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.

The trauma behind magical Mary

Mary Poppins, a Disney beacon of hope and magic, had a sad, sad childhood. Given her early life experiences of child abuse, Mary started life as a symbol of anti-nanny propaganda: weekly magazine stories full of sarcasm and hatred toward those who failed to protect their children from the staff.

Mary was originally created to bring the middle classes to their senses. Mary's job as protagonist was to reflect the weak ethics of the stuffy middle class who chose not to look after their own children. Further, Mary highlighted middle class inability to provide emotional stability and child protection.

The lesson of the story was that the Nanny was superseded by parental development: the middle classes awake to their children's psychological needs and forever more parented appropriately.

But, Disney recreated Mary Poppins to make her a superstar, super singing and dancing, all time fantastic carer of children, animals and handsome suitors: a woman that the middle class Banks family just could not do without.

Mary's creator was Pamela Travers, a young Australian women. A survivor of childhood neglect at the hands of her middle class parents, this is the life story that developed a now immortalized Mary Poppins:

Born Helen Goff, in Maryborough, Queensland, Australia in 1899, the celebrated author of Mary Poppins was the daughter of a bank manager who drank himself to death by the time Helen was seven. Helen's histrionic mother, Margaret, dithered on for a few more years before also giving up on life and attempting suicide in a local river.

On a thundery night, Margaret Goff announced to her three children that she was off to kill herself. Helen, the oldest (age 10) was terrified. She was left, alone, to settle her younger siblings and she coped by putting them to bed, all three together, on the lounge room floor. In an effort to divert their attention from frantic thoughts around their mother's impending violent death, Helen made up fantasy stories about magical flying horses in faraway lands that would ride them all to safety.

Although Margaret returned, unsuccessful in her suicide attempt, Helen withdrew from
the hurt caused by her family and instead found solace in the strength of a spinster aunt.

Helen's dysfunctional family predicament haunted her for the rest of her life. She was never able to rid herself of images concerning the appalling fate of children whose parents were unable to care for them.

At 21 years of age, Helen changed her name to Pamela L. Travers. At age 25, she moved to London to make a new life as a writer. She never married, wore trousers when she wanted, had an affair with an older married man and eventually entered into a long-term relationship with another woman. Ever desperate to protect children, at age 40, a single parent, she adopted and raised an Irish orphan.

It was Walt Disney who rewrote Mary Poppins as a screen play (1964) and the forever ingrained personification of Mary Poppins as the all rounded protector of
children. Disney's movie made Mary Poppins synonymous with love and magic, whereas Pamela had meant for Mary to be synonymous with neglect and rejection.

It is reported that Pamela sat through the Disney screening of her beloved Mary Poppins with tears rolling down her cheeks. Disney had made Mary into everything that she was not. Disney had failed to heed the protection of children through the symbolic development of a nasty and controlling Nanny interested only in her own needs.

Pamela L. Travers died a broken woman in 1996, aged 96.



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 blackness of a new world order

Disease spread across the land like a black cock on a white hen. Millions of animals died. Herds and industry wiped out.

Scavenger birds dropped, dead, midflight and the earth began to morn the loss of her friends. Streams turned acidic and wells withheld their freshness.

An international disaster was declared. Live sheep export and lamb were wiped out. Beef and dairy cattle: gone. Buffalo, camel, horse, goat, ostrich, emu, fish, crocodile, kangaroo; everything farmed and wild, died.

Poisoned water tables affected food crop irrigation and fresh produce became referred to in the past tense. Life and eating as we had become familiar with and reliant upon was over.

The only survivors of the food chain holocaust were domestic pets and the small back yard vegetable garden.

It took no more than a disease to wipe out life as we knew it. The unprepared were left hungry and turned to the backyards of their sustainably savvy neighbours.

Domestic pets became the new staple and the traumatised institution of the family began to break down.

Violence pursued and suburban life exploded into warfare.

One family, and their beloved chickens, escaped the world and sought refuge high in the dividing range. They started life anew. Their first born chick, a black roster, embodied their hope and their future and hatched them a plan of sustainability.

Tough and sturdy as a Gurkha, a black race of chickens bred a food chain that would save the world from self destruction.

Black was the new life and a farmyard pecking order had begun.


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.

Lesbians don't have long hair

My weekly art therapy group friends gathered out the front of the property to admire my most recent sculpture. I had just finished painting and was still in the tell-tale artist's overalls and had my long hair tied up in a bun.

The pretty little thing with the flawless skin and worries not much more than having a dead cat, clasped her hands behind her back, cocked her head in a quizzical way and asked, “What is it?”

“I call it; You get what you ask for.”

A few of the group looked at me, suspiciously, and with complete unawareness written over their blank faces. Yet others laughed heartedly (they were the women I really liked) until a little wee squished out. Some poor morons walked around the piece and examined it from all angels of light, linguistics and symbolism.

“What does that tell us about our lives though,” asked the pretty little thing again. She took group therapy so seriously. She was the one who always did her homework, always arrived relaxed and perfectly dressed and cringed when any of the women swore. I liked the women that swore. They were normal. Pretty little thing fell far short of the mark of normalcy.

I considered telling her she was a complete dickhead but one thing the group had taught me was tolerance: tolerance of dickheads.

“When I was a child,” I began in my story song voice, “my favourite fruit was Mango. We lived in a farming part of Queensland, a place were Mango farms sold their produce at honesty stalls. I couldn’t pass one without crying out, mango, mango.”

I shrugged my shoulders and indicated end of story. “I got what I asked for and hence I dedicate my sculpture to this lesbian community.”

“I don’t get it,” she screwed her pretty little nose up, narrowing her eyes and indeed looking anything but pretty. She looked more stupid, more like they way she acted. At least she was coordinated.

I started to walk away, but I reconsidered. That frickin’ therapist had finally gotten to me: to get different results you must do something different.

My difference today was to help pretty little thing get the link.

Patiently and with a raised intonation at the end of my sentence to indicate a question of whether she was capable of understanding, I slowly pursed, “Man-go, man go. I am a lesbian?”

“I don’t know?” came her cute response. “I don’t think you are a lesbian. You’ve got long hair.”

Sometimes difference and patience just aren’t worth 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.

My first dive on the Great Barrier Reef

Jumping into the channel was like jumping down the rabbit hole. I had no idea when the shark would strike. It would though. That much was certain. I’d seen Jaws. I grew up in Papua New Guinea and had first hand experience of how big sharks and crocodiles got.

The dive master assured me that the inner reef was safe. The big sharks couldn’t get over the reef rims, he said.

What about the smaller sharks? They still bite. They still kill.

And, what about in the channel? The channel was deep, boat deep. If boats could circumnavigate the reefs, so could sharks!

I was scared of sharks and crocodiles, no, petrified, but the pull of the underwater world was greater than my fear. I was going. The opportunity to scuba dive did not present every day and I was taking my slice of heaven.

Fear is an alien. Fear is an alien, I told myself as I geared up and jumped into the channel.

No immediate hit from a shark. I wondered how long it would take. I hoped I died instantly. Suffering was not really my thing. A recovered catholic, these days I figured the suffering was best left to the pious and insane.

Wonder if the sharks could tell the difference between a catholic and a protestant? I was protestant actually, just raised as a catholic.

Dive master hand signalled. Time to slowly descend.

I loved the minutes before a dive where Dive Master and his guppies checked hand signals, weights, tanks and safety precautions. I mostly loved it because it heralded the descent into paradise beneath. Here I was now, descending, but keeping a close eye out for sharks. I’d punch a shark if it tried to eat me now I was this close to my beloved reef. There was no way I was up for dying on the verge of the most magnificent scenery on earth.

Water is boring – opaque and endless (plenty of clear space to see those big dark shadows coming!) The ocean floor on the other hand, is fascinating and ends the opaque boredom of a descent. Rills of sand and dimples of substance reminded me of the moon surface. I hadn’t been to the moon, but I had been to the ocean floor. I LOVED the ocean floor and could happily fish down there for ever. The floor began to rise, to take shape, to serve up her pallet and to teem with waving, flickering, darting and pulsating glory.

