Sunday, 15 December 2013


You can do anything, my father used to tell me. He’d tell me the world was in my hands, that I could conquer anything. He believed in me like no one else ever could.

Merry Christmas Chloe, he said as he leaned forward to hand me the modest black box. As the lid came off, I gasped, mesmerised by the way the necklace glimmered, reflecting the thin speck of winter sun shining through the window. The chain held a small globe as its proud pendant, the whole world right there, wrapped around my very neck. Joy radiated from him as he watched me admiring the gift, overwhelmed, inspired.
Lights flashed, machines beeped, my father’s limp body drowned in the sterile white sheets. I held his hand as the doctors forced countless medicines down his throat. Each ounce of hope died away as I overheard their conversations, caught their shaking heads, hanging them in shame. I turned to my father, who reached out to stroke my tear stained cheeks, a weak smile lingering on his lips. You have to promise me something, he said. I looked up expectantly. Promise me when something doesn’t go right, you’ll keep trying. A single tear ran down my cheek as I waited for him to continue.  Great things will happen for you Chloe, work hard, okay? I could only nod, tears streaming down my cheeks, desperate gasps for air strangling my throat.

I didn’t talk to anyone at the funeral. I couldn’t bear the apologies, the fake regards and wishes. Ignoring every word the priest uttered, I ran my fingers over the necklace, the cold feel of the chain matching that of my icy heart. Long after the guests had left, I knelt by the grave, scraping my fingers through the soil I’d dampened with my tears. It took every ounce of courage inside of me to stop crying, to put on a brave face and pretend the strength was genuine. I promise Daddy.  

Monday, 9 December 2013



Plates rattled as they were stacked in the corner, piling up like the unbearable hours of my shifts, more and more every week. I tied the apron around my waist with a sigh, pulling my hair back into the same ponytail I’d had yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. I stacked the plates and ignored the yelling, trying to block out the countless orders – the same cups of coffee with no milk, the same toasts with little butter and extra ham. Sneaking to the back of the restaurant, I pretended to be grabbing something I needed, reaching for the small jar buried at the bottom of my bag. I dropped in the morning’s modest collection of coins. The tinkle as they collided with the glass was music to my ears, the best sound I’d heard all day. I crossed my fingers for generosity, for a small pile of coins waiting on the receipt as I cleared the table. We’re getting there, I thought to myself, eyeing the bronze coins that had barely filled up a quarter of the jar. I watched them glimmer, knowing that it would happen someday. Dreams could come true.
“Nicole, get out here, you’ve got customers!” Deep breath, fake smile, knuckles holding onto the plastic pen and notebook so hard they turned a crimson colour – like the salami sandwiches, a popular favourite.
Golden coins caught my eye as I made my way to the table, longing for each one to be mine, for each one to double, to triple, to fill up ten of my humble glass jars. Table 35. Teenagers. No tendency to tip. Great. Glancing at his shirt, I noticed the flag drawn onto the back. Australia. The one place I’d always dreamed of going. I tried to avoid coughing, struggling for air, strangled by the sickly smell of cheap coffee mixed with the cigarette smoke drifting in from outside. I kept my coughing in, kept it all locked up inside, just like the emotions, the misery, the depression, the agony of spending each and every single day trapped in the same cafe, waiting on the same tables, in the same small town with the same provincial people. I longed to escape, to just pack up some things and leave for a while – clear my head. I longed to try something new, meet a new person, taste some new food. I longed to dance with the African tribes and to swim with sharks in Greece. I longed to explore the rainforests in South America and to gaze endlessly at mountains in Alaska. I longed to get in the car and just drive, throw the map away and follow the signs, choosing the best, most tempting town name and heading that way. I wished for a change, to wake up not knowing what will happen, not knowing where I’ll end up. I longed for a miracle to come along and fill up my glass jar until it overflowed with passion, with excitement, with adventure. But, instead, I drew in a deep breath and plastered the same superficial smile on my face, a painful pang striking at my aching heart.

“What can I get you?”

