The Droste Effect

watercolour of a vermouth bottle, in the style of droste cacoa, beside a martini, painted in sepia tones, illustrating a story in which the 'droste effect' is alluded to

Read Part 1: Missing Person

Read Part 2: Forrest Trail

Garnishing a Blood Mary with the stick of celery I’d bought at Al’s Corner Produce, I had no idea where I was, or where the hummus or Forrest were for that matter. Swallowed in the dark nothingness, once I’d lost my grip on Forrest, I was alone for what felt like hours. Time enough to regret my meddling that had caused all this. ‘It’ was what I wanted, but now that I was in It, feeling like the same person, but dressed differently, and from all appearances, working at a bar, I wasn’t sure what kind of mess I had created.

Mixing drinks seemed to come naturally to this other me, although I had never before done more than pour tonic and gin over ice, with a pretty relaxed take on ratios, as the mood required. It wasn’t just the celery and myself that got spirited away to wherever this was. My classroom black board was mounted on the wall behind the bar, announcing bar specials, but with faint traces of numbers and the alphabet, in my handwriting.

Who am I? This me still dislikes sloppy attempts at cleaning black boards. Is this what it felt like to be the woman on the Droste Cacao box? I was met by the familiar reflection in the bar mirror. A picture being revealed, within a picture. Identity is a funny thing. For now, all I had was ‘bartender’, ‘woman’, and potentially ‘black board obsessive’. I couldn’t even be sure of my name. I was going to have to feel my way through the other pieces that would fit together as I continued my search for Cynthia.

Prices seemed a little odd in the bar I tended. $4.53 for a Bloody Mary? I turned to serve the drink, and there she was, looking just like the face on the poster, complete with medal around her neck and what was probably a band t-shirt, with the words ‘Missing Persons’ emblazoned across it.

“I’ve been waiting here for ages. Did I interrupt your trip to la la land?” Her smile softened her obvious irritation.

To be continued…

 

Third of a 6 part serial – Timeline. Originally Published 18th April, 2016. Illustration added 2nd July 2017.

Inspiration for this week’s installment of the unfolding series ‘Timeline’ was from WordPress’ Discovery Challenge, Identity.

Regular readers – 10000hoursleft now exists outside of the WP world- check out the Instagram widget in the side bar-  I will post illustrations for stories, behind the scenes shots, pics of inspiration for stories etc.

 

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

Timeline

image for travel through the tumble weed week 10 featuring a story titled 'timeline' a short story based on a writing 101 promptSo here we are at week 10, the series finale. It has been lovely having you along for the ride, and getting to know some of my readers in the comments section of  posts which had been largely barren until we traversed the tumbleweed to rescue them from the cyber dust they’d been hidden under.

This week’s edition is a story which got a little traction in the comments when originally posted, with a few readers asking to read more. It never seemed the right time to explore the story further, and for a long time, I felt I’d exhausted all inspiration for the story line with the final punctuation mark. However, reading the funny and engaging Dalston Noir series on the blog Tomorrow, Definitely, I’ve been inspired to create a serial of sorts with this week’s travel through the tumbleweed post (thanks Dagmar!). There will be 5 to 10 installments coming up, of approximately 400 words each (theoretically, one a week*). Why 5 to 10? Well, aside from the next post I have lined up, I have no idea where the story will go, so who knows at what point:

  1. The story will come to a natural end; or
  2. I’ll get bored of it, in which case I wouldn’t want to bore you with it; and
  3. More than 10 is really pushing it (and my short attention sp..

Click on the image to take the final voyage through the tumbleweed. Mind the gap, and keep a look out for missing persons and objects you might stumble upon!

If you’d like to read  other posts from this series, check out menu item ‘travel through the tumbleweed.’

*installments, not words