Writing 101 Day Eleven

Tell us about the home where you lived when you were twelve. Which town, city, or country? Was it a house or an apartment? A boarding school or foster home? An airstream or an RV? Who lived there with you?

Today’s twist: pay attention to your sentence lengths and use short, medium, and long sentences as you compose your response about the home you lived in when you were twelve.

 

*

1974

Pondering the 12th year of my birth… 1974, a year of unprecedented upheaval, where life as I knew it changed dramatically.  That was the year The Brisbane River burst its banks and over 8,000 homes were flooded. The year Stevie Wright’s Evie hit the top of the Australian singles charts. The year Cyclone Tracy devastated the city of Darwin.

Backtrack to 1971… I was 9 years old and my mother had just remarried.  Both his & her houses were sold. They sold all our furniture. Sold my books and toys. My mother told me to say goodbye to my friends because we would never be back.

I remember thinking 2 things; what friends and NEVER?

We moved into a rental house for six months; during that time I watched my new stepfather build a mobile home on the back of an old Dodge. It looked ugly.  I hated it. And the idea of leaving all I’d ever known terrified me.

*

By the time I turned 12 we had traveled every state in Australia in that mobile home, living a few months here… a few nights there.  We traveled highways and dirt tracks, forded flooded rivers and outran bush fires. And I loved her. “The Old Girl” our home on the back of a Leyland Dodge. She could take us anywhere and did. She could stand strong in any weather. My home, my zone, my classroom and my ungainly chariot around Australia.

There is something thrilling about waking up with new vistas as your backyard… rivers, desert, rainforest… a cliff overlooking the Indian Ocean or the vast Pacific. Sometimes a city and oftentimes a rural community of less than 50 people.

*

In 1974, shortly before my 13th birthday we ‘hit the road’ after an extended stay of 12 months in Broome Western Australia.  For the first time I had mixed feelings about moving on. On one hand I did miss the open road. I missed the never-ending panorama of the Australian bush.  I missed the excitement of sleeping somewhere new almost every night. But I had grown fond of Broome… where my backyard was Cable Beach 22 km (14 miles) long with pure unspoiled sand, washed by tides that reach over 9 m (30 ft).  Broome… where the nearest Capitol city was 1106.55 kilometers or 790 miles away.

These days the population of Broome hovers around 12,766 people I don’t know what it was back then, I only know how much I loved it there, how the colloquial history and adventurous pearl diving industry fed my schoolgirl imagination.

I was caught in a turmoil of mixed emotions as we readied the Old Girl for travel. And a genuine sadness set in as I watched the mobile home pull out from under the big tree that had sheltered us for so many months.

I silently watched out the window as the truck turned familiar corners, drove passed shops I knew… the park… the beautiful bay where pearling luggers sat high upon the tide.

As the truck turned onto the main road out of town and I saw that long ribbon of baking highway, a small thrill tickled in my toes.  I gazed at the bushland in rolling vista and felt a smile crease my face. This felt good.

Not more than 30 miles out of Broome I noticed something that clawed at my stomach and for a brief moment rendered me speechless. When I found my breath I screamed FIRE, my eyes riveted to the rear view mirror and the flames that snapped at the back of the truck like demon fire-dog.

My stepfather slammed on the breaks, trying to slow the big rig down fast enough for us to escape.  But that fanned the flames into a wall of ravenous fire. The flames shot towards the front, straight for the cabin where we all sat.

Blurred moments of panic followed. But we all escaped relatively unharmed. We stood in a small family group further down the road, just watching as the home we loved was devoured. 

The fuel tank exploded. As did three gas bottle and an assortment of jerry can’s filled with petrol. All in all there were 6 or 7 explosions. I lost count.  We watched as our mobile home, The Old Girl, was reduced to rubble and melted metal. So intense was the fire the tar road melted.

And there was nothing we could do but stand, sit, and weep, at the edge of road, and wait for a passing vehicle.

SharonleeGoodhand©17-Jun-14

 

Writing 101 Day 10 – Happy Recollections

Writing 101 Day 10 – Happy Recollections

 

 

Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.

Free free to focus on any aspect of the meal, from the food you ate to the people who were there to the event it marked.

Today’s twist: Tell the story in your own distinct voice.

 

*

Wrapped In Newspaper

Mmmm…. You know what I feel like? Fish & chips, doused in salt & vinegar and wrapped in newspaper. Remember when fish n chips use to be wrapped in newspaper?  A lemon wedge buried under a mountain of salty chips.

I remember how excited we’d get as kids, to be treated to fish n chips. We always fought over the crunchy ones, competing to see who got the longest one.

Fish n chips always tasted better at the beach for some reason… sneaking the squawking seagulls a few, watching them squabble and screech with flapping wings and jabbing beaks.

*

Fish n chips have been my favorite forever; even when I met my late husband, we’d go to the beach for that special treat, although on really special occasions prawns, scallops and other treats were added.