The reef….oh the reef. The colours, the movements, the Nemo families, big fish, little fish, feathers, brains and rocks: all were provided to me as a smorgasbord of artist’s material to build life anew. I didn’t really need to build life anew; I needed to build a way I could stay in the depths for ever. I loved it.

Was it possible for the underworld to be this gorgeous? Perhaps I was stoned and tripping out. I’d had a reef experience alright; more like a reefer!

I reached out to touch the soft and hard corals, the shells crawling, resting and swimming before my eyes. I groaned in ecstasy into my breathing apparatus. I was enamoured. Surely life could not get better than this. It did.

A turtle swam beside me. He was huge, slow, spotted and he cocked his head to observe me for as long as he could while he pulled away from my position of stationary disbeliever. If it was possible to stand open mouthed at the floor of the ocean that would have been me. I was his groupie, his slave and his future wife.

The Turtle’s flippers acted like underwater paddles and I imagined an enchanted rowing boat, living a magical pirate’s life under the sea, pulling slowly away from the land lubber descended.

A second turtle swam to join its mate. Instinctively, I went to follow. Frantic hand signals caught in the corner of my mask. Oops, Dive Master warned me I was swimming to the edge of the outer reef, to a very sharp drop where HUGE sharks liked to patrol in hope of an easy meal – a meal that became so blinded by the magic of the Great Barrier Reef that they forgot what lay in wait on the other side of the barrier.

Blinded I may have been but etched into my memory and place of sensual existence is my first scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef.



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.

ASIO: Australia's king spy

Who would suspect a technologically designed lion fish capable of exterminating human vermin? Risley’s keepers and doctor’s didn’t.

Simba had been completed, tested, adjusted, perfected and trialled. He was an effective killer of kings. The last king exterminated was Risley, paedophile king of South East Asia. When snorkeling off Port Douglas, Risley stood on Simba and was envenomed with fatal doses of Lion fish poison. It was believable and location credible.

ASIO, Australia's national security intelligence service, had worked for years on removing the political constipants from our coveted South Pacific Islands. Rich in guano, Australia wanted control of the islands. Guano was projected as an organic fertilizer highly suited to the fast growth of sugar cane and marine life. Of particular interest to the Government of Australia though was preventing the demise of their greatest natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef.

Environmental studies consistently warned of the chemical fertilizer Urea bleaching the reef and destroying ecology and tourism by the year 2025.

All along the coast of Far North Queensland, the land barrier of the Great Barrier Reef, cane fields were fertislised with Urea.

To ban fertilizing would end industry and collapse tourist infrastructure. It was in the interest of national growth and international relations to ban political coups and dictatorships and to harness guano.

ASIO was tasked with capturing the resource. They partnered internationally and carefully conspired a tropical holiday to Double Island: a tropical island where Lion fish were regularly sighted.

ASIO waited. They fished and they perfected. They watched and tracked. They baited and manipulated.

Gordia Pitcairn Fletcher, current sitting dictator of Norfolk Island, scheduled to visit the Far North Queensland area in September, 2010.

Anna Bligh, Premier of Queensland and Pitcairnian descendant of William Bligh of the Bounty, was positioned to immediately take over the administration and leadership of the richest gem in the South Pacific.


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.

Beyond the roadhouse

She said I drank my coffee like I lived my life. Fast and however it came.

Dumb bitch. What would she fucking know? All she ever did was sit on her fat arse and play computer games. She played The Sims; not even a fair dinkum strategy game. She was a loser. Couldn't even get a job. Who'd put her on though?

We fought a lot. Right now, I didn’t even want to go home. I’d just go riding; scrub bashing. Just me and me bike.

Her words got all stuck in my head, all scrambled up like and loud as shit. Christ, even miles away from her, in the middle of nowhere, I couldn’t get that bitch out of my head.

I stopped for a shit. There was no one around so I didn’t even have to hide. That was how I liked it. I wanted to be free, open and live life in the moment. I wanted to feel and hear the revs of life.

Fuck. No toilet paper.

The leaves around the place all looked a bit dry and crackly. What did I have? Socks? Nah, needed them to put my boots back on. The bandanna? The bright pink and lime green bandanna she bought me for my birthday, with my fucking money. She loved it and said it was sooooo me. I hated it and was happy to wipe my arse on it.

I left it for the dingoes to find. Merry fucking Christmas.

I knew it was over and that I had to end it. She wouldn’t. I didn’t want to hurt her but, fuck it, I also wanted to smash her head in.

Time to make a decision. I could either head home in time for CSI or I could head north, head to freedom. I had my wallet, my swag and my bike. All the other material stuff back at the house was just shit. Shit built up from living together and not having the guts to leave.

I had guts and I was leaving.

I patted the tank, put her into gear and swung north toward the roadhouse on the highway.

I drank my coffee like I lived my life. You fucking bet!





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.

Adolescence

On our way to heaven (the ice cream shop), we had to pass many purgatory paddocks of farming gone bad. As though the market crashing wasn’t enough, wildlife had finished the crops off. In an act of total anarchy and inertia, the lazy wildlife was lying around the paddock, having a nice little sun bake.

“Flat out like a lizard drinking and life of a dog. Where do these euphemisms come from? I’m so old, I just want to make like a kangaroo and hop straight into bed! Not to be euthanized but to be euphemised. Get it, kiddo? Wanna make like a kangaroo?”

“Grandma,” my adorable little Pixie stated with that look on her face. “You’re weird. I don’t know what you are talking about.”

Ummm. Maybe we wouldn’t be visiting heaven on that particular day. Maybe, Pixie was in one of her pre pubescent moods and was going to dumbly question every intelligent thing I said and did. She clearly didn’t appreciate that a euphemism is a polite way to restate a rude or socially offensive concept.

Young people these days, they are so egocentric and lazy. All they do is hop from shop to shop and sleep. From now on I’m going to refer to them as kangaroos.



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.

Flood of parental emotions

The flood of emotions I felt when I saw the photos of my son helping his neighbours in the Ingham flood was like a tsunami hitting me. I couldn’t breath. I wanted to cry with happiness for his neighbourly empathy and his bravery. But, I also wanted to kill him. I wanted to shake and slap him, to scream at him for being so stupid, careless and idiotic. After the way he was raised to read the signs of the land and know the habits of the wildlife I was gob smacked to see him wandering, waste deep, through flood waters on the banks of the crocodile infested Ingham River.

Two women with a disability lived next door to him. He kept an eye out of them and did handyman jobs and errands for them. He was a good boy and I was proud that he cared about people in a worse position than he was in. But right now, I could just flog him.

As soon as I saw the Facebook photos of the flood, I rang him. I was furious at him. I yelled, I berated and I pounded the table. A good boy, he silently took my punishment and waited for me to finish.

“It was a calculated risk, Mum. Those girls were scared, had no electricity and no food. I could see them cuddling each other and crying and none of the other neighbours even gave them a thought.”

“You idiot.” I screamed even louder. “You put yourself at grave risk of being taken by a crocodile, just to settle some girls! Their support worker would have reached them and bought in supplies. You could have been taken by a croc. All gone. All over. No more. Dead.”

He laughed his quiet, sarcastic laugh. That laugh was the one that always got right under my fingernails and made my slapping hand twitch. Ohhhhhh! If only I was there with him. I swear to God I would have knocked his head off his shoulder.

Very calmly and in a tone that suggested that I was the idiot, he put me right back into my place.

“You forget, mother, that I never take uncalculated risks and put my life, or anyone else’s in danger. I had seen crocs glide by the front of the house and I had heard them barking. They were there. So was every dog in the neighbourhood. My bitch was on heat so as the flood waters came in several dogs became trapped on the bike jump in my front yard. I knew where the crocs were. They were all eyes on their favourite food: dogs. There was a new take away restaurant in Ingham – take away dog. Do you really think a croc would leave the dogs to come chew on a skinny little white boy like me?”

