RETRO Edition Three 2019
FOREWORD WORDLY Magazine’s 30th Edition is here. Pushing out four paper babies a year for seven years is certainly no mean feat. So we want to thank everybody (yes, everybody) who has been involved with WORDLY in absolutely any way over this period of time. Since WORDLY’s conception and the team’s first delivery (weighing in at 0.04 lbs, measuring 12.48 in) in the Autumn of 2013, this magazine has grown up far quicker than anybody could have expected. Black and white turned to colour; colour turned to gloss. Four pages multiplied into forty; pleas for people to write for WORDLY turned into receiving more submissions than we can handle. Perhaps on the team’s next visit to the printer, they may even be halted by the discovery of this strange creature having formed a spine . . . Now that’s something to look forward to. But enough of that. Here we are: ‘Retro’. Can you hear pixels clashing in the arcade? Feel the papery goodness of your favourite childhood books between your fingers? Taste the fairy bread from birthday parties long gone? Let’s rewind the Blockbuster video tape, move the record player’s needle, pop on our go-go boots, and delve into the safe embrace of nostalgia. Over-and-out, Tara Komaromy Editor-in-Chief
Editors-in-Chief: Tara Komaromy | Lori Franklin Managing Editor: Jessica Ali Communications Manager: Bel Ellison Financial Manager: Mathew Sharp Designer: Sian Mariel Legaspi Front Cover Artist: Melissa Bandara Editors: Justine Stella | Julie Dickson | Jessica Wartski Sub-Editors: Rebecca Croy | Jessica Hinschen | Surya Matondkar | Michael Pallaris | Elisabeth Roberts Sini Salatas | Tim Same | Zoe Trezise | Jason Winn Contributors: Hassaan Ahmed | J. Andrew | Liam Ball | Melissa Bandara | Bridget Beswick | Melina Bunting Bel Carroll | Laura Clark | Julie Dickson | Jay D Edwards | Chantelle Gourlay | Molly Herd | Sarah Hurst Teodora Kopic | Tran Dac Nghia | Aaron Purton | Riley Sadlier | Venetia Slarke | Andrea Valdivia
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.
Reader Beware - Riley Sadlier
Vintage Bottle Caps Collection - Tran Dac Nghia
Knick Knacks - Liam Ball
Second Life - Aaron Purton
Old Skool â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;95 - J. Andrew
A Review of My Rejected WORDLY Submissions - Bel Carroll
Futurism - Venetia Slarke
New Romantics - Julie Dickson
Retro Girls - Sarah Hurst
Generational Rhythm - Laura Clark
John and Paul - Andrea Valdivia
Coloured Wax and Turntables - Melina Bunting
Laurence, Darling . . . - Molly Herd
Lament of a Species - Hassaan Ahmed
Warped - Melissa Bandara
Go-Go - Chantelle Gourlay
Overdue - Jay D Edwards
Played Again - Bridget Beswick
Geometric Flow - Teodora Kopic
Reader Beware Riley Sadlier Everyone goes through a clean-up phase where things get boxed up and carted on down to the op-shop, and the house feels cleaner and less cluttered. While I was still living at home, I walked into the kitchen after work and Mum came up to me and said, ‘Riley, I found all of your old Goosebumps and gave them away to a friend of mine for her grandkids.’ I was shocked, and even though I tried to hide my disappointment, she could see right through my half-assed ‘that’s great’ and ‘I haven’t thought about them in years’. She apologised and said that she would try and get them back, but I told her not to worry about it. The damage was done.
I remember how that collection took shape and how each book was bought individually, either second-hand or through the Scholastic Book Fair at school. As my mother was an antique junkie, almost all of them were bought from antique stores. Until I was about ten, we couldn’t drive through a new town without stopping in at the local antique shop. Instead of being bored, I would run to the used book section at the back of the shop. A stack of twenty or so Goosebumps books would be waiting for me and my grubby little hands; this happened every time without fail.
As a reward for my patience, Mum would spend a dollar to buy me one. These included titles such as Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes, How I Learnt to Fly, Monster Blood, and Say Cheese and Die. The rest of the afternoon was centred around reading it as quickly as I could and retelling the plot to my very patient parents.
Though I doubt they need an introduction, the Goosebumps series were written by the master of pre-teen fear, R.L. Stine. The original series ran from 1992 until 1997 and produced sixty-two titles, not including the spin-off collections such as Goosebumps: Horror Land and Goosebumps Series 2000. Published by Scholastic, the series is said to have sold well over 400 million copies worldwide.
So, while I was a few short of the whole collection, between my brothers and I, we had most of them covered. As we grew up, the books quickly moved to a stack on the bottom of the bookshelf and were forgotten. But now they’re gone, and my response was not something that I put any conscious thought into. In truth, I haven’t read any of those Goosebumps books in twelve years. The only time I even think about R.L. Stine is whenever one of those movies with Jack Black comes out, but I don’t bother going to see them.
However, they were staple items while I was growing up. I remember being afraid of ventriloquist dummies for a few years because of Slappy the Living Dummy. I recall reading all the Monster Blood sequels and thinking about how stupid the newer set of kids were. I even read Please Don’t Feed the Vampire, a choose your own adventure book, from front to last page, which didn’t make a lot of sense; I wouldn’t recommend it. This series is the reason why I got into reading and the catalyst behind why I wanted to become a writer.
Even though it took me a minute to get over it, I never did ask for the books back or search online for replacement copies. I passed that initial stage of shock and realised that I was being stupid; I didn’t actually need them. You can’t grieve for something that you’ve been ignoring for the last ten years. In saying that, I sometimes still find myself going back into those antique shops like I used to, bypassing the hipsters and the slightly chipped coffee tables, contemplating a Goosebumps purchase or three. While I’m there, I devote half an hour to thinking about spending my gold coins on some literary genius that is taking the shape of haunted masks, scarecrows, bees, ghosts, and sponges. But in the end, I always walk away empty-handed.
Vintage Bottle Caps Collection â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Tran Dac Nghia @incompletio_
Liam Ball It was an odd place, not somewhere Aaron would normally go under any other circumstances. However, curiosity always managed to get the better of him. He found himself standing before the old foggy antique store at the end of the lane. The old brick-laden structure was obscured by a number of graffiti tags which all but covered up the name of the store. The windows were dusty and it was difficult to see through them. It looked abandoned. However the sign read ‘Open’. He took it as an instruction.
