Thursday, May 31, 2012

Alice (a snippet)

Alice sat as still as the dead, only the slight shudder of her shoulders betraying her. Her breath came in the ragged, wheezing gasps that had all but replaced words. Tears welled up in her eyes but they never pulled together enough to leave, much like Alice herself. I realised, sadly, that one day she would stop speaking altogether and just hang in the silence between others' professions of love and triviality.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Raw

Darren looked into the basin and gagged. 'Blood.' He started to rinse it away. I could taste it anyway, but I still wished he hadn't mentioned it. I poked a new piece of gauze into place, trying not to think about it. Darren was insistent. 'What did he say?'

'He thed why withdom tooth wath–' I spat out the gauze and started over. 'He said my wisdom tooth wasn't being stopped by the one on the bottom, so it would keep growing down unimpeded. Then he jabbed a needle in my gums. Then he ripped it out.' I felt a little shaky, and sat down on the edge of the bath.

'I don't get it. Why'd he do that?' He could have been worried, or merely inquisitive, but those emotions had died years ago with the love. All that had remained was the habit, and eventually that died, too.

I poked in the third piece of gauze—my last one—and bit down hard on it, signalling apologetically that I couldn't speak. But I didn't feel sorry. The pain was sickening, but it was a dull ache, nothing like the raw agony of watching our marriage decay.

Monday, May 28, 2012

You've Changed

You're not what you used to be. You're a different beast entirely. Where once I could find solace in your solitude, I only find chest-beating vanity and a holier-than-thou treatise on what I already knew. Where once you welcomed newcomers with open arms, now you scorn us and make us feel unworthy. Wait—I'm no newcomer. Yet, I feel this way nonetheless. Once a home for free spirits, you are now shackled by worldly concerns, capitalism, competitiveness. You chase the glory, unaware that we created it; it comes from within. You shame your origin, your roots, your ties to the soil. And your mother will reject you, as you rejected her open, honest heart. For beyond this space lies one still greater, reserved for those of pure intention.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Why it's cool to quit

I'm a fighter. It's who I am, who I've always been. I don't give up, and I don't give in. If you say I can't do something, I'm going to do it, just to prove you wrong. I can win this, and I will.

But what am I going to win?

Why do I want to win? Am I fighting for something? Or am I just fighting against you?

What will happen if I quit fighting?

'You'll never reach your potential if you don't push.'

Perhaps that's true—the path of least resistance has led me astray. That's how I spent years trying to be an academic before I finally quit. That's how I ended up working at a job that I hated in an industry I held (and still hold) no respect for.

I may have obediently followed the easy path, but it was still a tough hike. I was doing something so incredibly wrong for me that it was a fight to get out of bed in the morning. I place no value in your so-called contribution to society.

So, what if admit that I never want to reach your definition of my potential? What if I'm honest with myself instead, and admit that what I really want to do with the rest of my life is read, write, and tell people about stuff I've read or written. How about that?

'That's a cop-out. You're a quitter.'

No. The only thing I've quit doing is fighting myself, and I don't need to fight me. I need to be me.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Opposites

'What's the opposite of thrifty?'

Marie always asked the darnedest questions. This one threw me for a sixer, but I'm not one to admit ignorance. And I had a rough idea, anyway. 'Wasteful.'

She frowned. 'It can't be wasteful. It has to be something like thrifty. Say, dethrifty, or misthrifty, or unthrifty.'

I thought hard. 'Unthrifty sounds right.'

Juliana chose that moment to join us in the kitchen. She picked up the tea towel and took over drying the china. 'Unthrifty is right,' she agreed, 'unless you are referring to someone with no thrift at all. Then they are thriftless.'

Stranger In My Sights

I wouldn't have believed her, but for that forlorn sigh. It tore at my heart. I knew something must have gone terribly, terribly wrong. I wanted to comfort her, but I didn't know how. I didn't even know if she wanted comforting.

As if she'd read my thoughts, she straightened up in her chair and her face became a mask once more. It struck me that I knew almost nothing about this woman who sat across the table from me. She was, and always would be, an enigma. And suddenly, that tiny distance between us grew to a yawning divide.

I yawned. It seemed such an inappropriate response, given the circumstances. I hurried to cover my face, scolding myself for reacting to the word association.

Callie grinned. 'Same old Sue.'

I tested the water again; this time it went down smoothly. 'So, what happened? Was it an accident?'

'No... more like an incident.' She spoke nonchalantly, then hurriedly added, 'A regrettable one.'

My mind whirred, trying to make sense of what she was saying. I had no reason to doubt her, but I needed more information. 'Callie, please, tell me.'

She looked me dead in the eye and said, in a cool voice, 'I can't. I'm sure you understand.'

Then she called for the bill.


Have you read Part 1: Café-In-Confidence?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Three Truths and a Lie (or vice versa)


'I love you,' he said. She said,
'I love you, too.'

'I want to be with you forever,' he said. She said,
'I'm exhausted—I need sleep. Can you turn out the light?'


Friday, May 04, 2012

Fuel wars… again

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is investigating whether major fuel retailers are colluding to drive out competition. You can read all about it here.

Apparently, this investigation is great, as it may lead to opening up the information to the public. That means consumers will be able to see where the cheap fuel is without touring the suburbs to figure it out. What a great way to save a dollar!

How's this for an alternative way to save a dollar? Drive less.

As an added bonus, the opportunity to do more physical activity may help people lose weight, which will mean they burn less fuel when they do drive.

Think I'm joking? Reuters reported on Monday that in the US
Cars are burning nearly a billion gallons of gasoline more a year than if passengers weighed what they did in 1960.
The article goes on to explain that
Some costs of obesity reflect basic physics. It requires twice as much energy to move 250 pounds than 125 pounds. As a result, a vehicle burns more gasoline carrying heavier passengers than lighter ones.
"Growing obesity rates increase fuel consumption," said engineer Sheldon Jacobson of the University of Illinois. How much? An additional 938 million gallons of gasoline each year due to overweight and obesity in the United States, or 0.8 percent, he calculated. That's $4 billion extra.
Of course, these statistics don't necessarily translate readily to Australia. But I'm left with the impression that driving less might be the best way to save money at the bowser.

In case you're wondering, I own a 50cc scooter, and it costs me about $1 to travel 100 km on it. The 'family car' only comes out when it's got two or more people in it.

Refugee

I press my back into the tree trunk and close my eyes, willing my body not to give me away as it shakes in beat with my pounding heart. My breathing, audible over the rush of blood in my ears, sounds panicked and gasping.

Something crashes through the undergrowth to my felt. I flinch, but do not run. An acrid smell rises to offend my nostrils: I have wet myself. I shiver, and make a weak attempt to assuage my own fears: It's a mere mortal beast… no doubt as scared as I am.

I wait there in the darkness for the thunder of a thousand feet to fade into the distance. Then I take a deep breath, and step back onto the road.