Tuesday, 26 November 2013


They sat next to each other on the train, still pretending to be strangers. Her deep emerald green eyes darted over to his seat every few seconds, while he kept his firmly locked on the window, trying to admire the scenic winter view. Raindrops slid down the window, disappearing like their memories, like their hopes, their plans, their dreams. She adjusted her coat, shivering at the thought of the empty train, countless seats around and yet he chose to sit right opposite her. He must not have noticed, she thought. He had. A feeling of nostalgia exploded inside of her as she thought of the picnic, the one they’d had for their very first date. She’d brought sandwiches, he’d made pie. They threw their heads back in laughter as the spring birds sang for their passion. Everything was so simple back then. The whistle of the speeding train snapped her back into focus. She avoided his eyes, the desperation inside of her almost too much to bear. He stole a glance at her slim figure, a quick thought flashing through his head – she’d lost weight, a lot of it. He hoped it wasn’t because of the breakup. It was. He remembered their weekly baking sessions – she’d run to the oven and whine when she saw the heads of the cupcakes, burnt, as usual. He’d suggest coating them with layers of vanilla icing. They didn’t taste as bad that way. They hadn’t quite meant to finish the whole tub. It had just happened. She swallowed the lump in her throat and struggled to draw back the tears, memories of the fight flooding her mind. The yells echoed in her head, the insults strangling her heart. She couldn’t remember when things started to go wrong. She couldn’t remember when the spark had begun to sizzle, when it blew out for good. She couldn’t remember when the man she’d once loved with all her heart had become nothing more than a stranger. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Look around

I took a sip of my coffee, flinching as the drink burned my tongue. My pen clicked against the blank sheet of notebook paper before me, lines and lines of empty space – no inspiration. Countless thoughts spun around in my mind, but I couldn’t string a single sentence together. I glanced around me at the metal tables and chairs of the cafe, various strangers sat doing their own things, thinking their own thoughts. I watched the woman ahead of me, her red hair flaring in the late morning sunlight. She sipped on her drink, ripping off pieces of the second chocolate croissant the waiter had brought her. My eyes flashed over the man next to me, a fairly young man, days old stubble shielding his face. Headphones hid his ears, music blaring so loud even I could hear it. His foot tapped along to the rhythm. I turned to see the mother sitting behind me, holding her two young daughters on her lap. I watched the way she looked at them, planting kisses on their cheeks, staring into their innocent eyes. I gazed at the waiter carrying the trays with such ease. I wondered what must be on his mind, what he must think day after day while he recited the lunch menu. I watched him dance across the patio, flashing a smile at the new customers walking through the door. I averted my eyes, and focused on the single red leaf as it fell from the nearest tree, wavering in the air for a while before dropping to the floor, almost as if it were ready for a change. And, as I watched the world going on around me, I reached forward and took another sip of my coffee, capturing the flavour for as long as possible, letting the inspiration seep through me. Then, I began to write. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Real beauty

Flip past it. I told myself. I begged, I pleaded, I grasped every ounce of strength inside of me and told myself I wouldn’t. I promised. But I couldn’t help it. I opened up the article. Countless pictures of celebrities were sprawled across the page, photos of various red carpet events and photo shoots they’d done. I eyed their figures, slender, delicate, beautiful. Silky hair fell across their shoulders, as smooth as the ocean water in the morning, not a strand out of place. Their beams lit up their faces as they threw their heads back in laughter. Everything about them was perfect. Why? I asked, frustration growing inside of me now. Their long legs peeked out from under their dresses, shining like the twinkle in their eyes. It must feel good. Every inch of their skin was flawless, the blemishes nonexistent. The teardrop splashed onto the page of the magazine, filled with anger, misery, jealousy. Why couldn’t I be like them?
I put the magazine down and made my way into the bathroom, collapsing on the bitter floor, struggling to breathe as the tears stole all the air around. I saw myself in the mirror, cheeks blotched, red as the blood that seeped through me, still flowing through all the pain. I pinched the rolls of fat on my stomach, cursing the countless meals, the deathly calories. I cried until the energy had been drained out of me. I had nothing left to give.

1 year later
I feel better now. I'm not perfect, nowhere near. I never will be though, and that’s something I’ll just learn to accept. My naivety terrifies me. My definition of beauty was so simple, so foolish. Impossible. Sure, I had problems with my skin and I had a few extra layers of fat. My thighs touched and my cheeks were chubbier than most. I tore myself up over it, over thought every detail, every freckle in the wrong place, every eyelash that wasn’t long enough. But, I forgot the other things. I forgot to admire the unique colour of my eyes, and I didn’t notice my naturally tanned skin. I forgot to look at inner beauty, and it must have slipped my mind to think about my passion and determination, my loving, selfless character. I forgot the things that mattered most, and focused on other people, only seeing their blessings. I forgot to look at my own. I forgot to be myself.