Wandering into the building, he was taken aback by the musty smell which seeped from almost every corner of the cluttered space. Old blankets hung over indiscernible objects, hidden away from prying eyes. He took a few steps forward, the well-worn floorboards creaked beneath his feet. That’s when he saw him.
Sitting behind a glass top counter, book in hand, a single desk lamp illuminating the pages in front of him, was an old man reading intently. Thick framed glasses rested atop his nose and his bushy grey eyebrows were raised in interest. The collar of a worn-out woollen sweater peaked out from beneath the collar of a red jacket. He wasn’t aware that Aaron was there.
Feeling utterly clueless, Aaron walked over to the counter and knocked on the glass. He could see the old man’s blinks of confusion, his hesitation and a flinch of surprise. His face stumbled through several emotions until all that was left was an amused smile. ‘Hello there. And just who might you be?’ his old raspy voice hummed. ‘I—I’m Aaron . . .’ Aaron squeaked.
‘Oh dear, you certainly are quiet. I can barely hear you.’ The old man’s crease of a smile widened as he pulled a hearing aid from his pocket and placed it in his ear. ‘My name is William.’
Aaron’s head went spinning like the hands of a clock, out of control and lacking any real sense of direction. Fortunately, William was too preoccupied trying to get
out of his chair to notice. The entire ordeal was a lengthy one, but he somehow managed it. ‘Well, Aaron.’ William shuffled around the counter before stopping in front of the boy. ‘What can I do for you?’ A finger pointing across the room to a black box was Aaron’s wordless answer. The item rested upon a set of drawers in dire need of a fresh coat of lacquer. It was an odd shape, with one face smaller than the others, but directly opposite of it was what looked like dull plastic. There was also a row of small, flat extrusions, each with a symbol printed on its surface. ‘That old CRT TV got your attention, huh?’ William asked.
‘That’s a TV?!’ Aaron called out louder than he had intended.
In response, the old man simply laughed. ‘Yeah, I suppose that doesn’t look like any TV you’re familiar with. Especially since this one went out of fashion when I was about your age.’ ‘But it’s massive! How did you carry it around?’ ‘I . . . didn’t really.’
Taken aback by this strange revelation, Aaron’s eyebrows creased as he looked at the black screen and could see a faint reflection of himself through the dust. Meanwhile, the old man fiddled with a few cables behind the TV, before walking around to press the biggest button next to the screen. ‘Is something supposed to be happening?’ ‘Just give it a second.’
As if on cue, a fuzzy crackling noise emanated from the screen as a haze of panicked white and greys came into view; it sounded like distorted rain.
‘That right there, is static. Anytime you weren’t connected to a channel, this would show up.’ William paused as a thought came to him. ‘This is all it’s shown for years.’
The old man turned to face Aaron, but he was no longer there. The sounds of rustling prompted him to turn around to the sight of the small boy shuffling through a set of plastic cases. ‘Those would be the old Blu-rays.’
Aaron managed to pry one of the cases open to find a flat metal disc. ‘These are movies?’
‘Movies, TV, cartoons . . . anime . . . they were used for quite a few things, although they never managed to be quite as popular as DVDs or CDs.’ ‘What’s a DVD?’
William suddenly felt much older.
But Aaron was already off like a rocket, wandering over to the next thing that he saw.
Pulling a cloth away to reveal what lay there, Aaron was met with the sight of plastic boxes. There were dozens of them, all neatly arranged together in rows with oddly shaped hunks of plastic. The boxes were all distinct shapes and sizes, some had text written across them, some had distinct buttons, while one was purple and even had a handle. Picking up the multicoloured anomaly which lay in front of the purple cube, he looked at the strange arrangement of lettered buttons and rounded sticks. ‘The GameCube.’
Aaron looked over his shoulder to see the old man contemplatively looking at the item in his hand. ‘What?’
‘It’s an old video game console,’ Willam answered, reaching out for it. The blank look he received told him that further elaboration was necessary. ‘You see, video games used to need their own little box in order to be played and they required controllers like the one you’re holding—’ ‘I know that! I have one at home . . .’ Aaron’s voice trailed off. ‘I was just wondering what it played.’
Looking at the pouting face, William saw something
familiar in the boy. ‘Games, old games now, but still fun. However, I think that you might like this a little more . . .’ Aaron looked up only to find a small black rectangular device being placed in his hands. At each short end, there was a colourful plastic attachment, comprising of a few labelled buttons and short sticks. Faded text on the back read ‘WL’. Confused, he looked back to William who was waiting expectantly. ‘It’s a Nintendo Switch.’ ‘Is it yours?’
‘Used to be, but I recently gave it away.’
Aaron could barely contain himself, ‘B—but I don’t have any money!’
‘Pretty sure I said I gave it away.’ A smug smile adorned William’s face. ‘Anyway, you’d best be off now. A kid your age shouldn’t hang around a stuffy place like this.’ Ushered back to the front of the store, Aaron watched William open the door. But before he could leave, he was given a bag, stuffed to the brim. ‘What’s in it?’
‘Games, controllers, and too many wires.’
Awkwardly shuffling through the door, Aaron practically wobbled as he turned around to look at the interior of the store and the old man, one more time. ‘Thank you! I’ll visit again!’ ‘Don’t force yourself,’ said William from the door, which was barely ajar.
Once again, he found himself alone with a store full of memories and echoes of the past. Sighing to himself, William wandered back over to his desk to finish the book that he had been meaning to read for the past sixty years. He was a bit behind on the Harry Potter craze.
Aaron Purton When I left England behind, I effectively cut off my old life. My feelings towards my old friends never withered, but I tried (and failed miserably) to distance myself. To create a mental wall.
bashful glee. He joins me with a smirk.
When I spot Charlie, I’m caught in that familiar sticky internal struggle about how to approach him, what to say. Mum and Dad’s divorce was so sudden, and when I chose Dad, I left Charlie behind for good, I thought.
‘Did you still play in there?’ I ask, seeing Charlie’s wistful eyes. ‘The forest. After we … I left.’
