Gold Coast Writers Associatio GOLD COAST WRITERS ASSOCIATION
2012 WRITING COMPETITIONS
COMPetition Organisers Dianne Morris
Julie Boyd (President) EBook Creator http://julieboyd.com.au/
Judges Janne Minge - Children’s Prose Janne Minge (nee Thiele) has recently retired from teaching. She is a passionate reader and advocate of children's writing, as well as the daughter of the famous writer and educator Colin Thiele (1920 -2006)
Adair Jones - Children’s Poetry: New York born now Brisbane based poet, writer and literary critic. She remarked on the freshness of the children's work. Her overall comment was ' It was such a pleasure and an honour to do this. Thanks so much for the opportunity.' Isabelle D’Avila-Winter - Adult Competition: Award -winning novelist and short story writer, tutor and literary reviewer.
Harrie Bahlin: Paint and Prose Competition: Extensively qualified and experienced community librarian and art lover.
Note: Copyright remains with the respective authors. Stories contained in this ebook are unedited by the organisers.
GCWA 2012 Writing Competition results
Adult writing 1. Golden Clouds, Silver Lining: Wendy Walsh, Tallai, Qld 2. Dream Castles: Carmel Lillis, Yarraville, Vic 3. Swag: Jennie D’Ambra, Toorak, Vic
Children’s Prose 7-10 1. The Fruit Bowl: Jazmin Ellen O’Hare, Mermaid Waters, Qld 2. That’s Weird: Noah Had –En Lim, Wembley, WA. 3. That’s Weird: Freya Mary Banner, Burleigh Waters, Qld
Children’s Prose 11-13 1. Boxception: Lucid Dream Ari Lin, East Keiler , Vic 2. That’s Weird: Gemma Dalton, Waterford Qld 3. The Weirdest Day I’ve Ever Had: Alex Smith, NSW
Children’s Prose 14-16 1. Unknown is Three: Amanda Thai, Dandenong North, Vic 2. The Pweetiest Girl Fairy Ever: Saraid Taylor, Doncaster East, Vic 3. Musical Notes: Isabella Luk, Springvale South, Vic
Children’s Poetry 7-10 1. Where Do Trains Go?: Rhianna Dobbs, Lue, NSW 2. Unusual Uncanny: Meg Weng, Moorabin ,Vic 3. Creeping Quiet: Meg Weng, “ “
Children’s Poetry 11-13 1. That’s Weird: Madeleine Rose Smith, Hurlstone Park NSW 2. Stations Go By: Ashleigh Robinson, Lue, NSW 3. Weird: Angel Wallace-Miles, Southport Qld
Children’s Poetry 14-16 1. Morning with no Glory: Jade Tendolle, Arundel Hills, Qld 2. News that Makes Life Weird: Fallon McGrath, Ashmore, Qld
Train to Nowhere: Isabella Luk, Springvale South, VicPaint and Prose 1. Memories of an Elephant: Helga Glinatsis $100 Artist : Penelope Churchward $100 2. Trinnie’s First Adventure: Jill Smith Artist: Lorraine Blomberg 3. Celebrity: Terry Spring Artist: Diane Richardson
People’s Choice: Terry Spring
WINNER Golden Clouds, Silver Lining By Wendy Walsh With a spidery hand, Rose pushed back a white wisp of hair escaping its perm. Her startling blue eyes glared at her identical twin sister. She scowled. “They were gold.” Lily curled her wrinkled lip. “Silver.” “Gold,” huffed Rose. Lily leaned forward . “Silver,” she snarled. Two nurses paused in the corridor, listening. “They’re at it again.” Amy raised her eyebrows. “You’d think 86 year old twin sisters would have nothing left to argue about.” Jenna put her ear to the door. It was her first day at Willowdale Nursing Home in Robina. “They’re arguing about something being either gold or silver.”
“Yes, I know. It’s been the same everyday since they arrived six weeks ago. Apparently this particular debate has been raging for decades.” Jenna hesitated “Are they….. Amy smiled. “No, they both have all their faculties. Sharp as tacks. Neither ever married, so they’ve lived together all their lives. The only reason they’ve ended up here is because Rose broke her leg. We had to take Lily as well because they refused to be separated.” “So, what is this important thing that’s either gold or silver?” Amy raised her eyebrows. “Nobody knows. Ask them and they’ll tell you it’s none of your business.” The nurses moved on.
Inside Room 37, Lily thumped the armrest of her recliner. “I remember that day like it was yesterday.” Rose sniggered. “If that’s the case, how come you’ve got it all so wrong. We were at Palm Beach, not Burleigh.” “It was definitely Burleigh. I distinctly recall the picnickers under the pines. It was 1957.” “56”.
“57. The year I started work at The Chevron. You were working in Cavill Mall, remember?” “Yes, but all that has nothing to do with them being gold.” “Silver.” “Gold.” “Silver.” Each sister rolled her eyes. Lily reached for the TV remote control on the table between them. Rose snatched it first. For five minutes they watched the screen without expression. When the talk show was broken by ads, Lily opened. “They were definitely silver, because the sunlight bounced off them in such a way that everything at Burleigh Beach looked silver – even the picknickers.” “Palm Beach.” “Burleigh.” “Palm. But I can recall them making everything look gold, not silver.” “Silver.” “Gold.”
Maggie, the tea lady, knocked before entering. She placed two steaming mugs on the table. “Would you like a bicky with your tea today, ladies?” The twins smiled sweetly, replying in a single voice. “Yes please, dear.” Maggie eyed a framed photograph on the wall. The male figure was an Elvis Presley clone, but bottle blond. His thrusted-hip pose was suggestive, his eyes smouldered, his lips all-a-pout. “So who’s that”? A dual voice replied. “Ricky Rebello.” “Was he a singer”? “He wished.” Maggie grinned. “I bet he broke a few hearts.” The twins’ expression was wry. “He tried.”
That night, each sister dreamed. In Lily’s dream her body was water, meandering around the canals until flowing into the Nerang River. The river emptied into the Broadwater, where the tides carried her, rippling and rolling, past Seaworld. Lily felt her body depleting. She lay among
the mangroves that embroidered the warm shores of her youth, where hunched mud crabs clung to the mangroves’ thrusted-up breathing tubes. Lily let the petering wash of the fishing boats heading for the Spit lull her into a place she thought might be heaven. She rolled over. A billowing face smiled at her. Was she looking into a mirror, or was that Rose? Lily closed her eyes. Was it time for her to let go, to allow the rushing tides to flood the mangroves’ gasping roots? No, Lily decided. She didn’t yet feel at peace.
Rose’s dream was of flight. She was a seagull. The morning sun glinted on the crumpled, green sea like the sequined frock she wore in 1954 to the Hibiscus Room. She had elegantly entered the restaurant on the arm of Jack Barrett. Rose, the seagull, again sat at the table watching Jack lick his lips over a prawn cocktail, filet mignon and strawberries Chantilly. She had ordered only the prawn cocktail, claiming to be the tiny eater expected of a modern woman. Rose again took flight, winging south to swoop over the fall of waves into the elephantine rocks at Currumbin, before arcing north over the estuary to Palm Beach. Cottages capped the dunes like limpets. On the stretch of bleached shingle, self conscious bikini girls tossed beach balls, their fluttering fake eye lashes in slow slide in the heat. A crowd had
gathered on the ragged grass edging the sand. Rose flapped her wings as hard as she could. All she achieved was slow motion, the insidious device of a nightmare. From high in the sky she still saw them, bathed in their golden aura. She woke and bolted upright in bed. So had Lily in the bed opposite. “I saw them in my dream”, announced Rose confidently, “I was at Palm Beach and they were definitely gold.” Lily huffed. “Well, I dreamt about them too. I floated from the Spit all the way to Burleigh Beach, and there they were – silver.” Rose’s expression was quizzical. “Floated?” “Yes. My body floated on the ocean.” Lily screwed her bony nose. “You haven’t been in the water since 1982.” “So? Neither have you.” Rose conceded. Before breakfast, Lily helped her sister to bathe and dress. Nurse Jenna paused briefly in the corridor outside Room 37. She could hear the continuing debate. “They were gold because 1957 was the Chinese year of the rooster, and we went to that dragon dance on Kirra Beach,” said Rose.
Lily sighed. “That was in 1956 for the Year of the Monkey. You wore that red silk cheongsam, while I had to make do with Mum’s blue kimono.” “1957.” “1956.” Lily knitted her eyebrows. “And what has this got to do with anything?” “Well,” tried Rose, “you can have a golden rooster, but it’s unlikely you’d have a silver monkey.” Lily shook her head. “That’s ridiculous. Now you’re just making things up.” Both women sat in meditation for a moment. Lily looked at her sister. “We went to that dragon dance with the Spooner brothers, remember?” Rose nodded. “Do you reckon they liked us?” Lily considered. “Who knows?” The sisters reflected on this silently for twenty minutes. Maggie knocked on the door before entering. She placed two steaming mugs on the table. “Ladies, have a guess what?” Maggie’s voice was excited. “What?”
“A man called Patrick Cox was signed in this morning. I got a shock when I took him his afternoon tea. He has the same picture as you, only bigger.” Rose and Lily shot each other a glance, mouths open. “Of Ricky Rebello?” “Yes. He reckons it’s him.” Neither sister could speak. Maggie continued. “I told him that you had the same picture so he’s dropping in to see you later this afternoon.’ Lily frowned. “You what?” Maggie pulled on the door handle. “Too late, he’ll be here within the hour.”
