Saturday, January 28, 2017

Short Stories Are Hard To Title

As part of my challenges for the month, I wanted to write a draft of a short story. To hold myself accountable for completing it, I also decided that I would share the 'warts and all' first draft. The only revisions have been putting it through a spelling and grammar check. “You are certifiable if you think that your father is going to let you stand and compete at the testing ceremony,” Kingston stated as he lifted another hefty book back up to the shelf. Seeing that he was having difficulty with its weight, I reached out to the book with my connection to air and lifted it with him so that it could be placed back on the shelf. “Yeah, I know that I’m insane. I also know that if my dimwit cousin goes up, we will lose the challenge,” I pointed out. Kingston turned and looked at me. “Luna, you won’t be allowed to compete. You’re the wrong gender,” he said, trying to keep his tone gentle. “You’re telling me that because you think that I don’t know?” I asked him. “No, but I think that you’ve conveniently put that criteria aside, just as you have the realisation that you’re not going to be able to slip in as an extra contestant. Only one, one, candidate from the generation of each of the four families is allowed to stand and be tested,” Kingston recited. “They are going to recognise your name and won’t let you compete.” I waved my hand and released some of the energy that was building up inside of me as I heard him speak. The heaviest of the books on the desk lifted, as did the desk, hovering in the air an inch above the floor before falling back. “Just because you’re pissed that I’m right doesn’t give you the right to come in here and throw my stuff all about like that,” Kingston reminded me. “Since when can you lift a desk?” he added. I shrugged. “I’ve been practicing. Just because I can’t compete doesn’t mean that I can’t keep my skills up.” Kingston actually seemed impressed. “Yeah, I get that, but that right there, well it’s damn near levitation,” he said. “You aren’t supposed to be able to do that if there isn’t any wind about, right?” “Technically the gift is linked to air, as in the stuff that we breathe. It’s easy to manipulate when you understand the interconnectivity of it all. Hell, you’re the Scholar here, tell me that it is impossible,” I added with a wry smile. He bit his lip and turned away instead of answering me. “Okay, now what was that all about?” I asked, moving so that I stayed in his line of sight. “Come on, share with your best friend.” “I’ve been reading a lot lately,” he said. “That’s kind of like when you told me I was a female just now. That’s not that much of a surprise to hear,” I reminded him. His family were part of the Scholars, a group of knowledgeable people who studied the scripts, looking for portents of things to come. “Yeah, but this is more like the stuff I’m not supposed to be reading about,” Kingston explained hesitantly. “Well, what is it that you’re trying to tell me without telling me about?” I demanded, getting sick of the way he was skipping around something. When he did it in the past, it usually meant something big, possibly something bad. “Is air the only element that you can manipulate like that? Is it the only one that you can summon from next to nothing?” he added. I paused. “I’ve never tried any other one. I mean, my family are all air users, much to my father’s chagrin. My mother, he doesn’t speak about her and what her family were connected with but I believe that there had to be some connection there.” “You don’t know if your mother was an elemental?” Kingston asked me. “Well, no. I mean, she died when she gave birth to me and my father doesn’t like to talk about it and her family had dropped all connection with us. I assume that they were some kind of elemental given the way my father goes on about the dilution of magical blood, just not air users because if you’re an air user, chances are there’s a blood connection to other users,” I explained to him, even though it was unnecessary. He knew it from his talks with my father. As a member of the Scholars, Kingston was permitted access to the ruling families to consult on a variety of things. “Do you know anything about your mother or any of her family?” he asked me. “I don’t even know what her name was,” I reminded him. “I mean, if she had have lived, maybe I would have gotten to know her family and all but I didn’t. Why are you asking about all of this again?” Kingston looked at me. “Have you ever tried, even just on a whim, to summon fire into an empty fireplace?” he asked me. “No. I was told that it’s too unpredictable to try that sort of thing. When my cousin and I were being told of our family’s elemental connection it was drilled into us.” “That’s not really an answer to my question. I mean, I know you. Whenever someone tells you not to do something, the first thing that you do, once you’re out of their sight, is to try,” Kingston explained. “So, come on, tell me, did you try anything?” I looked away from him. “You did,” he said, and when I turned back to look at him, I saw him smiling at me, almost to the point of laughter. “What did you do?” I sighed. Might as well admit to it, I thought with a shrug. “Do you remember the lake that appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the forest?” I asked him, knowing that he did. “Given that my father and I spent a month trying to find something in the texts about something like that appearing like that, yeah. That was you? Which part did you create?” I raised my eyebrows at him and attempted to look innocent. “I connected with earth to create the hole,” I admitted. “How come it’s full of clear water? How come it isn’t a huge mud puddle?” Kingston asked me. I noticed that as I spoke he was making notes of our conversation. I looked at him until he dropped the