Imaginif prompts for daily writers.
If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the below photo (changes daily) as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and your link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Stories below are copyright and are Megan Bayliss' writing around the below daily picture prompt.

LIke a gentle flower

"Like a delicate flower, I farted. I farted so loudly, that the Hibiscus shook fair off the bush and landed, splat, in the drain running down the driveway."

"No!" she screamed. "No, Mum! This has got to be a nice story or I will get into trouble." She began to cry, like a baby. "I hate you," she screamed at me as she fled from the story telling seat upon the best garbage bin in the suburb.

"Okay, okay," I cried after her. "I promise to be normal now." She stopped, wanting to believe me but the look in her eyes suggested she was still a little edgy and angry at me. I felt sorry for her. Sorry that I was her mother. Sorry that she didn't understand, or want, a bohemian lifestyle. Sorry, that I was, well, her failure.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Let's start again, darling, and then I'll read your tea leaves." She shot me a look of death. Oh God. I just couldn't get it right. I was trying to be supportive!

"Okay, no tea leaf reading then. But, did you know, that you can dry Hibiscus and drink it?"

"Mum! Stop it. Why can't you be like everyone else? Just be normal for once. Please."

She cried. She was inconsolable. Well, I guess she would have been if she had let me console her. She hated me. She wanted me to be like a fairy princess but, in reality, I was the banished witch.

I thought about that damn flower; the one that fell on the kitchen window sill and prompted our English homework discussion. She had to write a piece of fiction about an ordered garden: an enchanted garden, per se. I was a writer, I could help her. I was right into experiential research to enliven the written word so I encouraged her, outside into the garden, to sit upon the garbage can so that we could watch from a different height how the gentle Hibiscus fell. Did it fall with dignity and majesty or did it fall with fear? I thought the smell of the garbage would assault her sense of social justice and move her toward embracing the irony of the gentle Hibiscus juxtaposed with a dump. How ordered/unordered was that?

"God. Where did I get it all so wrong? How come I am so....different? Why can't I be like the other Mums?" I bashed up on myself like I was OJ and his wife in one.

I sat, head in hands, shoulders dejected and spine curved. I reflected on all the years of hurt; all the years of rejection because I was so different. I didn't try to be different. I didn't try to fit in. I just did things that floated my boat. I sang in public, I swore, I laughed at things most people found obscene. I loved, I lived, I felt.

But now? I felt bruised. Bruised like the petal of the fallen pink Hibiscus. Translucent and folded to highlight a flaw; an ageing and worn down crease in life. A gentle flower, dropped because the tall poppies around me were naught but societal morons who did as every other person did.

I, on the other hand, really am a gentle flower. I am a bohemian, waxy, tough, tiny, native Hoya. I might be bruised but I flower in a way that will ensure my daughter gets the most balanced soil in which to grow strong and beautiful. - like a pink Hibiscus that even in a drain looks wonderful, smells wonderful, is wonderful.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

Expressed to Rwanda

She watched me breast feeding. Fascinated she was. Tried to feed her new dolly a few times, too. Pulled up her little T Shirt and stuck the dolly onto her tiny exposed boobies.

The day she saw me expressing into a suction tube though was interesting! I could tell she wanted to keep watching the World Vision show because she had a couple of attempts at running in to the kitchen to watch, running back to the TV, fixated on both activities while they held her three year old attention.

My pump, pump, pumping in the kitchen was obviously far more exciting that the starving kids in Rwanda. She stood, watching me, interested and intrigued.

"Watcha doin, Marmy?"

"I'm expressing the milk so that Harry doesn't have to go hungry. Daddy can feed Harry tonight with my milk."

"Express," she repeated like the little parrot that she is. "Will Daddy feed them dying kids in 'wandra, too?"


"Them kids had no mummies and daddies and no milk. Never. Can we send that milk to 'wandra?"

I choose not to correct the grammar and tense and instead laughed a hearty laugh. How cute and very thoughtful of Lilly Pilly.

"No darling. We can't send them this expressed milk because it has to be fresh milk for babies and the mail takes a long time. The milk will go off and poison the babies in Rwanda."

"But you can put it in the Express Post bag. That's special for express milk and will keep the milk good."

