Tryst Tristesse  – A Short Story By Julie Martin

Tryst Tristesse 

 JULIE MARTIN 

On November 16, 1942, Tasmania raised the marriage age of women from 12 to 16 and men from 14 to 18Other states, including Queensland, followed. In the early days of European settlement in Australiamales dominated the population. For some, women became objects of trade. 


Cold black magic drifted through the old forest, flowing into places dark and light as sinister silhouettes of winged night familiars cut the velvet sky above searching for slight flickers of movement: searching for prey. Water gossiped dark secrets to rocks carpeted in mossy green. In the depths of the dripping ebon, an ominous waiting pressed into the earth. 

Twigs snapped in protest under heavy feet, startling night demons, startling possums and pythons, startling bandicoots and bats. The man-shape was hooded but he was no cunning man, no sorcerer. He settled, threw his leg over the twisted branch of an escaped elder, lit his pipe, flicked the smoking ash into a small tree hole, waited. His mother’s voice whispered through the years, The elder is a lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed you’ll be. He humphed.  Women’s talk. He was no superstitious fool. He brushed the thought away with a meaty hand. He’d come to protect what was his. 

“I’ll come, Ted, when the kids are asleep. They’d tattle if they saw me go.  

He had heard her, the little whore, talking to a man-youth, planning a night-time tryst. She was promised to him and she was almost ripe. He’d bought from her desperate father anxious for money, anxious to lose a hungry mouth. He’d marry her soon, proper, in church, take her back to his shack high above the logging camps. She wouldn’t talk to naught but him then. Sniveling drongos like this Ted didn’t ever come up the mountain. 

His mad eyes glazed in lust. Finding women, girls, was a hard thing. Weren’t many of them unless you counted the blacks. This was men’s country, loggers, miners, hard-bitten farmers too dumb to see leached soil was no good for crops. He’d have her when she was twelve. It was legal then. He could do what he liked with her then. He shifted until he felt the unforgiving steel against his leg. 

“It’s this way, Laura, this way. If we drop to the rock bench by the creek we’ll see em. We gotta be quiet, but. 

Fleet young Ted looked back to the wraith lit by moonlight running behind him—in her nightie, cambric so worn the man could almost see the shape of her limbs, her budding breasts…He licked his lips. It was as good as his saucy seaside postcards from his London brother, better because she’d soon be his. She had no right to be showing herself to the boy. Not that he was looking. 

“Here. I’ll help ya down. This bit’s slippery. Ted held out his hand to steady the girl on her way down to the rock ledge. She slipped. Her nightie rode up. The man saw more than her legs.  

Ted laughed at her, brushing her down. “Cripes, what’ll ya Mum say when she sees the state of ya?” 

“Doesn’t matter. It’s washing day. I do the whites. She won’t even know.” 

“We got to be quiet now. They come up just before dawn. That’s their burrow there, just above water level. Sit real still.” 

“If you’re making this up, Ted…” 

“I ain’t. There’s platypus here all right. Just you watch.” He put his arm round her slim shoulders. “See. See her coming.” 

The man lifted the steel and squeezed. No one could touch his girl. He squeezed the trigger. 

Laura leaned across Ted to get a better look at where he pointed. The bullet blasted through two soft childish bodies. 

Night magic fled in a cacophony of red screams, startled feathers, running feet. No witchcraft saved the children. No familiars rescued the man. The ashes in the tree hollow found dry leaves. The elder tree burned, leaving him condemned, cursed, running. 

. 

Exploring in the Library – By Paul Hannah

Here Paul Hannah, a  well known local writer reflects on how we regard the exploration of both the huge and the minute universe.


I was a terrible Law student, far too easily distracted, I’d go up to
the top floor where the stacks are and just browse through the books.
Sometimes it was the American section where the books were straight
from the publishers, almost nobody has read them and you’d open the
book and hear the pages crackle as you turn them.

