Short Stories Series 13

Movie Night 04/05/16

It was a slightly rainy long weekend, and Jo and Ross had gone out to breakfast at a little café in a nearby country town. The chef had cut the avocados into fancy armadillo shapes, and they were both taking pictures for their Instagram accounts. Jo was explaining at the same time how poached eggs were made, which sounded like some kind of black magic to Ross, who generally stuck to things he could fry in the frying pan when Martin wasn’t at home. The breakfast tasted as good as it looked, and they were both feeling rather pleased with themselves.
‘What shall we do with the rest of the day?’ Ross wondered, lazily contemplating the fact that the café probably wouldn’t like them to stay for hours after they ate. ‘We could go to the movies tonight, but we might run into Martin and Lena; their plan was movies this evening.’ Jo shook her head.
‘No, Lena said they decided to just get movies off the computer and watch them on the TV screen so they could eat hot chips and lay in the bean bags at home.’ Ross slammed down his fork.
‘What?! How do you know these things when I don’t? Ugh! Martin will go through my hard drive to find movies! I don’t want him going through my stuff! He’ll probably put a virus on there!’ he grabbed his phone off the table and started madly typing.

Ten minutes later when they had both finished their coffee, Martin had not replied to Ross’s text, and Ross was very annoyed.
‘Don’t worry!’ Said Jo, exasperated. ‘Lena isn’t going over to your place until like three at the earliest. He’ll definitely read your text by then and even if he doesn’t, we can always go back after lunch and we’d still be there before Lena is.’ She got up, and insisted that they leave the café and go to the zoo. At the zoo, Jo talked to monkeys and parrots and Ross took photos for her and kept checking his phone. When they had said hello to all the primates and birds in the place, they got ice cream and lunch from the zoo cafeteria, which was expensive.

After ice cream, there was still no reply from Martin so Ross tried calling him, but the call went straight to Martin’s message service.
‘What the heck? His tablet isn’t even turned on! What’s he doing?’ Ross complained. Jo sighed and put her hands on her hips.
‘Come on then. I guess we’d better go find out.’

Jo and Ross came into the lounge room to find Martin and Lena both sitting on the carpet staring intently at Martin’s laptop and pointing at things. They had the screen connector cable connected to the TV but the screen was not showing a movie. Instead it was showing Martin’s desktop screen, which was turned side on. They both looked up at the sound of feet in the hallway.
‘Oh! Ross! Good timing!’ Martin exclaimed. ‘A thing has happened with my laptop.’ Ross glared.
‘I can see that.’
‘I thought you weren’t coming until three Lena.’ Said Jo. Lena gave her a weird little smile.
‘Yeah I wasn’t. But I was trying to text Martin about tonight and he wasn’t replying, so I figured he had phone trouble and came to talk in person, and this had already happened.’ She gestured to the laptop and TV screen. Ross went
‘urghhhh.’ And rolled his eyes. ‘Yeah what’s going on with your tablet Martin?’ Martin shrugged and got up to bring the tablet to Ross.
‘It won’t turn on.’
‘Well when did it turn off?’ Martin thought about it.
‘I’m not sure.’ Ross gave him a black look.
‘When did you last charge this thing?’ Martin looked indignant.
‘I’m not that dumb! I had it plugged in this morning over there.’ He pointed at a spot on the kitchen counter where his charger was still plugged into the wall. Then he looked sheepish. ‘Oh.’ He said. Everyone looked at the charger. The power switch on the wall next to it was not switched on. Ross rolled his eyes and went and plugged the tablet back in. Then he spent twenty minutes getting Martin’s laptop screen back to normal and fixing the connection to the TV screen, while the others argued about the take-away because Martin wanted to know what ingredients were in everything.

When at last all the technology was working and Martin had successfully chosen food, everyone looked at each other, and agreed it would be fair if they all got to watch movies now, since Ross had had to set everything up. Ross disappeared into his room and returned with a USB containing a large selection of movies, and everyone squeezed on a kind of pile of bean bags squished up to the sofa, because the sofa wouldn’t fit four but neither would the bean bags, and no one wanted to sit on their own. Lena and Jo had to keep passing the popcorn over the boys, who sat in the middle and took up all the room, but they seemed to find this somehow an amusing game rather than annoyance, so the night worked out rather well, for one started by technological failure.


Fairy Tale 05/05/16

Flossy was rolling in the dirt. It was very satisfying, the grains of scented earth rubbing into her skin, the smell of freshly cut grass all around. Especially because Tom had just given her a very thorough, rose-scented bath.

