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I was able to share this information with Sarah, though. During our time overseas she became one of my closest friends and at my recommendation she began to watch Grey’s Anatomy. When she got with a guy we met in London, I asked her if he was her person. ‘No,’ she said. ‘I think you’re my person.’ I didn’t know what to say. She continued, ‘I think you are Meredith, because you never give up. And I’m Cristina. I’m always there when you need me.’ ‘You’re my sister. You’re my family.’

With Sarah’s help I was able to escape the clutches of my high school sweetheart and I began to understand how lucky I was to have a true friend in her. I began to understand that a person is more than that boy had ever been to me. It’s someone you can count on without a single whisper of a doubt.

‘If I murdered someone, she’s the person I’d call to help me drag the corpse across the living room floor.’

My Person Justine Stella ‘You are my person.’ I began watching Grey’s Anatomy at the recommendation of a friend. I binge watched until I had to begin the slow crawl of watching one episode a week because I caught up to the current episode. Grey’s Anatomy is an American medical drama, focusing on the fictional lives of surgeons. Two such doctors are Meredith and Cristina. They are not simply best friends; they are each other’s person. Being someone’s person means that you always have their back. These characters bonded over being ‘dark and twisty’ because they each have had to face the darkness of the world. Now they have each other, and never have to face the world on their own. Just as I was up to date, I travelled to London with Sarah, a girl I met in uni, to study Shakespeare. Eventually someone in the class asked me if I was in a relationship. ‘Um.’ I was still involved with my high school sweetheart, but we weren’t officially in a relationship. ‘I have a person,’ I finally answered. No one appeared to get the Grey’s Anatomy reference, but that was okay. I didn’t know how to tell these strangers that this boy was important and although he didn’t want to officially be with me, he was my person.

And then Cristina left the show. Sarah and I watched Cristina’s last episode curled up on her bed in front of her laptop with a tub of ice-cream sitting between us. Neither of us was happy with the situation. And then we discovered I would be moving away. Unlike Cristina I did not move to another state, just from Geelong to Melbourne. We began to see each other less and didn’t talk every day.

Distance has a fascinating way of making communication appear different. When it was no longer as easy as it once was to invite myself over, we began to depend upon messaging services. Receiving long messages via text or Facebook full of detailed descriptions about the aches and joys of our days became a regular thing. We dedicated time and care to responding to each message. Sometimes keeping in contact can be more trying than either of us would like it to be. On occasion a message will not receive a reply until a few days have passed, or plans will get cancelled because of work. But true friendship doesn’t require constant contact. True friendship is the kind where time can pass when you are apart and nothing changes. It’s where we drop everything when disaster strikes so that we can be there at one another’s side to pick each other up and dust each other off. It’s where we offer shoulders to lean on when family are terminally ill. It’s where we believe in each other when one’s job becomes torture and the other needs emergency surgery. It does not matter how far away we are from each other, we have each other’s back. Like Cristina and Meredith have proven time and time again, we are lucky to have found our person. ‘You will always be my person.’

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Bel Ellison

Godand the Devil

walk intoa Coffee Shop

If the Devil made contact with God And asked if he would like to get a cup of coffee sometime Would God hang up the phone? Or would he say hello to the man he once exiled?

Would both they cross into no man’s land? To the realm of the superhuman Where they hid their secrets from man Would they be two magnets being pulled together but desperately wanting to push away? Would one say he forgot he needed to be somewhere else? Or would they pick a coffee shop that was convenient for them both? If they sat down, Would the Devil await an apology? Would God admit he was no longer that man? A younger, more hot-headed God With far too much responsibility He had outsourced the weight of the world onto his own people So he would not implode and sever the kingdom of heaven ninefold The Devil could say he too had made mistakes And guilt may have driven him to make contact again

But it was God who never listened enough That the Devil had to counsel those forgotten by him Maybe God would say they both took on far too much responsibility If they said farewell, And found themselves walking in the same direction, Would they feel sheepish, or laugh at the irony? That heaven and hell are in the same direction The yin and yang bleed into one another to reveal the perfect circle.

If those two could trade curse words for cursing the weather, Swap their pride for cafe lattes, Say sorry to the people they were and embrace as the persons they are now Rewrite the history of time and space with hindsight, As older, more sober men To be sincere to one another as they say at the same time ‘It’s good to see you again old friend’, Then maybe I could finally stop playing God And you wouldn’t be the Devil to me anymore

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A touch of Sympathy Brianna Bullen It was a Tuesday when they first made contact, the world dreary and derelict with a stratified-cloud sky. History wouldn’t remember the weather, nor would it remember the individual who first saw the organisms. Few would be able to recall that it was even a Tuesday. They would, however, be able to tell you the date—2 April 2019. The first researchers to make contact, Dr Waylon Mornington and Dr Donna Banks, would also be memorialised. To the aliens, none of this information—time, dates, titles and names—mattered one iota.

These beings did perceive the rain, and were perhaps the only creatures on earth that day who could remember its chill. The beings, a conglomerate of twelve acting as one, dissolved into the ground to avoid its effects. It was easy for them to become one with the environment; their molecular structure primed for mimicry. Unfortunately, they had brushed against a body of water and transfigured into a puddle, becoming the freezing entity they were developing an aversion to. Duncan was sixteen when he came into first contact with what he initially, and unoriginally, deemed ‘the Others’ at approximately 7:30 am Eastern Standard Time. A reluctant farmhand at his father’s property, he had gone out to check the fences when he came across a two large puddles in the field. Compelled by a desire for destruction bred by isolation and General Teenage Ennui (GTE has subsequently been instated as a disorder in the DSM-VI), and a sense of childish whimsy, Duncan decided to kick at both puddles. The first puddle splashed naturally, drenching the fence and an unfortunate sheep that happened to be sauntering past. The second, however, buckled under his boot and morphed against it, enclosing around it like a hand and shoving it away. Not used to having his will stopped by a puddle Duncan was, naturally, perturbed.

His next two hours were spent examining the puddle. Its composition from the surface appeared identical to that of real water. Duncan could see his own confused acne-scarred face staring back. Initially cautious, his curiosity led into its usual mix of impatience and short-sighted action. He knelt down in the dirt, mud coating his knees like war paint, and leaned forward to touch the entity.

His fingers, mirror-reflected in the ‘water’ grazed the surface and did not sink in. The surface rippled, as was expected, but not in the manner of water. There was solidity to it, the texture of muscles shivering and contracting after exercise. It bumped his hand back, before grasping it in its own new extension, a hand as clear as water. Duncan screamed.

The puddle approximated a sound back, matching pitch, decibel and length. Duncan screamed again.

The puddle responded. It paused and made a strange, melodic chatter which refracted colour off its lens-like surface. It waited for a response and, on getting none, repeated the chatter in a more internal manner, pulling the colour in. It then started screaming again, in random bursts as if it did not know what it was responding to.

The splashed sheep came over ‘to see what all the fuss was about’. Leaning down, it nibbled at the puddle/ hand which retracted in alarm. The sheep lapped at the surface, but at receiving no hydration quickly lost interest. Duncan stared between it and the puddle, shocked to see the puddle take on the quality of sheep’s wool, morphing grotesquely into tongue, flared nostrils, rectangular pupils, and finally to a face. A sheep’s head was blinking up at him from where the puddle was, animated with an uncanny spark of life. It was slowly rising from the ground with a grown, translucent cloud of chest. No nervous system was visible, but it was attempting to mimic the pump of a heart. Duncan once again screamed and called the police. They in turn laughed at his story and gave it no more thought until it turned up in the press the following day. ‘Sympathoids,’ Banks coined them.

Years were spent discovering their properties in the laboratory. Mornington was at first distrustful of seeing himself every morning in the lab, made strange by inadequate muscular formations. But the little wave he gave himself each day, combined with a ‘sheepish smile’ (‘but this,’ he admitted ‘was double the anthropomorphism’) quickly won him over.

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‘The sympathoids were of course mimicking what they observed every morning when Mornington interacted with his colleagues,’ Banks explained in National Geographic eight years later. ‘It is unknown if they knew what the action in particular meant specifically, but we deduce they inferred it was related to greeting. Although, we can never know if they conceptualised greeting in the same way as we did.’ The sympathoids made the biologists’ careers ‘because we were the first people hopeful enough to jump at the opportunity and lucky enough to be in the region. First contact has been a dream for many, but the desire to convert that dream into a reality was met with a reluctance that I think surprised many of our peers. Reality has no safety barrier. Even when the “experts” arrived later, we insisted on remaining involved. By that point, we had compiled an 800 page document detailing our experiments and observations of the organism.’

Scientists quickly deduced that the organism was multiple, but acting as one for a common purpose. After several years, it was determined that the being originated from Kepler-22b. Drones sent to the region have since recorded footage of more of the organisms, all in what the media deemed ‘family units’ (although all scientists resent the human analogy) of twelve. These beings morphed to mimic the drone, but after it was pulled back they returned to their original form. Their original form is a semi-solid liquid that looks like twelve large cells glued together by venous ties. Curiously, they do not have a nervous system or a brain in the human sense of the word. Rather, they are composed of trillions of light and haptic receptors that respond to any movement within an immediate proximity up to sixty feet (although these impressions are less likely to be retained or mimicked). Although they lack a central brain, they are made of mirror-neuron like neurons, able to repeat and retain whatever they sense, with empathy. The true beauty of the sympathoids, however, is in their ability for embodied sympathy. ‘They are so different and come from such a different cosmic and bodily plane of being, and yet they try so earnestly to communicate and share the vulnerability of being a different organism,’ Bank explains. ‘We’re completely different autopoietic systems, so we’re not sure if they’ll ever feel or experience the world in the same way as us, but they have been adamant in showing that they share and interact with the same environment as we do. When they take on a human face, they can even mimic our suffering. They have been known to try and talk as we do, produce babble (the screaming of Duncan was not a good introduction to human speech) and then seem to cry in frustration at our lack of comprehensible response.’