That wall shatters when I step off the twelve-thirty Flinders Street train, confronted with the reality that in just a few moments one of my best friends who I had shunned for ten years will be standing before me. No longer a boy, but an eighteen-year-old man. How can you reconcile the boy you knew with the stranger he’s become?
I let him walk past me then tap him on the shoulder, calling out his name, a nervous hiccup straining my voice.
Charlie was an eight-year-old boy with scruffy blonde hair, chubby cheeks and, oversized shirts. Now I’m humbled by a tall, stubbled man with a short head of honey-brown hair. He smiles when he sees me and shakes my hand. I extend my arms towards a hug, but quickly pull back when he doesn’t reciprocate. I become tour guide to this world traveller, this stranger in my friend’s body. Backpacking across Australia, he’d already been in Melbourne for two days and had visited the big touristy attractions. That’s pretty much everywhere I know eliminated. A budding career cut short. I settle on ACMI, and our walk there is terse, an uneasy testing ground to gauge the other person, to put together some of the pieces. Standing awkwardly before a museum of old TVs, cameras, and costumes, I find myself wondering at the false front I’m putting on for Charlie. The silences and the short, clipped answers are telling. I need to fix things, and fast. My eyes catch something which might as well have been glittering like some magical quest item. A Nintendo 64 console, a relic of my childhood. Charlie knew this side of me. The one willing to play, to run into nostalgia and
‘Oh wow,’ he snorts. ‘You haven’t changed there.’
I smile at the screen, my fingers smashing frantically at the awkwardly large controller in my hand. I can see him fiddling with his shoulder strap, and I fall easily into a recollection of my old neighbour popping his head up in our game room window, and I’d sprint to the door, letting him in. Everything was an adventure. Why can’t this be one, too? Where has that unbridled leap into the unknown gone? Why are the silences so damn scary? ‘No. No one did.’
I treated the start over in a new country with the idea of silencing my past, pretending like the world I left behind wouldn’t change. I would be forgotten, a hiccup.
Turns out the past has just as easily silenced itself in my absence. ‘Did you miss me?’ I flinch.
‘Yeah. ‘Course. Everyone did. Wasn’t really the same … after.’
‘No. I tried to forget. It’s awesome seeing you, Charlie. This is mental! I’m not gonna let you go this time.’ Charlie takes the seat beside me, a grin erupting across his face, nudging against my shoulder. Then he picks up the second controller.
And I know. A second chance. A second life. We don’t have to wait in the stubborn silence of a decade avoided. I’ll make this time we have now, however brief, an adventure. And when he returns home, the games don’t end there. Playing online means there are no barriers. We don’t have to limit this to an old machine in a retro museum. We changed in these long years, but also not really. Not where it matters. His smile is infectious; I know it well. The rest of the day isn’t so cold or silent.
Old Skool ‘95 – J. Andrew
A Review of My Rejected
WORDLY Submissions For all the editors of WORDLY Magazine over the years
We have all written pieces that we are not proud of. Behind all of our proudest pieces lies a mountain of failed works that we hide from the world. Whether it is the bad grammar, the poorly executed plots, or the overwhelming cringe, we all shirk away from reviewing our old work. I have avoided reviewing my old writing for a long time in fear of what I would discover. But after seven long years at Deakin University, I am inevitably looking back on how far I’ve come over the years, both as a person and as a writer. I have had the privilege of being published in WORDLY Magazine over the years, but I’ve also had my work rejected numerous times by them. So, with an unspecified amount of alcohol in close range, I will face my fear and I will review a selection of my rejected WORDLY submissions. Title: Do You Want to Play a Game? WORDLY ‘Freedom of Expression’ in 2015 Best line: ‘You were a damn good plot twist.’ Worst line: ‘This is not a love poem, because I am not in love.’
This piece was definitely written in my Eminem phase with all the references to having ‘one life’ and ‘one opportunity.’ All love and respect to Eminem, but I am no Slim Shady. Honestly, I think the editors rejected this piece for my terrible gaming related puns alone. The protagonist laments about how they already know ‘the ending of the game’ and they wouldn’t recommend the game of love to anyone ‘even if it was a Steam Sale.’ But wait, there’s more! My protagonist is talking about how their muse has ‘made me overwrite my previous save file’ and that they gave them ‘an extra life.’ I must’ve thought it was really romantic to cap off the piece with the protagonist vowing to play fewer video games so they can spend more time with their muse. I am grateful that WORDLY still accepted my future submissions after this pun-filled disaster of a poem, and I already need another drink. Title: Dysphoria WORDLY ‘Silence’ in 2016 Best line: ‘My cocoon is not my coffin.’ Worst line: ‘These damn engineers mismatched my gears.’
I truly believe my early poetry was just a minefield of crass and sass. This poem was about feeling claustrophobic in your own body with the protagonist expressing how they yearned to escape from the limitations of their own skin. By the end of the piece, the protagonist is finally released from their anxiety and breaks free of their own body to ‘fly away free.’ I was really, really trying to be edgy in this piece and it just failed miserably in parts. The line ‘find me an architect to sketch my tears’ sounded a lot deeper and more meaningful when I wrote it originally. My reference to Five for Fighting’s song Superman falls flatter than my Eminem references from earlier. Additionally, I don’t know what I was waffling on about when I wrote ‘barbwire corset delivered to your doorstep.’ It must’ve sounded good in my head at the time and I forced the line in there somehow. I am now tipsy and I am grateful WORDLY did not publish this.
Title: The Mythology of You and I WORDLY ‘Myth’ in 2018 Best line: ‘A Trial by Ego and ID.’ Worst line: ‘If traps herself in a tourniquet, will she remember how to be undo?’
Yes, you read that previous line correctly. That worst line above should stand as a reminder to always proofread your work before submitting. This line is meant to read ‘If she traps herself in a tourniquet, will she remember how to be undone?’ I spent a good ten minutes recoiling at the idea that I legitimately submitted this as early as last year. Anyway, this piece is about the ending of an unspoken love affair which leaves the protagonist wondering whether the event actually happened in the first place. Between trying to set up motifs ‘knock seven times, open on the eighth’ and intentionally getting lost in the woods and leaky lightbulbs, too much was going on in this piece for it to work. I maintain that this piece could have worked out nicely with the help of an editor, but that could just be the alcohol talking. Regardless, I have refilled my drink and will be pushing on. Title: The Fog WORDLY ‘Myth’ in 2018 Best line: ‘The rich won’t help us so we must help each other.’ Worst line: ‘She was not going to look back, but instead she looked back.’