Everybody is beautiful in their own way.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The smile

I elbowed my way past countless people dotting the streets of London, my backpack slithering off my shoulder as I did so. Snippets of random conversations floated into my ears as I dodged into another street, relief flushing over me. I could breathe again. Droplets of sweat lined the back of my neck as I hauled my backpack over my shoulder, pulling out a bottle of water. My footsteps slowed, the heaviness of my bag weighing me down. I cursed the summer work the teachers had handed out with joy, superficial smiles plastered onto their faces as they tried to convince us that it wouldn’t be too much work. Various insults and complaints whirled around in my mind. I imagined the hours of writing and calculating I’d have to do, frustration simmering inside of me. And that’s when I saw him. He sat leaning against the harsh brick wall at the corner of the street, eyes closed. I walked closer, noticing the thick layers of dirt that coated his face. His chest rose slowly underneath the grimy grey shirt, the sleeves of which hung limp around his slender arms. He had nothing but a couple of overflowing plastic bags, filled with what appeared to be old clothes, maybe a couple of picture frames shoved inside as well. His whole life was right there, in those two bags. I was left almost breathless, and ready to walk past him, guilty at the lack of money I had with me. As I got closer, his eyes opened, and his gaze met mine. I was near enough now to notice his olive green eyes, matching the colour of the trousers he wore, with rips and tears in countless places on the material. There was something about this man. The way he looked at me, it wasn’t a look of desperation, he wasn’t trying to beg. It was different; it was almost a look of kindness. I came to a complete stop in front of him, frozen, unsure of what to do or say. He watched me for a couple of seconds, and then straightened up, not relying on the wall for support anymore. He said nothing. And that’s when, despite the dirt that covered every part of his him, his face lit up, thin lips curling into an affectionate smile. A thought flashed through my mind. But you have nothing. How could he be smiling? A pang of regret struck me as I remembered my inner breakdown over the amount of homework I had. I’d completely forgotten I had a home, a place to live, a family who cared about me. The negativity ate away at me, the gratefulness lost behind the constant complaints. I glanced down at the water bottle in my hand. As I saw it was still half full, I bent down, and placed it in front of him. Our eyes met as I did so, and I found that the beam on my face matched his perfectly.
“You don’t have to give me that.” The rasp of his voice seemed welcoming somehow, the single-toothed smile still sealed within his lips.
“It’s the least I can do.” I gave him a last sympathetic look and walked away, my heart warming when I turned around once more to see him taking a long sip from the bottle, still smiling as he did so. 

Sunday, 6 October 2013


“Why don’t you clear up the spots on your face before you start looking at me like that?” His tone cut through me, a sharp knife being sliced across my veins. I tore my eyes away, cursing myself for staring and, what’s worse, for being caught. The snickers exploded from behind him as he turned to high five his posse in satisfaction. A new day, a new insult, as per usual. I hid the invisible wound, letting it rest in the back of my mind as I ran on forwards, fixing my backpack as it slipped from my shoulder.
I hurried into class, eyes fixated on the floor while I shuffled around to find my seat.
“Oh, what do we have here? Late again are we Kimberly? Now how many times is that already this week?”
“That’s three.” I said, hanging my head in shame.
“Only three? Well, you’re doing better than last week.” The class exploded into giggles as the teacher continued to mortify me, my cheeks burning like the flame of her ginger hair. I could feel the tears coming. Not now, I told myself, save it for later.
The cafeteria stirred as my ears caught random pieces of different conversations, the chatter endless. I held the tray tight while my eyes drifted from table to table, looking desperately for an empty space. Finding one, I sat down, stealing a glance at the group of girls next to me. The popular crowd, brilliant. I tried to concentrate on the food, but I couldn’t ignore the giggles as I saw them pointing their perfectly painted finger nails at me. I caught the words “hair” “ugly” and “gross” and stood up to leave, heart pounding as it broke into thousands of pieces. As I rose, my shoelace caught on the leg of the chair. It fell backwards as I hit the floor, the crash deafening. The chatter died down as everyone turned to see what had happened, making no effort to control their laughter. The tears very nearly came, but I swallowed them back. Later.
Frustration bled through me as I punched the floor, tears staining my face. The insults tore me up inside, so agonising, so painful. It happened every single day, I had learnt to deal with it, learnt to hide the hurt of the comments. I kept them locked up inside until I was alone, on my bathroom floor, emotions shattered. Why couldn’t I be pretty, or have perfect skin like the others girls? Why did teachers hate me? Why did I have to live in dread every single day, just waiting for the next load of abuse? I hid the bruises, covered up the scratches, sealed the internal wounds and kept going. Until I was alone that is, with nothing else but my thoughts drumming into my mind. I would wind up insane, tears spilling down my cheeks, pain exploding from within my heart. Why couldn’t I just be somebody else?

