In April 2020, I wrote my first short story for the Australian Writers' Centre's monthly Furious Fiction competition. This April, I submitted my thirteenth straight entry. The anniversary means I've also shared twelve Furious Fictions on the Tall And True writers' website and Short Reads podcast.
For several years, I've set myself age-related birthday challenges. When I turned 55 in 2017, I swam 55 laps. I did the same at 56 swimming 56 laps. And then, at 57, I found I'd torn both shoulders and couldn't swim one lap! 58 in 2020 was a stay-at-home write-off. But what could I do to mark turning 59?
The sky-blue swell pounded the breakwater at Borthel on Sea in a steady rhythm. John gazed out at the mountains across the broad bay and drew a deep calming breath. The anxiety that had built up and wracked him in recent months and on his spontaneous long drive from the city eased its intensity.
Growing up in the 1970s in Perth, WA, I once had a primary school teacher who was a lay preacher on the weekends. He started class every day (at our supposedly secular state school) with the Lord's Prayer and gospel readings. And his favourite scripture topic was Signs of the Second Coming.
Three minutes into the performance, and I stifled a yawn. Crammed in the front row with a clutch of fellow bored hacks, I hoped no one had noticed. However, the acclaimed actor and playwright and recently appointed head of NATS, Barry Lazarus, turned and fixed a beady eye on me from centre stage.
My wife and I spent ten days backpacking through Syria in 1995. Former U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig once described Syria as the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism. We had our difficulties along the way. But in Damascus, I met a tailor who asked me to tell the world, Syrians love peace.
Covid-19 was the best thing that happened to my daughter. Her cocaine supply dried up, and she discovered she was an introvert. She turned twenty-four on the first of May, a May Day child without a cause. It was not always so. Dux in Year 10 and a black belt in taekwondo, before she fell prey to anorexia.
Forty-eight-year-old Corbett Thomas, a one-hit wonder of the 90s, now works as the lead sommelier at Napa Valley’s hippest restaurant. Set to become one of the few Master Sommeliers in the world, Corbett self-destructs during his final exam, ruining his last chance at recapturing the stardom of his youth.
When mum opened the passenger door, the dog, named Jessie, jumped up and straight onto Mim's lap, licking and wagging her whole body. Mim had a huge smile on her face. 'Mae, look who's here!' The little dog jumped through the car and onto the kid's lap. Mae was a bit unsure. Jessie was full-on.
Señora Gabriela is a respected storyteller. Her exact age is unknown, but it is years more than ninety. One warm afternoon, Señorita Margarita, a fourteen-year-old girl, spies on her. The girl knows it's wrong, but she wants to learn where Señora Gabriela hides her treasure chest of untold stories.
"Short stories are tiny windows into other worlds and other minds and other dreams. They are journeys you can make to the far side of the universe and still be back in time for dinner." A quote by Neil Gaiman and a perfect description of A Couple of Things Before the End: Stories by Sean O'Beirne.
The writer John Banville observed, "Memory is imagination, and imagination is memory. I don't think we remember the past, we imagine it." I have vivid memories of my early childhood (I believe they're memories, not imagination), which is why the #5YearOldSelfie challenge on social media caught my eye.