HSC Creative writing 2

Standard

The question was to pick an image and use it as a stimulus to write something related to discovery… so I picked the picture of the SLR. 

When I was five, my cat passed away. Of course, the experience of a pet passing away is not uncommon to many five year olds. Now that I am older, I have heard a range of first person accounts of similar experiences, except the way adults try to explain death to children seem to differ. Lots of adults like to talk about an afterlife; ‘heaven,’ ‘nirvana’ and my favourite: ‘kitty heaven.’ Others like to tell the child that the pet went away to some other ‘home.’ My father told me the truth ‘Ginger is going to sleep, and he will never wake up.’ That night I cried. My mother scolded my father for being so cold and brash. I heard her voice through the door.

***

There was a time once, a time when I contemplated death. I was a fierce high achiever. This habit started (ironically) after my father died. So much of me wanted to leave behind a legacy. I wanted to make him proud, I suppose it was my fucked up idea of grief. I worked extremely hard in a chemistry exam, waking up at six in the morning to drill myself with practice questions. The day came when I had to do the exam. I completed it with twenty minutes to spare, and I spent the rest of the time reading through each question (and answer) twice. I was confident that I did really well in the test.

The results came. The teacher shook my hand.

100%

I went home, my journey consisted of skips. A merry jig. I went home, to tell my father of the news, only to discover that he wasn’t home. I called his mobile phone, just to get a glimpse of him, to hear the sound of his voice. Something. Nothing. The phone has been disconnected. I went to his work, to find him, to find that he wasn’t there. He has gone. He no longer exists. He has been dead for a year.

***

I sat in Julian’s office. Julian Scott B Psych (Hons), M Mus, PhD – child and adolescent psychologist. He seemed to put so much effort in trying to make his office look ‘cool.’ He wore t-shirts to work, his walls were plastered with graffiti and supported by an urban looking rug. Even the bookshelves were filled with comic books. Julian always insisted on being called ‘Jules’ or ‘Jules Rules’ though my mother always called him ‘Dr Scott.’ I called him Julian and he called me Ben. An SLR sat on his desk today. I wondered what that was about.

‘What is the SLR for?’

Julian flashed a smile, a warm one.

‘Well, actually, my nephew brought one for an overseas trip but apparently he never used it, he gave it to me since he preferred to use his phone to take pictures.’

‘Interesting, we seem to always take pictures when we are on holidays, or when we want to upload shit onto facebook or instagram.’

‘We do, funny, isn’t it?’

‘Absurd actually.’

‘Why?’

‘Well I hate telling you this, I always feel like you are going to whip out something therapeutic, some profound learning thing… I just hate this. Julian. What is the point to all of this? What is the point to an exam? What is the point to school? To life? My dad died. And I will die one day. So will you. Why work so god-damn hard, why be ‘good,’ why get stressed when death is going to swallow us one day… my father is dead Julian. And you have a camera. A nice and expensive camera. You will take pictures of nice objects… on your holiday, when you go to some nice foreign place… but you won’t take pictures on your commute to work. You won’t care much for the mundane. I regret this Julian. I wish I could take pictures of the normal shit, just so I can fucking cling onto it. My dad is dead Julian. Fuck, he’s dead.’

Julian’s eyes gazed intently into mine. He reached out for the SLR and placed it in my lap.

‘Maybe you can try to take pictures of the mundane now, I’m sure your father would have been proud.’

MasterChef

Standard

Ever since the Masterchef thing happened in the UK, it spread to America and then to Australia. It was like the Big Brother phenomena, and then the Idol/X factor/My Country’s Got Talent thing … for now, on TV, being a chef is the new hot, sexy thing in fashion.

Ironically, the enrolment for culinary school didn’t increase but according to the statistics, more and more young students are home cooks. This isn’t a bad thing at all. I enjoy watching from the sidelines and making comments but Renee was the type of girl who either bitched about contests or joined them.

