About

BOOK TITLE: The Australia Times - Unearthed Fiction magazine. Volume 3, issue 3
COMPANY NAME: THE AUSTRALIA TIMES
COMPANY URL: HTTP://WWW.THEAUSTRALIATIMES.COM
EMAIL: INFO@THEAUSTRALIATIMES.COM

UNEARTHED
FICTION
THE
AUSTRALIA
TIMES
®
Vol. 3 No. 3 June 2015
UNEARTHED
FICTION
WHAT’S INSIDE?
Getting in the 'Zone'
Perception
A Lost Umbrella
The Stepfather
p. 20
p. 35
p. 47
p. 39
UNEARTHED
FICTION
WHAT’S INSIDE?
Angel of light
by Dark Day on Flickr
COVER IMAGE
Tristyn Harrison
Sandra Fitzgerald
Su Luwin
Balaji Narayanaswamy
COntRIbutORs
Submissions
We are always on the look out for new
submissions to TAT Unearthed Fiction.
Send us your submissions and we will
assess them for inclusion in the magazine.
Stories can be sent directly to the editor at
Tristyn.Harrison@theaustraliatimes.com.au.
We offer both veteran and undiscovered writers the opportunity to get published.
Have something to
COMMUNICATE, or an OPINION to state, we are your voice!
Want to
join a like-minded community in a great project?
For June we have a slightly
uneasy look at the world
around us. Experience love and
acceptance blossom from fear
and pain, see a mind unburdened
of tortured memories, and revel in
a storm that tells of a world lost.
Meet Duchess as she answers
reader’s questions, and learn how
to inspire ow to tap into the state
of eortless creation.
Happy reading!
Editor's Note
Welcome 05
Festivals, Events and Competitions 10
Letters to the editor
Dear Duchess... 15
FLow writing
Getting in the 'Zone' 20
Perception 35
The Stepfather 39
A Lost Umbrella 47
Welcome
People who are just beginning to write are often
described as “emerging”. The word calls to mind the rst
leggy creatures crawling out of the primordial ooze. And
maybe that’s apt, because our rst attempts at writing can
often feel awkward, clumsy, weird-looking or gross.
At Unearthed we want to welcome your primordial
ooze animals. We’d like to be a safe place where new
writers can read each other’s work, talk about their own,
and pitch their stories for publication without fear, knowing
that they’ll receive detailed feedback.
We hope that you enjoy this edition, and encourage
you to send us your work!
From the TAT Unearthed Fiction Team
Tristyn Harrison is an
emerging writer and
amateur blogger with
an interest in all things
fantastical. She writes
for herself rst, shaping
the raw mass of creation
and inspiration into
stories that reach in and
pluck the heart-strings.
Amongst the daily hustle
and bustle of life, she
alternates between
nding time to work on
her rst novel, perfect her
cra, and revisit the work
of authors who have
shaped her life's journey.
Tristyn is based in
Sydney’s Inner West, and
founded the Emerging
Fantasy Writer's Group
as a way to help other
local emerging writers
nd the magic in their
writing.
Meg Hellyer is a
freelance writer and
editor living in Melbourne.
She has sub-edited for a
range of publications that
include ArtsHub, Ferntree
Gully News, and The Pun,
and is also the author of
several short stories.
Growing up surrounded
by books, Meg has
always had a love of
literature. When she
is not editing for The
Australia Times, she
oen nds herself writing
about the people she
sees on trains.
You can nd out
more about Meg at
her website, www.
meghellyer.com.
Alexia Derbas studied
Writing and Cultural
Studies at the University
of Technology, Sydney.
She writes all sorts of
things and doesn't do
much else, though a
great deal of her time is
spent bush walking. This
occurs under the guise
of scouting out perfect
writing locations. Her
work has appeared, or is
forthcoming in various
publications including
Seizure, Voiceworks and
the Spineless Wonders
Writing to the Edge
anthology. She tweets
with regret @lexderbas .
Editor's Bio's
EDITOR SUB EDITOR
DEPUTY
EDITOR
James Noonan is a
Melbourne-based writer
and editor who has held
a number of publishing
roles locally as well as
in New York. He was the
recipient of the Victorian
Young Writers' Award
in 2014. His ction has
appeared in Grith
University's creative
writing anthology,
Talent Implied, and is
upcoming in this year's
edition of Award Winning
Australian Writing.