I laughed at his feeble attempt of using humour to disarm my anger toward him. But, his feeble attempt worked. My anger dissolved and I could appreciate that he read the signs of the flood well.

“From my one action of helping those girls, Mum, all the other neighbours felt shamed into also helping. Sometimes you just need one dick-head to do something stupid to make things better for everyone; to bring people together.”

Yep. He may have been a dickhead but I was proud that he cared enough to help another human being. I had raised a good boy, an empathic and caring lad. If only I could now relate that to him rather than always acting like the angry-crazed-woman of the north.


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.

Over and up

It was a long way up. In retrospect, coming down the falls was easy. I held my breath and braced myself for a few smashes…and, waited for my final end; the end of cricket season, no more chirping, bug against a windscreen type of end.

The end came via being sprawled atop a piece of debris. It was glorious allowing it do the hard work of reaching the river side. Awash the two of us, the debris and I, we willed that shore line to us and then lay silent in prayer and grattitude. Freezing, for sure, but I was just too pooped to move. My little legs had enough for one day. I had no more kick. No more extreme sports for me. Jiminy Cricket. That was an extreme drop. I am so lucky to be alive.

Standing at the bottom of the falls, looking up, I gulped down the evidence of the daunting trek ahead of me. I wasn’t sure my legs were up to the task. I had to hop to it straight away though. My family was up there. They hadn’t seen me go over but I am certain that by now they will be missing my chirp. Worried they will be.

Okay. Let’s do it. One rock. Two rocks. Opps, slipped back down on the moss and slime. One rock. This is going to take a long time for this little cricket to get back up to my family. Why oh why weren’t crickets blessed with wings?




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.

Weave of life

Weaving my life together was a bit like making a pom pom: the weaves got cut in half and stuck out everywhere. Unlike a pom pom though, my life was far from cute and bouncy, colourful and happy. My life was like a great-big-fat-worm-ridden-dog-shit sitting upon a beautifully manicured lawn.

I had never felt so isolated. Even when I mustered the courage to go to the shop nobody made eye contact or said hello. I know this because I didn't dare make eye contact or say hello to anyone in the shop either. The shoppers and staff were far too together and who would want to acknowledge me anyway? The only time someone spoke to me was to ask why I was wearing two pom poms on my shirt. They don't match you know, the young check out girl chastised me. What would she know.

How come everybody else had great lives and I didn't? How come everybody else had friends, lovers (gee, I believe some people had more than one at a time), hobbies and interests. How come everybody else in the world had children. All I had left was boredom, pain and pom pom making.

The occupational therapist suggested pom pom making as an activity to focus, build hand eye coordination and increase movement in my wrist. That car accident all those years ago sure had stuffed my life around.and even though every expert under the sun told me to be grateful that I had survived, I didn't want to be grateful. I wanted to be dead. Depressed and isolated I was now. I wanted to cry myself to sleep every night (or day, I still slept a lot).What would they all know what it was like to lose a husband, a mother and two kids in a car accident?

I just wish it was me that had died.

So now I spend my day making pom poms. The counsellor said I needed to start with what I had left. It was possible to rebuild and to enjoy life again. NEVER, my head screamed at her. NEVER, YOU FILTHY BITCH. NEVER!

Five years was a long time to still feel the heaviness of grief in my chest, every single time I breathed. My eyes were too heavy with homesickness for my family to lift up and greet other families. That's why pom pom making had suited me. I didn't have to lift my eyes.

The kids would have loved to make pom poms with me. They sit with me, you know, every time I pull out my little work box. They sit on the chairs and I chat with them. I tell them all about the changes that have occurred since they were savagely torn away from life. I yarn up about their school friends, the animals in the street, the latest kid's fashion, where we would visit if they were here. If only they were here still. Oh god. If only they were still here. My babies. My life. Why did I have to survive? Please God, let me die.

One of the most helpful things the counsellor has done for me was to grow my kids up with me. Their woollens would be far too small for them now so why not remake them to fit life now, she suggested. I so wanted my children to look beautiful and to wear clothes that fitted them, have the knowledge that they needed, play with their friends and have my time that maybe once I wasn't so generous with.

I unravelled their cardigans, jumpers, shawls and rugs. I lovingly wound the wool into little balls of "mummy loves you" and,  everyday, I recycled my love for my children into pom poms: little hearts of bounce and colour. I placed those pom poms all over my house. Signs that my children are still with me.

Why would I want to go out to the shop and talk to people? I want to stay home and look after my babies.


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 day the water ran out

They’d warned us for long enough: conserve water; do not waste, have shorter showers, use grey water on gardens, install rain water tanks, replace water hungry machines with water saving devices, replace taps, etc, etc. They spoke so much about it that I stopped listening.

I guess I forgot to take them seriously.

A grave decision had to be made at the local council level and immediate water curfews were ratified to preserve what little water was left in the reservoirs.

Households could access tap water only between the hours of seven and nine pm. Businesses, between the hours of 8 and 10 am. Accommodation houses would close by the end of the month because we could not spare water for those who did not pay rates.

Families had to become super organised and think ahead of their ongoing lifestyle needs. No sprinklers or hoses, no filling of swimming pools, no more fish tank top ups, water bed fills were out and fish ponds and garden water ornaments had to be dismantled.

I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t really think they’d do it.

I had dreadful morning sickness and the first day of the curfew I found myself without flowing water to damp my brow, wash my mouth out or clean my teeth. Making a cup of ginger tea was at the cost of another person’s drinking water: my husband's or my toddler's quota.

I wanted a shower because I felt like crap. I couldn’t have one. I started to gag. The morning sickness coupled with having no water was all too much for me. I couldn’t fight the nausea.

“Don’t spew in the toilet,” my husband yelled from the kitchen where he was wiping the bench with an already thrice used cloth. “If you spew in the toilet you’ll use too much of our bucket water in the manual flushing. Spew outside in the garden so the cat will eat it.”

I held the vomit in my mouth. I tried to re-swallow but it made me sicker. I spewed down the front of my Tee Shirt. Oh God. It tasted like poison: Bile that was acidic green and capable of making great stains or eating straight through clothing if not washed off immediately. If I left it, the ants would surely eat holes in my clothes anyway. Spewing without water is such a no win situation.

“You can’t wash that until tonight, sweetie,” husband supportively said with a hint of annoyance in his voice (or was the annoyance in my ears?). “I can only thank God we’ve got a water saving machine otherwise you’d have to hand wash. All the old top loaders have been banned. We’ll do a load tonight at 7pm. All our clothes together, though.”

It was so hot. I just needed a cool shower.

Fanning myself with one hand and holding the toddler’s body heat away from me with the other, I pleaded with my husband. It was all his fault. I’m not sure how, but it WAS all his fault.

“Let’s take Clinton down to the water park so we can cool off. I can’t stand this heat.”

He looked at me. Blinked. Straight faced. Serious.

“Shelly! The water park is closed. Never again will water pass through the pipes or tip out of the bucket. Never again will children and families happily play beneath the free flowing joy of the water park. There is no more water. All run out. Nothing. Zilch. Gone.”

That was when the water shortage was made serious to me. To think of my children growing up in a world without water play was a horrific thought. No water to swim or play in was like a global injustice. How can kids have no water to play in?

If only I had taken them seriously. If only I learned about water conservation. If only I had been a responsible mother I might never have experienced a day where the water ran out for my babies.

If only I again had the opportunity to start using water wisely and with my children's future in mind!


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.

Paddle Pop

His old paddle steamer came to live in our inlet shortly after he returned from the Vietnam war: broken and out of steam. His therapy, he said, fixing the brokenness (his own and the paddle steamer’s) and he would thrust up and down the inlet day in and day out. Sometimes the paddle steamer disappeared and we didn’t see it for a day or two, but more often than not, there it was as we walked to school in the mornings.

The town cats loved it when he was moored close to the shore. They’d gather at water’s edge and call to him as they brushed their bodies against the palm trees and legs of the bemused children eager to stay and play for a while.

