Home' Focus : 2014 College Yearbook Contents 80
Year 9 short story runner-up: Eloise Bennett
Year 9 short story winner: Ya Ya MacKeddie
Year 10 short story winner: Molly King
It is good to finally be going home, thinks Piper. It is where her heart is after
all. Besides, she has already been gone too long.
As the train struggles into the station she steals a cautious, insecure
glance, making sure she isn’t catching vacant stares from the city goers, who
are so foreign to her now. As the train comes to a halt she steps on board,
relieved she can shelter from the miserable early morning drizzle and the
claustrophobic clatter of the concealed city subway.
She offers the driver a wry smile as she flashes her pass and slides messily
across the battered seat. Reaching for her rucksack she pulls out her flask,
sipping conservatively at the last of her bitter coffee. Weary, she draws the
cuffs of her shirt over her chilled fingers and slips her head phones into her
ears, drowning out the Monday morning bustle with the heavy bass and
persistent drum beat. Subconsciously she feels her old, beaten Doc Marten’s
tap against the floor as she relaxes into the train ride, huddling against the
window and letting her eyelids conceal her from the early morning haze.
The train eases into the station as she wakes, shaking off the sleepiness
with a stretch as she stumbles onto the platform. Clambering the graffiti
stained steps she grasps the wire mesh and swings open the latch. The streets
have changed she thinks looking out into the dreary mist.
He arches his back arrogantly slouching against the frame of the rusting
street light and in the dull morning the lamplight is still glowing as she first
sees him. He has that same sandy hair and that all too good smile.
“Did you miss me?” he speaks with nervousness hidden by an
overshadowing exterior of false confidence.
“I’d be lying if I said no,” quivers Piper, too proud to admit that the sight
of him makes her smile, her soul curdling with a whirlpool of love and loss,
“thanks for being here.”
“No worries, come on, we have a few gaps to fill,” he says eagerly,
gesturing her with a keen stance.
The pair stroll past an occasional local and step thankfully into the local
coffee lounge, a cool gust of the outside chill sweeping over the pair as the
In The End, We Go To A Circus
We sit on the roof of an abandoned building. Even though he has always
been scared of heights, I make him sit next to me so both our legs are hanging
off the side of the decrepit structure. I laugh at him as he pokes his tongue out
and we make fun of the people in our rundown excuse for a town.
I know this place like the way I know how to sneak out my back window.
From the edge of the roof, I can see the oval where I had my first kiss and broke
my first bone in the same evening. I was so dazed by a prepubescent face on my
own that I had fallen off the metal railing I had been sitting on, breaking my arm
in two places. I politely asked the teacher to be driven to the hospital. She had
declined in a monotonous tone (like a true resident of this town) and given me
an icepack as the boy muttered apologies under his breath.
There is a stain on the cement pavement from a Year 3 Science experiment
gone wrong, and another from a badly thought out prank. The whole block is
covered in scars from teenage rebellion and I have lost countless hours of sleep
to the drunken shouts of the residents here. If I squint hard enough in moonlight,
I can see bright green spray paint spelling out words I dare not utter in front of
He jokes that I am the most uptight person he knows. I scream the lime-
coloured words at the top of my lungs, over and over until the profanities don’t
make sense, just to prove him wrong. He kisses me even though it’s not romantic
at all; just last week we had witnessed a man vomit in the street below us.
Although there is a lingering smell of cheap cigarette smoke and sour milk in the
air, he slings an arm around my shoulder and talks about everything. He is full
of life and all the things this town is not and we cannot stay here. Not when the
only beautiful things are old, ripped band posters and lonely flowers struggling
for their survival on the side of a footpath.
So I ask him to leave this dirty, smoke-tinted town with me, because even
though we’ve grown up here – maturing like plants smothered in half-light and
smog – we cannot die here.
I ask him to run away with me. Far from the petty dramas of this town that is
filled with eyes lacking ambition. Far from the judgement of the busy-bodies with
too much time on their hands and people rushing past likes rats seeking shelter.
Far away from the dreary or uncontrollable lives that are guaranteed for us if we
I tell him we could drive to the middle of empty wheat fields, the city lights in
the distance shining almost as brightly as his eyes. I tell him that there is a train
station just east of here that has railways we can tiptoe across, our arms spread
out wide like tightrope walkers, as we wait for the nearest ride out of this town. I
tell him about the cheap motel signs glowing on the side of worn-down highways
and the way the halogen lights in the thread-bare rooms would contrast against
I ask him to run away because I can’t stand one more moment in this town
and I know he can’t either.
But he just shakes his head, a small, sad smile on his face.