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Saturday, 28 September 2013


Humidity hung thick in the air, beads of sweat dripping from my forehead. I blew the hair from my face and pulled it all back into a ponytail as I watched them crowd together, clapping their hands in time to the music. There were about 40 children living at the orphanage. Some were just babies, eyes like crystals, glistening in the everyday light of the sun. Others were a bit older; they had grown up there, all together, right at the heart of Kenya.  Smiles lit up on their faces as a dozen of them charged my way, throwing their slender arms around me in a loving embrace. Laughs exploded from the huddle as the desert dirt coated us, like magic fairy dust. I could only hope that all their wishes would come true. We gathered everybody into a circle and the beat began, first the African drums, and later the feet stomping and the clapping. Strong vocals all came together as they sang in unison, dancing to the rhythm. It was like nothing I’d ever heard before; the beat reflected their souls, their spirits. I joined in, looking round at each child in particular. Each one of them was so beautiful, so unique. The shirts I had brought them hung loose on their slim figures, but the vibrant colours only added to their beauty. Giggles escaped them as they thought of new beats, working together to add to the song. They were family.  I glanced behind me at the orphanage, nothing more than a shed in the middle of a bare desert; their beds non-existent, their bathrooms buckets. We’d long hidden the gifts I’d flown over with me, protecting them from the scorching heat. I sighed as I thought about the water bottles, the snacks, the school supplies, it was nothing. It meant absolutely nothing to me. Everyday things, so plain, so simple. Definitely not life-changing. Little did I know. I looked back at the children still singing at the top of their lungs, their talent shining like the teardrop that fell from my eye as I admired their joy, how grateful they were to be alive and well. I sung with them, inspired by their smiles, the twinkles in their eyes, their ability to carry on with next to nothing left. Their hope had stolen my breath away, and all I could do was dance with them, thinking of nothing but the beauty of the music, the simple, stunning, admirable music. 

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Sunday, 22 September 2013


“Mia,” Dad’s voice streamed into my ears as I turned the volume up a few notches, wanting nothing more than to block out the sound. “Mia!” His voice was louder this time, the impatience growing. I ignored it once more. “AMELIA!” I had no choice. I hit the pause button and made my way down the stairs, exaggerated heart balloons being shoved into my face the second I stepped into the room. “Hold these dear, now, what do you say?”
“Happy Birthday Emma.” My tone was blank, matching the expression on my face. I could feel Dad’s gaze poring through me, hints of anger flashing in his eyes. I forced my lips into a fake smile and handed her the balloons.
“Happy Birthday Em,” he leaned forwards, planting a sickening kiss onto her lips. “Now come on, open it.” Her evil eyes lit up as she ripped open the wrapping paper. I’d wanted to scribble “Wicked Step-mum” on the front, but I had quickly decided against it, for Dad’s sake. Not that I had forgiven him for marrying her. Not that I would ever forgive him. I watched her nimble fingers lift the lid and felt my heart tear as the gem reflected the morning sunlight that poured through the window.
“They’re beautiful,” she said. She held up the box, as if purposely trying to hurt me, using the delicate sapphire earrings to stab a hole into my heart. A single tear fell from my eyes as I held onto the memory of her, her glowing rosy cheeks and her auburn curls falling into her face just as mine do now. My mother.
“Don’t look Mia,” her palms felt warm against my skin as she covered my eyes, gently pushing me along as she led me through the house. It was the night before my graduation, just over a month before the incident. Her breath heated the back of my neck, almost protecting me, keeping me safe. “Just a few more steps... now open your eyes.”
I gasped as all my breath got stolen away from me, my eyes mirroring the dazzle of the ocean blue jewels as I admired the earrings. I turned to her. She beamed, her eyes filling with tears. “I’m so proud of you darling.” Her arms wrapped around me, shielding me from all the harm in the world. Nothing could ever compare to that moment.
I wrapped my arms around her, wanting to treasure the moment, desperate not to let go. My tears soaked the frosted white sheets of the hospital bed. Her skin was intensely pale, she blended into her surroundings. All the rosiness had left her cheeks. Her hair lay flat on the pillow. The only part of her remaining was the twinkle in her eye as I told her about my day, reciting my test results, mumbling the words through my sobs.