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Stevie

Katelin Farnsworth

My friend Stevie died in 2014.

He was 24 and one of the best people I’ve ever known. He was a bright spark – quiet and loud simultaneously, sharp, quick-witted, funny, and kind. So incredibly kind. My world is emptier now that he has left it but it is also fuller for having known him. I never imagined that Stevie would die. I never thought about death as being something that happened within my social circles. Death was something that happened to others, death was something that other people dealt with and it had nothing to do with me. And then suddenly it did. Suddenly I got a phone call and the world stopped spinning.

The world stopped moving and my heart fell down onto the ground. I couldn’t breathe and yet all I could do was breathe. My fingers filled with this strange tingling feeling and my face went numb. I wondered what I was meant to do next. What I was meant to say, who I was meant to speak to, how I was meant to go on. It seemed impossible.

At Stevie’s funeral I wore colour. I wrapped a rainbow scarf around my neck and sat at the back of the chapel. Pictures of Stevie flickered up across a big monitor and I squeezed my partner’s hands as hard as I could. ‘Are you okay?’ he whispered. I nodded because it seemed easier than talking. Easier than pulling words out from the back of my throat and forcing them to make sense when there was no sense. The celebrant began to talk and his words rolled out into funny shapes in front of me. I looked at these words and wondered why he was talking. What was the point of talking when it wasn’t going to bring Stevie back to life? Later, when I was at home again, I sat on the side of the bed and looked up at the ceiling. A tiny black spider looked back at me.

For a second I wondered if the spider was Stevie. I wondered if Stevie had somehow transformed himself into an insect and had come to sit with me, come to reassure me that just because his human body was gone, it didn’t mean he was actually gone. I pushed my hands out towards the spider, desperate for some kind of contact with it. ‘Hey,’ I said. ‘I’ve missed you.’ I waited for the spider to say something. I leant forward and craned my head towards the spider. ‘It’s okay,’ I told it. ‘I won’t tell anyone that it’s you. It can be our little secret.’ The spider stayed silent. I wondered what it was thinking. I jumped off the bed. ‘Stay there. I’m just going to get something. I’ll be back in a second.’ I left the room and rushed down to the kitchen, grabbing an old Vegemite jar. I took the jar up to my bedroom and looked back at the white ceiling. The spider was gone. I stood on the bed and strained my arms out. It was nowhere to be seen. How could a spider just disappear like that? I rubbed the side of my cheek weakly. ‘Stevie,’ I said feebly. ‘Where are you? Where did you go?’ I closed my eyes and pressed them together as tightly as I could. When I opened them again I realised I was crying. It sucks dealing with death. People often say that time heals all wounds but I think that time makes it harder. Because as the days a weeks and months and years roll on, my time with Stevie becomes further and further away from me. And I can’t stand that. I want to be close to him – I want to be as close to him as possible. I don’t want my memories to be memories, I don’t want our friendship to end with his death. I want more. I want contact again and so I search for it in everything that I can.

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No mans land Alison Turnbull

Tell me what you know, what you want, If you have lips to speak I will listen. But I do not hear the flower when It salutes the sun, it cannot tell me To turn my face to the sky and Soak up the rays, so I do not. I stare at the flower and watch it instead. I pluck it from its home and place it Near my bed to smell it when I wake. Maybe then it will reveal why it withers and Wilts in the water I’ve given it.

I train the dog to sit, And convince the sheep to give me their clothes In exchange for paddocks of grass and grain Which I do not own. I want nothing more than to know; What is it like to see me from down there? Am I the good greying giant, or am I The vengeful God come to take you from your Kin to a place where you will Be petted and prodded, fed till you’re fleshy And full with the knowledge that I crave.

And the river will unravel the secrets to health And change; how to meander in woods, Over rock, through stone; If I pump it through pipes, sewers and drains, Ingest it, bathe in it, let it wash over me. Surely, if I coax the river through a fountain, If I sit in the garden and listen to its Dripping, frothy whispers, It will tell me why it runs dry in summer, Leaves the Yarra beds parched and arid, Poisons my crops with its acid.

In the night I hear a wolf pleading to the moon, ‘Give me my wildness back Give me the wilderness back I cannot have one without the other.’ I see the wolf on the eve of the next day With eyes like water, reflecting sunset. It calls to me and I come. As human hand and beastly paw Connect I feel stronger; Our noses kiss and I smell sun soaked fur; Our eyes meet and I see my sister;

If I wait long enough it will speak.

I am waiting

Longing for it to speak.

I am long in waiting to hear you speak.

I float to the sky to see my contact with earth It is wasteland.

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Ride across the river Aidan Kennedy

He ran. Cold night air tore through his lungs, pausing only for a moment to be expelled again as hot clouds of vapour. The satchel bounced against his lower back; a drumbeat that timed itself with his desperate pace. Halogen lit the concrete as scattered litter blew across the road. The street was empty save for the young man. A short cut head of hair, jet black save for the patch of neon green. His white-knuckled hands gripped the fire escape rail as he hauled himself up four rungs at a time. A window opened on the third floor and his boots pounded on the metal frame as he clambered towards it. Mags glared at him as he slipped in through the window. As Triple Digits swivelled in his chair, dingy yellow light reflected off his plastiglass mono-visor crowned with dark brown curls. ‘Late,’ Mags stated, jutting her chin at Triple Digits. ‘Thought I might play a bit o’ chasey with the Hardiscs, ‘s all,’ the boy shot back, an innocent smile contrasting his tone. He handed the satchel to Triple D. ‘Yo Sil. I only see three in here. Your man said four,’ the older man observed, pulling out a small wafer microcircuit sealed in a clear plastic case. ‘He said we’d only need three.’ ‘Then why did he say four?’ Mags asked, running a hand through her greasy blonde fringe. ‘I dunno. Juji said he was one of the geek types, always talking about their shit like it’s gold. Dude said the fourth was a redundancy the Princes didn’t pay for.’ ‘Fuckin’ Jules …’ ‘Mags, you get on the line with him. See if we can’t wire a bit to the fella. And try to slide a bit more in for delivery. Mags nodded, and stepped outside. Triple D continued, ‘Silas, get another runner up. Someone with a car as well.’ ‘Won’t he get picked up by traffic cams?’ Silas asked. ‘If we get the fourth, baby, we won’t need to worry about cams for a long time,’ Triple D grinned. ‘Now get out of here and let me concentrate.’ ‘So what does it do?’ Mags leaned against the corridor wall outside the apartment, a burning Bond Street between her fingers and a black brick two-way handset in her other hand.

‘Did you talk to Juji?’ Silas asked, glancing at Mags. Triple D had kicked them out of the room while he ran the first three wafers through his deck. Silas didn’t dare question the order. The installation would take time and concentration. Any banter would no doubt subtract from Triple’s patience and focus. ‘Yeah, he said he didn’t know the fourth one was covered in the asking price. He’s sorting it out.’ She took a drag, all sense of urgency leaving her face, drifting into the ceiling with the smoke. ‘You didn’t answer me. What does it do?’ Silas’ face brightened. ‘So you know the Intrusion Countermeasures Electronics Barrier right? ICEB? What the Corps set up to stop the Neo-Sovs from stealing credit card numbers and bank shit?’ ‘Sure, they taught it in history.’ ‘Well, it also stops runners here from getting their hands on Caucus programs. The real bad ones.’ ‘Like Superworm?’ ‘Superworm is what those guys write on their lunchbreak.’ ‘Right … Nerd.’ Silas ignored the jab. ‘The normal way to get those programs is through physical shipping, which has its own dangers. What our geek friend Danny gave us is a prototype routine for creating entry and exit points for data through the ICEB.’ ‘So we can get the bad programs?’ ‘Yeah.’ ‘And why do we want them? Wouldn’t they, like, tear apart the net in Genza?’ ‘Well, no, not unless they were active before they came in. That’s why Danny gave us the good shit. It only allows files to be transferred, not active programs.’ ‘Uh huh …’ Mags checked down the corridor before continuing. ‘And how do you know all this?’ ‘Triple told me. On the way over.’ ‘In a five minute ride?’ ‘I already knew about ICEB.’ Silas glanced at his nails. ‘So I was right then,’ she smiled. ‘About what?’ ‘You’re a complete and irredeemable nerd.’ ‘Fuck off.’ ‘Hey, I heard there are aliens in the net—know much about those?’

