FORWARD Edition Four 2019
FOREWORD It has been a big year for WORDLY Magazine, and we’re so proud to bring you this final edition for 2019. Making a magazine is very much a journey: from the initial premise, to reading your wonderful submissions, through editing, to design and printing, and finally the magical moment where you get to hold the finished product and marvel at how you conjured it up from scratch. I’ve loved being part of the WORDLY journey these last few years, and to be at our final edition of the year feels like the end of an era for our rock star team. I’m truly looking forward to seeing how this gorgeous little magazine will grow and thrive in the future. This edition is all about possibility. Looking up at the stars above, peering out to the wild seas, gazing at the winding road ahead and squinting at the future as we hurtle to meet it. Ready, steady, go. Onwards and upwards, Lori Franklin Editor-in-Chief
Editor-in-Chief: Lori Franklin Managing Editor: Jessica Ali Communications Manager: Jessica Wartski Financial Manager: Hassaan Ahmed Designer: Melissa Bandara Front Cover Artist: T-Dog eXtreme Editors: Justine Stella | Jessica Wartski | Jason Winn Sub-Editors: Julie Dickson | Jessica Hinschen | Surya Matondkar | Michael Pallaris | Elisabeth Roberts Sini Salatas | Tim Same | Zoe Trezise Contributors: Hassaan Ahmed | J. Andrew | Daisy Andrews | Liam Ball | Melissa Bandara | Kelsey Claudius Julie Dickson | Shefali Dorepalli | T-Dog eXtreme | Elisabeth Gail | Toby Jeffs | Teodora Kopic | Isabella Krebet Winona De Lacy | Katie McClintock | Tran Dac Nghia | Michael Pallaris | Aaron Purton | Justine Stella Zoe Trezise | Dominic Trungove
WORDLY would like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land and pay respects to Elders past and present. © 2019 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 Google Images and Adobe Creative Cloud Assets. Want to advertise? Contact email@example.com for more information.
A Reflection Over Mandarins – Shefali Dorepalli
Go Forth – J. Andrew
The Local Space – Liam Ball
Hi, ERROR Honey! – T-Dog eXtreme
Cyber Junk – Daisy Andrews
Letters to an Absent Father – Hassaan Ahmed
To the Moon – Tran Dac Nghia
The Night Train – Toby Jeffs
Sunflower Girl – Kelsey Claudius
Hell is Empty and All the Devils are Here – Zoe Trezise
The Road Trip – Julie Dickson
Moving On – Teodora Kopic
Love in a Postcard – Justine Stella
A Pause in the Timeline – Isabella Krebet
Thank You – Katie McClintock
The Girl (Movement) – Elisabeth Gail
Battle Senses – Michael Pallaris
The Small Nothings – Aaron Purton
Unsafe Harbour – Winona De Lacy
Should I Call – Katie McClintock
Giant Leap for Mankind – Melissa Bandara
Summer Reading Recommendations
Gouda Gone Better – Dominic Trungove
Keep on Floating – J. Andrew
A Reflection Over
It’s a rainy day, and I sit in bed, using the weather as an excuse for my lethargy. Reaching for another mandarin from the fruit bowl, I mindlessly scroll through my Instagram feed, momentarily uplifted by aesthetically pleasing posts about self-love. My gaze lingers over a picture of a girl I know standing against a wall, overgrown with pretty purple bougainvilleas. I can almost feel the papery texture of the petals against my fingertips. It takes me home. Home. Chennai, a city in South India.
It’s my second winter in Melbourne. It has been a year since I moved away from home to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science. I could barely believe it; it still feels like yesterday that I had tears running down my face as the plane touched the tarmac.
I now feel like I’m hurtling forward at the speed of a plane preparing for take-off. There’s an all-too-familiar rush of blood to the head and an urge to puke and pee at the same time. I am going to turn nineteen soon. I’ve felt sixteen for the past three years. There are times where I desperately want things to slow down, times where I want to go back home and surround myself with familiar sights and smells and people. Chennai. I miss it. Dearly.
I miss the laburnum tree outside my house, its flowers weaving a beautiful yellow carpet as they fell. I miss the sweet smell of jasmine permeating the humid tropical air, and the sound of temple bells stirring the drowsy evenings. I miss heavy breakfasts at my favourite restaurant, followed by the strongest cup of South Indian filter coffee. I miss my friends—my friends who’d be there for me, hug me, laugh at me, laugh with me. Just laugh. I miss my mother’s chicken curry that I can’t, for the life of me, replicate. But somewhere after the times of childhood security, the ease of sheltered family routine, and being confronted by the sudden, crazy challenges of adulthood, I changed. I grew. I cooked my first meal, rode my first tram, dissected my first toad, got my first job, and treated myself to gelato and a Kmart splurge with my hard-earned money. I have discovered and indulged in little joys like eating churros in Federation Square, surrounded by birds that look at you murderously, rom-com nights with my roommates, inhaling cups of coffee at my favourite spot in the library, and buying a bag of half-price mandarins at Coles. I’ve met beautiful people who’ve become wonderful friends. Friends who are there for me, hug me, laugh at me, laugh with me. Just laugh. My journey so far has been one of constant learning—about people, about myself, about our ability to be anything we want to be. I am beyond grateful for this unrestrained exposure to knowledge, ideas, and experiences that have changed the way I see myself and the world.
As I move forward, I hope to be open to opportunity, to discomfort, to failure. I hope to find more people who make me a better person tomorrow than I am today, whose arms I can call home; to have more experiences, varied and challenging, mould me into the person I want to be. I will work on perfecting my chicken curry. I think I’ll make a habit of this reflection; the memories seem to make the mandarins sweeter.
