The first edition for next year will be themed ‘O’Week’, so write or draw something suitable and send it our way. Submissions due: Friday 15th of January Submit your writing and/or artwork to firstname.lastname@example.org For information regarding word length, article ideas and artwork specifications head to our facebook page:
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editors Ashby Hepworth Bonnee Crawford Cassie Axon Claudia Sensi Contugi Jack Kirne Jessica Harvie Luke Peverelle Natalie Corrigan Sos Gill Theertha Muralidhar design/layout Dan Watts
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cover art Florence Delucruz
Lost And Soon To Be Found
Retro Review: House
Home For Winter
A Home For The Waiting
The Return To Independent Living
A Haunted Home
Shaping a World
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editors SOS GILL
by sos gill
JESSICA HARVIE I’ve been in a relationship since I was sixteen. After five and a half years of being together, last week my partner and I broke up. I know I’ll be sleeping on a couch tonight. Until last week I was sleeping in a bed, if I got too cold I’d have someone else’s arms to wrap around me; if it was too hot I’d push him off and fling myself back. Lots of space on a bed, when you’re the person who does the bed hogging. Maybe that’s why we broke up, maybe he just didn’t want to share the bed. I also snore so, who can blame him.
CLAUDIA CASSIE AXON
welcome to wordly After two years of Pancake Sundays, mid-week dumplings and late night renditions of Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly Now in four part harmony, my housemates and I decided to call it quits and head our separate ways. It wasn’t out of bitterness, just a sense of it being time to move on: so that is exactly what we did—we stripped the walls of Cluedo cards, removed chicken wire sculptures of dinosaurs and elephants from the backyard, deconstructed Lego monoliths and scrubbed the pink mould from the shower. Slowly the furniture drifted out, futons and tables disappearing gradually until there was nowhere to sit; beds were disassembled and taken one by one until there was nowhere to sleep. After skips, and moving vans: after pulled muscles, sore backs and the inevitable argument or three the house was empty, cleaner but somehow a little darker, a bit more dank. And I realised: that somewhere in this disassembly, at some unperceivable yet unmistakable critical moment, this had stopped being home. It is this critical point of when something becomes, or stops being home which this edition of WORDLY explores often on vastly different scales. ‘Earthrise’, by Rowan Girdler considers home in the context of seeing our planet in its totality at a distance of 384,400 km whereas Sos Gill’s ‘Lost and Soon to be Found’ asks a similar question upon the couch of someone she once loved. Among other terrific works by Crystal Lee, Bonnee Crawford, Josh Dundas and many more you’ll find a place you haven’t been before, but one you’ll somehow know: it’s somewhere where you’ve decided to have your bed this way, your desk way that.
Of course, I’m joking. Really, the reason we broke up is because we just weren’t a lifetime thing. We were happy enough, content I guess. But after five years, four of which we’d spent living together, sometimes happy enough just isn’t enough. After the passion is done, what keeps you together for so long is comfort. I had a home. I had a place I lived that I absolutely loved. Home wasn’t just in someone’s arms (though I’m sure that was part of it too), home was in fact a house. It was a house made of wood that looked like it should be smack-bang in the middle of a forest. We call it ‘the Cabin’. It’s my ex-boyfriend’s childhood home. And since I was eighteen it has been my home. Until last week. The night after the breakup, I left a restaurant in the city in a streak of tears. It turns out, trying to go out for a fun night on the town less than twenty-four hours after a break-up just doesn’t work. A dramatic exit and some shonky driving later I was back to the suburbs. But where to go? To the cabin, to a place where I had to move out from, and should start to try moving on from; or to my parents, a place I hadn’t lived for four years, where my former room was filled with furniture and knick-knacks destined for eBay? It had taken me the entire way back to the ‘burbs to decide where I should go. Where does anyone go when they’re weepy, tired, and without a clue what to do? We gravitate towards the nearest place we call home, even if we shouldn’t be calling it that. Home is where the heart is, after all. Back at the Cabin, it fully hit me. I unlocked the door, careful of the shoddy screen door that slams shut, and I plonked down onto my couch. Only I wasn’t sitting on my couch; I was sitting on my ex-boyfriend’s couch. It wasn’t my home. It was my former home. I felt sick. I felt lost. I didn’t have a home. True, I had a house, I had a place to go; my parents’ house was always open for me, and I’m always grateful for that. But it hadn’t been my home for years. No, the home I knew had become alien to me. Instead of feeling comforted and safe there all I could think about was what I was losing. I know I’ll be sleeping on a couch tonight. The couch at the Cabin. For now, I’m still considering it my couch. A few hours after I got back that night, my ex came home, and we talked. We’re still friends, so we’re still looking out for each other. He said until I leave the cabin that it’s still my home. It’s a hard transition, a slow one, but I’m adjusting. Instead of thinking I don’t have a home, I’m now thinking it’s better to think I have two. At least for now. Home is where the heart is, and my heart’s a little lost right now. I’ve just got to find my way home.
Welcome Home. -Jack, on behalf of the WORDLY team.
GIVING TIME GIVING TIME by claudia sensi contugi
As he spoke, I remembered something my mum always told me—people need to be heard. Even if you can’t do anything other than listen, it is a kindness to do at least that. The eagerness in his voice told me he probably hadn’t been heard in a long time. He then asked for a pen, and on the napkin that I had brought along with his coffee, he wrote an email address, and handed it to me. ‘Maybe when you go back to Ecuador, you could send me some pictures, too. Could you write your email address?’ After hearing those words, every story I’d heard about identity theft, phishing and cyberstalking came rushing from the back of my head to my conscious mind in an emergency siren. He didn’t seem malicious, just very eager to talk to someone. But you can never be too careful, and I wrote down a fake email.
