Euphoria Edition 4 2020
Foreword I think we’re all relieved 2020 is coming to a close. It has certainly thrown the unexpected, and I’m sure we’re all eager to enter the new year. So, it’s fitting to end on a positive magazine theme as we pretend the new year is already here and try and get as far away from 2020 as possible. In this edition, we have pieces about being in love, finding and forming your personal identity, and, overall, finding and being in a state of euphoria. Well done to everyone involved in WORDLY this year—whether you’ve been a contributor, a designer, an editor, a reader, or you’ve worked behind the scenes—you’ve all made a wonderful contribution, and I’m sure, at the beginning of this year, none of us expected we’d be making a magazine in a pandemic. Hopefully, 2021 is a little more roaring. Julie Dickson
Managing Editor: Becky Croy
Communications Manager: Jessica Wartski
Front Cover Artist:
Financial Manager: Hassaan Ahmed
Social Media Manager: Jess Ali
Editors: Elisabeth Roberts Sini Salatas Jessica Wartski Jason Winn
Grishtha Arya James Barnett Chloe Blanchard Georgie Brimer Matthew Galic Sheridan Harris Jessica Hinschen Michael Pallaris Loren Sirel Zoe Trezise
Contributors: Liam Ball Melissa Bandara James Barnett Beth Brown Brianna Bullen AJ Charles Lisel Christiansen Alf Ciriaco Danielle Davison Rowen De Lacy Julia Fazzari Gabby Chantelle Gourlay Rebekah Griffin Toby Jeffs Teodora Kopic Katie McClintock Blair Morilly Martine Rose Anders Ross Venetia Slarke Abbigail Smith Gaden Sousa Friederike Wiessner
WORDLY would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and pay respects to Elders past and present. © 2020 Deakin University Student Association Inc Reg. No. A0040625Y All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. Opinions expressed in this publication belong to their respective authors, and it may not be the opinions of WORDLY or DUSA. Unattributed images sourced from Unsplash and Adobe Creative Cloud Assets. Want to advertise? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Contents 04 07 09 12 14 18 21
Sunrise Rebekah Griffin
Finding Euphoria Rowen De Lacy
HMS Plenipotent Anders Ross
Funsies Melissa Bandara
Mystic Falls Jessica Wiseman
Life in the Snow Brianna Bullen
Euphoria and Where She Lies Blair Morilly
23 Warped Reality 25 27 30 32
Abbigail Smith Pompeii Blue Liam Ball
Cotton Candy Jessica Wiseman
34 Not a Goodbye, but a Quiet Wave of Acknowledgment Lisel Christiansen
The First Meeting Chantelle Gourlay Afternoon Bliss Alf Ciriaco
Iâ€™m 37 Â°C hot ice Friederike Wiessner
Tears of Joy Teodora Kopic
The Borderline Martine Rose Anything Toby Jeffs Flight Danielle Davison
Dancing in Jubilation Venetia Slarke Bared to the Moon Julia Fazzari
A Place Called Home James Barnett
Degraves Beth Brown
Momentum in Life Abbigail Smith Mr Whippy AJ Charles
He told me he loved me during the middle of a phone-call, his voice crackling slightly as the words reverberated through the car. I was weaving through traffic, half asleep, on my way to work. My phone wedged between the seatbelt and my collarbone, sunlight streaming through the windscreen. I recoiled at the sudden flash of sunrise that burned dancing circles across my retina. ‘What?’ I asked, squinting as I flipped the visor down. ‘I love you,’ he repeated. The sunglasses I was wrestling one-handed tumbled into the gaping chasm beneath my seat as my mouth fell open. ‘I…’ I what? My heart started pounding, tears began to erupt from my eyes. A car horn startling me as I pulled over to the side of the road. My face was hot and my skin felt strange, tingling, like I had been sitting stagnant for too long. Is this what it was supposed to feel like? He wasn’t the first to say those words. Indeed, I had heard them many times before from many different mouths. They bounced around in my memory like the colours swirling in my vision. The first was a boy whose name I remember, but whose face I can’t recall. I was seven, he was eight. We met under the peppercorn tree at recess. He handed me a Fantale, planted a sloppy kiss on my lips, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as he said those three words. I repeated them back, staring hungrily at the chocolate-coated treat. I thought about that kiss all afternoon as it melted on my tongue. He broke my heart the next day when the routine was repeated with my best friend—only he gave her a Freddo Frog instead. The next was a boy from the Catholic High School. We were fourteen and danced together at a red-light disco. I insisted on giving him my phone number. He rang the next day and asked me why I wanted him to call. I was stumped. Wasn’t that what we were supposed to do—exchange phone numbers at a dance and live happily ever after? Three months later, he was feeling me up behind the playground at the river. As he heaved hot breath onto my neck, he moaned those three words and begged me to let him do it. I declined, but I repeated his line, an alternative surrender. A week later, I dumped him for calling my brother a moron. The third was my boss. I was eighteen. He was twenty. He approached me when I was finishing my last shift and asked me to dinner. I was about to move across the state and wasn’t sure if he was serious or not. I thought it was cute as his face flushed red when I asked why he waited until I quit to ask me out. He told me there was a rule that he wasn’t supposed to date the staff. We were together less than a month when we messily gave up our virginities to each other. Afterwards, I told him those three words. I wanted it to mean more than it had felt. He said, ‘I was never gonna do it with someone unless I loved them, so I guess this means I do too.’ Three years, and three hundred arguments later, he left me for one of the drive-thru chicks. I guess he didn’t really play by the rules after all. I wish that was the worst. The worst was the one who never really said it at all. He lured me in with late night phone calls and alcohol. I fell, for the first time, and thought I knew what those mysterious words finally meant. He became a puzzle to solve, an obsession that I could not shake. I had to know what the secret was, what special thing could I do to make him say it? It was whispered once in the dark, in a drunken, semi-conscious state, as he ripped off my bra. I knew he meant it, even when he told me, he didn’t remember. But I knew he did… …didn’t he?