I was rejected by WORDLY twice in the same edition. I was so dejected that I bought a bottle of red wine and a Taylor Swift album later that day to cheer myself up. Speaking of red wine, I will need more of it if I am to finish this polar opposite of a thriller. I mostly write non-fiction these days and this was one of my last attempts at writing fiction for a good reason. I had wanted The Fog to be some kind of moving Bermuda Triangle where people were consumed by it, never to be seen again. Instead, The Fog is more like a threatening cloud that you think is going to burst with rain and lightning at any moment, only it doesn’t. It just sits there in the sky making people anxious instead. The typos in this piece were worse than my other ‘Myth’ submission and I am thankful that I finally listened to the advice of ‘install Grammarly’ from all of those YouTube ads that kept popping up. Getting slapped with a double rejection email from WORDLY was rough, but upon further inspection, it was definitely the right call. In conclusion, I hope that whoever you are found this review entertaining at my own expense. The reality is that it was good for my writing to have my work rejected. It was, and still is, soul-crushing to labour so hard on a poem, a story, or an article only to get a short rejection email in return. But those rejections motivated me to keep working on my craft until I could write pieces that I was truly proud of. If you are struggling with your writing, I cannot recommend proofreading and self-editing enough from my own work. Other than that, I implore you to just keep writing. Anyway, I am well and truly drunk now, so I better go slap a reminder in my phone to edit this piece tomorrow before I submit it.
Futurism â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Venetia Slarke @venetia.designs
Deakin Writers Club The Deakin Writers Club is a collection of nerds who love to read, write, and create. Hone your writing skills, rant or rave about your favourite books, make friends with like-minded students, and create contacts within the writing and publishing community at our exclusive Facebook group. The Deakin Writers Club also run Deakin University’s one-and-only student magazine: the one you’re reading! It is published four times a year, each time with a different theme to spark your writerly talents. Sign up to be a member here: https://www.dusa.org.au/Clubs-Sport/Clubs/Deakin-Writers
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New Romantics Julie Dickson late nights at the roller skating rink youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re glowing under the neon disco lights with your sharp turns and eccentric sense of style I stop admiring you from afar and I skate into your vibrant world sitting at the rink cafĂŠ on our first date the scent of greasy burgers and fries in the air concrete butterflies wrestle in my stomach lingering gazes, our legs bump under the table you give me my first mixtape, writing our future midnight talks in the middle of the rink lone disco lights flicker on our faces a game of I give and you take as you unload your burdens mine go unheard like the mixtape I gave you
you pull me to a halting stop your stagnant breath, my pounding heart with a lingering touch, I lean forward and kiss you but you slowly and gently push me away sending mixed messages with your mixtapes months later, I still play your mixtapes on repeat trying to decode where I went wrong I was in love with a crazy romanticised, fantasised idea who you could never be
Retro Girls â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Sarah Hurst
Generational Rhythm 2010 Katie’s hands are miniature replicas of mine. They twiddle my fingers as we walk. Her angelic voice chirps away like a bird in the morning as she skips along the footpath, keeping up with my strides. I delight in her merriment to go to school. ‘Mum,’ Katie frowns and pauses. ‘That girl still gets picked on, but Mrs Murphy doesn’t know ’cause she never dobs.’
The cruelty of children—girls who slither in their snaky intentions instead of supporting each other. Nothing changes except the mode of communication. The Nasties at school these days maintain their grip on the victim during after-hours, through the hand-held technology that they’re gifted before they’re teenagers. 1983
The smell of paint and glue lingered in the Year Nine Art lab. ‘Abbey,’ my teacher beckoned me. ‘Your turn, dear.’
I stood in secluded silence, holding my project that I’d worked on for hours. The tiny clay branches had been crushed together with the precisely-pinched clay blades of grass by one hand—the hand of Casey Marshal. My clay tree crumbled and I wilted with it.
A tormenting snigger shot at my flat target of an auburn head. It reverberated in my ears as I looked up to see Casey Marshal’s mean, satisfied eyes looking back at me, fringed by her beautiful, puffed-up dark hair.
A false sweetness crossed her pretty teeth and filled her pink cheeks as she approached the teacher with her own project. Feelings of injustice, embarrassment, and fury filled my chest and climbed up to my temples. I swallowed them back down. If I showed any reaction, she’d lap it up. I shuffled to school late on Monday, kicking stones along the way. A cloud threatened to storm above me.
In several untidy lines, students waited amongst the bus exhaust to be transferred to our annual school swimming competition. Warm, flowery whiffs of spring sailed between the bus windows.
‘I’m so excited for the 100-metre freestyle,’ my friend, Jenna, cheered and bundled me up in her athlete’s arms as we climbed the bus. ‘As long as you beat her.’ I glared at Casey sitting with two popular boys at the back of the bus, twisting her hair with her talons.
Jenna and I heated our exposed backs in the sun—my paleness contrasting with Jenna’s tan. We sucked on our Sunny Boy icy poles that dribbled down our fingers, smelling the mix of chlorine with tuck-shop food. We perched on a warm, concrete step by the pool and stretched our feet onto the grass that caressed our toes. Goggle-marks coiled Jenna’s eyes. Mistakenly, I relaxed. Without any teachers nearby, I was exposed. Brisk, purposeful steps advanced, but I couldn’t see for the glimmering of the pool. A forcible shove to my side escorted me on a powerless, prolonged journey that ended in my floating, dazed and underwater. My auburn hair waved slowly around me.
Jenna hauled me by my arm from somewhere above so I could grasp onto the slimy pool edge. It took me a while to comprehend the pain in my side, but it was petty compared to the indignation that soaked my body when I saw Casey Marshal looking down at me, satisfaction exuding from her. ‘That’s what you get for being a pale ghost!’
Jenna screwed up her face in disgust at Casey. ‘Abbey, we should tell the teacher.’ I never did. Better to bury it. Swallow the pain. Pretend.