And that was the day that I knew my Lilly Pilly had developed empathy. That was the day that I knew I was raising a child who cared about social issues.

Expressed milk as an express mail package, lol.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

The Painted Men

A long time ago before the mountains had been properly grown up, the painted men and the Quinkins would fight over the women. The Quinkins wanted the women back in the spirit world but the women were the wives and sisters of the Painted Men, the Yadingi, the people, of the Nagemgingga world. The Yadingi wanted the keep the women because the women collected the rocks, ground them up and made paint for the men to record the stories in the stone libraries.

The Yadinji came up with a clever plan. They would compete with the Quinkin. They would have a painting contest. The Nagemgingga were good painters. They painted the world and what the world meant so that those after them could learn from the ways of the elders.

Messadonga, King of the Nagemgingga, met with the spirit Quinkin. They made up a rule that Messadonga could pick the rules of the competition. The Quinkin thought they were smart because they were of the spirit world. The Quinkin forgot that the Painted Men had the cave paintings of the Painted Men before them to learn what the Quinkin feared.

Messadonga spoke with the Quinkins. “You fella leave our women in our world. You fella gotta paint to win our women before they go long time your world. You fella gotta paint that ocean. You fella got to paint the ocean with all them colour of the land.”

The Quinkin accepted the duel because they too had a cunning plan. The Quinkin were terrified of the Ocean World. The crocodiles and the sharks were from Quinkin’s exiled from the spirit world and them Quinkin fish were still big time mad at Quinkin. Them crocodile and shark snapped Quinkin spirit in half like they were nothing.

The Quinkin planned to build a sand fish trap on the beach. When the tide came in and captured the fish, the Quinkin would paint the fish and send them back out to spread their paint over the entire ocean world.

The Messadonga got their canoes and went out, far out on the water. Their women, confident that their men would return, waded out into the water, up to their waists and sang and waved the men to victory. The Quinkin looked on, jealous that they couldn’t go out and rape the women in the water in front of the now far away Yadingi.

As the Yadingi reached a spot of spiritual calling, they dropped six different paint sacks into the water. The fish nibbled at the sacks and set the paint free, free to settle into the pores of the growing coral.

The coral welcomed the paint and listened to the story about the Quinkin wanting to steal away the women of Nagemgingga. The coral, who loved the sound of the women’s song, made a barrier, a barrier of protection to tell the Quinkin that all women inside that Barrier, belonged to the painted men.

As the coral grew itself, the paint blended and took on new colours, new textures and new blooms. It was a beautiful sight to behold as the paint covered the barrier and made it look like the opal rocks that dessert Yadingi traded. The paint and the coral made the most fantastic picture that went for miles and miles and could be seen from the moon and the stars. It was a great barrier, a Great Barrier Reef of protection.

Concerned about the fish and the bad magic of the Quinkin, Messadonga worked with the reef to tell all the sharks and crocodiles about the Quinkin plan. The Great Barrier Reef called every living sea creature to itself and offered them new colour if they would stay and help create a magical under water picture of beauty. The sea creatures accepted.

In the mean time, the crocodile and sharks swam to shore. They swam into the fish traps made by the Quinkin and ate the Quinkin as soon as Quinkin checked their catch.

That is how the painted men told the story of why they no longer fight over women.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

The Udderly Handy Cow

The poor little caramel cow had to brave the weather alone.

Flash fiction removed as it was extended and submitted to a competition.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

Kitten's play

A slow, pregnant, tear slid down her high cheek bone and rested on the pillow before it decided to slip inside for a final down. Her cloudy blue cataract encircled eyes looked at me, pleading for me to quiet, so that she could tell me wisdom in her last hour.

“It is not the years I am dying with, Megan, but the life I had in my years.” She nodded, as though willing me to understand her wisdom.

I didn’t.

I was 20. 
How could I understand more than sex or drugs….or dodging the police when I had drugs on me? 
Not that Nan would have known about that stuff.

She continued, because she knew the urgency better than I did. 

“I may only be 83, Megan, but I had lived a hundred years by the time I was 21.”

Nan lapsed into a reminisce. 
I lapsed into my own thought and wished for her death so that I could inherit her wealth.

I though on her claim of the life in her years against the years of her life. 
I liked it. 
I might even use it some time to explain all the things I’d done.