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She was rewarded with a sharp look and almost giggled. The black box rang. She pressed it against her ear. ‘Juji?’ ‘Aye M. No, go on Danny. He says to go ahead,’ a smooth voice answered. ‘What about Silas’ runner?’ ‘He didn’t feel up to it.’ ‘You know Jules, your whole ‘always keep the help in the loop’ thing is gonna get us royally fucked one day.’ ‘Hopefully not today then. Call me when you’re done. I don’t wanna see this on the news, ya?’ The line crackled before Mags could reply. Triple sat hunched over the keyboard, his fingertips beating the letter pads like a machinegun. ‘Third’s in,’ he said flatly, before throwing a look at Mags. ‘No go on four?’ Mags shook her head. ‘We’re still gonna go, right? Just to test?’ Silas asked from the corner. ‘What does not having the fourth mean?’ ‘It means me not being plugged in is a much bigger deal,’ Triple D stretched his cramped fingers for a second before … ‘How so?’ ‘Being plugged in is faster—you react quicker. It also means that Black ICE will fry your head. Without the fourth chip, it’ll be much easier for our entry point to be traced. And because I’m slower, well, it means we’re—’ ‘Skating on thin ice?’ Both Mags and Triple turned to shoot daggers at Silas, who returned fire with a grin. ‘So do we run?’ Mags asked. ‘Tails we go for it; heads we don’t,’ Silas interjected. ‘I swear, you make one more coin fl—’ Mags was interrupted by the soft ping of nail on metal. ‘Tails.’ Triple spun in his chair, hands flying across the keyboard. On the screens in front, a map of the Oceania Long Distance Link chain sat opposite lines of white text on a blue backdrop. The musical notes of Triple Digits’ symphony. Masking himself under a Turkish laundromat, a Swedish takeout joint, and a Chinese accounting firm, Triple keyed the program.

If his plugs weren’t burnt out, he would have seen towering pillars of blue neon, surrounded by a maroon geometric wall. If his plugs weren’t burnt out, he would have watched a small green pinprick unfurl on the surface of the wall before it began boring through it, one kilobyte at a time. If Triple Digits’ plugs weren’t burnt out, he would’ve seen the pink line of text under the white, popping up only a second before the program broke through. It was only a message, but the delivery shattered the section of the wall, spiralling shards of firewall among the towers. Somewhere in the city, teams of operators were scrambling to their consoles, caught completely unaware. But all Triple D could see was the little pink letters.

<<MSG/SNT:{00:00:02}{3/5/28}: G O O D M O R N I N G:: LDL~UNKNOWN~>> If Triple Digits’ plugs weren’t burnt out, he’d have died from the shock.

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Angela Rivens

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Personal and Interpersonal Contact in Elie Wiesel's Night By Sophia Desiatov

on behalf of The Guerrilla Review

‘Never shall I forget that night, the first night in camp, that turned my life into one long night seven times sealed.’ Night, by Elie Wiesel, is the true story of his experiences in concentration camps during the Nazi regime, and is considered one of the bedrocks of Holocaust literature. The novel is simple in its words, yet tragically beautiful. This invites the reader into Wiesel’s story, yet doesn’t detract from the historical context. The words are hauntingly memorable, and carry a sombre tone the likes of which I have never seen before. ‘Was I awake? How was it possible that men, women and children were being burned and that the world kept silent?’ (pg. 32).

I felt strongly for Wiesel during his time in Auschwitz, especially when he had to be separated from his mother and younger sister, and especially toward the utter hopelessness he expressed as he realised that he would never see them again. This scene signals the start of Wiesel’s loss of innocence as well as any semblance of childhood. It is through this, and the moment when Wiesel first sees the crematorium, that he begins to lose faith in God – one of Wiesel’s many conflicts.

When he heard his fellow Jews reciting Kaddish—the prayer of the dead—Wiesel exclaims to himself: ‘Why should I sanctify His name? The Almighty, the eternal and terrible Master of the Universe, chose to be silent’ (pg. 33). This first initial loss of contact with his faith further illustrates the hopelessness Wiesel felt, but also serves to highlight the loss of Wiesel’s sense of identity as he soon begins to rely on himself and not on others in order to survive the camps. The loss of religious contact is exacerbated by the fact the other inmates forget to recite Kaddish to the dead towards the end of the novel, illustrating the effects a traumatic event can have on people. Thus, the reader is compelled to feel sympathy for Wiesel and the rest of the Jewish people, as well as provoking them to think about their own connection to their culture.

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I found this confronting, as I am a religious person, and can’t imagine how I would cope with losing that faith; probably like Wiesel, I would feel ‘a great void opening’ inside of me (pg. 69).

Besides the heavy use of emotive language, Night reveals how people that make contact with oneself can have a lasting influence. After moving to another concentration camp, Wiesel befriends brothers Yossi and Tibi, and for the first time Wiesel begins to feel hopeful of surviving the terror he lives in. Due to the bright influence the brothers have on him, Wiesel, despite a lingering sense of futility, muses that he ‘would not stay another day in Europe’ (pg. 51) after surviving. This is demonstrated through the friendship the three boys form, and the brothers’ proclamation that staying together meant being stronger.

Consequently, Wiesel becomes determined to see through the Holocaust, feeling a small spark of hope. This is further demonstrated when a French girl consoles Wiesel after he was being beaten, telling him ‘to keep your anger, your hate, for another day… wait. Clench your teeth and wait’ (pg. 53), instilling Wiesel with the desire to wait out the pain, starvation and desolation in favour of the future. Hence, Wiesel becomes stronger due to the people surrounding him. Despite the harsh life Wiesel leads, he can find happiness, even if it is for a moment, which is an innocently beautiful message that Wiesel reveals to the reader. Subsequently, the reader also feels the stirrings of optimism as they follow Wiesel’s journey. Nevertheless, he becomes tainted by the people who tormented him. During his time in the camps, working and being starved by the SS officers, Wiesel slowly withdraws into himself, transforming into a shell of who he used to be. Not only is this shown through his lack of faith, but also through his desire to survive for himself, which becomes heightened when he has to look after his sick father. At one point Wiesel even muses on how beneficial it would be for himself if his father would die. This contact with suffering lingers on in Wiesel, from the time of when he was liberated to now, always watching him. ‘From the depths of the mirror, a corpse was contemplating me. The look in his eyes as he gazed at me has never left me.’ (pg. 115.)

Night serves as a method of communication to readers, a way to spread Wiesel’s message. Throughout the novel, Wiesel is reflective of humanity and the extremes people can go to.

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He constantly reminds the reader of the importance of remembering what happened, not because it was a tragic event, but so as to prevent it from happening again. In the preface, Wiesel makes a plea to the reader:

‘For the survivor who chooses to testify, it is clear: his duty is to bear witness for the dead and for the living. He has no right to deprive future generations of a past that belongs to our collective memory. To forget would be not only dangerous but offensive; to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.’ (xv)

Subsequently, Wiesel is in contact with the reader, compelling them to remember the past, as it can be a way to teach future generations to prevent repetition of the same mistakes. Night also serves as a way to connect the audience not only to his story and life experiences, but also to a time which many these days didn’t experience and therefore do not fully understand. We, as the readership, are reading a true, written account of someone’s past, of a history that has been the subject of many discussions since the end of Nazi Germany. Through Wiesel’s words, we are transported to the past, getting an inside glimpse of what life was like in a concentration camp, where the only way out was through a fire or a bullet. We are witnessing history ourselves from the space and time of today, and from that we are learning about our own capabilities as a destructive force. However, through Wiesel and his messages, we are being warned not to fall into the dark abyss, but more importantly, to take a stand against the oppressors in the world. In his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, Wiesel said, ‘Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim,’ and it’s here that his point is unmistakably clear: that we cannot stand aside while terror reigns, and that we must take a stand as a community.

Night is an unbelievably heartbreaking story, but at its core, there is hope. This is a must read for any lover of 20th century history, and for everyone who is interested in reading accurate historical fiction.

Sophia writes for The Guerrilla Review, a blog she shares with two other writers and an editor, all Deakin students. Find out more at http://theguerrillareview.wixsite.com/ website/single-post/2017/01/14/All-About-the-Crew.

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Tara KomAromy

The Wrong Way Home Some days, a walk really clears your head.

I was on my way home, just like any other day. I couldn’t tell you why, but the urge came over me to follow the path across the bridge rather than walk along the riverbank as I normally would. So I turned leaft across the stream.

The quaint cobblestone bridge always seemed like something from a fairytale: a perfect arch across the trickling, tame stream below. The sun hinted its light back at me from the dancing water. The stream was like a ballet of grasshoppers, jumping and rushing through itself with an unexplained sense of urgency.

Now that I’d crossed the stream, I could appreciate the shrubbery on this side far more than before. Innocent little bushes huddled together and twigs cracked under my feet. The weight of the day lifted from my shoulders. The millions of thoughts racing around my head drifted away. I can’t remember at what point it was that I lost concept of time, but I had. The night had advanced upon me. Goosebumps showed themselves on my skin as a cold wind blew. I had forgotten the warmth of home or the tone of Mother’s voice caressing me to sleep. As I advanced further, nothing around me triggered any memories, or any thoughts at all. The rustling of unknowns around me conjured no fear. Autumn leaves crunched under my shoes. My jacket tore lifelessly on branches as I passed. This journey was as instinctual to me as any animal’s migration across the land. But then I couldn’t go any further. A steep rock blocked any vague path I was following. There was a bush directly in front of me and nothing else.

I was transfixed. ‘I have attempted to make contact with you for a very long time.’ There was a slow, careful rustling from amongst the shrubbery of where the voice emanated, but the night sky gave nothing away. ‘You have not yielded until now.’

I noticed movement in my peripheral vision. The thick trees extended themselves like plasticine up toward the sky. Some branches coiled out and snaked along the ground, each crease of the wood was illuminated by the light of the moon. ‘My special little girl.’

I felt a sense of calm as the brightness of the stars bled into the rest of the night sky, like dye through material. Now the sky shifted to a purple tone, mixing itself with the stars, swirling like paint. ‘It has been a long time since I chose you.’