A half-hour later, the twins stared at their closed door after a flurry of activity. Their crepe faces were dusted and rouged. Wonky penciled eyebrows smiled upside-down with whimsy to mirror crooked red lips. Bouffant hair had been sprayed, causing a cloud that was slowly settling. After several minutes of tense silence, Lily spoke. “At least we may find some peace now. It’s been a very long debate.” Rose nodded. “Yes. Since 1957.”
“56.” After another ten minutes of silence, it was Rose who spoke. “Do you think he would have made us happy?” Lily considered. “Guess we’ll never know.” A knock on the door made them jump. The sisters hesitated. “Come in.” The door handle slowly turned. The first thing to enter was a Zimmer frame. The bent body of an old man followed. He looked up. “Hello girls. It’s me, Ricky.” Rose spoke. “Ricky, we only have one thing to ask you.” Ricky squinted. “Take it easy, girls. I haven’t seen either of you since the day you threw both of your rings at me.” “That’s right”, replied Lily. “So now, at long last, you can put the record straight. Were they gold or silver?” Ricky was incredulous. “They were both the same. I asked the jeweller to make identical gold rings.”
“Not the rings,” came the exasperated, in-sync reply. “Your tight pants that ripped apart when you got down on bended knee.” “It was at either Palm Beach or Burleigh,” added Rose. Ricky was gob-smacked. Lily stood. “Look, Rose and I have been arguing about this since it happened. For over fifty years one of us has been right, and one wrong. So … were those pants gold or silver lamé?” Ricky looked at the identical faces intently staring at him. “If I tell you, the loser will feel she’s wasted 50 years of her life.” A long pause lingered. The twins replied in unison. “You’re right. Get out.”
Judge’s COMMeNTs 1st Place – Wendy Walsh, Tallai, Gold Coast, for ‘Golden Clouds, Silver Lining’. Very entertaining and creative interpretation of the competition's theme in this story of two elderly twin sisters who spend their days arguing about the same dashing rascal who once dared to love and deceive them both. Displays high skill in building story's narrative tension towards an ending which is both inevitable and surprising. Use of humour throughout is enriched by impressively imaginative use of language and symbol, adding a further level for enjoyment of this story.
Dream Castles By Carmel Lillis It’s all off! We’ve missed out again. I guess Dad’s news even before he stumps up the stairs on his crutches. If you can read clues, you can work it out. Clue One is how it takes Dad six jerky tries to shunt his clapped-out ute into our skinny parking spot. How he slams the rusted door – you can feel the shudder from up here. That’s Clue Two. The last clue? How his shoulders slump. He looks like a dog that’s been told off and whose tail is wedged between his legs. Squeezed into the space between all the stuff my parents have stacked on our little flat’s balcony is the perfect spot to conduct my surveillance. The stacks tower up like a giant Lego castle with twin turrets, draped in colorful plastic sheets against the rain. Mum and Dad’s dream castles. On my left, Mum’s tower of dreams! A cot she got at the op shop and painted bright yellow. A baby car seat Dad spotted on a hard rubbish collection. Cleaned every crevice with a toothbrush dipped in disinfectant. And much, much more stuff.
On my right, the castle of Dad’s dream – life-jackets, a life-boat. All sorts of stuff for getting back to ferry driving after he recovers from his accident. I wriggle round to watch Mum greet Dad with a stretched smile. He just mutters, ‘We’ve been beaten to the house in a bidding war – again!’ Oh, the battles we’ve fought – and lost – to rent a house by the water. Not battles with big powerful guns, but battles with big powerful money. How does it go? My parents can pay so many dollars; some Mr Cashed-up can always, always find so many dollars plus twenty more. Victory, and a house by the sea, is theirs! How many dreams crash when Dad says we lost this bidding war? Not just the dream castle ones. The secret ones Mum and I have told each other, too. Splat and Shatter! That’s our family’s dreams tumbling and breaking! Not that I’d be silly enough to build a dream castle. But I was holding onto a birthday promise for when I turn 11, a crazy wonderful hope. When we get a house, you get a puppy. Smash, too, went the dream Mum whispered to me once: ‘Dad’ll soon walk straight when we move to our own single storey cottage. These awful stairs holding back his recovery. He’s lost heart. Nothing for him to do here. But down by the water, he’ll find his old drive. He’ll walk your dog. He’ll swim. Sea water is the best therapy.’
Oh Mum, if only I could help you not to dream so big. Get you to think real. Like, goldfish in a bowl for Mum and me, and some legstretches for Dad. Sure, you can’t cuddle a goldfish. But it’s got one big advantage. When the landlord swoops for a flat inspection, you can fling a towel over the bowl and he won’t wise up you’ve broken the NO PETS rule. Mum makes Dad a cup of peppermint tea. As she scoops the teabag out, a tear plops into the cup. In her mind she’s already cradled that little baby she’s longing for. With his little fists, he’s already batting the toys dangling from the toy-frame on the pram brought out of the dream castle. And he’s gurgling with delight as Dad limps along the sand with my puppy, pushing the pram. Tomorrow I’ll turn 11. ‘11 going on 40,’ Mum and Dad reckon. They’re both nearly 40. Privately I think they’re not close to being 11 in their heads. * Next morning I lie perfectly still, studying raggedy shadows on the walls. Trying to forget it’s my birthday. But there they are, peeping round the lounge door. Mum, bouncing back, bright-eyed after yesterday’s disappointment. Dad following her lead: ‘C’mon, up you get Molly.’
‘Happy birthday on this beautiful sunshiny day!’ Mum’s nodding behind with that look that says, ‘Please pretend to be enthusiastic for your dad.’ I ask them for five minutes to scramble into my shorts and T-shirt and fold the hide-a-bed into the couch. What’ll it be this year? A keyboard for the computer we can’t afford? Mum thrusts an envelope into my hand. Surely they haven’t gone down-to-earth and given me money? Silly me! Just a card. ‘Read it out loud Molly,’ says Mum, inclining her head towards Dad. I read in my best oral-delivery tone:
Detective Molly loves a clue This treasure hunt has quite a few: Behind the couch, coiled oh so tight Something I’ll need to learn not to bite.
I lean over the couch so they won’t see I’m trembling. A tiny muzzle, a choker chain. No, I want to cry out. I don’t want to build a crazy dream castle, and never get the dream.
But my parents are looking so pleased with themselves that I have to exclaim, ‘Just the nicest choker chain ever.’ Another envelope flutters to the carpet. Another card, with a handdrawn puppy in a bowler hat! So artist Mum has collaborated with poet Dad. They sure do try. This card reads: Race next door and beneath the bed, All you’ll need to keep me well fed.
Hard to race anywhere in our flat. A dash around the coffee-table, a leap and I’m fumbling under the bed. My hands hit something smooth. I haul out a slab of puppy food cans and a blue bowl. Oh Parents, it’s like you’re pressing on a tender bruise – the bruise of hopelessness I’ve been trying to ignore since Dad came home yesterday with the horrid news about us losing the bidding war. The next poem-clue is illustrated with a litter of black fluffy puppies: Molly, I’ll need to get lots of sleep, Off to the bathroom. Just take a peep.
In our tiny bathroom, I rummage through the cabinet. Just the usual stuff: shampoos, soaps, razors. Nothing in the shower, nothing in the basin. From the vinyl stool, I lift a stack of faded towels. Beneath is a basket lined with a colorful crocheted rug. (Nan’s a bit of a dreamer too!) ‘Why tears, Molly? Your dream’s so close.’ Dad props his crutches under one arm so he can hug me. A swallow, and I manage a nod. How can I destroy everything for them? I can’t tell them all this stuff is hopeless. Gathering is what keeps them going forward, keeps them believing in a golden future by the sea. But I feel a fury rising. The bidding war over, now two armies are slugging it out in my head. One marching under a banner called HOPE, shouts its warcry: Never give up, keep fighting. In my mind I see the HOPE soldiers. I see their faces, just like Mum’s, earnest and glowing. They fall, they get trampled in the mud, but up they get, all bruised to go on chanting: Never give up. Keep fighting. The other army, waving a flag with COMMON SENSE embroidered in big gold letters, marches to a dirge: You can’t win. Give up…’
‘Why tears, Molly?’ Dad repeats, nudging my foot with his crutch. ‘Your dream… you can almost reach out and touch it.’
I want to scream, ‘I don’t dream. Don’t make me. Dreams always end up smashed.’ In a voice that sounds like it’s choking, with all the effort to steady it, I read the next clue in the best monotone I can muster:
On the balcony, under a chair, Dreams come true, if hope you’ll dare.
On feet that feel like someone’s strapped them into stone shoes, I tread to the balcony. I freeze. I hear something. A whimper, a little yap! As I slide the door open, I see her. The tiniest golden ball of fluff. Huge eyes, little pink mouth, lop ears. The puppy of my dreams! Right here. As real as the piddle she’s doing on the concrete floor. I lean down to stroke her, suffocating on the sheer unfairness of it. They must have got her on loan. Rent a puppy for a birthday or something. I mustn’t fall in love, I mustn’t.
But there’s Dad gesturing at a poster he’s taped on the wall of his dream castle, and he and Mum are laughing and crying at the same time. I read:
We build our castles in the air Down they crash, it’s so unfair. A kindly landlord understood Changed the rules so Molly could Turn her dream into reality And become the owner of this PUPPY Dad’s grin is wider than the puppy’s head. His eyes have their old sparkle when he says: ‘What convinced him, Molly, was when I committed to walking your puppy on the beach, twice a day, every day. Then this little guy won’t go stir-crazy and rip the flat apart with boredom.’ ‘I think this is what you’d call a win-win situation,’ Mum laughs. I just bury my face in the puppy’s golden curls.
