Soulmates - not exactly a love story

Soulmates – not exactly a love story

The murder of crows littered the corpse, a coffin of feathers and beaks and blackness. A fresh kill, the kangaroo’s fur still wafted in the breeze. Its face mangled by the car that had skittled him.

The setting sun lit the glimmering bitumen on fire. Stopping her walk to enjoy the last bit of warmth before night fell, Jill watched as the crows squabbled over the kangaroo’s eyes.

Night fell quickly out there in the country, making way for the dusty swell of milky stars.

It was her favourite time of day, the coming of darkness, like the earth’s final symphony.

Looking up and down the empty road, Jill crossed to the opposite side. She’d hate to disturb the crows from their feast. Hunger was her oldest friend and she understood him well.

Sweat itched under the straps of her backpack, tools of her trade a heavy but necessary burden. She considered calling it a day. The summer heat had gone to her head but the hunger was still there.

If she waited the hunger would only grow, but at the same time, feeding it would make the beast grow, its belly swell. Every time the beast raised its hungry maw it would be more ravenous, more insistent than the last.

Jill rubbed her flat, growling belly, trying to decide whether to just walk home or wait for a car that might take her there.

The night birds were starting their choir, just warming up. Jill stood still, listening to their song, facing the setting sun. If it was meant to happen today, it would. And just as she began to think of her calling, Jill heard the distant hush of car tyres.

Sticking put her thumb, she waited till the car came over the crest, illuminating her with the pale white of new LED headlamps.

Not a local. A tourist. Hopefully alone.

The beast inside her groaned and she rubbed her belly again.

The approaching car slowed but Jill knew this didn’t mean anything. Humans generally tended to be sticky beaks.

Holding her breath, she waited.
The beast inside her sharpened its fangs.

The car pulled up. It took a few moments for her eyes to adjust but she had already turned on her most brilliant human smile.

A man sat inside the car, alone. Shaggy hair as dark as a new moon sky. Beard edging his sharp features. Inky eyes, deep as pools. Jill found herself lost in them for a small eternity, drowning.

Her belly rumbled, the beast’s mouth watered.

“Hasn’t anyone ever told you it’s dangerous to hitchhike?” said the man with the inky eyes.

Jill laid her smile on a little thicker.

“Where you headed?”

“Out Toongi way,” Jill said. “You think you could give us a ride?”

“No problems, I’m heading straight through there, darlin. Hop in.”

She jumped into the passenger seat, never looking away from his dark eyes.

She might have to keep them. She had a jar that would suit them perfectly.

***

He watched her get in.

She wasn’t your typical sort of beautiful, but she was breathtaking, nonetheless.

Full-figured and firm, thighs you could sink your teeth into.

He tried to control his breathing.

She was better than he’d expected. She was perfect.

Once she was in the car, he could smell her. And it wasn’t like he had expected. Not that stale-sweat, old-food, stench which most humans wreaked of.

She smelled of spice and dandelions and … he took another long inhale … rain.

She satin the seat smiling that smile, the one he had seen in his mind. The one he had dreamed of. The one that had forced him to search for her for so long.

He was sure this one, she, was the one.

“So, where you comin from,” she said in an accent that wasn’t quite right. Her voice had a melody, an inflection he couldn’t place.

The question threw him.

“Umm…”

He didn’t know the answer. He had simply woke up one day with clothes on his back and a hunger he could never satisfy. Of course, she didn’t mean it the way he took it. She meant “from where had he driven?”

“Long way from here,” he said. The same answer he gave to anyone who asked.

“You visiting family?” she asked, the sort of question he would normally ask.

He looked at her as the car started. He’d had to get a new one after the last failed find. She definitely hadn’t been the one. And the new car was one of those “turn off at every stop” ones.

The feeding crows scattered as the engine came to life. He felt bad for disturbing their meal.

Her moss green eyes smiled at him. They were beautiful. He longed to taste one. To pop one in his mouth and roll it around in there, like a gumball. (Not that he’d ever been one for human sweets.)

He shook his head. “Nope, no family.”

The girl’s smile grew. “Naawww, a loner like me,” she said.

And he smiled, pushinghis foot on the accelerator.