But my very favourite books were the old ones. Their leather binding with hundreds of years of fingerprints turning black along the spine. And when they were opened the smell was divine. The cases seemed positively
Dickensian, somebody’s cow broke down a fence and ate some of the hay.
Or a man wants to enforce the contract he made with the miller or the
baker or the blacksmith.

Little glimpses of your average 17th-century bloke, that give you a taste of their life and the way they see the world.

I didn’t restrict my browsing to the Law on more than one occasion, I
walked through the stacks in the biology library. There you could see
drawings done by early explorers or reports to the Royal Geographic
Society about new discoveries and new land for the white man to come
and exploit.

In one of these journals I came across a leaflet that had been inserted in the magazine sometime early in the 19th century. It announced there was to be a new expedition to explore the upper reaches of the Congo River. It sought interest from men of means to join the expedition – it was an advertisement for an entry-level gentleman explorer. Of course, what these men sought out was information known to lots of people, just not the white ones who wrote the books and put advertisements in the journals.

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Still Strength – Thoughtful Story By Fiona Taylor

Here is a thoughtful and curiously floating short story by one of our volunteers, Fiona Taylor.   It is a story that I found to be very effecting, as it sort of slid from the introverted and gentle world of meditation into a much more brutal world of reality.

Anyhow, here it is… read it an let us know what you felt about it if you would.

Still Strength.

The dreamy voice of the meditation app said find a comfortable place to sit, so she took a chair to her favourite spot on the deck outside the kitchen door. From here she could look out over her garden with the mountains in the distance defining the border of the small, farming valley beyond. It had taken a long time to improve the soil around the house after the builders had left it barren and compacted, but now it grew roses, daisies, and salvias alongside seasonal vegetables and herbs for both the kitchen and simple home remedies.

Sitting here, content with the progress she had made, she liked to think about Isabella Joyner, a pioneer woman of the district who, after the death of her husband, ran her cattle and dairy alone, with only the help of her mother in caring for the house, her infant son and the workers.

Thinking of Isabella’s obvious hardships in managing one of the state’s first pastoral leases made her feel like she could cope with the few difficulties in her own life. Isabella often drifted into her mind as she meditated, offering words of wisdom or advice on whatever was troubling her that day.

It had been 2 months since she had taken the psychologist’s advice and started to meditate and it was beginning to get easier; to be still, to focus on the breath, and calm the ever-present anxieties. The app she had downloaded offered many choices and she had been working her way through the calming anxiety series to mixed effect.

Maybe today I’ll try somewhere different to meditate, she thought, and see if that helps to deepen my practice.

Looking around her much loved garden she decided on a shady spot under the large Kurrajong tree. With its strong straight trunk shaped by decades of dairy cattle stripping it of its lower branches, it had always calmed her with its gentle but robust stability. Even its canopy, which listed heavily to the north east, was evidence of its resilience against the wild south-westerly winds that could tear across its solitary hilltop location. Buran, she had read in the local paper, was what the Aboriginal people had called this area, place of wind.

They certainly knew a thing or two, she thought, Buran told you more than Mt Samson as a name.

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Some More Of Rollo’s Snippets

Here is what Rollo Waite, who wrote the “snippets” of stories you will read below had to say about why he wrote them.

I previously titled this micro fiction, anecdotes etc. but am changing it to “Snippets”

Defined as small bits, scraps, or fragments: snippets of information. There are some that might purport to be tiny stories, some are anecdotes, memories, whatever. They are simply bits and pieces that are quick, easy and personally rewarding to write. They’re nothing much.    Rollo

The bet.

He was a bullocky who’d sworn himself dry. The lazy bloody bullocks refused to move the giant log another inch.

He struggled for spit, planted a tenner from his wallet, on the ground in front of them.

I’ll bet you a tenner you bastards, you can’t shift that bloody log.”

He won.

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THE FOAL ALARM – Short Story By Julie Martin

Once again one of our local authors has decided to grace our website with a superb example of how a short story should be written.  I enjoyed reading this one before I posted it, and am quite sure that you will derive equal pleasure from this optimistic and gripping story.

