missus is always whinging about a holiday.
I could send her there, we could go up the river for a week.
Not such a bad idea is it?”
“No, Reckon it might work, She could go with mine.”
“That would be even better.”
“Hey! Think I had a bite.
There’s something on the line”
“Reel it in.”
“Look at this!”
“What you catch?
Fritz laughs, while holding up his fishing rod.
“An old boot sole.
Spelt different again.”
- Baby girl.
I enter the hospital room and catch my breath. I can’t believe my eyes there on the bed is my girlfriend Kerry holding our beautiful baby girl. I walked over to them and kiss Kerry on the forehead and stare down at our child in wonder as she yawns and opens her eyes. I see she has inherited Kerry’s blue green eyes. “She’s beautiful isn’t she?” I whisper. “Yeah she is” Kerry replies. Kerry and I had been so worried that something would go wrong because a couple of years ago we had a son who was stillborn but thankfully she is perfectly healthy. “Want to hold her?” Kerry asks me, I nod and take the baby into my arms. I kiss her forehead and whisper “hey baby girl, I’m your daddy and I will always be there for you whenever you need me”
- Backyard gardening wonder
Found a body in the back yard not long ago. Well the dog did. Son’s pup. We were babysitting 35 kilograms of ridgeback – a digger!
She worried this one spot repeatedly. I swore and backfilled. She dug again. Over a week I reckon her digging and me backfilling, was risking RSI for both of us! Then, on the Friday, up comes this skull! Human, err, with eyes – well, ya know, sockets – staring, spooky. I did wonder if this was blackpella bisnus?
I called the cops. They dug and asked around. I didn’t have to worry about digging the veggie patch this year. Jees, the back yard had enough dug to keep McCains’ going for decades.
They found a coupla more bones. Heard they arrested a fella, used to rent the place years ago – a writer. Funny really. Ya gotta wonder, eh!
- No Wonder
It’s been a heavy, heart pounding heave up the hill. Every time I do this I wonder how much longer…
My lithesome daughter is already at the top. How long has she been there I wonder?
“Wow this is awesome!” she enthuses.
That devalued word annoys me, but it’s peak superlative in the teenage lexicon. Good, she’s getting it. The walk, every step bittersweet with anticipation and decrepitude, has been worth it. The view – lochs and hills slicing to the sea, islands scattered artfully to the horizon. Joy.
Then I see her eyes – glazed and glued. That bloody ubiquitous screen! For me a door to many wonders, an aid for curiosity, but never a substitute for real life. For her a brain-melting, mediocrity-making, creativity-crushing, memory-munching, wonder-wiping addiction.
The scenery fades like a screensaver, my heart plunges.
“You get a full signal up here!”
‘Come on son, you’re as brave as Ned Kelly, you can do it,’ he insisted.
‘Don’t be crazy dad, she’ll buck me off!’
‘No she won’t, she’s as tame as a lamb. Up you get,’ he demanded, leaning down, his arms reaching for me.
‘I don’t want to,’ I yelled, backing away.
‘Come on, be a man, tell her whose boss.’
My legs felt weak as I looked up at her. I’d have a long way to fall.
With a glint in his eyes, dad grabbed me and hoisted me into the saddle. I sat there frozen in fear.
I stared at the vast expanse of paddock in the distance and clutched at the reins as dad gave her a hefty whack on the rump.
Our old cow Daisy looked back at me, gave her head a shake, and off we trotted.
- Crime Novel
It is when I turn the corner of an unassuming street in Ararat that I realise something is wrong. It is no longer sunny daylight; the street is narrow, dim and mean; drizzling rain is puddling in the broken cobblestones; Raymond’s Chandler’s bishop is kicking in a stained glass window and the moon glinting on the broken shards – just like in every ‘show don’t tell’ writing guide.
I am in a crime novel.
Does that make me the hero of this tale, and is this my journey, I wonder? Or perhaps I am the unreliable narrator. I look down at my fingers clutching the half-empty whiskey bottle. I rub my weary eyes and feel the baggage of my broken childhood bowing my shoulders like a permanent swag.
No doubt I am lately returned to the place of my youth, to face unfinished…
- A Change of Heart
She had resisted the hype and half-truths of Gallipoli for years. Making the obligatory pilgrimage at last, she saw what she had expected…white crosses, graves facing the sea, impossible cliffs soaring above narrow beaches.
She had not expected acres of parks, and monuments to the fallen still immaculately maintained, or the great bronze Ataturk commanding the high ground. She stooped to read the generous words with which he had comforted the mothers of his enemies:
“These heroes lie in the soil of a friendly country.
There is no difference between Johnnies and Mehmets to us.
You mothers, who sent your sons from far away countries, wipe away your
tears. Your sons have become our sons as well.”
She followed the eyes of the statue over the graves it guarded. Respect and compassion had banished bitterness and united former adversaries for generations. Gallipoli was important.
- Dancing eyes
Older than six but small for her age, Jenny sat straddled on her aunty’s lap, facing her. Aunty’s arms rested comfortably around the little ones waist forming a band of love secured by interlocked fingers and DNA.
Both her heart and her cheeks glowed warmly as two small hands cupped her face, one on each side. Aunty’s contented smile grew between Jenny’s pinkies as she observed the wonder of deep thought on her niece’s angelic face. They stared at each other for what seemed like quite a while.
Finally Jenny asked. She never had before, but she was old enough now to notice differences and still young enough to be curious without reserve.
‘Aunty, why do your eyes dance around?’
Settling in for the explanation she thought Jenny deserved, she began to explain. Jenny listened then gave a satisfied nod and concluded,
- Beneath a Layer of Paint
Sculptures made from driftwood and easels filled with her parents’ work decorated the rooms of Layla’s house. An endless stream of guests sipped wine—the Wilsons were celebrity honey to swarms of bees.
Layla’s siblings had blue eyes, hers were moss green; they were drenched with the family’s artistic genes, and she was drawn to science.
‘She’s the black sheep, isn’t she?’ said her aunt, an Archibald winner.
Layla’s mother sniffed. ‘At least she’s using science for art conservation,’
After her mother died, Layla examined her family’s portrait. She shone a halogen lamp behind it and placed an infrared camera in front, the alchemy of which would expose any drawings underneath the paint.
Layla focused the camera’s lens, knowing years of wondering were about to end. A figure emerged. It was Owen Taylor, regular guest of the Wilson’s—a geneticist with green eyes.
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