Judge’s COMMeNTs 2nd Place – Carmel Lillis, Yarraville, Victoria for ‘Dream Castles’ (Short story). Theme and subject verges dangerously close to sentimental, which is exacerbated by slight infatuation with exclamation marks, but fully redeemed by enviable skill at building interesting and nonstereotypical characters through careful and subtle management of narrative exposition and action. The reader is given clues to allow an understanding of the characters and their deepest wishes which cleverly exceeds the understanding of the 11 year-old who narrates this story of tender and exasperated love for her parents.
Swag By Jennie Dâ€™Ambra It was 1934 and my father had a lot on his mind that year. It was the year my brother, Edward, contracted polio and lived in a Brisbane hospital for ten months. And it was also a time of financial hardship. After my fatherâ€™s successful Brisbane architectural business collapsed in 1930, we were living on borrowed time, and by 1934 we had left our Redcliffe mansion and relocated to a shack near Main Beach on the Gold Coast.
As I was a child, the move to the coast seemed like a great adventure. My new pastimes were fun: fishing at The Spit, roller skating in the Pier Pavilion, and riding my donkey, Shadow, along the beach. But when I look back, and now I am an old woman, I can see the constant harrowed expression my father wore in his face and his body. My mother was strong and supportive but beneath this there lingered a subtle but pervasive resentment about her newfound lack of status. Her disappointment was never stated but it was a constant presence in their marriage at that time. I see it now, and I understand it. And I am sure that had my mother not been so resentful, my father would have been able to accept the dire financial situation with equanimity.
One morning I was riding Shadow along Main Beach and my father was walking ahead of me, smoking a cherry tobacco cigarette. As we passed a swaggie who had his swag slung over his shoulder and was muttering some things I couldn’t understand, my father waved at the strange man who tipped his hat. After he passed us on the beach, the swaggie turned around and approached us from behind. I could hear his jingle jangle of bits and bobs and his mumbling of incomprehensible words, and my father turned to face the man. Shadow snorted and looked at the stranger for a long time. I was thinking about the ice-cream cart further along the beach, and hoping that my father would think to buy me an ice-cream, peach-flavoured, because I was feeling a bit weak and parched.
‘Morning,’ said my father to the forlorn looking man. In reply the swaggie pointed his right index finger in the direction of his open mouth and made some guttural sounds. Then he used the same finger to make circular motions alongside his right ear; the cuckoo signal. ‘Not too good,’ my father replied to these gestures. The swaggie looked at the sand at his feet. I studied the curious man. His skin was brown and wizened. His eyes were like two tiny blue points in an uncharted face. He looked to me like someone who’d never been touched by a human soul.
My father looked at the man, who was looking down at the sand, when with startling acrobatic skills the man paced a few steps forward, jumped into the air, threw off his swag and performed some cartwheels. Then the man returned to us, desperate- looking, and once again pointed his finger to his open mouth and made some more ugly sounds. Reaching into his trouser pocket my father retrieved his rollie cigarettes. He took one for himself to smoke, then offered the stranger a cigarette. The two men smoked quietly for a few minutes but it looked to me that much was being said as they looked at each other, it just wasnâ€™t being stated.
Then, after they finished smoking, my father dug into his pocket where he kept his tobacco, and this time retrieved a little leather pouch where he kept all his money. At first my father showed the contents of the pouch to the stranger who responded by jumping on the sand. The swaggie opened his jacket and my father dropped his leather pouch into the breast pocket of the strangerâ€™s jacket. I knew at once that my hopes of getting an icecream were dashed, and I sensed trouble brewing on the home front.
My father smiled at the man and we continued our trek along Main Beach, leaving the swaggie behind. We didnâ€™t say anything to each other but Shadow snorted a lot and got a bit cranky. Startling us once again, the
swaggie raced ahead of us and put on a little performance of mime and crazy dancing. My father clapped and smiled and started to dance with the man. Shadow was impatient and walked past the happy men. I brought her to a halt and we turned round to see the man opening up his swag and removing a huge gold nugget. My father marvelled at the magnificence of the thing. The man thrust the nugget into Dadâ€™s hands before quickly picking up his swag and darting off into the scrub.
Next thing I remember is that Dad disappeared for a while. I gave up hope of seeing him again but after two weeks he reappeared and relocated us to The Pacific Hotel. We had big rooms that fronted onto an upstairs veranda that looked out to the beach. And there was privacy. Finally, I had all the ice-cream I wanted. But it didnâ€™t sate my desire. Something was missing. My mother frequently took trips to Brisbane to buy new dresses and one time she brought back my brother, Edward, who seemed like a stranger by then. Sometimes he stayed in his wheelchair but on good days he walked along the beach and swam in the shallows. He was never able to go skating at the pavilion so he more or less spent his time reading books. My mother became vivacious as she found things to rejoice in; the lustre of pearl buttons on a new blouse, the latest perfumes imported from the House of Lanvin in Paris, or the European fashion magazines she subscribed to. My father was morose, increasingly quiet, and he bore
himself as if he carried an insurmountable weight on his shoulders. He never spoke of the swaggie or the gold nugget. Some evenings I watched him from behind the chenille curtains of our expansive lounge, as he sat on the upstairs veranda of The Pacific Hotel and smoked his cherry tobacco cigarettes. He gazed outwards, at the water or the air, a white pressed handkerchief always at the ready to wipe his abject face.
Judge’s COMMeNTs 3rd Place - Jennie D’Ambra, Toorak Vic for ‘Swag’ Slightly implausible short story set in the Depression era set somewhat unconvincingly in the Gold Coast that recounts an interesting encounter on the beach between a young girl accompanied by her father and a mute swaggie who unexpectedly offers them the gold nugget which will solve their financial difficulties. The narrator's voice is supported by an impressive command of narrative structure and pace, where plot points and characters are introduced and developed just when we need them.
Gold Coast-Er By Neilsen Warren There are several Gold Coasts around the world. Mind you, they are not all ‘Gold Coast’ as we would say the name in English, and of course there are many, many more plain and simply beautiful gold coasts that may not have a name at all. One of my favourite gold coasts is the coast of Arabia, north-east of Aden where the desert meets the sea. I have only been there with Google Earth, but that gold coast seems staggeringly remote and romantic to me – where a vast desert meets the sea. It is known as the Empty Quarter. Another favourite gold coast is the North Sea coast of Jutland. The beach runs almost the length of Denmark and as a boy my Danish relatives took me to camp among its dunes, far to the north – a fabulous holiday on a bleak, windswept coast where glass floats from fishermen’s nets could be found, and even washed-up mines from the war. In places the dunes run inland for miles; in fact you could think of the whole of Jutland as one enormous spit of sand. And yes, when the sun is shining and the sky is blue the sands of Jutland are truly golden.
But I have decided not to write about any Gold Coast at all because I have something much more beautiful to share. You see, I have got a gold coaster. My gold coaster is not real gold, but I doubt if even the high rollersâ€™ room at Jupiterâ€™s has got real gold coasters. If the loss of moisturiser from hotel bathrooms is huge, imagine the losses from the bar if the waiter brought your XXXX on a gold coaster! No. My gold coaster is actually made of cardboard, and it was given to me by my grand-daughter Harper last Fathers Day. Harper is nine and she likes to make things in secret. When she comes to our house she sits at a little table at the end of the veranda, hunched over with her back turned to us, surrounded by lots of bits of paper and cardboard, scissors, glue, pencils and coloured felt pens. She likes to whistle while she works; not very tuneful, more like birdcalls, because she is so focussed on her activity. Harper is a very smart girl, quite tall, with long brown hair, a soft, angelic face and dark blue eyes. Her expression is sometimes solemn, and I often wonder what she is thinking. It is as though she is watching the world and taking it all in. But then she can pop out with a hilarious joke, or a dissertation on the plight of pygmy possums, or play a trick on me with a mischievous grin.
Harper made my gold coaster. It is as round as the lid of one of the jars in the kitchen, and all round the edge she has made little cuts with the scissors so the coaster has a fringe that she turned up to make a kind of shallow dish. Of course, the main colour of the coaster is bright yellow, because it is a gold coaster. But there are lots of other colours, too: green and purple, mainly, but also all the colours she had in her set of Textas. The colours are lots of dots that follow the shape of the coaster, and at the centre she has a big dot of ruby-red, and radiating from the big dot are purple petals that reach almost to the edge of the coaster. My gold coaster is very, very beautiful. Harper came into our bedroom early on Fathers Day morning with Mili, her little sister who is five. Between them they were carrying a small pink box that had a big letter ‘P’ on the lid. “Happy Fathers Day, Pop,” they said, not quite in tune with each other. In the box were their gifts. First was Mili’s gift: a wonderful book made entirely by Mili. All the pages are different shapes, stapled together. The book is as colourful as the gold coaster and maybe a little more free in its artistic expression – quite wild, in fact, and a bit hard to read except for the key words, “Pop” and “Mili” – but just as beautiful as Harper’s more refined work. Under Mili’s book was Harper’s gift. It was wrapped very carefully, in special Father’s Day paper, so I knew her dad was in luck, too. The package was square and the paper was held together with magic tape and
finished off with a lovely red ribbon and a bow tied by the girl herself. I could tell. I carefully unwrapped the package, mystified at what it might contain. But all was not revealed, because the first wrapping contained a second. This time it was dark blue transparent plastic sheet, folded around something round so that all the edges came together and were sealed by a scarlet love-heart sticker right in the centre. Harper, Mili and I unwrapped the blue wrapping together. Harper was clearly excited as we unstuck the heart to reveal – drum roll, please: A GOLD COASTER!! But Harper wasn’t finished yet. Under her gift was a blue envelope marked, ‘Pop,’ and in the envelope was a piece of paper with a drawing of an old bloke with glasses, reading a story to a little girl, and a message: To The Most Awesome Pop in the World! Dear Poppy I love you so much! Happy Fathers Day!!! from your Granddaughter Harper What a lucky Pop I am. It’s not often old farts are called awesome, so it’s a very big deal to get a message like that – they don’t deal stuff like that at Jupiters, you know.