Go Forth â&#x20AC;&#x201C; J. Andrew
Liam Ball Of all the games I have played in my life, I don’t think I’ve come across one as unique as Outer Wilds. If the idea of exploring a miniature solar system, listening to an amazing soundtrack, and solving an intriguing mystery all within a twenty-two minute long time loop sounds interesting to you, then I recommend that you stop reading this and get the game. The less you know about it, the better it is.
Developed by Mobius Digital and published by Annapurna Interactive, Outer Wilds is the result of a long development cycle which started in late 2012. Originally, the game was the Master’s thesis of Alex Beachum before it expanded into a commercial game project. It was released in an early alpha state in 2015, and released to the public in 2019. It has quickly become my pick for Game of the Year. The greatest part of being human is the inherent desire to go further than we’ve gone before. It is an integral part of a longing to venture out among the stars, to see new worlds, and to explore what is commonly known as the final frontier. Outer Wilds captures this feeling so gratifyingly.
In the game, you play as a Hearthian. Hearthians are an alien species that have recently begun to explore the realm beyond their planet in ships built from wood, rope, and scraps.
In terms of gameplay, Outer Wilds isn’t anything particularly special. You move and interact with objects around you in a fashion typical of what is called a walking simulator. What differentiates it from other games is that you have a spaceship. You are given some launch codes before finally being able to take off, and then you are allowed to explore freely whenever and wherever you want to. You are tasked with navigating a simplified set of physics during flight. Planets have gravity and they orbit the Sun. If you want to land on a planet, you’re going to have to match its orbital speed, rocket towards it, and slow down before you potentially crash into it. It’s quite a lot of fun really. But you’re not travelling to the other planets just to almost crash into them. You’re going there to explore and investigate, always accompanied by the ever-welcome soundtrack.
The score of the game, brilliantly composed by Andrew Prahlow, does an incredible job of combining the eeriness of a cosmological expedition with the cosiness of a camping trip. Each track has been crafted carefully and it absolutely shows. The music of Outer Wilds goes a long way to enrich the places you visit, especially through diegetic music provided by the Hearthians. Scattered across the solar system, you can listen to other space-faring explorers playing different instruments in real time through the use of a telescope-like device. Each song adds a real atmosphere to the places you journey to.
On each planet, you’ll find the ruins of an advanced alien race known as the Nomai. Through the use of a translator, you are able to decipher messages from the past, uncovering what took place and what they were up to. There is one catch, however: after twenty-two minutes have passed, the Sun at the centre of the solar system goes supernova and everything is wiped out. The entire solar system is then set back to when you started the game. Everything that happened and all the events which took place are now set to happen again. You wake up back at the start of the game, the only one aware of anything that did and will happen. So, you are now left to roam about the solar system, caught in a time loop, trying to solve the ancient mystery of a long-dead civilisation. With each new clue, the spider web of loose threads and connections grows larger and larger as you begin to understand your little solar system just a little bit more. Everything you learn is thankfully recorded by a computer aboard your ship, which provides useful hints if you happen to miss anything. The discoveries you’ll make in the game are always highlighted by the use of musical cues which greatly add to the numerous grand and emotional moments you’ll encounter. A particularly notable cue would be the same haunting tune that plays every time before the Sun explodes, serving as a reminder that everything is soon to be reset. It’s these tiny details which always remind you what you’re trying to prevent, but what always seems inevitable. The music in this game is nothing less than spectacular. It truly manages to be grand and impactful, without
alienating the player. As you journey across the planets and see strange otherworldly things, the use of certain instruments brings a sense of homeliness to the solar system. When you hear the banjo play, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re at home even among the stars.
The biggest strength of Outer Wilds is the ideas it explores and the beliefs which are shared using every facet of game design imaginable. There is a lot to be found in a story about an individual caught in a neverending loop, struggling to find a solution to a problem lest the same outcome arrive time and time again. The people you know, and the planet beneath your feet, are always the same each time. There is never a sense of external progression in this universe because after every twenty-two minutes it all ends up being reset. You are left alone in your plight and only you are capable of growing and learning. Everything exists in a cycle, the same people go about their same lives. The same problems persist, and nothing can seemingly be done, nothing except to wait until it all happens again. But you, as the player, can do something about it. The goal of Outer Wilds is to take that internal growth, that knowledge, and to make it external. You are placed in the game so that you can make a difference and to alter the supposed outcome into something more desirable.
Outer Wilds may be the story of a doomed universe, but it is far from nihilistic. Instead, it is unrelentingly optimistic about the universe and the future. A shared sense of wonder from the possibility of what tomorrow can bring is mirrored in the history of the Nomai and Hearthians. There is a sense of hope underpinning everything, and it is what will likely drive the player to the extent they have to go in order to make a real difference. Because, for as many times as things happen again and again, it just means that you have another chance to try. Outer Wilds is a game that I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys mysteries, space, and exploration-based video games in general. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a game that is as heart-warming as much as it is impressive. I can only wonder as to what Alex Beachum and Mobius Digital will make next.
Hi, ERROR Honey! â&#x20AC;&#x201C; T-Dog eXtreme @tdogextreme
The walkway holds the red and blue neon signs of a dozen crowded stalls together like a filament in a lightbulb. Bursts of people snake past as the Junker Man carries the screen to his stall, each figure bumbling, shoes clapping against the ground in unison. The marketplace smells like cooled fast food and cheap heating. The screen is stared at intently by few. It is shifted by the Junker Man a few times until it is picked up by a new owner and taken away. The screen and the Junker Man part ways. As the stall grows smaller in the distance, the screen considers its fate.