I liked learning. 
She encouraged me. 
She schooled me when I was much younger. 
My own parents were too busy.
With the bottle.
With other people too, sometimes.
Other people of the opposite gender.
They were such losers: my parents and also the other people.
They, my parents, died heaps before Nan.
They didn’t learn, they just partied.
Which was good.
I inherited the lot now.
A real lot.
Nan was MIGHTY wealthy.

I though, again.
On her claim of the life in her years against the years of her life.
I wanted to ask her but she wouldn’t shut up.
She kept meowing little platitudes to me.
Little meows that belonged to a kitten, not to an 83 year old.
It made me angry.
Just to begin with.
Then I got interested.

Nan,” I said very firmly, but ultimately respectfully and lovingly as you tend to talk to a dead person, talking. “You talk too much!”

She smiled at me. 
A tired smile, because, she was wanting to die. 
Really wanting to die.

“I’ve always liked your bluntness, Megan. You will go far, my girl. Don’t you ever let those men try and hold you back, my dear. You tell them. You do them; do them with a big stick.”

I smiled.
I liked her sarcasm.

Nan, what did you mean about the life you had in your years?

She winched.
In pain.
Except that I cannot imagine that Nan would ever have felt pain.

A starched, boring, normal, expensive agency nurse injected the machine beside Nan.

“Like the fuck that’s going to help,” I thought. “Why inject a mongrel machine when my Nan needs the pain relief. Dumb bitch, Nurse.”

Nan breathed loud and scratchily for a while. 
I didn’t like seeing her like that and I wanted to ask for her to die.
But, probably, nobody would understand my request.
They would think I was bad.
But, I didn’t want my Nan to suffer.
She had lived a life in her years.

What did she mean by that?

Nan opened her eyes, half sort of. She called my name. I squeezed her hand to let her know I heard her call.

“Never have just one kitten, Megan. Always have two.”

“Yes, Nan.” I lied. I HATED cats. Like I would EVER have two of the smelly little bastards.

“One cat gets lonely and plays up. Two cats watch out for each other. They play. They have fun. They live. Like two people who love each other. But, cats play up because they get bored quickly. Even two cats together if one cat doesn’t want to play anymore. Even two people together...unless they look out for each other and understand how important it is to play, together. Nine cat lives entwined becomes eighteen lives. Eighteen lives means that you live all of life, all of life’s up and downs. Tom catting husbands, playful kitty love at other times. It’s all worth it because you grow and you grow and you grow…through play.”

“Life, Megan,” she continued, staring straight at me, “is for living. Live it like you are walking atop a fence. Like the kittens do. You will always land on your feet, girlie, because I have left you a safety net. Because you are such a kitty and kitty’s shadow, I have left you two safety nets. Enough money for the rest of your eighteen lives. But,…”

She breathed a funny sound and dumb nurse came and checked the monitor, Nan’s pulse and, then, the dumb one glared at me.

“Fuck off,” I thought; I’m interested in what Nan has to say. “Piss off before I can’t hear this shit anymore.”

Nan tolerated the conversation intrusion and waited for private nurse to be gone.  
Nan was always so patient.
So understanding.
Wonder if I would grow patience?

Nan’s hand hold grew weaker over mine.
She softly tapped for my full attention.

“Don’t waste your life on a single thing, Megan. Always double your chances and live life to the double. Juggle your eggs. Play, but play safely. It’s the life you have in your years that makes you wise, not the….”

Her final breath.

My heart.

Nan died imparting her greatest wealth to me. 
I never might know exactly what it was. 
I bought two kittens on my way home though. 
And decided to never do drugs again.

I also got a text about my private clinic results. 

I was pregnant. 
Too young. 
Too early. 
Not ready. 
But, I was filling my years with life and I was going to make sure that Nan’s wisdom lived on.

I called the baby, “Nan.”

I can’t ever remember a time where we didn’t have two kittens in our life. Such clever creatures they are. They never stop learning and helping each other. They never stop playing and having fun.

Nice one, Nan. I finally got it.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

Say "no" Neeve Cope

The pink chalk on the Music Teacher's desk was too much for Neeve. It was so delicious looking, so drooling with the scent of watermelon juice that Neeve just had to have it. She did. She put it into the pocket of her expensive new jacket and quickly left the classroom.