The old man, Paddle Pop, rarely came ashore these days. He was reclusive and not particularly socially skilled. He had no time for children or men, women he tolerated but only for a short chat. Cats he used to talk to and invite home for dinner. He said cats were golden animals and he loved them. Weird.

My Dad used to tell stories of a much younger Paddle Pop shooting up the moon and setting fire to the mangroves along Shit Creek (aptly named because that’s where the old outdoor dunny cans were emptied). People were scared of him but the town understood that the war had damaged his mind. There was a rumour that he was up to no good, probably running drugs, and his regular disappearances supported that rumour. But, nobody did anything because he was obviously hurt psychologically and because he had carried another two local men to safety after one of Vietnam’s most notorious conflicts. Those men died, but they died on home country, all because Paddle Pop risked his own life and carried them to safety.

Although not particularly prone to melancholy, I did like to sit and ponder life: my life and the lives of others. My favourite ponder spot was, of course, the park bench closest to the palm lined shore opposite Paddle Pops mooring. I sat there heaps waiting for my kids to finish school. As I sat I would frequently reflect upon Paddle Pop and all the dreadful things he had experienced. Poor old fellow. May he only know peace from now on.

Today though, the sun was so beautiful. I didn’t really want to ponder. I just wanted to stretch, soak up the sun and chill out before the kids assaulted me with their sibling rivalry and teen anx.

As I lay stretched back in my fantasy land of bliss and peace, a cat shot between my legs. Near scared me to death because I thought its tail was a snake! The gorgeous young ranga creature ran straight to the shore line and started it’s “I’m hungry” call. It rubbed its body up against the palm tree like an expert pole dancer and its purring sounded like the hum of a dentists drill. Another two young cats appeared and copied the behaviour of the little ranga cat. Wow! Thirty years later and the town cats still all loved Paddle Pop.

Paddle Pop appeared on deck. He looked as though he was preparing crab pots. Apparently he paid his way by selling crabs to the local restaurants. Quiet a killing he made so I had heard from the local gossips. He may have been mad but his crabbiness kept him afloat. The local butcher, also a keen fisherman, wanted to know what Paddle Pop used for bait. He said that Paddle Pop never bought bones like everyone else did for their crab pots. Paddle Pop, of course, never spoke to men so the butcher was never going to find out the crab bait secret.

Jesus, another four kittens appeared from under an upturned boat on the beach. Feral and spitting, they made it clear that they smelt something they wanted. Their stocky little bodies were arched and on edge, looking out toward Paddle Pop’s steamer. Their meows were coarse, rough and had a certain grating tone; a feral tone for feral cats I guess.

What the hell was going on? He really was like the Pied Piper of Cats.

Damn but school was out and my pondering time was over. I was picking up my neighbour’s little one too. My three teens hated her but they had been raised to know that helping people was the right thing to do. Jinnie’s Mum couldn’t collect her today so we would.

Jinnie sang nursery rhymes, skipped and asked 15 million questions followed by her own responses. A regular little-miss-useless-general-knowledge parrot, Jinnie liked to ask social history questions that nobody else would possible retain the answers to. Christ, the child was like the town’s worst gossip and she was only five years old. My three lagged behind, looks of thunder on their faces. I zoned out and went to my happy place.

My mind wandered back to the picture I had just been a part of on the water shore. What was wrong with that picture? I chuckled to myself: certainly the feral cats needed to become crab pot bait.

Oh my God. I stopped and covered my mouth with both my hands. Oh my God!

“Jinnie,” I asked with a new found tone of respect for the child’s local knowledge. “What is the average age of cats in our shire?”

“That’s an interesting question, Mrs Beazley,” the precocious five year old retorted (God I wanted to slap her senseless sometimes). “It’s an interesting phenomenon of this town that cats never age out to their natural death years. All of our cats die young. They either crawl away somewhere to die, never to return, or they are sometimes found washed up into the mangroves on the other side of the inlet. Some people say poison but I say a witch has cast a spell on our cats and they just disappear.”

What was wrong with that picture I just saw? That old bastard was using our cats as crab pot bait. He lures them with some cat pungent smell, sticks them into his crab pots and disappears for his little cat-killing-crab-getting expedition.

A kitten shot in front of us and cautiously hid beneath a Hibiscus shrub.

“Grab that cat,” I yelled to my Thomas. “Grab that cat and go and tell everyone to lock up their moggies and to never eat crabs from Paddle Pop again. That old bastard is about to find himself up shits creek without a paddle!”


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.

My Princess Bride

Isn’t there always a fight at a wedding? Scrimped and saved for a year to supply the Princess bride with a princess wedding and how does she repay me? She tipped a load of manure into the best man’s brand new burnt orange convertible. God damn I wished she’d tipped cement instead. I would gladly have paid for it.

It all started with a kiss.

Madison, the forced upon us matron of honour, came screaming into the reception, hair all a fly, sobbing and bleating about there being no cake left. Being a porky little beast and prone to a good dose of histrionics, I paid little attention to her.

Until I kissed her and quietly suggested into her right ear that she harden the fuck up.

Through her constant babbling at me I deciphered words that made me want to kill the best man, Madison’s own darling husband.

He had cut the carriage cake in two, right through the picture of my daughter and her delightful new husband. He was in love, Madison bawled, with the pastry chef groom…my new son in law. It seemed that Madison's dumb-arsed, burnt-orange-convertible-driving husband had apparently had enough of her histrionics, and now wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted my princess, and Madison, out of his life and instead wanted my princesses new husband in it. Oh my God!

My princess, not one to suffer fools or circumstances that took the attention away from herself, was surprisingly calm. As I shot the daggers of death to all of the orange convertible family members and friends, I noticed my princess on her mobile. In her advanced CEO manner, I could tell she was delegating specific tasks with a time lined ultimatum.

Princess delicately lifted her dress, just a tad so as to make walking easy, and headed toward her husband. She was so beautiful. Her perfectly straight white teeth (they cost me a small fortune, I can tell you), her flawless skin and her eyes all a sparkle, she was truly elegant and gorgeous. With her persuasive beauty and envious cleavage she coaxed her beloved away from the madness and indicated for the band to start playing the bridal waltz. Her pointed finger to band leader so expertly spoke volumes of control and immediacy that I mentally noted that I should take lessons from her.

As they waltzed around the room, all eyes turned to them. Cheers and clapping from the one hundred guests covered the noise of Princesses’ ninja background retribution.

My angel and her handsome husband magically slid around the room, skilfully greeting and acknowledging their guests, while the horse and carriage driver carried out her angelic instructions.

As the band ceased its play and guests unembraced their dance partner, a different genre of music wafted into the room. The mechanical clanging of a tip truck tipping was off set to a waft of manure. Guests fell quiet and all eyes turned to the unknown music of my utmost delight.

We looked on, helpless and unable to do anything. A load of horse manure was unloaded into a little burnt orange convertible, open roofed for such a delightful summer evening. The orange convertible was not seen by the truck driver who had turned off his headlights so as not to disturb wedding guests as he backed in to unload into his usual spot. The reception was held at a very swish landscapers show ground and how were we to know that the landscaper used fresh horse manure as fertiliser for his magnificent gardens. How were we to know that a delivery had been arranged for the night of the wedding?

Damn that girl did good. If only she’d arranged for a cement truck though!



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.

Getting paid to go slow

I stared out my bathroom window and watched the young Goanna head for the chook yard. No doubt it was heading for a feed. Bloody animal. As much as I loved native animals, I considered Goannas to be the garbage cleaners of them all. Our resident Goanna family always stole our eggs and the Grand baby's disposable nappies (with their contents) out of the rubbish hole in the northern corner of the house block. The eggs really weren’t such a concern. God knows we didn’t have time to collect them. If those poor chooks weren’t free range they’d probably starve to death waiting for us to have the time to feed them. Thank God we didn’t have to walk them!