He said it with his smile when he laughed at my jokes.
He said it with his eyes, surprised when I outwitted him.
It was an arm around my shoulder when someone else took interest.
It was the pride in his voice as he spouted off my achievements while he turned sausages on the barbecue and tipped his beer with the boys.
But it wasn’t. And he didn’t. He didn’t say it until later, until it was way too late. And even then, I don’t think he really meant it.
It wasn’t until the sun hit my face, as the man who would be the last, said those three words through the phone, without agenda, that I really knew what they meant. I turned off the engine, tears streaming down my face as cars rushed past on the highway. There was silence for a moment, until his nervous voice asked: ‘Are you okay?’
A sob escaped my throat, as I searched myself for an answer. When I realised why I was crying, I started laughing. ‘I—I dropped my glasses!’ I exclaimed through tears. ‘I dropped them, and I love you too!’ We laughed together, and I wiped my eyes as I looked in the rear-view mirror.
I knew that it was real this time. He said it, and he wasn’t even close to me. Our relationship had formed despite the distance that separated us, oceans we crossed everyday just to hear each other’s voice. He wasn’t tempting me with chocolate. He was on the phone as he stood in line at the airport, about to embark on a 22-hour journey, just to see me. He wasn’t whispering so no-one else would know. He hadn’t offered it as payment for a kiss.
He wasn’t trying to coax it from me with one hand down my shirt.
He didn’t need anything from me, and I hadn’t said it first: because I didn’t need to hear it. But still he said it. And then he said it again, and again, and again. And I said it too. And even to this day, we don’t just say it. We show it. Neither of us need to guess it. It just is.
It’s as glaringly obvious as that burst of sunlight that streaks across the windshield of your car. It makes you blink dancing circles and drop your sunglasses as you struggle to flip the visor down and try not to careen into oncoming traffic. It’s sweeter than a Fantale, or a hundred Freddo Frogs.
It’s more joyful than dancing to your favourite song with a cute boy at a disco.
It’s better than the taste of cold beer and a warm snag in summer at a barbecue with your friends. It’s even better than sex. We don’t need to question it. If it is, it just is. It is always there, like the sunrise.
When we hung up, I turned the radio up as loud as I could and sang at the top of my lungs, all the way to work.
A Place Called Home
Among the tall gums that stand stiff like eternal soldiers
The bush teems with life and goes on like it always does Where it is vast and complex, a landscape forever changing
But always remaining the same
You stand amidst this utopia and dream of a better tomorrow
When you should revel and live in the today
For in these quiet moments and in this very spot of existence
You feel in place, at home, where you are supposed to be A kookaburra laughs at an unspoken joke
Your boots crunch the dry foliage of beige and umber An echidna tightens itself at the sound
Fog lingers in the trees, in wait of an inevitable
Hot Australian sun to dry it and everything else into husks
It cracks the earth creating a maze of lines
From lush viridity to the sparse chestnut days
No other place is quite like the place you call home
By Jessica Wiseman
The First Meeting Chantell ChantelleGourlay Gourlay
It was the Kiss of
Honey-sweet nectar Upon purpled-lips, Blackish
And bruised Like a
Ripened plum. A mist-light Weight
Meeting my Tongue,
Singing through Every pore and Dancing along My bones.
With a Hint
Blurring my Senses like
A warm hug. The hand
Upon my cheek, Comforting
And familiar, Lulling me
Into a state Of pure Bliss.
Rowen De Lacy
Euphoria is found in words. The ‘sir, uh, ma’am, sir, uh …’ or the declaration of a knee-high child after a long, calculating look that ‘This person is getting on the tram too’. It’s in the dark places when ‘the gentleman in the
back seat needs a swab’ or ‘the gentleman in bed five …’ or ‘he’s finished with the IV’. It’s even in the insults where it shouldn’t live, and the linger of a hissed ‘faggot’ will follow you for days, filling you with an unexpected urge to laugh, because he’s right! You are!
Euphoria is in the confused looks, scanning you up and down, meeting your eyes, desperate for a hint you will not give. It’s the smiles at your badge. It’s the knowing looks on the bus, the tram, the train. Those ‘I see you, I know you, I am you’ looks. It’s in the relief on a face that for once won’t need to explain why their ID doesn’t match.
Euphoria is in button-up shirts and trashy bowling alley carpet prints. It’s in turquoise nail polish, purple eyeliner,
bright red lips. It’s the dress that finally fits, albeit that your chest is held so tight you cannot breathe. It’s the hoodies that shelter you on the bad days, the jumpers you wear on the good, and the worn, familiar jacket that’s stitched all over with your thoughts.
Euphoria is in the typed word that is so powerful, that gives you so much joy it hurts more than you ever thought a word could, because you’ve never known what it meant to be alive until this moment, and being birthed into existence makes you feel so raw you beg him to delete the message.
