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

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Toddler Q&A

Some questions require phoning a friend.

When I imagined life as a mother, it wasn’t tending to a two month old at 3am or changing a protesting one year old’s nappy that I pictured, but rather, long conversations with a verbose toddler questioning everything around him…and that time has come! At the age of 2 years, 4 months, 5 days, 14 hours (approximately) my boy has reached a significant milestone. Today he uttered his very first “why?” and with the release of that one syllable, changed the course of our lives forever, asserting his mind and sharing its wondrous workings. The momentous occasion was in response to his daddy telling him I had gone to work. Why? Oh, if only he knew I ask myself that very question four days a week. From now on, I am going to have to in turn question myself and the ‘truths’ I share, as well as expectations I have on everything from the need to say please and thank you, to the reason he must get up off a supermarket floor that he is glued to with the formidable adhesive formulation that is will power, snot, and tears.

Aside from the inevitable instances where I will likely wish he’d get on with what I ask and not question things, I am excited about conversations to come; the broad range of topics I will have to research and learn alongside him; and, the fresh take on things I have taken for granted, waking up my comparatively dulled sense of curiosity and wonder.

Why doesn’t the moon fall down? Why is it called a zipper? Why do some camels have one hump and some have two?  Why did the chicken cross the road? Even thinking up hypothetical creative questions is hard work!

I expect there to be plenty of questions I will not have neat answers for, but will encourage his interest nonetheless: questions about our very existence, death, bigotry, inequality, the nature of time, the future. So let the fun begin- I have no prepared answers and will have to take it one question at a time. Actually, I do have one prepared answer- if he ever asks:

Why do birds suddenly appear every time you are near?

 I’ll break out in sudden song like they do in musicals and respond with:

Why do stars fall down from the sky, every time you walk by?

Depending on where we are and whether he is at the age of being embarrassed by me, that may be the last “why?” I ever get.

 

Has a child every stumped you with ‘Why?’ Please share the question and your response, to help me compile a FAQ list that I will carry on me at all times for reference in the event of no internet service.

After Forever

Photo of an outdoor wedding setting and a swing, green lawn used as a microfiction writing prompt
Photo by Ben Rosett

Today is our wedding anniversary- Mr & Mrs Billingup; a date I’ll never forget, curved round my ring finger with his initials, the permanence of ink marking the impulse of a fleeting moment. Looking at it now, I can laugh at that tired old joke my girlfriends used to make, the BB of Bryan’s initials implying a best before date. Holding the last of the photographs, I wished away all traces of that day as I threw it on the fire and watched the edges curl to weightless ashes.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week Thirty Seven.

Writers Write, Right?

NaNoWriMo shield logo for writing goal with november natinal novel writing month 2016
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

I have a goal! The title and accompanying image might give a hint as to what it is. I am working towards finishing my second draft novel writing course by the end of October (it has been on hold since April). At the end of the course I’ll have a solid synopsis, which will allow me to get real value out of NaNoWriMo 2016: tackling the feat of completing a novel (or at least 50,000 words of it) over the course of November.

To borrow from a tagline on Camp NaNoWriMo’s site, the event is:

An idyllic [writer’s] retreat smack dab in the middle of your crazy life.

Yes, if I can’t have a beautiful mountain top cabin with a view of a cascading waterfall, the accompaniment of bird song and fragrance of spring blossoms and a perfect coffee, I’ll take the virtual version. Continue reading

Luminosity

Image of the Bubble Nebula, Three Line Tale prompt for flash fiction
Photo by NASA

“Mission control, do you read me? The nebula is burning at a greater intensity than previous recordings, just concerned the hubble is drifting since yesterday’s calibration.”

“Mission control here, Captain- news just in suggests the increased luminosity coincides with a terrestrial event in the Southern Hemisphere of Planet Earth at roughly 03:00 GMT, little boy blowing out his birthday candle, a lunch time celebration in his local time.”

The astronaut breathed a sigh of relief, first mission nerves had made her question her judgements, but it seemed it was the instrument’s range that required adjustment in this instance- the kid is a force to be reckoned with.

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Happy 2nd birthday to my little boy – my constant source of love and inspiration, combined here with image prompt from Sonya’s Three Line Tales Week 19. Fittingly, the NASA image is an anniversary pic celebrating the Hubble Telescope’s 26th year in orbit. The fiery object is a Bubble Nebula, cloud and hot gases released by the brilliant star at its core. Other pics capture the birthday boy and the moment that threw NASA’s measurements off, and his observation of a sound/light/bubble installation in Melbourne, taken yesterday by Richard Baxter, also known as Daddy.

Transit

Photo of a rainy view through a train window- prompt for a flash fiction story three line tale
Photo by Wilson Lau

The carriage was full, travelers standing with shoulders, backpacks and elbows pressed, a carnival of scarves and beanies as the game-attending crowd created jostling hues of their allegiances.

With the approach of their stop, the ebb and flow of chatter reached a crescendo of deafening laughter and chanting, morphing the game crowd into a single organism, leaving Elise feeling even more alone on what was for her a milestone journey.

Replaying the moment in nightmares and obsessive thoughts of waking hours, she hadn’t imagined the station being a welcome sight, but with the crowd’s departure, there was momentary relief in tears no longer forced back by a levee of laughing eyes, blurring the tracks and trees like rain streaking the window, her sobbing gasps filling the void they’d left as the train crawled past the spot marked by cellophane and ribbons of a bouquet long gone.

 

Inspired by Sonya’s Three Line Tales, Week 18

Short Hundred (after 99)

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 3.53.38 PM

I am

purity implied

quality assured

purveyor of certainty

inclusive of all

complete

full marks

tick maker

indicator

of compliance

with standards, regulations, speed limits

the atomic number of fermium

a follower of Paul Simon’s ways to leave your lover, twice over

speaker of absolutes

a lifetime

years of solitude

yet one more problem for Jay Z

one fifth of The Proclaimers’ journey

the milestone anniversary

number of posts published on 10000hoursleft

100

C

 

At the one year anniversary of this blog, I estimated 1.5 hours logged per post. Assuming that is still a good estimate, I have now racked up 1,500 hours. So now it is only 8,500 hours I have left till I’ll have apparently mastered something. I’m open to suggestions on how best to use those writing hours- prompts, post ideas, writing challenges- let me know your thoughts!