Beyond the picket fence

not quite as it seems…



Attached to the cosmetic drip

Lipstick is really magical. It holds more than a waxy bit of colour – it holds the promise of a brilliant smile, a brilliant day, both literally and figuratively.’

Roberta Gately, Lipstick in Afghanistan

As the presenter called my name, I inhaled a long, deep breath, attempting to exhale the taunts that I could now expect from my siblings. Unbeknownst to my family and with the urging of peers, I had entered the Bayside Beauty Pageant. I sauntered across the stage, a barely thirteen-year-old endeavoring to hide her terror by emulating the poise of a princess: Diana to be exact. Wearing a shiny fuchsia grin plastered from ear-to-ear and a smudge of coral shimmer on my cheeks, I twirled before I joined the other contestants to wait for the winner’s presentation.

When my name was announced in the final three, it seemed that my participation in the pageant would no longer remain a secret. With that sash and tiara, I had just learned of the social advantage that beauty could offer, and how makeup could only increase my position. Continue reading “Attached to the cosmetic drip”

L is for lonely

“I’m afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too. Games you can’t win ’cause you’ll play against you.”
Dr. Seuss

I spooned into the small of my mother’s back, as she had with me when I was a child.

‘Can you give me a back rub?’ she said, pulling at her top.

‘Okay mum lie flat and I’ll give you a massage,’  I began by tracing the letters of a word across her back, a game we used to play when I was growing up.

‘I, no wait, L,’ she said and exhaled an audible sigh.

With my touch as light as the evening breeze, I spelled the rest of the word.

‘O, V…’ her breathing slowed and she uttered the word ‘Love.’

‘Oh mum,’ I fell into the curve of her spine, nestling my head against the nape of her neck. ‘It’s going to be okay. I promise.’

‘I love you darling, thank you…’ Her voice broke and I saw the dampness pooling on her pillow, ‘I just don’t think I can take this anymore. Please tell me about that call, what did he say to you exactly?’ Continue reading “L is for lonely”

A whisper of womanhood

Morning’s first rays peeped intrusively between the curtains. A honeyed glow revealed her curled up, fetal like in the corner of her double bed. Her eyes were squeezed shut and she was oblivious to the interruption.

‘Darling, it’s time to wakeup.’ My whisper fell limp as she brushed it away, retreating back into slumber. I sat beside her and swept her hair from her face, my fingers engaging in an artful dance, untangling brittle ends bleached by family summers by the sea. Her bed-sheets slipped away to expose the bountiful promise of impending adulthood. I paused, glimpsing the swell of her bosom and arc of her hips. I caught my breath and exhaled the stabbing from between my ribs. Who was this woman laying before me? Continue reading “A whisper of womanhood”

A Literal Reprieve

I have nurtured you for the last six weeks, gazing at you and your little penguin icon: its symbol the promise of my re-education.

We had our first encounter in high school. You mocked me, and my ignorance. I read your words but failed to understand their meaning. Continue reading “A Literal Reprieve”

A road to nowhere

‘Let’s go for a drive,’ he announced across the family dining table. ‘Better get you home, it’s getting late.’ he winked.

The car was a novelty. It was part of the package, along with his good looks and a well-paying job. This was teenage love and those four wheels were our ticket to freedom. He had just turned eighteen and recently got his drivers license. On the downside he still lived at home and so did I.

The passenger seat of his father’s Corolla smelled of citrus and tobacco, his mother’s signature scent. He squeezed my hand in anticipation as I buckled up. I imagined that we too were husband and wife as he pulled away from the curb. Time in the car was our only time alone. At this hour the suburban streets were dimly lit and deserted, we were heading to our usual parking spot: a dead-end street in the middle of an industrial estate, seeking privacy in the most public of places.

Continue reading “A road to nowhere”

And you may ask yourself – how did I get here?

Jamie was seventeen: two years older than me, yet he seemed to be so much wiser and more worldly than the boys of my age. He wore a leather jacket and black ripped jeans, not hand or manufacturer ripped, but rips that came from his work at the building site; a life that seemed worlds apart from mine. In fact our lives were so different that we were destined to be together. I was into Culture Club; he was into Talking Heads. I went nightclubbing; he saw live bands. He had already left school to apprentice in a trade. He smoked. He drank. He was every private school girl’s dream and their parent’s worst nightmare. He was my first love. Continue reading “And you may ask yourself – how did I get here?”

Teens and screens

What would you do if your teen had their Facebook profile open on your computer? Would you look through it? Read their private messages? Look at their friends’ accounts? I confess that’s what I did.

Continue reading “Teens and screens”

Groped on Public Transport


During Melbourne’s busy peak hour it is not uncommon to find oneself, nose to armpit, pressed up against a couple of random strangers. Squeezed together like cattle at the sale yard, we stand there, acknowledging our uncomfortable situation by choosing to ignore it. There is one time though that I wish I hadn’t chosen to ignore my unfortunate predicament. Continue reading “Groped on Public Transport”

Paper, Scissors, Divorce


Blonde, cherubic children smile directly at the camera with uninhibited smiles that only accompany youth. A mother’s arms are clasped protectively around their shoulders their umbilical cord yet to be truly cut. Her smile is strained; merely a turned-up mouth, no twinkle in her eyes or joyful expression. Hers is tense and stifled. She is a great actress. Continue reading “Paper, Scissors, Divorce”

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