Quietly Unacknowledged Pieces of Everything

grevilleas003.jpg(Reminiscent of a time that wasn’t so damn cold.)

Outside is always warmer than in. The deck, the courtyard, the driveway, the front lawn, that strip of weeds around the side which is all but forgotten except for when someone needs to use the second clothesline. They wrap around the house like a blanket lain over a corpse in a feeble attempt to warm it back to life. I want to rip the flyscreens off the windows. Those dusty light inhibitors, hideously framed in a greenish-mud coloured steel which obscenely attempts to take on the appearance of bronze. The windows are latticed with the stuff; hindering sunlight, hindering heat.
The only way I see there is to delay my time amidst the shadowy gloom of inside is to stay out. Avoid it altogether. Make the most of the sun’s presence before it runs off to play hide and seek for the next six months – a game where we are perpetually the seekers.
I venture around the tiny courtyard and come to notice for the first time in my four months of living here, how dishevelled it is. Tufts of grass grow through the pavers – not grass, no, weeds – and they pile about the edges of the fence in unkempt yet peaceful disorder. It is 4:39. The late afternoon sun casts golden light as equally as it casts its shadows. The two sorts harmonise, dancing lazily together in that way which always instils a comfort in me; a sense of ease and nostalgia for the thoughts I’ve had before, walking through this same dappled glow.
There’s a bush which I walk past every day with furry, delicate, plentiful foliage. I hadn’t recognised it for its geometry yet. It reminds me of giant pipe-cleaners bent about to stem off one another. Different shapes of leaves on every plant. Stepping stones around to the side. I didn’t know the central heating unit was right outside my window. There’s a scraggly tree outside the living room that I’d seen from inside but never out.
From the view down the driveway, the front looks better maintained. In closer inspection, it’s only that the grass has remained short, bullied out of growth by the weeds that dominate the borders. An overgrowth of twiggy, pink-flowered shrubs nestles deep into the flower bed and past it. It’s so thick that I couldn’t possibly return around the side from here. The sun is so strong I can’t look west. It is 5:09. Crickets stridulate. A dog barks somewhere and I imagine it’s a boxer – it’s probably not. Two crows reach the climax of a dispute and separate to designated lengths of the powerlines. The collective cry of cockatoos breaks through the air. Miner birds drink from the bird bath and fly off with startling shrieks.
There is a sweet smell lingering; a mix of grevilleas, blue gums and warm earth. These are the artworks only dusk seems capable of making. Early Autumn dusk.

Doing Time

This was just a fun little piece where the stimulus was to imagine or remember being at age four, sitting on the floor somewhere. All I could really think of specifically was this one distinct moment where I got a timeout at daycare. I don’t remember what it was for but I was certain that I’d just been caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and hadn’t actually had a part in the shenanigans. I managed to make up for it, however, so that there was reason for me being there by the end of it…
(Character name changed so I don’t get sued.)

*****

She’s sitting amidst three other children on the floor to the right of the chair where the ‘carer’ sits. Without much care to ever offer, this carer is more of a warden; all big and staunch and frizzy curled and smug – Sandra.
She was never liked and now she is liked even less after this injustice. The girl on the floor was framed, I tell you! She had no part in this crime and yet she is persecuted along with the real culprits.
Doesn’t she get a trial? With an advocate and convincing evidence? A timely verdict, delivered after much deliberation by unbiased representatives of the Delacombe ABC Childcare Centre which is ruled as truth under the eyes of the law? Surely then, she would not be facing this incredulous sentencing. Does her history count for nothing? She has been an entirely upstanding citizen of this centre. No priors, nothing.
And yet here she is; the faded azure linoleum cold and hard, sending chills up her spine and prickling her legs with goosebumps. The legs of the chair frame her view like the bars of a jail cell. They frame the lonely and disparaged Rosie – the girl’s greatest companion. There is a look of abandonment in her beady black eyes as she sits, half slumped to one side. Her brown fur is matting from the love she would usually receive and she seems out of place with everyone else’s imprisoned plush friends – she doesn’t know these toys.
Sandra rises out of the red-turning-pink plastic of the chair. It’s a peculiar thing for a warden to do; abandon her post. Then the thought ticks over: it’s just so tempting to reach out and grab them. This girl could be a hero, save the day, save her comrades, save their stuffed counterparts! She reaches a cautious hand out and scoops the miserable lot up from under the chair. The quartet of troublemakers reunite with their dear ones and rejoice–  there’s just one small issue: Sandra is now storming back, disgruntled, nostrils flared. There is no stage two; little Kaela didn’t think that far ahead and before she can concoct a new strategy the jig is well and truly up. The toys are snatched back with a whirl of indignant fury and some whole extra ten minutes are stacked onto their sentences.
Sandra sits back on the seat, glaring down with a look of brutish disdain. She likes her authority. Her wide figure spills over the sides of the seat. The cold fluorescents cast down bleak, uninspiring light, as if they too hope to crush a child’s spirit. So this is what it’s like to do time.