One year, on our anniversary we went to the beach alone… minus four kids; that in itself was a rare treat. We sat on a sand dune overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Spread before us was an  anniversary feast, mostly made up of seafood, crab, oysters, Morton Bay Bugs, prawns… and a bottle of wine. We watched the setting sun throw long rays across the water.

Funny, how in my childhood memories of fish n chips, they tasted better, saltier, crunchier, bigger.

My Gary ended up perfecting home-cooked fish… never too oily or overcooked; Sunday was his turn to cook for the family; pancakes for breakfast, BLT’s for lunch and fish for supper.

But as good as his fish was, nothing compares to Fish & chips, in generously sprinkled with salt, doused with vinegar and wrapped in newspaper.

*

SharonleeGoodhand©14-Jun-14

Writing 101 Day Nine

 

 

 

Unheard thoughts tumbled on the soft pine scented breeze as it wafted through the park.

 

I wonder if she knows how much I really love her;, He wrestled with his thoughts…I’d move mountains to keep her by my side. Her hand is so petite and warm in mine I want to hold it forever…  but she’s been so preoccupied lately… god I’m terrified she’s unhappy and brought me here to break off with me. I don’t want lose her!

 

I don’t know how to tell him, the young woman inwardly cried… what if he gets upsets? What if he’s not ready? What if he leaves me? Oh god, what if he leaves me? I love him so much.

 

Ahh nice couple, sighed an old woman knitting on a park bench, holding hands as they walk through life. And expecting a wee babe, if I’m not mistaken. Wonder if they want to buy this red sweater… I could use a little spending money.

 

Unheard thoughts tumbled on the soft pine scented breeze as it wafted through the park.

 

 

Writing 101- Day 8 (Probably riddled with Adverbs)

Main Street

Main Street was wide; a remnant from an earlier time, when country towns first sprang into being, often near a mineral source or fertile valley.  If I stood on top of the rise at the end of my street Main stretched over an undulating landscape, south to north, right through town. Abandoned train tracks cut across the road in certain places, a poignant reminder that the town once had a thriving sugar-cane industry. 

The town itself was somewhat shabby, gritty, with an almost forlorn air. Old shops testified to the towns age; they lined Main Street with a mixture of architecture… ornamental moulding s and ornate door frames so reminiscent of 50’s design nudged awnings with art-deco form.

The town itself suffered hard times when the sugar cane mill closed down.  Half the shops on Main Street closed down. Many fell into repair.

The new millennium brought a new surge of life to Main Street, it was still as gritty as ever, a permanent atmosphere of cane smoke seemed to emanate from the pores of the buildings. But shop windows now carried a variety of eclectic local art. Funky coffee shops opened offering vegan, gluten-free, organic, along with burgers and fish. A poky McDonalds occupied one corner opposite an old style tobacco shop.  

The character of Main Street consisted of a long wide road, shops on either side… it rolled up and down with lay of the land and stretched on and on… taking one out of town to places beyond.

*

SharonleeGoodhand©12-Jun-14

 

Writing 101 Day 7 Dialogue

Dialogue

I wrote following Dialogue based on 2 characters I have been developing for a story idea.

 

**

 

 

Asthar pressed herself deeper into the shadows as the old woman drew closer, but Esmeralda walked straight to her, peering with hard dark eyes into the young woman’s face.

“Are you Empath” Esmeralda hissed in dry whisper, placing a wizened hand on Asthar bony arm, “they will eat you and suck you dry”.

Asthar shook her head “Not Empath’ old woman” she mocked softly.

“Not Empath… not Empath…” Esmeralda muttered shaking her grey hair, “Seer! Sorceress! They will eat you alive anyway”.

“Ssh old woman” Asthar whispered with annoyance, “yes Seer, now hush!”

“Come with me” Esmeralda snapped “this no place for you, come”.

Gripping Asthar’s arm with a bruising clasp of knobby fingers Esmeralda lead the young Seer down narrow lanes, passed closed doors and piles of fetid rubbish, not pausing until they arrived at a heavy gate in an older part of the village. Esmeralda looked around with caution before placing a large key into the lock. She ushered Asthar in locking the gate securely behind them.

“Now talk” Esmeralda snapped as she stirred embers to warm a brew.

“What would you have me talk of” Asthar said wearily “you have brought me here, so you have the questions? Ask away”.

Even in abject weariness the girl had poise and spunk. “Very well” replied Esmeralda “where is your master or mistress; too young a Seer to be out on your own in these times.”

“These times!” exclaimed Asthar, “at least you have your freedom and for what it’s worth it’s yours”.

“So runaway are you” Esmeralda nodded her aged head with sudden comprehension.

“That I am” sighed Asthar “and will die before returning to that evil monstrosity of a man”, with what seemed like the last of her fire Asthar sank into the chair and wept.

“Now now child….lucky for you we found each other” Esmeralda cackled “and let me guess….your master…. that would be none other than the self-proclaimed High Lord of Recknoc Mountain. Yes?”

Asthar sighed deeply. “You know of Him then?”

“Know of Him! I know him….I know him only too well. Though the decades stand between us now, and he thinks me long dead.” Esmeralda stared at the girl with a hard glittering eye, “And that’s the way I wish it to stay.”