pencil. “Sorry, old habit.” “There were a few tyres that I found nearby. They were like huge tractor ones. Anyway, I connected with fire and when I touched each one they softened to the point of being malleable enough to cover the sides of the hole,” I said, moving to sit at the table. “And the water? Were you the one to fill it up?” “Actually, that wasn’t me. I had to get home and when I came back the next day I figured that some water user had filled it for me,” I told him. “What’s with all the questions anyway?” Kingston turned to the set of shelves to his right. He reached up and pulled down a heavily dusted tome. He put it on the table between us so that it would open facing me and moved to stand behind me. He reached over my shoulder and rubbed at the dust on the cover to reveal the front of the book. There were glyphs that I couldn’t read in gold gilt set into the leather of the book cover. “It’s the writing of the Ancients,” I said, recognising the glyphs that were catching the light and shining back at me. “Care to translate it for me?” I asked him as I pointed to the words. “I mean, after all, you’re Mr Language.” “It’s like you know that sucking up to I will get you what you want. Aren’t you going to touch it?” he asked, nodding at the book and the way that my hand was hovering over the top of it. I shook my head. I didn’t know how to explain to him that I couldn’t bring myself to touch the cover of the book. Every time that I even thought about doing so, it filled me with a sense of impending doom. Kingston smiled and reached over to the cover and turned it gently. Sometime in the moments where I had been staring at the book he had slipped on a pair of thin, cotton gloves. “What you’re looking at is a book that no one else in this locale has ever seen. Their ancestors from maybe five generations back might have seen it but I can guarantee that no one else has.” I thought about asking him to justify what he meant but watched instead as he turned the pages in the book. “What are you looking for?” I asked, noting the determined way that his hands were moving through the pages as if he were indeed searching for something. He stopped at an opening and ran a finger along the page, coming to a stop midway. The entire page was covered in the same glyphs that were on the cover. “This,” he said. “Well, again, I can’t read it, so please, by all means, translate and tell me what it is all about,” I said, with an encouraging nod at the page. “‘There will come one who embodies the five gifts. They alone will be the leader of all, and usher us into a new age of prosperity.’ That’s what it says,” Kingston told me. “And no, that wasn’t an error in translating. The ancients did not specify a gender for their prophesised leader.” “Five gifts? Don’t you mean four? That’s all there is,” I reminded him. Kingston lifted an eyebrow at me. “Are you sure? I mean, how do we know?” he stated. I looked back at him, wanting to argue with him about it, mostly because I wanted him to tell me that it was true. “Okay, so, say I believe this is true, what is that fifth element?” I asked finally. “Well, once, many, many generations ago, the fifth element was something akin to heart, but I think that might be the old scribes over describing things. I don’t actually think, if what they describe is true, that there is any heart involved in the people they describe.” “Why not?” I asked him, not liking the way that he looked as he spoke about the ancients. I definitely heard some criticism. “I mean, I could be, for all we know.” Kingston nodded. Then he walked out of the room and returned with a metal bowl. He motioned for me to move all the books out of the way and then, when I had done so, he put it in the middle of the table. “Fill it up with water,” he told me. “Now, just like that?” I asked him. “I told you that I can’t do something like that,” I added. “Try,” he insisted. “Think of this as your testing ceremony and the room is full of people, judging you, waiting for you to fail because they think that you aren’t good enough because of your gender.” I gave him a dirty look and then cleared my mind. Okay, I can do this, I thought as I held a hand above the rim of the bowl. Okay, water, right, fill the bowl, I added, realising that I probably had to focus more to get it to happen. The bowl on the table shook and looked as if it were on the verge of almost rolling over. “I think that you’re summoning air,” Kingston added, a wry smile on his face. Bastard’s enjoying this, I thought as I tried to keep my focus on the bowl. Then a thin curl of smoke came off of the bowl, even though there was nothing in there. Then, a single low flame curled up from the edge of the metal. “I’m pretty sure that’s fire, like the complete opposite of water,” Kingston said as he moved to extinguish the flame. Watching as he doused the flame with a cup of water he had brought in with him, I felt a little disappointed. “Okay, so, I’m not the one. I can handle the disappointment. What are we going to do about finding this one though? I mean they should be told about their birthright so that they can step up and do something. Does that book of yours give any indication of how to find them?” Kingston shook his head. “Nope.” “So, what happens next?” I asked him as I picked up the bowl of water and walked it to the kitchen. “Well, we go to the testing tomorrow and see what happens next,” Kingston suggested. “I’m kind of hoping that we end up with your dimwit cousin as our next ruler. The devil you know and all that.” “Yeah, possibly,” I agreed, albeit half-heartedly. Admit it, for a moment there you thought that you could really be the next ruler, the voice in my head whispered. No, I thought at it firmly, but the potential to find them is out there and that’s what I think I am going to do with my life. (C) Patricia Kekewick 2017