Waiting for her mum, Neeve felt guilty. She was twirling the pink chalk, still hidden in her pocket, round and round between her fingers. Her Mum, the celebrated family lawyer Eva Cope, pulled into the drop and go zone, tooted the horn on her new red BMW, and waved brightly to Neeve. Neeve left her hand in her pocket to protect the stolen treasure and feigned a smile as big as an upside down Sydney Harbour Bridge.

"Hey Mum!" she pretended as she slid onto the still leather smelling front seat. "School was great today. I won an award. It was so embarrassing getting it on assembly. All the kids crowded around me to see it."

"Fantastic sweetheart. What was this one for? You get so many we're going to have to build an extra room to hang them all in. Seat belt darling. Quickly, I'm in a rush. Clients waiting."

Not caring if she got into trouble, Neeve scrunched up the award and threw it over her shoulder. She chattered on to her mum about the music award and the leadership camp that she was asked to go on.

"Miss Carnt said that I could teach a workshop on staying motivated and how to fit in homework when you have so many extra curricula activities to do as well. I don't think I want to go. Can I go paint balling instead that weekend Mum?"

"Paint balling? That's new. Of course my sweet. You can do anything you want - you're a girl remember."

Mother and daughter laughed at their private joke. Lucky Neeve's dad wasn't there because the "Girls can do anything" sticker that Neeve had stuck on the fridge really annoyed him.

"People can do anything," he would say. "Giving girls special attention because they're female is false economy. Look at me: I had a dreadful childhood. My parents were poor, couldn't afford to send me to anything, but I still made it and I'm a boy."

Neeve and her Mum would roll their eyes and walk away. Sometimes if seriously busy Eva Cope was in a playful mood she would tease her husband a little and say, "yes, but girls grow into super women. Boys, well, they just stay boys." Eva would blow Nathan a kiss and Neeve and Eva would run giggling up the hallway into the music room. The annoying sounds they would thump out of the piano made Nathan's head hurt. The girls loved it though; anything to unsettle his controlled Barrister exterior was a game to them.

Over dinner that evening, big burly barrister Nathan Cope passed his beautiful, trendy little wife the dish of smoked salmon crepes she had requested another of. He winked at her, nodded toward the pride of their life who was silently playing with her beetroot and said, "Nice shade of watermelon Neeve's wearing on her lips. Buy that at Myer did you Neeve?"

Neeve's face burnt red. She wasn't wearing any lipstick because Dad had said 12 was too young for lipstick. Her hand flew to her pocket to check that her criminal activity was lying silent. Her mind raced, "Now is the time to tell them. Everyone is in a good mood. I won't get into trouble." Instead of getting her secret off her chest, Neeve chewed her beetroot and opened her mouth wide to shock her father with the red mash inside her mouth.

Purposely controlling his displeasure, Mr. Cope laughed, "Oh Neeve, you're such a rebel. Where did such disgusting behaviour come from? Now go finish your music homework."

Alone in the music room Neeve sat with her violin resting on her lap. She held the bow in her hand and thought of the stolen pink chalk. Without further thought or reason, Neeve raised the bow above her head and bought it smashing down against the side of the table. It broke in two. Ruined. Her parents were in their studies, doing law work no doubt. They were always doing that in the evenings and Neeve was left to be the studious child that she was. They had sound proofed the music room and with the door closed they couldn't hear a thing. Nobody came to check on Neeve's outburst. Nobody was there to ask Neeve what was troubling her. Nobody understood that Neeve had a secret and that she badly needed to tell it.

Taking the pink chalk out of her pocket, Neeve viciously snapped it in two as well. With the larger bit she wrote swear words on the sound proofed sparkling white walls. Standing back to admire her handiwork she realised that she hadn't actually written what she most wanted to say, "I hate music. I hate Mrs. Carnt. I hate her." After scrawling it in the biggest letters she could, Neeve calmly left the room and prepared for bed.

Around midnight Neeve was woken by her father, "What the hell is going on Neeve Cope?" he roared at her. "What the hell have you done?" Neeve pretended to be asleep which was silly because with her father's booming barrister voice bouncing around the bedroom a dead person would have woken. Mrs. Cope stood stiffly by the door. Angered beyond belief by Neeve's music room outburst Eva Cope was unable to speak. With Neeve not responding to her father's demands to know what had happened, the parents walked away in frustration.