Tom was now sitting enjoying the sun inside by a large window and assumed that Flossy was doing a similar thing on the lawn. Flossy was thinking about food, when a very strange insect flew up and landed on her tail. It made her hair stand on end and tickle, and she gave her tail a flick.
‘Hey!’ Said the little creature, standing up on two legs like a human with wings. ‘Don’t throw me around! I came to talk.’ Flossy barked. The little figure put its hands over its ears. ‘Shh! Your human will come!’ It flew around and landed on her front paw instead. Flossy cocked her head on one side and looked at the winged creature. What did it want in her garden? She wondered if she should bark some more.
‘I’m looking for a book.’ It said. ‘You got it out of our cave a while ago, remember?’ Flossy thought about it. She did know what a book was; she knew a lot of words. But she didn’t remember going in a cave. Those were at the beach. ‘Under the tree.’ Added the little person.
‘Yip!’ Went Flossy. She remembered the place now, with strange stairs where she just expected a hollow full of moss and a squirrel. She had found it peaceful, but not very comfortable to a dog. The thing on her foot put its tiny hands on its hips like Tom when he was disappointed. ‘I know you gave our book to your human. But it isn’t meant to be for a big human like him. It’s supposed to be for a small human. Big humans forget about us, but small humans like to play.’ Flossy sniffed the creature in approval. Yes. Small humans did things big humans didn’t. Like crawling under bushes and rolling in the dirt.
‘Will you bring our book back so we can give it to a small human?’ Asked the tiny thing. Flossy made a snuffling nose noise, and then sneezed at the creature. ‘Oh! You know a small human?’
‘Yip!’ Said Flossy. The creature looked around at the air behind it, which was all shimmery, glowing in the sunlight. Flossy understood that it was consulting some fellow creatures who she couldn’t see, so she put her head down on her paw and waited.
‘Well,’ said the creature eventually, ‘If you’re going to give it to the small human you know, we think that will be alright. Do you promise?’ Flossy made big eyes. That usually convinced Tom. There was a whir of wings which made Flossy sneeze, and the tiny person was gone.

The following Saturday when Tom’s grandson Nate came over, Flossy disappeared upstairs.
‘What’s she doing?’ Said Tom, looking dramatically surprised at Nate and spreading his hands. There was some rummaging and banging upstairs, and Flossy came back from Tom’s bedroom with the book in her mouth and a tissue stuck on her head. ‘Oh!’ Tom removed the tissue. ‘I think Flossy wants to give you this book Nate. She found it in the park, believe it or not!’ Nate wiped Flossy’s saliva off of the cover with his T shirt and began to flick through the pages.

The next time Nate came over, he brought his book with him. Nate’s mother gave Tom a secret wink and said
‘Nate has some imaginary friends at the moment, don’t you Nate?’ Tom smiled and ruffled Nate’s hair.
‘Ah, well, you’ll have to tell me and Flossy all about your adventures.’ He said. ‘Grandpas like me miss those you know.’


In the Detail 07/05/16

The blades of dry grass whispered to one another as they shifted in the wind that blew down the valley. The landscape sloped in a rounded grassy arc from dry, hard clay to the wet in the valley’s crease where the stream flowed beneath the bracken and skinny gum trees. In the air, tiny gnats joined larger flies and dragonflies in a clicking hum of heat haze and dryness. Lily had on her adventuring clothes; a long, impractical skirt with hiking boots underneath, a<span class=”text_exposed_show”>nd a loose shirt with a tie at the neck, which she felt looked medieval. She had picked up a big, dry, fallen branch, and was pretending it was her wizard’s staff as she followed after her uncle along the worn dirt track towards the creek. Uncle Rod had a big broad-brimmed straw hat obscuring much of his shoulders and neck, the backpack slung over his shoulder poking out from beneath it, adorned with flies looking for sweat.</span>
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As they reached the creek, Uncle Rod paused in the shade of the first few gum trees and sat on a rock, waiting for Lily to catch up, sipping from his water bottle. Lily approached slowly, distracted by her shoelaces which had entrapped some prickly grass seeds. As her gaze was upon her feet however, she saw the tiny print in the mud of the creek bed before she stepped on it and obscured it with her own larger one.
‘Look! Look! Uncle Rod! A tiny animal was here!’ She exclaimed, kneeling down to peer closer. The paw print was no larger than one of her fingernails, but perfectly formed in the damp mud as though the creature had been there only moments before them. Uncle Rod had a look, and said he thought it was probably made by a bilby or potoroo. Then they crossed the creek, and climbed the opposite hillside to finish their walk.

Lily and Uncle Rod arrived home dusty, sweaty and tired. But Lily did not feel exhausted or want to sit down to watch television with her Dad. In her mind, she was still looking at the tiny pawprint, imagining the creature who had left it might have seen her, and that one day, she would go back, and meet it there, where it had left its mark.


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