Euphoria is in the days where the good outweighs the bad. Your shoulders are a little wider. Your muscles are a little
stronger. Your gait is a little faster. And there’s hair on your toes, your legs, the backs of your thighs, your stomach, your chest, your arms. A moustache fills itself in day by day, and you don’t hate it the way you expected to. The dark hairs you don’t want on your chin still make you giddy with excitement—a child on their birthday—and the new ritual of a cutthroat blade and soft, scented soap is worth every one. You even find it in the acne.
Euphoria comes in a little glass vial with a 21-gauge needle. It’s a stab into your thigh and a dull ache that always lingers. It’s in the new name on the box, on your card, on their lips. The shout of it in a waiting room. The promise of a scalpel and a remaking of flesh.
Euphoria is in every new day, and it has no plans to leave.
RUN BY STUDENTS, FOR STUDENTS
By Alf Ciriaco
@alfieedraws 11 11
Life in the Snow
She collects landmarks on her desk.
Novelty turned stagnant. Big Ben in a bauble, Trolltunga
in a dome: seventy snow-globes—Christmas collected. Student loan spending’s
organised in geographically aligned lines. Her last lover gave her the Great Wall as a parting gift, leaving with his
sense of humour. Her mother, Notre Dame Cathedral. A peace offering. She needs to call the woman, but the phone is always engaged when she tries to bridge their distance,
already wider than the Pacific. Skype sessions stilt their short words. The Yarra River loops around her
Melbourne; she looks into the CBD, cut-off behind her window, and disdain for its industrial influences. Ophelia—fragmented as Picasso—grows
aslant the brook rooted in Southbank. Why? She does not know. She has no control
over town planning. Notre Dame weighs in her palm. A café corner, hot chocolate spilling Euros, and an old man choking My Way out of an accordion in a kitsch postcard soundscape. Warm feelings kindle the moment, seen through memory’s frame—as she looks past its glass to her own. She once thought there was a crack in the window’s corner. Just a spider-web stain. Placing the bauble down, she idles away her day. Every minute, a flake falls down
within the light of her snow-globe never seeming to accumulate any
Iâ€™m 37Â°C hot ice
Life rushing through my aorta, pumping oxygen from my lungs to the smallest and least appreciated cells, the life that comes out of my mouth like mist on an icy January night or when walking along a
barren field at sunset, 4 pm, orange light dipping the stubble on the ground into a glaze of transparent fire, the trees like intricate rivers leading into the sky, with clouds, mutely rolling waves, finally extinguished by the ball of golden light floating within. Cold air rushing from my chest into my
fingertips, my heat in the aether, a passionate and wet exchange of aggregate state, life, and stillness. I now grow roots that do not hold me fast; I suddenly know I can carry and plant them anywhere
We have decided to take a day of rest, and on the contrary, it has not been. Seventy-eight days sailing, a preponderance of which have been through the dullness of calm, open sea, out where even the birds, having lost interest, deserted our gunwales long ago, has meant any vision of dry land—or hope therein—comes as welcome respite.
It was Sagan who first sighted the breakers crashing against an invisible coastline several miles ahead. His being the very eyes, however bleary and sunburnt, that gave our ship—HMS Plenipotent—its nautical aegis. A local boy raised in the drydocks of Plymouth, his chapped lips split into a joyful smile as he cried from the bow, ‘Land! Land ahead!’
I had been sat at the time, despondent more than one would have liked, in my quarters below deck. A game of backgammon tormented me in its half-finished state, as Jenkins busied himself in the furrows of the last dry map laid upon our communal writing desk. We scarcely glanced up as Sagan stood in the threshold of the room.
‘Sir, I come bearing news. There is land, for which I am sure, is a safe harbour for us to enter.’ He spoke with the urgency of a schoolboy running a fool’s errand, lookout’s cap in hand to reveal a rain-drenched forehead. He puffed twice before continuing, ‘I believe this to be the start of the ninety-mile beach we were told existed.’ He unfurls a scrap of parchment for both Jenkins and I to see. Jenkins takes the map and studies it for a moment without speaking, before nodding his head and congratulating the young charge. He looks to me. ‘Sir, we will make the necessary arrangements for an expeditionary party. We leave at dawn.’ A vivid diarist is Jenkins, the use of the spoken word by him is economical at best. That night it seemed as if all the stars were watching over us, peeking out from their blue velvet blanket before the southern sky. We had been encouraged by the successful dropping of anchor and, hitting the seafloor, celebrated above deck as the light was good, the wind down enough to light candles as we dined. I took this bonny opportunity to recount the past three months to the dozen men of the crew. This time bid fair the great achievement we had made in spite of rampant grief in the first weeks. There were torn sails from overzealous rigging and men overboard, to seeking repair in the commercial port of Marseilles and later, becoming stricken along the coral reefs off Western Australia. Betwixt the ham hock soup and poached pheasant, the men shared their respective fatigue and dreams of dry land. ‘Mercifully ‘tis fresh this time,’ Gurney said, saluting the shimmering centrepiece upon the makeshift table we had fashioned out of camp beds and spare capstans. ‘It could well be our last square meal for some time,’ he spoke with an elegiac look crossing his crag-like face. The Plenipotent begins to list in the gentleness of the early hours; there is no sound from the wind. Jenkins and the senior charges, I can see through the mullioned window of my quarters, are preparing the rowboats for the dawn mission.
The Plenipotent begins to list in the gentleness of the early hours; there is no sound from the wind. Jenkins and the senior charges, I can see through the mullioned window of my quarters, are preparing the rowboats for the dawn mission.