When I was little, I liked to pretend I was homeless. At night, I’d turn the air conditioner to the lowest temperature, kick the covers to the bottom of the bed and just lie there, freezing. I’d count to twenty, then reward myself by covering a part of my body with the blanket. First the feet, then my calves, knees, up to the waist, until I was warm again.
‘Do you have Facebook?’ he asked, and the siren turned on again. Identity theft. Phishing. Cyberstalking. Growing stronger with each repetition. ‘Could I send you some of my pictures? What’s your name?’
I wanted to know how it felt. To be cold and not be able to relieve it.
‘Just Claudia,’ I said, stepping further. And when he looked up, his smile disappeared. ‘I have to go back,’ I said. He paused, then nodded in understanding. His disappointment was the last thing I saw before I rushed back to the hotel.
Coming from a tropical country, I’d seen homeless people sitting on cardboard, wearing rags and no shoes, begging on the streets. But they never endured cold, like the feeling of snow or winter winds, crawling into their bones. That’s how I met Ted. We met in New York, on a New Year’s holiday trip. I met him on the street a block away from my hotel, where he lived. It was the first day of 2014. My two best friends and I had just spent the day in Atlantic City, and on our return, we were caught in a snow storm. (Later, we’d find out the snow storm had earned the name ‘Hercules’.) When the subway arrived at Chelsea and we climbed out into the open, the snow permeated the air. Hugging our fat coats, we walked towards our hotel, passing by the Starbucks and the fruit shop on the corner. As we turned the block, we saw him. Lying on a nook in the sidewalk, covered in garbage bags which shimmered among the snowflakes. All my freezing nights as a child had not prepared me for this; to see a person, lying on the pavement, with only garbage bags to cover their body from the wind and snow. The lowest my air conditioner got was sixteen degrees Celsius. That day it was minus fifteen. At the hotel, we approached the receptionist and told him about the homeless man. ‘Is there anything we can do? Are there shelters, anywhere he could stay other than outside?’ ‘Most of them don’t like going to the shelters,’ he said. ‘They can be dangerous, violent. They feel safer sleeping on the street.’ Behind the front desk, the news displayed a number for viewers to call if they saw people on the streets during the storm. We dialled, gave them the address, and they told us they would be there shortly to take them to a shelter. ‘You girls should get some rest,’ said the receptionist. ‘There’s nothing more you can do.’
‘Claudia,’ I said, while backing away, the siren louder and louder. As he wrote it down, he said ‘Okay … Claudia what?’
Later, I tried to understand why I got so scared. Yes, he was a stranger, but what harm could have come from giving him my email? And I realized that the moment he spoke about his passions and hobbies, the moment he said anything beyond a ‘thank you’, he became real. He became a person. And I wasn’t prepared for that. I thought I’d understood before what kindness was about. That it wasn’t just about giving money, but to give comfort in the form of a kind gesture, like a smile or a warm cup of coffee on a winter day. But that definition was incomplete as well. Kindness is not only about giving money, or a thoughtful gesture. It is giving time. What people need the most is to be listened to; to share their hobbies, their passions, their story. Back then, I didn’t understand that the hardest part about being homeless is not the lack of basic things, but the loneliness. The fact that you are not regarded as a person, but an inconvenience that makes passers-by feel bad if they ignore you, or feel charitable if they give you a quarter. I still wonder about that paper napkin with his email address. Maybe I was careless and lost it. Maybe I threw it away. All I know is when I came back, it was gone. And there wasn’t—and still isn’t—any way for me to atone for that. To try and be a better person, a kinder person, towards Ted. If you’re out there, Ted, I’m sorry I got scared. I’m sorry that at the time I didn’t think of you as a person with passions and likes and dislikes. I thought of you only as the receiver of a gesture I felt like I had to give. But then you asked for more. You asked for my time. You asked for a part of myself. To have a spot in my life, in my memory, in the form of a conversation, of an email or a picture from time to time. I wish I was the kind of girl who would’ve invited you to a coffee at Starbucks, who would’ve sat down with you and listened more about your photography, about the people at the church, maybe shared hopes for the New Year. Maybe I will be that person, someday. Until then, I will keep my promise never to forget you.
The next morning, we passed by the same street block, and he was gone. I took that as a good sign. On my last morning in New York, I saw him again. This time, he was awake, so I went back to the hotel and got him a hot coffee from the lobby. I thought of just giving it to him as a gesture, to see if he was okay, but then he introduced himself. ‘Ted,’ he said. ‘How long are you in New York for?’ ‘I came here for the New Year’s holiday. I’m from Ecuador.’ ‘Oh, I have a friend from Peru,’ he said, beaming. ‘There’s a church nearby that lets me use their computer, so we email each other sometimes. He sends me pictures of Lima, and once he sent me some of Machu Picchu. ‘I like taking pictures too,’ he said and his face lit up, his voice heavy with emotion. ‘Sometimes I’d walk around the city looking for something interesting, something beautiful. There’s always something to see. I post them on my Facebook so that I can share them with people I meet.’
Retro Review: by kyah horrocks (1986)
‘Ding Dong, You’re Dead’ declares the front of a splintered VHS case from a dank video library in my distant memories. What a treat to be able to track down these films I wasn’t allowed to rent when I was a kid. What a shame that the passage of time often precipitates the development of personal standards. Ah well. Whose skeleton hand is dinging the doorbell of death in 1986’s House? I’m about to find out.