“I’m so proud of you darling.” The words stung.  

Sunday, 15 September 2013


It was the shadow I saw first, nothing more than a trick of the light in my eyes. My feet carried me forwards, careful to dodge any unexpected twigs hidden in the soggy mud. The river raged, currents almost competing to be the first to hit the rocks with great force, droplets of water forming a mist to match the icy fog of the winter night air. Just a single dim lamp lit up the ancient wooden bridge, its wood ready to split at any given moment. That was when I saw her. More than just a shadow, a girl, just a teenager, standing tall on the side of the bridge. I froze, watching her tremble, as if every bone in her body was trying to say something, screaming, desperate to be heard. I watched the wind carry her long auburn curls, fighting to bring her back to the ground, back to safety. She was about to jump. Countless ideas rattled my brain, my tongue stiff, not bringing the words to life. I stepped forward, careful not to scare her. The twig snapped, and that was the first time I saw her face, pale, shaken, beautiful.
Just jump, just do it. I stood on the side of the bridge, not daring to look down at the wild river rapids below. My brain raced, thoughts unclear, hazy, memories too painful to remember. I’d been planning this for months, tonight was the night. Nobody would know, nobody would care. Goosebumps formed on my bare arms as I faced the winter chill, imagining the shock of the frozen water, like a release. That was when I heard it, the twig, the faint crack of wood, a harsh contrast to any other noise. I jumped, heart stopping when I saw his face. He flinched as our eyes met, a look of painful longing growing in his eyes.

“Wow.” The rasp in his voice felt welcoming, almost kind. I stared back at him, still, unable to move, unable to think. “You’re beautiful.” He stepped closer, holding out his hand. I watched his every movement closely, positive that he was faking it. He wasn’t really being kind. Not to me. It didn’t happen. His gaze pored through me, what would’ve have been intimidating if it didn’t feel so gentle. I stared into his eyes, the smile curling onto his lips. His eyes twinkled in the dim forest light. My whole body shook at this point, thoughts jumbled, emotions wrecked. I reached forward, his hand meeting mine. I stood there for a lingering second before collapsing into his arms, drenching his woollen sweater with my own pity tears. He held me tight, like no one had ever held me before. My mind replayed the two words he’d uttered. You’re beautiful. How I had longed for those words to be said to me, just once when I was wearing my most special navy dress or when I had spent hours perfecting my hair. Just once. It had never happened. Good things didn’t happen to people like me. Kindness was a distant dream that I could only hope to come true. 

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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The accident

My eyes flashed over the stairs, the proud picture stabbing a wound into my heart. My mind registered the words as I tried to avoid remembering. I failed. Tears pricked my eyes as I blinked away the painful memory of the accident. It was all a blur, everything happening so quickly. All I saw was the light, the intensity like nothing I had ever seen before. My vision blurred as I forced my eyes open, white walls, white sheets, white monitors beeping around me. My mother cried out as she watched my arm twitch, rubbing her drowsy eyes, the restraint of it all overwhelming. I knew nothing, remembered nothing. Only later did I learn that it was the alcohol, the dizziness controlling his every muscle. He swerved too early, missed the light, charging on forwards, music blaring, completely unaware of his surroundings. He left soon after the crash, too soon after in fact. I never saw him. And now, here I was, eight months later, scars snaking their way up my every body part, secret wounds hiding under bits of old clothing. I wheeled up to the stairs, sighing deeply, avoiding eye contact as I felt stares seep through me. Businessmen, young teenagers, naive mothers, chatting away furiously until they reached the bottom of the unbearably steep stairs, conversations dying away, along with every last bit of hope I had in me. They looked, they judged, and yet they really knew nothing. Nothing about me, nothing about my life. I held my breath, terrified to let it out, knowing that countless tears would flow out with it. Nothing had been the same since the accident. Nothing would be the same ever again. 