Breakfast was dreadful the morning following the outburst. Neither parent looked or spoke to Neeve. The cereal packet slammed down onto the table in front of her and the tea she had only been allowed to drink as of this, her last primary school year, was not given to her. Her father gobbled his bacon as though he was a common, uncivilized hungry person. His highly unusual table manners scared Neeve. She knew he must have been really upset this time because nothing, NOTHING, used to rile him. Neeve had grown skillful in listening to people's out of character behaviour and her father's behaviour was snapping at her.

Mrs. Cope looked drawn. Her gorgeous salon red hair was unbrushed. It hung around her shoulders like red-back spiders dropping from their web. Sitting in her black silk nightie, Mrs. Cope nibbled her toast. Unable to stand the unusualness, Neeve broke.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," she sobbed. "I don't know what happened. It was like somebody else took me over and made me do bad things."

Stonily, Mrs. Cope looked through Neeve while she stated the plan for the day. "You're father and I have cancelled our clients today Neeve. There will be no school for you, no music. There is a psychologist coming to visit us this morning. She is going to assess your pathetic outburst and talk to us all together about getting you back on the right track."

Neeve felt the weight being lifted from her. "Finally, finally. Someone is going to listen to me. I have to tell them. I WILL tell them."

The family therapy was hard. Neeve was embarrassed and her parents were shocked. Her mother cried. Her father paced with his hands behind his back. Every now and then one of them would go to Neeve, hug her, and cry into her shoulder. Neeve just sat; stunned that she had finally told the truth about her music teacher.

Nathan Cope stopped his pacing. He pulled his chair up to face the young female psychologist. His knees were touching hers and Nathan didn't care. This was serious business and the family needed help.

"Explain this to me again please," he demanded in a watered down version of Barrister cross examination, "how is it that a female, a FEMALE teacher could do what she has done to Neeve. This is something that happens to my clients, to people without financial resources to protect their children. It is men that sexually assault children; not women. They care for children. Surely?"

Patiently, the young therapist explained that sexual abuse is something that can happen to anyone, regardless of their financial status. Being wealthy or intelligent doesn't stop someone from being robbed. How could it stop someone from being assaulted? With great compassion, she also explained that women could be perpetrators too. Most importantly though, the young psychologist stressed that Neeve's recent rebellious outbursts were Neeve’s way of trying to tell people that something was wrong.

"Why didn't you just say no, Neeve? Why didn't you tell us?" Neeve's mum sobbed.

Feeling very alone, Neeve though back over all the times she'd tried to tell her parents; about how hard it was to find the words to explain what had happened, how hard it was to understand that her favourite teacher was touching her private parts. Neeve HAD said no, she had started to act out of character and did naughty things that would draw adult attention toward her. Nobody heard her behaviour. They saw it, and dismissed it as Neeve becoming a teenager. Nobody heard her scream for help, her scream that was saying "no."

"I did say no, Mum." Neeve slumped down in her chair and cried into her folded arm. "This has all gone wrong. They don't believe me. They blame me," she screamed inside her head. "Why did I ever think it would be good to tell?"

As though they could read her mind both parents went to Neeve's side. Her mother hugged her tightly, kissed Neeve's salty face and crooned words of belief and thanks. Tussling Neeve's hair, Nathan Cope quickly assessed the best way to handle reporting the abuse.

"Neeve," he began in a serious voice. "I am going to report this to the police. That woman has to be punished for what she has done to you. Either I can use the phone in here, or I can go into another room so that you don't have to hear. Just say no if you don't want to hear my conversation."

Neeve sniffed, thought for a minute and looked up into her Dad's concerned face. Catching her breath so that she could talk without stuttering, Neeve said, "No Dad. No more secrets, no more hiding. I want to hear what you say so that I can tell you if you've got anything wrong. I want to talk to the police. I want no more music from that teacher."

Just as Neeve's dad reached for the phone, Neeve's mum butted in without saying, 'no, stop'. She held her hand out toward her husband. Interrupted, he looked at her, waiting for further instruction.