The sky is dull and faded, with the neon yellows and blues of the encroaching city on the horizon. Waves of discarded electronica form ever-growing mountains. The junkyard smells like disintegrating plastic and melted rubber. Figures of people hover about silently, looking over wires and cords like they are searching for their children. A computer screen that has felt the touch of renewal sits discarded at the peak of a hill, cracked and tilted. A woman with keen eyes notes the device despite its dark face. She ties it to her trolley and hums an alien tune, tapping her foot in time to an inaudible crescendo. The screen isn’t sure it wants to do this again, to find soft and small hands holding it, wisened ones pulling it apart, foolish ones throwing it away. The screen wanes with weariness. It doesn’t want to go on, but it cannot protest. But as it is lifted again, new hope returns to it as it recalls the Junker Man, the care of those repairs, and then contentment of finding a use. In and onto the future again.
The new ceiling is brown, a lot closer than the night sky, and holds spectres of fluorescent light. Benches of wrangled scraps form unpatterned lines. The workshop smells like burnt metal and polish. The screen is weary, sat amongst other broken things also waiting to be fixed. But eventually, it is tended to, and new life is breathed into it by the Junker Man. Its wires are soldered anew, and the cordless pack on its underside is replaced. Moments pass slower here, and the screen no longer flashes with half-life and instead surges to watch its saviour as he works. One day, the Junker Man hauls the fixed screen up over his shoulders, and they move on again. The screen is sad to leave the other scraps and the familiarity they provide, but it cannot protest.
At first, the bedroom space buzzes with the glaring glow of a single, struggling light tube in the corner. A lone desk, a bed, and a chair fill the room almost entirely. The residence smells like wet beans and mouldy bread. From then on, a new routine starts for the screen. It is put to use. On and off. Day in, day out. Time flashes past with each firing of its LEDs, a new date displayed every day, a new time every second. The screen realises its power supply is failing. When its new owner notices this too, the screen is discarded once again.
Old School ‘95 – J. Andrew
The sky is dark and blended with neon greens and reds of the looming city on the horizon. A computer screen watches as the lights blend over hills of discarded electronica. It notices how the junkyard smells like shattered phone screens, bleeding batteries, and rusting metal. Ghosts of people waft about, murmuring, touching cracked glass and broken plastic like they are searching for their lost souls. In a last-ditch attempt for attention, the screen flickers on and off in flashes of static and fiery blue. Around it, the multiple forms of blank-faced children sit impatiently. They laugh and push each other around when the screen changes. A wandering Junker Man interrupts their game and heaves the computer screen up over his shoulder, his rag-bound shoes crunching over debris. The screen can hear the music that pumps from cords wrapped over the man’s left ear, can see his head bobbing to every off beat, hear the Junker Man’s breath falling into time with a foreign rhythm.
Letters to an Absent Father
By the time you get this message, I'll either be dead or old enough to be considered dead. I'm surprisingly okay with that. I wish this message was a summary of what I achieved in life: a successful career, a loving partner, even more loving children. But it's not. Because I'm still only twenty-five and all alone. I've been alone since Mum died and you— Why did you leave, Dad? What was it about Mum's death that you couldn't handle but I was expected to? Or was I just such a burden that you had to get away from me, at near light-speed … Actually, I take back what I said earlier. I'm not okay. I'm not. I hate you, Dad. Waiting for the message that never came, Your son Ahmed
I’ll be honest, you didn’t really enter my thoughts ‘til Earth was just a blip on our scanners, and even then, only
for a moment. In my defence, we were passing quite close to Saturn and those rings are just—well, you had to be there.
I wonder if this message will ever get through to you, what age you’ll be then. I still remember your peaceful,
sleeping seventeen-year-old face as I crept away … Let’s not dwell on that though.
Maybe you’ll read this when they finally declassify this mission, if they ever do it, what with it being high risk
and all (but you wouldn’t know that). Anyway, I just wanted to say goodbye. So, goodbye. Dad.
P.S. Trust me, you just had to be there.
I can’t believe I’m doing this. Hello Abdul ‘Dad’,
Guess I’m back. Unwillingly, might I add. Should have burned that letter the moment it arrived. A letter, seriously? Must the agency pass on messages this way? Have they not heard of email? I had no expectations of you when I opened that letter and boy, did you live up to that. Was that really the best you could do? ‘Goodbye, you had to be there’? Could you not have faked some semblance of regret, or, really, any emotion? You are unbelievable. It’s been five years since I sent you that message. You didn’t even bother acknowledging it. I’m not sure if the timelines on these messages align, but whatever. Thing is, Dad, I’m finally in a good place. I no longer go to sleep crying, or cursing your very existence. I finally have a stable job. I’m seeing someone. I’m happy, Dad, and I want to keep it that way. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this time it’s my turn to say goodbye. I’m cherishing my happiness, and your presence, though distant, is making it slip away. I don’t want that. Sayonara, Ahmed.
In the months following the accident, I found myself reading your two messages more often. Maybe I got tired
of reading The Agency’s painfully positive notes of encouragement, or maybe it was knowing that I could never
send you a message again, either way, I began feeling your pain in those messages—I think it’s justified. But you must understand, I had no choice. I had to do this. I had to.
There’s no point in trying to explain my side to you—inadequate as it might be—or even writing this note,
since it can’t be sent. It’s been several years since that errant speck of a space rock tore through our broadcast
comms rack. With no way to stop or slow down for repairs, we are now nothing more than target practice for The Agency’s long-range radio of hapless optimism.
I still read your messages from time to time. It’s sort of how we spend our time now. Re-reading old messages
and looking forward to new ones, despite the inability to reply.