And yes, my gold coaster is used. Harper insists on it. She likes the thought of me sitting on the terrace, with a slender glass, so elegant, resting on its coaster. Harper’s gold isn’t a bit of clunky bullion to be locked away in a cabinet, even for sentiment’s sake. In fact my coaster has already got a bit of added colour, because I can be sloppy with the red. That’s the beauty of gestures like Harper’s. They are in the moment, never to last forever because transience is part of the delight. Maybe, by the time Harper is eleven, it will be time to present me with a replacement if I deserve it, or maybe it will be Mili’s turn.
Judge’s COMMeNT GOLD COAST-ER: Very warm recounting by a grandfather of a special father’s day gift made by his nine year old granddaughter. It describes the gift of a handmade drink coaster coloured gold - thus the title ‘Gold Coaster’ - with contagious delight. There's also an interesting description of an alternative gold coast in Denmark, and one in Africa which the narrator visits with google earth.
AUGUST By Stephanie Parson The wind stings her eyes, making them weep as soon as she opens them. She shivers, adjusting the old, thin blanket wrapped around her shoulders. She stifles a yawn, fingering the gold locket hanging from her neck. “Hey,” she whispers, unlocking her arm from the around the small bundle curled in her lap. “Emmy. Time to wake up.” The small bundle stirs and shifts. “Auggy?” “No, it’s the Easter Bunny. Who do you think it is, silly?” She smiles affectionately as her little sister rises from the park bench that has served as their bed for yet another night. “If you were really the Easter Bunny, you’d have chocolate,” Emmy grumbles, stretching out her tiny, seven year old limbs. August’s heart sinks as she watches. She’d tried to find them a proper bed, but places in the shelters are limited and there are only so many times a girl can hear I’m sorry, no space tonight before she wants to scream.
“Auggy?” Emmy’s voice brings her back to the present and she blinks, pushing the thoughts away. “I’m hungry.” “Alright, kiddo,” she says, forcing her lips into a smile. “Let’s find you something to eat.” She stands, stuffing the blanket into her backpack. Emmy reaches for her expectantly. “Hurry, Auggy. I have to pee.” “Alright,” she says, taking Emmy’s hand. “Come on.” She takes a few steps before looking back at the bench, giving it a customary final glance. They can’t afford to leave anything behind. “Auuuuggeee,” Emmy says, wriggling impatiently. “I have to peeeeee.” “Okay, okay,” she says, turning towards the buildings on the other side of the road. “Let’s go find you a bathroom.” *** “Our bathrooms are for paying customers only.” The man at the petrol station licks his lips, looking at her apologetically. She takes a slow breath in, flashing her most seductive smile. She knows how this game works. “Please,” she purrs, leaning towards him. “My sister really needs to go. We’ll be quick, promise. I’ll even buy her a candy bar.” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, looking up at him and coyly twirling her locket between her fingers. It has the desired effect and he clears his throat, fumbling under the counter. “S’pose it can’t hurt,” he says, smiling as he hands her the key. Their fingers brush and she widens her smile, allowing her hand to linger on his for a few moments. She tries not to think about how this kind of interaction has become second nature.
“Thank you,” she breathes, curling her fingers around the key. He swallows. She turns and rolls her eyes discretely at Emmy, who stifles a giggle. “Come on, kid,” she says, taking Emmy’s hand. “Let’s go pee.” *** “How do you do that?” Emmy asks once they’re inside the bathroom. “Do what?” She turns on the tap and a stream of ice cold water fills the dirty, chipped basin. She bites her lip, psyching herself up. “Make people do something after they’ve already said no. No, not people… boys.” Emmy giggles as she says the last word, flushing the toilet and coming out of the stall. “Boys do whatever you say.” “They do not,” she says dismissively, examining herself in the mirror. The shadows under her eyes are darker than yesterday. “Yes they do,” Emmy says, watching from against the wall. “And sometimes they give you money. I’ve seen them.” “You don’t know what you’ve seen.” She dips her head under the faucet, wetting her hair. The cold steals oxygen from her lungs and she tightens her jaw, staying there for as long as she can. It isn’t long. “God I hate doing that,” she mumbles, switching off the tap. Freezing rivers trickle down her back, making her shiver. “Me too,” Emmy agrees, still watching. “I like it when we have a real shower with warm water.” The innocent comment chills her far more than the icy water dripping down her spine and she says nothing, searching through her backpack for her comb.
“Here,” she says, handing Emmy a toothbrush and a spent tube of toothpaste. “Brush your teeth.” “There’s no toothpaste left.” “Yes there is; just squeeze real hard.” “I can’t!” “Fine. Give it.” She takes the tube away, squeezing a small glob of blue paste onto the frayed bristles. “Brush them properly. No one likes a kid with stinky breath.” *** “I could get in trouble for letting you use the bathroom like a dressing room,” the man says wryly when they emerge fifteen minutes later. “Sorry,” August says, handing him the key. “Road trip. You know how it is.” The man blinks, looking her up and down. His eyes trace the ladders in her stockings. She tries to ignore it. “Road trip. Right.” She offers a thin smile and turns to leave. She recognises the look he is giving her. “Wait,” Emmy says, tugging her hand. “You promised me a candy bar.” “That’s right,” the man says, straightening up. “You said you’d buy something.” Bile rises in her throat and she swallows, glancing down at Emmy. “Sure, Em. Choose something real quick.”
Emmy gives a delighted squeal and races to the chocolate isle. August tries to pretend she can’t feel the man’s eyes on her. “So,” he says conversationally. “Where you headed?” She glances up. “Sorry?” “Where are you going? On the road trip?” “Oh.” She hesitates. “You know. Around.” The man nods, scratching his chin. He needs to shave. “Shouldn’t she be in school?” he asks, nodding towards Emmy. “School holidays. Picked one, Em?” she asks hopefully. Emmy shakes her head. “You on school holidays, too?” “I’m 21,” she lies, adjusting her backpack. “I’m done with school.” “This one!” Emmy announces, producing a brightly wrapped chocolate bar. “I want this one.” August hands it to the man without even looking at the price. “Aren’t you getting something for yourself?” the man asks, still smiling. The joints in her neck stiffen, making it hard to shake her head. “Not hungry. How much is it?” “Five fifty.” She drops the money on the counter, not even caring that the single chocolate bar is costing more than their food budget for an entire day. The man closes his fingers around hers as she tries to take it. “You know,” he says quietly, leaning in. “I’d be willing to… You know. Help out. If you need money.” He grins and her heart skips a beat,
lurching into her throat. For one brief moment she imagines slapping him, imagines telling him to go ‘help’ himself. For one brief moment, she imagines having other options. The moment passes. “Emmy,” she says, handing her the chocolate. “Why don’t you eat this in the bathroom? I need to talk to this nice man for a minute.” The eager look falls from Emmy’s face. “No. I don’t want to.” August turns to face her, cementing a smile on her face. “It’s okay, kid. I’ll be there soon. Lock yourself in, okay? Wait for me.” Emmy shakes her head, pushing the chocolate away. “I don’t want it anymore. Let’s go. I don’t want it.” August crouches to her level, meeting her gaze. “It’s okay, kiddo,” she repeats evenly, fingering her locket. “I’ll just be a minute.” “Just a minute?” Emmy repeats doubtfully. “Just a minute. Promise.” Emmy nods and takes the chocolate and the key, shuffling towards the bathroom. August takes a deep breath and turns towards the man, clutching her locket hard enough to cause pain. The day Emmy found it on the beach flashes in her mind. “Auggy!” she’d called, running towards her. “I found gold!” She leaves her body behind, allowing the memory of that day to take her away from the overwhelming petrol fumes in the back room. Emmy had been convinced it belonged to pirates, so they’d spent hours searching for the rest of the treasure chest, goofing around and digging
their way across the beach. It was the best day they’d had since... everything happened. “Emmy,” she’d said once night began to fall. “I don’t think we’re going to find anymore pirate gold. I’m sorry.” She’d expected Emmy to protest, but she’d just smiled. “It’s okay, Auggy. I don’t need pirate gold. I have you. Here,” she’d said, handing her the locket. “You should keep it.” She squeezes her eyes closed. The man doesn’t notice. “Why are you crying, Auggy?” Emmy had asked, frowning. “Don’t you like it?” “No, kid, I love it.” “Then why are you crying?” “I’m not.” “Yes you are. Do you miss Mumma?” “No. Yes. Emmy…” “What, Auggy?” “I’m always going to take care of you, okay? I’ll do whatever it takes to keep us together, to keep you safe. Whatever it takes.” “I know you will, Auggy,” she’d said, taking the locket back and fastening it around August’s neck. “I know.” She opens her eyes, squeezing the locket into her palm and staring at the ceiling. Whatever it takes.
