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It was one of the most important things they did together: with each other and for each other. They would buy a bottle of wine—just a little bit more expensive than they should be buying—and watch the asterisms over Fitzroy. When it was about to happen, it was always a silent agreement. They both knew, on rare afternoons when the terracotta haze spread its wings over Melbourne to greet the rising moon, that the lights would be at their brightest. They both had an eye for the atmosphere and an arcane sense of infinitesimal shifts in lunar alignment. It would take him at least an hour to set up the telescope. Years before they’d moved in together, when he’d first taken her back to his tiny apartment, it was the …

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Our bricks and mortar sit on rammed earth like dirt sits on our skin. What seems so solid, so dependable is nothing more than a visitation on the earth. A layer to one day be washed away by choice, storm or the certainty of time itself. Circular Quay rests like the nest of a kingfisher against the water, incubating fragile eggs which hold such promise. A heart with all the trains and busses like blood lines pulling and pumping the vital molecules of us in and out. With every beat the atrium of Wynard and the ventricle of Central Station fill and empty with fresh hands, fresh legs and fresh minds to replenish and repair. To ensure growth. Our icons, The Harbor Bridge and The Opera House, like two eyes …

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the reef’s every nimble colour mirrored by an oil slick* __________ * So the speaker ends on “slick,” an elusive word that, writhing like a sea snake through vaulted coral outcrops, animates the final line while wedging a stopper in our thoughts. Or so we think. Note the shallow correlation between nature (as always, organo-goodly) and its befouling opposite. This mode is as comfortable – for any post-romantic – as are the loafing arms of an anemone to the chary clownfish. Must be, we think, more vulgar lefty commentary. But no, look deeper, these are baited words amid which lurks something devious and salty. We recognize the form as Haiku, but Haiku have strict rules governing, laid down by clever folk on expensive paper: the above is in breach. We …

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For the ROSALIE GOES BOPPING award we asked you to write about the theme of music and character. It was great to see some fresh faces and new voices on the short list. She had enough. Thump. Thump. Thump. Three knives; three BULLS-EYES against the wall. That’s from Rebecca Xu’s Repetition. A mournful, chaotic tale of insanity, addiction, and music. Michael Drew’s Country Boy covered the life of whiskey drinking, Otis Spann tooting Charlie as he moved through landscapes and towns in eight short vignettes. Similarly epic in scope. Candace Davis’ Her Painted Melody weaves a tale of Parisian wealth, war, melody and music. Covering three generations of women in a short story isn’t easy, but that’s what makes Candace’s piece so interesting. Levi Ender’s Scream is a magical tale about a girl …

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The familiar mourning melody of the infernal violin seared through her mind like a sharp knife slicing mercilessly through her aching heart. Nothing irritated her more than the screeching of string instruments. It was unfortunate for her to have been taught the skills of decoding the beautiful messages hidden by the language of numerous black and white notes printed laboriously by hand on pieces of manuscripts, passed down through generations, surviving wars and destruction under the protection of a thinly veiled glass case, and knowing the secrets whispered by the harmonies and melodies produced by the violin. Again and again, the memorable tune remained glued in her mind, stubbornly refusing to leave for all the gold owned by the Aztecs. No matter what she did, whether she cried tears until …

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  8 Charlie collapsed into the armchair next to his father. ‘Would ya?’ Charles Senior held out a glass, smoothed ice-cubes jangling within. Charlie took the glass from his father’s hand, walked to the cabinet, filled it and handed it back before leaving Charles Senior alone in the lounge, less one bottle of whiskey. Like his old man, Charlie’s days were spent in the shearing shed. His nights were spent drinking himself into a stupor, listening to the same old records, dreaming of being the guitarist, pianist, singer, anything. 7 He woke feeling groggy—nothing new. Outside, the rolling hills seemed flatter, the plains seemed longer and the ranges seemed further away. The typical cloud cover promised nothing and delivered. By late afternoon Charlie was wandering through the green paddocks with …