The branches snaking along the ground coiled themselves up my legs and around my whole body, creating a cocoon. They left my neck and head bare. I felt no fear. No panic. Everything was as it was meant to be.

It was now that my vision started failing. The thicket in front of me made way for innumerable long legs. I remember two white eyes, staring into me from the darkness. As I swayed my head side to side their light left traces where I had registered them before, like glow sticks in the night sky. ‘You’ve been my prize all along.’

Then I felt two giant mandibles slice into my throat.

‘Child,’ something spoke, hidden in a thicket in front of me. ‘Do you have any understanding of why I brought you here?’

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Everything’s alright Alex Wiltshire My scuba gear is strapped on tight, above the waves it seems alright, I take a dive into the reef, to see what lies beneath.

An anchor-made destructive trail, a dolphin’s rotting, severed tail, The coral’s all been bleached to white, but everything’s alright. There’s not a single fish to see, a net is tangled round my feet, A broken bottle, empty can, left lying in the sand.

Man-made debris dumped from dredging, there’s oil coating everything, A choking turtle clings to life, but everything’s alright. My hiking boots are strapped on tight, on my TV it seems alright, I swing my front door open wide, to see what lies outside. A smog so thick, can barely breathe, a stench so bad it makes me heave, The landfill piles scrape the sky, but everything’s alright. There’s not a single tree around, and I can barely see the ground, A neon sign, a sealed off lair, that sells me my fresh air.

The non-stop drone of fighter jets, it’s winter but I start to sweat, A passing bird drops dead mid-flight, but everything’s alright.

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SIMIAN MAN Virginia Cairns

The holiday destination had been a surprise. ‘A week in St Petersburg, a week in Moscow and finish off in Istanbul. I’ve always wanted to go to Russia. Well …?’ As expatriates living in the Middle East, we had enjoyed the luxury of being in the centre of the world, with easy access to five continents. We had travelled as far north as Iceland, to places as exotic as Zanzibar and as challenging as Myanmar, dodged exploding bins in Bangkok and walked The Great Wall of China. Russia and Turkey would offer everything we loved: galleries, history, great food and two more ticks in the list of countries we had visited. It didn’t take much to convince me. I was already packing. *** St Petersburg lived up to expectations. Home to magnificent architecture set around a canal system which wove through the city under finely crafted bridges, it had earned its name as the ‘Venice of the North’. We had sampled the local vodka, gotten lost in The Hermitage and conquered the underground. St Petersburg had cast its spell and we had fallen. Moscow, we had read, presented a different face of Russia; more dominant, more powerful, less curly bits. The internal flight was uneventful. We had followed the instructions as best we could, without the aid of translation or help, accepting with good grace the gritty coffee and threeday-old muffins that were dumped onto our tray tables. As we had come to know, the concept of ‘service’ had not yet arrived in Russia. On landing, once through the protracted formalities, we took the advice of people who had lived here before. ‘Don’t hail a taxi off the street; they’re all criminals!’ ‘Use the booking counter at the airport.’ The woman on duty at the taxi booking counter had the demeanour of pumice stone. ‘Hhhhotel?’ she demanded in a thick accent, a skid mark of black though the yellow straw of hair. ‘The Regent.’ Pete smiled broadly, offering up the paperwork. She snatched the papers from his hands, her expression stony. ‘Sit!’ She thrust her arm imperiously towards the plastic seating and turned to yell into a phone. We waited … and waited. The driver who ambled in was more simian than human. He was not tall, but what he lacked in height, he made up for in sheer volume. A dull, plaid shirt strained across his back, the buttons on the front fighting a losing battle with the placket; a thick, black pelt forced its way through the strained eyelets; two hairy feet beneath too-short trousers slapped along in cheap plastic slip-on shoes.

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He had the face of a pugilist: ears flattened and ragged, his nose asymmetric and lumpy. Rolls of fat separated his head from his equally sized neck. His head was a grizzled mix of black and silver stubble, his pitted chin the same. You could picture him moonlighting as security at a seedy lap dancing bar, his moniker ‘Dimitri, The Enforcer.’ He had the look of a man you would not want to cross. He grunted at the ice-queen behind the counter, picked up our paper work then, without the slightest acknowledgement of us, set off at speed through the throng of travellers. Grabbing our bags, we followed in hot pursuit, our eyes fixed on the bobbing head bowling through the crowds. It was peak holiday season and the airport was heaving with travellers from all points of the globe. Ducking and weaving our way past the throng, we arrived at the carpark, puffing and hot. Our driver casually popped the boot on a collection of car parts that had once called itself a taxi and we hefted our bags in hurriedly. The taxi was moving before we had closed our doors. ‘So, Moscow?’ Pete grinned excitedly, squeezing my hand. The taxi fishtailed out of the carpark, a cloud of black smoke in our wake, heading towards the freeway—or so I thought. With a series of overpasses in our sights, our driver suddenly wrenched the steering wheel to the left and headed towards open countryside. My partner’s smile slipped a little as he looked around. I was not convinced. Dimitri put his foot down. The Russian countryside was flying past us, the needle waving around 120km. My stomach dropped. ‘They all drive like this,’ Pete remarked quietly, but with his eyes fixed firmly on the road ahead. Dimitri drove with cavalier abandon, careering wildly around ancient Ladas, buses, trucks and motorbikes, passing them on both the inside and outside lanes. Horns blasted. Clenched fists waved. Meanwhile in the back seat, lockjaw had set in. We had entangled ourselves in the nonfunctioning seatbelts in the faint hope that they might provide some modicum of safety. It was optimistic, at best. But now our driver was hungry. Like his silverback relatives, he shared a love of peanuts,

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ripping the bags open with his teeth, pouring them into his meaty paws and tossing the nuts down his throat with a grunt. Next came packets of seeds. These he gnawed on, then spat out the window, the odd one being blown into the back, onto his luckless passengers. Brushing the soggy husks off ourselves was impossible; we needed to hang on with both hands to stop ourselves being hurled around like two dice in a shaker. After about twenty minutes of rally driving on rural and semi-industrial roads, we miraculously re-joined the freeway. I loosened my claw-like grip on the door handle, shaking my hands briefly to encourage the blood flow back into them. ‘Phew!’ I whispered. But the rural roads were just the warm-up laps. Dimitri’s phone rang. He wrestled with his pocket, extracting an ancient Nokia and started a loud, angry conversation with the caller. When the phone started to play up, he took it in a hairy grip and bashed it repeatedly against the steering wheel; the speedometer was now registering 150km. Unsatisfied, he put his knees to the steering wheel and foraged around in the centre console, extracting a second, equally ancient phone. He then proceeded to switch the sim card from one phone to the other. We were no longer capable of speech. The drive from the airport into the capital of the world’s largest country passes through villages, small towns and then alongside massive Soviet housing blocks, adorned with statues of Lenin and the proletariat. Eventually it turns to run alongside the River Moskva, and it is here you first glimpse the grandeur of old Moscow: the university, churches, gothic bridges, Gorky Park and the towering red walls of the Kremlin with the domes of St Basil’s and Red Square beyond. Well, that’s what the guidebook I read on the plane said anyway. I was too busy texting my family goodbye. Never have I been so happy as to strike peak-hour traffic on the freeway. The forty-five minute trip from the airport felt like a lifetime but, somehow, with hearts pounding, our muscles locked rigid, we screeched to a halt outside our hotel. Dimitri waved a hairy paw in the direction of the meter, his expression inscrutable, and returned his attention to his phone. We didn’t tip.

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Below Amelia Grant

All I remember is the Cold. A cold so cold that liquid doesn’t exist and rain is a myth. All the ancient rivers have stopped flowing, having died an era ago. Curled statues of ice mark where the oceans used to play, resisting the ebb and flow of the moon for centuries counting. This glorious lake has been a majestic glacier imbedded into the hollow ground since the beginning. Nothing lives here, not a soul—no fish gliding through water, no frogs leaping between reeds, not a bird to chitter a reminiscent tune of a time before the extinction of summer and spring, all plants have withered and died, and not even the most minute of microbes dwell. But I live here.

Despite what many may think, I’m not trapped here—I live in this frozen tundra; breathing in ice, exhaling snow; blinking through icicles, feasting on frost; drinking crystal white, dreaming in arctic blue. Those above would believe I’m trapped if they knew I was here, when passersby and visitors are as rare as tracks surviving the first tide, though I’m not lonely. It’s peaceful and serene, like a blanket of fresh glistening snow. Then you wash in.

It’s the crunching of snow that alerts me to your presence. When you come into sight, I regard you with blinking apathy while I watch you from my peripheral vision, from under my icy haven. You leave a trail of perfectly engraved footprints, imitating the shapes of your soles. The edge of the lake is the edge of safety; the boundary between stilled ground and frozen momentum. You teeter at the border—listening to the fear whispering to back away, yet compelled to continue by some force that shivers under your surface. I have seen this dance countless times, where the instinct of self-preservation clashes with the pull of human curiosity. I see the moment when the scales pivot in your mind and you choose the direction it tilts. You step out onto the ice, a gesture of faith upon your feet, and move across the frozen stage. I observe you with snowballing interest—it has been an age since someone has achieved this feat. You nearly topple twice and I notice I’m holding my breath each time. And when you get to the centre of the ice, you gaze about you with a glowing look of wonder—I feel like I’m seeing the sun rise for the very first time. Then you do something so unexpected and utterly unique that leaves me disarmed and frozen. You laugh.