James is currently
working on his rst novel,
and at this rate will have
it nished by the year
2030. By then he also
hopes to have gotten a
match on Tinder.
SUB EDITOR
July 2015
1-31
15-18
17-26
16-17
3-5
18
Monash WordFest,
Melbourne, VIC. Gen. lit.
series of events.
Whitsunday Voices
Youth Literature Festival,
Mackay, QLD. Children,
YA, schools.
Noosa Long Weekend,
Noosa, QLD. Gen lit
stream.
Bundy Bush Poetry Muster,
Bundaberg, QLD.
Voices on the Coast,
Sunshine Coast,
QLD. YA.
NSW Writers Centre
Speculative Fiction
Festival, Sydney,
NSW. Spec fic.
July
July
July
July
July
July
Festivals, Events
and Competitions
Some of the stuff happening around Australia in the next month.
If you have an
event, deadline or
competition that
you would like to
advertise, please
email tristyn.harrison@
theaustraliatimes.com.au.
16-19
22-25 27-08
16-26 17-18
4
10-12 11-12
Childrens and Young Adult
Writers and Illustrators
(CYA) Conference,
Brisbane. Childrens and YA.
Mildura Writers
Festival, Mildura, VIC.
General lit.
National Play Festival,
Adelaide, SA. eatre.
Southern Highlands
Writers’ Festival, Bowral,
NSW. General lit.
Rare Book Week,
Melbourne, VIC. Gen
lit., sales.
Yellamundie National
Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander Playwriting Festival,
Eveleigh, NSW. Plays.
Telling Tales in Balingup,
Balingup, WA. School kids
4-14.
Burdekin Readers and
Writers Festival, Ayr, QLD.
Gen. lit. No website. Watch
library website.
July
July
July
July
July
July - August
July
July
Festivals, Events
and Competitions
Some of the stuff happening around Australia in the next month.
By Tristyn Harrison
© Image
Leers to the Editor
Intrducing Duche as e
auity  a ings ing. Send
in yr quess and a Duche
prde er ldly sd.
Dear Duche...
Dear Duchess,
I want to ask your advice on something that’s been bugging me
for a while. How do I know if my story is any good? I like it, and I
think it’s awesome, but I’m too scared to show it to anyone to ask
what they think. I’m worried that they’ll hate it, and that it’ll scare
me off writing.
Unsure.
Dear Unsure,
First of all, don’t stress. Take a breath, find somewhere warm to
curl up for a nap and let some of that worry go.
Every story – no matter what stage it’s at – is an uncut gem. The
gem might be pretty in it’s raw stage, and it might be covered in
grime, but until it’s cut and polished, there’s no reliable way to tell
how it will turn out.
You liking it is the first step. It’s a good sign when you like your
own work.
The second step is most likely finding someone safe to read it.
By safe I don’t mean someone who will tell you it’s wonderful when
it’s not – most first stories are pretty terrible. I mean someone who
knows enough about writing or editing to be able to gently guide
you into shoring up the weak spots in your work without breaking
your confidence.
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It’s like a kitten grooming herself. Noone did it right the first time.
That’s why we have mothers, to show us how to groom and clean
our fur so we are always silky soft and smooth.
It’s hard when you’re just starting out, but be brave and soon
you’ll wonder what you were worried about.
The Duchess.
Dear Duchess,
I’m struggling to figure out how to make time for writing in my life.
I work full-time and even when I get home, I’m always busy. How
do I find time to do the things I need to - walking the dog, cooking,
washing dishes, as well as all the other odd jobs that come up – and
still have time to write? I don’t have time to myself, and it’s either
write or sleep most days. I basically run on coffee and adrenaline.
Caffeine-addict.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
17
UNEARTHED FICTION
Dear Caffeine-addict,
I can definitely see the problem. You need to get rid of your dog
immediately and get a cat. Having a pooch is a distraction to the art
of writing and should be dealt with accordingly… Since I’m assuming
you’ve followed my advice already, let me move on.