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Fatum. Short Film
Welcome to Anywheresville in the noble state of RandoSuburbia where it’s perfectly acceptable to just walk around in someone’s empty house and badmouth their paintings if you’re there to deliver something. As a somewhat lactose intolerant person, I am sensitive to the presence of cheese and I’m telling you—it is everywhere, immediately. Here, some cheesy dialogue (‘Hello? I’m Delivery Boy’). There, a waxy-looking corpse face that has a real blue-vein feel to it. And cheesy mozzarella synth just melted all over everything. I may need a Mylanta to cope with this one. While I’m busy medicating myself, a poodle haircut called Roger has appeared. Roger is a writer, and after my own heart he is abusive to his editors, pretends to have friends and subsists entirely on microwave meals. Roger is troubled by both his missing son and the magnitude of his own creative failure. He also appears to be hallucinating quite profoundly and a house is trying to kill him but he’s taking it largely in his stride. This is an incredible tale of resilience and fortitude. Wait, no … this is pretty much just a Shining rip-off.
Roger inherited the killer house from his bat-shit aunt, the one who turned herself into blue-vein earlier. An agent from Exposition Realty is pissed that our hero doesn’t want to sell the house, but that John Cleese-lookin’ mofo can’t expect anyone’s trust after the nonchalant way we see him shooting spears at his clients. A risky move around anyone, let alone a survivor of Vietnam War-bullying like Roger. So in the house he will stay and away goes the agent—likely silly-walking all the way home to eat Nutella and cry into his moustache.
What would you do if you had to choose between Love and your Dream Career?
Roger attempts to finish his war memoir but keeps getting attacked by feats of 80s puppetry. We writers HATE it when that happens! While he faces a twisted kind of pudding-ghoul hiding in a cupboard, said feats are truly at their peak when Roger is attacked by a purple melting Miss Piggy with the voice of a chipmunk. He manages to cut off its head by rerouting some levitating gardening tools that were chasing him earlier. When he shouts ‘YEAH’ and punches the air, the screeching synthetic strings give way to some sudden and swinging 60s R&B and it’s … it’s simply absurd. I feel certain that this film is trying to scare me not with its monsters or its pallid attempts at suspense, but by making things so ridiculous that I start thinking I’ve accidentally dropped acid. Dismembered bits of Miss Piggy and some sudden babysitting duties cause Roger more grief. He conspires in grand theatrics with his new neighbour and briefly ends up back in Vietnam after having another crack at pudding closet monster. I swear it’s gotta be either his or my acid kicking in when a narratively incomprehensible epiphany strikes and Roger gallantly rappels into his bathroom mirror. Inside the abyss is a bat-skull thing and some water and wow more Vietnam, how did his missing son get there? Never mind now they’re in a backyard pool. The music is far too triumphant for there not to be a horror-twist and yep, there it is. Wow, why is the house on a cliff now? How does a skeleton hope to pull a rifle trigger without ligaments? How does a career writer manage a full pull-up? What exactly is the ENTIRE SUPERNATURAL PREMISE of this series of events? Solid questions, but instead of providing answers, we just freeze-frame on Roger’s ecstatic face and fade to credits. I am thoroughly unsatisfied but also conflicted, because providing answers would have made the movie longer, and even the videolibrary child within could barely tolerate 90 minutes of this junk. My most valuable takeaway from this film however, is that if you’re a semi-famous writer you can discharge firearms at your leisure and then fend off cops with autographs. New life goal: established. Kyah is on twitter @1rednail and tumblr as tinkwisdom
A Deakin University final year film production.
Set in Melbourne, Australia, FATUM is an anti bullying/coming of age short film that follows a talented teenage violinist called Jeremy. He is in the closing stages of high school and has just been given the chance of a life time; to audition for a prestigious music school.... In Perth. The other side of the country... His mother wants him to stay in school because she fears the uncertainty of an artistic life among a number of other reasons. Jeremy’s father has just recently passed away and his mother and himself are struggling to cope with sudden loss. At school Jeremy is tortured everyday by a bully, Nathan, who makes school a living hell for Jeremy. Everything seems to be getting worse and worse when - Along comes Emily, the quirky new girl who changes all that. She reminds him that it’s his life and his choices before she is abruptly torn away from him. In the end Jeremy is left with a choice that has to be made... Love or his Dream Career.... Fatum explores the pressures of bullying and parental expectations with a message about how the easiest choice might not always be the best one for you. 9
by breanna zampaglione
When it’s winter I can see the frost-coated windows, the glittering ice that covers the grass and the sky that looks like a perfect picture until you step outside into the real world. That’s when the chilling breeze hits your skin and you feel as though you’re so cold that you’ve shrunk down twelve inches because you’re hunched over all the time. The wind is whistling so loudly in your ears that you need to tuck your chin down to block the sound. The pain in your body feels unbearable, when your bones ache and crack even though they never did before and you’re too young to even have these problems, but the joints pop all the same. Anything you eat needs to be almost burning hot so that it warms you up from the inside and when it burns your tongue and half your taste buds with it, you just keep eating before everything goes cold. The nails on your fingers and toes go purple and you can’t feel a thing unless you’ve got your hands wrapped around a warm drink and your feet encased in three layers of socks to stay toasty. But even though it’s cold and unwelcoming, you can always smell the good food cooking when you walk into your family house. You know you’ve made it home.
by allysha webber
E M O H A E H T R FO G N I T I A W by josh dundas
They always ask when they can go home. Softly. With eyes that are always on the verge of tears. You tell them they can’t go home, with as much compassion as your tired voice can muster. A brief spark flickers in their eyes, reminiscent of the energy that once animated their life. The look entails a childlike indignation—being told what to do by some young fool. You ask them where their home is … in a weak attempt to delay the inevitable. They stop and think. That brief spark is flickering out, replaced with confusion and sadness, as they realise that they can’t remember. They sink into whatever device they are bound to. A wheelchair. A frame. A bed. You feel no victory in quelling the tantrum. Instead you look away, towards the dozens of other infirm and elderly who are yours to care for. Those who were once so vibrant and full of life retreating from a world which, now confuses them. There are those rare few, who still retain a faint spark—but they are new to this unfamiliar home and their fire will slowly fade. This home is not a place that celebrates life; this is a place where people go while they wait for death.
