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

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Parenting Haibun

Watercolour and ink illustration of a helicopter rescuing a heart. Used to illustrate a haibun on parenting.

We have a little ritual most evenings where at some point of cuddles on the couch while reading before bedtime, my son will call out for his dad’s ‘rescue helicopter’, giggling and asking:

‘can you rescue me daddy?’

From the other room, dad’s chopper blades can be heard to the growing squeals of my boy as he anticipates the helicopter ride once he’s free from mamma’s arms. They fly around the room and ‘land’ on impossible surfaces— the keys of the piano, the dining table, the top of the child proof fence separating the lounge room from the art studio. All fun, light and laughter no matter how many times we play out this rescue, but the symbolism of his request for a ‘rescue’ from my embrace doesn’t escape me. 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