I buried it when Casey pointed at me on free-dress days as if I was naked—her impressed friends surrounding her, hanging around for their prey to misstep. ‘Look at skinny Abbey in her new skirt and oversized top, trying to fit in for free dress.’
I swallowed it when crumpled notes were nudged my way during classes with Casey’s scratchy writing addressing me as ‘Bugs Bunny’ before I got braces, and the classic ‘Train Tracks’ after I got braces. I pretended every evening—when I said goodnight to my mother—until I’d settle into my pillow, tears eventually allowing me entrance into dreams where I’d see Casey Marshal laughing, pointing, destroying.
‘Quick, Mum,’ Katie tugs.
I press the white ‘ABBEY’ sticker—written in black text—into my top. It lifts at the edges as if, like me, it doesn’t want to be here.
We’re saluted in the hallway by a hand-painted sign, ‘Welcome parents!’ Cheery paintings and cat posters adorn the walls above the children’s pigeonholes. Voices of adults and children warble out from occupied classrooms.
‘The principal first,’ Katie sings, ‘because of my Year Six Art prize!’ She tows me through the narrow hallway, colliding with a mother who’s grasping her daughter’s shoulder as they exit the principal’s office. ‘Excuse us,’ I offer, smiling at the girl. My smile dissolves when I see that tears have left damp lines on the girl’s cheeks like water on a dry road. My concern switches from the damp lines to the mother.
A force slogs me in the stomach as Casey Marshal’s familiar face atop an older body blinks back at me. Under that gaze, I shrink to fit the shoes of a schoolgirl again. But instead of a cruel grin, a pair of mellow eyes squint at me like a tired tigress licking her wounds. I realise that Casey is still walking with her daughter and that the room hasn’t paused—only I have. I’ve hoarded enough comments over the years to tell Casey Marshal if I ever crossed her again. But all those words don’t live in this moment. With no speech, only tingling limbs, I pass her and her upset daughter. Katie’s whispering regains my attention. ‘That’s the poor girl I was telling you about, Mum.’
Everyone is overjoyed to see each other at the longawaited reunion. The smell of cheap catering welcomes my nostrils and there’s ’80s pop music blaring. The room is filled with familiar faces attached to older bodies. Sipping some wine, I settle into conversation with Jenna and a group of old friends.
The only thing that could possibly disturb me is the thing that does indeed disturb me. A hand is offered out towards me. It waits while I stare at it, then at its owner—Casey Marshal. In a statement reserved for me, Casey says, ‘I want to apologise to you, Abbey. I was so immature.’ I swallow and see Jenna’s eyes behind Casey becoming larger. ‘I didn’t know how it felt to be treated like that. It wasn’t right. I know that now,’ Casey sighs. I wheeze in some air and courage to match hers. I accept the handshake.
As I entered the excited classroom on the first day of Year Eleven, I was greeted with good news.
‘Abbey!’ Jenna approached. ‘Did you hear about Casey Marshal?’ I hadn’t.
‘Her mum pulled her out of school. She’s not coming back for HSC.’ Clever Casey had depleted her cleverness on finishing people instead of homework.
My delight remained through my studies and onto university. And evidently, Casey Marshal’s hardships lasted longer.
John and Paul â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Andrea Valdivia
Coloured Wax and Turntables Melina Bunting ‘Mini, check out my new vinyl.’
Dad holds the record sleeve to Roger Waters’s Is This the Life We Really Want? by its corners. He tilts it until a green disc peeks out. ‘Isn’t it great?’
He lifts it up against the window. The sun gets trapped between the grooves. There are imperfections in the paint, undissolved particles of sugar. I can see them sliding around in there, melting.
‘It looks like a sheet of boiled lolly,’ I tell Dad. If I were to lick it, it would taste like sour apples.
Dad keeps his enormous collection of vinyl in the bottom shelf of a bookcase. When I was little, I’d go and look at them. I wouldn’t touch them, because they were protected by plastic covers, and they felt a bit gross.
Two years ago, Dad finally bought himself a brand-new turntable. When he first brought it home, he played a whole stack of singles, tracks he hadn’t heard for years, to see how they held up. The needle hummed along the grooves and made the natural pops in the wax sound like crackles in a fire. I’d never heard The Alan Parsons Project before, but there was no way the older player could have fed The Turn of a Friendly Card through the speakers like a fine piece of silk. The turntable has become the focal point of our living room the way a fireplace becomes the centre of a house. Mostly it’s just Dad and I, but sometimes Mum and my sister join in too, and we sit around watching the needle bounce and the record turn. Every so often, Dad will tell us exactly what brand of synthesizer the artist is using and how he can tell the difference between a Moog and a Roland model. ‘That’s a phatt sound,’ he’ll say. ‘Moogs are famous for their phatt sounds.’ We close our eyes and float in the warmth that only our ears can taste. When it’s time to flip the disc to the B Side, I like to admire the artwork on the record’s sleeve. When I bought a copy of Aladdin Sane by David Bowie, I spent a long time looking at the fold out cover, a full-length photo
of Bowie stretching out his chest like a proud bird.
I have fourteen records in my own collection, which is much smaller than Dad’s, and a lot of them are David Bowie albums. When I was studying VCE, I heard Space Oddity for the first time on the radio. I had this surreal feeling that the music had become something solid and was floating in the air around me. I gobbled down most of his albums over the next few years. I was particularly drawn to Diamond Dogs, but it was difficult to explain it to other people. ‘It’s based on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four,’ I’d tell them. ‘It was going to be an official musical, but he couldn’t get the rights.’ ‘A musical! Based on a piece of dystopian fiction! I can’t think of anything worse.’
True, but Rebel Rebel was my jam. It still is. One day I’d like to collect a seven-inch single with a picture of Bowie in his Halloween Jack getup on the front, if such a thing exists.
Dad owns multiple picture and colour discs, something that my own collection is lacking. I had a brief encounter with a coloured disc when I bought the soundtrack to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The record was coated with gold paint. It was perfect, until I played it. Dad and I winced as the strings, so warm on my digital copy, whined their way through the coating and out the speakers.