We write because our souls crave expression like a tree craves
sunlight. We write because it is what makes us come alive. If this is
true for you, then the decision becomes simple.
In order to make yourself more time for writing, you need to take
stock of your commitments. What in your life is absolutely essential
to you? What can you do without? Can you delegate tasks, or is
there someone who can help you? What methods of organisation
or scheduling do you use?
One of the most important tools professional writers can learn is
time-management. While I don’t have to worry about this so much,
being a cat and a full-time story teller, my human struggled with
this for a long while. She now has a timetable that she follows to
make sure she gets everything done, and if she has too much to
do, then she accepts that she can’t complete everything.
She lists her tasks for the week and turns them into 9 big chunks
of about 3-4 hours each, which she then schedules into her week,
one per week-day, with two on weekends. These include her social
and personal commitments, as well as time for herself and time
for writing.
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Sometimes this means she misses out on getting something
done – she sacrifices those things that are least important to make
time for those that keep her happy and healthy. Housework usually
becomes a once-a-week thing, and we end up eating a lot of takeaway
Chinese. But once she has finished her task for the day, she is free
to do whatever she likes until the next day without guilt.
It seems to me that, like her, your issue is about more than just
writing. You need to clear out some of the clutter in your life and
start taking time for yourself, or you could burn yourself out. Then
it won’t just be your writing that suffers.
Have you considered trying meditation? You may find that you no
longer need to run on coffee. As you calm and quieten your mind,
your life will follow suit until you can handle what comes your way.
Cuddling and pampering your new cat will also help. You should
go do that now.
The Duchess.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
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UNEARTHED FICTION
© Image
Flow Writing
By Tristyn Harrison
Getting in the 'Zone'
In theory, this can be done anywhere, anytime. In practice, it can be
a lot more difficult to actually get the words onto the page. This is
where being able to get into ‘Flow’ is handy.
As defined by Wikipedia, “Flow, also known as zone, is the mental
state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully
immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and
enjoyment in the process of the activity.”
Here are a few tips to help you get into the magical state of ‘Flow’.
So you want to write?
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Tip 1: Build your anticipation.
The more you get yourself excited to sit down and
write, to psych yourself up for the pleasure and
joy that comes along with it, the quicker you can
step into the magical zone of effortless creation.
Remember how enthusiastic you get about things
you’re really looking forward to? Try and recreate that
feeling about your writing.
Tip 2: Start with
a clear goal that
challenges you to
stretch your limits.
The more you write, the better
you’ll understand your own
limits and how to measure your
progress. Some writers measure
in words, some in pages, some
in content and quality. However
best works for you, set a goal
that is achievable, but a little
bit of a stretch. Having a goal
for your session helps keep you
motivated. If you find you’re
consistently not meeting your
goals, try breaking them down
into smaller goals. Motivation
is greatly helped by small wins.
Your brain will help you stay
motivated if you can show
yourself success.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
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UNEARTHED FICTION
This ties in with the goals you’ve set, but it’s more
focused on the content of your work rather than
the work as a whole. Start with an outline of your
writing and where you think it’s going to go. Pick out
the main points and make sure you fit the general
structure appropriate for your type of writing. Once
you have an outline, it’s much easier to get lost
in the moment with each section, knowing that
you don’t have to worry about the story as a whole
because it’s already covered.
Tip 3: Plan out what
you hope to achieve.
Tip 4: Commit a
good block of time
for your writing.
There is nothing worse than getting into the
flow of your work and having to stop suddenly
because you’ve run out of time. Protect this
time fiercely, even from yourself.
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Tip 5: Light exercise
works wonders on getting
the mental juices flowing.
Try and go for a short walk, a swim, or do some
other form of light exercise just before you sit down
to write. Don’t overdo it – you’re not trying to tire
yourself out, just get a comfortable buzz of activity
going in your body.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
25
UNEARTHED FICTION
Tip 6: Set up
a clear and
comfortable
workspace.
Try to keep this area free of
distractions and uncluttered. Have
your tools set up and ready to go
before you sit down. If you can, try
and keep this space only for writing.
Tip 7: Plan ahead with a
healthy snack and a drink.