You laugh and it’s like I’ve never heard anything so beautiful before. Then you’re singing a hopeful melody of snow and I shiver at the sound washing over me. You twirl on the spot and almost slip and I’m laughing with you, while you carefully turn on top of this glass music box. I gaze at your face, gauging the subtle changes in your expression. Disappointment chips at me when you cross the lake back to land and leave for the day— not many come back to the lake after marvelling at how it’s frozen completely through, so I’m content to having only met you once for one delightful moment. This day alone would have made my century. However when you return the next day, and the next, and the next, the momentum of your presence shatters my cold apathy and I am utterly enchanted with you.

Every day you perform something new. One day you’re pretending to tap-dance on the ice, another singing on Broadway. I harmonise with you. I dance with you like a mirror. The first ice-skating to take place on this lake in fifty years have the blades upon your feet, and you glide gracefully as if you were born to the ice. Yet you can’t have, because you are the sun. One time you place your hand against the lake, after your glove had slipped off and you had tumbled, and your touch melts a new sort of print into the surface. I’m suddenly flooded with warm memories of gushing rivers and swaying oceans and drenching rain; I’d forgotten what spring felt like.

You’re on the lake enjoying the falling snow when I reach out to you. The budding desire to let go and wash down the waterfall again after an ice age has never rung so loud. I know I could have taken that leap long ago, but it’s only now with you here that I want to, so you can see the land blossom into green. I try to call to you, to talk about how you have melted me and how spring will never be as beautiful as you are. I stop when you don’t notice. I’m disheartened, then try again; perhaps you don’t recognise my words. So I serenade you, chirping those songs I’d memorised from listening to you. When you don’t stir, I sing louder. I dance and sing and dance and sing, and the noise quakes the ice. Then I see a reaction—you straighten your back, and glance around, and I know you hear me. So I sing with all my force, to the point where I’m not singing but shouting, screaming. My voice is starting to crack, and it echoes across the surface.

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It’s when you gasp that I stop and finally see. You’re not tensing out of anticipation. You’re scared.

I freeze. And the realisation crashes over me.

Of course you’re scared—you’re a creature of spring and sunlight, where water flows down rivers already carved into the earth, where rain falls and trickles down rooftops and leaves. You love the snow but you’re a flame, and if I touch you, you will extinguish. You are the sun and rain doesn’t fall up. And you are so, so warm. I let you go. After a few minutes, you relax, and mutter something about an earthquake. Unease continues to roll off you as you inch towards land. You don’t step off the lake though, you just feel safer if you’re a jump from safety. I sigh in relief as you gaze up at the snow again, I haven’t scared you away.

You still come back, not every day but quite often. The wish to melt into spring still shivers through me, but I love your wonderstruck eyes as much as you love the snow. The Cold brings you back, so spring can wait a while longer.

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‘All the carried footsteps’ Anders Ross

All the carried footsteps Those that make this country lane so worn, I lay two more beneath the hedgerow and waking sparrow nests Beside the history of countless men. Those eternally young from homes no longer there, Whose name - Unknown - we remember At the going down of the sun. In a whisper that is hushed between the willow trees On avenues of honour, they stand in serried rows Watching the glory and liberty they once did own. Pass with the days, its fashions and spirit To be shadowed by an ignorance that has now grown. Shall their lost freedom be in vain, The daily riven horrors to be repeated once again? With muddied oafs and flannelled fools With deepest respect to Kipling; They who were only schoolboys Forever playing at war. But none of this hallowed history matters in the Age of Information Where none shall read, write or speak. For it is unspeakable to hold such feeling To ask the question: ‘why?’ Where few look up to marvel at the night sky, To wonder and inspired become, To shift and grow with the world around them Making the purpose of Life theirs to be won. Footsteps that washed away in the rain, Plash now in a pool of sunlight, as I pass the sparrows by; All to be replaced on the morrow, so I hum a merry song For my purpose is to be found where willow leaves belong.

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Out of my League Molly Brown-Daniels

‘Georgie, you’re insane,’ Al called after her, running to catch up as she tore off towards the oval. ‘You mean I’m a genius,’ she called back. The team had already started to group together on the other side of the fence. ‘Have you ever seen a game of football in your life? You don’t even know the rules!’ Georgie had to concede on that part, but it was the best way to get noticed by her. Join the football team. Become a star athlete. Get a date, and live happily ever after. Easy. ‘Rules, shmules. You run around, you kick the ball through the posts, you’re not allowed the throw it, you have to handball, blah, blah, it’ll be fine.’ ‘AFL is a full contact sport. I’m going to have to peel your corpse off the oval.’ ‘You are just ... the most supportive best friend a girl could ask for, you know that?’ she sighed. ‘Oh I know. And I’ll be reminding you of that when I’m sitting by your side in the hospital, and when Moira is off kicking goals in the National Women’s League.’ Moira. Stupid, beautiful Moira with her dark hair and her big eyes and her contagious smile. Goddamn Moira, looking hot as all hell in her school footy jersey, a furious lion splashed across her chest. Gorgeous Moira, making Georgie completely unable to focus on even the most basic human motor skills in her presence. Georgie came to a halt at the fence. Moira was standing with the team captain, Nalani. ‘Welcome, everyone,’ Nalani called, and the new recruits shuffled forward nervously. ‘We’re a bit desperate for members this year, since most of the team graduated. You automatically get a spot, if you want it, so congratulations!’

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The existing team clapped and Nalani began the process of getting everyone’s details. ‘Congratulations Georgie, you’re now number thirteen!’ Nalani said with a grin, handing her the jersey. Georgie waved excitedly at Al. He had the decency to smile back, but would later remind her that thirteen was an unlucky number and that he would be mentioning it in her eulogy. ‘Why are you so sure that I’m going to get hurt?’ she asked him later, sitting on her bed while they did their homework. ‘Because you’re built like a wafer,’ he shot back, throwing his pen at her head. ‘I think it’s romantic,’ Georgie sighed. ‘It’ll be a good story to tell at our wedding.’ ‘Have you ever seen a romantic comedy? The main character never gets the girl unless they’re true to themselves, not changing to impress anyone,’ Al told her. ‘It’s a science.’ ‘Well, when you’re Jennifer Aniston, being true to yourself is easy. But in all the movies, the hot jock never dates the little nerdy girl,’ Georgie sighed. ‘You’ve never finished one, have you?’ ‘No way, they’re boring and predictable,’ she laughed. ‘The jock always ends up with the quiet nerdy girl, just so you know,’ Al told her. She gave him a gentle push. ‘That sounds fake but okay.’ * After their first week of training sessions, she was beginning to think that she’d made a terrible mistake. Nalani gave her a playful hip bump as she passed. ‘You doing okay?’ she asked, grinning. ‘I don’t think I’m cut out for this,’ Georgie moaned. ‘I was wondering why you joined up ... I mean, we love having you but you don’t seem to be having much fun.’

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Georgie couldn’t help but look over at Moira, tall and strong as she thundered up and down the oval, practicing her bounces. ‘Moira? Really?’ Nalani asked, eyebrows raised in surprise. ‘She’ll be thrilled to hear that, she’s been calling you the bombshell blonde. Granted, she can’t remember your name, but don’t take it personally, she can’t remember anyone’s name.’ ‘Bombshell blonde?’ Georgie asked, excitement creeping into her voice. ‘Yep, but don’t let her distract you. We have a game on Saturday, and we need to be ready.’ * Al spent the whole trip to the oval trying to get her to pull out of the game, but Georgie was buzzed. The team did their usual warmups and her muscles burned. ‘Okay, team, ready to go?’ Nalani called, gesturing for them all to huddle together. ‘It’s just our first game, so no pressure. But anyone who kicks a goal on the full is gonna get a big wet kiss from Moira.’ Moira laughed along with the team, and gave Nalani a rougher than usual shove, but Georgie felt her gut clench when the star of the team made direct eye contact with her. It was over after a second, but Georgie added it to the mental list of romantic movie moments they had shared. The game started with a bang, and all thoughts of Moira flew from her brain as she kicked into survival mode. Her teammates had been almost tame during training, but the other team, decked out in blue and grey, were vicious. She could hear Al shouting encouragement from the sidelines and when half time finally rolled around, Georgie dragged her body to see him. ‘I’m thinking you might be right,’ she mumbled. ‘You’re doing really well?’ he offered with a hopeful smile. He was a terrible liar.

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Back on the field, her legs were starting to feel like cheese sticks. Someone kicked the ball her way and, by some miracle, she caught it. She managed to save a wonky bounce, and realised that a goal might actually be attainable. Slowing to line up her shot, she heard Moira and Nalani shout encouragement from across the square. She took aim, swung her leg and dropped the ball. Something slammed into her side with the force of a truck, and the ball landed on the grass just beside her. The other player leapt to her feet with a grin, and the game continued like Georgie hadn’t just been steamrollered. * ‘I’d have kicked the goal if she hadn’t knocked me over,’ Georgie insisted, sprawled out on the stage with Al beside her. Moira watched as they highlighted their lines. ‘Nah, you were too wonky, it was going way high,’ Moira said with a grin. She quickly leaned over and pecked Georgie on the cheek. ‘But that’s for a good try.’ The football star got up awkwardly and slung her bag over her shoulder. ‘Have a good rehearsal, yeah?’ Moira said with a wink, and Georgie nodded, beaming. Beside her, Al rolled his eyes. Join the team, nearly get killed, get a date, and live happily ever after. Easy.