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Milk

Milk – chapter 2

Chapter 2 – Don’t

*if you haven’t read chapter 1, you can do so here. Don’t worry… it’s short.

Two paracetamol. One glass of Gatorade. Followed by coffee. All of the coffee.
I lean against the kitchen counter and stare out over the dust-laden house. That’s how small this place is. I can actually see all of it from in the kitchen.
It looks less like a house and more like an old photograph of a house. There is so much dust on everything, it’s like I am looking through a filter. If it were a filter on Instagram it would be called “dusty hangover.”
On the kitchen floor is a patch of red wine, sticky-fresh from the night previous.
I hadn’t exactly woken up in a puddle of vomit on the floor but I hadn’t not either.
I nudge my booted toe at the mess, trying to work out if it is mostly spilled wine or regorged wine. And does it matter? Not really. It is not the first time I would have to clean up my own puke. Not the last neither.
Thinking of Instagram, I take out my phone. There is a new crack on the screen. I must’ve fallen on my arse at some point last night. I run my thumb over the screen. It still responds. I will go online later and buy a new one.
I open Instagram and scroll through the notifications.
“Missin u”
“When you comin back???”
“Yo! Where are you at, Ms. C!”
The comments go on and on.
I smile at how much they all miss me.
Then.
It all comes back to me.
My brother. The accident.
I couldn’t have given him and open casket if I’d wanted to. Not that there would have been anyone else there, besides me, to see his mangled, unrecognisable corpse. And I sure as hell didn’t want to see it again.
I walk to the sink to refill the kettle and kick something along the floor. It skittles toward the kickboard and I hear the crack of breakage. Bending down to pick up the two pieces of the wine-stained mug I kicked, I realise I had used my brother’s favourite.
“Don’t do that,” says the memory of my brother. “You can be so careless, Conny.” I would purposefully use his mug and then place it on the edges of tables, teetering on the brink of destruction, just to get something out of my ultra-calm brother.
I place the broken mug on the counter and step back from it.
I feel like the king who would turn everything to gold with his touch. Except, I turn everything to broken.
I run out the front. I want to just sit and stare at the garden for a while. Even though I never understood why he lived the way he did, I always loved to look at that garden.
“Because I like living this way, Conny.” My memory of my brother said.
“But why? You should move to the city with me. Get out a little more. All you do is sit here with your garden.”
“I like my garden, Conny.”
“Why do you have to be such a fucking hippie! Did we even come out of the same vagina.”
I turn the old door knob and go out onto the porch, anticipating the green, the new growth, the scents of herbs and earth and flowers.
My stomach turns cold. Suddenly last night’s wine wants to regorge again.
Brown.
That is all there is. Brown. Ochre. Umber. Tawny leaves, crumpled, crumbling.
I don’t feel my legs as I walk down the steps toward the devistated garden.
As far as I can see. The rows and rows of once flourishing broccoli, twisted pumpkin zines, spinach, tomato, tall rosemary, basil, plum trees, peach trees, apricots. All of them.
Dry stalks. Brittle leaves.
What the actual fuck has happened here.
I feel my chest clenching. Bile at the back of my throat.
I turn and run back inside. I will deal with this situation. But not sober. I just … can’t.
My fingers shaking, I tip the coffee out of my mug and look around for the wine bag.
“Don’t drink so early,” says my memory-brother.
I look around the floor. I cannot remember where I put down the bag.
“Don’t be such a fucking hippie,” I said to him in retaliation.
Always in retaliation.
I see the bag by the door and I can barely wait to pour it into a mug.
I drink. Long. Deep. Sweet. Hot.
I see my memory-brother rolling his eyes, sipping camomile tea he has grown himself.
Pulling the empty mug away from trembling lips, I look out the back window. There is a post-it note on the glass, written in my brother’s hand.
“Don’t follow the lightning bugs.”

bloggity blog

Fashionably late to the party

I never catch a fad when it is happening.

I swear.

Fandoms come and go and two years or more later I will stumble across them and be like “AH HA!” That’s what all those weirdos were going on about…

I only started watching My Little Pony.

I have just started listening/reading The Dark Tower series.

I just got Bitmoji and a FitBit.