God almighty. Why was I staring out of the window? I may love nature and living a rural lifestyle but really, who has time for this country style, go slow shit. I had to get a crack on, get into town to see clients, get into town to earn my money for the day.

I thought, while I brushed my hair and applied my work face. I was sick of work. I’d worked for 25 years in high stress legal positions. I’d given my life to law, and now, as I watched the docile Goanna meander for his sunny side up, I wanted to copy him and meander through life too.

What had happened to my work life balance? How come I didn’t have a life? How would society change if we got paid to go slow rather than getting paid to work, work, work?

Hey! I liked that line of morning reflection. Really, what WOULD happen if we got paid to have a work life balance, to have the time to meander to the chook yard and pick up the fresh eggs? Oh yeah. How about having the time to cook and eat those fresh eggs. Or bake cakes. Yeah. I can’t wait until retirement.

Distractedly, I drove into town in my new Jaguar, and wondered if it had made me any happier or if it was just another form of trading futures: a trade to ensure I have to keep working in the future to pay the pretty thing off!

I was just so distracted this morning. I couldn’t get that Goanna and it’s slowness out of my head. Was it happy? Does going slow indicate levels of happiness or was I just getting really confused and projecting my yearning to go slow onto the Goanna? Why is a slow old Goanna called, Go Anna, rather than go slow Anna?

Pulling the Jag into my private off street parking space and facing the stony cold wall of legal reality, I became aware that I hadn’t made my usual waves and change stops on my way to work that morning. Every other morning I would thrown change out to the guys selling The Big Issue on the corner of Redwood and Maple Streets. My hand was always ready to wave to the high school kids on their way to Saint Mary’s and to point accusingly at the man with a mental illness who used to try and throw his faeces at passing cars. I was just so distracted thinking about the Goanna and it’s slow pace. Damn it. I wanted to slow down and have a work life balance.

Walking up the stairs of our office building I reflected upon my reflection in our heavy tinted glass street front. I looked tired. I needed a break. Breaking me in two, the door opened from the inside and my husband hung out enough to prevent me entering and enough to deliver me his urgency.

“Young Harris was arrested for speeding last night. He’s been charged under the new Hooning laws. He’s up before Magistrate Green. Quick, head back to the court house will you, Anna. Go talk to Harris before the duty solicitor gets to him. Go, Anna. Go!

Yeah. Go Anna. Go. You just haven’t got time today to wonder how society may change if you got paid to go slow rather than getting paid to go Anna.


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.

Mum, there's a shark in our classroom

One too many phone calls from school to come and get my child sent me running over the edge. Not jumping, not slipping. Running and leaping, you understand. Like a mad woman. I was at my wits end. I wanted to die: to end the pain. May as well just throw myself to the sharks now.

I knew there was something wrong with him but just couldn’t work out what it was. Was it Aspergers, perhaps? Should I go for an assessment? My professional knowledge as a child therapist informed me that the worst was still to come and that I would be in BIG trouble if I hauled off and flogged this kid.

His school refusal did my head in. I would shake, cry, plead, bribe. He would stand his ground and there was no moving him. He hated school and he hated me. He locked me out of the house, hit me with a didgeridoo, lit fires and stabbed my beautiful couch with a knife. He would scream: for hours.All of that just to get out of going to school.

God, I felt like flogging him. He took every ounce of my good energy, every thought in my head and every smile I had saved up for the rest of my life. Our lives were miserable, totally miserable, and there was no one who could help us. Who the hell would want to spend a moment in our home? It was like a god damn war zone.

Our romantic times together mutated to us huddling in a corner of the kitchen, whispering to each other, shaking with raw emotion (definitely not lust!) and processing year after year of abusive incidents: from him to us. What the hell had I done wrong as a mother? It must have been me, had to be me. Maybe I was placing too much emphasis on education. Maybe the divorce had unhinged him. It was my entire fault. Pathetic I was. A failure. A FAILURE!

School said it wasn’t safe for him or the other children. Could I come and get him. Sure, I thought sarcastically. I didn’t need a career. The parents of my child clients don’t need the support. Me, damn it, ME! I needed the support. My kid was ruining my life.

He was diagnosed with Aspergers (thank God, thank God. It wasn’t my parenting after all). School supported home schooling. Bastards. They hated me too. Were they trying to completely finish me professionally?

Reality is such a bitter pill to swallow when denial is such a wonderful river to swim up. I liked work. No, correction, I LOVED work. Why do I have to be punished because my child has Aspergers? Where was the justice in this world! Home schooling is something for fundamental Christians. Why the hell would I do it? Hardly anybody in Australia did it. Home schooling was such an American thing to do.

I did it because I had to educate my child. We home schooled for a year and it was the best thing we ever did. I wrote a brilliant curriculum based on principles of unschooling and we capitalised on teachable moments. The lesson plans were based on field learning in our fantastic playground of tropical Far North Queensland.

Child only had to mention once about a particular interest and we were there, dissecting, experimenting, talking and experiencing: lapidary, Aboriginal rock painting, strategy games, hydro electricity, you name it, we facilitated it. Home schooling and listening to my child’s natural ability to learn was by far the best thing I ever did. It was in working through his latest interests and obsessions that our relationship mended, he became socialised and he developed emotional intelligence. The heat was gone from his life and the fear was gone from mine.

The fear was gone, except for my fear of sharks. I discovered he had a natural aptitude toward marine life and that he really wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef. Typically, he didn’t want to just visit, he wanted to snorkel and dive.

I couldn’t go with him. I was scared of sharks. Husband wouldn’t because he just wasn’t into water sport beyond swimming. Shit. I was his mother so I HAD to go. The last time I snorkeled I came face to face with a reef shark. Under the water it looked eight feet long so I became Jesus and walked across that water to get back to the safety of the boat. I hope my excrement didn’t damage the reef!

My fears were unfounded, both about sharks and home schooling. We had such a great time snorkeling on the reefs around Green Island that we made it an excursion, once a term. We’d spend the day in our natural classroom and he’d educate tourists and tour guide alike. He socialised, he had fun, he relaxed. I never got eaten by sharks.

Face your fears and eat my shorts. Home schooling Aspergers on the Great Barrier Reef was the best thing I ever did for my child with Aspergers.

Note: Genre is Life Writing. Picture is of Boy and myself.


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.

Steelers

They groaned in the dead still of night and as the sun heated their hunger and sticking pads. Their groans were painful on the ear and a sign for all to flee from structures on the daily Steeler smörgåsbord. Jumping from steel to steel they would demolish anything that they stuck to; the steel they processed through digestion; glass, cement or human they vomited out. They tasted via the sticking pads on their heads and feet and ate through their anus. Able to survive against all weapons we knew, the steelers grew in strength and hunger as they devoured our cities, steel morsel by steel morsel.

Many had already lost their life. Some had been eaten and vomited out in a bulimic gorge. Others had been crossing the cities many bridges when the bridge gave way into the ocean below. Some, whole families, had been anally engulfed while trying to escape in their cars.

No one knew where the Steelers had come from. There was rumour of them being bred by the military in germ warfare labs. A lab accident, an escape, a devastation used against us that we only read of in horror stories. Yet other rumours had the super giants of the industrial world inadvertently creating life with the toxic mixes their plants and smelters disposed of. All that was known as fact was that the Steelers ate steel and grew in appetite with every bite. They did not eat ships at berth or at sail but ships in dry dock had all been eaten.

An unassuming chemistry student, with trendy thick green glasses, pimples and wild curly hair, emailed NASA his observation. It appeared to him that the Steelers were not consuming from steel junk yards. Why, he asked. Was their something in the chemical compound of rust that the Steelers could not tolerate? A solution may be to rust up steel to starve the Steelers out of existence.

News flashes resounded throughout the world. Every news channel, every air wave, was taken up with the declaration of the end of the steel invasion. NASA scientists had created a weapon of mass destruction against the Steelers. A think tank of the world's most brilliant minds had hypothesized that the chemical compound of salt melted the steelers and took life from their form.

