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Short story time

I write stories for adults, but I write them infused by all my influences--I am a bowerbird truly and I have been greatly influenced by Angela Carter, Chekhov, Mansfield, Jane Bowles, Duras, Rushdie, Ballard, and Chopin--I give a few names because these writers are masters of short story writing--in my humble opinion. There are many more. But for now, that will do. I'm looking at my bookshelves and eyes are peering back saying 'What about me you ungrateful witch'. I'll add more influences as they come to mind. Writers who deny influences shouldn't be trusted at all. I was thinking also of how those cheap paperbacks called 'Fantastic freaks' and 'The world's weirdest wonders' have also worked their ways into my subject matter and style. 

My writing has been described as gothic, with fantastical elements. 

The majority of these short stories have been published, while some like 'The Stoop' while short-listed for the Darebin Writing Awards in 2022--are yet to be published. I have begun to accumulate a collection towards an anthology for publication.


see- I forgot Nabokov too. 

The Stoop

this story will be published as part of a collection--so I have included a little bite 



Now that the light had changed—so remarkable, what with the rot of leaves and their translucent skins, her thoughts turned to the stooping woman videos she’d been watching on youtube. She was equally obsessed and terrified about sightings of the stooping woman, a kind of wraith-like creature often sighted and sometimes blurrily recorded.

“Urban myths—we can’t help ourselves”.  Urban, being the precipice between Northcote and Thornbury—the last of the haunted share-houses--those brick houses the colour of dried blood furnished with curb side rubbish but juxtaposed with a Polo sports car in the driveway.

“you’re an urban myth”

“don’t I know it—let’s see—POC writer surviving on books and wit—mythic I guess” He turns away from her and she sees the edges of his mouth slacken.

“But the stooping woman one is freaky—did you see the video taken around Rushall station”

“Yeah—I can see the fascination—but who’s the creep videoing?”


“Well—what else has there been to do but catch ghosts on shitty video—besides the gothic never dies”

Both had smoked a little and now they were sitting on the skeleton hand of a city, remembering the future, and dreaming through a tremulous afternoon. The houses are fey-like and the distance diminished as shadow creatures scurried with shopping bags full of dinner hopes and failures from the plaza.

“Also…” She grabs a cigarette from his pack, sipping at her chai—how did I come to have chai in my hands? Why am I in a dressing gown with damp hair?

 “…I don’t think I can trip anymore—not after spooking myself so much lately”


Beneath the lights in their finery, they hit High street in pursuit of ignoble transcendence.

“Don’t you think it’s such a bizarro image of a whole city of us just sleeping in our beds at night?”

 “Yeah—little bodies sleeping under cover—thousands---yeah you’re right—fuuuck”

“I think I keep sleepwalking through the day” she sighs through the smoke.

He takes his phone out and begins angling face and camera—posed in foreground with the alley behind, bricks with algae and her face on cue smiling from the corner. They look like they will be famous one day—Warholian fame. He thinks of New York in the 70s’ and Basquiat alive in Northcote and Nico crooning on the nod. He posts with the Neruda lines ‘Silent and starving I prowl through the streets’ Losing meaning with every like.


She sees his new post. She likes it. Yeah—just a mass of people—all of them—dreaming at the same time but unaware.


By midnight they’d danced with slow assurance emphatically nodding to the arrangements of swirling electronics. And she, well, she needed to take a dump in her own bathroom, shower off the glitter, and watch re-runs of Seinfeld. They cross the street from Gummo to The Cactus Lounge.  She wants to get in for free. She offers to show her tits. Everyone, including her, is laughing. Just for kicks. She feels uncommitted to conversations, yet she is beautiful and interesting and surrounded by invisible film makers.



She scans the room. Every human here is filling in for one great idea that has been forgotten, a kind of amnesia of themselves, who were any of us before we could be tagged, posted, and scrolled past?


‘’No-one remembers and no-one fucking cares” Her arms are spread out and her head tilts back. Her friend is liking M’s latest post. He scrolls past it. M sees a message from someone. She replies, “bout ta leave tram u?” She checks for tram updates. Her friend wants to take a photo of M. That’s because M looks famous—everything about her needs to be shared. M leans into the photo, angles her face, and stoops over her phone waiting… waiting for something, for someone—for nothing. She can’t remember.  


But she remembers the little mouths of people dancing, coats huddled in groups smoking. She googles images of people from the past having good times in bars.

“I’m gonna catch the tram if it ever comes if it ever comes. She picks it up as a song, If it ever comes, gonna catch it.

“But you’re just down the road” R is swaying against the tram sign.

“Yeah, but my feet hurt—why’d I have to wear such stupid shoes?”

“Why do we do anything?” he slurs.

“Because we are afraid to sit still in the void, because, because I’m horny, because going out confirms both the loneliness and the…”


On the other side there is a woman distinctly moving as if in a trance. The woman’s shadow spills like black milk around her. M can’t look away as she follows the woman’s shuffle. She is oblivious of revellers bumping up against her—through her, leaning forward about to fall. She looks like she carries certain smells with her—sepulchral effluvium of ghostly things— typewriters, paperbacks, and fresh graves.

The figure seems reckless—the head is bowed over, her neck about to snap, oblivious to her surroundings.

‘Doh Don’t you see?’ But her words falter—dribbling into nonsense.

 Please don’t let this woman see me, for fuck’s sake make me invisible—I cannot let her see me keep walking ahead lady keep—


But her warding chants have reached the woman and now the woman stops in her shuffle and is turning her blank face towards M...

Her Hands

Originally made its debut in Peril Magazine in 2015, it was re-worked and received further support by Cher Tan as editor for its re-emergence in Collisions: Fictions of the Future 2020.