Judgeâ€™s COMMeNT Comment: A young woman turns to prostitution as a means of survival for her and her seven-year old sister. Well written, though doesn't leave much room for readers to interpret from actions. Impeccable formatting, but leaves many crucial questions unanswered, such as what led to their homelessness. Short list
ChildreN’s PrOse 7-10 years Judge Janne Minge (nee Thiele)’s Comments 1, The Fruit Bowl By Jazmin Ellen O’Hare, Mermaid Waters, Qld Congratulations on writing a whimsical and entertaining piece where every word and every idea have clear work to do. You have crafted vocabulary tightly and created some appealing visual images for your readers. 2. That’s Weird BY Noah Had –En Lim, Wembley, WA. You have written a lively and appealing story. Your use of repetition is effective, as is your selection of only those details that are necessary. As you continue developing your writing skills, work at including some more literary vocabulary. 3. That’s Weird By Freya Mary Banner, Burleigh Waters, Qld You thought of an entertaining idea to make your readers smile. You wrote the story fluently, adding some details and description for interest and selecting some effective literary vocabulary.
The Fruit Bowl By Jazmin Ellen O’Hare
I could swear I saw the bulky, thorny pineapple fidget as I ate my crunchy Coco Pops covered in icy milk. I was sure I did when it rolled over without any hesitation, revealing its mouth, eyes and prickle of a nose. As if it was a cue, the rest of the fruit in the bowl did as well, revealing the same facial characteristics. A bunch of seven bananas all gave me mischievous grins simultaneously. The two oranges giggled at the loony apple talking to himself. A sunset-colour mango yawned obnoxiously. The weirdest was the bunch of 37 grapes singing the latest One Direction song like a choir.
“SHUT UP!” the irritated pineapple hollered. The tiled kitchen was dead silent. That only lasted a few short seconds though. The arrogant pineapple started to boast about how crunchy and tangy he was.
“Are you kidding?” the canary-coloured bananas all said together. I was starting to understand that all the fruits were excessively vain and competitive. Suddenly one of the cheeky oranges rolled out of the bowl, and across the bench. It was rolling at such a high speed that it couldn’t stop! It rolled
straight off the granite bench and onto the cold hard floor. He was definitely going to have a bruise.
“Come on, it’s time to go to school!” I heard Mum yell. I tell her I’ll be there in a second as I pick up the frantic stranded orange. As I place it in the ceramic bowl, the others all roll back over...
That’s Weird! By Noah Had –En Lim My sister and I are called Noah and Faith. We both play together most of the time. We do homework together, too. My sister sometimes likes to say something and I will say the opposite. That is because I like doing that. One morning, when my sister and I were playing ball in the garden, we heard an unusual sound. “Bang! Bang!” it went. “What’s that noise?” my sister asked. We went to check it out. It was a white and pink rabbit. It was banging on a piece of wood with a hammer. My sister said, “That’s weird!” I said, “No, it’s not!” We went back into our house. I saw my mum’s closet burst open. Musical instruments came flying out! Then, they lined up in a row and played music by themselves. I danced to the music because it had a nice beat to it. My sister said, “That’s weird!” I said, “No, it’s not!” The next day, we went to the zoo. I saw a tiger that was orange with black stripes doing cartwheels. I thought it was doing a great job and I clapped my hands! My sister said, “That’s weird!” I said, “No, it’s not!” After the outing, we went back home. I saw my yellow slippers dancing around. The slippers were singing a song as well. I marched around them. My sister stared at me. “That’s weird,” she said. I said, “No, it’s not!”
“Drip! Drip!” It was raining outside in the evening. We went out to jump puddles. The raindrops were falling and turning into beans! The beans were green and brown. My sister said, “That’s weird!” I said, “No, it’s not!” Next morning at breakfast, we heard, “Splash!” It was an orange jumping into a cup of water on the bench-top. It went in for a swim! The orange was kicking with its feet and flapping its arms. My sister said, “That’s weird!” I said, “Yes, it is!” And we both laughed together.
That’s Weird By Freya Mary Banner Down by the river there was a white, weird and small goose all by herself. She was walking near the clear water. Then the goose saw the weeds shaking. She thought that’s unusual. So she went to look behind the weeds. She saw a MOOSE. She was surprised. The moose thought that the goose was beautiful And elegant. The moose spoke. “You are beautiful,” he said. The goose said, “Can we be friends?’ So they played together happily. They loved swimming in the afternoon. After awhile the goose and the moose fell in love. They were kissing. “THAT’S WEIRD!” Then they walked to the park and the moose said, “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” The goose said, “YES!” All the animals came to watch them get married. They all thought….THAT’S WEIRD A moose marrying a goose!
Children’s PrOse 11-13 years Judge Janne Minge (nee Thiele)’s Comments 1. Boxception: Lucid Dream By Ari Lin, East Keiler , Vic
Your writing is characterised by its power, economy, organisation and accuracy and its ending brings a smile to the reader. I suggest that minor adjustments could build purpose to the events and cohesion between them, even within a dream scenario. 2. That’s Weird By Gemma Dalton, Waterford Qld
Your story grabs and holds reader interest while bringing several smiles. It has humour, whimsy, reflection, charming characterisation and well-selected dialogue. Consider whether the ending could be slightly adjusted to maintain the whimsy of the eccentric treeclimber. As you continue to write, focus on consistent selection of effective vocabulary.
3. The Weirdest Day I’ve Ever Had By Alex Smith, NSW
You wrote an appealing fantasy adventure story, often using effective literary vocabulary and sentence structures. More consistent crafting is recommended to heighten tension. With minor editing, the resolution of your story could be strengthened.
Boxception: Lucid Dream By Ari Lin
My eyes are heavy and full of tears. I slowly pull myself and wipe the tears off my face. Tears? I look down at my palms, drenched with tears. “Why was I crying? My eyes no longer droop with tiredness. I look around. Boxes! As far as the eye can see. A small smirk appears at the corner of my lips. “Boxception!” I yell in acceptance to the madness, punching the air. The air slaps me in the face as I jump from box to box. Each floats in an endless realm of boxes. I look down. No ground just thousands of other boxes floating around. The sky and air around me are a colour of purple, getting much darker at the lower altitudes and lighter at the higher altitudes.
My knees are bent, ready to pounce. I jump and miss the box by inches, smash my face on it and fall onto a different box. I moan in pain, but I don’t feel any. Strange… This might be a
dream. I pinch myself and raise both my eyebrows. “This must be a lucid dream!” I say excitedly.
I swing my sword against the sand filled dummy. It splits perfectly in half like a knife slicing a block of cheese. The sword shines in the light. “I miss home…” I sigh. I think about the good times when I played games with my friends. Especially when we played those shooting games they were amazing! The world around me morphs into the map in the game I so dearly enjoyed playing. Also, the good old jump scares in the horror game ‘Amnesia: the Dark Descent’. The world around me, once again, morphs into my previous thoughts. Shoot. Now I’m in the game and could die in my dreams. How embarrassing! ROAR… I freeze dead in my tracks making sure I’m not moving, even the slightest inch and I hold my breath making no sound whatsoever. The shadow comes closer, closer and finally wrapping itself around me. The monster is right there in front of me, only a few life defying feet away. “Think,!” I whisper to myself. “About anything apart from bad thoughts!”
Underwear! Suddenly, a pair of underwear comes flying down the hall smacking the monster in the face, confusing it. This’s my chance! I run. I tighten my grip on the gun. Sweat rolls down my check and past my lip. Now! I turn around the corner, close my eyes and open fire. The monster explodes into a mess of… wood? I missed! Who knew firing a gun would be so difficult? Oh well, time to use the explosives. Grenade… A grenade appears in my hands. With all my strength, I throw it at the monster and it explodes into … feathers? My mum stands annoyed in the cloud of feathers, arms crossed and glaring at me. “Real mature kiddo.” Mum says sarcastically, walking out of my room. “What a weird dream.” I say before falling back to sleep.
That’s Weird By Gemma Dalton Things in life seem weird to some people but not to others. I can sit sometimes and look at pictures of dragonflies, seahorses and spotted tailed quolls – just to mention a few unusual and weird creatures. They often make me feel queasy as they are not what I feel to be ‘normal’. Now I’m getting older, I’m noticing people that are weird. They behave and do things that are nothing like ‘ordinary’ people and the way most of us live. I had a weird experience a few weeks ago. I found a strange neighbour outside my bedroom window one night. He was strange because of his shabby clothes. Also, he was never friendly and didn’t talk to people. I was in bed reading a novel this night when all of a sudden I heard a great big sneeze outside my window. I got up and crept to pull back the curtains and look outside. There was our neighbour with his flowing white hair. He was wearing a cloak, which was draped over the branch of the tree on which he was sitting. Seeing me, he stared right through me. Slowly, he put a finger to his lips and said, ‘Shush! They’re sleeping.’ Then, he raised his cloak which was covering a nest with three speckled eggs in it.