Onto ships, liners, boats and junks, the people of the industrialized world moved. Combined nation's budgets pooled and sprayed our oceans over cities, countries and towns. Ocean water was dumped from above, sprayed from the shore, and pumped through fire hydrants and sprinkling systems. The world was turned to salt.

The groaning stopped. Steel structures were left intact and the Steelers were ground to rust dust. Curly haired chemistry student remoted his Plasma screen to sleep mode. He lay back in his ergonomic chair, hands grasped together behind his head, a look of consternation on his face. His cat jumped to his lap, wanting some loving. Instead of a pat, his cat flew across the room, hit the door and slid down to the tiles. In fear, the cat ran to hide from his crazy owner.

Unassuming student paced the tiles. His anger at NASA for taking the credit of his steely brilliance further fed his psychotic need to destroy what everyone took for granted. He paced and thought of another way to have his brilliance of creation and destruction recognised.

The cat. He would mutate cats to suck blood rather than lap milk. In his suburban den he would breed them up, a vampire breed, release them and hold the cure until the world was again bled to near annihilation. Only then would he send a simple email wondering if the cats were avoiding people with high blood pressure for a reason. Could it be the blood thinners they were on that perhaps the cats could not tolerate?

Unassuming student with the beautiful thick green glasses, the gorgeous curly hair and the looks of the boy next door, cracked a half smile. His left side pulled up and was swiftly followed by a belly laugh of floor rolling proportion. In joy, he kicked his socked feet repeatedly on the tiles and was mindful not to laugh so much that a little urine escaped his urethra. That would be uncool.

He was brilliant and now the world would know 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.

Water Wolf Tree

I whistled him when I drew my steel sword against the timber stealing enemy. It wasn’t until he sensed the fig haters that he chose to surface.

One hand firmly entwined in fast ropes, their bodies charged with theft, their steel instruments of death in their free hands, the pirates of Treeless Island were ready to board and pillage. Death, of course, and my beautiful pine ship would be part of their loot. But they had first to pass my watch dog.

I swallowed my bile. Adrenalin tastes like blood and I savagely spat my hatred of the timber pirates onto my wooden deck. Red fig seeds characterised my spit, and my fig spit was for them.

If this was to be my time I knew that my water wolf would finish the job for me and chew their stolen timbers to splinters.. He would avenge my death and sweep the pirates to their salt peter.

“Where he go?” the wooden legged fig hater challenged me. “Where that salty dog monster that eat sea fig. I dam his belly and pull plug on his life.”

The food bowl rattled and I knew my salty dog would take the bait. With a roar of hunger, up he rose from the depths. Both vessels dropped on his wake as the sea receded to bring on the dog tsunami: my salty dog water wolf.

Up, up he rose on his hind legs from his long suck of water. His shape was unmistakable; a wolf head and body salivating to the smell of fresh Treeless blood. Never had he sucked back so much of the ocean or arisen with such velocity.

As he galloped toward our ships his growl instructed me to lash my sailors in. Barking my own commands to tie them selves down I fumbled for the coil beside the life boat. My fumbling met only with a clear deck and no time for error. There was nothing to lash with.

It was then I knew my water wolf would be left to howl alone that night as I floated in the big dip waiting for the sharks to break me into fish food. My death was quick and my watery coffin sweetened by the smell of dog and sea fig.

The pirates were gone, smashed to pieces in the jaws of savage water. My ship though, remained afloat and intact but for those few souls, lost at sea, because they failed to secure their ties in time.

How my water wolf fretted when he panted back for his words of praise and a scratch behind his ear. He howled for my soul and his prolonged howling shook the ships upon the sea. Drowning in grief for his lost master my bearded wolf dog sacrificed his water life and chose to shift his guard to the land where I had lived with the woman who hated the sailor’s life.

With all the shaking force of nature at his heel, water wolf tsunamied himself high on the eastern side of Treeless Island. He surged forward trapping Treeless life inside him while he cycloned across the ocean, mounted the coast of my home land and came to heel at the feet of his dead master’s woman.

There his watery form solidified, hardened by the wooden souls of Treeless pirate families, and he took the form of a bearded wolf tree – huge, ferocious and dripping.

In my after life as a Torres Strait pigeon I visit my loyal water wolf and happily shit fig seeds on the tormented tortured souls still deep within his growling. Their pleas for mercy are silenced by the bark of wolf tree and never will they be released to rape and pillage forests again.



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.

In a figgy forest

Under the hanging moss and between the figgy string fun, an entire colony of tiny rainforest people still live in harmony with the local fauna and flora. Thera Pea is their tiny goddess and she watches over her colony with love, respect and protection.

Every sun rise heralds the beginning of a fun new day where the colony can cavort, frolic and spread rain forest mischief. Hidden from the destructive eye and hands of the big people who destroy the real world, the rain forest folk live to reverse the damage and to rebuild the magic that once covered our land.

With the first whispery yawn of morning time, the colony adults carpet a path with the sticky red fig fruit provided them by mother tree. With careful attention to detail, worshippers float the beautiful pink petals of Eudia flowers onto the sticky red fig squash underlay. The stickiness and petal together cling like true rainforest companions and the rainforest adults beat their wings quickly together behind their backs so that they can embrace each other mid air without becoming entangled in each other’s green mode of transportation. The feeling of love and togetherness is as strong as the smell of a rainforest morning.

At the end of the freshly constructed pink rainforest canopy walk, Thera Pea’s new day gift awaits her: a precious dew drop collection in an upturned black bean pod, warmed by the thankful and multiple love breath of mother tree’s retiring nocturnal keepers.

After greeting each of the Fig Tree animals with a blown kiss of new creation and winking cheekily at her rainforest folk brothers and sisters, Thera Pea is escorted by her adoring colony up the aisle of Euodia and to the podium of the black bean bath.

As Thera Pea unfurls her delicate fairy wings from their sleeping position, the lady bugs hover around tugging at her moss green smock to allow it to gently fall and be caught by an enamoured branch that will forever more nourish and grow the moss in peace.

On Thera Pea’s smiley decree, the mother tree spider families break their curtain holder webs and the curtain tendrils fall shut. Darkness and silence envelopes the rainforest, for but a moment. Surrounded by the protective shield of the million fig tendrils, joyous sound is kept in and the splendid light of the fire flies bums is unseen by those on the outside. The rainforest world is alive and a happening place to be.

Behind the thick fig tree curtain, where the humans are scared to go, the rainforest folk bathe their days away in love, peace and quite a few little splashes of cheekiness on the side. Next time you walk beneath a tree and are splashed by the tiny by-product of above, fear not of a bird and thank the heavens that you have rainforest folk in your area, repairing the world, tree by tree. As they tell those wise enough to listen, you can’t have rainforest without a little rain. Tee hee.


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.

From her eye house

Nobody but the wind and the pig man knew her name. Born of money but remitted to the antiquities in her late childhood, she lived a life of crazy hair and wind cracked skin. Never did she attend the town anymore because her third eye was unwelcome. Banished she was, to the eye atop the hill in the biggest unfenced asylum in Australia.

Once a week, the local priest delivered her a box of long life groceries and junk mail that she could enjoy the pictures of. Monthly, there was a cheque from England; a remittance to stay away lest she embarrass her aristocratic family. She had no need of paper with writing on it so she played a game of swap: one box of groceries for me, one piece of paper with writing on for you.

Sometimes she didn’t play. Sometimes her third eye warned her that the church was up to no good, that the church was hurting black children again, like they did in the time when she was sent out here. Sometimes she didn’t play because she was happy and wanted to talk with the pig man who lived in the old ammunition shelter down the hill. The priest took up too much time trying to find out her life story and write in down in his black journal. The pig man knew his life story. He used to tell her and she listened, fascinated at what he knew about himself.

The pig man killed black hairy pigs because black was a bad colour. Not on people but on animals and things. The eye house had no black because the eye house was safe. A lighthouse is a beacon of warning. That’s why she lived there. It was an eye that warned of danger. She had an eye like that too. That’s why she was banished. Nobody wanted to know bad stuff.

