On the corner of the block, at the meeting of two streets, at the end of the lane lived Veronica and Dorothy. Non and Dor, as they were known to everyone in the neighbourhood, were two delightful older women who shared a home. They’d been friends for most of their lives, and when Non’s husband died, Dor moved into her house for company.
Q: What starts with ‘F’ and ends with ‘-uck’?
When my eldest was still shorter than me, still small enough to clamber up onto my lap, take my face in his chubby little hands, and very seriously demand my attention, we lived in a remote town in the far northwest of Australia. (Now he demands my attention by shoving his phone two inches from my nose and insisting I watch whatever video, or chuckle at whatever meme he’s found — like he’s doing as I type this.)
“Close your eyes,” he says, all bravado and fifth-grade-boy machismo.
“What? Don’t be dumb,” I say.
“Just close your eyes. I’ve got a present for you.”
“It’s going swimmingly,” she said while catching the lifejacket and wrangling two teens.
She thought her mother was a vampire. It was my fault.
Housecleaning is not a benign activity. It’s hard to stay calm and centred when you’re vacuuming a floor, mopping with vigour, or scrubbing a shower. Those are inherently violent and aggressive activities.
My fingers trace the ridges on the back of her hand, puckering the skin. The silken thread of her life pulled too tightly.
“Lack of turgidity. A sign of dehydration,” my doctor-cousin informs me brusquely. But I know better. The Fates await her with sharpened scissors and a single eye.
I didn’t post in this week’s YeahWrite Microprose #312 grid, but I love flash/microprose and wanted to play along with the other YeahWriters. The single word prompt was hand. This piece, about my maternal grandmother, is nonfiction.
Gather round, grab a bean bag, get comfortable. I’ve got some things to get off my chest, so let’s start with my story of expatriation and repatriation.
On the 1st of February 1975, my parents and I arrived in Australia from Brunei as new migrants. My mother was 41, my father 47. I wasn’t yet 6 years old. My siblings would join us from India a few months later as we set out to reunite the family. Through a series of circumstances and choices, we found ourselves uprooted both from the home my parents had created in Brunei, and from the boarding schools my siblings had called home for so many years. We were flung together, casting about for a foothold in our new country, our new home, trying to stitch up the edges of a family.
It’s miserable weather here in Houston. Day 2 of a raging thunderstorm sees the dogs cowering next to me at my writing table, and the children home.
Last night was more than a little rough, with periodic alarms from flash flood warnings punctuating my sleep, and an automated phone call from the school at 4.29am (I checked) to report countywide school closures due to flooding and power outages. So today I’ve been catching up on reading various articles.
In my previous post, I talked about being prompted to write a note to my 13 year old self. I was asked what I would say to 13 year old me, and I responded with as much honesty as I could. But it got me thinking; if I did have the opportunity to speak to my younger self, what would I actually say?
Would younger me even listen to older me?
How would I have changed the trajectory of my own life, my own experiences by having that conversation?
It was a great exercise, an opportunity for catharsis and forgiveness, a chance to treat myself with greater kindness than I did then, or do even now. It’s easier to speak with gentleness to a 13 year old, just starting her journey into womanhood, waking to her nascent sexuality, tentatively exploring the edges of her personality. It’s harder extending that gentleness to myself in each moment now.