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Never Been Camping Riley Sadlier It’s somewhat safe to say that I’ve never been camping before. When I was around the age of ten, my brother and I had nagged our parents into finally giving camping a shot. All of my friends would talk about how much fun it was, but we only got as far as a caravan park in Eildon, and something tells me that spending all my time on the jumping pillow while my brother played cricket with some other kids wasn’t very authentic. Neither of my parents were really into camping, and as an adult I do see where they’re coming from. Though I can’t really judge, I can’t really say that I’ve ever properly done it. I did always feel that I was missing out on something that all the other kids loved doing. So, ten years later around March last year, I jumped on the chance offered by my friend to go hiking at Wilson’s Prom. I gave him accurate warning that I had never done anything like it before, so I would have to borrow practically everything from him and I would most likely be miserable company. He didn’t seem to mind, so I went along for the trip. So after years of agonizing over some lost part of childhood that I thought I hadn’t had, I was about to go hiking for the first time. Wilson’s Promontory National Park, or Wilson’s Prom as everyone calls it, is about a three and a half hour drive from Melbourne. It is as far south as you can go on the Australian mainland and the roads only go to a certain point, the rest is left as parkland for wildlife and hikers. While I can’t say it was the easiest experience, it is supposed to be one of easier places to start if you’ve never been hiking before. The tracks all loop around together, making it possible to walk for as long or short as you feel comfortable. We were going for a three day hike. We brought along a pack each, a meal plan to get us through the hike, a tent and a small amount of clothes. I doubted that any of this would be enough, but I left all the decisions up to the professional. I was surprisingly confident about the trip, the only thing that I stressed over was leaving my car in the car park. I would have walked back to check that it was locked if the pack wasn’t so heavy. I think my calmness could probably have been chalked up to ignorance, but I wasn’t going to question it. Conversation on the trip started quite strongly, but like any road-tripper knows, you can’t do all the talking at the start otherwise you run out of things to say. Not that it ever got hostile, but I did find myself becoming more acquainted with my music playlist. I am the first to say that I have a trashy taste in music, and I was getting ready

to change my playlist before going on this trip. I didn’t, and now I don’t really think I can either. We’ve been through some stuff together me and that trash. But for all my anguish, the trip went smoothly. The most testing thing that we had to do was probably a river crossing. I lost my camera but not my dignity, so I don’t have much to complain about. Carrying the pack became a curse, I hated myself for every slight piece of clothing that I didn’t really need, I smelt horrible anyway so what difference would the clean clothes have made. With every meal the pack got lighter and the journey became slightly easier. Even though I still firmly believe that hiking is nothing more than walking in a really complicated circle, I’m really glad that I was able to do it. I was left hurting all over and driving home for three hours but it felt as though I had achieved something. While I refrained from complaining constantly, I’m yet to be invited for a second trip. Something tells me that I’m far from being an expert hiker but at least I can say that I’m much better than I was before.

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It was the beginning of their first school year. The kids’ excitement levels were so high and everything had to be labelled and covered. I was trying to keep them occupied while getting everything ready but it wasn’t easy—their attention span decreased by the minute. The coloured pencils, grey leads, crayons and pencil cases were easy to label. I only had to scrape a little off the end of the pencils and crayons, take my pen in hand and write their names. I expected a quick few minutes work, but then came the interruptions from the kids wanting to help, wanting to do the scraping, wanting to write... I changed their activity for the tenth time in an hour and gave them pencils and paper from the stash. So, they practiced their writing. They could only do their name but I was so proud of that, they insisted I stop to admire far too often. But then they wanted food, drink, to tell me about their multiple trips to the toilet, to help me again... So many interruptions. It must have taken me an hour to do all the pencils and crayons. I was finally up to the books. They opened the contact for me, it only took them five minutes of fighting and arguing. Why do twins argue so much? They should be able to read each other’s minds, know what each other is thinking and not want what the other has. I carefully peeled the contact from Dana’s hair. Strand by strand. Dava had done a thorough job while my back was turned. I hoped I had enough contact left. It wasn’t the first time I’d been confounded by my knowledge of twins. They were now five and I’d been confronted time and time again by what I didn’t know about twins since they were born. I knew they should have a sixth sense for what the other was doing, I knew they should have been working together, it was in all the Sci-Fi books, but they didn’t seem to know the rules. Dana and Dava. I’d thought it so cute having two similar sounding names and I knew they’d love it. Both girls should have been called Trouble and Strife. Dana was the most mischievous but Dava egged her on. Then they fought about absolutely everything, what to wear, what to eat, which bowl to have. I’d tried giving them the same and giving them different. They still fought.

They should have been masters at working with each other from birth—they’d spent eight months battling each other in solitary confinement as they kicked each other and my bladder. I’d expected this to have stopped when they came out and had more space. I wrestled the first roll of contact away from them and sent them to their room. I measured the book on the contact and reached for the scissors. Not there. Looking around at the debris I cringed. Five. They were five. They should have been good at respecting boundaries, especially about scissors. I reminded myself they were excited about school, their first day at school! Would they make friends? Would they learn to read? Would they? Would they? Would they... Their questions had been endless. They occasionally listened to the answers and then asked all the same questions again before adding more. I only had today until an early start tomorrow. We’d practiced the school run but tomorrow was for real. Their lunch boxes, uniforms and bags were ready and all carefully labelled. This was the last step. The quiet giggling that came from their bedroom made me worry, it’s always when they’re quiet that the mischief is at its worst. My nerves finally on the alert I walked quietly, opened the door to their room, and found the scissors. Dana and Dava were cutting their hair! Inside: I hit the roof. Outside: I calmly removed the instruments of torture from the demon spawn’s hands and assessed the damage. The mess on the floor looked worse than the results. Their hair would be passable for school tomorrow. I heaved a sigh of relief for small mercies and shelved any plans for finishing this task just now. It was time to divert their attention and give them something to work off their nervous energy. We went to the park, getting them away from me using running games may not have helped them but I felt better. Finally, hours later, they were in bed. I’d exhausted them and myself. I had the space to head back to the task I’d given up hours ago. Measuring the book on the contact, I reached for the scissors...

How to Contact Your Sister Suzie Eisfelder

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Untouchable

Bonnee Crawford

Content warning: sexual assault.

I’ve been a hugger since high school, surrounded by people who all agreed that greeting your friends and saying goodbye with a hug was normal. In many cases, it felt mandatory. When I became friends with someone at university who did not like hugs, I didn’t understand at first. To me, at the time, hugs were the best. A hug from a trusted friend or family member could make a world of difference on a bad day, and make a good day even better. What was there not to like? Growing up, my family was always physically affectionate, probably more so than most. With Italian heritage, kissing family members and other Italian family-friends on the cheek is a cultural norm, even if you don’t like that person, or you don’t know them very well. My nonna especially could get quite upset if we didn’t let her absolutely smother us in physical affection and show enough back. My parents fell into the same ‘now hug and make nice’ trap that so many fall into when trying to get their kids to resolve conflict, and there were many times I recall resenting the need to follow that order. These family practices, while seemingly innocent, can disregard a child’s boundaries and make them feel that if someone says they have to let that person touch them, or that they must touch that person, they must allow it. My mother tried her best to teach me how to handle certain scenarios, like to tell an adult if someone touched me between my legs. As I grew into my teenage years, she also tried to teach me what to do if I was sexually assaulted; go along with it if my attacker didn’t listen to me

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say no, because being raped was better than being raped and beaten to death for trying to fight back. I never liked that piece of advice and despite my mother’s concerns, I told myself that if something like that were ever to happen, that I would fight back. Even though I had made this promise to myself, when I was placed in situations where someone was touching me and I felt uncomfortable or unsafe, there were many times where I didn’t feel confident enough to fight back. It has come to my attention from listening to many personal recounts and news stories of sexual harassment and assault that it’s a common survival tactic for a victim to go along with whatever is happening out of fear for their safety. An article by Clementine Ford in The Sydney Morning Herald published in April discusses one example, where a Dutch backpacker who was allegedly followed and sexually assaulted by a man in Sydney tried to play it cool for fear that he would hurt more if she didn’t. When he became suspicious that he was being deceived, he allegedly grabbed her by the throat and threw her to the ground. Girls and women especially are often taught to be nice when rejecting someone; to laugh at lewd comments, to ‘take it as compliments’ and act flattered that someone is interested in them at all. Shoving an advancer away and telling them to “fuck off” isn’t considered very lady-like. I don’t give a shit about lady-like. I wish I had been taught to be more fearless and assertive—even aggressive— about the right to tell someone not to touch me. In 2014, a guy at a nightclub kept grabbing me from behind on the dancefloor and grinding his crotch against my bum.