In the evening when the light of the defunct eye house was supposed to be shining out, her own eye took over. Bare foot on the gravel and through the steep scrub she trod. Descending through snakes, feral pigs and poison spiders, she would third eye the edge of the cliff and stand on its edge. Her toes used to digging in, she would take the assault of the wind and balance between reality and insanity. 

In the windy black she protected the ships from running aground the coral reefs, and, she called to her family. They never answered. She just wanted to know who she was and why she was sent there so that she no longer had to pretend to be crazy.

Her third eye never saw them. Her third eye was unable to tell her anything about who they were. She reasoned that her family must have been very good for her third eye only warned of trouble. Her family must have sent her to Cooktown to protect the souls of ship and shore. She had no memory of her family so her third eye had blocked all her good history to concentrate on the important job of saving others.

If only she didn’t have to pretend to be crazy to get sent to the eye atop the hill so that she was closer to the wind who promised to carry her grief and loneliness home to her family. If only her family would answer her calls. They must have been busy too, in an eye house very far away. For they were good and so was she.




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.

Atropa bella donna

My husband was a violent drunk. Correction, my husband was violent. He was always drunk. The night I drugged him was the biggest achievement of my life but it's hardly something to put on the resume, particularly given I got away with it.

He'd been drinking with our local head master. They'd been fishing and the salty build up around their sunglasses and chin stubble confirmed that a trip straight to the pub was in order. Normally, he'd drink at home, hit me, and drink some more again. At least on fishing night he wouldn't hit me until we got home.

In the beer garden, I sat and listened, bored but dutiful. Co-dependent I think its called. If I moved he may have thrown an empty beer jug at me. Was a fairly easy choice to just sit still and listen to them. They were both so drunk that even the words that came out of their mouths had a head on them. They were foul. Embarrassing. Abusive, filthy and not far off comatose. If only they'd pass out before the new woman heard them talking about her.

I'd seen the newcomer around a bit. She stood out because she had long hair and wore bright, silky, skirts and matching scarfs. Her hair was bottled red, straight, shiny and all the way to her backside. I think I liked the look of her or maybe it was just that she was so noticeable in average town.


Out of the pub she came and through the beer garden she moved toward me, one long confident stride after another. Her brightly painted lips smiled at me. Her green eyes held mine. My dark eyes held hers, and begged her to not come anywhere near me. He would kill me or cause an almighty scene.


She didn't understand body language. She sat beside me and offered her hand straight to me.

"I'm Carole," I think she said. My mind was so busy panicking that it took away my ability to hear.

"I'm Carole. I'm just here working for a while, cataloguing all the poisonous plants in the town area. You've got some deadly ones right under your noses. Atropa belladonna is just everywhere."

Like a dart straight to bullseye I heard her words. Like a whiff of ammonia beneath my victimology, my fear was taken away and my senses heightened. I marked Carole as a must know person.


Behind my husband's back, I met with Carole many times over her stay in average town. Carole's job was to ensure that the new Government site (Child care and a hospital) was poison plant free prior to building beginning. She would catalogue and somebody else would remove. Through field work, she taught me all about the toxic plants in our area and explained how the toxins break down and what they do to the animal that may consume them. Amazingly, Atropa belladonna mixed with alcohol, produced a quick death in humans. Even more amazing, the poison could not be traced IN the body once the person died because it passed through as the bowl and bladder let go at death.

I asked for the contract to remove and destroy the poisonous plants. On Carole's recommendation I won the job.

The night he died was the happiest night of my life. Even through my swollen shut eye and half face of a boxer, with my two broken fingers and a broken rib, I could still stir the jug of beer with the sweetest stick of Belladonna that I could find. Not enough and he would experience delirium and hallucinations. That would be no different to every other night. The right amount and his heart would stop and all poison pass from his body as bladder and bowl released.

Bowl movement, no problem. He was naked, a drunk and we were country people with a half dingo as a pet. I simply had the dingo clean up his waste. No different to any other night.


Flash fiction research: "Atropa bella donna" is derived from an admonition in Italian and Greek meaning "do not betray a beautiful lady."



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.

Feathers came at breakfast

He longed to start the day with some random bird. While busily playing the stock market (was it any wonder he was single - stock brokers are soooo yesterday) late into the night, he fantasized about the random sucking his juice dry every single morning.

Sometimes his fantasia got a little....too real. Hurrying to the bedroom, he would always pluck a feather from the gross feather flowers his Grandma gave him for the most recent Christmas past. The flowers he hated, the tickle he coveted. God, he wished he could work from home all the time.

If only he could find himself a bird whose feathers he could manipulate into performing morning delight upon his badly neglected beak. He just needed to be juiced by another human being. He'd been through the proverbial black book far too many times and he was smart enough to know that it was the same as the fridge - still the same as last time he looked. No new delights to be had.

Last Sunday, while he was enjoying his own company and right at the crucial juicing stroke, his Grandma phoned.

"Darling boy," she tinkered in her frail voice, "What can Granny get you for your birthday?"

His breathing thick and frustrated, not only with failure but also with the intrusion, he rudely told his Gran exactly as it was. "I want a bird to breakfast with. I want to beak her and ruffle her around until she lays her eggs in my hands."

His birthday card arrived in the mail. Surprised, he was, because after the way he disrespected his Grandmother he really thought their relationship was over. But, true to her nature of always giving a wanted gift, Grandma had included a voucher to Breakfast with the Birds at Rainforest Habitat. As an extra little bonus, Grandma had prepaid for two beakers of orange juice and the experience of her grandson cooking his own eggs, freshly collected from the aviary.




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.

Feck off Mam and Da

"Holy fecking Jesus Christ!" His blaspheming rattled the beads off the rosary that our Aunt, Sister Maire, was saying in front of the open plot that mother was about to be lowered into. Finally, Mother would be back with Daddy. She always said she'd make him pay for dying first. All Mother's sanctimonious and religious siblings were there to pray the happy couple a less volatile after life together than they experienced in the before life!

Affronted no doubt by such base wordage, Sister Maire, nervously clicked her beads together, and prayed silently louder. It was louder because her lips bumped together more violently. I saw she was shaking a little. I wondered whether she'd dare to nip from her holy water flask while she was in public.

Sister Maire was pretending not to be unsettled by David's outburst but I could plainly see her shaking in her boots. Apart from the withdrawals she was no doubt enduring, she'd never favoured David. When were were kids she used to tell him to be more like his lovely sister. Christ! If only she knew what I got up to! If only she knew what the Priest got up to!

David was pointing backward, toward some unknown focus of his base language. "I don't know who's buried there, but I just passed our father's grave three plots back!"

My head shot away from Sister Maire's beads like I was a marionette jerked to life. "What? What the hell are you talking about?"

"They've dug up the wrong fecking grave, Maive. They're about to plant our mother on top of some other poor sod. Oh Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Like any one else other than Da deserves her for all eternity."

I was furious. FURIOUS. Both parents died destitute and I had to credit card the funerals. If this mistake was going to cost me another digging fee I might just kill someone myself and bury them in the first hole. Shit. I was still paying off Daddy's funeral from years ago. I could not have another thing on my credit card. As it was, Mother had to be buried in Sister Maire's habit because it was the only half way decent free garment we could lay our hands on. I had no more capacity to pay for my Irish family's catholic drinking ways. Their religion and the results of their drinking were costing me the earth.

Despite David's fierceness of words, he doubled over with grief and twenty seven years worth of codependent living with alcoholic parents. He rocked and moaned while keeping himself just above ground level. Everybody was looking at him. My empathy levels had long run off to join the Protestants and I just wished he'd pull his shit together so we could get to the wake and get well and truly pissed. His pathetic crying sent me away in the head.

His rocking reminded me of something he used to do when we were kids. We'd rock bad situations into games. Oi! That bastard wasn't crying for his gone Mam. He was laughing. He was shaking with laughter. His tears were tears from belly laughs and lack of breath. He found this hilarious.