We shall take eight men in the two boats, rowing two abreast, stroke to bow, leaving space enough for whatever materials we might find. This, it is hoped, will accord us the lightest craft should the weather cruel, and swift evading action be needed.
Later, my anxiety for the boats was unfounded. Neither vessel nor crew came to grief during the arduous crossing—a towering swell sought to repel us from this desert island. Yet in the sheer white of the dawn, upon the snow blessed shore, a curious sight greeted us. Seals. Hundreds of them. With a rookery of royal penguins making observations from a passing floe.
Sagan and Merri, the boatswain, already having replaced the canvas of either rowboat, bulwarking them from the elements, approached the inquisitive creatures, now lining the crest above us like grey slugs upon a windowsill. I warned the men against such haste, but my voice was lost to the driving wind. The great beasts lowered their heads and snorted at the new bipedal visitors. ‘Sir, should I climb to higher ground?’ Sagan shouted, his voice fluent and clear from his leeside shelter. ‘I can signal to the ship from a few yards farther along.’
I drew my handkerchief—a rich red herringbone pattern—and waved it in approval as I knew any vocal sound fell deaf in the tormenting wind. I turned to Jenkins, who was by now sketching some of the lichen before him. ‘Do you believe the species to be hostile?’ ‘No, sir,’ he replied, pencil box laid out upon the mossy ground. ‘Gentle, in fact. So long as no man stands between a mother and its calf.’
‘And what of these grasses?’ I said regarding the sodden grey example, several yards away, bending in the wind. ‘Are they injurious to life, or will they help sustain it?’
Jenkins dismissed the fear. ‘I expect it to be pure, given the lack of pollution, collect as much as possible.’ He looked away from his drawing. ‘If it comes to Gehenna, we can draw clean water from it.’ We made camp upon the bluff, about four miles inland. We had expected twelve miles, but the decision of nightmarching became churlish as we had no stout shoes with spike enough to sound for crevasses beneath the moraine. A good deal of light snow fell during the night, leaving a beautiful serene picture as the sun rises—jubilant orange before white. It makes for unpleasant trekking as it begins to melt, however, causing our expedition through the moraine to become waylaid by minor accident. The men grow tired by their increased scientific burden, but their features do not betray them; spirits are high as the temperature falls below -7°. The prospect of becoming the first human beings to have traversed this subantarctic island steels them more than a fresh tin of marmalade (we have none).
As the lonely island becomes no longer visible upon the horizon, and the creaking cries of the royal penguins are replaced by the crepitations of our aching ship, exultation sweeps over the crew. We have below us, in the hull, a collection of wonders taken from the alien land, that perhaps only eight men have seen. To my joy, I have had no reason to use the letters of sympathy I and Jenkins had prepared for any lost party, including either man’s ‘Farewell’. But now, one notion strikes me as I write this from the midnight-still Hobart harbour. We have triumphed.
Tears of Joy 1616
By Teodora Kopic
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Euphoria and Where she Lies Blair Morilly
Joy. The euphoria that comes from being joyful. These are the things we all strive for in life. Whether that be
money, power, sex, influence, experience, it looks different for every person. But rarely we stop and wonder what true joy means, even while we spend all our time striving towards the things we think we want. For me, it was eye-opening to sit back and really indulge myself in what brought me the most excitement and joy.
Often when we search for happiness, we are confronted with what makes us unhappy, unfulfilled, and the importance of needing to change. I can understand how hard it is for all of us to authentically and honestly call ourselves joyful. But is it worth pursuing? Is it fulfilling? Life-changing? Absolutely.
For me, euphoria can present herself in many different places. For example, the situations associated with freedom. I remember walking out from the Vancouver airport on New Year’s morning, feeling the most alive
and free I have ever felt. I was utterly alone, and definitely felt that way (it wasn’t one of those situations
where it was like ‘the city or the landscape kept me company’, it was just me out there), but for the first time, in that moment, there was no one else in the world that I could rely on but myself. And that’s a pretty rare
thing to feel for someone like me. Someone who has lived in the same city her whole life, surrounded by her immediate family and friends. My home and the bubble I grew up in sheltered me, and this was the first time
I willingly surpassed my horizons to discover what life was like beyond them. To confront who I really was, on my own.
And boy did I find what I was looking for. I experienced what it was like to feel lost and afraid. To feel liberated and totally independent. Admittedly though, at times, the loneliness was unbearable. It’s hard to match the feeling of being in a fresh environment, with all this opportunity for new people and new
experience and still feeling invisible. But the joy of exploration, of the discovery of self, of facing your fears and throwing yourself into the unknown, trampled those moments of loneliness tenfold. It was the bravest
thing I have done so far, and I absolutely loved it. Euphoria visited me many times during those months, and I was always so glad when she did.
I think euphoria can also arise from the thrill of achievement. Sure, that can mean in a physical sense like your dream job or body or status. But for me, I like to view achievement as something different. Not necessarily better or worse, but perhaps a little less mainstream. I find I experience true joy through
personal, meaningful achievement. From the way my niece looks at me, in what I interpret as complete awe, respect, and love. How she trusts me to look out for her and truly believes that my intentions are geared
toward what I think will give her the best tools to use in life. Considering she is only two-years-old, I realise that this is a heck of a lot to assume about someone so small. But when you’re an aunty, you can’t help but get swept up by the love that you have and run away with it for a while. In reality, she probably just looks at
me that way to try and convince me to give her that extra piece of chocolate I know she wants. That sounds more legit. But I like my version better.
