Forrest Trail

Watercolour illustration of a shop front, continental supremarket in a suburban street, with a dog waiting out the front. Illustrating a short story with a scene in a corner store.

Read Part 1: Missing Person

Henfield was a small enough town that it didn’t take much digging to know who was with whom, where so-and-so worked, and whatever happened to that kid, you know- the one who lived two doors down from the Sanderson’s.

six degrees or less

a whispered cartography

strangers’ life path’s mapped

Forrest was back in town after finishing up his boarding days at Dunnstown Grammar. Trailing him discreetly, it seemed he spent much of his time either at the skate park or making a beeline, without any sense of urgency, between Al’s Corner Produce and his parents’ home. I knew his 18th birthday was approaching, so if my hunch was correct, whatever would happen was due to transpire in only a matter of weeks. I had to stay close without raising suspicion. Continue reading

Missing Person

Watercolour image of objects in outer space- a milk carton, twinkling stars, a satellite and a gold medal, illustrating a short story serial

It was with a heavy heart that I worked my way through the Sandersons that had spent the better part of their youth at Henfield Primary School. There was a whole brood of them- some related, others just sharing a relatively common name. James, Felicity, Veronica, Sandra, Jack, Noel, a lot of Kates, and many Peters. Finally. Cynthia. Occasionally I received a phone call from an ex-student or the parent of an ex-student, usually with an inspired idea for a 21st or wedding. Otherwise, the time capsules were returned to the ex-students themselves at the 20 year reunion- enough time would pass by then for there to be an appreciation of the insight into what their 10 or 11 year old selves could give them.

Cynthia’s mother had called grasping for something, anything, of her daughter. I knew who she was immediately when Mrs. Sanderson told me her daughter’s name. For the past year, her face, smiling with a hand proudly holding a medal that hung around her neck, had been plastered around railway stations, at local convenience stores and occasionally on the news in what has been shorter and shorter segments as time moves on and other missing persons, wars, government budgets and natural catastrophes compete for screen time. Not for Mrs. Sanderson though. Her grieving voice told me that the world and all its news had stopped for her and her husband the day Cynthia went missing. 17 years old, at another milestone in her life, having just finished high school and celebrating on the Gold Coast during Schoolies Week. No one knows what happened to her, or at least no one has come forward with what they know. All her mother wanted was one more piece of her little girl. Continue reading

Eternity

Photo of a cat walking along a port microfiction prompt sonya's three line tales, flash fiction
Photo by Timothy Meinberg

Slinking with a swagger,

he’d dressed right for every occasion:

dappled patches for climbing trees,

streaks stripping paint from balancing beams,

sunburst polka dots of little girls

who dared come close,

and at home in the hessian tones of the captain’s embrace.

 

Content in all his coats save for the blues of the glistening sea-

he’d failed to shake those drops off when disembarking number nine.

 

Aquatic hues

haunt the patina of his bronzed likeness,

unravelling his immortal coil between the

here

and

there;

he never sleeps- perchance to dream and lose his footing.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 70 and after the initial concept, inspired further by a ferret down an online rabbit hole that made me stumble and trip on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. I do not claim to have read Hamlet in its entirety but was pleased with how parts of his soliloquy worked with my idea.

The Run

Aerial photo of a graduating class, three line tales microfiction prompt
Photo by Faustin Tuyambaze

What got me out of bed and into the booth each morning was the thrill of monitoring ceremonies in the Grand Hall; as a rookie, I’d made the mistake of believing those facing away from the masses were the ones to look out for- I’d zoom in on them and make a concerted effort to track the next 5, 10, 20 years of their lives, although it would prove futile; mulling over milestones in their later years, I returned to the Grand Hall footage where with the fortune of hindsight, I drew a correlation between swimming upstream in old age and free flowing movement at graduation; squint and scan the crowd and you’ll see a distinct yellow aura marking them out, all facing the same direction.

The next phase was tracing their descendants and handing over the dossier to Dr Woodrow, chief geneticist at Project Anadromous, a clandestine government initiative that led to the design of  biological prêt-à-porter: subcutaneous cloaks fashioned to enable adaptability for a return to the so-called fresh waters of the wearer’s youth, to breed and die, maintaining population equilibrium- a profitable ‘industry’ that did away with nasty taxes, handout recipients, and threats of litigation- therein the fun stopped, gone were my days of naïve people watching, I became the watched.

Now, trapped by the consequences of my actions, I am stuck in a for-loop, endless iterations of life cycles that never deviate from the tedium of days begun in the murky gravel beds of oxygen limited fresh water, graduating to the stinging spray of brine that stretches to the horizon before I make a begrudging return to natal waters, a sacrificial offering for the next generation, treading softly on finite resources while amassing fortunes for the 0.1 percent who’ve had the fiscal and hence genetic fortune of defying the run.

 

Thanks to Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 68 for the inspiration. Woodrow, my sci-fi muse makes a cameo here 🙂

Orizuru’s Winter Carousel

painting of cranes, by Józef Marian Chełmoński used as microfiction prompt
Cranes by Józef Marian Chełmoński, 1870

As is their nature, in the cold of winter, they leave for warmer shores. Fortunately, I’ve committed to memory their aerial dance and play it back in slow motion- a frame a minute to allow me to meditate on the aching beauty of their elegant necks and snow-white and black-tipped wings that gracefully stretch for one thousand years and back, thrusting them forward like a ruby crowned dart, before landing with a victorious V, framing the clouds that keep them company.

By the window, I watch and wait, it is all I can do, weighed down by dust and branded by coffee ring marks left on the torn page of the lined notebook that was folded to give me joints with minimal range of movement. The sharp creases of my form serve as lines separating me from them. Pierced and suspended, I float on my winter carousel, replaying memories of the cranes to bide time until the taunting promise of flight that summer brings.

 

164 words for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge #3. Of course critical feedback appreciated, Jane. I went a little abstract with this one and was aiming for poetic prose.

Postscript 08.04.17: Originally published 5th July 2016. Reposting as I am considering additional instalments (shout out to SB!).

Half a Haibun 3: Behind the Scenes

Martini and some coins on a bar, photo by Leslie Reese
Photo by Leslie Reese

When Leslie shared her prose for our collaboration with me, I immediately wondered about the title ‘Naomi’. She piqued my curiosity further by hinting that it was a true story. Well, Leslie has now published an extended version, a charming vignette that welcomes the reader to an intimate bar with an interesting cast of characters. Get ready for some people watching as you nurse your beverage of choice… Continue reading

Young Hearts

Heart shaped waffle prompt for Sonya's three line tales week 54, micro fiction
Photo by Roman Kraft

It seemed the most fun in the fairground was in the small kitchen where Aaron and I worked over the summer; preparing batter and churning out waffle after waffle, talking about our dreams, confiding our fears and laughing the laugh of two people on the same wavelength, a side glance enough to set off a shared, unspoken joke and a fit of giggles. When it quietened down, he’d create masterpieces – a kitten with waffle whiskers, a hot air balloon, and bravely, a telephone- I’d noticed the nerves when he asked for my number as I bit its curly waffle cord, the memory a welcome distraction, my mind wandering, pondering how dull that telephone would look if he were to make it now- imagining straight crisp edges, chocolate sauce dabbed in dimples for battery life, and maple syrup drips of reception silenced my inner critic’s commentary on broadened hips, silver streaks, and traces of life’s lines on my face as I approached the man sitting across the room. Continue reading