And so on.

But I guess it doesn’t matter when you discover something new. What matters is that you keep discovering new things.

So go find something new for you and if you have any weird things you are currently fascinated by, please tell me about them in the comments.

Love

Amberley

bloggity blog

Thoughts on finding new (to you) authors

This morning while checking my email, I saw that Mr Chuck Wendig posted on his blog. His fiction challenge was up and a guest blog post.

I do love these guest blogs.

I’m not sure if Mr W picks his guest posts by hand or if he has a Personal Assistant or if it is part of a magical lottery where authors and bloggers are sent an acceptance letter via mysterious night bird (this sounds familiar…) But however they are chosen, they always great.

Alright, I’m off topic slightly.

However we stumble upon them. Whether it be via another author, a friend, a book you find on sale at a second hand store or their name scrawled on a public bathroom wall, new authors are not exactly a rare find. But a good one is.

In the US, there are around 150,000 trad-pub authors and that number grows all the time. Not to mention all the self-pub authors. So it is basically impossible for us to know them all.

And yet, I feel guilty when I find someone and have to admit I had never heard of them or their books before.

This is, of course, insane.

I remember the day I found out about Holly Black. -The owner of a small bookstore was helping me find something new to read and took one look at my gothness and said “what about Holly Black?”

John Green! -I remember sitting at work and my neice popping in to see me. She was looking super Melancholy, so I asked her, “what’s up?” “John Green just ruined my life!” she spluttered. Now I’m #Nerdfighter for life.

Chuck Palahniuk… -I received a broken and beaten copy of Fight Club from a dear friend, it had been passed down to her from a friend and so on. I have no idea who originally bought it. I cannot remember who I passed it to and I have zero fucking clues as to who might have it today. And seeing as though it was a “pre-movie” copy, it might even be worth a tad… but it was pretty “well read” when I had it… so…

The point I am trying to make is that it really doesn’t matter how we find an author or a book. But every time you do, consider it a small miracle. Because, out of all the books and all the authors and all the readers out there, something brought you together.

Like destiny.

Like star-crossed lovers.

Love

Amberley

bloggity blog, When I am empress

When I am empress – parenting

So, yesterday, I took my kids down to the hotel pool.

There were so many kids. And with kids there are parents.

Walking into the pool area, there were about twenty poolside chairs, most of which were taken up with people. Seven chairs were without butts but six had towels. I take the only free chair which happens to be the one farthest from the pool but with splash range of the festy-warm spa water.

One thing I want to put out there, I’m not big on the idea of communal anything. Hostels are my nightmare, food courts make me feel physically ill and public pools… double both of those.

Sitting far from my own kids, I am forced to be close to other peoples children.

Most kids are cool. Kids are like regular humans except tiny and insane. If adults acted the way children act, they would have a one-way holiday to nice padded room.

Sorry, I’m getting distracted… oh yeah! There was this one kid that was being a little bitch.

One child was the cutest little thing. Pig tails, chubby cheeks, all the cuteness. All she wanted to do was be friends with bitch-child.

Bitch-child had that look about her. I know, I know… she is just a child and I am being a bit of a cunt but if you have kids and have spent time at their school you probably know what I mean. If you don’t then maybe your kid is one of these bitch-children. Soz.

So, this cutie-pie just kept asking bitch-child “do you want to be my friend?”

Sweet, right?

Yeah, well, bitch-child would say “only if you turn the bubbles on for me.”

Cutie-pie would get out and just before she would press the button, bitch-child would say “if you put the bubbles on I won’t be your friend.”

This went on for too long. If one of my children had done this, it would have happened once and that’s it. Back upstairs.

And what did bitch-child’s mum do? Diddly fucking squat.

These children are our future adults. The ones who will be our nurses, doctors, checkout chicks, food makers, etc. Not teaching them basic manners and how to treat other humans is just setting our future up for failure.

I understand that tearing your eyes away from Facebook and putting down your phone and entering the real world to discipline your children may harsh your holiday buzz or whatever but, for fuck suck! If you are a parent, then parent!

But the mother was a bitch too! She was the one who had spread her pool shit out over the other six fucking chairs!