Healthy food and drink keeps your mind
clearer and better able to think creatively. Even
if you’re not on board with healthy food, having
your snacks and drinks next to you minimises
the need to get up and walk away, breaking
your concentration.
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Tip 8: Prevent
interruptions to
your writing.
If you need something for your work, or
the aforementioned snacks and drinks,
have them handy on your desk. Make
sure the people in your life – family,
friends, housemates and significant
others – know that you are not to be
disturbed. The only thing that should be
able to get you up and away from your
desk is your bladder.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
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UNEARTHED FICTION
Tip 9: Disconnect
entirely from the
outside world.
Leave your phone in another room, or if you need it for
something so vital you can’t wait a few hours to answer
it, make sure it’s on silent and try not to touch it more
than absolutely necessary. Don’t look at anything
else, most especially not social media or emails. Put
yourself into a writing vacuum. No matter what is going
on outside, once you’re at your desk, you are beholden
to nothing else but your writing.
If you’re not sure what music gets you
going, you can try looking up music
and sounds that will help get you in
to the zone. Try looking up ‘slow beta
rhythm’ or ‘Music to help access flow’.
Some writers suggest organic white
noise like coffee shop noise or rain and
storms. I personally find that dance and
progressive house music played quite
loud in my headphones get the best
response in terms of my writing and
engagement in flow. Try out a few options
until you find the one that works best
for you. Headphones can also increase
the disconnect to the outside world,
assisting the slip into flow.
Tip 10: Music
helps build Flow.
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Tip 10: Music
helps build Flow.
Tip 11 : Try
to keep your
writing speed
fast and
constant.
The quicker you write/type/dictate, the
more engaged you become with your work.
The same goes for writing at a constant
pace. It’s a psychological trigger to get
your mind on board with the work. Writing
faster creates urgency and tricks the brain
into tuning in more resources. If you’re
struggling to get this started in your main
project, try starting on a blank page and
writing random words and sentences until
you get to a point where the words are just
flowing from you without you having to
try. Then go back to your outline to prompt
yourself and start writing at a similar speed
and consistency.
Tip 12: ENJOY!
© Images from Pixabay
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UNEARTHED FICTION

Ȉ 
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Ȉ ǡ

Ȉ 
Ȉ 
Ȉ 
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© Image
PercePtion
By Sandra Fitzgerald
M
y backside’s uncomfortable on the camping chair. It sags
and twists my hip, causing a painful ache to travel down
to my toes. The sun is already too warm, even though it’s
barely December, and the joyful sounds engulfing me in
unconditional love are nauseatingly painful as they echo through my
ears. The accumulation of noise rings through my head and pierces
my temples. It angers and frustrates me and, at the same time, is
beautifully heart breaking.
Shifting in my seat, I rest my heavy eyes on my hand, clutching the
torn fabric arm of the worn seat so tight that my knuckles bleed white.
I know it’s useless. There is only one way to make this continuous
agony stop.
Resigned, I give up my fruitless attempt to seek out the elusive comfort
I crave and study the changes in my skin. Holding my shrivelled palm
closer, I sadly acknowledge that it’s no longer plump and tanned. The
callouses earned from years of manual labour, of hard days of physical
exertion, are long softened and turned into shrivelled, wrinkled, useless
flesh. My fingers dip and rise in a trembling wave, making such a simple
action one of uncoordinated, arthritic effort.
The joints in my arm begin to protest and the burn in my muscles, a
feeling I once relished, are another reminder of the atrophy I can no longer
disguise. My degeneration no longer hidden; it’s very much present on the
surface for all to see. Another cruel reminder of my body’s wasting away.
I rotate my hand as I lower it to rest on the torn and faded nylon. My
transparent skin is tainted with blemishes, brown marks from the seasons,
puncture scars from the needles.
A glass filled with bubbles and ice slowly creeps into my vision. My
fingers curl painfully on the faded mesh to expose the cup holder
beneath. I make no attempt to hold the drink; I don't chance spilling, or
breaking, or exposing another weakness.
She sits and makes light conversation, quickly skirting over
pleasantries. After all, you don't ask me how I'm feeling unless it's
close to the time to replenish my sedation. You don't ask, because
you already know the answer.