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Welcome to my world

Trigger warning: contains references to self-harm, suicide

In my world, things aren't easy to explain, to vocalise. When I am hurting, I tend to shut down, refusing to let anyone in. So many times, I wanted to reach out but I felt like I didn't have the right to.
Here’s what it can be like in my world.
I get so anxious that my heart isn't racing do much as humming. I know that’s not healthy but I won't do anything to stop it except try and breathe deeply.
There have been times when I get so anxious, I curl up in a ball on the floor and become almost catatonic. I just sit, stare at nothing and let my brain overwhelm me with worst case scenarios. I have moments still where my brain and body go on pause and I have to work through it.
I am not ‘actively suicidal’ but my mind does go to ending my life at times.
I don't drink heavily or use hallucinogenic drugs, not because I don't enjoy it, but I know that I am at risk of addiction of anything that numbs my inner turmoil, even on a temporary scale
I have a diagnosis of high blood pressure, but because of my size the doctor’s hesitate to look for a psychological cause, refusing to acknowledge anxiety because my diet or exercise regime is easier for them to attack that my mind.
When I go into ‘full anxiety mode’, the worst thing that you can do is touch me. Seriously, just don't, and while you’re at it don't tell me that it is all going to be okay, or to not think about it.
I crave physical connection, but I can't bring myself to actively touch another unless it's on my terms, and there is a reason for the action. 
I can't verbalise how much people mean to me because, even though I want to say it, the words aren't there.
I babble like an idiot, saying too much, or other times I am distant, not saying anything at all.
What goes on in my head can be beautiful, or it can open up doors to horrible self destruction.
I am numb right now, I feel even as I write this that I should feel more, that there should be a physical pain to compensate for what is going on in my head.
There’s probably more to tell you, but I will leave those confessions for another time

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Struggling With Inner Darkness: An Ongoing Battle

We tell people to reach out when they need help, that we are willing to listen to them. How many people would or would they just dismiss the call, the cry as being not important.

After a suicide is attempted, whether it results in the ceasing of life or not, we tell ourselves that these people could have asked for help, that we were there and willing to listen. Of course, these words offer us comfort, but inadvertently shame survivors by putting to them how they should have acted, how they could have acted if they truly wanted to live. We shame them for their inability to ask for help. We try to dictate how they are supposed to feel or respond. Without meaning to, we harm. We guilt them about not reaching out before they got to a point where they greeted death with more energy than life.