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I pulled away each time, hoping he would take a hint. He didn’t, and after the third or fourth time, I elbowed him in the stomach and quickly left the dancefloor. On a separate occasion, a boy I had met at university, who was supposedly my friend, kept holding my hand and telling me that he did this with all of his friends. He kept insisting that it wasn’t supposed to be ‘a romantic gesture’, and became offended when I tried to get him to stop. He made me feel guilty for not wanting to hold his hand and for making assumptions about his intentions, regardless of the fact that I still felt uncomfortable. For some time I conceded to allowing it him to hold my hand, but I felt ill to my stomach with every passing moment. It wasn’t long before he started trying to kiss me and touch me and telling me he was in love with me, revealing that his true intentions were to ‘win [me] over’ through emotional and psychological manipulation. These examples are just two of countless instances where I was subjected to physical contact against my will. Throughout my teenage years and early twenties, I experienced sexual harassment and assault in more ways than I could comprehend. The incident with the manipulative boy sparked an ongoing conversation about consent between me and a close group of friends at Deakin. Following that experience, I found it difficult to handle physical contact with others, including people I knew, trusted, and previously enjoyed hugging and being physically close with. From my friends, to my family, to my partner, these experiences had shaped the way I understood and dealt with physical interactions with others. At first, they didn’t

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all understand, either. On a particularly bad day, I panicked after one of my best friends tried to hug me and I locked myself in a bathroom for half an hour, completely inconsolable. It took time for my friends to understand that they shouldn’t take it personally, but now within our group, we’ve learned to ask before hugging, and give each other the option to decline. Although you don’t need to have been subject to some form of assault to dislike being touched, I now understand why that person I befriended a few years ago does not like hugs. Sometimes I don’t like hugs either, and it’s not always the best thing to get one unsolicited. When physical contact without asking permission is passed off as a normal social convention, it leads to issues like not knowing that you are allowed to say no, and others not knowing how to ask or how to react when they are told no. For the record, you can say no at any point, regardless of if you think the act was intended as sexual or not. If you are not comfortable with letting someone hug you, kiss you, or hold your hand, you have the right to tell them no. It doesn’t matter who they are, what they think they’re entitled to, or if you’ve allowed the same person to do the same thing in the past. No matter the circumstances, you own your body and no one should be allowed to touch it without your permission.

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The Goddess Emily Henry

The Goddess stared blankly at the small lump of crying flesh and bone before her, unable to comprehend the reason behind its appearance. To her knowledge, the mortals had long ago stopped baring her gifts to earn favour. The infant sat atop a haphazard alter of books and blankets, the room surrounding it dark and cool, sheltered from the heat the Goddess knew scorched the world she once adored. The child must have been alone for some time, if the wax of what once were candles was anything to go by. The wicks had burnt to ash long ago, the scentless paraffin cascading down the makeshift alter to congeal on the dusty carpet. She gazed at the offering in awe, considering what it could possibly mean. She had assumed that she herself had been forgotten, along with the ways of old, but the child on the alter sought to prove her incorrect again. She, the goddess realised, taking a step closer to the tiny, screaming infant. The cloth that had once covered the child had slipped off in the infantâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s struggle, revealing bare skin and offering the proof that was needed. The first-born daughter, she knew. The wailing had lost much of its strength, the infant clearly exhausted, and the Goddess felt her own maternal instincts flare for the first time in millennia. She cooed softly as she approached, careful of her own strength while lifting the child to her breast. The shock of being called on after so long had worn off as she took in the surroundings: a small room, dim and dirty and derelict but still offering some sanctuary to the small child now cradled in her arms. Outside she could hear the horrors unfolding of a world at war, but she had not one clue as to what could have caused it. The humans, malicious as they could be, held within them a great capacity for temperance. She did not understand what could have pushed them so thoroughly towards cruelty. The infant, now quietly staring at the Goddess who held her, flailed a hand towards the Goddessâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; face. The Goddess smiled warmly and tightened her hold upon the child. Despite the millennia spent without purpose, the Goddess would not need time to adjust; this world may have changed bitterly in her absence, but her purpose remained what it had always been. She had been ignorant too long of the course being taken in her home world, hiding as she had once the mortal faith in her became too frayed. She could not stand by and let this world, her world, come to ruin. This child was not a gift at all, nor was it a sacrifice. It was a prayer. And, perhaps, a promise.

D a a s s D 2 e d e a

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Falling Lisel Christiansen

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The first time you experienced it, you were terrified. Death was never a thing that scared you—your dubious line of work made sure of that. After hours of you and your friend being on the run, you’d been chased to the edge of a cliff, water crashing violently below. There were people everywhere, surrounding you. You weren’t sure you were going to survive this, but you were willing to—on the slim chance of making it out—fight through them. There was someone calling your name, telling you to just give in, that they’re not worth the fight, begging to just let me go. You stepped backwards to position yourself better, and found that there wasn’t much under your feet. Off balance, you barely registered the arm that shot out beside you, trying to catch you, fingers grabbing the edge of your shirt, the slight tug throwing your balance off beyond recovery and you fell. It was exactly like those dreams where you jump and there is no bottom in sight. Stomach dropping out from underneath you as you lurch awake panting, and sweating—except this time, it wasn’t a dream. You fired the grappling hook in a last-ditch attempt to save yourself, and by some miracle from above it caught and you’re swung into the cliff face, full force, but it wasn’t going to hold long. It was brutal—cuts everywhere, grazes making up the space between as you scrambled for solid footing and found something to hold onto as your life line slowly slackened and released. Shit, you thought as the end of the hook thuds dully below you. You were probably fourteen feet down the cliff if not more and there was a drop about seven times that below. The muscles in your arms weren’t going to last much longer, what with the frantic fighting-running routine you’d been doing for the several past hours on and off, and your legs weren’t faring much better. But you grit your teeth, and

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gripped tighter while looking down, trying to move your feet onto something more solid, something higher. It wasn’t easy, but you get there eventually. The cuts are deeper by then, covering you in red that’s slowly deepening, soaking through your clothes. You should have been prepared for the sight at the top. There was no sign of anyone, but damn that was a lot more blood than you anticipated. Not enough for a dead body, so you try to think of that as a good thing. The guys who took your friend weren’t getting away.

The next time you had help. The shockwave that reverberated through the building knocked you off your feet, as fire exploded outwards. Clouds of red and black billowed over your head. The levels below you caving in as another explosion reverberates upwards from lower floors. And then it started collapsing. Everything slid, there was nothing solid left to hold onto. The last of the pillars holding this level together crumbled with the rest of the building. The windows were getting closer—damn it, not again. There was static over the radio, a voice, fuzzy through the static on the other end. You could barely make out the words being spoken. You put a hand to your ear piece, telling them to repeat it. Jump. You launch yourself out of the smashing window. How you managed to grab onto the rope thrown at you, you never knew. You did know that it was some ‘solid Matrix shit’ according to the guy who threw it. You also knew that the déjà vu you had was not welcome, especially the screaming pain in your arms, as you once again haul yourself up to something more stable. As you stand on shaky knees, grabbing onto the edge of the helicopter’s opening, you see what disaster you narrowly escaped from.

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The last had a rollercoaster of a prelude. You managed to not only find, but also infiltrate the assumed headquarters of the organisation that took your friend, with the help of your mess of a team. One of the guys had managed to track an incoming call confirming the movement of an important prisoner and the time of the pickup by helicopter. You headed up to the roof, leaving the rest of the team to deal with the guys in the building. The chopper had already landed as you swung the door open, the wind blowing hair and clothes everywhere. A voice yelled orders, barely audible over the propellers. You followed it, starting to move while you regained your sight. You swore that it sounded familiar. As you squinted through the turbulent kicked-up dust, you could make out four figures on the other side of the roof. They were looking at you now. The shouting had stopped. You could see three of them aiming guns at you, the last one striding over to where you were and—no. No, it can’t be. ‘I was wondering when you would show up.’ Shock was the first thing you felt—it had you nailed to the spot. To find out after all this time that it was all a ploy to get you out of the way was unexpected. Your friend smiled at you condescendingly and it felt too familiar. There wasn’t any joking feeling to it this time. You were confused as the pieces slowly fell in place. The smile changed, wicked. You didn’t think they were capable of that smirk, this ruse. Showed how much you knew. Pain was next. It began blooming outwards from your shoulder, chest, thigh, along with the blood that flowed from them. You lost your balance, struggled to put weight on one side. Shock is still across your face. Your ‘friend’ pulls the trigger again. Your backup was still busy; they weren’t going to make it. Not this time. That was when you realised you

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might not be coming back from this. The momentum of it all had you staggering backwards towards the edge. You needed to stop having confrontations in high places, and somewhere in the back of your mind you swore that if you make it through this, that this was the last time. From then on you’d be staying firmly on the ground. They strode up to you. That sickening smile is still there. You try and back up—try is the key word. You can’t get anything to move. ‘You really should have seen this one coming. I’m almost disappointed that you didn’t.’ They moved their hand out, and pushed gently against your bad shoulder. You didn’t think more pain was possible, again you were wrong. More stumbling, your leg gave out beneath you and you tipped backwards, trying frantically to catch onto anything; a bit of shirt, an arm, the building ledge. Thoughts ran a million miles an hour—you thought you were hyperventilating but it doesn’t seem to matter because all you have running through your head is why? Why, why why why? And you fell.