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Tuesday, 3 September 2013

You make me happy

“You make me happy,” his breath brushed my ear as he whispered the words, his tone soft, gentle. Brandon had spent the day at my house, charming compliments escaping his mouth every couple of minutes. He’d picked out the movie himself, a romantic comedy, plenty of excuses for me to feel his silky lips on my own. “You really do, Zoe, you make me happy.” My body tingling, I forced a limp smile curling myself up, shielding my face behind my arms, not wanting him to see the teardrops that had begun to form in my pale green eyes. Countless memories drifted into my mind as I replayed the words. I could hear his voice so clearly in my head, the raspy sound like music, an acoustic ballad, a beautiful melody. I pictured the thousands of crinkles that grew by his eyes when he smiled, the twinkle in them reflecting the light, the joy spilling out from inside of him. I remembered him saying those exact words. He’d tell me almost every weekend over our Sunday roast dinners. The whole family would drive over; getting ourselves lost every time, without fail. We would be starved by the time we squished into the one bedroom bungalow in the middle of nowhere. Mouth-watering aromas wafted into my nose as I’d see the feast laid out on the table, the excitement of tradition exploding inside of me. Grandma made everything except for the gravy. That was Granddad’s speciality.
“You add a hint of orange,” he’d whisper, just for my ears to hear. He never gave his secret away to anybody else. I’d help him mix in the rest of the powder, spilling it all over the countertop, a brown mist of dust coating my face as I choked from laughter. That’s when he’d say it. The exact words. “You make me happy.”

I refused to wear black. He wouldn’t have liked it. He’d look down in shame, shaking his head, disappointed. I couldn’t stand that. Orange was his favourite. There was no question about it. I stood out like a sickening raisin cookie in a tub of delicious chocolate chip, everyone stared. I couldn’t meet their eyes, the tears blurring my vision. I spoke to no one that day, choking on the words I could have said. I held the paper firmly in my hand, protecting it from the harsh gusts of wind winding through the forest. He loved windy days. When the service came to an end, I couldn’t stop the tears from drowning the soil as I crouched by the grave, reaching out slowly and tucking the note under a rock. “You make me happy,” it read. 

Saturday, 31 August 2013


Dazzling traffic lights flickered all around, mesmerising me. I couldn’t quite believe I was actually here. I’d really done it. My biggest dream – well, it had come true. I pressed down on the pedal, butterflies tingling in my stomach as the car rode forward, up the busy street, past the grand houses, the proud trees, dotted with the few golden autumn leaves that were left dangling from the branches. The mountain stood humbly on the horizon, covering parts, just parts, of the glistening orange sunset. As I watched the magic happen around me, my mind flashed back to three months ago, when I was living in my aunt’s basement, practically locked away from the rest of the world, caged in, desperate for some sort of escape, a chance to become somebody, to do something with my life. Fast forward a month and I’d fled the cage; I was free, free to do anything I pleased. I had big plans. The blurry amber light threw me off as my mind blanked, my vision hazy. I rapidly shifted forward, completely unaware that the light had now turned a vivid scarlet. And that’s when it hit me. Quite literally. All I saw was the glass shatter in front of me. All I heard were the deafening honks and screeches around the vehicle. All I tasted was the bitter blood that flowed instantly from the back of my throat. All I felt was my heartbeat slow, my eyes flutter and eventually shut.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The ways things were