"Darling," Eva said softly to her hurting child, "I now understand that you have the ability to say no inside your body and with your behaviour but that sometimes the words that come out are different. Show us darling; show us with your behaviour that you want Dad to ring the police from in here."

Struggling away from her mother's embrace, Neeve moved to the telephone. She picked it out of its cradle and placed it into her Dad's hand. Feeling safe, believed and supported at last, she threw her arms around her Dad and snuggled into his suit. "Just say no Dad. No more teachers that trick kids. No more teachers that hurt kids. Go on, ring, tell the police... just say, no more pretending, no more lies, no more secrets".

"Out of the mouths of babes," the big burly barrister said as the tears rolled down his cheeks. "Out of the mouth of my babe, the most wonderful daughter a man could ever hope to protect."

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

Know your symbolism when public speaking

"What can you talk about," guest speaker seeker requested an answer of me.

I thought quickly. Sexual assault, domestic violence or child protection hardly fitted with speaking at Australia's Biggest Morning Tea fund raiser for cancer.

"Motivation and inspirational topics," I pulled from nowhere. "I can motivate your audience to give more than they have already given in the purchase of the morning tea ticket."

It was then that the stinkin' thinkin voice of old top dog set in.

"Idiot. What did you say that for? You couldn't motivate people to donate more money if you were facing a guillotine. Off with yer 'ead, off with yer 'ead!"

Jeeze! I thought old Top Dog died off twenty years ago. Obviously not because the dodgey little rascal had climbed atop my shoulder again and was whispering his words of self doubt into my ear. Worst still, I WAS LISTENING!

Guest speaker at a Cancer Council fund raiser. ME? Jezuz! What was I doing.

"Breath Megan," my acceptable inner voice suggested. I obeyed because often I can be the obeying type. Well, not often, jut sometimes. When I need to be.

"You know a lot about the subject and you are a confident, inspirational and motivational speaker. Imagine that you are teaching about child protection and break the topic down into the smallest bite sized pieces that you can."

Bite size - yum. That would be a well decorated cup cake and I am going to a morning tea. Yum. Morning Tea means yummy things to eat.

Oh thank God. I had the key to calm and sort and think and plan. I merely associated a scary topic with a topic I am wholly comfortable with (plus cake always does it for me).

One of the tips of public speaking is to know your material. One of my tips is to break down the words and turn them on their head. Child protection turned on its head means the protection of children. Turning Australia's Biggest Morning Tea on it's head simply means, Tea in the morning for big Australians.

Umm, no, I don't think that will win me any friends with the menopausal women bracket: you know, the set that puts on weight every TIME THEY BREATH!!!!!!. The set LIKE ME! Okay, stop! What about Tea in the morning in Australia - Billy Tea on the camp fire.

Yeah, I'm liking that more. That fits with telling stories around the camp fire while sipping a pannikin of tea. Yep, I'm a story teller, I can do this. Just because Australia's Biggest Morning Tea is being held in an ultra flash resort at Palm Cove doesn't mean I can't imagine we are all around a camp fire telling stories and ribbing each other!

Once upon a time, a long time ago when cave people used to hunt and gather, Mammoths were our major enemy and had a good go at killing off as many hunters as they could.

Then we got all sophisticated and began hunting each other off in war games: guns, grenades, bombs, gas chambers, get the picture.

Nowadays though, in our hunt for the perfect life we kill each other off by trying to be so much better and more suave than everybody else. We work long hours, eat way too many processed foods and play with chemicals like they are dolls to love and kiss.

Most people we know have a doll somewhere. In fact, one in two people across the globe have played with a doll. Dolls are fun and we keep buying them because they are mini symbols of human life as we want life to be. Sweet, innocent, healthy and beautiful. But, the real search for our perfect life is killing us. The search for our perfect life with never ending hours of stress far too frequently results in domestic germ warfare: heart disease or cancer.

Just getting back to those dolls that symbolise us: I may be wrong but I've never seen a doll mauled by a mammoth or with a limb blown off by a land mine? Come to think of it, I've never seen a doll with heart disease or cancer either. Hey, there's a confronting idea. Let's pretend that one in two dolls have cancer. Chuck those dolls into the fire now. We don't want them because they're not perfect anymore.

