Ruby Todd 2019
The colour dips from my arms like icy water drips from the leafs on the tree that hangs over my house. The tree is old and tired but if it were die, it would fall and destroy everything beneath it
The colour tints my eyes like the tinted windows in the car on a sunny day keeping the light from getting in where it is so unwanted and yet so necessary
The colour blossoms on my cheeks like a rose blossoms in his hands when he loves it, every bit of it, even its thorns
The colour of the sound that crawls from my throat and spills from my mouth filling the room with empty silence like an echo finally fading and no longer heard or just no longer listened for
The colour of the world around me when my eyes close and my mind quiets like the life she described when he wasn’t there with her, and the colour of mine knowing he’s not
I’ve been scared of the dark as long as I can remember.
The idea of things lurking in the shadows terrified me.
It wasn’t until I was a little bit older that I found true darkness.
I wasn’t afraid of the man that I though lived under my bed anymore, instead, I was afraid of the man that sat next to me on the empty 6:30am bus and stroked my arm.
No longer was I afraid of the ghost that lived in my wardrobe, I was afraid the ghosts of the people I buried in my mind would come back to haunt me.
Instead of lying awake at night thinking the dress that hung from my draws was a girl who would come to get me while I slept, I laid awake at night thinking the boy who one day told me he loved me then stole my heart from my sleeve the next would break the three locks I had on my door and come to get me while I slept.
I knew true darkness then.
When I was small and scared, my mother used to give me a light to fill the darkness.
I found that light again not so long ago.
I found him and I haven’t let him go since.
He holds my hand when the man gets on the empty bus.
He learnt how to do an exorcism on the ghosts in my mind.
He checks the locks four time for me and then again at 2am.
I found him, and he is the brightest light that shines in my darkest rooms.
The Railway Bridge
Day 185 since the attack
No one knows what’s on the other side of the railway bridge. The thick forest makes it impossible to see to the other side. No one has been across and back. The train doesn’t run anymore. It used to before the attack. When the sun shone over the carriages, we would sit and had picnics. We don’t have picnics anymore. The forest was tame before. Now it’s grown wild. My dad went through six months ago. We haven’t seen him since. There’s only a few of us left. Five families and us. After the attack, most of the other families were killed or fled to the other side. Mum has been wanting to go through for weeks now. She missed my dad. I miss him too. When she cries I hold her and tell her “Maybe we’ll go tomorrow.”
Day 1 of new life
There was another attack yesterday. We were getting food from Safeway when the bullets and bombs came hurling out of the sky. Mum and I dropped everything and ran. We ran to the bridge and straight through the overgrown bushes without a second thought. The branches scratched my face and my feet stung from the twigs being lodged into my feet, but we kept running. The trees seemed to get bigger and taller and I thought the forest would never end. Suddenly I was blinded by the light and I felt the hot sun on my face. I stumbled around tugging on my mum’s hand trying to let my eyes adjust to the brightness. Once I could see, I noticed a large group of people huddled around us. The people stared. Then someone came through the crowd. Someone I recognised. It was my dad. I ran to him and wrapped him up in the biggest hug I’d given anyone. “You’re ok!” I sobbed into his shirt. He just hugged me tighter. After mum and I had settled in, I looked around the new place we would call home. I noticed something about the train on this side of the forest. It runs.
On one night, every year, all the boys and girls, mums and dads who lost someone during the war, gather at the small stone shrine and garden that stand next to the preschool on Main Rd. They sit among the flowers, on the benches and some across the road in The Burger Lounge and wait. I’m not sure what they wait for but if I’d had to guess, I think they wait for the ones they lost. I’ve walked past and seen old ladies weeping at the empty bench next to her. I’ve seen young kids giggle at blank spaces in front of them. I’ve seen women talk to vacant chairs as they eat at their meals. My only solution is the ghosts of the soldiers. They must be coming back to check up on the ones they left behind. Because they can’t be gone forever. Can they?
Everyone knew Lyle, but no one really knew Lyle. He lived everywhere and nowhere. No one talked to Lyle, but he talked to everyone. Sometimes you’d see Lyle three times a day, sometimes you see him three times a year. Sometimes I’d see him one second, then, when I look away and look back, he’d be gone. Then one day I saw him. He looked right at me and I smiled. He smiled the biggest smile I’d seen on a person’s face. Then he looked sad. He looked so sad he might have cried. I was just about to cross the road and see if he was ok when a car passed, and he was gone. I haven’t seen him since.
This Is Boring
I used to think Eltham was the most boring place in existence. I mean, my closest train station is fifteen minutes away by bus and ten by car. My closest shopping plaza is half an hour away via public transport and twenty minutes via car. There’s only a train every fifteen minutes, if I miss one I have to wait an eternity for another! No one lives in Eltham. When I tell someone the street I live on the say, “Sorry where?” and I have to explain, “Yes I live on the border of Eltham and Research, I don’t expect you to know where View Mount Crt is, can we please get back to the English assignment we’re actually supposed to be doing.” My thoughts on my location changed, however, when one day on my way to school, I saw a whole other path I hadn’t seen before.
On this particular day, I had to walk to school from the station because I missed the bus and as I was walking I spotted this path. I immediately (After taking the walk many times before) knew that it definitely had not always been there. So I did what any curious, confused and already late for school person would do. I decided I would be even later in order to figure out where that path led. They say curiosity killed the cat… but I’m human so I assumed that proverb didn’t apply to me and began on my adventure.
As I walked further and further down this strange path, secretly hoping it would eventually lead me to Maccas, I began to notice the trees around me were becoming black. Some white. Not like a burnt black or a paper white, more like the black and white television kind (the colour of something that tends to be really old). The more I started to notice this alteration, the more I began to notice more things changing colour. The bushes, the path, the sky, the grass, all gradually began to change colour until I was completely surrounded by the two dull shades. I began questioning wondering why I decided to allow myself to be even later for my favourite class (English) when the path abruptly stopped. It just ended without warning. I looked around to find I was back where I started. However, something was different. Everything was still black and white, with the exception of myself, and the people around me were draped in strange clothes. They had the weirdest hairdos I’d ever seen. They looked like those boys at school who play a lot of sport and never stop talking about all the sports they play and wear the exact same outfit as each other every single day. You know, the Jacob Loves, the Jed Wallaces, Taj Andreettas and all the rest. They were dressed in clothes you would only wear to a 70s/80s party. It could only mean one thing. I was in Eltham. In the 80s. At first, I wasn’t fussed, the 80s were supposed to be awesome! Funky clothes, half-decent music, etc. But as I became aware of how horrible it truly used to be around here, I was more than eager to be back in 2018.
My closest shopping plaza; forty minuets away! An hour and a half by bus! There are no cafes around here, not to mention there’s only a train every hour! I could not cope one day in this time let alone live there. I walked back to school that day. Took the path back into my own time, thank goodness. I actually wasn’t too late to school. By the time I got into my English class, I listened to a couple of people do their presentations then presented my stories. Mr. Ford was so impressed by my writing skills, he gave me a top mark on my assignment! He also told me five times at least, how I was his favorite student and that I didn’t have to worry about doing any more work for the rest of the year. (He’s a very generous person).
The whole experience shifted my perspective on my generation’s civilization. I know I’m not too bad off. And when I miss the train, I just sigh, and wait my fifteen minutes.