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I take in the wide brown eyes she shares with the rest of my family, and
pretend they don't offer me the sorrow she feels. I study her features like
it's the last time I will ever get to see them, because it just might be. I
savour the fine lines, high cheek bones and full lips that cover her crooked
tooth, and see her. The real person that’s under the layers, the person
that she’s trying to hide from me. I see her sadness for what it truly is - my
loss, and also hers. My final embrace, my final smile, final caress, kiss,
breath… these are all her lasts too.
As I look at my companion, I feel a sole tear escape and travel over
my papery cheek. I have a choice to make. In all my anger and rage and
sadness, I have to decide.
Every natural instinct in me begs for protection. I am the parent, the
grandparent. They’re mine to keep safe. I have spent the greatest years
of my life happily providing for them, fulfilling my role as best I can, as a
flawed human being.
To have and to hold... ‘til death do us part.
With conflicting emotions, I choose to absorb her warmth and empathy,
feel the healthy flow of blood that fills her soft skin. I envy her strength
that is not diminished like mine, that is still vital and solid, and full of life
as she squeezes my arm so gently, I could cry.
She directs my attention to the children taunting and egging each other
on, until the youngest falls for their folly and stumbles into the pool. A
chorus of laughter and admonishments follow, stabbing at my core.
I allow the salty betrayal of my strength to moisten my thinning skin
and drip to my ill-fitting shirt. I don't hide my personal ache any longer,
the breaking of my heart. Because I have to choose… this is my last.
I have to decide what emotions to set free, how my family will see me.
The way they will remember me after I pass.
So I choose honesty. Raw and brutal love in all of its forms. The gentle,
the caring, the hard and the real.
I choose to show my love even though every instinct in my being
demands that I protect them from my hell, shelter them from my truth.
I choose love and to let it all in.
I choose love… because I no longer get to choose life.
Independent Media Inspiring Minds
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UNEARTHED FICTION
The Stepfather
© Image
By Su Luwin
M
y mother remarried on Friday the 13th. Grandma
warned her not to get married on that day. She said
it was bad luck. My mother was never one to believe
in bad luck though. She was the kind of woman who
always did what she wanted. They hadn't known each other a long
time. Naturally it was a surprise when my mother told me she was
marrying again.
“To who?” I asked her.
“To someone I've met recently. I've been seeing him for a few months
now. I didn't tell you and your grandmother because I thought you might
get upset.”
I wasn't, but the whole thing seemed unusual to me. I felt a knot form
in my stomach and reminded myself it wouldn't be like the other time.
“He's coming over for dinner tonight so I can introduce you to him. I
hope you two will get along.”
My mother cooked rabbit for dinner that evening. The doorbell rang
while she was still cooking, and she ran to get it, leaving the stove
absent. I had set up the places at the dining table like a good child, and
was waiting in my seat. I heard her greet him at the door, saw her swirl
her hips in an uncharacteristic fashion. She was speaking in a hushed
tone so I couldn't hear. She turned to me with a big grin on her face,
and her new lover followed behind her. He was younger than I thought
he would be, and tall. He wore a button- up shirt with slim jeans. I was
startled by the beauty of his face. I immediately wondered where my
mother had met this uncommonly attractive man. I remembered my
manners and stood up. My mother introduced us.
“This is Diego. Diego, this is my daughter.”
I held out my hand politely. He grasped it with a light and tender
touch, then lifted it to his mouth, kissing it. He left a wet mark on my
hand and I resisted the urge to wipe it off in front of him. We then sat
down to eat our meal, my mother sitting directly across from me, her
lover taking the spot at the head of the table. I was slightly disgusted by
the way my mother was acting in front of this younger man: giggling,
and looking at him with googly eyes. It was as if she'd become someone
else entirely. I realised that she had never once looked at my father like
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that. The majority of the meal they spent talking in quiet voices, while
I ate in silence. My mother didn't touch her food. Her lover dug into his
in a savage fashion, like a person who hadn't eaten in days. They only
looked at me once during the meal.
