When mum opened the passenger door, the dog, called 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.
In June (2020), I published a memoir piece on Tall And True about my experience of doing the 22 Pushup Challenge for PTSD in 2016. I mentioned how I had struggled to do 22 pushups at the start. Four years on, when my younger brother nominated me for the 25 Pushup Challenge, I felt even more apprehensive.
The Australian Writers' Centre runs a monthly #FuriousFiction short story competition. I submitted my first entry to #FuriousFiction on the first weekend of our COVID-19 lockdown and ever since have taken up the monthly challenge. So I was interested to see a bonus 23-word fiction story challenge.
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.
Between you and me, Lenny, there are more mourners at your funeral with the COVID restrictions than would have been graveside had you died before the pandemic. Streaming it over Zoom helps boost your numbers. Mind you, most of the faces on my computer screen are strangers, or I haven't seen for ages.
Henry Rollins said, "A great way to learn about your country is to leave it." I learned a lot about Australia while overseas from 1987 to 1996. Books like Alice Nannup's When The Pelican Laughed helped my education. From her memoir, I learned about the Stolen Generation. And of a connection with my Nan.
"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.
Ever since my childhood, I've loved reading books. Even in my teens (unlike my son, sadly), I read most nights, and in my career-driven twenty-somethings, I kept up the reading habit with short stories. Now middle-aged, I still love reading, though rather than one book, I have a pile of beside books!
"Right-o, can everyone hear and see me?" asked Julian, who, as leader of the Five, had scheduled the Zoom meeting. "Yes," his brother Dick beamed back, "splendid stuff!" Cousin George responded with a curt nod of her short-cropped head. "Woof!" "Timmy likes it, too," chipped in Julian's sister Anne.
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.
It was a flight of fancy, inspired by a newspaper ad: "Moscow and St. Petersburg, 7 nights with Jules Verne Travel". It sounded exotic, impossible. But this was 1993, Leningrad was St. Petersburg again, Boris Yeltsin was Russian President, Russia was opening up. Glasnost made all things seem possible.
"And now the piece de resistance," the old Colonel announced, leading his guest to a sunlit garden. "What do you think?" he enquired, waving his walking stick at the garden's centrepiece. There stood a life-size marble sculpture of a man and woman, hands caressing each other, lips fused in a kiss.