We all know that euphoria intertwines with love. Perhaps the love you feel for another. Whether that be
a new family member that has been brought into this world or the unexpected friendship you stumble upon, that is quickly becoming one of your most important relationships. That freedom of being your
authentic self around someone who has never made you doubt for a second who you are and who you want to become. There is no magic potion, no perfectly scripted soliloquy that encapsulates how that feeling
physically affects a person. How it affects me. But I would best describe it as warm, buzzing, intoxicating in the best way possible. Euphoria can very easily do that to you if she tries.
I think there is a lot to be said about the joy that comes from doing what you love. From talking about it
with loved ones to going out and letting your heart soar. For me, that’s doing just this. Writing. Creating. Storytelling. Warmth pulsates throughout my entire body whenever I think about it. I get excited at the
thought of one day calling myself a published writer, of showing my work or having it read out loud to a
crowd of people. Even thinking about having it critiqued, criticised even, makes my heart thump, as I would
have produced something that was worthy enough to be read. And that’s the crazy thing about euphoria: she always comes into the room when you need her. Most of the time, she tells the truth.
To create and connect with others is all I am ever going to want to do. And I know that. For me, this right here is what true joy feels like.
Euphoria herself has laid claim to the land that is my heart, and I am forever grateful to her.
It’s incredible, the speed of the switch.
I’m insignificant. I can’t do anything at all. I am the worst, the ugliest, least talented, least capable …
And then my brain decides that it’s had enough and switches sides.
I’m magnificent. I can do anything. I am the best. The prettiest. Most talented. Most capable.
It’s black and white. There is no grey, no colour. Hell or heaven. Depression or mania. Depression gives no hope; mania is saturated in it.
I’m suffocating. My lungs are drained, and I can’t fill them. One breath would save me, but I am gasping.
People say, ‘You’ll be okay.’ And I know that’s true because I know Soon enough my brain will switch. Once again feeling like God.
I’ll dye my hair blue, Pink, or red. Give myself a piercing. Get a tattoo. Permanent decisions to fix a temporary state of mind. The mania controls me.
If I had to choose one, I’d choose to be manic. It’s not ideal. But the euphoria of mania beats the misery of depression.
By Melissa Bandara
I would do anything to go back.
It’s the only memory that isn’t affected by fog. As time marches by and kicks my head in on the way through, some events become fragmented or lost. But this one could never be tarnished. There’s no comparative feeling to when you’re about to head out on a stage. There’s anxiety bubbling away; it feels like you’re boiling water in your gut. Physically, you feel like you’re going to vomit. You may have been practising for this very moment, but to run away now might be the most viable option. Despite all those feelings circulating through me, this was not a moment I wanted to run away from. I had been waiting for this day for a long time. We both had.
We were about to be called onto stage. The host of the showcase was letting loose a few witty quips to energise the crowd. Maria squeezed my hand so tight that it forced my whole body to clench. Her skin was sparkling due to the sweat and the glittery eye shadow she had chosen. All five of my senses began to blur as my breathing intensified. Everything flooded back once I heard our names. The applause was like a lighter to my synapses. Maria was also standing to attention; my hand was still not loose from her grasp. Suddenly, we were ready.
We strolled onto stage and smiled meekly. I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. As I took my seat at the piano, Maria played with the microphone to get it to her level. Then came the silence. The anticipation was simmering in the air. I could almost taste it. Once we were both ready, we did our nod. The nod that tells each other of the thousand anxieties that are running through our minds, yet through all of that, we are ready. Ready, we were. Once you start to perform, it’s like a muscle. The audience evaporated, and Maria and I floated into the clouds. Our music was gathering underneath us and carrying us through the sky. We flew through strong winds as we hit sharp notes, and the storm clouds telling us we would fall flat evaporated, which left free us to swim through a cloudless view. It was our connection, our bond, that held us up. We had no fear of falling because we trusted each other to hit every note when we needed the other to. It became as effortless as breathing. As we reached the end, we landed gently back onto the stage as Maria squeezed out the last of her song. Then. Silence.
The silence was our chance to reacquaint ourselves with the world, just in time for the applause to erupt. We were back, and everyone was glad to see our journey. It was everything we could have ever dreamed of. That was three years ago today. I haven’t felt a rush like that since. When Maria moved away, I just couldn’t find that same joy in playing the piano like I used to. But that moment of joy, of bliss, of elation—it cannot be my last. In my darkened room that reeks of gin, I twist, turn, and heave my head up to an upright position. In my mind, rotted by sadness, a thousand anxieties about trying to find that spark again start to swirl. I would do anything to go back.
By Abbigail Smith
By Danielle Davison
Pompeii Blue Liam Ball
Oh, that wonderful Pompeii Blue, Between the far off green lands,
From where she would fly from and to, Over the pearly white sands.
In a plane with such little wingspan,
Held together as if by sticks and glue,
Helmed by a pilot by the name Joanne, She was a one-woman crew.
High above the countless seas,
No cloud in sight since sunrise,
The smell of salt was in the breeze, She drifted through clear skies.
The sky would not always be blue, And soon the sun would set,
Though that was hardly new, But was still easy to forget.
It did not mean she would have to go,
Just because it would soon be the night,
She wouldnâ€™t have to wait till tomorrow, For she did not need to stop her flight.
The boy watched his grandmother work. She was a frail old thing. Prone to coughing and head spins. She wasn’t one of those grandmothers who went out on long walks or went swimming in the ocean. No. She watched soap operas from her homeland to remind her of her language. When something outrageous happened, you could hear her call out ‘Aye!’ or ‘No!’ or something that translated roughly to ‘What a silly man/woman!’ She watched those stories, and she cooked and cared for her family and guests. She read a little here and there, her impossibly magnified glasses never quite falling off her nose despite looking like they might. Today she fixed a button.
