Andeli Zuzic - 2018
F*%k. They’re taking me to my Uncle’s, I know it. They say they ain’t but they must be, ‘cause this is his street. Old brick houses with rusted handrails. Perfectly trimmed hedges and roses on old men’s laboured lawns. The whole street looks like it belongs in a retirement village. [LM1] The woman drivin’ me is a young blonde chick.[LM2] She’s sweet, a little fake though. “You’re gonna love your new home. The carer is so nice, oh and her kids are great too. I was talking with them just the other day! I’m sure you’ll love ‘em!”
Yeah, yeah, sure. That’s what they said last time. I wonder what Jacob’s been doin’. This court case is fucken’ me over. [LM3] Mum’s all pissed at me for lovin’ ‘im, but I [LM4] don’t care. If she’s gonna hate me over some dumb age gap [LM5] that’s her problem. He’s a nice guy, he’s [LM6] real, so why’d it matter?
She’s turned right thank god. Christ, last thing I wanna see right now’s anyone who’s related to me. Always questionin’, nosin’ round in dirt that ain’t their business. What’s happened is between me, mum and DHS now. They don’t know nothin’ bout me so why the fuck should I have to tell ‘em.
We pull up at this red-brick house lookin’ like everything else on this street, except its garden’s [LM7] bloody demolished. I don’t wanna move from the car. Squinting my eyes and holding my breath, I don’t wanna deal with this today.
Breathe in, breathe out. Sitting here and all I have to think about is my breathing, and the soothing voice washing over me like the ocean under a gentle summer’s breeze. Still and calm. The [LM8] [ZA9] voice is guiding my attention through my body. Gliding from my head, to my shoulders, through my chest, and pulsing at the ends of my fingers.
The hospital said it should help with the pain. [LM10] I think it’s helping a bit. It’s hard though. Mum tells me I just need to keep trying, [LM11] but I can see on her face that this hurts her just as much as me.
I feel a pain shoot up my leg, like fire if it could stab you. Looking down though, there’s nothing there, as always. And nothing I can do. [LM12]
I’m tired from helping mum clean up the spare room today. Apparently, we have another kid coming so I guess that’s exciting. Mum only got the call last night, which is [LM13] often the way with these things. Sometimes you have time to prepare, other times they gotta get the kid outta there as soon as they can and that doesn’t leave much time for prep. I think I just heard the car roll in.
“She’s here Mike!” That’s [LM14] my cue I guess. I hit pause on the track, silencing its rolling instruction as I move to the door.
I press the doorbell and first thing I hear is some loud woman yellin’ somethin’ I don’t catch. She opens the door. She looks as loud as she sounds. Big smile on her face, dressed in bright colours. “Hi there! You must be Kasey? You come in and I’ll go help Anna carry your bags.” She grinned. She seems ok.
I walk in and immediately I’m captivated. There are shells everywhere! Love seashells, but I d[LM15] on’t think I’ve ever seen this many in a room before. I sit down, furniture’s nothin’ much, comfy though. A boy lookin’ ‘bout my age comes round the corner in his wheelchair. His hair's a sandy mess and he’s missin’ his legs. He waves, “Hey, I’m Michael. What’s your name?” Seems pretty happy-go-lucky though.
“Kasey," I say tryin’ not to stare.
I’m used to this now, meeting new foster kids. Though, we don’t normally take kids this old. [LM16] It’s been harder to find work with the younger ones lately so mum doesn’t have much choice. She seems nice though. Kasey. I reckon we’ll get on well. Mum said she’s a couple years younger than me, but she looks like she’s eighteen. I guess that’s what tough situations do to you though, you age young.
I watch her pick up a shell and roll it between her fingers, like she’s searching for something. “D’you like the sea?” I smiled, hoping this might give us something to talk about.
She looks up at a spot just above my head and I watch her gaze travel through mum’s collection.
“Yeah.” She smiles to herself.
I wonder what she’s thinking.
Kid sure is curious. The place has a nice vibe here though. Warm and cosy. The shells are wonderful. This place ain’t too bad if I’m honest. Me and Mum used to go to St Kilda on weekends. I’d stare at the water while she worked on her light caramel tan. I used to get lost looking at that shoreline. Looking through the protective veil hidin’ the floor beneath. The waves lapping at my feet, and the light dancing across its skin. I’ve always loved seashells. There’s somethin’ nice ‘bout watchin’ them wash up to shore at the end of their journey.