I didn’t know if I was having an awful nightmare or if I should just scream for help. Normal people didn’t do this sort of thing. ‘But! Why are you up here?’ I stammered. ‘Tragic accident. Their mother’s dead. You know how you’d feel if you were born and there was no mother. I watch the world at night and help out any creatures in trouble. I was too late to help the mother bird. She was already in a cat’s mouth when I saw her.’ I pinched myself. Why was I talking to this weirdo? I should just call Mum or Dad. Normal people got the RSPCA or the police or some other sensible people to sort out a situation like this. Strangely, I didn’t feel at all frightened. Actually, it was a bit too far for the man to leap across and climb in the window. I knew I was safe. The man interrupted my thoughts. ‘I have magic powers you know. I don’t want to mix with ordinary people. They don’t understand about the potions I make and spells I can cast. I’ve decided to take the eggs home and keep them warm, so you needn’t shout for help. I won’t be coming here again.’ I noticed my strange neighbour was getting jumpy, so I didn’t want to upset him more. Suddenly, he stood up holding the nest. ‘I’ve decided to fly home,’ he said.
I watched in horror as he crashed to the ground and started moaning. I rushed to get Mum and Dad, who called the ambulance. The last news we had was that my weird visitor was having psychiatric assessment.
The Weirdest Day Iâ€™ve Ever Had By Alex Smith I was walking in a part of the forest where a few children had gone missing a while ago. I had come to investigate. All was quiet and beautiful. Everywhere grand oaks and impressive beeches towered majestically above me, interlacing their branches to form a net that kept out most of the light and cast dappled shadows in the twilight. I was so absorbed in this beauty that I was not watching where I was going. All of a sudden the ground crumbled underneath me, I clawed at the grass, desperately trying to get a handhold. Just as I tumbled down into the dark abyss, I managed to grab an acorn. As I fell, I tried to scream, but all that came out was a grunt. I waited for the bone crunching impact, it never came. I fell onto a sloping ramp that deposited me into what looked like our world on a sunny day. The grass, water, trees and flowers were all the same. But something was weird. The occupants! They were all toys! As I watched, all the missing children came out from behind the trees. They were not talking, but made noises like grunts, and snuffles. I couldnâ€™t figure it out until I heard the toys, talking to each other. It then dawned on me that in this crazy place humans could not talk, but toys could! It just gets stranger and weirder.
My thoughts were confirmed when a squadron of Frisbees roared in vformation overhead. With the leader shouting madly into his radio, “Mayday, mayday, we have a security breach, sector 914 has been ruptured, another human prisoner has been taken, send a patrol to come pick ‘im up” The next thing I knew, I was staring down the dull but polished surfaces of the nine bayonets the toy soldiers wielded on their muskets. The Sergeant, easily recognisable, with the red insignia winking in the sunlight from both shoulders, commanded one of the children, “Tie him up, good and tight”. These kids can’t even think on their own! Why could I still think normally? I felt something in my jacket, it was the acorn. It must have got caught in my pocket in the commotion. I realised that having something from our world must cause their systems of mind control to stop working. “Be careful of the magic box!” bellowed the sergeant. “If that box is broken, those kids regain control of all of us!” I looked at the acorn in my hand, break the box hey? Before the small boy had a chance to follow his orders, I pegged the acorn as hard as I could toward the magic box, my mind went blank until the acorn shattered the glass panelling on the machine. My captors froze, I started running toward the hole I had fallen through, followed by all the other kids, we
scrambled back the way weâ€™d come, finally we burst into the light. That was definitely the weirdest day Iâ€™ve ever had!
Children’s PrOse 14-16 years Judge Janne Minge (nee Thiele)’s COMMeNTs 1. Unknown is Three By Amanda Thai, Dandenong North, Your writing is well worthy of first place in your age section. It presents a message that is subtly stated but strong in impact and my days were made brighter with every reading of it. Your story is maturely conceived and powerfully crafted. Consider whether the extensive use of technical vocabulary could alienate some readers and whether occasional phrases (such as ‘her button nose’) tend towards stereotyping.
2. The Pweetiest Girl Fairy Ever By Saraid Taylor, Doncaster East, Vic Comic text-types are difficult to write well and you have succeeded admirably. Your highly entertaining, cohesive and powerfully written story brought smiles with every reading. Characterisation, selection of dialogue and the contemporary teen vocabulary of the narrator have all been used effectively. I suggest you consider minor reworking of the third section for clarity and of the little girl’s articulation for consistency.
3. Musical Notes By Isabella Luk, Springvale South, Vic Your story is cohesive, fluently written and pleasant to read. Its detail has been well selected and sequenced. Continue to develop the power of your writing through carefully selected vocabulary and tightly crafted sentences.
Unknown is Three By Amanda Thai
The unknown can often be misinterpreted as weird. Strange, abnormal, maybe a little confusing. But when you can look past what you know, you can emerge with something beautiful.
Three years. It took three years of wishing and begging her parents to let her take dance classes. Three long years of imitating the elegant poses in books and the intricate steps of prima ballerinas on TV. And at last, she was here, able to see the studio for the very first time in her life. The studio she would soon regard as her second home with its glossy wooden floors, silver barres, piano music and faint scent of sweat. “It smells weird, Mrs. Mackenzie,” she complained, pinching her button nose. “You’ll get used to it,” replied her teacher kindly. “Sweat means you’re working hard.”
Her first three ballet terms. Tendu. Plié. Fifth en bas. All of them contained no meaning for her. They were hollow, waiting to be filled with a step, demonstration and definition.
“This is how you plié,” said Mrs. Mackenzie. She placed her feet in a wide V and bended her knees, creating a diamond between her legs. “Now you try.” She tried. Her feet just wouldn’t stay turned out and her knees didn’t want to follow the line of her toes. “This feels weird,” she said. Mrs. Mackenzie demonstrated again. The young girl carefully observed the way her feet were placed and how her heels remained glued to the floor. “Just keep practising,” the teacher encouraged. “Three times a day should do it.”
Three minutes later, she was ready to attempt a tendu. The teacher gently eased her foot into a pointed position, sliding it out to a la seconde. “You have very good feet,” Mrs. Mackenzie commented. She marvelled at the way her student’s small, untrained feet curved into a perfectly arched point. “When you’re older and you get your pointe shoes, your feet will look just like hers.” She pointed to a poster on the wall. The ballerina was posed in a releve in fourth position, standing on her toes clad in shiny pink shoes. Her back was arched almost as much as her feet, her hand clutching a Spanish fan.
“Pointe shoes are weird.” She crinkled her nose at the thought of dancing on her tiptoes all day. Mrs. Mackenzie laughed, the bubbly sound booming over the soft piano CD. “They can be painful at times,” she admitted. “But aren’t they beautiful?”
Grade 3 was a particularly difficult level for her. She struggled to grasp the concepts of an assemblé and remember the difference between dessus and dessous. Mrs. Mackenzie sighed as the nine-year-old performed yet another botched pas de bourée. “It’s a pas de bourée under! Back, side, front not front, side, back!” she called across the studio, miming the movements with her hands. The girl tried the step once again to no avail. She could not seem to cross her feet to the back without getting tangled up. “Pas de bourées are weird,” she whined. The one and a half hour long ballet class was starting to wear her out. “They are in your exam syllabus,” said Mrs. Mackenzie sternly. “You must get them right. Your exam is next week.”
Four years. It took four more years of solid ballet training for her to reach Intermediate, the first major exam level. At this level, you were
considered almost professional. She started warming up at the barre while waiting for Mrs. Mackenzie, trying to soften her brand new pointe shoes. It was then that she noticed a young girl, maybe eight years old, staring at her from the window. She headed to the half-open door, planning to tell her that this was a private lesson and she shouldn’t be watching. When the door opened however, it was the eight-year-old who spoke first. “Who are you?” she asked bluntly. She was taken aback at the young girl’s audacity. “Bella,” she replied anyway. It was slightly suspicious. This child was so bold, so curious. “Why do you like ballet?” pressed the eight-year-old. “I don’t know,” answered Bella. Truthfully, she had never put much thought into why she loved it. She just did. Thinking the girl was finished with her questions, she began practising her posé tours. “You’re weird.” Bella almost fell off her shoes at that comment. She could almost hear the ghost of that word swirling around her mouth, gathering memories in her mind. She smiled. “I know. You don’t know me yet.”
The Pweetiest Girl Fairy Ever by Saraid Taylor I was looking good. It was kind of that rugged, wild, hot rockstar, teenagechick idol, attractive-guy-next-door, kind of look. The fairy crown gave it that added touch. "Ben-o, my man, tell me again why I must be the Fairy Princess?" A pirate with a toy parrot on his shoulder and squiggles drawn with black eyeliner for stubble, turned and gave me a twisted grin. "Aaaarrr, you're lookin' good, me hearty!" The eyepatch came off and the pirate morphed into Ben. I nudged him. "Focus, Benny, buddy. How come you get to be the good one?" "'Cause I was the one who got us the gig." Ben passed me a pair of sparkly pink fairy wings. I positioned the wings on my back dramatically and fluttered them a bit to see how they glinted in the light. "I look ridiculous." "That's your suffering ego talking, Mitch," Ben grabbed a fairy-wand and a basket full of bubble blowers. My hands that were busily combing my curls, suddenly found themselves full of high-tec fairy equipment.
I groaned. "This is too embarrassing. The Big M is about to commit social suicide." Ben adjusted his pirate garb in the mirror and gave a little smile. "What's the problem, Mitchell? You look magical."