But, one in two is our life, this is the reality of how many people get cancer...and we don't treat people with cancer with fire, do we? We don't throw cancer into the too ugly basket. We don't hide cancer under the bed or stuffed way back in the linen closet.

I wonder why we don't have dolls with cancer. Could it be that people with cancer look just like you and I and that it is too scary to think that we may one day have to deal with cancer?

I wonder if I could get every second person to stand up please.

[People stand up and feel really awkward but relieved that they're not in my position as guest speaker. They laugh and shuffle but I'm circling, like a shark, coming in for the kill.]

One in two people will be diagnosed with cancer before the age of 85. Ummmm, that's a lot of people. That's all those people standing up here. That is how many people you may have contact with that will contract cancer.

Now, before you sit down, I want you to think about who's going to treat you and how they're going to do it? There's no money in the budget you know and fund raising is getting more and more difficult. You're going to have to bear the brunt of the treatment cost yourself. Damn, but if only you gave a little bit more money when you were younger and healthier...aka....put one dollar on the table for the Cancer Council and you can sit down.

The people beside you, those ones unaffected by cancer, stand up please. You poor sods. Feel uncomfortable standing up? Good. Are you aware that you are going to have to care for all those other people. The brunt of funding is going to come from your pocket. As you get older so too does your capacity to generate more income to give, so, damn that you didn't give more money to the Cancer Council when you were younger. I suggest it may be a wholly acceptable thing to put $2.00 on the table now. A $2.00 donation to the Cancer Council.

Anyway, you can sit as soon as you've donated and we'll get on with my campfire story.

Cancer is a word, not a sentence. Although, not donating cash today may well result in a sentence of guilt and fear that the people sitting beside you know that you're a scrooge!

Cancer as a word is symbolic of so many things: a crab, an illness, a growth, fund raising (hint, hint, have you all put some coin in front of you - James can you go collect all the coins before the morning teaers take them back again.), change, home, shell.

Oh, by the way, if you want me to shut up, just place some more money on the table in front of you. On behalf on the Cancer Council, I am open to "be quiet" donations :)

The symbolism of Cancer is positive of change: cancer is a word, not a sentence. If we look at the most associated word with the symbol of cancer, crab, there's a few surprises.

According to the ancient wisdom of symbol gypsy:
when a crab finds its way into your teacup, perhaps you are feeling crabby, or find your moods changing. Your crab may indicate that family members and domestic matters are important. It can also suggest that the people around you may be clingy and demanding. Some may even give you a nasty nip. The crab represents the sign of Cancer and has a strong association with the changing moon. As crabs are also shy, you may long to hide in your own shell and let others get on with things. If you are feeling this way, remember you don't actually need anyone at the moment. You have more resources than you realise. You are strong when you need to be, but right now it's time to let go a little and believe in yourself. From, L Barker-Revell, 2007, Time for Tea. The gentle art of reading tea-leaves. p103. Allen & Unwin:Sydney

Now, because time is rolling on I don't want you to be crabby. I want you to remember that you have more resources than you realise and that it's time to let go a little. James is walking around with a donation bucket so do feel free to let go of a few coin resources into the bucket.

I am one of those ancient wisdom gypsies (not really, just ancient and love travelling like a gypsy) and I will now be making myself available to read the symbols in your tea cups. Just remember that a coin must pass my hand if you want me to read your tea leaves....a coin that will go straight to helping the world understand the symbolism of the word cancer - no sentence, just a word that can be resymbolised with  little help from my friends.

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply use the above photo as a prompt and post a short story, poem or paragraph to your blog. Leave a comment and the link here so that all participants can come to you and read/comment/encourage. Story above is copyright and is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt.

The power of two

Even in Paradise danger lurks beyond the happiest domestic picture.

There's a Paradisial myth about  togetherness, sharing, comfort and love. I'm sure you've heard it. It goes something like this:
Girl meets boy, they date, they get serious, they marry, they live happily ever after in a house with a white picket fence, a dog and a cat. They have, on average across Paradise, two children and a new car that gets traded up every two years. He works in a professional capacity , she is a fantastic stay at home mother, kids grow up unhinged by anything nasty, they go to university, parents pay for everything because there is no thought of social security. The children follow the same path, marry, etc, etc.