When I am empress, all of her kind will be drawn and quartered. Well, depending on breeding age. If they have not yet breed then they will be chemically castrated.

My people will both love me and fear me…

I will also give strict testing for general courtesy, etiquette, ninja skills, horse riding, and, of course grammar/punctuation.

Love

Amberley

bloggity blog

Thoughts on hotel rooms and single-parenting

I’m in a hotel room. Again.

No tent for us today. There is something to be said for spending some time in hotel rooms.

I can’t help but think of the people who were in the room before me. The good times had in the room, the fights, the sex, the sadness, the car racing. Yep. We are staying at a hotel on a car racing track.

I wonder how many women have been paid for the use of their orifices in this room.

I wonder about the litres of alcohol and the crazy amounts of drugs that have definitely been consumed in this room.

Hotels seem to be these modern day Sodoms where all the unholy things can happen.

Yet I am sharing my room with my two kids and about forty plush toys.

Oh and any single parents who are also authors or artists out there that actually get any work done and still get all meals into their kids bellies and interact with their kids… yep… kudos to you. Cause this shit is hard.

The old me may have envied the person who stayed in this room before me having all the alcohol and acrobatic sex they could squeeze in between check in and check out. But right now, there is no place I’d rather be.

Love

Amberley

Milk, writing

Milk

Prologue

As my hand passes through the barrier it begins to melt and change. Skin turns to shells. Bone to tiny legs. Muscle and nails to wings and light.
I scream.
All I want to do is go home.
Why won’t they just let me go home?