Funnily enough, she started off as a musician. A bloody good one. She practiced for hours, took lessons and then after rigorous rounds of auditions she entered a really good conservatory. Then she got bored. So she took some time off and decided to cook. She started to bake – one of the easiest methods of cookery. She made cakes, meringues and all sorts of biscuits. She moved on and started to roast… after roasting she started to stew and so on… she read every single culinary textbook under the sun, she watched a lot of TV. All she talked about was food. I wondered sometimes – I wondered why we were in a relationship. She was so ambitious, so dedicated, so passionate and I just enjoyed breathing in her passion vicariously and watching from the sidelines. I wish I had her passion… but I never did … maybe my job in IT verifies this simple contentment and lack of thirst.

Today she decided that she was MasterChef material. She decided to rock up to the audition. She practiced her own goats cheese, sweet potato and beetroot tart at home so many times, that I became very sick of eating it. Watching somebody in a sporting event is normally thrilling; you sit by the sidelines and watch them perform. This MasterChef audition was nothing like the kind you see on TV – there is no balcony. There is a room and inside that room there is a commercial kitchen with lots of bench space and refrigerators. I wasn’t allowed in the room. I waited for her outside… and I felt nervous, but a tiny part of me wished that she didn’t win.

She walked out with a grin on her face. Oh dear…

“I MADE IT!”

She grabbed me faster than I could say “congratulations!” her arms wrapped themselves around my shoulders. And I stood there outside the room, clutching her, in wonder of what will happen if she gets bored of cooking.

The Pianist

Standard

I wrote this sometime last year. It is about how music is much like life, temporary, beautiful and rich in experience.

Pianist

The ivories awaited him

He sat in solitude,

Eyes shut,

Listening,

No sound,

Silence

————-

His frail body arched forward,

Feet firm on the floor

Face accumulative of wrinkles,

Arms dangling in stillness,

Hands poised and ready

Immobility

———

One note sounded

Then another,

He escaped,

Hymns echoed through the abbey,

Startling steps pounded slowly,

Delivery

——-

Rapid passages chased each other,

Giggles rubbed against chatter,

Waves lapped in laugher,

Birds jubilate in vigor,

Flying freely and discovering,

Growth

——-

Loud whispers swell in the forest,

Impudent thoughts resonate through the woods,

Intimacy in its infancy,

Coupled with crimes of persuasion

Complications in communication,

Confusion

——–

Two flames tangoed to the coloured sounds,

Consuming each other’s warmth

Twisting to become singular,

Mutually moving,

Tenderly clutching, embracing in bliss,

Jovial tones fill the atmosphere

Companionship

——–

The sun kissed the sea,

Tranquillity nested in the air,

Twilight came and darkened the surrounds,

Shadows hauntingly departed,

Calm rested through the shoreline,

Silence

Daddy

Standard

I wonder sometimes, I wonder about how your voice would sound like after all these years. I wonder if you’d approve of me by now. Successful, in the arts world, writing music, getting tons of money from it, teaching music to children and undergraduates, doing everything that you pretty much despised.

You wanted me to be a doctor. You made the rule in the house simple – “NO ARTS, NOTHING UNDER ARTS” was ever acceptable, to you it was science… science moved the world forward, science was the reason why we were able to eradicate small pox from the world. I argued with you, almost every other night about how rock music made big bold political statements, about how arts encourages creativity and creativity is the reason why we were able to conceptualise gravity. I talked for hours and presented academic papers to you, telling you about how playing an instrument is good for cognition and imagination. I questioned things with you and I asked you “what is the point of a sunset? What is the point of living when we are all going to die? Music was and is not ever necessary for survival, but it makes survival worth it. It enriches life.” Idealistic, I know. Your stubbornness was frustrating but it taught me that I could never change you.

When I was younger, people always told me that I needed to work really hard to prove to you that you were wrong. People told me to give it a few decades, to let money and ‘success’ prove to you that I was able to make a living in this world.