I know how you feel about me, I know this will never reach you, but perhaps you could find it in your heart to
write one more time? Even if it’s nothing but insults and abuse. Certainly would make my year. x
It’s been what, eleven, maybe ten years since I said goodbye? I don’t really know how to start this. I wasn’t even going to do this, yet again, but my wife insisted. And the kids love their galaxy-exploring hero of a pop-pop. And honestly, at this point I feel no anger towards you, no bitterness, nothing. I’d pushed all emotions out of the you-shaped hole in my heart ages ago and stuffed it full of emptiness. Then The Agency showed up to tell us the truth about your mission. Apparently, despite what the years of celebratory news said, your mission was doomed to fail since launch, freak accident or otherwise. Because that was its very objective: see how long humans would survive in interstellar space with limited supplies. I’m not going to dredge up the past or ask why you agreed to a suicidal, one-way trip into the far reaches of known space, or even scream at The Agency for being so cold-blooded as to approve a mission with no backup comms for ‘weight reasons’. It’s not like you can tell me your motivations now, even if you wanted to. No, instead, I’m going to tell you what I’m feeling. That emptiness I told you about, it got banished by emotions when The Agency showed up. I felt aching sadness at the thought of what could have been, what we could have had, what my children could have had; despair at the very notion of what you must be going through. And the crew. Oh God. All I can do now is to try and give you a modicum of comfort. I really hope The Agency can beam you these photos of your two grandchildren. They love you unconditionally, despite my best efforts. I forgive you, Dad. Love, Your son, Ahmed.
You’ll never read this, or any of the hundreds of pages I wrote you in the last decade. We’ve all run out of things
to talk about here, so this helps. More so since my dashboard beeped yesterday. I’m sorry you had to find out this way, but I’m glad you know now. I’ve never been more excited to see a dot matrix-styled photograph of children, ever. It fills my aging heart with joy, even as I sob for how we ended things.
In the ten years, eight months, six days, twenty-two hours and nine minutes since your last message, I thought
of little else. I’d always justified my actions to myself as moving ahead with life, when really, I was just running away. But I ran away from the wrong thing. It wasn’t change that I was afraid of, but loneliness. Your mother’s
death broke me and, like a fool, I fled from the loneliness of life without her, never realising what I was leaving in my wake. You.
It’s several decades too late and irrelevant now in the grand scheme of things, but I’m sorry, Son. x
Your loving but absent father.
To The Moon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Tran Dac Nghia @incompletio_
The Night Train Toby Jeffs
The carriages, with their lights, Create a lovely hue, Filled with people rushing home, Or going someplace new.
Perhaps one’s reuniting With someone long thought lost. Without this train, they’ll never get Through the biting wind and frost.
The night train doesn’t realise, The service it provides, To those that do not ride along, Those that watch from the hillsides.
The engine doesn’t stop to fear What can be found in dark. It trusts the tracks, it thunders on, Leading to its destined mark. People say it’s a special thing, With determination and grit, Roaring down along the track, Nothing in the way of it.
I learn so much from this old train, It shows me not to fear. Even if I cannot see, The track ahead is clear.
Yes, it may be just a train, But it’s crucial that we know, If we do not brave the frightening dark, We’ll never know where to go.
Sunflower Girl Kelsey Claudius
we marvel at the garden through glass stained windows as the wind blows colours which dissolve in this little room soft petal whispers scatter secrets about you into the air
I speak in tangled weeds and wilted stems a rose bush which strikes you as you go to brush its stems these soft petal whispers are a foreign language to me but I am growing each petal at a time a little sunflower who hopes to see the light
Hell is Empty and all the Devils are Here I am being haunted. The person haunting me is the girl I used to be and the phantom of the woman I could have become. I am a strip of land being cursed by my colonial past. I am a piece of flesh that has been conquered relentlessly by beasts and other horrors, that were only ever meant to be in a childâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bedtime story or told around a fire. And yet those terrible twisted tales are some of the barest, most candid realities I have ever been subjected to and I am tired. With every threat every joke every screech they were wielding more than words. They were also wielding a scalpel that slowly but oh. so. surely. was carving me bit by bit into something I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t recognise, into something I didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like. A fearful creature. Afraid of being. Afraid of living. I was moulded like clay, their fingers pushing into my flesh and making me something I am not. But I am not afraid. And they cannot stop me, for I may be fleeting, but so are they, and when I break my chains their conscience will solder to a sinking ship. I may be haunted but I like the company. Their damage is not permanent for I still move, and now when I change, it is because I am the sculptor and I will be happy again.
The Road Trip Julie Dickson
it starts like any family road trip does / you’re steering, and I’m the passenger / you let me choose the music, like always / driving down the endless highway / the sky drops an inky black curtain, hiding the stars / our headlights are dimmed / we blindly follow the road into the night
you missed a sign / the one warning you away / you didn’t look / ‘cause we were too busy singing along to the music in the car / and looking up at the stars / but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway / ‘cause we’re here now, we were always supposed to be
we’re stranded on the side of the road / and you’re trying to change the flat tyre / I stay inside, listening to the music / and there’s a stranger with a white lab coat / walking right towards you / telling you things I don’t understand / things like malignant lymphocytes / but you understand them, because you have to / our road trip takes a sharp turn after you’ve changed the tyre, we stop at the diner on the side of the road / the one that serves pie / and you ask for your favourite one, lemon meringue / and at the next one and the next one / you get the lemon meringue / because you never know which one’s going to be your last / and you’ll be damned if your last meal is silverside
the endless drive wears you out / you’re hollow and thin / but you’re still driving / I want to take over, but I can’t / not this time / this is your last time / I know you have to do it / I just have to be by your side / and I will be, and oh god I’ll stay there / I’ll give you toll money and pie money and fuel money / and I’ll play the sad songs when you want to cry / and the angry songs when you want to scream / and the happy ones when you want to smile
and then we’re driving into the darkness again / and the headlights are broken / we don’t know when the road will end / how long it will keep going / the road breaks in two / suddenly, your road ends / and mine keeps going / it plunges into darkness / and suddenly I can’t see you or hold onto you or even hear you / it’s because the goddamn night has taken you now I’m stuck on the side of the road / standing alone in the night / and in the darkest moments, I’ll look up at the stars glittering above me / and remember that I’m not alone
Moving On â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Teodora Kopic @kopicdesign
Love in a Postcard Justine Stella
Day One Julian, I cannot believe I am halfway around the world from you. On the flight, I was th inking about somet hing nice that I coul do for you while I’m d away, and I kept thin king about the day I left. About how excit ed you were that we had mail, only to be disappointed that it was for me. So I want to send yo u a postcard every da y. Even if they take forever to get to you, even if they show up after I get back hom I hope they make yo e, u smile. Love, Justine P.S. Let’s hope the po sties find this whole idea cute!