He made a point of turning to me to ask a question. “Sorry for my
rudeness. I haven't had the chance to speak to you at all. It's your
mother's fault for being so enchanting.” She looked at him with large,
love-filled eyes as he said this.
“What is it that you do?” He asked me, meat juice running down his
chin like rivers.
“I'm a student of the arts,” I replied hesitantly. His eyes were looking
at me hungrily, the way an animal looks at their prey before they eat it.
I looked down at my dish, uncomfortable with the intensity of his gaze,
but I could still feel his eyes boring deep into me.
“I'm sorry, I don't have much of an appetite tonight. Could I be excused?”
“That's fine,” my mother said, without looking at me. I went to my room
with hunger gnawing at my innards and lay in bed clenching my fists,
listening to the sounds of laughter echoing down the hall. He stayed
over in my mother's bedroom that night. Later, I heard groans coming
from her room. I knew they were probably groans of passion, but a cold
discomfort grew within me. I couldn't shake the feeling that something
very bad was happening.
The following week was their wedding ceremony. It was at one of
those cheap and dingy government reception places that people go to
if they don't want to spend a lot of money for a wedding. I thought it
was unusual because it wasn't my mother's style to get married in a
place like this. As a child, I remembered looking back at my mother
and father's wedding photos from way before I was born. They had
had a grand, beautiful wedding in a church. Now we were in a decrepit
government building with a ton of ragged-looking strangers. I wore a
black lace dress and carried a small bouquet of white roses. My mother
decided to forgo tradition and wore a red dress that stopped above
her knees, with a bouquet of red roses. Afterwards, I don't remember
anything about the ceremony, except for their too-long kiss at the end,
and the look of stifled disgust on the marriage celebrant's face. They
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UNEARTHED FICTION
turned to me after a long embrace and looked at me expectantly. I could
feel both of their eyes fixed on me, but I don't want to say anything even
close to ‘congratulations'.
“I suppose you're my stepfather now,” I murmured with my eyes on
his feet.
“That calls for a hug, doesn't it?” I looked up and saw his eyes watching
me in that hungry sort of way. He opened his arms and I stepped into
them. He held me tightly, in a suffocating sort of way. As my nose
pressed into his sweater, I got the hint of a scent– something earthy,
wild almost. I noticed that there was a bit of dirt on his sweater and I
instinctively reached out to brush it off.
“You're dirty,” I said, looking up at his face. As I brushed the dirt off his
sweater, he caught my fingers with a mace-like grip. The intensity of his
gaze at that moment was bewildering, and I begin began to back away,
slowly, but still couldn’t disentangle my fingers from his hold. He began
to walk towards me, but my mother turned around at that moment and
noticed us.
“Oh you two are so cute together already!” She exclaimed excitedly,
not noticing the look of terror that I shot her way. “I can tell you're going
to get along great,” she remarked looking at her new husband. I felt
like my heart was going to fall through and out of my stomach as the
newlyweds exchanged looks. After the ceremony, we went to a small
Chinese restaurant nearby. He sat in between my mother and me, while
my grandmother stared at them from across the table and gave them
disapproving looks, her aged lips pursed together like wrinkled prunes.
I was reaching over the table to grab a piece of chicken feet with my
chopsticks when I felt a calloused hand brush my knee. Only, that the
touch lingered a little too long to be an accident. I was so startled I
dropped the chicken feet on the table, staining the white tablecloth
with oily, red sauce. I was embarrassed by my loss of control, and a
sudden fear gripped me. I told myself it wouldn't be like the last time.
“Look what you've done!” My mother said, scolding me. “I simply can't
understand why you're always such a messy eater.”
“Why are you making such a fuss over a dirty tablecloth? I'm sure the
restaurant can handle it,” my grandmother replied. She gave my mother
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a disagreeable look then turned to me and smiled. I didn’t eat anything
for the rest of the meal. The four of us went home in a cab. No one spoke.
I felt a mild sense of disorientation and nausea, although I hadn’t had
a drop of alcohol at dinner, and eagerly anticipated collapsing onto my
soft bed.