If you were still around, maybe you’d laugh, maybe you’d apologise, maybe you’d say you were wrong. Or maybe you’d tell me again that I’m selfish because I don’t give a damn about developing a cure for cancer. I don’t know.

I was there when your head rested. I was there when you were close to your eternal slumber. I wrote your eulogy and recited it at your funeral. I cried for you. I sang a song for you, my voice echoed through the abbey and made other people cry.  All you did was shoot my dreams down and toss me money every so often. You really did a bad job as a parent… or maybe I expected too much from you. I don’t know.

After all these years, in spite of the ‘success’ I’ve earned… the last thing I want to do is show you how great I am. No, that would be too juvenile. I just want you to know I love you… I know you tried, I know your best was not really the best, but you tried and I suppose … when you are gone and buried, I can’t bear a grudge against you anymore. So, I forgive you.

My former boss

Standard

Every so often, I flirt with suicide. The first time it happened was in the middle of summer … I was doing a summer internship in a publishing company. At the time, my boss (who was also my mentor) was a gentle and kind man who gave a damn about the next generation. Rare. Sometimes I wondered if he had an ulterior motive, although the more I got to know him, the less it seemed to be so. I was 20 at the time and I guess I always looked miserable. Rays of negativity would radiantly shine through my eyes whenever I’d encounter people. I guess my boss was the first to smell that something was off. That chirpy, vibrant person who he interviewed died and transformed into a slow, bored and uninterested girl.

A few weeks went by, and I still looked very miserable. Everything I loved fell into a boring, dull and repetitive routine. I forced myself to do everything – to get out of bed in the morning, choose what to wear, brush my teeth, shower, eat, leave… I even forced myself to go to coffee with my friends. I lost track of the rhythm that was once so easy to follow and dance to in the day. I used to devour novels in days but nowadays, everything is such a struggle. Getting through a few lines is difficult. Even the simple things like eating and sleeping are hard to do. I walk about on the face of the earth continually looking downwards… sometimes I think and fantasize about ending it all. Every single time I am several stories off the ground; I’d look down and think – if I wanted to… I could just jump.

My former boss approached me privately one afternoon, asking me if everything was alright. I don’t really know why, but I broke down and started crying… I suppose in a movie, this would be a scene with tacky but sad music – That poignant scene where she’d cry and he’d gently wipe the tears from her face … and then they’d embrace and they’d make love.

It didn’t happen that way… then again I guess it was because I was 20 and he was fifty-something. I cried.  Thankfully it wasn’t public, but why I did it still perplexes me to this day. He looked at me and handed me a tissue conveniently located inside the breast pocket of his corporate jacket. He asked me if I wanted to talk about it. I wiped the tears from eyes as quickly as I could. I tried to contain myself, but I started to sob again. Snot, tears and more tears started to drip across my face. I looked at him, and said “I don’t know what the hell is going on. I’m just tired and sad all the time. I landed this internship, I got the job and I’m so GOD DAMN MISERABLE!”

I regret saying that till this day… his reply were a few cold and emotionless words stringed together:

“If you don’t like it here, get out. There are other more talented people who want to be here. Don’t be ungrateful for what you have. I worked damn hard to get a position in a publishing company during my undergraduate years. You just got handed one and you act like somebody just died.”

That night, I just had it. The misery inside of me was brewing… and I wrote a note, apologising to several people for my intentional death. I addressed a section of the note to him. I told him that I hoped that he was happy… I hoped that he found a new intern, because obviously I wasn’t grateful enough to learn under his mentorship.

I rummaged through draws, finding as much over the counter medicine I could find, as many unused prescription medications that was in the apartment I lived in. I lived on my own, and I had the luxury of planning a suicide without anybody walking in to catch me or disturb me in my plans. The thing was, being 20 and all; I never had to see a specialist. I didn’t take prescription medication every day. I hardly ever saw a doctor. I swallowed as much as I could that night – Paracetamol, Ibuprofen, booze … and all it did was make me feel sick and puke.

