AlaynaMCole

An emerging writer and undergraduate student living on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.

  The once-lined page was now a near-uniform pale blue, threads blurring so that they no longer guided the generations-old script that danced across its coffee-stained surface. Ink had spread in patches, dispersed by droplets of a liquid long-since dried, disfiguring letters and disguising words. The paper was stuck within a transparent sleeve that Mally’s mother had used to protect it. Now the disintegrating polypropylene only acted to hide the ancient procedure further, layering ink imprint upon imprint, a plastic palimpsest. In the fluorescence, Mally tilted the page, thinking the perfect angle might make the translation easier, but it was clear some words were unsalvageable; even those that were distinguishable suggested little. Mally decoded the cursive, which resembled kanji more closely than characters from the Latin alphabet. Ingredients: Five hundred …

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My phone buzzes on the kitchen counter. I know that more than three vibrations means someone is trying to call, but I don’t want to get up and check who it is—the television is on, I have a drink nearby, and it’s the first chance I’ve had to relax all day. I ignore it. It stops buzzing, and then starts again. The vibration is only brief this time—a voicemail alert. It can wait. If it’s urgent, whoever it is will surely call again. I turn up the volume. I doze for a little while, the constant chatter of reality television an effective white noise machine. I’m woken by the explosions of the late night news. I drag myself to bed and disappear. I wake. At first I think I have …

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It only felt real when Susan saw the ‘for sale’ sign outside the house, the wooden stake driven through the dry lawn and into the clay soil. She drove up the driveway, put her shiny silver hybrid into park and sighed. They were really selling the house. This house had been their dream. She and Michael used to drive past it every Saturday after their weekly poker games at the hotel. They always stared at its three storeys longingly. They had known they’d never be able to afford it, but that didn’t stop Susan fantasising about fixing the wilted front garden and giving the intricate architecture a fresh coat of paint. Then they hit the jackpot. Susan slipped her Dolce and Gabbana handbag over her shoulder and locked the car. …

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You wake to an itch on the back of your left thigh. You try to move your hand, desperate to scratch the irritation. Your arm feels heavy. It’s stuck to the dirt. Dirt. Why are you lying on dirt? You open your eyes. You are met with absolute darkness and it provides no clues. At least your eyelids follow your orders, you suppose. Your arm still refuses to budge. You clench your muscles, trying to convince your leg to stop itching. Eventually it complies. With the discomfort having passed, you can finally give your surroundings your full attention. Your eyes begin to adjust to the light. They see little. The dirt stretches uninterrupted to a wall. At least, you assume the slightly darker shadow ahead of you is a wall. …

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Donald’s distressed groan woke Joyce immediately. She turned as quickly as her tired muscles allowed, her knees cracking in the cold. She observed Donald’s shadowed figure. He looked asleep, but his muscles were spasming gently. His leg quaked, and then his arm. ‘Don,’ Joyce said, shaking her husband’s shoulder. ‘Wake up.’ He whimpered, trapped in his dream, quietly pleading for somebody to save him. Joyce shook him again, a little more forcefully. He stirred. His eyelids fluttered and his eyes opened groggily. With an exhausted hand, he wiped away the sleep and pooling tears. A face haunted him. A little boy, alone in a dark room, water lapping at his ankles, rising to his thighs… Donald coughed, clearing the choking water and overwhelming sadness from his throat. ‘It’s okay.’ Joyce’s …

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