To a suicidal mind, sometimes it is impossible to vocalise what's exactly going through their minds. Feeling nothing but pain, they can't express just how much it hurts because they feel like no one is listening anymore. There is a complete numbness, making them wonder if they would feel a thing us a knife were to slice open their wrists.

That's the breaking point. It's the point where you make a choice: life or death. To see if you can survive another day of pain, of numbness because there may be light somewhere unexpected along the way. Maybe, just maybe those people will tell you after your attempt how much they care, maybe they will see the pain in your eyes and listen to you when you choose to open up.

That's life. It's full of maybes, of possibilities that something better coming along. You just have to want to live through the pain of today. You have to want to see another tomorrow, more than you want it to end. You have to be willing to feel everything: the good, the bad, the sweet and the unbearably bitter. You just have to pretend to be okay for just another day, even though you know it's just a mask, a facade to get you through.

To a perceptive mind, this is more than just a release, an outpouring of dark emotions.
What if it is reaching out to the wider world, hoping for someone to see the pain that lies within, to say before it's too late, that they genuinely care about this one life?
Of course, by then it might be just too late. Then there will just be the guilt trips, the questions of 'why', and the need for justification that the soul is broken from within. A survivor cannot heal through guilt or shaming about what they should have done.

Written 23.1.16

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Writing on the train: the story starts

No idea where it was going to end up, but the prompt was: returning home and realising everyone thought you were dead

"I know it's really materialistic of me to be upset because my things are gone but there you are," I said as I leaned back in my seat and looked at the good doctor in front of me.
"They thought that you were dead. There were searches after the war and bodies were buried," Doctor Schauss reminded me. 
"And it's a way for them to get closure, I get that," I said. Then I shrugged. "But it's not like I had a lot of stuff to begin with so losing even a little seems like too much!"
"Have you told them all of this?" Doctor Schauss asked me, his pen poised to write down my response.
"Yeah. It lead to another fight though," I said. "I didn't realise coming back from war would throw such chaos into their lives."
It had been five years since the official declaration had sounded but it still felt newer, more recent than that. 
"Sorry, what did you say?" I asked, realising that I had been lost in my own thoughts.
"I asked if your understanding of where they are coming from has changed at all?"
I shrugged. It had become my fallback response when I wasn't sure how to answer. Funny thing is that before and during the war I had hardly shrugged at all. I had an answer for everything, and a filter that only worked some of the time. "Part of me does."
"They buried a body. They thought that body's my was yours. They went through the funeral rites thinking that you were dead."
"It's not like I made them think that," I reminded the good doctor, knowing how petulant I sounded.
"There was testing. A DNA specialist confirmed that it was you based on the sample you provided when you volunteered," Doctor Schauss reminded me.
I had heard it all before. "Well, yeah. The whole point of going off to war against shape shifting zombie creatures is that one might turn in to you after it bites you and start to turn in to you, right down to the DNA."
"One bit you?" Doctor Schauss asked. He hadn't heard that before.
"Yeah," I said, trying to make it sound like it was nothing.
The doctor wasn't convinced. 
"It takes more than one bite to change you into a Shape shifting zombie," I told him. "It takes like a ton more and blood and organ exchange."
"I always wondered that but I was never sure of its accuracy," he said in return. 
I looked at him and raised my eyebrows in disbelief. "You're a medical professional. I thought you would have known all the facts," I told him.
"I am a psychologist, not a field doctor. I only need to know how to help you, not how to become what you were fighting against."
I laughed. Even after so long, so many people had trouble admitting what we were fighting against. They refused to use the words 'shape shifting zombie" because it meant that they wouldn't be able to deny their existence. Part of me wanted to goad him into saying it, to force him to say the words, but a larger part of me just wanted the appointment over and done with. "So, back to my family and friends then," I said in a clear way to indicate that the subject had been changed. "how do we hope about fixing this?"

