Newsletter JUNE 2020
AN OLD FRIEND “The Shiralee”
Don’t miss the third instalment of “The Boy” below.
I spent an enjoyable morning trawling my bookshelves looking for a tasty read; should have been cleaning them; the shelves. I selected “The Shiralee”, written by D’Arcy Niland and published in 1955; an Australian Classic. I knew I had enjoyed the story years ago but could not remember how the plot unfolded.
A marvellous book; a picturesque book; an emotive book. The depth to his characters engaged me from the beginning. I found his description of places and people fascinating. His use of similes and metaphors was enlightening. I couldn’t put it down; no sleep that night.
The book had been dedicated to his mother with the verse “The Ballard of the Shiralee” by Ruth Park.
Niland’s unique words, some I remembered hearing my grandparents using, others I could not find in the dictionary and were most likely colloquial to the area at the time. Words like: ruckles, truckles, brustle, slish, powtering, blatter of tin on roof, low deep toowoomba of thunder, chyacked. For me, all these added the colour but left me torn between wanting to follow the yarn and wanting to check the dictionary.
Wonderful, pleasurable, stimulation for one’s imagination.
I found it interesting how he used inverted commas when using dialogue in the present situation but in his memories, the dialogue had no inverted commas.
I intend to analyse these things all more closely and hope it inspires my imaginations to more creative visions when developing similes and metaphors.
I hope you are turning up some gems in your reading and writing too.
Current Weather and Tides
Now we have begun to tiptoe out of the morass of COVID 19 and our scientists are working around the clock to find a vaccine, I have made tentative steps towards replanning the book launch for “Shadows on the Goldfield Track” at the Cooktown Library. In the story, the dramatic finale develops on the goldfield track between Cooktown (North Queensland) and Palmer River Goldfields in 1874.
If you have not purchased your copy you can do so on the website below.
Join the mailing list while you are there visiting too.
I am inspired by the readers’ responses. I am glad you have enjoyed the short story instalments here in the newsletters each month; thank you.
Keep reading and writing. Keep safe
A Pearl for your Enjoyment
The following is the THIRD instalment of a short story that won a first-prize.
Written by Elizabeth Rimmington
“Mrs. Mayberry, we were here two days ago, remember. You were notified the boy had run away from the foster family. You were also instructed to let us know if and when he returned.”
“Well, I guess ’e ’asn’t returned then, ’as ’e? Yer took him. Yer supposed to look out for the boy.”
“Damn.” The officer’s arms fall to his side and his head droops as the ambulance drives off into the night. He calls to his partner. “Sam, get your torch and scout about the place. See if you can find anything of a young lad; about eight-year-old. I’ll go over and ask the neighbours.”
The boy scrambles deeper into the camouflage under the house. The conversation between the copper and the new neighbour drifts in.
“Excuse me, sir, can you help? Have you seen a young boy around these premises recently?”
“Sorry, sorry, mya English notta good. No understand.”
“You live here, do you?”
“Live? Me liva here, yes. Notta good English, sorry.”
“Damn,” the officer mumbles under his breath as he returns to the car. “Come on, Sam, this is a waste of time. If that bloke does speak English, he’s not letting on. Let’s get back to the station. We’ll be all night filling out the paper-work at this rate.”
The hum of the nearby traffic claims the night once more.
The rising sun finds the boy crawling through the gap in the fence near the foreign neighbour’s hibiscus shrubs. After a quick reconnoitre he ducks and dives across the garden using the trees and shrubs as cover. The dog runs at his heels. Birds explode from the trees overhead. The boy gasps for air as he stands beside his dog within the lower branches of a grevillea tree protecting a bird-feeder. Yesterday he recovered chopped fruit mixed in amongst the sunflower seeds. Today his eyes light up. A small meat pie sits upon a wobbly table. In a saucer, several small scraps of raw meat attract a cloud of flies. The boy does not see Mr. Spiro’s smile as he peers through the curtains of the laundry.
Within a week, the rhythm of life has returned to normal. His father goes out daily. His mother sleeps the day away. The first skirmish of each day occurs in the late afternoon while the main event starts shortly after the midnight chiming of the town clock. Today though, the boy is restless. He chews at his filthy fingernails. He does not settle to viewing the pictures in his comic book. It is the silence above his head that unnerves him. Even the dog whines and twitches. Dusk is falling. His father left for the pub some time ago. The swish of his mother’s footsteps has not been heard this evening. Mr. Spiro’s kitchen light blazes out into the night. The rhythm of his day is out of sync. The boy knows he should take the dog and find something to eat but his belly is swirling like the branches of the trees in a storm. He huddles close to his pet. The soft footfall on the steps signals the first caller of the night. The unanswered tap on the door is repeated three times before the feet retreat. When the second caller knocks, louder and louder, the feet do not retreat. The screech of the door splits the night air. Floorboards creak as the caller moves across to the bedroom. At the flick of a switch, the light spreads out across the yard.
Silence; a deep still silence, a resounding silence. After what seems like a long time, frantic sounds of a search drift down to the boy before the visitor flies through the house and out onto the road.
It is the welfare lady who discovers his mother’s body; two days later. There is no point asking Mrs. Mayberry where the boy is anymore.
Over the following days, the boy develops a liking for the peace and quiet. He does not understand his resentment at the intrusion of the copper and the welfare lady when they return. He recognizes Mrs. Scriven. He has been for a ride in her car many times. Luckily, he returned from scavenging for his breakfast when he did. As it is, he only just reached the haven of his coir mattress when the car pulled into the drive. His eyes and ears follow their movements. He picks at the scabs on his legs.
“So, what exactly are we doing here today, Mrs. Scriven?” The copper leads the way on to the verandah. “Careful of that loose board.”
Mrs. Scriven steps over the large gap in the floor before answering. “I want one last look to see if there is any evidence the boy has returned home. It will be too late in a couple of days. They are going to demolish this house.”
To be continued.