The woman of the house, I guess if you were to observe her, moves about with intent when she moves, or else she folds like a rag doll in her malaise. Sometimes, she curls a lock of golden hair between her thumb and index finger. She imagines that when she looks busy she seems impressive; she imagines others seeing her work and acknowledging how productive she is. Her pale smooth hands are an extension of her heart. Everything she feels can be read in how she moves her hands and how she touches the outer world.


And then there are those other hands. Submerged by moonlight, they look pale. 


The hands had come into her possession—well not exactly hers, but she was married—by way of her husband; he had inherited this macabre, though expensive and rare, curio from his family.  The foreign hands were a tableau vivant, dark-skinned and lying in a red velvet-lined glass cabinet. At first, she thought the curio was obscene and told her husband she wanted it out of the house. 


“They’re like something out of a Poe novel… or a Vegas freak shop! Your family is so fucked up.” She teases, laughing, large blue eyes made even wider in disbelief, waiting for him to agree. But he doesn’t respond, merely moves the cabinet into his office. Then he places a square of fabric over the top.


“There, now they're out of the way.”  He seems to think that this is enough for her. 


 But she would sneak into his study and take surreptitious peeks at them—the more she looked, the more she saw just how beautiful they were. They horrified her, but she couldn't look away. 



The hands inside the glass cabinet are poised in movement, the stain of dark red henna on its fingers, labyrinthine script curling down to the wrists. Its skin is a warm caramel colour, yet it looks like it could be translucent—the metacarpus seems to glow from within. The synovial, cartilaginous and fibrous joints are almost visible under the muscle-tendons. The ulnar fingers are long, the skin nearly covered in tattoos while the radial fingers are inked with a simple fern shape, snaking up towards the nail. Articulated fingers even in death.  Dense nerve endings—sources of tactile feedback in limbo. The dermal papillae has distinct lines, some of which are dark brown. There are two nasty scars near the base of the carpal bones—they have been neatly covered up by elegant silver braces over the stumps.


She peers closely at these hands, hands that look so foreign to her. She wants to will some extrinsic muscle group to move—a tiny gesture of life from the pinky, perhaps. There’s a chance that the extensors have not been damaged; maybe the distal phalanx just below the thumb… the anatomical snuffbox might twitch for me? 


She presses very softly with her fingers on her eyelids, she can feel a tension headache come on like a looming storm. But the birds outside are singing. Distant sounds of a car alarm, a car door slamming, waves of staccato traffic. It is barely 11am and she is tired. Even the yellow walls of the kitchen look tired, the chairs, the wooden floors, the pictures on the wall. But the hands… they are alive. At least they look more alive than anything in this house—I want to open that glass case—but what if I smashed it and the glass pierced the skin… would her hands bleed? 




She kneels down in front of the glass cabinet. The kneeling feels humbling, her own hands mere inches above the hands inside the case, the warmth of her palms condensing the glass like mist. Preparing, in case something happens. Her knees take her weight, her back straightens. Her eyes are unfocused, entertaining wild thoughts. I married to get to this moment. All my lethargy, my uncertainty, all the cracks in my life have led me to you. But I think of you contained in these ancient hands—whoever you are. Fuck, this is nuts… I don't know why I must be bored sad lonely stuck I've been stuck and lost like a seed pod trapped in cement… but seed pods grow in cement don't they?


She straightens a bobby pin and twists it into the front lock of the cabinet, wriggling it around, hoping to unhinge it. She has no idea what she is doing but she knows what she wants. She knows now, more than anything, that she wants to open the cabinet, to be closer to the hands.  She leans her face against the glass, her eyes only centimetres away from the hands.They glitter ominously, cognisant of her presence. She is aroused by the singular thought of touching these auriferous hands.


The bobby pin fails. She goes to the cupboard where the tools, paint, and vacuum cleaner is kept. She finds a hammer. She considers quickly what she will say to her husband. She will say she broke the cabinet because the hands seemed alive and she had to free them. He will probably be pissed off and re-evaluate her sanity. She holds the hammer and restores her previous kneeling position in front of the cabinet. Her thoughts whirl chaotically, erotically, demonically: Women seem to live on the edge of sanity in the eyes of others. Women's madness come from being locked up—behind walls, behind cabinets, behind the eyes of others, pungent and bleeding,  I've read enough to know the fate of mad women. 




“Touch me… touch me... touch me.” A muted voice from somewhere outside—or perhaps, within—the house. She places her head against the top of the glass cabinet, her ear pressed close, her neck at an unnatural angle against the edge. She listens, blood loudly pumping in her ears. 


“Free me, I have stories to tell. Free me!'”


The light is dim through the windows in this room, its face against the daylight outside.  She feels as if she is underwater: her hair matted in front of her face, her dress billowing up from a soft breeze coming in through an open window, exposing her plain black underwear, a bruise on her upper thigh. But under the pressure of this ocean, a calm soon takes over her body—the glint of harsh daylight above and the dream of lighter atmospheres. She moves quickly and easily, her lungs collapsing as gills sprout on the sides of her neck. Her hands have grown and her fingers—oh they're like jelly!—melt into each other, and now a sharp, silver fin forms along her spine. The walls of the house have opened onto a seabed: there is a current coursing underneath her belly and she can hear the gurgling sound of whales—a terrifying song to her, a small seahorse. 


Now, the floorboards are slicked with a dampness. Her hair is cadaverous against her forehead. She looks down to see the hammer lying on the floor next to her. Under the glass cabinet, the hands lie there, serene and patient. She sobs, drawing a jagged breath and absentmindedly fiddles with the bobby pin in the lock, yet to no avail. The bobby pin is warped, remaining in the lock as the feverish woman returns the hammer to the hallway cupboard. 

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