The garden was jam-packed with four year olds. I put a hand to my forehead. "I'm feeling unwell, man, sick, feverish. This is not a good idea, Ben, buddy. Not. A. Good. Idea." "Mitch, take a big breath now. You're a big boy. Think of the money we get for running a two hour party for four year olds. A two hour party." "You're right, you're right. Gosh, I'm glad you're here, Benny. I'll be on my deathbed and you'll be sprinkling me with cash, instead of running for a doc." Ben grabbed me and led me through the magical gate, into Fairyland. Before, he could roar out his enthusiastic, "Aaaarrr, I've heard somebody's havin' a birthday parrtay!" I pushed him behind a tree and flew after him. "Uh, Ben, thought you said this was for four year olds." "What are you playing at, Mitch! Of course it is." "Well, do you mind explaining then," I said slowly, "Why your very special friend Mia is sitting next to a, may I say, extremely attractive brunette, drinking fairy lemonade, and nibbling a piece of fairy bread?"
I may as well have punched him in the stomach. He peered around the tree. His eyes bulged and he stood there like a shocked mullet. Uh oh. Possibly not a good idea. "Nah, we're cool, Ben, ya know, they'll just think we're good with the kiddies." No response. "Stay with me, man. We're both here, remember? And you're not the one decked out like Fairyzilla." I waved a hand in front of his eyes. "Earth to Benny boy. Come in, come in." His eyelashes fluttered. "Yeah, we're good." "Thank God." I grabbed his wrist and pretended to feel for a pulse. "And his heart is beating again." Ben snatched his hand back. "You're hilarious." He knocked his pirate hat to the right slightly. "You ready to go?" "Wait, we're not still going in there, are we?" Ben passed me back my fairy wand and made to step around the tree. "Oi, wait!" But Ben had returned to the world of fairies.
The little kids all skipped around blowing bubbles. I lay comfortably on a patch of grass, Ben beside me deep in conversation with Mia. Well, Mia was deep in conversation, Ben was deep in space. I'd nudge him every now and then just to keep the convo rolling. The stunning brunette introduced as Summer was opposite me. "My cousin really loved the party, guys." Mia was smiling. "You did such a good job." At that moment, the Birthday Girl wandered over.
"Hey, Eb. How'd you enjoy your party?" "It was weally fun. I liked them." Ebony pointed a sticky finger at me and Ben. "The pirate was weally funny." "What about the Fairy Princess?" Summer inquired, giving me a nudge. At this touch, my heart did a very good attempt at beating its way of my ribcage. "I fort the Wairy Pwincess was the pweetiest girl fairy ever," Ebony said firmly. Everyone laughed except me. Did a four year old just say I looked like a girl? "But I'm a boy." I said. She looked at me closely. "Well, dat's weird."
Musical Notes by Isabella Luck
“I don’t think I can do this,” said Annie as we stood outside the building. “Annie! You’ll be fine. You will play brilliantly,” I said trying to reassure my panicking friend. “No no no! I am going to muck up halfway through the song. You know how I get sweaty palms and then I play all the wrong notes,” Annie came from a long line of prestigious piano players. Her late grandmother and mother had been talents in their own rights. Both of them had taught Annie from a young age, but she just wasn’t as talented in that department. Annie loved sport and the long hours spent cooped up inside the house frustrated her. But she couldn’t disappoint her family. We wandered into the concert hall and took ours seats. I was number eleven while Annie was number six. “Number six? That’s so soon. I can’t do this,” she muttered under her breath. “Don’t worry. If you stuff up, I’ll make sure I stuff up even more, and then no one will remember yours,”
Annie looked at me appreciatively and we settled down to listen to the other performances. The first five performers had obviously spent time and money. They each stood up in their suits or evening gowns and bowed gracefully before sitting down. They then made a big show of adjusting their chair and placing their unused music down beside them. Annie and I clutched our music books nervously, we hadn’t memorised our songs. Then they performed long and intricate songs. Their bodies flowing as one with their music and Annie got more and more nervous. “How many performers are there?” she whispered to me. “I think about 35 people,” “Do you think they’ll all be this good?” I watched the girl playing the piano. “Maybe, this competition has very high standards,” Annie sat quietly for the rest of the performance. “Grandmother, please lend me your strength,” Annie muttered under her breath. The fifth performer finished her piece and after a round of applause, Annie was called up. I gave her hand a squeeze and felt the sweat dripping off. She was so nervous.
“Performer Eleven, Annie Bec.” The lady called for Annie again and she walked off towards the stage. Her gait was of a prisoner walked to the guillotine. “You can do it Annie!” I whispered. I watched her bow stiffly and then sit down. She wiped her hands nervously on her pants and sat down on the chair. Then she tried to adjust it and I watched the chair rise higher and higher until she could no longer reach the pedals. Laughter rippled through the crowd. Annie flushed red and quickly readjusted the chair. Her fingers trembled as they hovered above the keys. And then she started to play. Beautiful music flowed from the piano and the audience was transfixed. It was a song that I had never heard her play before but it was beautiful and reminded me of summer days spent in the sunlight. Her performance was far better than anyone else’s and the best in her life. I watched her face, originally bright pink, turn white with exertion. The piece ended far too soon and the audience clapped loud and long. Annie bowed and came back to take a seat beside me. Her face was very pale. “That was beautiful Annie! I didn’t know you had it in you,” I joked as I lightly punched her on the shoulder. “Yeah, but…”
“What’s wrong?” “That song that I played, I’ve never learnt it before,” “Oh wow, natural talent!” “No, it was the song that my grandmother always played. The song that she told me to learn, but I never did,” We looked at each other as a chilly gust of wind passed through the hall.
ChildreN’s POeTry 7-10 years Where Do Trains Go?: Rhianna Dobbs, Lue, NSW Unusual Uncanny: Meg Weng, Moorabin ,Vic Creeping Quiet: Meg Weng, “ “
Where Do Trains Go? By Rhianna Dobbs
Trains bustling, trains hustling, trains rustling all the leaves. Trains racing, trains hastening, trains speeding through the stations. Trains roaring, trains snoring, trains soaring through the wind.
Unusual Uncanny by Meg Weng Weird is a swirly purple It tastes like Jam mixed with Vegemite It smells like fresh flowers in a dumpster Weird looks like its wearing shorts and sunglasses in the blizzard It sounds like a scientist chomping on a dictionary Weird drives me Bonkers!!!!!
Creeping Quiet by Meg Weng Creak!! Strange , Bonkers Creeping , Maddening , Puzzling Scariness , Craziness ,Strike , Midnight Squeaking , Squealing , Squawking Spooky , Wild Weird
ChildreN’s POeTry 11-13 years That’s Weird: Madeleine Rose Smith, Hurlstone Park NSW Stations Go By: Ashleigh Robinson, Lue, NSW Weird: Angel Wallace-Miles, Southport Qld
That’s Weird By Madeline Rose Smith And then my mind ran away and ignoring the rules, it drifted, longing, yearning for somewhere less wrong and demented, without weird people bereft of mouths that speak words of compassion or thoughts that dwell long on others. Weirdly hard to find, is that hallowed land so my mind stopped searching, then thought about something, it mused and pondered and wondered, until it said ‘that’s weird’. A boat’s ride away, death flies on bullets.
Doom sings on bombs, and boat children, real, more real than weird and twisted plastic perfections, terrified, denied the right to live without fear. They starve on the tumultuous, plunging decks of boats as precarious as our world. A world where those fleeing from persecution and death, turned away and abandoned at the very last hurdle, as they try to be one of those weird, merciless people, who grow fat in safety, and forget about those stretched thin by danger. They are pushed away on our doorsteps.
Stations Go By By Ashleigh Robinson
Trains are on the railway clickety-clack. I’m on my way, I have my way To get my way. I like to play On the train. A wink of an eye – Stations go by
Weird By Angel Wallace-Miles I approach the door. Not knowing if I can take anymore, The door hinges creaks, I think “Did I just hear a shriek?” Can I even take this? This should even exist! The lights have blown out, It really makes me pout, You’ll probably think it’s hell, Because it’s messy and it really smells, There’s cans on the floor, And hangers on the door, The walls are stained, You’ll probably feel pained, It’s disgustingly dirty and rank, And full of things that I drank. It’s mucky and mouldy and full of mess, It’s got creepy-crawlies; well that’s what I guess. It’s dark and scary and full of gloom, But what can I say, it’s just my bedroom!
ChildreN’s POeTry 14-16 years Morning with no Glory: Jade Tendolle, Arundel Hills, Qld News that Makes Life Weird: Fallon McGrath, Ashmore, Qld Train to Nowhere: Isabella Luk, Springvale South, Vic
Morning with No Glory By Jade Tendolle I wake up in the morning and what do I see? A whacky girl staring back at me. Hair, a tangle, a mass of straw A hay stack complete with feathers and more. Eyes bulging, buggy and blue, So startled you’d think I yelled ‘boo!’ And might I say, her skin, scarlet blotches galore! So spotted and dotted with marks none would adore. And what’s this I see dangling from her nose? A fountain of green as if I turned on the hose! Oh dear, oh dear this is quite a sight, When I first got up I received quite the fright.
A fountain running from her mouth as well! And my god! What is that awful smell? And yet all I can do is laugh, Just laugh. How strange I see, She is laughing at the same time as me. Thereâ€™s a border that frames her face with the reflective surface that confirms my disgrace. The girl that stares back at me, The girl that I see is me. Quick! Start repair before the worst can be, Quick! Start repair before anyone sees the weirdo is me!
News That Makes Life Weird By Fallon McGrath As the sun goes down And it becomes darker and darker. And nobody is home, But yet they should be here.
The phone rings, You pick it up. Then you hear the news, That you donâ€™t want to know.
All of a sudden Itâ€™s even darker, Darker then night and darker then dark. The words you hear are just like ice, Cold and plain and worse, Because these ones will never melt.