”Who are you old woman” Asthar demanded, a note of uncommon fear creeping into her voice.

“Never mind about me” Esmeralda hedged, “you are right about one thing, he will come looking for you. Most likely his drudges already are. When did you go missing?”

“Five moons ago” Asthar whispered… “I’ve barely eaten or slept since I slipped away, for fear of being discovered. I have walked through the thickest forest to avoid capture and spoken to no one save you.”

“So” Esmeralda pursed her wrinkled mouth, absently handing the young woman a bowl of broth “you are not the Empath that was driven from Saltwater Bay? “

Asthar shook her head, gulping the broth straight from the bowl.

“Slow down, you’ll make yourself sick gobbling broth in that manner, here have some loaf” Es thrust a chunk of dry bread into Asthar’s hand…. “Dip and chew slow” she admonished.

“How did you slip away then?” Esmeralda asked, sitting back in a chair near the fire.

“It’s those stupid children of his” Asthar said with contempt “the latest brood; always getting lost in the caves and then the entire Bastion is ordered to search for them. “

“Sweet Stars in the in the Sky!” Esmeralda exclaimed “you mean he is still siring offspring?”

Asthar was surprised by Esmeralda’s response to that but the old woman hurried her along.

“And so, you are searching for his children, what then?”

“Well’, Asthar sighed wearily “I suddenly realised I was searching alone in the outer region, and it was almost dark. I remember thinking if I don’t get back to that cesspit I’ll be thought lost or hurt.”

“And so you just kept going?” Esmeralda murmured.

“Yes” Asthar replied, stifling a yawn.

The two women, one young and only half as brave as she seemed, one old as time itself and wise beyond normal ken, both lapsed into thoughtful silence. Outside the wind rattled at doors and over rooftops; a stray gust made its way down the crumbling chimney to fan the flames into leaping fire-dancers.

“Well then” Esmeralda whispered in a voice as dry as ancient parchment, “We’ll just have to make sure His High Lord of Recknoc Mountain never finds you.”

The chill certainty of the old woman’s tone drifted into Asthar dreams; finally she felt as if the tide had turned. But as both women rested by the fire, the same thought troubled them….who then, was the Empath and where was she or he? 

 


 

 

SharonleeGoodhand© June 2014

Writing 101 – Character Study- Boy in Black

 

 

Character Study- Boy in Black

 

I don’t know him. But every day for a week we caught the same bus into town. I had started daily training to prepare me for re-entry into the workforce after an extended absence. I have no idea what his ultimate destination was, he always got off at a riverside park 3 stops before mine.

That first morning at the bus stop the lad intrigued me; I have boys his age… late teens-bordering on manhood. He was one those young men who probably wish his facial hair grew faster… baby soft face, almost elfin, delicate. He had dark silent eyes, hooded by half closed lids and extraordinarily long lashes. His thick dark hair brushed his shoulders, bouncing & swinging as he walked in slow methodic stride.  I noticing he wore head to toe black, including boots and a sort of steampunk ankle-length overcoat. He stood away from the bench a little, a guitar slung over one shoulder, looking somewhat aloof or perhaps he was just shy.

The next day at the bus stop he again stood away, waiting silently. He carried a black mesh bag, matching perfectly his trade-mark black attire. The bag stretched around numerous colored balls. I pondered this bright swatch of color for some time before realizing they were juggling balls.

The following day the young lad carried a duffle bag, the day after he reeked of kerosene & citronella oil. A picture was immerging.

On the Friday he approached the bus stop with an uncharacteristic bounce and actually flung himself on the bus stop bench beside me.  His feet tapped the cement path in a happy beat; I glanced over and smiled, the boy’s obvious excitement was infectious. He grinned, eyes bright, fingers tapping the bench.

“I graduate from Circus Training today’ his grin widened.

“Congratulants!” I replied with a chuckle, “How exciting, good on you!”

That was the last time I ever saw him… until a year later at the famous Eumundi Markets, he looked unchanged, a little taller perhaps sporting a pair of red suspenders, brightening up his black clothes. I watched his performance, smiling, he was very skillful, and so much more animated then the quiet boy who rode the bus with me a year ago.

*

SharonleeGoodhand©10-Jun-14

Writing 101, Day Five: Be Brief

You stumble upon a random letter on the path. You read it. It affects you deeply, and you wish it could be returned to the person to which it’s addressed. Write a story about this encounter.

Today’s twist: Approach this post in as few words as possible.

 

Too Precious to Lose

 

I found it at the entrance to a city park, a flattened envelope marred with shoe prints… inside one pink page covered in neat script,  a touching letter that ended in –

I love you Daddy

PS I hope the green & purple scarf keeps you warm.

I don’t know why, but I slipped the letter in my coat; weeks passed, the endearing letter stayed in my coat. I didn’t have the heart to throw it out.

One winter morning while walking through the park I saw a man proudly wearing a clumsily made green & purple scarf. The letter had found its rightful owner.

SharonleeGoodhand©7-Jun-14