My toes tingled, sinking into the damp sand as the soft waves kissed my feet, coating them with a thin layer of refreshingly cool salt water. I watched the horizon, the last pale coloured rays reflecting onto the water, glimmering through the evening air. I tossed my flip flops behind me, noticing I was completely alone, nobody around. It was better that way; I was left with just my thoughts. I could almost hear the wind whispering valuable advice into my ear, it’s not your fault, but I chose to ignore the wise words, instead overwhelmed with a sudden feeling of melancholy. Although I gazed directly at the clear ocean water, all I could really see was the door slamming, Mum’s tears flooding our new burgundy carpet. He’d left. Just like that. The bitter arguments had been leading up to it for months, but somewhere amidst my childishness, my naivety, I’d never thought about it actually happening. He would never actually leave. My own father, the very same man who’d first brought me to this beach, lifting me up high so I’d bounce me over the waves, whirling me around lovingly. I pretended I could fly; I was on top of the world. When did that world come crashing down? In the past years, he’d never once agreed to come to the beach with me. “I’ve got work darling.” He’d smile and lay a tender kiss on my forehead before heading into his office and shutting the door firmly behind him, giving me one last insincere look of affection. I’d come alone, watch the broad smiles of other children, hear their overjoyed laughs as they built sandcastles, look on as they fell into the sand after a hectic chase, the beams never leaving their faces. I’d watch the sunset through a blur of tears, trying to convince myself that he’d come another day. He never did. I’d come home, flinching as I tiptoed up to the door, already hearing the yells. I’d cautiously let myself in and sprint up to my room, locking the door behind me, only wanting to lock out the screams, only wanting to be a child once more, only wanting to have the perfect family. The sudden crash of the waves shocked me out of my trance as I wiped tears of guilt from my cheeks, swiftly spinning around, turning my back on the ocean, the sunset, the beach and the life I’d had before. Things would never be the way they were.  

Friday, 23 August 2013

Gone forever

I ran. That’s all there was to do. Run. The drenched concrete sliced at my bare feet as I cursed myself for not bringing any shoes. There wasn’t time. I grabbed the umbrella and left, without glancing back. I couldn’t bare the look on her face, the disappointment gleaming in her hazelnut eyes. The one person I couldn’t stand to see unhappy. All I ever wanted to do was make her proud. She’d seen it all, every step of the way. My own mother. I ran to shake off the guilt, to make the memories fade. The midnight sky blanketed the forest, trapping my feelings inside. No matter how much I ran, I couldn’t escape it. “I’m sorry...” I mouthed the words into the wind. My endless tears mixed with the icy winter raindrops as I sunk into puddle after puddle, tired of running, tired of the shame, tired of trying to get away. Was it worth it? Slowing down, I gasped for air, blinded by the single light that glowed through the thick downpour. I collapsed onto the floor, desperately hugging my knees to my chest. “I’m really, really sorry.” I sobbed the words. Even the normally vibrant fuchsia colour of the umbrella was dulled down as it was attacked by the storm. I watched each droplet violently bounce off the surface, almost angry at the shield, angry to be faced with any sort of protection. I pressed myself to the ground, wishing the rain would wash me away as I realised that my mother, my own protection, was gone forever. 

Sunday, 18 August 2013


Layers of fat overflowed into my hands as I pinched hard at different parts of my body, longing for it all to just disappear, vanish, longing to be my six year old stick thin self. Times change. Stomach, thighs, arms. The fat was all over, there was nowhere to hide. No amount of clothing could cover up my hideous weakness, my horrible flaw. Tears forced their way out of my unfamiliar eyes as I stared at my reflection, not even recognising myself. When had I let things get this bad? Miniature puddles splattered the bathroom floor as I started to cry, sinking into reality. This was me. This was what I looked like. I cursed as I caught a glimpse of the magazine that lay on the floor beside me, a flawless woman posing for the cover. Perfect thigh gap, perfect curves, perfectly toned stomach. Everything was perfect. Countless airbrushed pages mixed with the tears as I ripped the magazine into pieces, unlocking all the anger I had inside of me, five years worth of frustration, guilt and self-pity pouring out. Why? Why couldn’t I be like her? Why wasn’t I perfect? Why did I have to look in the mirror every single goddamn day and absolutely hate everything about myself? Why?

Friday, 16 August 2013


It was too heavy to be a knife. Definitely too heavy. I could tell by the droplets of sweat the rolled off his palms, plummeting down to the concrete, slowly melting the winter ice that had blanketed the pavement. He hid his struggle as he moved forward, turning back towards me every now and again, a deathly stare in his eyes. The narrow walls of the pitch black alleyway strangled me as I took cautious steps, positive that, if I slipped, this would all be over. I had to keep calm.
They’d caught me. It was bound to happen sometime, I just wasn’t careful enough. Crowds of them ran in on me, strict voices bouncing off the walls, too many jumbled words to make out. I froze as I looked into the barrels of countless guns, positive that this was my time to die. It was over. I’d tried my hardest – things just hadn’t worked out.
I wasn’t entirely sure why I’d been given a second chance; it was almost as if they were letting me escape. Well, not exactly. No shots were fired, no harsh movements were made -just one burly man dressed in tight black clothes that did nothing to hide his intimidating muscles stepped forward, beckoning me towards him. I took a deep breath and followed, there was nothing more to do. As we were leaving the building, he picked up a single brown case, shaped very much like an average kitchen knife. Without a word, he led me down multiple grimy flights of stairs and out into the chill of the January night.

