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

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

A Seat at the Table

Image by Annie Spratt, Sonya's three line tales week fifty, flash fiction / microfiction prompt
Photo by Annie Spratt

Not for the first time, I approached the table that had been set for eleven, my mother’s best plates out for the occasion and a sense of abundance and joie de vivre conjoured on the surface by a decadent floral burst and fruit too waxy to tempt a bite. I stood at the head of the table, guests paused in a still life for my perusal, waiting for their cue. I noted they were all there- my three brothers, mother, father; their faces, clothes, expressions and mannerisms reflected by their mirrored selves across the table; my role as hostess was to select the ‘right’ version of each family member to take a seat, at which point I’d wake to the clammy anxiety of the pre-emptive consequence of getting it wrong, leaving the cold bone china plates empty, my appetite suppressed.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s 3 Line Tales, Week Fifty.

6 Lessons from NaNoWriMo

Over the course of November, I wrote 50,012 words towards my novel, pieced together as:

  • Scenes for the first 5 turning points and first step of the 6th turning point of my WIP
  • A prologue
  • Off-shoot stories about some of the cast of characters who are part of my protagonist’s journey.
bar graph showing daily word count during NaNoWriMo 2016 for 10000hoursleft, finishing at 50012 words on November 30 2016
Source: screen grab from 10000hoursleft’s NaNoWriMo account

In addition to NaNoWriMo, I completed a writing course, applied for 5 jobs, and fulfilled family, work and personal responsibilities. The writing milestones are personal highlights of the past 12 months. Funnily, when I co-wrote my first post of 2016 (on maintaining goals), I hadn’t set out on this path, conceiving these goals in the final half of the year (and working on them in the last quarter), giving me a more tangible target than my previously vague goal of progressing my WIP over the year (it is never too late to start a ‘new year resolution’!).

Here, I share lessons I learnt about myself, my writing, and the writing process. Continue reading

Black Box

c6h9mwoet4y-grant-mccurdy
Photo by Grant McCurdy

At parties, he’d tell strangers he was a problem solving janitor, piquing interest to proceed with tales of clearing debris from crash sites, labeling and cataloging pieces of aircraft jig saw to reveal the reason for lives abruptly left behind.

There was the official record, he’d tell them; black boxes that were sole survivors, names, dates of birth, nationalities, scattered corpses confirmed by dental records. For the still interested, and by that point having finished the wine he’d been nursing on first introductions, he’d confide that what he most loved about his job was the unofficial records, stories pieced together after surreptitiously removing film from cameras in varying degrees of integrity, watching traces of lives lost in flight reform in subterranean chemical baths; his new acquaintances usually excused themselves to mingle or get another drink before he had a chance to pull out his little album of best ofs.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week Forty-Five

NaNoWriMo Week 3

NaNoWriMo 2016 week 3 update goals word count novel writing
Source: Screen grab from 10000hoursleft’s NaNoWriMo account

Another week. I am holding on to that line with all my might. I found the tail end of week 3 particularly difficult, but am pleased that I persevered. The greatest challenge I am facing from now till the end of November is the curve ball that life has thrown, with my non-permanent role at work being advertised as permanent as of Thursday, along with many non-permanent roles in the branch of the organisation for which I work. The deadline for applications is December 1, coinciding a little too neatly with the remainder of NaNoWriMo. Just when I thought my main challenge was boredom with my story, having established that time wasn’t a barrier to hitting the daily target. Continue reading