The Return to Independent Living by bonnee crawford
When somebody says the words ‘nursing home’, most people will conjure an image of elderly residents playing bingo and the staff putting them to bed at 7 o’clock. But I recently discovered that the description ‘elderly’ does not apply to a large number of people in nursing homes. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, as of June 2014 there were 587 permanent residents in nursing homes around Australia who were under the age of 50, and a total of 6288 permanent residents under the age of 65—the age of retirement in Australia. These figures were shocking to me, as I’m sure they will be to others. To answer the obvious question about why there are so many young people in nursing homes, I’m going to tell you about an advocacy organisation call the Summer Foundation. One of the organisation’s aims is to raise awareness of young people living in nursing homes due to acquired brain injury and degenerative diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS) and Huntington’s disease. As well as raising awareness, the Summer Foundation is conducting research into the lived experience of young people in nursing homes, as well as the impact moving to a more age-appropriate setting can have. Speaking to Sophie Boustead, the Public Relations and Community Relations Officer from the Summer Foundation, she told us, ‘Many young people under 65 who have acquired brain injury, or have degenerative diseases […] can end up in these homes simply because there is nowhere else for them.’ The foundation was recently involved in a Senate Inquiry about the appropriateness of aged care for young people with disability, in which they supported young people with disability and their families in making submissions and giving evidence to the Inquiry. If the research is anything to go by, I think it is clear that separate resources should be made available to young people with disability than what is given to those who require aged care, rather than grouping the two together. Research has shown that 82% of young people in nursing homes seldom or never visit their friends, 32% almost never participate in community-based activities such as shopping or dining out, and 13% rarely even go outside (Winkler, Sloan & Callaway 2007). These figures certainly suggest that something needs to be done to improve conditions for people with acquired brain injury or degenerative diseases in nursing facilities. ‘Many young people with disability do not want to live away from their community, surrounded by other people with disability,’ Sophie explained. With their research, the foundation aims to address the ‘chronic need for housing solutions which promote independent living in a manner which integrates home with the community,’ Sophie tells us. For young people with a disability, there are often many years left to live despite the number of admissions to nursing homes, and it’s important that these young people are able to return to the most normal lives possible for them in any given case. So what has the Summer Foundation done so far to improve the lives of young people in nursing homes? At the moment, there are two demonstration apartments in Melbourne based on an innovative model of community integrated living, which the organisation is using to trial and prove their concept to promote young people with disabilities to return to independent living, and ten more of these apartments are under construction in Newcastle. This is a great place to start giving young people with disability their lives back, especially considering many young people are able to leave the nursing facilities each year. Awareness, advocacy and change are still much-needed in the lives of young people in nursing homes, but the Summer Foundation has broken the ground and begun building the framework for better conditions to come.
A Haunted Home by a.e. grant
On the edge of town, where the ageless forest fringes the border between civilisation and Mother Nature, is an ancient house nearing its two century old anniversary, on this coming Tuesday. It dates back all the way to the Victorian era, and has continued to stand tall even though the Queen’s reign has long ended. If you ask the people of the town about the house, they would warn you to stay away, with a glint of unspoken terror in their eyes. A cursed house, they’d say, a horrid place where restless spirits wander the land. Call it what they like, I have my own name for the place: home. You’re probably wondering ‘How did a semi-popular artist manage to buy such a big house all by herself?’ Well, it’s a bit of an odd story. Two years ago, after my parents’ constant nagging about my presence in their home, I’d saved up a decent sum of money from selling my paintings and began to look for a cheap apartment to escape their torturous lectures about ‘getting a real job’ and ‘doing anything productive with my life’. While browsing a real estate website, I stumbled upon a photo of the house; an old two-storey Victorian home with a baby blue painted plank-siding exterior, and cream shutters. Obviously the picture had been done up with Photoshop, however, there was something about it that caught my eye. If I were an emotional romantic person, I might have said that I fell in love with it at first sight, but luckily for you (and for me), I’m not. The detail that fully jumped out at me was the price. It was far too cheap for a large antique place. Little red alarms flagged in my mind, though not enough to deter me. So I approached the agency the next day, and was greeted by an elderly man who was well into his eighties. The man gave me a surprised look, before gesturing me to enter his office as he hobbled. I ended up sitting in front of his tacky metal desk while he tapped torturously slow at his keyboard with only his index fingers. ‘Why’s this place so cheap?’ I asked him. ‘Surely a nice place like this should have been sold long ago.’ The old man hesitated as his eyes flickered from the outdated computer monitor to me. I swore I saw sadness cross his face for the briefest moment. ‘Well, Miss Blaine … this house has been on the market for over a decade now. Before the internet and those new-fangled comment areas, the house was quickly bought, and without fail on sale again less than a year later …’ he explained, speaking slowly as his voice creaked. ‘But now people are telling each other about … incidents that happened in the house.’ ‘Oh? Incidents? Sounds fascinating! Do tell!’ The old agent raised his eyebrows, before his gaze flickered around the office, and leaning forward. I mirrored his movement. ‘Miss Blaine …’ he said softly, his face turning so grave I thought that he might drop dead there and then. ‘Do you believe in ghosts?’ Learning of the existence of ‘ghosts’ failed to scare me away; rather, instead it made me more fascinated. A couple of days later, when my parents lent me the family car, I found myself driving down a dirt road with the real estate agent. Gradually, it rose 14