In retrospect, it was. Feck off, Mam and Da. Slainte.




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.

Aka and the snake story

Aka settled into the big comfy chair beside my bed. She pushed her Government issue thick black glasses high onto her thick black face. Lucky her nose was wide enough and could keep those "big glass eye up." He, he, he. Every one of us kids used to tease Aka because we were cheeky; diluted with white blood and white culture. She called us, skinny nose. We called her, Aka, grand mother.

Aka lived with her community mob but because she needed dialysis, she stayed in town with us three nights a week. We loved it when Aka stayed overnight because Aka told us stories. Aka got stolen from her mob when she was a kid and bought up in a Mission. Aka went to school and she knew how to read and write but she only did it in front of us because she said it was a shame job to her sisters and brothers who couldn't read or write.

Aka used to be an up town Murri, like our Mum, but once she got old and sick she wanted to go home all the time: to her country, to her people. Our Mum, her daughter, wanted Aka to have the Granny Flat out the back and live with us all the time. We wanted Aka to stay with us because she took the time to tell us stories.

In the big comfy arm chair on the boys side of the room, Aka adjusted her glasses, opened up some book she picked up off the floor and began, "Once upon a time, there were three," I interrupted her with my hitting hand and my sister threw a pillow at Aka.

"Aka," I growled. "We don't want book stories. We want your stories. Mum can tell us book stories. We want your stories, Aka, we want black fella dreaming."

Aka chuckled and pretended she was shame. My sister told me a girl secret though. She said that girls pretend to be shame when they are flattered by a compliment. Ah, jeez. I hated it when old people acted like little girls.

Aka picked her nose a bit. We laughed at her because we had a secret bet about whether or not all five of Aka's fingers could fit up those big nose holes.Tonight it was just one finger, but we laughed anyway.

"Aka," little Desley said, "tell us snake story."

Tucking her skinny ankles and feet up under her bony bum, Aka took the position of the long time story teller. Her eyes went all snake like and her tongue split in two and flickered out of her mouth.

"On the day that white fellas first visited my country, they came with a child. The child was a boy. White hair, white skin, white teeth. The child played alone, in the sand and nobody ever spoke to him or even looked at him. The child did not speak or cry either. His voice was frozen by bad magic.

Before the sun was even right up over them big gum trees, that white boy was covered in meat ants, biting stinging, hurting, eating. From the banish circle, far away, those meat ant smelt white boy's tender meat and they planned to eat it. They came, quickly, and they marched onto his body and sought out his scale to get beneath, to get into his inside body.

Those big white fellas did not know of our ways, our danger, our magic, our dreaming. Those white fellas did not know that the meat ant was a bad omen and they had to be stopped as soon as they crawl on you. Where the meat ant crawled, father snake, giver of life, would not. Of all creatures of the earth, the meat ant could bite father snake underneath his scale and eat through to the other side, cutting father snake in half, cut father snake's life dead.

Them white fellas went on with their business, making shelter, searching for fire wood, scooping up water, looking at rocks, but never once did them white fellas check the child who did not talk. That child was going to disappear, only his bones would remain, and nobody would know what was happening because, even before that boy came to our country, the meat ant magic had stopped that boy's tongue from crying out.

Father snake felt the rumble of thousands of meat ants devouring flesh. He came up from his sleeping place to investigate. He came up and found the white child covered with meat ants. Father snake was confused because the white child did not scream and the white fellas did not come to help the child. Father snake wanted to punish the people who would not help the children but he was scared to go through their camp, to crush them, in case the meat ant slipped under his scale.

Father snake thought quickly. He could not let that boy die in agony, eaten alive.  He sucked back every bit of venom in his body and from the safe outskirts of the camp where the meat ants could not get him, he spat his poision and it landed on the boy.

That vemon ran down the boy's head and covered every part of his body. Paralysed meat ant dropped off that boy and the crow swooped in to eat them. The meat ant who had already eaten into the boy's flesh were trapped. If they ran out to help their friends, they too would become paralysed.

As the poison sloshed its way down that silently screaming boy's throat and entered his blood stream, the inner trapped meat ants died. With all the danger gone, father snake slithered to face the boy. They boy was dying and father snake told him not to fear. While the venom was deadly to enemy ants it gave all others eternal life. The white child would die of the white fella world but be born of the snake life, as the God who cleared the land of meat ant.

White child died. He died of ant bite and snake love. He entered the spirit world on father snake's back and every spirit ancestor was there to talk with that boy, to pay him some attention and to watch over him while he sat and played. If ever he was in any danger, all he had to cry out was, "Snake," and father would be there with him, to ride him away to safety, to friends and to watchfulness."

Aka blinked at us. Her eyes returned to their normal shape and colour and her tongue knitted back to one.

"You fella go sleep now," she said in her broken lingo, "or I bin gonna get them meant ant come teach you one big lesson."

Little Desley had already fallen asleep but me, Garrett and Nazie, we all nodded our respect to Aka, pulled up our sheets and did exactly what our Aka said.

As Aka got up to turn the light off and leave us alone to sleep, I felt an urge to tell her how much I loved her stories.

I sat up and reached toward her. Her fragile arm, all hurt by the big dialysis needles,  reached out to meet mine. Our fingers entwined and spoke of our love for each other.

"Thank you, Aka," I said in a deep, hushed tone of respect. "Your stories are the best stories ever. Tonight I am going to make one up to tell you next time you stay here."

Aka smiled at me. Her big lips, cracked with years of story telling and singing, rose in each corner. A smile, a cackle and her red tongue poked through her teeth. Aka's way of saying, thank you.

That was the last time I ever saw Aka. Two days later, she was discovered, in her community, strangled by a 16 foot python. Had she called Father snake to her? Yes, we believed she had.

Little white boy now had the best Aka in the world to tell him stories and to listen to his in return.




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.

Don't cry, Bambi

The first time I can remember crying at a movie was when Mum took us to see Bambi in the theatre at Brisbane city. It was a big deal. Five of us, excited and ready for city theatre adventure. We were big. I was five. I was real big. Second oldest. I had responsibilities to look after those younger and less capable than me.

When Bambi's mother was shot, my faith in human kind was shattered. At that point, well, somewhere within my raking sobs and stifled chokes because people were hushing me, I decided to dedicate my life to wildlife protection. I would ensure that the Bambis of the world NEVER had to suffer those wretched feelings of murder, abandonment, fear and deprivation again.


I never really worked out why I did Vet Science. DUH! I studied at Durban, South Africa,  but was keen to move into the African countries that had game parks and plenty of need for a vet woman. None of them wanted women though. The poaching and civil wars made woman game park staff fair game.

I got my break though when a tiny Elephant calf survived her mother being shot and butchered in front of her. Why the poachers left her I don't know, but I am grateful to them because those poachers made my dreams come true. Baby Elleph was immediately sold to a Zoo in my home town. I was heading home, baby. Heading home to chaperon a 150 kilo baby.

My contract called for the safe delivery to Australia Zoo, straight into the arms of Steve and Terri Irwin. I could then have three days off to see family and return to Durban for regular duties. Not bloody likely, mate. Crikey!

Steve Irwin offered me the care position before I had to ask. There was no way I was leaving Elleph and I was prepared to become an unemployed Vet in the Elephant House of Australia Zoo for the rest of my life. I guess Steve and Terri weren't all Hollywood focused like the accusations going around said. They saw Elelph's connection to me and the acted in her best interest. They paid me to be Bambi's mummy.

Life has been kind to Elleph. I often wonder at the effect of the early trauma on her. I have seen no signs of malfunctioning Elephant but Elleph, I am sure, has seen signs of malfunctioning Vet Woman in me. Every time a musical rendition of Disney's Bambi carries into my annex, I cry. I sob. I break my heart for those abandoned and left for dead. Unlike all those years ago thought, when I was shushed and my sorrow canned, a wet sniffy trunk seeks out my hair and tussles it around, just like I did to Ellep the day her mother was shot.



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.

 
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