There are things you don’t understand when you are a child. That people existed before you, for instance, is something you don’t grasp until you’re older. Much older. However, the boy could sense the history in his grandmother’s hands. They seemed shrivelled, old, tired from years of work; work that would never have occurred to the boy. Work in the fields when she was twelve, work in the limestone homes of Portugal all day every day, the work to come here to Australia, the work of raising children, her work in clothing factories. All these memories lived in his grandmother’s hands. Hands that shouldn’t move like they did with the button. Alive. Young. The boy thought it a cruel joke that his grandmother could leap into action as if it were thirty years ago to mend some cloth or hem some pants, but not walk outside without wobbling. Strangely, the body doesn’t forget these things. While her skin had become loose and her bones had begun to stiffen, they never forgot how to work. How to mend. How to stitch, cross, and fix. There was a youthfulness that came into her that filled the boy with joy. To see life flowing through her small, hunched frame, pouring out through her bony hands as they swiftly swung the silver needle.
The boy realised: there is nothing like a grandmother’s love. For they have seen so much, lived so long. In worlds completely different to your own. If you’re lucky, they tell you stories about a time before this, before you, before the boy and the button. They don’t care who you are, just that you exist. That’s enough to love you. That love has always been there, though the boy didn’t see it till now, with the button. It was there in the beginning when she leapt out from behind brick walls to surprise him in kindergarten. There in the dirt between his toes and the sweet smell of tomato vines in the garden patch at her old house. The love was in every bit of chicken, never-quite-salted-enough, as she served another meal for the family. Or every dollar she ever gave him ‘For a treat’. And finally, now, in the button. It was enough to make his heart smile. Sometimes on dark days, when things seem hard and grim, when it looks like there is no escape, you might find it useful to think of the grandmother and her button. Sometimes that’s all there is to love, to life, passing secrets down in movement and in mending.
Dancing in Jubilation
By Venetia Slarke
I follow the lines of lunchtime suits as we spill out of Collins Street’s Block Arcade and empty onto Degraves Street. Degraves is a burrow. It serves the anaemic office worms like me. We emerge from our holes—pale-faced and mouths damp with coffee and red wine rot—and charge into the laneway paved with cobblestones, lined with cafes. The art-deco lofts overhead block out Melbourne’s pewter sky and filter winter’s dying sun in thin fingers of light. At the laneway’s mouth, overflowing dumpsters spill refuse onto the bluestone. I take a few steps, and the smell of fetid trash is swallowed, replaced by the heady fumes of hot bread and coffee grinds.
I join a line. I go to the same hole-in-a-wall takeaway place every Monday to Friday. I like it because the line moves quickly, and the food is consistent. If someone asked me if it was the best food on Degraves, I would have to say no. Not the best. But the most consistent. Which, in my opinion, is better. My fragile, starved cerebrum could not handle anticipating the best, only to be disappointed when it is sold out or when menus change. A tall glass counter houses hundreds of baguettes ready for the lunchtime suits. The queue disperses like waves crashing on a sheer cliff face. There are four people in front of me, and only one Chicken Waldorf baguette left. Fuck. This could be bad. What will I have if one of these jerks takes the Waldorf?
Three people. Perhaps Brie and Bacon? No, I get indigestion just thinking about all that soft cheese and animal fat. I’ll end up with lucid dreams again.
Two … and that’s when I see her, sitting at a café across from me. It’s her hair that I recognise first. Her Afro is smoothed and tamed into six braids that run down her scalp and then explode into puffs at the nape of her neck. She wears gold rings pierced through the braids and lacquers her baby hairs in perfect coils that frame her heart-shaped face. After my eyes have studied her crown, I let them drop down to her breasts, where a baby is suckling. Her breasts are bigger now. All of her seems bigger. She takes up so much more space. She looks like a balloon that’s been inflated, stretched, then deflated. One … fuck! The bastard has taken the Waldorf.
‘What will it be?’ the woman behind the counter is asking me.
I stutter. Not the Brie and Bacon. Fuck. The man behind me doesn’t hide his impatience, letting a long sigh escape with each exhale.
‘Roast beef, please.’ I immediately regret my choice. I’ll hate it. I hand over a five-dollar note, and the woman behind the counter hands me my baguette wrapped in a brown paper bag. Like a swaddled baby, I think. I walk across the lane to get a better look at her. I join another queue at Degraves Espresso to order coffee. This one moves more slowly.
‘Grace?’ Her name is Grace. She was a one-night stand. We met at the Gin Palace maybe four years ago. She came back to my apartment, and our drunken limbs were entangled in something hard and desperate. We had clawed at each other’s flesh, and when we kissed,\]] it felt as though the gristle in my nose was breaking. We didn’t exchange numbers. She left my apartment, and we parted like dandelion seeds spinning in a spring breeze. And here she is now. Her seeds have found soil, grown roots, and flowered. The baby is a shade darker than her own caramel complexion. A fat milk-chocolate cherub with a wisp of black fleece dancing on its pulsating fontanelle. ‘Next,’ calls the waitress. ‘Latte.’
I stand and drink my coffee.