Altona Meadows Victoria Australia
Day Eight Day Seven you is unnerving. Hola mi amor, travelling without re it at the world. Without you to sha It’s like I’m looking through a veil with, there just seems less. ted to lost in Hawaii last year and I star Do you remember when we got just was going to swallow us. But you panic? The storm swept in like it w at ther we’d face whatever Hawaii thre held my hand and said that toge the whole holiday. us. That was my favourite day of e and do this travel writing course I can’t believe I thought I could com on my own and it’d be okay. In particular, I’ve learned that At least I’m learning on this trip. dimmest of circumstances gleam travelling with you makes even the like gold. r weeks to go. I cannot wait to see you. Only fou Amor, Justine
Altona Meadows Victoria Australia
Day Twenty Day Nineteen t my first ¡Buenos dias! message saying you go ur yo to ing rn mo is it. I am so I woke up th eks but it was worth we e re th ly ar ne k too postcard! It ing too. the others start arriv glad you liked it. I hope k forward to each loo y helping me all tu ac is ay a-d dar , I’m looking This postc ending every day alone sp g din ea dr of ad ste d that isn’t new day. In n search for a postcar ca I so y da w ne ch ea mp, and hunt forward to new international sta a d fin e, sit us vio ob ve there of the most st box. Would you belie po l na tio na er int ct blocked up? for the corre at have had their slots th ts ee str e th on s xe t I’m at least are post bo send one every day, bu to le ab en be ite qu So I haven’t mail. Thank you for loving writing one every day. u. ¡Hasta luego! I miss yo
Altona Meadows Victoria Australia
Day Twenty Nine Hola mi amor bonito, I’m just over three-qua rters of the way throug Only six days to go. h. The countdown is on . I’m glad I came on th is trip. Spain is beautif ul and I can even teach you a little bit of Span ish. I will never be flu ent, conjugating verb particular can be a nig s in htmare, but it’s kind of exciting when you ge right. Together we co t it uld learn a little more . And I’ve learned that I probably take you an d everything that you for me for granted. I’m do so less adventurous than rry about this. I know I complain that you’r me when we travel tog e ether, and you don’t wa to do as much as I do , and I’m sorry. Travell nt ing like that with you million times better th is a an travelling on my ow n with no one to shar anything with. e I’m really looking for wa rd to co mi ng home and showing much you mean to me you how . I love you.
Altona Meadows Victoria Australia
A Pause in the Timeline Isabella Krebet They couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t fathom traversing the ebbs and flows the push and pull the forward and back They lost a friend of over ten years reaching supernova too soon They disallowed the turning around the emotionless bile and senseless internal vitriol of self-destruction They emptied their barrage of tears and when it emptied they felt its friendly fire Yet its inevitability buffered the tragedy They made peace They love they have so much to give and learn still amongst the many other stars in their expanding universe They have grown within and alongside you.
Thank You â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Katie McClintock @kmcclintock1975
The Girl (Movement) Molly Herd She was pale in her sundress and her arm moved like a ballerina across the canvas, her bare legs hanging down from her stool. The sun was warm through the window behind her. Her head was turned butthey I could the corner her smile. It was small, lips,between poking gently into and her cheek. ‘My birth sign is Scorpio and eat see themselves up of and burn themselves out. only I swing happiness misery.I moved against the door frame and her head pricked up. She turned to me and grinned. ‘Hello.’ I am part prude and part nonconformist. I say what I think and I don’t pretend, and I am prepared to accept the consequences of my actions.’ ‘Hello,’ I replied, my mouth half-heartedly twitching into a smile. She slipped off her stool and floated - Vivien Leigh toward me. ‘Do you like my painting?’ She gestured to the canvas behind her, I didn’t bother turning my head. Her eyes seemed genuine and I couldn’t look away. She cocked her head and her smile faded a little. ‘Is something wrong?’ she asked.
My lips were blank as I searched her face for an imperfection, a hint of something. ‘I know you’re not real,’ I told her. It wasn’t funny, but she laughed. ‘Well if I’m not real, then neither are you.’ Before I knew it, her lips were glued to mine. The room is dark and the ceiling is bare. I’ve stared at the same white paint for hours, but it hasn’t changed, nothing has changed. The bed sheets lay half strewn on my goose-bumped body. The window is open, but it doesn’t matter. I’d rather be shivering than numb.
It smells like sweat and decaying teeth, so I take a shower—not before sitting in silence for another hour or so. The water is warm and the sound is constant. It surrounds me and I close my eyes. Right now everything disappears, there is nothing outside of the radius of the water. There is no bathroom, no house, no wind outside, no cars on the street, no street. There is nothing, but there is still pain.
I haven’t really washed myself, just let the water touch my skin, but I get out of the shower. I stare at the mirror until it defogs. I’m not sure about that man. His eyes are dark and dead, and his skin is tight around his bones. It has been a year.
I brush my teeth and that’s enough. I put my dirty clothes back on and get into bed. The clock says 5:27 pm but I don’t know when I got up. I haven’t opened the curtains in days, not since my brother visited me. He said he was worried and yelled at me instead of crying, people grieve in different ways. I stare at the blinds as they sway up and down. It’s a rhythm I can breathe to.