in the distance, and suddenly the age of the house had never been so apparent. Not surprisingly, the baby blue and cream paint was chipped and dulled by sun exposure. The windows were so filthy and untouched, that if you saw strange pale figures glancing out them, you could easily blame them on the light playing a trick. I rolled the car up to the rusty gate, and got out for a proper look. In the top right window, I saw a white silhouette looking out for just a moment, then it vanished when I blinked. I didn’t blame it on the light, though. Unearthly screeching grated on my ears as I pushed the gate open, and the thorns scratched at my jeans as I maneuvered through the unkempt foliage of the front garden. The crunch of gravel trailing behind reminded me of the old man accompanying me. As I stepped up onto the patio, he hesitantly handed over the key, making no indication of him following me inside. I noticed he was no longer wearing his usual blazer, and instead had swapped it for a cardigan. I unlocked the door, and scraped my runners on the welcome mat before entering. Cold. That was the first word that popped into my head when I inspected the inside. So cold that my breath turned into mist and fogged the air. So I held my breath, but the fog didn’t fade. My eyes widened as they finally focused on what was in front of me. The real estate agent was right, because right before my eyes, four pale transparent figures sat on sheet-covered chairs in the tearoom. Two old men, and two old women, chatting to each other quietly. I didn’t know how to react to the fact my whole reality just got turned on its head, so I just stared for a while. ‘Hello, dear,’ one of the old ladies greeted in an echoey voice. ‘Welcome to our humble home! Won’t you take a seat?’ Unsure of what to say, I just nodded, and gingerly settled myself upon one of the chairs. They continued their conversation, and eventually I became comfortable enough to join in. I learnt their names: Mrs. Dickens, Mr. Stroud, Mr. King, and Mrs. Gaiman. All aged, and had died of natural causes. Mrs. Dickens had been there the longest, clocking back a century ago, whereas Mrs. Gaiman had only lived there for twenty. When it was time for me to leave, I could easily have said that they were the most interesting people I’d ever met. I exited the house to find the real estate agent standing outside, a rigid stiffness in his posture as he awaited my answer. ‘I’ll take it,’ I stated. Living with the supernatural is quieter and calmer than my living counterparts, once you get used to the cold shivers of ghosts walking through you, and the rattling of them possessing furniture in your room. There are benefits from their presence too; fewer people knock on your door, because if an irritating salesperson or a religion promotor wanting to save you from the wrath of insert-religion’s-deity, then I could scare them off by letting sweet Mrs. Dickens answer the door. The only people the ghosts don’t scare away are the real estate agent, my girlfriend Emily, and my parents (though they are nervous around the dearly departed). The person who visits the most, surprisingly, is the agent, but why became clear to me when he handed over the contract to buy the house. ‘Molly, please look after the old place,’ he requested as he took back the document once signed. ‘I have a lot of fond memories there.’ I glanced at his name tag, and instantly made the connection, remembering the name of one of the residents. I gave him a genuine smile. ‘Thank you, Mr. Gaiman,’ I replied. ‘And yes, I will look after her.’ 15
by aaron walker
Shaping a World by patrick banfield
Stare at anything long enough and it becomes its own universe. Dimensions spiral out, pile atop each other, scramble for space. You can build countless homes from blisters of worn asphalt, or the cracked skin on your knuckles. Sometimes, that’s all you’ve got to work with. We know there’s a gulf between what gets called home and what feels like home. ‘I’ll call you when I get home’—and as the words spray forth only an empty sort of despair comes with them. None of that famous familial warmth, not when you can’t afford the time or money to fix the dripping tap and dripping ceiling that never quite synchronise. Not when your roommate has left another gob of toothpaste in the sink. Not when the walls lack feeling, have reverted to just a set of beams that keep the roof from meeting your skull. I don’t remember the first house I lived in. I don’t know what street to find it on, or even whether the place is still standing. The second house I lived in is most definitely not: it was demolished soon after I left to make way for two units with remarkably unchanged interiors, like multiplying brown-furnished amoebas. A run of early failures. Anything since is too fresh, still burdened with the petty daily annoyances that go along with breathing in and out. Home at a distance, then. Where the details blend and fade and everything takes on a soft glow. Where it can be held up against the light, out of the void, a small sphere of comfort that can lodge in a pocket for as long as it’s needed. That’s the ideal—but we don’t live at a distance. Instead, we have the messy opposite to deal with, hanging close under our eyelids. Cringe at any mention of family, of childhood. Hide the differences, laugh with others like you share their stories. It’s hard to escape the long arm of bad memories. Shoot those so-called homes to the back of your mind and run for the air. Dismantle the connections you were born with, step by step or with one swing of a wrecking ball. And among the rubble, with blood under your nails, fill the gulf in your own way. In the slow hours of the afternoon, when the disconnect yawns deepest, I cut out of home and reshape my world into long fingers pouring a drink by candlelight; into bodies clustered under heaters to share common complaints; into the evolving layers of an internal structure. Something both familiar and challenging, something to run to when the distant comforts of home fail again. These are some of mine, but you’ll have your own even if you have to stare for a moment to give them form. Stare, and go beyond the five senses they taught you in school. Find your balance, stamp the air back, and sate your hunger. Bring every cell of your body with you. Leave your homes to their blurry distance. Taste the universe and sink into the shape of your own world.
PORCELAIN PEOPLE by supun hasthimuni
the streets are dark and quiet no raven shall sit by my window and no rapping tapping shall come at my door deceased of fantasy aged, fermenting in promise they roam the streets i hide my face for i fear that they shall take it pale skin of spectral density everywhere i look they loom like shadows cast by the moon against the eternal sun. come by my home and find my chamber door asunder see! they stand beside my bed waiting to lure me out of my head and unto the street to partake in the eternal march i will not sing your songs. i see them when i wake i walk among them, â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; too few to walk against i grow weary in this solitude, paranoia inflicts her wounds perhaps i too shall wear a mask long enough so it shall never come off their skin, whisper thin gravitate to me like a vengeful lover haunting my thoughts, corrupting their content the hour is near when the whores awaken their moans echo in the hallways in my head long and low perhaps i too shall sell my soul and make castles from the stones it bought knee deep in snow of the eternal winter and eclipse the light that i once sought to dance in the rain with the porcelain people.