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Her painted melody Written by Candace Davis   Clara Poulain really was, quite possibly, the most enchanting pianist on earth. A flowery, petite and curious young woman, she was as humble as she was pleasant. If anything could drive Clara from her 88 ivory-keyed, black-polished grand piano, it lie undiscovered. I am convinced she really believed music coursed through her veins, propelled her heart, nourished her brain.   For an hour or more that afternoon she sat––her content, delicate profile outlined against the sunlit wall––and illustrated the pitter-patter of rain falling. Her body moved with the tempo and, finishing on Middle C, she inhaled the stale, woody scent of the instrument.   “Suppose,” she questioned her mother with hunger, “that I received an acceptance letter this afternoon. Under what conditions …

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Four-Legged Ballet – Madeline Pettet   “Trot at C, canter at A.” The absolute tedium of dressage tests always puts me off ever competing again. It’s supposed to be horse ballet but it feels so rigid and stale. I know Alfie, my companion in these events, gets sick of them too, especially the practice. The first few times are okay, it’s something new but the same circles and same measured gaits easily become painful. Round and round we go. Doing it over and over until my mind is a swirl of equestrian terms and letters standing for arbitrary points of the arena. But without practice we’ll never win. I throw the stack of potential tests to one side and put my head in my hands. There’s no choice about competing …

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Eric sits in his bedroom alone. There is music playing. That song. That song. A drop in the ocean. A change in the weather. Eric’s eyes burn with the promise of tears that he hasn’t had time to allow. He makes an effort to fill his days so he is never consumed by this hungry solitude, but his personal trainer is sick and they couldn’t find a replacement in time. ‘You can have the day off,” the gym receptionist had said, a smile in her voice. By the grace of God, I do not rest at all. Eric stands. He walks to the opposite wall. He walks back to the bed. He runs his fingers through his hair and closes his eyes. He drops to his knees. Absently he wishes …

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  A scream escaped her lips the moment she parted them. The man before her winced as he covered his ears with his hands. She immediately closed her mouth. The silence that ensued was more disturbing than the shriek had been. “What ever happened to you?” he asked, removing his hands apologetically. “You used to have such a beautiful voice.” She turned away, clutching fistfuls of her hair in grief. Don’t remind me. It was a curse. Since she was born, she had been able to make whoever heard her sing fall asleep. It was not an ability she’d ever wanted, nor one she could choose not to use. All her life, she’d been careful not to sing before others, refusing to even speak when someone’s eyelids so much as …

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Anger. Burning, red hot anger. An evil substance which flowed as freely through the veins of the boy as the music through his head. He referred to one as ‘The Poison’ and one as ‘The Antidote’, but they were interchangeable. Neither were safe, but neither were dangerous. The boy possessed an overwhelming enjoyment for one, and a consuming hatred for the other, but they were interchangeable. When anger was love, music was hate. When music was love, anger was hate, and the boy basked in the knowledge that either could harm and either could heal.   The boy felt The Poison. He felt The Poison when his fingers brushed the cold stones which lay over their cold remains. He felt The Poison when his bare feet left history in the …

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I stare at the light green wall. I can’t remember why I am here. Who am I? I am told by people in scrubs that my name is Louisa. The name brings back hints of memories but nothing more. So I stare at the constant, never changing wall. There is a knock at my small wooden door. Moving would take too much effort so I stay firm in my chair. “May I come in?” A woman asks. I should be excited to have a guest, but I’m not. This person will expect me to know who they are. The door creaks open. Footsteps draw near to me. A soft hand touches my wrinkled white fingers. “How are you doing today?” I want to look her but I am frightened I …

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Derek Haines is an author of genre fiction, essays and poetry. His works range from historical fiction with Louis, to The Glothic Tales, a trilogy of science fiction farce, to dark contemporary romance, including One Last Love, Dead Men and For The Love Of Sam. We spoke with Derek about his range of works, and what it’s like being an expat in Europe. Ed: What was for breakfast this morning? DH: As usual, I had Google News, Cricinfo and email for breakfast. But in recent weeks I’ve added my rekindled passion for Scottish Marmalade to my breakfast menu. I wash all this down with coffee and little procrastination before attempting anything more challenging. “Money is nice to have but so quickly disappears. There are more important ways in which to …

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