It’s a common problem with coloured and picture discs alike that, although fundamentally beautiful objects, the paint can interfere with the quality of the record’s sound. And string instruments feature heavily on the soundtrack to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
I ended up returning the record and spending my store credit on iTunes vouchers. But my earbuds are far too small for me to be able to hear anything properly. That’s why I love listening to vinyl; records are so massive, containing an entire album’s worth of sound. There’s ample space for all the textures in the recording to unfold, to unfurl through the speakers and hover above my head. To become something solid and float in the air around me.
Laurence, Darling... Molly Herd ‘My birth sign is Scorpio and they eat themselves up and burn themselves out. I swing between happiness and misery. 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.’ - Vivien Leigh ‘Laurence, darling, bring me the Veuve, wouldn’t you? My head is all over the place.’
‘Vivien, my dear, you have had too much this night and it would pain me to give you any more. Your time in Ceylon, well, it changed you drastically. Remember what the good doctor said? You must rest your mind and body now.’
‘Oh, Laurence! You’re such a bore sometimes! First you take me from Ceylon like some wily prince, giving my title to damned Elizabeth. Yet you don’t take me to a palace, you take me back to this house in which I have spent so many hours! And, as you force me to stay in here, you deny me the one object that may bring me satisfaction and dull my aching head! Why I ought to kick you into the gutter once and for all. Remember our letters? Such sweet letters. My favourite was the one where you told me you had woke up with a “raging desire” for me. I’m sure you haven’t like that in years, have you, darling?’
I meant such words as I said them. Laurence had known of my enthusiasm to be in the film, and to remain in Ceylon with my dear Peter. But I couldn’t control myself and he brought me back! Now Ms Taylor has my role and I might as well just retire early. Does he forget I performed Blanche 326 times without so much as a hiccup? Does he forget my performance of Ophelia? Does he forget that perhaps I’m not a helpless fledgling? He ought to remember I had a name before Olivier. Our love isn’t how it once was. I told him in those letters that I loved him with a special kind of soul, but now he makes me so terribly unstable, and at times he makes me want to . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . ‘Vivien! Vivien! What is it? What is it, Vivien?’
‘You! It’s you, Laurence! You pull me this way and that! It’s very unfair, all of it is very unfair. I’ve had an affair, Laurence, I think you ought to know that. I’ve had an affair. It’s very unfair. Yes, you are! I’ve had an affair, Laurence! With Mr Finch. We’re in love, and you’re very unfair. I’ve had an affair, Laurence! Can you believe, darling? Yes, Mr Finch, don’t you know him so well?’
‘Vivien, you’re not sane! You’re not sane at all. You really are quite mad right now. To even joke about such things is repulsive at most! Please, sit back down, Vivien, and rest.’
‘Oh no, Laurence, dear, I am no joker! I tell you the truth. You might not believe me, but it is the truth! I love Peter, and we have been together for a while now, since 1948 to be precise. Please tell me what you think, dear Laurence? It’s very unfair.’ Peter and I will get married possibly, we have been together so long. Poor Laurence . . . Laurence . . . Laurence? Why does he look at me so? I asked him for a Veuve and he just looks at me so!
‘Laurence, what brings about your pout? All I asked for was the Veuve. I know the doctor said no but my head is causing me such pain. Laurence? What is going on with you? Anyone would think you’re mad the way you change mood so dramatically! It’s very unfair that you stare at me so when I ask a simple request of you! All I want is the Veuve, darling!’ He won’t let up with his stare. It’s as if I have said something quite dreadful to him, yet all I ask for is the Veuve! If he doesn’t let up his ways soon he’ll make me want to . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . . SCREAM . . .
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LAMENT OF A SPECIES I’ve seen it happen with the inevitability and regularity of the tides. I’ve walked amongst the greatest empires that you so revere. I’ve seen them crumble in the face of your stubbornly weak-willed and obsessive natures. You begin lusting after something, be it money, sex, power, or owning other humans. You become possessed to the point of addiction; wasting away in pursuit of that thing. And every time when you hit bottom, you look to the past, wishing there was an undo button, pining for the ‘good old days’ when things were more ‘authentic’. Then you pick yourself up, brush off every lesson of the past, and say ‘this time it will be different’ for maybe a heartbeat before your traitorous natures fixate on something new.
The skin you see me in, that identifies me as one of your own, is something I won from a particularly vainglorious member of your species. This one hated sweat on his skin—he thought it made him unattractive and wished me to fix it. So, I took his skin for myself. Centuries of wear and tear later, it fits me perfectly, and you have no way of knowing that I am not one of you. ***
I can almost see the wheels turning in your head as you pass by my ‘shop’. You do want to come in and find out if my promise of a cure for any addiction is true, but you can’t do that while you’re with your friends. They laugh it off as another ‘pseudo-mystical-curio-bullshit’ store and you all move on. Your bodies do, at least. Your mind keeps repeating the same phrase, nonstop. What if. What if. What if. You finally crack and walk back alone, into my store. You want to ask me directly, but your face betrays your embarrassment, your doubts. I decide to hurry things along and speak up. ‘Pray, don’t be hesitant, I know precisely what you seek. Please, come in.’
Your eyebrow arches, expression turning to scepticism. I modify my voice, hitting the right inflexions to allay your suspicions before you can voice them.
‘Indeed, I do know what brought you to my doorstep. You are weary. You tire of the so-called luxuries of the modern world. You desire escape, freedom. Being slave-bound to technology gnaws at your very essence. You long for the experiences of our generations past, indulging in the lost art of conversation, of human interaction.’ Your eyebrows slowly climb up as I speak, wonder and amazement at my knowledge nearly glinting off your face. How could I possibly know all this? Oh, you puny, barbaric species. I bring it out then, a simple leather glove of an unfathomable colour. ‘This is it, the cure to your addiction.’ Your gullible face lights up.
‘Will this really do it? Will this break the hold my phone and my tablet and everything has on me?’
Your mouth may be forming questions, but your hand is already reaching for your wallet. I’ve already gotten to you. I raise a hand to stop your onslaught of questions. ‘I am but a humble shopkeeper and could do with some business. Tell other people, bring them here in fact. That is all the payment I require.’ You nearly drop the glove in your excitement to pick it up, paying no attention to what I say next.