by anonymous you
Earthri se by rowan girdler
On Christmas Eve 1968, an astronaut named William Anders took a photograph from the spacecraft Apollo 8 whilst in orbit around the moon. The photograph’s name is Earthrise, and it is one of the most famous photographs of the twentieth century. Its power, I believe, comes not just from the breathtaking majesty of seeing Earth rising out of the blackness of space above the surface of the moon, but from something deeper. Earthrise is powerful because no matter who you are or where you were born, that photograph contains your home. Home is a concept that transcends humanity. Wherever you live, having a place to identify with that shelters and provides is an innate need for all living things. However, what home means to each of us varies incredibly for such a simple concept. To me, home is a house in the Dandenong Ranges, east of Melbourne. It has the usual floor and ceiling, a sufficient number of walls (some of which can injure the inattentive) and a large number of objects inside it, very few of which are necessary for survival. It is surrounded by trees and has no spectacular views. No-one famous used to live there. It is not worth a lot of money. It is not special. But of course, to me it is. Because a home is more than a structure or the things inside it. We use them as libraries, storage sheds, hotels and cemeteries for pets. We fill them with things that mean something and fill the spaces between the furniture with memories. My home is special simply because it is my home, the one I have lived in all my life. It has the bed I have fallen asleep in almost every night since I was eight years old. The tree in the back yard that I used to pee behind when I was a kid. The corner of the lounge room where twenty Christmas trees have stood and presided over twenty Christmas mornings. The patch
of carpet in my bedroom where I curled up and cried after my first breakup. The bit of wall the cat hides behind when trying to ambush people on windy evenings. The bathtub where I have lain up to my neck in warm water listening to thunderstorms raging overhead. The desk with the laptop that has brought millions of my ideas to life; where I am writing this piece right now. It is the place I retreat to to escape the travails of the world. Of course, one of the darker truths of human society is that not everyone’s home is like mine. Home can be a place of poverty, a constant reminder of difficult circumstances. Home can feel like a trap, a place to be escaped from. Home can be a place of violence too and some people don’t have one at all. The links between home and family are strong and family is something we all know is rarely perfect. The same lounge room that has hosted twenty Christmas mornings is also where my father told my sister and me that he was leaving. Divorce tears all sorts of things in half, physical spaces not exempt, and children living through a parental separation can often feel adrift, caught between opposing forces and unable to settle anywhere. Thankfully the lack of spatial identity does not last forever and for some years now I have had two homes. Dad’s place has the usual floor and ceiling, a sufficient number of walls (none of which are likely to injure anyone), and a large number of objects inside it. It is surrounded by other houses and is worth a fair bit of money. It is not special, except to those who call it home. That’s the thing about home—the thing that makes it so enduring, the reason those who suffer in theirs or lack one entirely shouldn’t give up hope. Home is not fixed. Home can move, change, divide and multiply. Home can be wherever your family is or any place where people you care for gather. Home can even be a person. There is always a new home that can be found, and most of us have at least one waiting in our future, a place to fill with family and memories that are yet to be. As a karate instructor I am deeply involved in the community that has grown up around my club and to me the draughty old scout hall where we train is home as well. At the end of a long day’s teaching I will sweep the floors, switch off the heater and lights then lock the doors behind me, giving the wall an affectionate pat as I leave and bidding the place goodnight. The main reason I chose to study at Deakin was not its Professional and Creative Writing course but the feeling I got when touring campus, the comfort of a boy from the hills surrounded by gum trees. Over these past three years Deakin has been a home to me, a place of friendship and adventure and it will be a sad day when I must bid it farewell. This is all very sappy I know, but so is anything that comes from the heart. The best thing about home, however, is the one I have saved until last. Home can grow. How many people returning from an overseas trip have set foot outside the airport terminal and felt glad to be home, however many kilometres they are from their house? How many people have an invisible line that surrounds the places they know, inside which they feel comfortable and outside which they don’t, a line that expands as they move out into the world? When Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins re-entered Earth’s atmosphere after their voyage to the moon on Apollo 11, landed in the Pacific Ocean and breathed the air of their home planet, I have no doubt it felt like a homecoming, no matter how far they were from their families or their United States. This is the true beauty of Earthrise. When we look upon that photo, we don’t squint to make out the continents we live on, trying to calculate the precise position of the bit we live in. We see only planet Earth, shining alone in the void, our home. Should humanity ever expand out into that blackness to reach the distant stars, I am sure Earth will always be there in our memories, our first and truest home, ever waiting for us. I will always be a hills boy at heart, and no matter where I go, or what I face—I know those hills will always be there should I need to turn back. No matter where you are, or how you feel, home is out there waiting for you. It is patient. Have hope, and it will find you.
HOOK,NAIL & SOUL
by luke peverelle
They say that misery loves company, and who am I to deny them?
Actually, don’t. Far better that you don’t.
Prying away at the edges of the boards, I grimace. More warped material, more stubborn edges that snapped and wore away at the edges without ever giving an inch. It was so like them to do that. As if they would ever learn any better. As if they could be any better than they ought to be. The thought makes me angry, and I redouble my efforts. Blood flushes my face, tendons straining, I plant my feet and yank. Hard.
The master of the house may be out, but when you’re punching at my level, you just take the house with you. Teetering on your back as you stumble down the red road. You prop it up on new ground and let the shovels and hands dig right in. Fell and crooked rooms take shape and become anathema to sense and reason. Black roots take their place, wrapping tight and around whatever they’re given. And I give them everything I can find. I give and I give and take nothing back except pure, undiluted satisfaction.