Now I see the child next to her, maybe three or four, maybe five? Christ, I don’t know how old kids are. I can’t remember the last time I even spoke to one. This one is a shade lighter. It’s holding out a maraschino cherry and whining: ‘Muuuuuum, Muuuuum, I don’t like it! Grace plucks the cherry from its sticky fingers and stuffs it into her own mouth. Smiling, she says, ‘All done.’ The baby has now released her breast and is slung over her shoulder. I start to feel flushed and prickly as I stare at the older child. One shade lighter. Could it be mine? It has been four years since our gristle and sticky flesh collided. I stare intently at this child’s face, trying to see if it mirrors my own. The nose is too narrow to be mine. The brow too high. Eyes too wide-set. Without realising it, I have moved closer to where they are sitting. She looks up at me.
‘Yes?’ She looks confused. She doesn’t recognise me. ‘I’m Alec. We met a few years ago.’
The baby is crying. She scoops it into a bundle across her chest and starts rocking. The older child is pulling at her, nagging. ‘I’m thirsty!’ ‘Sorry, I don’t remember.’
‘I guess it was a while ago now.’
‘Well, nice to see you.’ She dismisses me.
‘You have kids now!’ I feign a joyful laugh. She’s pouring the child a glass of water, not watching me. ‘That’s so great. How old are they?’ ‘Ummm, four weeks and four years.’ She smiles now, proud of her seedlings.
‘It was about four years ago we met, at the Gin Palace—’ I start but am interrupted as the child calls out, ‘Dad!’
A man has stepped out of a nearby café carrying two plates of croissants, which he wobbles and pretends to juggle. He looks six foot five until he steps off the curb and drops the plates on the table in front of Grace. The child squeals with delight and claps their sticky hands. He plants a kiss on Grace’s forehead then sweeps the child up onto his hip. I stand there, staring at them. Studying their faces. Invading their space. He looks up at me quizzically and asks, ‘Are you alright?’ Grace is blushing. Has she remembered me? Or is she just embarrassed by a stranger’s intrusion? ‘Just looking for a light.’ I draw a cigarette out of my pocket. My eyes search over his face. High forehead. Narrow nose. Wide-set eyes. Thank God. The child must belong to him. ‘Sorry, mate. We don’t smoke,’ he says.
I shrug, before slinking into the underpass. Childless and euphoric, my dandelion seeds keep spinning in the breeze.
Bared to the Moon
The fierce bite of the cold sinks
into my skin: exposed and sensitive, submerged in the winter ocean water. A lung full
of salted air drags a lightness
into my head, tumbling backwards to stare at the waxing moon. It floats
up in space, tied to Earthâ€™s
gravity, and the waves follow. I float over
the tide, tiny
breaks rushing over sandy shores.
Sea foam tangles in
my kelp hair, and my
heart clenches as intense emotion mixes with the water smoothing over my bodyâ€”a starburst
behind my eyes, ecstasy weaves through me.
Momentum in Life
By Abbigail Smith
By Jessica Wiseman
The sky was clear overhead; birds sang, and a pleasant warmth lingered on the air despite the calendar showing April. Life for Tom was simple. At seven-years-old, his days were filled with games with the neighbouring kids or lying as he was now and taking in the afternoon sun. Faintly amongst the chirping of birds, Tom heard a noise so magnificent that it pulled him completely away from the serenity of his sunbaking. Within seconds, he was on his feet and running into the kitchen. He saw his mother standing at the stove, already preparing tonight’s dinner. He leapt up onto a stool, nearly toppling it but catching himself and ensuring to present himself as politely as possible. His mother, having heard him run into the house, enquired without turning from her work. ‘And what would you be after?’ Tom sheepishly replied, ‘I was hoping for a sixpence for Mr Whippy.’
After a moment of contemplation, his mother replied, ‘You can have your sixpence when the rubbish is out.’
Tom was off the stool and out the door in a flash and back inside only a moment later. Sitting again on the stool, he awaited his payment. His mother pulled a sixpence from her pocket and threw it to him. From the moment he was out the door, Tom’s ears pricked like a dog’s as he tried to locate the tell-tale Greensleeves tune on the air. He went left down his street before turning around as the sound faded. Now on track, he travelled down the next street. He must have been at least a single block away from the van. He could almost taste the icecream on his lips as he turned down a side street, expecting to see it parked there. Instead, he found a cul-de-sac.
Tom could hear the engine revving up as the van prepared to pull back onto the road, on the other side of the houses he now faced. Feeling the pressure of time against him, he ran back at full speed. He took the corner at the top of the street; he was running faster than he had ever gone before. He reached the next street and stopped for a moment to listen for the sound of music. At first, he could hear nothing but the thudding of his own heart in his ears. After a few seconds, he heard the tune sing out over his heart. He had gotten ahead of it. He took off again towards the houses that the van was driving towards.
As he ran, he felt heat in the muscles of his legs and the burn of air being pulled into his lungs. He saw other children doing the same from the opposite side of the street. As he neared the intersection, he saw the pink and white of the Mr Whippy van pass him. It slowed down and pulled over on the opposite side of the street from where Tom was slowing down. With the end in sight, Tom stopped, took a breath, and pulled his sixpence out from his pocket. With the van and his hopes so close after running so hard, he couldn’t help it as a smile spread across his face. With his composure regained, Tom stepped out to cross the street.
The kids now standing at the Mr Whippy van heard the blast of a car horn and the screech of tyres. Birds took off from a nearby tree as a synchronised team, before scattering. The sound of the horn ceased.
The world was void of noise, except for the sweet sound of Greensleeves. Tom’s sixpence rolled along the street, coming to rest beneath the van.