YEAR 9-10 CREATIONS
Ruby and Lance
She stood alone in the dull light. Her luminous, dark
skin melted into the darkness. Her thick, black hair gently
framed her striking face. Her intense brown eyes held my
gaze and for a moment, we were the only two people in
I asked her name, but she stood silently and still in the
darkness. I gently moved forward, standing next to her. “I
am a doctor for the Aborigines,” I spoke steadily. “I will not
hurt you,” I assured.
We made our way to the car. She sat silently, intently
gazing out the window. We arrived at the clinic and I
gestured her into a room. She followed cautiously, but I
could feel that she trusted me. She sat up on the chair
looking straight ahead. I smiled, looking over at her and
she smiled back, redness filling her round cheeks.
I drove her back to the humpy, wondering where the
rest of her family were. I started the car and could see her
lonely face disappearing in the mirror. To my great surprise,
I felt a tear roll down my face.
I was sitting in the clinic days later. I sat staring out the
window into the hot, dusty day. I saw a dark, small figure
in the distance. It was beautiful Ruby. I felt my heart beat
faster. I raced out to her. I slowed down as I got closer and
forced myself into a steady walk.
I asked her to come home with me. She nodded and
smiled. I opened up the front door and she wandered
around the empty house. Finally, she sat down on a chair
and smiled. The house didn’t feel so empty anymore.
I invited Ryan, my friend and his wife, Jean for dinner.
At first Ruby was quiet, but she gradually grew more
confident and began to laugh with us. Ryan and Jean
loved Ruby. She fitted perfectly into my world, even
though it was so vastly different to the one she was used
to. She quickly picked up English so that the house was
soon filled with our voices and laughter melding together.
I loved Ruby more than anything else. I felt I was born to
love her; that we were so different and yet we fitted so
completely. Together, we made a whole.
One day, Ruby’s family returned. I saw that Ruby had
another world she moved in and seeing her with her
people made me realise that there was a whole other side
to this beautiful woman. I shared Ruby with her family.
They camped happily in our backyard and Ruby moved
happily between both existences with ease and love.
I asked her to marry me. She walked through the
church, glowing in a white, lace dress. She was stunning.
We were the first to marry like this in Australia, they said.
Black and white. No one objected. Ruby was loved by
everyone in the community.
One day a man came to our house. They wanted Ruby
on the register of wards. Ruby is my wife, a human being.
Why would they take her rights away? What if something
happened to me? What would become of her? She was
my beloved wife and it pained me to think of this. Even
more so, when I considered she was now with child. Our
baby was due in the spring.
He walked over awkwardly. His light skin shone in the
fading light. He stood peacefully and his gentle, blue eyes
held my gaze.
“Ruby?” He calmly took a step towards me, holding a
clip-board. I held my breath, my heart jumping out of my
chest. He spoke a few more words, but I did not catch
them as I was too focused on his hand reaching out to
mine. Slowly I took it, and he gently pulled me towards a
shiny, grey car.
After the clinic, he took me home. We got out of the car
and his warm, gentle hand reached for mine as he led me
out into the night. We stood for a few long seconds before,
he let go. “Goodbye Ruby.” I didn’t want him to go.
Days later, I stood across from the clinic. The door burst
open and the man came running towards me. “Ruby, are
you all right?” the man asked. “Come and stay with me,” he
blurted out. “I mean, if you want to.” I nodded, smiling.
The house was different. There was a round bowl, for
washing with running water. There was a bench for resting
with a soft cushion called a mattress. Lance left during the
day but came back at night. I loved him straight away.
He came home one night. He was holding some bags.
He pushed them towards me. Inside were beautiful
dresses and shoes. I smiled up at him. He wrapped his
strong arms around me and I felt my insides swirl.
One day, I looked out the window and saw my family
standing huddled together in the morning sun. I raced
outside and threw my arms around them. My mother
looked down at me and inspected my clothes. Lance came
out and stood beside me. “I love him,” I told my family.
He asked me to marry him. I told him yes. I loved him
with all of my heart. Soon, I wore a shiny, silver ring.
One evening, a man in a uniform knocked on the front
door. I heard the man saying something about me. Lance
started yelling and then I heard the front door slam. Lance
held me. I felt one of his tears roll down my shoulder.
I was sick one morning. My stomach was swelled. I
thought maybe I had caught a cold.
When the bush flowers came again, I gave birth to
Margaret, a beautiful girl with golden skin and tight ringlets
of black hair. She had Lance’s eyes. We were so happy.
Maggie knew two worlds. We all loved her so much.
Maggie was 8, when they came. She was outside
playing in the backyard when the paddy-van pulled up and
snatched her away. When they took her, they stole my
heart. I lie here now in the hospital. The white fellas say I
am dying of cancer. My people say I am dying of a broken
heart. I heard my Maggie is with the nuns, in a mission,
in South Australia. So far away. Oh, my little Maggie. My
body aches for you.
My world has turned cold and grey and empty. My child
was taken away by the authorities. My wife died from the
pain. My wife was labelled a ward, my child a half-caste.
