What a surprise, it’s been months since I last posted.
I have been told it’s important to write every day – in fact one of my colleagues tells me that if I really want to get my book written, I will need to do so. I know it’s true, but like so many things in my life I find it hard to find the place where my good intentions and reality meet.
Anyway, I am very grateful for the Australian Writers’ Centre, who give me a reason to write every few months.
If I can write a piece for each month over the coming few months I will be proud of myself. Let’s see how we go.
The prompt for August’s Furious Fiction was as follows:
- Each story had to include, word for word, ALL of the following SIX descriptions:
COLD AND GREASY
SCRATCHED AND WEATHER-WORN
SWEET AND PUNGENT
- One of these six descriptions had to appear in the first sentence of each story.
It was tough, and I was pretty happy with what I created, although I am yet to end up on a shortlist.
I did title it for the competition, but I have since forgotten the title, so I will leave it title-less.
I hope you enjoy reading last month’s piece. Keep an eye out for this month’s once the winners are announced.
It was the last thing we needed to get rid of before settlement in a couple of days: an old, scratched and weather-worn bench that our father had perched himself upon, cigarette hanging pensively from his mouth. He had sat there watching the sun set almost every day of our lives. Until the other day, when he just wasn’t.
That’s not a euphemism – we’re sure he’s not dead.
It’s just that he wasn’t anymore.
* * *
“He hasn’t answered his phone in a couple of days.”
“Or tagged me in anything awkward on Facebook,” my sister said, smirking and brushing her shiny, silver fashion-statement hair away from her eyes jauntily as the video-call buffered.
“I know,” I responded again. Dad could go days without answering the phone, but this long without a problematic Facebook post was cause for serious concern.
“In fact,” she paused, clacking on her keyboard for a second, “his profile is gone. I’m worried – we should check on him.”
I sighed, “I know.”
* * *
The weirdest thing about the house wasn’t even the fact that the door was already unlocked, nor was it that all the trinkets, electronics, clothes, pictures, and even the bills were gone. It was that on top of all of those things even the sweet and pungent smell of Dad’s cigarettes had disappeared entirely.
It was a smell that we wouldn’t have noticed if it had been there.
It was the smell of our childhood, an aroma that permeated memories of a man we tried to love, and who tried to love us. The smell wasn’t masked or cleaned away but just like Dad, it just never was.
* * *
The old removal truck had let out a shrill, piercing wail when it had come to a stop in front of what was apparently unbeknownst to us a property that was owned by my sister and I since we were in our early-20s. As the weeks after our father wasn’t dragged on, we discovered that according to the collective memory of our family and friends our Dad had left suddenly just before we were born.
Now the truck sat idle, waiting for the final possession to make its way up the hill, ready to be taken to Vinnies.
“You know what?” I asked with a smirk, collecting a now cold and greasy chip from the take-away box and sticking it in my mouth while I stared at the same sunset my father had watched for years before me.
“What?” asked my sister, doing the same.
“His butt still made an impression.”
She looked at me, bemused, and then looked down at the worn-out space that he’d occupied on the bench. The house was cleared, and he was gone without a trace. In every other way our father wasn’t, but like an ink-stained page an indelible impression had been left on this old bench.
And that, it seemed, was enough.
“Let’s find him.”