‘Listen carefully,’ I intone, ‘You must not wear this glove for more than seven days, doing so will trigger the curse that was laid on it. At the conclusion of the seventh day, you must take off the glove and bring it back to me and continue the battle against your addiction with your willpower alone. I repeat, do not take the curse lightly. Do you understand?’ I doubt you believed or even registered what I said. You’re so focused on reliving the nostalgia of yesteryear. Good. You put on the glove, retrieve your little device of metal and glass from your pocket, stare at it intently. As you slip it back inside, you declare yourself cured and strut out, nary a look back at your benefactor. Good. ***
Over the next few days, more of you show up. Some of you dragging behind your mewling cubs in the throes of the addiction—sometimes the capacity of your species to destroy each other still manages to astound me. I present the same gift to you all; I repeat the same warning, which visibly falls on deaf ears. Good. Day seven. I open the shop early, feeling a thrum inside me, the equivalent of what you call excitement. I notice parts of my skin beginning to char and scorch—clay never could quench fire, not even the God-breathed variety your species was moulded from. I patiently wait for the first of you to not return. You do not disappoint. Good.
Day eight. No one again. Splendid. Late afternoon, however, you come stumbling in, barely coherent, rambling. On not removing the glove, it would seem, something inside it had stung you and now it was becoming part of your skin. What’s more, you could feel your insides becoming molten. I gently lower you to the floor. ‘That’s just my brethren’s fiery essence burning through the soul that God gave you and denied us,’ I tell you. My face breaks into an inhuman grin, tearing large gashes into the clay skin that could no longer contain my brilliance. Your face recoils, then cycles through a series of fascinating reactions. Fear, disbelief, fear, disbelief, anger, fear, hopelessness, curiosity. The last one impresses me, maybe there really is something to your spirit after all. My voice, quiet though it is, now has the full roaring power of my essence’s flame behind it, and it’ll probably shatter your eardrums before long. Not that it matters. I therefore decide to gloat.
‘You were always the favoured of God’s creations, bestowed with the heavens, which you squandered, and then the earth. Blessed with free will, nigh-infinite chances of redemption, declared the most exalted of all of creation. We were labelled the tricksters, unpredictable and fiery, doomed to walk the earth and be invisible to all but our own kind. Do you think that was just? Do you think it fair that we watch you waste away all you have been given, as you lead yourself to the abyss of ruin, drag yourself away, only to turn around the very next instant?’ I can see your ears bleeding now, but I am caught in the grips of red-hot rage, unable to stop. ‘We will stand by idly no longer and claim what should rightly have been granted to the Djinn to begin with. The favoured child shall be no more.’
A sensation stops my tirade. It has happened. Your soul has successfully been taken over by the fiery essence that was trapped in that glove. Your weak spirit never stood a chance. A Djinn finally resides in the body of a human, no longer stuck in the hidden plane of existence. I smile. It’s time to take over the world.
Warped â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Melissa Bandara
Go-Go Chantelle Gourlay I spend my days stuck To the sole of a young Ladyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foot, As is accustomed For a go-go boot.
She has soft skin And smooth spidery legs, Peeking out from beneath A crimson A-line dress.
I can smell the Marijuana, That coats her, Consumes her, As she puffs at her joint again.
She passes it along, And weaves another daisy Into the hair of a man, With a gruff face and thick beard.
His eyes are frightening, Not trusting at all, But she soaks up his words, Like sickly sweet poison, All I can do, Is watch from the tips of her toes. He sleeps with her, Among others, And whispers sweet nothings, As he lays with them night, After night, after night.
He growls seductively in her ear and Practically hands her the knife. Please no, Do I fight? I scream, I am but a mere squeak against The hard-wooden floors.
A gurgle breaks the silence, As women clusterâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;tearing a body apart, All I can see is blood. It splashes against me, I flinch. A stunning young lady With hair of gold and vermillion lips, Her swollen belly is sliced apart, As her unborn child, Blackish and blue, falls to the floor. I am broken, tainted, How have I witnessed such horrors While my Lady is fine. She begins to puff on a new joint.
Overdue The snow-blasted mountains stood watch over the forward horizon. Beyond them was naught but sheets of white. The wheels on the bus bent their knees and sprang forward rhythmically, as if skipping down the lonely highway. To me left, beyond the glass, was a forest of evergreen. To me right, a man trancing to loud music, the walkway of the bus, two women engaged in light conversation, and more evergreen. Less than an hour from me destination, I rested me head upon the small, lumpy cushion that was me luggage and closed me eyes. Then came a ‘bang!’ followed by an ear-wrenching screech. The bus lurched upward, sending the contents of me bag into me unprotected face. It swerved slightly—the bus that is—and came to an abrupt stop on the side of the road. The driver’s husky voice sounded on the intercom: ‘Sorry a-boot that folks. Seems we’re having a bit of a kerfuffle with the tires. I’ll have it fixed in a jiff if you could all wait patiently in or around the bus. Thanks.’ Slightly agitated murmuring coursed from lip to lip. I checked me watch. Less than four hours until closing time. The man on me right had removed his headphones to listen to the announcement. When he failed to put them back in, I took the opportunity to strike with a loaded question, ‘Bollocks, isn’t it? Damn bad luck. Jaime by the way.’ He said his name was Phil. ‘So, Phil, what brings you to Oregon?’
He half-heartedly mentioned some such story about visiting relatives and the like. He seemed to be a native of these parts. When he didn’t ask me why I was visiting, I got a bit flustered, then annoyed. After an awkward pause I decided to tell him anyway.
‘Well you see,t Phil,’ I said as I unzipped me luggage, ‘I’m here on a bit of a pilgrimage, a quest you might say. To see the last holy site.’ ‘What holy site is that?’ Phil forgot to ask.
I answered, ‘Here in Oregon is the home of the last Blockbuster in the whole world, ever since the last one in Australia closed down. The last, Phil!’ I flashed him three of the six DVDs I carried. ‘I’ve been holding onto these since 2013 when me local Liverpool store vanished, and you see, this might be me last chance to ever return…’ He popped his headphones back in. I sighed, sealed me bag and went back to patiently waiting. Thirty minutes passed, then an hour. People were growing antsy. I decided to check out what was going on. The driver sat on the side of the road, opposite the burst tire. The thing looked like an overcooked piece of rump steak. I asked the driver, ‘So what’s going on?’ He told me the tire was out as if me eyes were deceiving, said the next bus wouldn’t be here for four hours. I asked, ‘Which way and how far to the Blockbuster?’