Their papers describe them as well-behaved, attractive and
Maggie as part-abo with good teeth. Teeth? Their value is
measured by the quality of their teeth? These people are
human beings. They are my family, my love, my world.
My beautiful Ruby and Maggie. My heart has been ripped
apart and I will yearn for you wholly, until I die.
door slams behind.
Loose change rolls across the floorboards, the barista moves to the buzz of
the coffee machine and bustling business men and eager mothers sip on bitter
coffee as the rhythm of the coffee shop proceeds for yet another weekday. Piper
and Archie choose a seat by the window, letting each other’s presence engulf
them in lost familiar ways.
“Things haven’t quite been the same since you left,” says Archie gingerly.
A montage of dismantled images swirl in her head in a confusion of nostalgia
“How so?” she mutters.
“More ways than one. I haven’t been to the river since you left,” reminisces
The pair talk until the sun slips out from behind the clouds and begins to
reflect a warm glow against the window. Oh, how the day has changed, thinks
Piper. They stay until the last straggling customers wander reluctantly from the
wrinkling leather armchairs and the staff begin fanatically sweeping the crumb
littered floors. Eventually they are ushered out, as the café prepares for the
hustle and bustle of lunch service.
He has agonised over her absence for so long, wondered each day where
she has been. Finally as the lamplight flickers off and the traffic hums by, she
whispers sweetly into the rain. He smiles, serenely smiles, for deep inside he
knew it all along.
The truth is Piper Ingham never really left, for Piper Ingham is always in two
places at once.
They wander in silence for a while until the outskirts of town are far behind
and nothing but the grass drenched with dew can stop them. They sprawl out
across the bank, skipping stones and staring at the clouds. For a moment it
is as though nothing has changed, until she remembers that somewhere out
there her other self is lost, but she lets the realisation slip into a neat file of
subconsciousness, so that she can simply be. Be here in this moment with him,
nothing more or nothing less.
It is good to be home she decides, because after all it is where her heart
“But everything we’ve ever known is here,” he says. He doesn’t want to leave
because leaving means change and exciting uncertainties, something we’ve never
experienced before. He’s scared of leaving a broken family, despite the fact they’re
too self-absorbed in their own meagre existence to care about his. He’s afraid of
new horizons and the disappointment we will face if the great escape isn’t what I
dream it will be.
“Anyway, I’m happy here,” he states, his speech overconfident, as if
pronouncing his words clearly enough will make up for the fact he doesn’t believe
As much as he insists that he is happy, I know he is not. I can hear the
bitterness in his voice during our whispered conversations, his voice ringing cold
and harsh in the silent hour of three in the morning. He has too much life in his
blood to be kept in this greyscale town. He is a boy with ink-stained hands, and
spray paint speckled in his hair. There are traces of graphite under his fingernails
and watercolours marking the collar of his shirt. Here, where the people scowl at
anything teeming with life, his passion is restricted to his ribcage. Sometimes when
I lean my head on his chest, I can hear it thumping for a way to get out.
I try to reason but he will not listen to me, and soon I do not listen to him
either. He is cautious of the rest of the world, and I am sick of this part of the
world. We drown each other out with words we do not mean and in the end, I am
hurt enough to walk away, leaving him sitting by himself on the edge of the roof.
He does not follow me and I will not stay here.
He is not the only one who will be smothered by this town. So I reach under
my bed and take the money I have been saving from my mind-numbing job and
the crumpled train schedule, covered with the routes I never thought I would need
to travel by myself. I do not stop packing my suitcase, I do not stop planning out
my road map; if I do not leave now - if I let myself taste one hint of regret over
him- I will never leave at all.
The trip to the station is bitterly cold, and I am colder still without a warm
arm around my shoulders. But I persevere, even when my lips turn blue and it
becomes apparent the late night train is not coming. I stick my thumb out to the
cars passing on the highway until a beat-up car finally stops on the side. I’m willing
to risk a trip with a stranger if it means getting out of the cold. It’s a lemon that
looks third-hand and has been bought for a dirt cheap price; the doors are faded
red, and there is rust in the hinges. It’s the sort of car one buys for a teenager just
learning to drive, something they can batter around. I don’t complain though, I just
take one last look at my personal hell before I slowly climb in the passenger door
and mumble my thanks
“No problem, I bought the car tonight just to escape this town as well,” the
driver says with a voice I would recognise anywhere.
I momentarily stop shivering long enough to look at the driver’s face and I
cannot believe my eyes. I have spent hours memorising the angle of the lopsided
grin I see, but I can’t help but feel like I’m looking at it for the first time. The grin
grows into a furtive smile as I continue to stare, dumbfounded.
“So do you want to go to a wheat field first, or do you want to find a shoddy
motel?” he teases, before he makes the car move faster, engine spluttering into the
calm of the night.
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