With a small, pitiful groan, the nail comes free, and with it, flecks of...well, what it had once been was unclear, but now it was certainly nasty. I study it with more than a little frustration. To the untrained eye, it might look like any other nail, but on that small, glimmering length I see the track-marks, the desperation, the animalistic urges. The keening wails and screams and decidedly unholy terrorI throw it away and stretch. I don’t even stick around to hear it hit the floor, roll around, come to a stop, scream and die. It’s not the first time I’ve done this. It won’t be the last. How often do any of you stop to consider the drapes, or the couch cushions? You don’t. You get on with the day. It’s a house. It could be a home. It’s an unruly child, to be given soup and baths, but it can get by on its own. But every so often, a firm hand... Down the hallway, through the door and round the corner. It’s my usual route, but it always takes longer than it should. I don’t understand it. I trot off to the kitchen, because the day is starting. The renovations will take time, and every hour is precious. Have to find more space. More weakened fibres, snapped lengths, broken skirtings. They might come here in bad shape, true, but there’s no excuse for sloppiness. A man’s house is his castle, as they say. I sigh, and it bounces off the creamy walls like a crystal chime. Too many sayings before breakfast. What they do up there isn’t important. I fill the kettle. Steam rises, and for a moment, it reminds me of home. Back in the old days, when the music was hot and everyone knew everyone. I was the big cheese, you know. The highlight of the nights and the star of the day. And now this place. There are no wild ones or swingers here, because they ran dry and slipped away like thieves in the dusk. Now it’s just me. I sip my tea, and gaze about the room. It’s quiet. It’s always quiet. I almost tore it down once, just to escape it. But to everything a season, to every rhyme a reason. That’s not my original thought, I’m afraid. That’s what the jazz crooners and beatnik buddies used to sing, whenever everyone would stop burning long enough to dance. Fuck it, I promised to stop thinking about the old place. But if I make a promise to myself and there’s no-one around to hear it, is it still a load of bullshit?
The bad and the badder, the uglier and ugliest, they come here. They drop right in or shamble around the back, it doesn’t matter. They don’t expect a tender embrace, and I don’t give it to them. Instead, I put them to use. They’re here because they chose to destroy, and so I’m taking a leaf out of the other guy’s book. I create something hideous and wonderful and obscene. The snake may not know a spanner from a wrench, but he tries, and he succeeds. Walls of moans and cursing, diseased flesh. Sturdy floors of sin and vice, made palatable for softly padding feet. Heating and cisterns and electric lighting, all the best things, made out of the worst that arrive. And when I have no more room for them, I start to pry and dissect the hooks, the nails, the joins and screws, back out and find more room. Dark corners to toss them in, flatten them against the timbers, flush against the beams. There’s always room for a little more hate, a little more rage. This I know. It’s a grand old place I’ve got here, and I still get the job done. It’s just more efficient now. It’s smarter. It’s quieter. It’s quiet. It’s quiet. I look around one last time, at this sterile room, and for a moment I consider wrecking it all down. Taking my chances with the other guy. Having it out and letting it all go...not to hell, but elsewhere. But that won’t bring the old place back. Then I’ll be out of home, and also out of house. And besides, there are always more boards to pull up. More of the condemned to layer, over and under, all on each other. Misery loves company, and who am I to say no?
No-one has any sympathy for me. That’s not a lament, that’s a fact, stated and recorded. I earned, deserved and worked for this. You might call it a hell, but hell is what I know. Hell is what I’m good at. You know it by now. You’ve probably heard about me. The enemy of all. You know I’m up to no good. I’m not up to much of anything these days, and that’s the truth. And if the truth be told, I’m not cut out for solitude. I mean, if you could see this place, you’d know. Letting the sun shine in, writing when I’m not working, feeling the emptiness in every action...I might as well be the other guy. Ivory towers and frozen waterfalls. But at least he can hang his coat on the hook every night and not obsess over it. I feel like a stranger in this place, and I built the damned thing. Heh. Damned. If you could see this place... 22
E U G U F by crystle lee
Who am I? For years, I have searched the streets for a name, one that’s been lost by its owner. The world is harsh and the eternal winter has turned strangers blind. Everything must have a name. Everything must be in order. A nameless man is an outcast. I am thankful Lucas, my son, does not have to face this reality. Children are allowed to change their names.
Who am I? Before I met Father, before I became Lucas, I remember being Child 0212. I remember the empty world 0212 inhabited, despite living near fifty other human beings. In the School, every child is beloved. Each child is assigned a Caretaker, but not me. In the place where everyone must be a productive member of society, a blind child is unwanted. No point in putting in the extra effort for a freeloader. Who am I? I am the owner of the Bed on the streets. It might only be a pile of rejected fabrics, but isn’t that what a bed is made of? Fabric over the raw essence of fabric, fabric over fabric. Despite its crude build, it is a lifesaver. The jewel of the nest is the two large sweaters that are full of holes. It is tragic when precious specialty yarn is wasted. It produces heat, strong enough to withstand the coldest of nights, without consuming energy. These sweaters keep Lucas and me from ending up as ice. Lucas is a blessing. Who am I? I am the pride of Father. These streets are where I belong, not the School where I am scratched and bitten and shunned. It may be dangerous to live on the streets, the privileged don’t like their trash being scavenged through, but here I have a family and I’m not shunned for being blind. I remember when I found those sweaters, I had been running away from the patrols in the back alleys. Only my blindness told me the rags I had swiped before I was chased away were more than they seemed. Thank goodness for that, for we would have been killed in the snowstorm on that night. Who am I? The day Lucas entered my life was the best day I can remember. It was the day I became more than the nameless man, the outcast of the town. Lucas woke me up by collapsing in front of what would become the Bed. By chance, I had more than enough food and water to nurse Lucas back to health. It was gratifying, having someone who would cuddle against me despite the filth, being wanted. I don’t know why I gave Lucas that name but it felt right, familiar. Perhaps I knew of someone named Lucas? Who am I? I am the blind boy who ran from the School and nearly failed because of starvation. I am grateful to Father. He taught me how to run from the patrols, how to find food and water despite the frozen wasteland that is our town. I remember my first attempt to gather food. I thought I’d found cans of edible food, but I had found cans of poison. I had never been more ashamed of my blindness. Father never punished me. Instead, he taught me the little marks the government put on the bottom of everything that speaks of what they are. He taught me to survive in a world that expects a blind person to be taken care of by others. Who am I? I am the man who has no memories of disappearing from the most desired position in town, the job of a Caretaker. I am the man who, in spite of being mute, had been chosen to take care of the precious children, shielding them from the cruel world in the School. I am a man who was found living on the streets ten years later. I am Lucas, a brother. Who am I? Once, I was 0212. Once, I was Lucas, the son. Father comes by every few days, bringing me wonders of every kind. Half of me wish he would bring me with him to his new life, but half of me refuses going back to the School. So, I am now Lucas, desperate for the affections of a man who does not recognise me anymore.