I look up and another kid is lookin’ round the corner. Much darker than my mum ever used to get. Dark as wet sand. She’s got a cheeky grin and runs at me waving a packet of tiny teddies in the air.
“Mimi! Didn’t mum say to wait till you’d finished those to leave the table?”
Mimi screws up her face at Michael and sticks out her tongue, “Stop being a meanie Mike! I’m sharing with the new girl!”
The cheeky little thing turns ‘round handing me a tiny teddy matchin’ her beautiful brown eyes. I haven’t had one of these since prep. The girl’s starin’ at me like she’s expectin’ something. “Thanks,” assumin’ that’s what she’s waitin’ for.
“You’re welcome!” It’s pretty cute how proud this kid is as she jumps off the couch. Her frizzy hair bouncing behind her, she mockingly wiggles her head at Michael and skips off into the other room.
Aamira’s a funny girl. Cheeky, but my sister and I wouldn’t change her. I sigh as she hops back to the other room, going back to Banana’s in Pyjama’s blaring on the T.V.
“Would you like me to show you your room?” I figure Kasey might want some space to settle in for a bit.
“Yeah, that’d be good,” she nods and smiles with resignation as she pulls herself up and swings on her backpack.
She doesn’t come out ‘til I’m knocking on her door with food. Mum’s made curry for dinner. I take her some on a plate and place it on her desk when she lets me in. She looks at it for a second and wrinkles her nose, then turns back to her phone. The room smells like burning rope but I can’t see any fire. There is a small scorch mark on the bedside table which stands out against the warm pine. “How are you feeling?” My face echoing her initial expression of defeat as my breath hums with a solemn respect.
I’ve been so god damn stressed lately. Can’t keep track of this rollercoaster that’s fucken’ my life. It’s so hard to have a good time now. My insides are burning up like a volcano about to throw up everything from in it. My God am I thankful Jacob's been helping me out. Right now that’s all lost though. This bud’s given me some respite, but my hands are still shaking. “How are you feeling?” How do I respond to that? I’ve been feelin’ shit. Just shit. How could I feel anything else right now? But there is some calm in this place. Nothing brings you crashin' right back down to earth more than when you’re dumped with a bunch of strangers. At least these strangers are treatin’ me like family.
“I’m feelin’ ok,” he can probably see through my plaster smile but that’s ok. I’ve got nothin’ to hide.
“Well, if you want anything or anyone to talk to I’ve got plenty of time to fill,” jokingly, his smile laughs, but I can see hope swimming in his eyes. I smile my thanks and he leaves the room.
Buzz. It’s Jacob. I’ve sent him the address. Tonight we’re gonna be joined by a few of his old resi mates. They’re all out now though. Too old for resi. Burnt up from years of institutionalised hell. He says he’s got somethin’ that’ll help cool me down. Startin’ to get on my nerve though. He’s always complaining I’m not serious enough about commitment, but fuck what does he expect? I’m 14 for Christ’s sake.
I take my medication and lie down for bed. I’m so exhausted. I can feel the panic rising in my throat. I can never sleep right. 10pm, wake up. 12am, wake up. 2am, wake up. Always the same. It’s like I can’t lay still without being whipped into movement, without being shot in the leg. Always crashing, always burning. I lie there feeling the flames lick up my limbs, memories flickering on empty space. Then, I am suddenly saved. I hear something through the cloak of silence that enshrouds the night. A click. Then a scrape. And suddenly, the thud of a landing made on wet soil. She’s running. I wish I could run. I want to run so fast only the wind can catch me. Bang, bang, splash on the damp concrete below.
[LM1]Can you describe this? Think about how Clarke describes the suburb at the start of Shu Yi
If you search ‘triple front cream brick house’ these were popular in the 60s/70s
[LM2]Chick? Woman? Girl?
[LM4]‘im but I don’t…
[LM5]Something/sumthn as dumb as his age
[LM8]It’s not clear that this is an audio track
You could do something about the robotic drolling on
[LM11]Need to persist
[LM12], as always.
This repetition is more like Clarke.
[LM15]but I don’t