I used to live in Paradise. I hated it! Never did learn how to cook the perfect steak with the perfect mash. I was much more of a fruit salad, with your fingers, girl. My perfect financial advising husband, well, let's just say that his appetite went well beyond food that could be purchased at the local butcher. No, he was much more upmarket. He only purchased at the Farmer's Ocean Market. From the farmer's daughter to be precise. From the farmer's 14 year old daughter.

Dell, I called her. The farmer in the dell got all fucked up and  became the financial advisor in Dell. Bastard. Dell got the financial advisor in her, alright. She got his filthy little fertile sperm and soon there would be two beautiful Dells.

He had to die. How the hell was I going to do him in and not get caught? Crime was frowned upon in Paradise. We didn't like it or like people who did it. What we liked was a happy picture of domestic bliss, a happy picture where the young daughters at the farmer's ocean markets never stayed on stall for long because the little bitches got pregnant to the good husbands of Paradise. How the Paradisial wives never worked out the peculiar customer service strategy at the Farmer's Market had me bluffed for ages. Until I sought a second wife to help me kill my perfect paradise.

Bubbling beneath Paradise was a second culture: a sub culture of matriarchy and tropical holidaying. Initiation to the sub culture was triggered by the white drawn face of a single woman who had just learned that her good husband preferred fresh sea food to the regular beef on offer. Paradisial women always moved in pairs: strength in numbers, I guess. A single woman spelled S.O.S to the other good women of Paradise.

My initiation happened almost immediately after plotting to kill the king squid. His tentacle needed to be chopped off. But how? I just couldn't think of a way I could execute a death plan alone. As I sat beneath the palm trees in Paradise a perfect plan jogged into my devastated thinking.

"Great day for a run along the water. Want to join us," a passing, very perky, jogger jogged on the spot in front of me. Her jogging buddy in very expensive matching gym clothes jogged a circle around the two of us as though creating a whirlpool of connection.

My first reaction was to tell stopped jogger to fuck off but Paradisial training was nicely ingrained so I instead smiled sweetly and said,

"I haven't got the right shoes on but thanks for the invitation."

The whirlpool creator stopped jogging and faced me square on. She was beautiful. Gorgeous skin, gorgeous facial structure and eyes as calming as Lovan. She looked expensive, as did every other woman in Paradise. How did they afford to dress so beautifully? Surely there would be no money left for their husbands to dress up and socialise if they spent money on themselves?

Beautiful whirlpool jogger hugged me and I could smell natural frangapani perfume as her warm sweat dropped onto my arm. It was very intimate. She whispered in my ear,

"We have a way of dealing with the good husbands of Paradise you know. Come walk with me".

Well, well. The power of two is way better than the awkward heart broken plotting of one. Paradise lives on thanks to the cunning power survival strategies of the good wives of Paradise. It seems that the power is not in the killing but in total embracing of surface domestic bliss - just as men have done for centuries. Such surface bliss and polish, so the good jogger instructed me, scares the good husbands senseless and they never again wander or shop where they are not supposed to - just as disempowered women have done for centuries. In Paradise, the good husbands are rendered isolated in their own facade (who would believe them if they reported that a good wife slapped them behind closed doors or spent all the money on herself), engulfed by their own perfect lie and denied freedom of choice for the rest of their miserable lives in Paradise.

Ahhhh, I love Paradise.

Boots and all

Genre: Stream of Consciousness
Description: Boots picture conjured so many ideas that I was unable to choose, therefore I experimented with the thoughts running through my mind as I pondered the picture.

I wonder whose boots they are, Mary's or Sammi's? Bloody boots. Like I haven't had enough boots in my life. Army boots, walking boots, riding boots, fashion boots.

Conchology speech at opening of Michelle's Mueseum

I was but six when we returned to Papua New Guinea. My memories were like the whispering of a shell held to an ear - swooshy, distant and surreal. Confused between collective memories given me by family members and my own juvenile memories of joy, I tried hard to remember the smells I liked. I think I used to like the smell of the ocean...or, did I like the sound of the ocean?

Testing the features

If you wish to join the Writers Prompt Daily simply post a short story or paragraph, focused on the feature picture, to your blog and link back to Megan's post so that all participants can come and read/comment/encourage. This is Megan Bayliss' writing around the above picture prompt:

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