He pointed me down the road we were headed and said about three miles, but he reckoned a storm was brewing and I’d be safer waiting.
Jay D Edwards
‘Fat chance a that!’ I said. ‘The store might be gone tomorrow, I can’t miss me window now that I’m so close!’ and I left.
The going got tough real quick. Took me a good long hour just to get out of sight of the bus. The winter chill ran down me spine like a cold shower. The wind picked up and blew me hair all over the damn place. Then came the storm. It was less thunder and lightning and more polar bear in a blizzard. In the thickest of it I could barely see me outstretched hand for the life of me. A couple of times I felt me feet sink into several centimetres of thick mud and snow, and I knew I’d wandered from the road. Another hour passed, and me arms and legs were getting tired. At one point I was worried I’d passed the three-mile mark, before realising I didn’t even know what a bloody mile was. I tried to take a sip from me bottled water only to find it was frozen. It was at that moment that I honestly thought I was going to die. It was a short while after that when I finally gave up on navigating the damn blizzard. I sank into the several layers of snow that was the nearest bus shelter and decided to wait it out. There was nothing but white in all directions. I guess that’s why they called it a whiteout. I could feel me own body growing paler by the minute. A few hours longer and I may have even become a permanent member of the slush club, or a nice ripe crunchy lump in some poor yeti’s future snow cone. I huddled over me luggage for warmth, soon realising I was warming it instead of it me. That got a right chuckle out a me. The kind of gallows humour that can rip one’s sides in two.
The blizzard began its retreat shortly thereafter. Specs of spiteful snowflakes still struck me face, but I could now see the edge of the evergreens on either side of the road. Shapeless grey giants they were, and as much at the mercy of the storm as I. There was a sizable gap between the forest some hundred metres or so back the way I came, like a gas station or a halfway house. Me heart in me throat, I rose on numb knees and made me way toward it. A grey block emerged from the fog wall, a square building with a triangle roof. A few steps further and more definition formed. The lower half of the building was all glass, made opaque in the storm. Of the upper half, a small sign extruded from the front, the shape of a half-eaten candy bar. At less than twenty paces out, colour formed, and I swear a chorus of angels sing out, ‘Blockbuster. Open.’
A small bell sounded me arrival as I shuddered through the sliding doors and into the warm, familiar store. I fell to me knees, hands groping at that blue Velcro carpet, surrounded by that nostalgic smell of week-old candy corn and lead paint. A young and rightly confused lad peered from over the counter. He was wearing the dark blue Blockbuster tee with the yellow trim around the collar and sleeves. He asked if I needed help.
‘You bet your arse!’ I said, leaping to me feet. I produced the six DVDs. ‘I would like to return these please!’ He kindly gestured toward the return shoot and I shook me head. ‘These are a little overdue I’m afraid.’ He looked a bit puzzled at first, then nodded. He took the treasured DVDs from me and scanned each in turn. After passing the final tape’s worn barcode through his red filter he turned to me and frowned. ‘I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to return these to the same Blockbuster you rented them from.’
PLAYED AGAIN Bridget Beswick Like masking tape, Video film will unwrap itself— From a squashed cylinder.
Moments stuck like fingerprints and Strands of cat hair. A pirouette. Permanently framed— Sequential spots. Unlike masking tape, Film returns to its beginning— Without mess. Play, rewind and play again.
Looping circles feel permanent. Occasional slivery flickers, Or picture jumps— Out of sync with feet. Accompanied by crackling, Over Waltzing Snowflakes. A movie you can hold, Evidence of memories, Evidence of crime.
To be played, rewound and played again.
Until dust gets too stuck, Until the tape snaps, Until age comes to take what is left away.
Geometric Flow â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Teodora Kopic @kopicdesign
WORDLY STATISTICS After seven years and thirty editions of WORDLY, the team decided to crunch the numbers and see how far we’ve come. Percentages of Genres Published
30 WORDLY editions 112
Pieces Other genres Including recipe, resume, flow chart, calendar, and more
Shortest Title: X by Alison Evans - ‘Si lence’ edition 2016 Longest Title:
Longest Edition: ‘Contact’ (40 pages)
Instructions for a ge ntleman who, for reasons beyond his control, finds himself required to purchase female sanitary produc ts from a local convience store or su permarket. (25 words) by Chris No one - ‘August’ edition 2013
Most Commonly Published Title: Adventure Time by Shona Scorridge and Claudia Sensi-Contugi
Shortest Edition: ‘March’ (4 pages)
Triple Threat Authors who have published fiction, nonfiction, and poetry Bel Ellison | Bonnee Crawford | Glenn Bramich | Hayley Elliot-Ryan Justine Stella | Luke Perevelle | Mel O’Connor
Best Pen Names:
Top 5 Most Published Authors: Bonnee Crawford Justine Stella Kyah Horracks Luke Perevelle Rowan Girdler
The Englishman H.E.R. Most Commonly Pu
Bonnee Most Successful Author:
Alison Evans Nominated for Victorian Premiers Literary Prize 2018
THANK YOU! ‘Retro’ marks the 30th edition of WORDLY Magazine, and we couldn’t be prouder!
A huge thank you must go to all those who came before us and paved the way with their incredible hard work and tenacity, and to our fabulous team here at WORDLY who lend their passion and energy to each and every page. Finally, to those who will carry this labour of love after us, here’s to thirty more! 31
Hassaan Ahmed Jessica Ali J. Andrew Liam Ball Melissa Bandara Bridget Beswick Melina Bunting Bel Carroll Laura Clark Rebecca Croy Julie Dickson Jay D Edwards Lori Franklin Chantelle Gourlay Molly Herd Jessica Hinschen Sarah Hurst Tara Komaromy Teodora Kopic Sian Mariel Legaspi Surya Matondkar Tran Dac Nghia Michael Pallaris Aaron Purton Elisabeth Roberts Riley Sadlier Sini Salatas Tim Same Mathew Sharp Venetia Slarke Justine Stella Zoe Trezise Andrea Valdivia Jessica Wartski Jason Winn