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?”