Your life is different and weird now And nothing will be the same, Because of those few words.
Train to Nowhere By Isabella Luk Everyday I took the train to school Grew accustomed to its twist and turns The tunnels became familiar to me And the lonely trips home Became a daily part of life
But then everything changed
I stood at the station A few minutes before the train came As this was the schedule I followed And I boarded the train Like I usually did
And then something changed
The train hurtled along the track
Through places foreign to me And I sat bewildered
Confused as who where I was On an empty carriage by myself
I ran through the lonely carriage Without another soul And then I saw a forlorn figure Sitting by themself
I approached the stranger And asked him where we were He turned to me with his blank eyes and said â€œTo the very depths of hellâ€?
paint and prose A Competition for Gold Coast Writers Association Members
Memories of an Elephant: Helga Glinatsis Artist : Penelope Churchward Trinnieâ€™s First Adventure: Jill Smith Artist: Lorraine Blomberg Celebrity: Terry Spring Artist: Diane Richardson
Peopleâ€™s Choice: Terry Spring
Judge Harrie Bahlin said he was looking for a strong bond between the artwork and the writing. For that reason, he chose the first three.
Painting by Penelope Churchward
WINNing writer Memories of an Elephant By Helga Glinatsis The old matriarch of the eleven-member herd lifted her trunk high into the air and sensed in a split second that something sad had happened to her closest, old friend. She guided carefully her younger and older family members across the slow, steady flowing stream, which was surrounded by juicy grass and round, solid rocks. As she walked she remembered an event, which was carved deeply into her memory. It happened many, many moons ago during the great, devastating drought in South Africa, when several herds had gathered together in search of life-giving water. The baby elephant huddled close to her mother, walking in her shadow to stay cool and trying hard to keep up with her long steps. Out of nowhere several jeeps appeared, surrounded them and cruel, angry men started shooting at them. To warn the clan, her mother gave out a loud, tormented trumpeting sound before collapsing to the ground on top of her baby, nearly suffocating her. A few adult elephants charged the attackers while the rest made a protective circle around their young ones.
They were no match against the firing rifles and never-ending bullets of the ivory poachers. Struggling to breathe and shivering with fear, the baby felt her motherâ€™s body getting colder and colder while the frightening sounds of hyenas came closer and closer. Before losing consciousness, she looked up at the familiar and almost full yellow moon lighting up the savanna. Suddenly a blinding surge of light from a helicopter and more gunfire brought her back to reality. Sad tears ran from her soft eyes; she felt so alone and afraid. When dawn broke an unknown stranger whispered softly into her ear, gently patted her trunk and freed her from her motherâ€™s heavy body. She saw her mutilated brothers and sisters; cautiously she followed her saviour as he led her far away from this gruesome place. He took her home to his range where he cared for her, showed her love and gentleness, and rehabilitated her by giving her a new family and clan in the savanna. Now she trumpeted and signalled her new clan as once her mother had. The elephants walked for many miles to the home of the elephant whisperer, Lawrence Anthony. Somehow they knew that he had died. The whole clan stood at his home in mourning for two days to show their deep respect for the friend they had lost. His wife and children were overcome with emotion. The elephants moved on, teaching their young ones that not all humans will harm them and sometimes there are incredible men like Lawrence Anthony.
Runner Up Trinnieâ€™s First Adventure By Jill Smith
Artist: Lorraine Blomberg Trinny sat on the beach watching the waves. Collie dog crouched at her side waiting patiently to be noticed so they could play a game. Trinny was far too busy discussing adventures with Ted. Ted Bear Esquire was her best friend, and he told her about his many adventures in places far across the sea. He described markets with
strange sounding names. The many friends he’d met. The sounds of bells and drums, and, the exotic aromas of foods Ted would never try to eat, all just across the water. ‘We could go there if we had a boat.’ Trinny got excited. Her braids bounced on her back when she stood up and clapped. ‘I know where we can find a boat.’ She led them to her Uncle’s boat on the pier. Ted talked about the biggest and best sweet shop, with tasty treats lined about the walls in glass cabinets, as they clambered into the dingy. ‘I’m tired,’ Trinny stretched and snuggled down with Collie settled beside her. Ted yawned, the sun was warm. Soon they were all asleep. The wind picked up and tugged at the rope holding the boat to the pier. When Trinny woke she looked around, all she could see was water and a blue cloudless sky. ‘Oh Ted, we are a long way from the shore. I’m scared.’ Ted Bear Esquire stood up at the front of the boat and he began to whistle. ‘What are you doing?’ ‘I’m calling for help.’ Trinny saw a splash in the distance. Then another closer, she thought she saw a tail that looked like a whale’s tail, smaller, but, like those she’d seen in books. Startled, Trinny almost fell out of the boat when one head then another popped up beside the boat. They were beautiful women with long hair and kindly eyes. They dived and splashed water into the boat, their tails seemed to change colour from green to gold. ‘Mermaids,’ Ted explained. Trinny clapped and her braids bounced again. Collie dog barked and Trinny had to hold her collar to settle her down. The boat started moving.
‘They are pushing us to shore,’ Ted nodded. Trinny was too excited to speak, they were going very fast. ‘There’s Mum on the beach, she must be looking for us.’ They were almost at the shore when Ted whistled goodbye to the Mermaids who dived and were gone. ‘Time to get out, and now Trinny, you have had your very own adventure.’ Collie bounced out of the boat and ran along the shore. ‘Ted, I won’t be able to tell anyone, they won’t believe me.’ ‘Oh, but you will be able to remember it. One day, when you have children of your own, you will be able to tell them about the Mermaids.’ Ted gave Trinny a wink and he whispered, ‘I’m not really a talking bear.’ Trinny laughed as her mother swept her up into her arms. Ted crushed between them.
PeOPleâ€™s ChOiCe Celebrity By Terry Spring
Artist: Diane Richardson
Collecting her from the hotel, Peter realised Francine hadnâ€™t recognised him in his uniform. However, when she walked outside to his limousine everyone knew her. The famous singer mesmerised the waiting men and women. The day had dawned bright and clear and Francine had emerged to morning sunshine and a swarm of camera-ready press. In large sunglasses and straw hat, she appeared unsmiling, talking animatedly on a phone, ignoring everyone. The throng snapped away at the star being ushered into the car by a harassed publicist and Peter saw Francine looked strained and agitated, her stress growing as cars and scooters clustered dangerously near the limo, following as it sped to the beach. The crew had set up shade- umbrellas, refreshments and a portable hut for make-up and swimsuit changes to be undertaken. Word spread and crowds gathered to watch this notoriously private woman posing for Vogue Magazine in her latest line of bikinis. Twenty people for a magazine shoot â€“ it seemed over-kill to Peter, who remained in the white stretchlimousine. As the day grew hotter, the crew and photographers were joined by more fans and passers-by until chunky security guards endeavoured to move the people along. Peter had been retained for the day and stayed near his limo watching the photo-shoot as Francine preened and pouted, swapped swimsuits and looked into the distance. She changed six times and between shots either
sat on the sand or walked the shoreline alone. When she reclined in a sunchair wearing ridiculously high heels, she ensured her long legs were shown to advantage. Her flawless face and famous dimples came alive for the Vogue camera but, when she wasn’t posing, the singer looked bored and aloof, sipping mineral water through a straw, speaking on her phone or texting with just an occasional wan smile for the crew, ignoring Peter. Just another uniformed driver, she obviously didn’t remember him. The day grew hotter and dust from a distant grass fire wafted towards the ocean. The shoot over, the light began to fade and the sun nudged its way across the sky slowly turning it blood-red. Fans drew nearer, autograph-books out-stretched. Francine signed and posed, mobile phones thrust into her face, capturing her unwilling smile. A rosy glow enveloped everything as the publicist and security guards moved into the crowd and manoeuvred Francine towards the now-pink limo’s open door, frenzied camera-flashes flaring in the singer’s face. Engulfed in the ruby haze, Francine hurtled through the open door into the back seat, her face grim, yelling at Peter to move. She tossed her hat onto the seat as he negotiated the car away from the kerb, but the publicist was left outside, banging on the car door. Peter turned to his passenger silently pointing to the noise, questioning whether he should stop. Francine waved him on, shouting ‘GO’. Wipers scurried back and forth across the windscreen and an orange-coloured
mob encircled the limo. Slowly the car pulled away through the horde spilling onto the roadway, hands hitting the chassis, the energy outside growing louder. Negotiating the stretch limo took all Peter’s concentration, not wanting to hit any of the swirling crowd. In the now orange dusk, shadowy people banged on the doors and shouted, clinging to the car unable to see through the darkened windows, whilst in the cool air inside, Francine sobbed. The vehicle inched its way forward away from the din, finally free to speed its way to the quiet oasis of Francine’s hotel. Next morning the sky had returned to blue and bright sunshine flooded the hotel’s glass entrance. Francine ignored the waiting crowd who yelled, snarled and elbowed each other in a bid to bask in her light. She climbed into Peter’s limo and huddled into the seat, back into the cocoon of safety as the car drove away to the airport. On arrival, a petulant Francine was ushered into the VIP lounge aware all eyes focussed on her. Airline staff whispered and travellers nudged one another, openly judgemental and staring. Peter sighed to himself and took off his cap. In hindsight, his decision to give-up a music career to be with his family and become a chauffeur didn’t seem such a bad one after all. If this was fame Francine was welcome to it.
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A collection of winning entries to the adult, children's and paint and prose competitions conducted by the Gold Coast Writers Association.