I went to work the following day. I my face was emblazoned with tiredness. My skin was a sickly pale colour. I tried to hide it with makeup but it was useless, I just looked like a sick person with makeup on. He greeted me in the morning. I had his coffee, just as he had always wanted it – a flat white with no sugar. I placed it in his hand. Our eyes locked, awkwardly, I don’t know what he saw in my eyes, but he inhaled as though he was ready to speak. I was ready to hear his words stab me. Funnily enough, it didn’t happen… he just walked away.

The Doctor’s Office

Standard

“Renee Chen” I heard my name… anticipated it for a while and somehow, I was still nervous as hell to hear it. His eyes met mine and I followed him down the corridor. The white fluorescent lights and the cold, tiled floor made me feel like an alien…. an alien ready to be exposed and interrogated. His name was printed on the door: “DR MICHAEL HART.” He opened the door and gestured to me, telling me to take a seat. I chose the seat slightly further away from his desk. I looked around in his cold, sterile office and I noticed that it didn’t really look like a doctor’s office. He didn’t have images of the human anatomy on his wall. He didn’t even have his medical degree on his wall. There was a shelf, one that was filled with seemingly outdated medical textbooks, well thumbed and probably from his med school days. The floor  was timber and the lights were white, but not intense. All his medical equipment, his stethoscope, otoscope, thermometer, etc were scattered across the desk. He closed the door and took his seat. With pieces of scrap paper and a pen, he mounted himself, ready and eager to take notes.

He started talking “Are you allergic to any medication?”

I replied with “none that I know of.”

“Why are you here?”

A large lump of guilt formed inside of my throat. Somehow, a mixture of fear, sadness and guilt slowly foamed as I was stuck there trembling, unsure of what to say. Thoughts of getting up and leaving crossed my mind. I sat there… letting him wait in silence, in wonder of what was wrong with me. My eyes fixated on the floor, my insides trembled with sadness and fear. My mind was screaming nasty, rude thoughts. I wanted to leave. Two awkward minutes passed. He sat there, waiting patiently, his eyes were now fixated onto me. Somehow, I pulled myself together and I muttered I few empty words.

“I think I’m depressed” my words were slow and quiet, somewhere in between a sigh and whisper. By now, I really just wanted to cry. For most of the week I’ve wanted to cry, but I never felt like I had a good enough to reason to cry. I’ve tried, I thought that some sort of emotional release would make all of this go away… the tears never fell from my eyes. It felt like the tears were escalating inside of me, waiting, wanting to be released.

He scribbled a few things down and then he started to ask me questions… his voice was gentle and quiet, matching mine… his eyes were emotionless and tired, not in a physical sense… he seemed to be tired of his job, fixing people’s problems and being around people with broken lives seemed to zap all the vigour and life out of him. His voice is concerned though… and his mind seemed to be actively processing as he scribbled notes down whilst asking questions one after the other.

“Are you having problems with your sleep?”

I think about all the early morning awakenings, the times I’d lay there for hours, counting, reading, sipping warm milk, watching trashy American sitcoms… The nightmares, the night terrors, those times I’ve woken up to find myself alive, not being chased by an axe murderer, those repetitive dreams of being raped and strangled. I mumbled a few meaningless words.

“I get insomnia, some nights I wake up real early… and normally on those nights I can’t go back to bed.”

He took it down and asked me questions, more questions. I felt tired, too tired to tell him the details, so I gave him brief summaries of everything. He wrote out a script. Medicine. Pills. Drugs. He told me that antidepressants exist, and they work and that I should take them. I questioned him, asking him how he could be so sure that I have depression – what if his diagnosis is based on my bias and subjective answers. He told me that human beings experience things subjectively, and nobody wakes up every morning, wanting to feel sad. He asked me if I could come back in a week to see how I was doing.