Not a Goodbye, but a Quiet Lisel Christiansen
Six years doesn’t seem that long, until I realise that the amount of time I’ve spent at uni is the same as I spent at high school. It doesn’t quite sink in until I look back and realise how much has changed over those years.
A lot has changed, but some things are still the same. I still can’t keep my room clean to save my life, but I try more often now. Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I had worked a little harder in that final year, gotten a better ATAR, and ended up going somewhere other than Deakin. It’s such an alien thought that I can’t even comprehend the possibility of it. It feels like a long time ago, yet at the same time, it doesn’t.
Time’s never quite made sense to me, a weird jumbled flow that seems fast or slow at any given time for no apparent reason. Yeah, well, turns out there’s a reason for that.
When I started uni, I had a job. I worked nineteen to twenty-four hours a week around four units and had to take public transport everywhere. The mandatory 8 am lectures on Mondays were the worst, with a 5 am start to get the first bus of the day. I was going to go into science once I finished, and probably move to Europe where science and renewables are actually invested in and wanted. I was going to have an anthropology major, and there was no real plan beyond that. A real plan was future Lisel’s problem. It still is. Now I can wake up, throw everything together in twenty minutes, and be out of the house by 7.15 am to drive. Science still isn’t invested in, but it turns out that there’s more to the writing process than writing, so that’s where I’m going. There continues to be no bigger plan. I found an amazing group of friends, I found out that I was queer, that genders are bullshit and that if I don’t feel comfortable being one, then I can not, and that being asexual is a thing that is valid. I changed my pronouns, but I’m just as terrible about telling people. Some things don’t change.
I joined Deakin Writers in my second year but didn’t go to a launch until the end of 2016. I wasn’t an active member until the following year when I had a class with two of the executive team, and I’ve never looked back. I made new friends, and I laughed and drank more than I had before. I wrote, I submitted, I got accepted. I wrote, I submitted, I got rejected. I wrote some more.
I found my way onto the executive team last year, ran events for the club and magazine, then became the president. I still can’t organise my life or get it under control, but I continue to pick up more responsibility than I should. I have since come into the position of Queer Representative for the campus committee. I’ve had a blast despite all the anxiety that it sometimes gives me.
Wave of Acknowledgment I’ve moved out twice. Both times were great because, damn, is it good to have your own space. Both ended with a butting of heads with one housemate. I yelled and screamed and became passive-aggressive. As much as I like living with other people, perhaps it’s just not for me. I started playing D&D, I loved it, and still do. I will talk passionately, and at length, about the hijinks my characters have gotten up to, and if nothing else, I always know that Wednesday night is D&D night—and you will take that away from me over my cold dead body. Unless there’s a WORDLY launch. Some friends finished uni. I found new ones.
Last year I quit my job after having stayed way too long, and only because I was getting more muscular injuries that were only a problem at work. I remember that my last shift was Easter Sunday and that my Opa went into hospital that day. That’s something that’s changed as well. We found out about the tumours the next day. He didn’t want chemo. He said that eighty was too old and seventy-nine was a good time to go. He was always a quality over quantity kind of guy. He died a few weeks later at home, surrounded by family, while I was on the other side of town desperately trying to finish up an assignment. We laughed, we cried, we celebrated his life. I bottled it up. It was a first, and there have been a lot of those moments since then, some good, some bad. Many of them were tinged with sadness and nostalgia. I still can’t think about it too much without choking up.
I couldn’t read the words that were on the page, I knew what they were, but they didn’t string together. They weren’t making sense. I was scared. That was wrong. Throughout everything I’ve been through, I could always read. I did something about it, and did it immediately, which was a first. I was told, ‘I don’t know if you have ADHD or you’re depressed.’ It was probably both, probably still is. Time doesn’t make sense, but at least now I know why. My headspace doesn’t work like it used to. It’s so much more unreliable now. I still don’t know what I’m doing, but people seem to think I do. I don’t offer up affection like I did before, and I don’t always feel comfortable in my own skin or around others, even friends. I still can’t bring myself to contact people, send them a simple ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ without feeling incredibly self-conscious. It perpetuates a feeling of being left out, that I have no one to blame for but myself.
A lot has happened, and I’ve had so many experiences. There is so much more to say, but I’m out of time, out of words. So, thank you to all of those who have been with me through this. For putting up with my crap and for giving me wonderful memories that I hope we continue to add to. To all of those in the clubs and the committees and at the magazine. And now I sit here trying to figure out where to go now that I’m done with this degree. I feel relieved that it’s finally over, but I’m also going to miss so much, even though Deakin feels so different to how it used to be in those earlier years. I’m feeling lost and uncertain as if I’m starting all over again. But, damn, I’ve made it this far, right?
Hassaan Ahmed Jess Ali Grishtha Arya Liam Ball Melissa Bandara James Barnett Chloe Blanchard Georgie Brimer Beth Brown Briana Bullen AJ Charles Lisel Christiansen Becky Croy Alf Ciriaco Danielle Davison Rowen De Lacy Julie Dickson Julia Fazzari Gabby Matthew Galic Chantelle Gourlay Rebekah Griffin Sheridan Harris Jessica Hinschen Toby Jeffs Teodora Kopic Katie McClintock Blair Morilly Michael Pallaris Elisabeth Roberts Martine Rose Anders Ross Sini Salatas Loren Sirel Venetia Slarke Abbigail Smith Gaden Sousa Zoe Trezise Jessica Wartski Friederike Wiessner Jason Winn Jessica Wiseman