Erasure

Image of Andrew McCall's solid light sculpture You and I - Horizontal II (2009) at Australian Centre for the Moving Image
You and I – Horizontal II, Anthony McCall (2009). Photograph by Richard Baxter.

Read Part 1: Missing Person

Read Part 2: Forrest Trail

Read Part 3: The Droste Effect

Read Part 4: The Order of Things

Read Part 5: Rift Valley

Chaos: When the present determines the future, but the approximate present does not approximately determine the future. Edward Lorenz

Every news channel was streaming the very little details of the case that were known, each trying to get a more ‘exclusive’ angle than their competitors.

Channel Z8 was running an interview with a local grocery store owner.

‘I’ll never forget when that girl disappeared. What was it seventeen, eighteen years ago? Whole life ahead of her, and boom, suddenly gone, just like that. I’d been watching the cricket when one of my customers mentioned her remains had been found. What I want to know is- how the hell did she end up in Siberia of all places? Long way from schoolies week on the Gold Coast…’

The journalist probed for as much anecdotal fluff for the news piece as he could get  ‘You say you knew Eckles? Can you describe him Albert? Can I call you Al?’

‘Yeah, call me Al. He was just like everyone else in the neighbourhood- nothing unusual in his purchases, milk, eggs, bread, fruit, knew enough about sport to keep up a conversation. But he did have a strange tendency to disappear for long periods of time…’

Fiona rolled her eyes at the familiar face getting his 15 minutes of fame. He was milking it, and the journalist was relishing this ‘exclusive insight’. Switching the channel, she saw news item after news item on the same rolling coverage of the case that was set to change the world. Continue reading

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Rift Valley

sketch of train tracks winding along a coastal scenery to illustrate a story set on a transiberian train tripRead Part 1: Missing Person

Read Part 2: Forrest Trail

Read Part 3: The Droste Effect

Read Part 4: The Order of Things

My last terrestrial memory is that of zooming plains through the dirt-speckled windows of the cabin we shared. Crossing the mass of land, and multiple time zones, it was my unwitting farewell to life on firm, solid ground, although I didn’t know it at the time.

I had gone along with Liam’s suggestion to take the trip, guided by a strong sense that everything I would be doing was destined to unfold, that I only needed to go with the flow, so to speak. We shared our second-class quarters with a soldier on his way home from a posting in Moscow, and a grieving widow heading to Irkutsk to collect the body of her fisherman husband who’d met his end while navigating the cruel seas. In that confined space, I’d learnt a lot about my Russian cabin mates, with crude sentences pieced together from the weathered Lonely Planet, and the outpouring of human emotion born of rowdy card games and shots of vodka. Liam however, remained a mystery. Continue reading

The Order of Things

Image inspired by a vintage lotto card game produced by galt toys, to illustrate a story set in a primary school room 

Read Part 1: Missing Person

Read Part 2: Forrest Trail

Read Part 3: The Droste Effect

The bell rang for recess and the children bustled out of the classroom, leaving me with some peace and quiet, and a mess of watercolours, textas, and butchers paper to tidy. It was then that an otherwise ordinary day was made extraordinary by her arrival.

‘Hi, my name is Sue, Sue Blackmore. We need to talk.’

I couldn’t do much more than nod, my nervous excitement making my eyes fix in a stare, a blink too much to muster in the moment, with all my energy consumed by trembling hands and the array of thoughts her visit sprung on me. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

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