The next day, I awoke to find my mother and grandmother gone. There
was no note on the fridge or sign of where they'd gone. As I looked for them
throughout the house, I saw drops of blood staining the white carpet,
and felt a stabbing pain in the bottom of my foot. I looked down and saw
a shard of glass embedded in it. Pain shot through my entire foot as I
pulled out the piece of glass. I limped to my mother's bedroom, and find
found him there still asleep, his angelic appearance contrasting with
the devil I knew he must have inside him. My mother's side of the bed
was messy, while her new husband lay there snoring softly, unaware of
my presence. As I walked over to him I tightened my grip on the shard
of glass, feeling its edges cut into the palm of my hand. I cast a shadow
over him as he slept, and only in that moment was it that he woke up. He
was one of those people who was slow to wake up; he stretched out his
arm lazily with his eyes still closed and did a half roll over so that he was
on his back. He opened his eyes and looked at me. His eyes widened in
shock as he finally registered who I was.
“What are you do–-” He began to say, but I didn’t give him the chance
to finish. I drove the shard of glass down into his throat, piercing his
smooth, alabaster skin. As the glass pierced his skin, his eyes widened
so much I thought they would pop out. Bright, red blood began to pour
out of his veins as he thrashed around wildly and gasped desperately
for air. It was at that moment that I heard the door open and my mother's
voice calling.
“I'm home!” she shouted excitedly. She walked into the room and began
screaming hysterically. She didn’t stop screaming. There were words too,
but my mind couldn’t register them. Oddly, I couldn’t see any stains of blood
on the carpet anymore. I walked back to my room and lay down on my bed.
Although I could hear the wail of sirens in the distance, it was the first time
I’d felt at peace in a long time.
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© Image
A Lost
Umbrella
By Balaji Narayanaswamy
T
he lonely cliff arched itself towards a sprawling ocean,
guarded by sea-gulls and weeds. Dusty brown boulders
sprang over the entire stretch of the cliff, with occasional
patches of purple flowers over the recess. The cliff was
infected with peace and aroma from the rich flora. A sea-gull, with
its wings widely spread landed on the cliff top, not far from the
couple. The couple lay on their backs, gazing at the star-studded
sky. Their romantic date was unperturbed by the growing noise
erupting from the monstrous waves.
When viewed from above, one could picture a beautiful girl lying
on her silky hair and her tender fingers brushing her boyfriend’s
cheek. Priyanka felt the warmth from her soul-mate Karthik.
It was their first date night after a series of tiffs and mishaps.
Karthik rode his days as an astro-physicist, bolstered by the fact
that everything happens for a reason. In short, he was deeply
associated with a strong sense of logic.
Priyanka, on the other hand, loved fairy tales.
She envisioned herself to be the Cinderella, waiting for her
prince, Karthik to find her lost shoe. To appease her, Kathik wrote
poems, likening her dark brown eyes to that of a ‘Helix-Nebula’.
‘Helix-Nebula?’ What’s that?” snuffed Priyanka.
‘It is a celestial body in space, in the shape of two discs I mean,
it resembles your eyelids!’ stammered Karthik.
He rolled sideways and rested his heads on his palms. The bitter
cold was making Priyanka shiver; her shallow breathing gave off a
sense of urgency. Strangeness took hold of Karthik when he tried
to read her thoughts.
‘What’s eating you, sweetheart?’
‘Nothing’, Priyanka said, smiling. ‘I’m thinking about the dream’.
‘Ahh! The wedding one?’
Priyanka blushed, ‘You were mounted on a steed, I mean a
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horse, like a prince! Your shiny armour and the scabbard looked
magnificent. The steed was swift like a wind marching towards a
lonely castle’.
Karthik ran his fingers over the bridge of Priyanka’s nose. ‘Where
was my princess?’ he asked in a mocking tone.
‘Hang on, my dear prince! There was something unique about
that castle; there was no ceiling to it. The robust pillars from the
floors connected the sky and the feathery clouds were hanging
above my head. I stood there waiting for you, dressed in a beige
gown speckled with roses.’ Priyanka was beaming.
Karthik moved closer to her, sensing her sweet fragrance. ‘Stop
it, sweetheart! It’s too tempting for me to kiss you’.