She was thin, sitting there on her stool. I couldn’t see what she was working on, only her delicate arm floating up and down in the air. She was startled by me but smiled. ‘Hello.’ ‘Hello,’ I replied. Then she was in front of me. Pale diluted purple surrounded her diamond eyes, but she still smiled. She held my arm with cold fingers as her brow compressed. ‘Is something wrong?’ she said. ‘I know you’re not real.’ ‘Well.’ She smiled. ‘If I’m not real, then neither are you.’ I tried to open my eyes as she kissed me, but they were held shut. I could feel her, but she was gone.
It’s 11:15 pm and I get up to eat something. I walk down the hall past her studio; a ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ sign hangs slanted off the handle. My feet move in slow forceful thumps until I reach the kitchen. It’s cluttered and smells of stale coffee and uneaten food. There is a bright note stuck to the fridge, ‘Casserole inside. Microwave for two minutes. YOU NEED TO EAT – Josh.’ I pull out a fresh mug and push buttons on the coffee machine until it vibrates and buzzes. It spits out something warm and diluted, and I drink it.
Elisabeth Gail I watched as her arm moved up and down the canvas. It shivered under the weight of nothing. My eyes followed her wrist and her hand, but I couldn’t see further than her brush. I couldn’t see what she was painting. I tried to move towards her, but she came to me, smiling and saying, ‘Hello.’ Her teeth were stiff like rows of pearls, or bathroom tiles. ‘I know you’re not real. You’re not …’ I sit at the kitchen table beside a pile of unopened mail and half-read newspapers. Air moves around the house, walking in and out of empty rooms like there’s someone else here. Everything is dark, but my eyes have adjusted.
I tried to move my lips as I watched her barely human frame, but all I could say was ‘Hello.’
Her face was below mine, her eyes, piercing blood diamonds. I couldn’t look anywhere else. She grabbed my arm with weak force and I couldn’t move. She kissed me, but it wasn’t her. I closed my eyes—nothing. I watch the shadows of cars and streetlights projected in slivers across the wall. They are dancing. My eyes drift slowly down as my head falls. The table supports my arms and my arms support my head. The light is on in her studio. You’re not real …
You’re not real … You’re not real … There is a soft tapping and the light flickers beneath the door. I walk down the hall and try to breathe. The air feels sickly in my chest.
‘Hello … Is something wrong?’
‘Do you like my painting?’
I touch the door handle and it’s warm, warm like the summer.
‘Hello.’ ‘You’re not …’ ‘Hello.’ ‘Hello.’
I close my eyes and twist the handle. I can hear her humming, it’s soft and slow. I can feel orange heat tickle against my arm and blood moves under my skin. I breathe and the air is soft. ‘You’re not real,’ I say.
‘What?’ I open my eyes and she’s looking at me confused. The sun is shining through the window behind her, and her skin is soft. She slips off her stool and walks towards me.
‘You’re not real,’ I repeat. I let my head fall into a soft shake. ‘I’ve seen this before and I know it’s not real, it’s just a dream. I know you’re not real, not anymore.’ She touches my arm and makes me look at her. ‘I know, and it’s okay.’ She kisses me then leans back and speaks again, her face serious but caring. ‘But you’re still real.’ I blink and she is gone, the room is left dark and dusty, filled with boxes and shadows. Her easel is still standing in the centre of the room, in front of the wide-open window. Leafless branches tap slowly against the glass. The canvas is painted in reds and pinks and yellows. It is a man, and he’s dancing with a woman in a sundress. It’s me, but it’s not her.
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The Small Nothings Oscar,
I’m so sorry It feels weird to write this now, after everything. Our group of four shattered after you left. I haven’t seen Finn or Robin since year five. I know you thought The Fantastic Four were inseparable, but I lost Canyon as well. Not that he ever made the group a five. Everyone moved on, but you never could. I never truly did, either. We’re still at the same school, but Canyon found a crowd minus me, ironically. If I smile his way now, he doesn’t return it. I don’t mean to depress you. If this reaches you somehow, you’ll know everything: the small nothings that broke us all apart, the long silences and excuses—basketball training, homework, aunt’s wedding. Usually lies. I would know, I lied the most. I think I only noticed how bad it was when you started lying too. Lying to make yourself seem cool or distant. They’re two very different things. Deception was new on your lips and it showed. Do you remember that long weekend when mum let us push the couches together and we watched movies till four in the morning, hiding under the blankets when she came to check on us? The toxic concoction that was Coke and lemonade, cordial and Fanta? And then you poured milk in for good measure and just one sip had you vomiting. I laughed so hard my ears were ringing. And then Canyon was the new kid in school, and you told me to sit next to him ‘cause you remembered what it was like to be the new kid when no one lets you in. I can’t believe how stupid you were. And then I started hanging out with him more. I made less time for you and still you smiled. You said nothing. It didn’t seem to matter to you that the only time we all hung out was for someone’s birthday. We all moved on, but I never stopped to consider if you did too. Did you have anyone to turn to? No mum, she abandoned you. Dad was never home, and you only ever seemed to talk to me. Why didn’t I see how much you depended on me? On us. I saw you insert yourself into conversations with me and Canyon, but you never said much. You wanted to play games and we just talked about meaningless shit like ranking the girls at school We didn’t have the same interests anymore. Nothing was aligned. I think I outgrew you. The worst part was I didn’t care. Kids can be so damn cold. Robin’s twelfth birthday. Abseiling and bowling. It was the first time I’d been forced to hang out with you in months, and I couldn’t just ditch like usual. Canyon wasn’t invited, but I asked Robin if he could come. I remember she mentioned you and I said nothing. Easier to ignore yo the problem. It would stop being awkward eventually, right? You asked if we could talk alone. Canyon gave me that look, you know, ‘forget the loser’. I was torn. I’ll always hate myself for listening to him. You were never a loser. I think I knew what you wanted to say, or maybe you just wanted to know where we stood. I wouldn’t blame you if you were trying to say you’d given up on me. I think you were reaching out one last time. I didn’t speak to you after that and— It was probably too late then. After you died We’ve all been splintered in different ways. Finn is a bloody junkie. Finn escapes in drugs,