Corhanwarrabul by Jamie meadows There is a two seater bench outside the front of the Laundromat facing the inside. If I sit with my back against the metal of the armrest and cross my legs I can have the best vantage point. The sharp metal of the chair is uncomfortable, and the sticky heat of summer is causing my legs to slip against each other—but it’s worth it for the view. In front of me is the first mountain of the Dandenong ranges rising up, coming out of the ground miraculously, seamlessly inserting itself into the horizon. This house-studded hill is a beacon to my fellow neighbours and you and I can view this little gem from most of the South Eastern suburbs. It is the gate to the ranges and a backdrop to suburbia. The dull, muted greens are unassuming and hold no spectacular qualities, but I’ve always been oddly humbled in its presence. This particular mountain is the first in a series of impressive peaks that span a good region of Victoria. This one is special, though; it’s the smallest of the hills, and unlike its cousins it does not sprout from the earth like a colossus ridge. It is also where, half way up the gentle slope of the mountain in an old brick house, I live. My house is one of many that are dotted along the bottom half of the hill. The top half is home to the start of the national ranges. The gentle sway of the trees is hypnotizing. As each branch whips softly against the other, leaves break off and fall to the ground. Ferntree Gully constantly smells like moist earth, mimicking the glorious aroma of freshly cut grass and chilled air. This is a constant, however each season brings new smells, new sounds. But this particular peak hits its most gorgeous and glorious during one very special moment in the dead of summer. During the summer when the blistering heat scorches the pavement of the town below and the thick underbrush that coats the hill starts to look awfully dangerous, a beautiful moment occurs. Between the hours of 8:30 and 9PM the real beauty of the mountain comes alive. Like a gust of wind through a seaside village, the sun bears down and casts a magnificent ray over the top half of the hill, traveling down the gentle valleys as night falls. A golden light spills onto the leaves of the eucalyptus trees and illuminates the yellow weeds below them—and then the crickets start humming, almost vibrating the earth, and at this moment the hill bursts into a golden arc above us. All that was muted and shadowed previously is suddenly brought to life by amber hues, the birds are louder as they swoop and dip overhead, trying to catch the bugs that have come out in the heat. The beauty is breathtaking and surreal. During these few hot months, when breathing in the air outside is like inhaling flames and even the shadow of a tree holds no relief, the mountain looks as though it has been turned upside down and dipped into glistening honey. As I sit quietly streams of sunlight bounce off the windows of the houses, illuminating dust particles, casting a semitranslucent glow across the small town—it’s one of the most beautiful views. I can smell the grass that lines the streets leading up the hill, the pine and birch trees that flank each house and I can sit there for a half hour while the parrots chatter away to each other and the magpies fight over an injured dragonfly. This unassuming little mound of dirt is transformed into a gateway to heaven for a short amount of time, lighting up this little town, my little beacon calling me home.
Inking Cairns by ari moore
Home is a memory, not a location. I wanted to get tattoos to commemorate a place I hated living in. Every single street has a collection of memories. You can’t ink the feeling of laying hungover and mildly comatose on the concrete floor of a skate park, watching the sun rise golden over palm trees. There is no tattoo-translatable image of running home drenched in a cyclone and smelling shredded eucalyptus in the air for weeks. Relentless sun bleaches everything and everyone there into an identical heat-wasted fade—it’s a slow town that exists in a permanently over-exposed photo. As a Queensland transplant I adore Melbourne, but there’s an instant camaraderie with people from home—we lock eyes, there’s a nod of mutual understanding. Each time I return I swallow up the rainforest mountains, and open conversations Seinfeld-esque with ‘Seriously, this humidity?’, and some things never change. But the parts of home that run deepest in me often were over in minutes. The tattoo is an attempt to permanently externalise the faulty camera that is my mind. An effort to capture a fleeting feeling: there is nowhere else I should be in that moment. On my arm I tried to recreate a more personal memory, of sitting on floorboards listening to Ella Fitzgerald crooning 40s jazz on the antique wooden radio, while my mum cooked pasta. Those were the only times she seemed content. Ironically after I had the heirloom radio inked, my parents (laughing uproariously) informed me that it was a replica they bought in the late 80s from a mail order catalogue. I still tell people it’s been in the family for years—that part is true. The familiar chirping of a willie wagtail bird or the smell of mudflats and ocean, sugarcane burning sweet smoke across the city—these are as a part of me as my hands or voice. I left at 19 and never looked back, but in some ways Cairns is equal to my name. We’re formed before we know it—like water cutting rocks into canyons our hometowns write us. I can’t keep those things on my skin. And maybe I don’t need to.
CONTRIBUTORS Aaron Walker Allysha Webber Amelia Grant Ari Moore Bonnee Crawford Breanna Zampaglioe Claudia Sensi Contugi Crystal Lee Jamie Meadows Josh Dundas Kyah Horrocks Luke Peverelle Patrick Banfield Rowan Girdler Sos Gill Supun Hasthimuni