THE FOAL ALARM

Julie Martin

She levered herself from the chair in front of the computer.

Bloody phone. Always rings its head off when I’m paying bills. Why doesn’t it understand you have to concentrate when you’re accounting?

A hot butcher’s knife of pain hit her spine. She stopped, arched, breathed, waited until it passed. The phone just about danced off the wall with impatience.

“What? Who is it? You’ll have to speak up. The line’s crackly. Storm coming fast,” she shouted The roiling clouds were steel-wool warning beacons flashing the lightning’s ire. The valley spaces and the road were no more. She was cut off from life below. The tempest was a monster with jagged flashing teeth, ripping her world apart. She hoped the persistent rain would drench the browned pastures before the lightning caused a fire.

“It’s me, idiot-woman. I’m stuck in Cooma for a bit.” She touched a blue-black bruise on her cheekbone. “Should be home in a couple of hours.”

“Wasn’t expecting you until tea.” She struggled to keep her voice calm. “Why’d ya call?”

Just a little twinge this time. She gripped the doorjamb to lessen the shock.

“Bit worried about Sally. She’s moving around a lot, very restless.”

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Snippets From Rollo Waites

I previously titled this micro fiction, anecdotes etc. but am changing it to “Snippets”

Defined as small bits, scraps, or fragments: snippets of information. There are some that might purport to be tiny stories, some are anecdotes, memories, whatever. They are simply bits and pieces that are quick, easy and personally rewarding to write. They’re nothing much.    Rollo

Walking fast

Walking fast through shadows—someone behind.

“What do you want?” I’m scared.

“Your money.”

“Got none.”

Run to streetlight. He follows. Kick him in the balls. He screams, collapses.

Cop car arrives. “What the hell?”

“This guy tried to rob me.”

He recovers. “No I didn’t, just asked for money. Then you assaulted me.”

I’m handcuffed in the cop car, wondering, what did I do wrong?

**********

Return

Henry went back to that little old pub. Everything had changed.

Where’s everyone gone?”

The bartender, looking surprised, “Where have you been?”

Henry snapped, “Away.”

The barman looked at this odd little man he’d never seen before—forlorn, lost. What could he do to brighten his night?Still drinking the same?” He poured him a pot of fourex.

Henry was happy. “You remembered?”

The barman grinned. “Never forget.”

**********

Waiting room.

There were three of them, trying to ignore each other in the Doctor’s waiting room, each absorbed with his own thoughts.

Ben spoke first. “Shit I’m nervous.”

Adam nodded. “Me too.”

Bob was full of bravado. “Nothing to worry about—same as usual.”

Adam patted Ben on the shoulder. “Must be a good shrink.”

Ben was alarmed. “Shrink! Hell, I think I’ve got prostate.”

Bob laughed loudly. “Must be one hell of a doctor. I’m simply having some sun spots removed.”

Poor Harry—and his dad really misses him.

bed room.

That’s herding for you.

*******

So there you have them, the first of a whole load of these snippets – as Rollo calls them- which I hope will give you as much pleasure as they have given me.    More to follow soon.

A Brief History Of The Samford CSIRO

And to celebrate our connections with the CSIRO, here is a short history of the Samford CSIRO, written by Rollo Beaufort Waite, who worked there for many years.

History of CSIRO Pasture Research Station Samford by Rollo Waite

I am one of few remaining staff who worked for CSIRO on the Samford Commons—the site occupied mainly by the CSIRO Division of Tropical Pastures, but also others from the 1950s onwards. With some of my CSIRO colleagues, I have reviewed and built on the document produced by Geoff Harris and others at the opening of Samford Commons in 2015. This was instigated through Ms Julie Martin who has considerable contact with the organisation. As this dates back some 62 years, we can’t guarantee the absolute accuracy or extent of our recollections.

Rollo Beaufort Waite. 2018.