‘Please hear me, there’s more to it!’ Priyanka said, pushing him
away. ‘You walk towards to me, with your head high. I was waiting
for you with my bouquet. With no notice, the clouds grew dark
and there was a flash, followed by a treble. We both raised our
heads to find the dark clouds gifting us a downpour. A heavy rain
came down soaking us’.
Karthik chuckled, ‘Why don’t you try your hand in poetry? Castle,
prince… and what was the last one?’
Priyanka gave him a fiery stare and mouthed, ‘Asshole!’ She
turned her back to him, trying to show her disappointment and
mumbled, ‘Wish the dream was true and there were some real
clouds and rain’.
A slight shudder ran through her. She tilted her head to see the
silent sky suddenly beset by dark clouds. The clouds moved in
an arbitrary manner like an angry mob. A bright flash illuminated
her sorrow-stricken face.
‘Don’t tell me it is going to rain now?’ Priyanka whispered in a
surprised tone.
Karthik kissed her ears and mumbled, ‘This is for you, a small
gift from me. You will see the clouds getting bigger and darker’.
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UNEARTHED FICTION
She was caught between Kathik’s soft kisses and the miracle
that was being staged.
‘Oh my God, you must be joking!’
‘They’re called pseudo-nimbus; man-made clouds embedded
with charge materials’ a prototype with 85% accuracy. My
colleague has been working on this model for years. The clouds
have completed their assimilation process; once the charge
ignites, we will have a mild shower’.
She was awestruck, eyes widening in astonishment. The first
drop fell on her; it was cold and she felt a tiny prick at the point
of impact. The slow and steady showers made her go insane. She
pulled him close, her lips parted to taste the rain drops that were
glued to his face.
‘Well’, she said, laughing, ’it seems you’ve lost your sweetness,
my dear prince’.
‘That’s because of the silver iodide in the charge mixture. They
don’t taste great, I’m sorry, sweetheart. They are yet to find a
replacement for silver iodide. We must be fortunate to have this
breakthrough. With rains failing for more than three years, we
were so desperate for something that can grow our crops’.
‘But still… this isn’t real, Karthik. This rain is nothing but a piece
of synthetic shit that can send us to hell!’ her face was aflame
with anger.
Karthik rose from his position and began to fiddle with his
phone. Meanwhile, the dark clouds disappeared to bring back
the star-studded night. Priyanka’s words echoed in his mind. She
was right. They had very little chance left. Earth’s atmosphere
had been polluted with enough particulate matter, to reduce the
clouds to dust collection bags. Subsequently, the monsoons had
failed and the last bit of water scrapped for agriculture.
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‘Sorry, Karthik. I was trying to spill out the bitter truth. When was
the last time you ever saw a clear blue sky? Priyanka defiantly
grabbed the phone from him. Her fingers ran over the delicate
gadget to reveal more bitterness. The cliffs below them distorted
like a kaleidoscopic image, transforming into a white floor. This
transformation extended to all the objects surrounding them.
The whole environment consisting of the sky, stars, cliff and
the roaring ocean were mere 3D images generated at very high
resolution. Karthik and Priyanka looked small in the large room,
which resembled more of a white space. Their clothes were struck
to their bodies from the rain.
‘Sometimes, it is better to dream,’ Karthik said, ‘where we don’t
get to see such ugly truth’.
Priyanka turned to walk away, ‘Our planet Earth has become a
distant dream now. It was never meant to be like this. All we have
is a white cubicle that simulates how our planet was. I simply
don’t see a future, Karthik”.
‘We're the future, Priyanka’ Karthik replied, walking towards her.
‘On a cloudy night, I see a royal wedding taking over this world;
a night where everything is real and wonderful. With threatening
clouds, I march towards you, my Cinderella. I drop on my knees
to watch your blissful smile and the clouds open, unleashing a
heavy shower to embrace you.
‘Aww… an astro-physicist talking about Cinderella’ she said, giggling.
‘Will you marry me?’ whispered Karthik.
Priyanka bit her lower lip and said, ‘I’ll marry you, but only when
you can bring a rain that tastes as sweet as you’.
They spent the rest of the night in the cubicle, divorced from the rest
of the world, drawing warmth and faith from each other. Meanwhile,
Earth continued its planetary motion hoping for a change.
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