8. Away


Away, away. The wind whistled through the tree beside Tegan’s window, calling her from her slumber. She lay still for a moment and listened to her father’s rhythmic snores echo through their derelict home. No, she corrected herself, it hasn’t been home since Mum died. She reached her hand out and felt her sister’s warm skin against her own. The cuts and bruises were less obvious when the lights were out but still she felt them, for she had spent countless nights awake, tracing her fingers across her own battle scars.

Before despair transformed her into a wreck, Tegan shook Casey’s arm, and whispered into the darkness “It’s time, Case. Let’s go. Let’s get away.”

Away, away.

Though her eyes were half closed with sleep, Casey rose quietly; as though she had expected Tegan’s sudden plea for release. They packed hastily – neither speaking – and were soon swallowed by the night, carried upon the wind’s whisper.


7. Heaven

This photograph is from the film Sunshine Cleaning
This photograph is from the film Sunshine Cleaning

“What’s it like up there in Heaven, Georgie?” Walt held the radio close to his mouth, eyes focused upon the skies as if he could see her eight-year-old face staring back at his.

He waited politely for a moment, hands trembling with emotion. The moment passed with no response.

He raised his left hand to his mouth, mimicking the crackle of an incoming message on a police radio. “Like nothing you could ever imagine, Walter.” He whispered, raising his tone two octaves above his natural pitch. “For me, Heaven is a giant sandbox and I have to build mountains to reach the flying dinosaurs in order to slay them and motes to ward out evil bullies from my castle. And sometimes I while away the day (even though there is no “night”; I’ll refer to it as “day” so you can understand) by hiding in the reeds of my mote and throwing pebbles at anyone on Earth who speaks ill of my family. Those days are fun. Every day is fun. But those ‘specially. Heaven can be anything you want it to be, though. Sometimes I ask my Nan and Granddad what they have been up to that day and they tell me they’ve been parachuting or bungee jumping or paragliding. And sometimes they ask me if I want to come along but I say no and they ask me why and I tell them that that’s my idea of Hell, not Heaven and they laugh and help me slay a couple of dragons and feed me ice cream and lemonade like the good old days. Maybe one day when you die we can fly around in the rain with nothing on but a t-shirt and shorts like you always wanted and we wouldn’t even catch a cold or get scolded by our mums. And then after that, we could dry off in the sun and swim with a school of clownfish.”

He beamed with joy, cleared his throat and spoke in his normal intonation. “That sounds great, Georgie. It’ll be nice to see you again once I’ve lived to see one hundred down here on Earth.”

A ray of sun played upon his face for a moment, turning his brown hair golden. He smiled happily and felt Georgie’s warm embrace.

I am not sure if you’re familiar with the film, but in Sunshine Cleaning, Oscar (the boy in the middle of the above picture) believes that he is able to contact people in heaven through a CB radio. The above was inspired by said scene.

6. Break

This photograph belongs to Michael D. Dunn
This photograph belongs to Michael D. Dunn

She stared at her reflection in the toothpaste-speckled mirror until her eyes lost focus and all she could see was an outline of her former glory; splodges of cream and blonde and blue. A moment later, she snapped back to the present and bared her teeth at the woman before her. Oh Tess, you animal, she thought, that face is enough to make anyone run for the hills. Her expression became solemn once more and she continued to watch her reflection, eyes vanishing to slits. Even now that her face was still, she felt the cracks forming. They split my mouth in two and now they’re coming for you, cheeks. And you’ll be next, nose. This was through no fault of her foundation – she had applied the same, liberal amount as before – no, it was something far more involved than the daily mask she used to conceal her flaws.

Her alarm sounded and she broke her concentration to silence the high pitched buzz of her phone. As every second passed and the gap between “alone-time” and “work” shortened, the fissures in her face continued to widen. She found herself closing her eyes more often to calm her anxiety, though it did not appear to be very effective.

The grandfather clock downstairs struck eight o’clock. With one last sigh, she descended the stairwell, her gait adjusting from a sombre shuffle to a powerful pace like a cheap copy of Reservoir Dogs.

She opened the door. The cracks in her face became one giant void so that another face could be seen instead of her own; flawless, innocent and happy. The face of a woman who had no reason to glare at her own reflection, nor the loneliness to pull strange faces at her mirror image as though it would respond with a different, more ridiculous expression.

“Hello. Hell-oh! Heh-low!” She muttered beneath her breath as she walked down the path to her gate. She visualised her boss’ response to each of these in turn and decided the second choice was the best for this morning.

Or at least, that’s what her new face thought; her old one had peeled away as soon as she had left the safety of her home.

I apologise if this piece of writing is a bit jumbled; I haven’t slept in more than thirty seven hours (with the exception of a ten minute nap this afternoon)! I’ll probably just edit it tomorrow, I guess.

I really wanted to explore an individual’s public/private sphere and how difficult it can be when they don’t align. It’s as though you aren’t being true to your self; the essence of you. Like you’re modifying your behaviour just because you’re being watched, as in a Panopticon. And then you begin to worry which part of your being is your true self: is it all part of this character which you have created? So you don’t really belong; just an awful, fake carbon copy of yourself.

Someone in class said that they saw make-up as a way to appear innocent and different to their non make-up wearing self; perhaps that’s where this came from.


5. Rot

This photograph belongs to Francesco Rachello
This photograph belongs to Francesco Rachello

Casey threw down her apron and leaned against the work surface, sighing sorrowfully. She wished she could erase the overheard conversation from her memory, but still their words continued to swirl around in her mind. “Her cooking’s getting worse. I fear she’ll never amount to anything.” The hushed tones of her best friend rose once more to the forefront of her thoughts. It tore pieces in her psyche; rotted any irrelevant pathways and brain cells until Mandy’s words were the only thing left in her mind.

Casey glanced cursorily at her latest cooking attempt. Although several acquaintances had visited in the past couple of days, the majority of the contents had remained in the pan. She was surprised to find that new life had formed around several pieces of burnt chicken since her last inspection.

She grasped the handle of the saucepan and treaded carefully to the dustbin, holding the pot at arm’s length as she did so.  Her foot kicked the lid open and she quickly dropped the evil concoction into its mouth, pan and all. At least the bin doesn’t mind my cooking.

Wiping her hands on her skirt, she reached for her phone and decided to treat herself to a takeaway.

4. Dark

I feel like this picture truly captures the despair of war. This piece of art belongs to rafa2010
I feel like this picture truly captures the despair of war. This piece of art belongs to rafa2010

She sat huddled in a corner of the room, hands wrapped around her legs as she rocked back and forth. “… over twenty thousand deaths in the last week alone.” She attempted to keep her spirits high, but once she had listened to the news story, all the energy had been sapped from her body so that all she could do was slowly drink herself to a silent stupor.

He’s probably had to stay there to control the situation, she decided as she reached for the bottle of wine to refill her already empty glass, and hasn’t had time to let me know. Yes. That’s it. She placed the bottle down and raised the overflowing beaker to her lips. Wine sloshed down her blouse, but she did not appear to notice.

“Any second now, I’ll hear his key turning in the lock and this horrid darkness will end.” Just as she murmured those words to herself, there came an urgent rap on the front door. With that, she crumpled sadly, for she knew he would have used his key.


She burst into tears and unsteadily rose to her feet.