any he can find. Robin is a stuckup b Robin has her eyes to the future, like Uni is just around the corner and not three years away. Me? I did nothing. I just followed Canyon, let life sweep me up. I hate that I never cried. Not once. Writing this now, I’m swallowing a lot. And I have to keep stopping and itching my eyes. I know we’re broken, but I don’t want that to be what this letter is about. I don’t know. This is meant to be therapeutic. Dad thought we should see a psychiatrist, but I wasn’t into it. I don’t feel like opening Pandora’s Box. Mostly, I don’t feel anything. That’s wrong, isn’t it? I should feel … something. Rage? Guilt? I should be weeping at your grave begging for forgiveness, hating the world and everyone in it, or hell, seeing that shrink to figure out what I actually feel, to vent … but I don’t have the energy for any of that. I just— I don’t know. Maybe you can never forgive me. Maybe you’re not really up there and I’m just writing shit on a page. I keep being brutally honest and then I backtrack. Why can’t I just say what I mean? You never needed to change. You didn’t need to buy all those songs Canyon showed me. I know you hated rap. I know you, golden boy, would never swear, and every foul word from your mouth felt wrong. Like you’d tasted a cigarette and winced at the flavour but still kept at it to fit in. I was always a different person around Canyon, and I guess I had an easier time adapting. Not now though. I’m stuck … I’ve rambled too much. I don’t know why I’m still writing. What did do I need to tell you? Sorry isn’t good enough. You were the best of us and we all failed you, but me most of all. I could see you gave up on The Fantastic Four—the kids that that set up tents in our backyards and hogged the skate park, riding our scooters and bikes down the smallest ramps, acting cool but bolting when the teenagers came. I’m sure we all blame ourselves in different ways. But I hurt you the worst. I should be suffering for it then, right? Bawling my eyes out, losing everything: the only fair price for losing you. But I’m not. It’s taken five months for me to even feel anything strong enough to put pen to paper. My handwriting is godawful. But you deserve something old fashioned and right. You deserve more than this bullshit. If I have to start this again, all I would say is: You meant more to me than I could ever tell you. I don’t know if you meant to die when you went over that cliff. You always lived life to the fullest. Maybe that night you broke yourself in those waves just to feel SOMETHING. It doesn’t matter if you meant it or not. I wasn’t there with you. To listen, or cheer you up, or stop you, or hurl myself into the unknown at your side. Maybe I could have done something. Maybe … I wish I was a better friend. I wish you didn’t die feeling like you had no one. I hope you know I love you even now. Oscar, My little brother.
Unsafe Harbour Author's Note:
Winona De Lacy
The allegory of the albatross as a burden or curse has been used since Coleridge wrote The Rime of The Ancient Mariner. In Coleridge’s poem, a ship full of sailors is followed by an albatross, a sign of good luck. When the mariner shoots the albatross, it brings a curse on the ship, and he is made to wear it around his neck until the curse is lifted. Facing the hurricane She stares down the storm. There is still time To escape the tempest But harbour holds its own dangers. ‘Stay,’ whispers her lover. ‘Why can’t you build Your home here with me?’ It should be tempting; The familiar, the safe. But the waves call to her! Singing of far off shores — She lives for the feel Of her swaying ship, Of the salt spray on her tongue. ‘I will be your anchor.’ Pretty words hide The intent to devour Her wandering heart. ‘Stay with me,’ sings the siren. No! She does not look back — She will not remain And wear this anchor. Hang it round her neck And make it her albatross. Facing the hurricane She enters the storm. Better to die free Than imprisoned here, Ensnared by siren song.
Should I call? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Katie McClintock @katiemcclintock1975
Giant Leap For Mankind â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Melissa Bandara @mdb_designing
er Re ading Recom mend ation s
Need a good page-turner to kick back with over the holidays? Deakin Writers members have got you covered! Hassaan Ahmed recommends:
Michael Pallaris recommends:
The Stars Are Legion by Kameron Hurley. Vivid, grotesque world-building powered by incisive, fierce prose about warring lesbians in space. Come for the adventure, stay for the upending of heteronormative/ patriarchal tropes.
But Seriously by John McEnroe. It’s an intriguing autobiography about a controversial, hottempered and misunderstood tennis player. If you think this premise isn’t appealing, then 'you cannot be serious!'
Suzie Eisfelder recommends:
Daniel Callaghan recommends:
My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead Gorge. Showing a young boy being self-sufficient in the Catskills Mountains. Aimed at young people, I still love it decades later. My copy is falling apart.
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka. Nothing like this classic. Where else is someone’s reaction to turning into a bug like dropping their ice cream?
Noni De Lacy recommends:
Stephanie Adamopoulos recommends:
Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper. This book makes you look at English in a different life and gives you an appreciation for the words we take for granted.
A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. An unlucky thirteen novels detailing the dreadfully catastrophic adventures of three siblings who are being chased for their enormous fortune by an evil uncle whose name is synonymous with a certain singing showman.
Gouda Gone Better Dominic Trungove
Katie stifled a yawn as she drummed her fingers against the table, nodding half-heartedly. Throughout the night, she had given many a bored nod, tired ‘uh huh’, and ‘oh that’s interesting’ while her date continued his rather … bizarre rant.