Despite the negative temperatures, beads of sweat had begun to form on his forehead now as he used both hands to carry the case, grunting every couple of minutes. I avoided eye contact each time he turned back to me, too busy trying to buckle up the courage to run. I had to escape, this was my chance, this was my moment. It’s now or never, I thought to myself. I waited until he’d turned to look at me, and then counted down from 14, my lucky number. If anything, I needed some luck. I whispered the last five numbers, watching my breath drift off as the night captured it, stealing it away from me, leaving me to fend for myself. I ducked into the alleyway and froze, pressing my body up against the wall, using the shadows as shields. There was just enough time for the man’s grunt to break out once more before a deafening thud was heard and ice shattered. He’d dropped the case. Hurried footsteps moved closer towards where I was. I kept my eyes shut tight, relying only on my ears to save me. As the noises faded, I decided that the man must have run back to where we’d come from, desperately searching to find me. I didn’t have much time. I thrust my eyes open and gave them a second to adjust to the darkness. Ready? I asked myself. Ready. I ran. 

Thursday, 8 August 2013


I crouched behind the car, trying not to make a sound. I knew that if I moved now, I would blow it, I would blow everything. The wind hissed all around, shielding the burning rays of the sun that summer morning. This was it. Any minute now. Dusty soil seeped from the bottom of the flowerpot as he lifted it for just a second, dropping the house key down and setting the pot right back on top of it. He looked around as he did so, a paranoid look growing on his face. Maybe he felt somebody was watching him. Maybe because there was. I’d been watching him every day for the past couple of months. Everything I’d seen, everything I’d been planning, all came down to this one moment. Today was the day. Now before you start judging me, I’m not a bad person, and I’m certainly not a thief, but when your father leaves you and your mother dies and you’re forced to look after your brother with no home, food or money, you change. You start to think differently. You start to get desperate.
“15, 14, 13...” I whispered the numbers ever so softly, reassuring myself that I was still there, I was focused. This was happening. His polished leather boots twinkled as his heels hit the ground, perfectly in time with my counting. He lifted his arm ever so slightly, pressing just a single button to unlock his luxurious car. Lucky for some.
“7, 6, 5...” He tossed his briefcase onto the passenger seat and slammed the door. As soon as the engine started, I would scamper to the back of the car, staying pressed to the ground, out of sight of any of the perfectly polished mirrors that could give me away. If I was caught now, well, better not to mention that.
And just like that, the smoke exploded from the back of the car, the roar of the engine triggering me, launching me towards the house. I had plastered my body to the floor, my breath locked up inside of me. Stay still, I pleaded with myself. It took about 2.5 seconds for the car to leave the driveway and, as the dust of the road was painted across the air, I climbed up towards the flowerpot, lifting it and grabbing the key as swiftly as possible. I found myself glancing around just as he did, suspicious of a hidden gaze watching my every move. There was no time to doubt. I had the key now and I slipped it into the lock, twisting it to the side and gently pushing the door open. I was in.  

Sunday, 4 August 2013

We danced

His touch was so gentle as he wrapped his arms around me, pulling me closer towards him, intimate enough to feel his heart pounding, each beat perfectly matching my own. Holding my breath, I bit my lip, knowing that this was the moment I had been waiting for, this was it.  The warmness of his skin seeped through me as I moved my feet around, careful not to tread on his. My head fit perfectly into the curve of his shoulder, the smell of his cologne wafting into my nose every now and again. I felt the absence of his touch on my hip as he slowly lifted his hand, placing it carefully onto my neck, his tender grasp causing the goose bumps to form on my bare skin. Strong yet soft fingers stroked my auburn locks, which I had curled specially for the occasion. I wondered if he could feel the nerves inside of me as he held me in his muscular arms. His head lowered and I felt his breath as his lips moved towards my ear. Whispering the three words, I could almost sense the smile forming on his lips, and I’m sure he could feel mine too. “You are beautiful.” Music sounded all around us and I tried to breathe deeply, the butterflies in my stomach almost uncontrollable. And like that, we danced.