© Patricia Kekewick 2016

Friday, April 24, 2015

ANZAC thoughts


They fought for us
In wars, experiencing things most of us cannot comprehend.
They deserve to be remembered for their sacrifices, instead of being a reason to have a day off work.
They have earned the right to be acknowledged for doing things most of us wouldn't dream of doing, not trivialised for commercial means.
Even if we do not see war as 'the answer', we must respect those people who fought, because without what they have given, we wouldn't be the nation we are now.
Three words, ingrained in monuments and minds across the country. A statement that makes us sit up and take notice.
Lest We Forget.


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Not Your Body, Not Any of Your Business

Here is my opinion, as both an employed person and as someone who receives part welfare payments, on the 'No Contraception, No Dole' discussion.

I get why people are in support of the whole idea. On the surface, it might appear to be a reasonable solution to the way things are happening with regards to welfare recipients.
However, as I read the comments on the Facebook post, all I felt was despair, because it felt that people were 'liking' the concept without considering the depths. Some people on the Facebook posts even went so far as to suggest sterilisation for these people.

People choose, or choose not to, access contraception for their own reasons. The choice to do so, or not, is their business alone. To force them to use it would be to violate their freedom to choose. Their reasons might be moral, religious, health or a variety of others that they shouldn't have to justify to anyone else.

It is also not unrealistic to anticipate that, despite the most stringent use of contraceptives by both parties, might still result in a pregnancy. If that were to happen, what new 'choice' would the unemployed mother (because, let's face it, women will be targeted the most at this point) be forced to make under this idea? Adopt it out or abort? Would they be allowed to keep their child if they did everything they were supposed to do by someone else's decree?

On to the topic of females being targeted in this plan, let's look at what people would be asked to provide to either Centrelink or their job networks. Most contraceptives that involve a doctor's visit are more likely to be used by a female than a male.

I feel like this also is a very dismissive plan, which with that statement 'no contraceptives, no dole', omits those people in same sex relationships, while practicing safe sex, would not be accessing contraceptive items for the 'birth control' aspects.

Let's also recognise that people would just say that they use it, have all the right documentation to get their payments, but then forget all about it unless called in to question about it.

These are, at best, my concerns in this plan. Agree with them, or do not, but consider them and consider also what you would do if someone in an office, which is not a medical professional, were to ask you what form of birth control you use. I know if someone in either Centrelink or my job network were to ask me this: it is none of their fucking business. It is not for us to try to control the actions of others, to dictate what they choose to do with their own bodies. It isn't any of our business.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hard to breathe... A Commentary

Warning: Here lies darkness...

We get so down on people who are depressed and suicidal for not asking for help, but when it comes to it, do we realise just how hard it is to say those three words?
Do people who have never been there know how those words get stuck in your throat, unable to move and making it impossible to breath?
Do they know the pain of reaching out, only to be made to feel as if you were a burden for speaking of these horrible dark things and ruining their day?
Do they know that you feel selfish for asking them to hear, really hear, what you have you say?
Do they know that really you're just waiting for them to notice how you are not dealing with life?
Do they know the pain of having your every effort dismissed as if it were worthless, making it even hard to open your mouth and tell them the pain they are (likely without meaning to) causing you?
Do they just assume you are cold and distant because you have nothing to say, not realising that if maybe they asked you why, you might tell the truth instead of just saying that you're fine?
Depression chokes us. It tells us the lie that we are a burden on the world, that we are being selfish for wanting to talk about it out loud with someone, that what we are doing is making their lives that little bit darker and harder yo deal with. Depression shows us for who we are, and those vulnerabilities and truth make other people afraid of us.
One day a year we ask people if they are ok... Maybe we should ask more than that and actually listen to everything they are communicating with us, from their words, to the non verbal communication.
Because it is so easy to say that we are fine, that we are okay when people ask us, because our depression allows us to shape those lies, because it knows that people will accept them at face value,
The real fight is to go beyond the choking sensation and look someone in the eye and tell them that no, you are not okay and if they can/will listen, you might be able to fight your inner demons long enough to express the words that you need to say.