Chapter 1 – the Cottage

Once the will was read and the papers were signed, there was no reason to stay another night in my apartment. I could have gone back, picked up a few of my things, but why? It was all junk. Useless shiny objects, a collection of wealth. What was the point? I couldn’t take any of it to the grave. No one would mention my collection of Franck Mullers at my funeral. “Here lies Conny, owner of many pretty watches.”
The only stop I made between the city and the Cottage was to fuel up and buy a dozen bottles of red wine.
My brother had lived in the Cottage for nineteen years and I had only visited him eighteen times. Once a year, on his birthday. Except this year. Not this year and never again.
And now, I drive. Bottle of red wine clutched between my thighs, open and slushing around – the sound of my irresponsibility. The smell of it in the car is a foreign, sickening sweetness.
The road towards the Cottage is barely worthy of the name. No lights. No markers.
My headlights illuminate only several feet in front of my car. Trees; white trunks and black tops, stand still and straight like funeral goes, solemn as the big metal coffin on wheels glides past. No pole bearers for me.
Fog hangs in cloudy formations slightly above the bitumen. Like suicidal ghosts waiting to be decimated by a passing car. Their wish is granted as they dissipate at the touch of my grill.
“Left turn ahead,” says the British sounding woman on my GPS.
Seeing no sign of any road, I slow my car to a crawl, inching my way through the darkness.
But then it is there, an apparition. A road that is no more than the absence of trees and grass. It is both nothing and familiar. Needlessly slamming on the brakes, my wine sloshes between my knees and I stop short of the corner.
I shouldn’t be driving. I push my foot harder on the break to reassure myself that it is down firmly.
Leaning forward to get a better view of the corner, I realise that my seatbelt isn’t on and I cannot remember taking it off or putting it on for that matter.
My brother’s street is a formidable beast, a conquest, an outstretched hand just out of reach. It is so far away and too close. And I realise when I drive up there and find his house, he will not be sitting on the porch waiting for me.
I turn off the car and the world is snuffed out.
Darkness so thick it forces me to feel.
Feel my heart, a frightened animal trapped behind my rib cage. It scratches at my bones, knaws on my flesh, trying to dig it’s way out only trapping itself further.
I feel the heat and stink of my life pressing on my skin. I’m in a pot of boiling water, my head is being held under by my past, face pushed under the bubbling surface.
I want to scream. I want to peel off my burning skin. I tear open my chest and free the thing dying inside me.
But I only sit, fingers gripping the steering wheel. Knuckles white … probably… if I could see them.
My eyes rest on nothing. Unfocused. Turning my head, I look up my brother’s street. Up on the hill, near where the Cottage would be sitting (at least where it is in my imagination) lights dance in a line. Spinning and twirling. Blues and greens and pinks. Like a string of animated christmas lights, they move upwards. Not into the sky, but upwards still. Meandering, rainbow fireflies heading up the hill.
I blink so hard I have to swallow at the same time.
I should not be driving. I’m an absolute fuck knuckle.
I open my eyes and the lights are gone. And I am left in that state of firmly believing that I have lost my mind.
I pry my hands from the leather steering wheel, one finger at a time. I’m sweating, sticking to the seats. I am a dropped lollipop on a summer sidewalk. I am a tongue in a parched morning mouth. I … am drunk.
Throwing myself out the car door, I gasp in the cool night air. On hands and knees, bathed in the yellow glow of my car’s open-door light, I wretch onto the bitumen. Not for drunkenness but from something else. There was a deep pit inside me both empty and heavy. It was the sadness my body was trying to purge… or maybe it was just the wine and I was being a melodramatic fuck head.
Leaving my car but taking all the wine I think I can carry, I stumble up the street. It takes a drunken lifetime. It is funny how malleable time is and alcohol only makes it more so.
The driveway is the worst part. No I’m lying. The light illuminating the front door is the worst part. Left on as if I am expected. And I guess, in a way, I am.
My brother left the Cottage to me. He died knowing he was dying and so there for knew I would be here soon.
“Carl, you piece of shit,” I mutter as I stumble up the driveway that is less driveway than the road behind me is a road.
In the dim yellow glow of the porch light, I cannot see the front yard which is not a front yard, not really. In my memory it is lush, fruits and vegetables and herbs. There is no room for lawn. There is no room for useless, water-suckers. But, in the dark and drunkenness, I see none of this.
Ambling up the front steps, I am already reaching out to ring the door bell. My hand falls to my side. There is no one inside to answer my call.
On the front step, there are dozens of empty plastic bowls. Stacks and scatters of them. I stare at them for a moment. Staring and staring the towers of them. Artistic sculptures of used plastic, random configurations. I wonder at what they mean. What they symbolise.
I look up and the front door is open. I blink hard again. Opening my eyes and looking down, I see I have the keys outstretched. I do not remember opening the door but obviously I must’ve.
The bag of wine bottles clunks loudly as I put it down in the doorway, open one under my arm. I go to have a drink straight from the bottle and hear my brother’s words, memories dredging up, “Conny, use a glass at least, a cup, a coffee mug, anything.” “Fuck off,” the me in my memory slurs.
I pull the bottle away from my lips.
I flick every light on in the house as I make my way to the kitchen. The place is unchanged. Small. Wooden. Dirty. Dark. Old. Cheap art on the walls. A box TV in the corner that is dustier than the not-road and the not-driveway combined. I can almost hear the bugs scuttling over the scarred floorboards. They are what I hate most about the place. I could never sleep sober here, for fear of the bugs. Not that sleeping sober was an activity I partook in enthusiastically anytime.
I’m still just standing in the empty kitchen, bottle swinging limply in my hand.
I can’t remember what I was doing in there. I go to take a sip and remember. Glass.
I open a cupboard, the one I remember being for dinnerware and it is packed full of longlife milk.
I scrunch my face up at the milk-filled cupboard and my weirdo dead brother.
I open another, but it is the same thing.
The pantry. Milk. Fridge. Milk. Shelves. Milk.
What the actual fuck did my brother want with all this fucking moo juice?
I get a mug off the counter instead. All booze consumption holders should have handles. The Germans were bang on with that part. It is the Germans, isn’t it? Steins… sounds German.
I “pour” the wine into my mug, letting the last few drops drip slowly into red lake below. Slow sluggish dollops like paint or blood.

And I’m out.

bloggity blog

Tattered wings

I (tried) to rescue a moth today.

It had managed to get itself stuck between the pavers and a brick wall.

I noticed because I could hear this noise while I wrote. A flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap … silence … then flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap flap. I had to go searching.

When I finally found the source of the tiny noise, a noise seemingly only I could hear. (My roomy thought I had finally lost my last marble)

I was saddened by what I saw.