Before now, Aaron had always been a total sweetheart; always smiling and giving well-placed compliments whenever they met. Despite his heavyset build, he was handsome with sparkling blue eyes, well-groomed hair, and a scruffy beard that framed his face rather well. He was always so well dressed, never settling for any less than a button-up shirt even on ordinary days. For club events, he consistently wore a gorgeous dark suit that made her heart flutter whenever she laid eyes upon it. When he asked her out to dinner the other day, she had never been happier to accept something in her life and was all too eager to brag about it to anyone who would listen. Their date had started well enough. He arrived early, in that perfectly fitted dark suit she loved, telling her how beautiful she was. The classic gentleman, it seemed. They travelled by tram to a nice restaurant in the city. When they arrived, Aaron held the door open and pulled her seat out for her in an old-fashioned, but sweet, gesture that left her quite flustered. It was when they perused the menus that everything went wrong, his eyes lighting up in delight as they discovered the restaurant’s selection of cheeses.
'You know, the biggest problem with people is that they always default to cheddar. Oh sure, it's nice if it's well made. But that's so basic. You need to get out there, experience more of the world!' he said emphatically. 'Right,' Katie responded indifferently. A waiter approached, smiling broadly.
'Are you ready to order?' he asked. Katie opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted.
'No, no. We'll order in a bit, we're just having a fascinating discourse on cheese,' Aaron dismissed. The waiter nodded, glancing briefly at Katie. 'Of course. Just wave when you're ready,' he said, striding away. Katie's eye twitched.
'I've had quite a few different cheeses. Did you know that the Swiss have over 450 kinds?' he asked.
'I do now,' she replied, clenching her jaw tightly. She was beginning to get a sneaking suspicion that after an eternity of Aaron milking this barren topic, the night was unlikely to improve.
'Well, that's good. Say, I've got a really nice Danish blue back home. Probably way better than what they're serving here, do you want to try some later tonight?' 'I'm lactose intolerant.'
'Oh, okay. Ooh, they do proper cheese platters! With brie, too!' he exclaimed ecstatically. Katie put an elbow on the table, using her hand to prop up her jaw so that her face wouldn't have a high-speed collision with the table. 'I can't have it either way.'
'Oh hey, gorgonzola! I haven't had that in ages, let's get some of that. It's a bit powerful, but it might go well with the platter. What do you think?' he asked. 'I'll probably vomit,' Katie murmured, her eyes drooping. Aaron frowned.
'They only have three types of brie, that’s not what the website said … Oh, alright. I'll just get the Brie Noir and ... let's throw in some gouda, too! It'll make for a really gouda time!' he said, grinning stupidly and leaning in as if expecting her to laugh. 'Did you really just make that joke?' Katie asked, furrowing her brow. Aaron threw back his head and laughed.
'I did, yeah! Pretty good, wasn't it?' he said, giggling and wiping a tear from his eye. He waved to the waiter. 'Hey, we're ready to order now!'
As the waiter approached, Katie shifted uncomfortably in her seat. At this point, she was wistfully thinking of the new bottle of vodka she had at home and how soon she would forget all about this ordeal. 'Are you ready to order?' the waiter asked, smiling. 'Yeah, we'll get the—' Aaron started.
'Hey, Aaron, I'm actually not feeling so great. Might have been something I ate earlier or ... I don't know, but I should probably head home,' she said, amidst the most realistic cough she could muster. Aaron blinked at her in confusion for a second, but then nodded.
'Sorry, looks like we're not ordering tonight,’ he said, patting the waiter on the arm. The waiter gave Katie a sympathetic smile before nodding politely and departing. 'I'll see you at uni, then?' Katie said as she stood up, putting her jacket on.
'Well sure, but I've got to get you home first!' he said, offering a warm, gentle smile. Katie forced a wide smile in response. 'Oh, no ... You don't have to do that, I'll be okay,' she said meekly.
'It's no trouble, and besides, you're sick. Somebody needs to look after you if anything goes wrong on the way home,' he said earnestly. 'Oh, alright ... super.' She sighed as she stood and moved to the door 'Shit,' she muttered under her breath as Aaron raced ahead of her, opening the door for her. She once again forced a smile while suppressing the urge to tell the moron that she was more than capable of opening a door for herself.
They caught the tram back to the suburbs. Aaron sat uncomfortably close to her, wedging her between the window and him; the tight proximity caused her to notice the faint smell of cheese emanating from him. To make things even worse, he didn’t shut up about his fucking cheese through the entire journey and she noted with concern how many times his eyes drifted to her lips, or how many times he seemed to lean in only to pull away. Once they reached her stop, she tried to make him stay on and leave her but he wouldn’t listen, insisting on walking her home. Slipping the key in the lock she glanced back to see him standing there, uncomfortably silent and fidgeting with his hands. She smiled awkwardly and raised a hand in farewell only for him to lean forward to kiss her. She flinched back, giving him an annoyed look that caused him to look down awkwardly and step back. 'Sorry, I uh ... Sorry. Was it something I said, did I do anything wrong?' he asked, blushing intensely. Her jaw dropped. 'You don't know? Dude, you just spent the last ninety fucking minutes talking about cheese. I'm not exactly in the mood for a goodnight kiss, okay?' she snapped. His face fell. 'Oh, I see. I'm sorry, I've just been a bit stressed out. A mate and I are starting up a magazine for people to write about cheese, you see, and I—' he began. Katie rolled her eyes. 'Go home, Aaron. I don't care about cheese.' She walked into her house as she heard a gasp from him.
'Katie, wait!' he cried, but she had already slammed the door. Rubbing her eyes she growled in frustration and picked up her phone. If nothing else, one of her friends would enjoy this story and perhaps they could even get a nice dinner—one completely devoid of cheese.
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Keep on Floating â&#x20AC;&#x201C; J. Andrew
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