Before shifting to the Samford Research Station, the CSIRO Division of Plant Industry researchers at Gardens Point (now QUT campus) were in need of a nearby field station. A small area at Redland Bay on The Acclimatisation Society land had been used as a plant Introduction nursery and was moved c.1952 to a few acres on Samsonvale Rd., Strathpine. This site was also used as a pasture legume nursery for plant breeders and the housing of equipment, including a truck and tractor needed for the emerging work of agronomists at Beerwah before that field station was established. .

As part of the Samford Research Station, a dairy farm of 204 acres (82.62 ha) on the eastern side of Mt Samson Road. was purchased from Mr Cyril Gosden or Gosling, c. 1955. This included the original house the first farm manager, Mr Herb Warwick lived in. There were also the cow bails and a large shed which was converted into a farm workshop. This was stage one of the Samford Research Station.

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Stones: A Short Story By Julie Martin

“They’re coming! May God preserve us, they’re coming!”

The townsfolk crept forth from their thatched log shacks to watch the growling monsters approach. Loaded on their backs were the bowed bodies of the taken. The sweet bitter stench of fear spread before the monsters’ arrival. Forked lightning lashed the dark skies behind, but no life-giving rain fell.

“I’d hoped they’d miss us. Not take our young…not take our means of survival.” The Father lifted his face and his cross against another purge.

The devil’s leviathans, loaded with their miseries, crashed into the village quiet. A frantic cacophony of hens scattered to escape their grinding wheels. Grim reapers in round helmets brandished guns at the community gathered and leered at the fresh-faced girls. An overstuffed grey uniform stalked among the watchers, poking the choicest, then pointing to the trucks.

“Fifteen Minutes! Get your things. We are taking you now.”

Guns and lurid comments pointed at their backs, Katerina and Halina scurried inside behind their mother. They threw their few belongings onto rough quilts and tied their swags. Their mother removed a small icon from the wall, kissed it and tucked it in Katerina’s bundle. Into Halina’s she tucked her rosary beads.

“Come to the church now. You need the Father’s blessing.”

The old man touched each young face before him with heavy love. As Katerina climbed into the back of the mighty truck, he pressed a small blue-veined pebble into her hand.

“So youll know your way home.”

Katerina pushed the pebble into her pocket. The trucks lumbered away. The silent, shocked anguish of the captives was deeper than the separation of death. Katerina turned the stone in her hand like a holy talisman.

The desolation of the work camp was in a horizon of nothings. The sod was frozen and the vegetables would not grow. The guards were merciless. Halina began to cough. Blood stained her mouth rag more each day. She died.

Katerina and her comrades battled the icy earth to make her place in the ground. She placed the rosary beads on Halina’s breast but a kindly warden lifted them off and pressed them back into her hand. He took his own from his jacket and placed them in the ever-cold hands. They threw the clods on the rough coffin until a mound grew above it. Katerina pressed an imprint of her mother’s icon into the earth and picked up a small stone to put in her pocket.

The guards disappeared one by one ahead of an orange booming sky that crept closer each day. When the booming stopped a bedraggled group of refugees struggled by their camp, heading south. Katerina watched, clinging to the barbed safety of her prison. Fellow inmates, starved and beaten, stood beside her.

A young man with a bobbing kiss curl and shreds of a uniform spoke to them in their language and said peace had come. The fighting was over. They would not have to feed the enemy soldiers anymore. He urged them to collect their things and travel south. It was the way home.

Katerina spat on the doorstep of the camp hut as she left and kicked its flimsy, imprisoning walls. She bent to pick up a tear-shaped pebble. The road to escape reached out before her.

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Short Stories

As soon as you guys get yourselves together and send me your superb short stories to publish here, then we will start to have an interesting collection of stories written by local authors – So drop me a line here and tell me about your short story and we can make a start.   For instance, I gather that there is a Writers Club in Samford who for the fun of it write stories that have exactly 100 words – These I would love to have published here.

So, come on all of you authors, lets make a start here (by the way, you would retain all copyright to your stories).