Fiction


These Bones
Published in Australian Love Stories, 2014. Edited by Cate Kennedy. And also in Bold, 2015. Edited by David Hardy.



Enzo dreams of pink cockatoos and red rosellas. It wasn’t always this way. Before here, before this country, the smell of the Mediterranean tinged the edges of his dreams. He was a young man then. The clean and fresh air of his imaginings at night time was punctuated by the loud calls of the men in the markets selling their produce and by the whiff of over-ripe tomatoes they’d be selling off  at a bargain price on Saturdays. They were the old-familiar sounds—those of his boyhood. And now there is the screeching birds and the scent of freshly mown lawn. The new-familiar.

In the night when Enzo wakes he becomes unsure of where he is and reaches out his arm for the glass of water his mother will have left him. But there is no glass. And when he reaches the bathroom he is affronted by the man in the mirror—the hair that has vanished in the night, the tinge of his skin that is no longer the deep rich olive it once was, more sallow than golden. He is no longer the young man he was moments ago, without lines and the notations that time leaves. At night the dark plays tricks of time.

Enzo’s dreams moor him by dawn, they carry him through the night like the ship that brought him here many years before and anchor him tight. The screeching birds don’t let him down. They remember he is a man now, they know this when he does not recall. The rosellas and cockatoos carry him back here to Carlton, to the bedroom. And for a moment when he wakes, because of them, Enzo knows that he is Enzo; a man, not a boy; he knows that the earth here is not as good for growing; knows the sun warms the heart, yet dries the skin.

On the nights when he dreams, when sleepy imaginings linger fug-like, thick and heavy behind his eyes, it is the Australian birds, the squawks and caws and tough beaks, that remind him, if only for the moment upon waking, that he is here in Amess Street and that the body beside him is Nev’s.

Today, though, he wakes and Nev is not there. He is not there again. The room is a newer new-familiar, but not the one he wants.

.... Read the rest of this story in Bold or Australian Love Stories.



Home
Published in Escape: An Anthology of Australian Stories, 2011. Edited by Bronwyn Mehan. 
Home was shortlisted for the Carmel Bird Short Story Award.

Those wolves — no, they were foxes.  I kept calling them wolves because I could never seem to get the name right.  I was scared the first time I heard them howl.  They sounded like crying children. But you explained they were only going through the dustbins searching for scraps.  Before long the noises became familiar and I didn’t hear them any more.

Your toilet flushed differently.  I would marvel at the lever.  The thing was loose, didn’t really work properly, but it didn’t bother me, it was new. For the first two weeks I’d press the top of the cistern in the night forgetting where I was — blindly fumbling for a button to push, knocking over your shampoo, toothbrush and random objects gathered on top, a convenient shelf in a small space. In my sleepy fug I was somewhere else, somewhere warm, somewhere where bathrooms were without levers and oil heaters and such. In the dark, if it were not for that lever, I might have been at home: your townhouse heated, warm like any Australian summer night, I might have crawled back into your bed thinking myself home, none the wiser. If it were not for the lever I might have padded back to your room though unfamiliar doorways, a map of my own in my mind. But there was the lever: the constant fumbling for the familiar. In the dark was the smell of your shampoo — paw-paw and coconut. That tropical scent seemed so far removed from the cold bathroom tiles and your musty feather duvet. Far from home. In your mismatched bedding there was the scent of your coconut head. Coconut wrapped in cheap haberdashery.




















































...