It had been a big moth. Black and grey and white. Once it may have had wings to rival some butterflies. But in its night-long struggle to get out, its wings were only tatters. Torn. Worn down. All the scaley pixie dust covering from them, gone.

I still rescued it, picking it out of its prison and holding its fluttering, panicked body in my hands.

I still put it in the garden. Bit I knew it was as good as spider food.

In all its efforts to get free, its furious flapping to save itself was what ultimately caused its death.

If it had simply waited and then walked out of the hole, it would still have its wings intact.

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I’m not religious but … thoughts on first drafts.

I’m not religious but I do believe in things we do not understand

Things science cannot yet explain

I’m not religious but I do believe in some sort of power, some sort of being or beings, some sort of guidance or plan or fate or destiny or path.

I cannot believe in cautionary tales written by men thirsting for control. But I do believe in the kindness of a stranger when you need it most. The coincidence is too perfect. I believe in the grace of rain when you are parched.

I am not religious but I pray. I do not kneel by my bed. Beads and a cross and a tiny dead man murdered for me to feel guilt, do not dangle from my shaking fists or pointing fingers. My hands do not tremble as I say a silent thank you for the person who did not need their furniture so they gave it all away. I say thank you for the person who breaks rules if it means a family can sleep under a roof. I say thank you for friends whose love is as limitless and bright as all the stars.

I’m not religious but I still sleep with a medallion above my head. St George and his faithful steed and even his dragon are with me always. The hand I can hold when I am alone. The symbol of my own strength. The only knight in shining arm that has ever saved me.

I’m not religious but I know wrong from right. I know good from bad. A moral compass is not just cross shaped. And even evil can bare a crucifix around its neck. A hoodie can hide a halo.

I’m not religious but I do not fear death but nor do I welcome it. Whether there is darkness or pearly gates/white fluffy clouds/angels singing on high/my old dog Ralph or rebirth. I will not know for sure, 100% , until I am there.

Even if we did know, 100%, that there was darkness and nothing more, I would still live the same way.

I’m not religious but I do believe in souls or that peiple can be soulful, and in soul food, and in soul searching, and that people can be soulless.

I do not believe in coincidence.

I do not believe in luck.

I do not believe in Jesus anymore than I believe in Thor or Ra or Satan or Hera.

Does this make me a bad person?

I’m not religious but I do believe in something… I believe that we all have a choice.

This is what one of my poems looks like in draft form. No editing.

I thought I would share it so people could see what a lump of unmoulded writing looks like. Kinda ugly, huh?

But we must treat all of our writing like our word-babies. Defend your ugly word-baby! Your word-baby is fucking beautiful to you and that’s all that matters. Now you just have to raise it to be the best word-person you can. It’ll never be perfect, just like real children and humans, but we keep trying.

Now, go forth and create your hideous word-brats without fear or self-loathing.

Love

Amberley

Art, bloggity blog

The futility of saving dying things

When on holidays, I was at a beach where hundreds of these big guys were washing up in the surf, still singing, salt caking their tracheae. the sea gulls were having a feast.

I picked up a few, figuring they were all going to die soon anyway. But if I had to choose dying in the shade of a tree or dying on burning sand, drowning or being eaten alive slowly then I know which one I would choose.

I couldn’t “save” a lot. Peiple looked at me very strangely too, walking back and forth from the surf to the trees, in a dress not suitable for the beach, carrying the giant bugs as carefully as if they were children and even speaking to them… yep. That’s me. Talking to bugs and trying to do what I thought was the “right thing to do.”

But was I just prolonging their suffering?

Was it mean to the sea gulls to deprive them of this rare opportunity, this delicacy? Did some sea gull babies go hungry that day because I prolonged the life of already dying bugs?

I have no idea.

But these are the things that plague me.

Villainous and virtuous seem to be dependent on the side of the fence you are on to begin with. And this eats at me. So much so, this is what my current novel is about.

Which is super important in fiction writing. Most people do not think they are a “bad guy.”

I’m not really giving advice, because writing advice from anyone besides people like Stephen King, Jack Vance, Raymond E Fiest, Robert McCammon, or any other truly great writer, is bullshit. But I am more just having a public conversation with myself that may help other writers think about what they are writing.

Love

Amberley