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The First Autumn Crystle Lee

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Mark Russel

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VOID Keiley Colpoys

Many years ago, Lila looked on the fact that the universe was ever-growing, ever-expanding with a sense of wonder—always something new to discover, endless possibilities. The great unknown would continue everlasting. There was no limit on the universe. That same fact now fills her with indescribable dread and a deep, desperate yearning for home. For places familiar and well-travelled. Somewhere not daunting with the sheer force of the unknown, of how foreign and far from home she is. Is there such thing as too much adventure? She hadn’t thought so. Now it was different, adrift among not even the stars, simply void. The seemingly endless lights in the sky were beginning to fade as she drifted further and further from any hope of rescue. From any hope of anything. Systems were failing and her little tin can rocket had left her stranded so far from anyone or anything; the mere idea of being found was laughable. In fact, she had laughed somewhat hysterically at the thought—no one else was mad enough to embark on such a voyage alone. In a little tin can off to see the stars. *** Everyone had told her it could go wrong but she had never expected them to be right. Lila had such hope, such faith that nothing could possibly stop her— and it hadn’t. She’d gotten here. Gotten all the way to the edge of everything anyone had ever known. So far into the blackness that not even the stars had followed her. She had pushed the frontier further than anyone else ever had, than anyone else ever could. All from sheer willpower and a stubbornness inherited from her mother—and now all she wanted was to go home. She knew everything about how her little tin rocket worked—or she thought she had—because she had built it herself. Her own two hands had designed and crafted everything. She knew the insides and the outs of the ship that would be her home. Surely, if Lila could get herself out there, she could figure out how to get herself back. How to tell the world what

she had seen, the things she now knew that no one else did. She had seen the dark and it had seen her, and now she knew the echoing loneliness of being the only living thing for millions and millions of miles. *** At home, people felt disconnected, herself included. They could never appreciate just how connected they were to every other living thing on the planet, to the planet itself, to the nearest star. The way that regardless of how abandoned a person might feel at any given moment, they were never more than a few feet away from another living being. Imagine feeling so disconnected, so alone, when the very ground you stand on is thrumming with life, the star above you pushing warm energy into you, the tree beside the window breathing in all the poison from your lung and breathing back out life. Imagine feeling alone in all of that. She thought she had understood what loneliness meant. What it meant to be removed from people— out of touch, out of contact—that she might feel more at home in the sky amongst the stars than she ever had on the ground and for a while, that had been true. But now there was nothing to feel connected to. Nothing real. Nothing living. *** Machines helped her breathe, dispensed her supplies, and the light from the stars was so very far away. She’d spent hours watching through the porthole as what little light she could see drifted further away from her, until there was nothing. A window that looked out onto the immense view of nothing. As though the lights had been turned off on Lila’s existence. The lights were off, but someone was still home. She had tried to fix it. She had taken so many notes over the course of construction, thousands and thousands of meaningless words meant to comfort her with the knowledge that if something went wrong, if she did something wrong, she could fix it.

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But the engine had stopped working, for no reason Lila could discern, while everything else remained and she drifted further and further away from anything that had ever mattered to her. More and more she was beginning to realise that perhaps it had never been about the adventure, or the journey, but rather the right to say she had done it. To return victorious and be beloved by her people. Some experiences meant so little when there was no one to share them with, no one to validate that they had ever even been done at all. The engine couldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be fixed and the steering was locked. There was no way to save herself, to steer herself back on course. She was so far from on course that she was no longer even sure where that was. *** She had spent hours staring at her navigational monitor as she hurtled away from where she was meant to be, watching as it stopped being able to register where exactly she was. There were no stars, or planets, or asteroids, or anything to use in order to calculate where she was. Worse than the engine failure, however, was the fact that there had been no communications failure? She was still broadcasting the SOS message she had recorded however long ago (Minutes? Hours? Days?), but there was no one to hear her. No contact to be made. When it had become apparent that her problems were well beyond what she alone could solve, she had calculated the odds of someone rescuing her. Microscopically small. Not impossible of course, because in theory nothing was impossible, the universe was so vast (so very vast, immense beyond what she could comprehend even through all her years of trying) that there was always the smallest chance that literally anything could happen. She could, in theory, bump into a beluga whale out there. In theory.

Unfortunately for her, when theory met practical application, everything fell apart. In theory, someone could hear her distress beacon and rescue her, and bring her home safely. In practice, she was so very far beyond where all other star ships travelledâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;established shipping routes and commercial flight spacesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that there was no reason for anyone to be there. No one except her stupid stubborn self. Making contact with another vessel was out of the question. Making contact with an outpost was even more ridiculous. But oh god, there was a sickening feeling of knowing all her essential life support systems were working. She could live years, decades even, drifting through the nothingness alone. There was a terror in the loneliness Lila could scarcely begin to describe. Yet somehow, the idea of not being alone was worse. The idea of someone or something else being out there, so far away from anything she knew or understood, was horrifying in a way that wormed itself inside her and made a home there. What reason would anyone or anything have to be out there? What reason did she?

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‘Ground Control to Major Tom’ was the first contact I had with David Bowie, also known as ‘Ziggy Stardust’, ‘Starman’, ‘The Thin White Duke’ or ‘The Goblin King’. I was twelve years old. ‘I think you will like him,’ Mum said smugly, slipping on the music video for ‘Space Oddity’ on YouTube, somehow knowing that I would fall head over heels for this strange man. She was right. But not at first. I thought he was the most bizarre thing that I had ever encountered. A man with fiery red hair, odd-

coloured eyes in an obnoxiously glittery silver suit, strummed his guitar in the middle of a spaceship. Needless to say, I was very confused but at the same time intrigued and completely captivated by this creature who called himself ‘Ziggy Stardust’.

Throughout my teen years I dabbled in and out of Bowie’s music but it wasn’t until I was eighteen when I fully grasped his significance and the impact he would have on me. Not only creatively, but on how I viewed the world. This was a time when I took a gap year after high school to find what I wanted to do with the rest of my days until I inevitably kicked the bucket. I was finishing a diploma in Hospitality that I started in high school (which great as it sounds) was extremely unfulfilling. As someone who needs mental stimulation, I was a ghost wondering aimlessly. The first time I listened to the song ‘Heroes’ was when the light switched on. I remember sitting there for ten minutes, processing the music that had hugged my eardrums and the words that would reassure me that I could do anything. This coincided with having just finished reading the novel ‘The Perks of being a Wallflower’ and watching the movie. When Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ plays at the end of the

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film while the main characters are travelling through the iconic tunnel scene, ‘Charlie’ (who I majorly identified with) had finally felt a sense of freedom, so this gave the song a whole new meaning for me. As a shy, anxious person growing up, this left me with a strange feeling that I was worthy of something. I had a power in this world that I could use: creativity was my weapon. I knew in those moments there was nothing more I wanted to do on this earth than create and exercise the wild imagination that constantly runs through my head. I endured the last months of the diploma and switched courses. In January 2015 I opened my laptop to an e-mail that informed me I had been accepted into the course I am currently in my third year completing. Not only had my life been drastically changed, but my love for Bowie sky-rocketed. His repertoire of albums and ever-changing personas became a staple part of my record collection (okay, CD collection but I am saving up for a turntable). The genderbending makeup and costumes of ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust’ and ‘The Spiders from Mars’ challenged masculinity and caused controversial reactions from all walks of life. From the ominous character of ‘The Thin White Duke’ in ‘Station to Station’, to his appearance in ‘Low’ which left me drooling over his sharp aesthetic. As a true puppeteer of his craft, he controlled every aspect of his career when moulding into a new identity. In the 1980s he took on the role of going ‘mainstream’ as another persona for a brief period of time, purely because he wanted to experience what is was like to be in the top charts. Having been taught the art of mime by Lindsey Kept, he featured in numerous stage plays and films. One of these is the infamous cult movie from the 1970s, ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’, where Bowie played an alien that came to earth from a distant planet disguised as a human. Another is the 1980s adventure fantasy classic ‘Labyrinth’, in which he brought to life Jereth as the glorious ‘Goblin King’.

The Day I Met Ziggy Stardust

It was one of the weirdest, yet most bewitching films I had seen and soon became one of my all-time favourites. In early January 2016 on a drive through the mountains a few days after what would be his goodbye album ‘Blackstar’ was released, the news broke. ‘David Bowie passed away in the early hours of last night,’ the radio broadcaster solemnly announced. The ‘Goblin King’ had left the earth. You could imagine the heartbreak I felt as we passed through the Dandenong Ranges, so much so my dad had to pull the car over. To top the icing on the cake, ‘Heroes’ began to play. The next day consisted of listening to Bowie songs on repeat in my favourite shirt and refreshing snapchat videos live from his hometown in London, Brixton of fans gathered around his mural. As much as I wished I could be there singing out of tune to ‘Starman’ with the other grief-stricken fans, something occurred to me. I realised how powerful emotional contact can be over physical. The only connection I had with Bowie was through my speakers, a TV screen watching his movies, interviews, live performances or music videos and yet he is such a significant part of my life. His art brought together like-minded individuals all over the world—the mutual connection of the same interest does wonders. That connection might come in the form of a passing comment, but for a few moments you feel united and understood. From the start of a new friendship because you bonded over a fondness for the same book, to a love interest you may have met at a concert or an art gallery. The energy of the masses of people brought together through the contact of the one man generated through my phone and for a few seconds I believed I was there with them. Even though I like to think he has boarded his spaceship and gone back home, Bowie had gifted the world with his many alter-egos and unique compositions of rock n roll mixed with the avant-garde. This will always have me blaring the lyrics to; ‘Rebel Rebel’, ‘Suffragette City’, ‘Life on Mars’ and so many others. When you strip back the glam rock and the sexual ambiguity, beneath that laid proper English gentlemen with an incredibly witty sense of humour. The image of the iconic lightning bolt on the front cover of the ‘Aladdin Sane’ album that is plastered on my bedroom wall is a constant reminder to be bold, challenge views and ideas and be innovative, because that is a way to live a life: fearless. ‘The stars look very different today’

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Profile for WORDLY Magazine

WORDLY Magazine: 'Contact' Edition 2017  

What stories can we write about Contact? Maybe the first contact with another species? Last contact with a beloved? The nature of political...

WORDLY Magazine: 'Contact' Edition 2017  

What stories can we write about Contact? Maybe the first contact with another species? Last contact with a beloved? The nature of political...

Profile for wordly
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