Arts Fiction

She change

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'This painting was inspired by the changing patterns and rhythms of the sea' (Image supplied courtesy Pam Edwards | Artist)

This short story is an *IA Writing Competition (creative work category) entry.

Daisy dismissed the nurse with a weak wave and shuffled the remaining steps in her walking frame to the rock – her rock – on the headland.

She unfolded a neatly ironed white handkerchief embroidered with a "D" in one corner and laid it flat. Using the walking frame to steady herself, Daisy gently lowered her body, closed her eyes and took in numerous deep breaths.

As the years rolled into decades, she always returned to this rock and the sea before it.

Daisy sighed as she reached for her journal. She ran a shaking hand over its much-faded leather cover before opening to her first print-scrawled pencil entry:

'The osean is really blu today.'

A tiny smile as she thumbed pages of drawings: stick figures swimming in the ocean and one with a whale floating impossibly on the horizon, all richly coloured with her treasured coloured pencils.

As the entries advanced from pencil print to cursive ink, she paused on a page decorated with red lips. Her heart jumped. Her first kiss with a blonde surfer on this very rock.

Daisy closed her eyes to the memory of clumsy tongues exploring first love. Her nose crinkled at the remembrance of coconut oil on suntanned bodies. Trembling fingers instinctively explored her rock, but she knew the love heart scratched and traced multiple times each day for two months had long ago weathered.

Pages of unforgivable adolescent angst followed, fractured friendships and family tensions — dark sentences and vows of revenge had Daisy tightening her mouth, touching her lined face and seeking out the darker blues of the ocean.

With the busyness of adulthood, the entries were shorter and factual: ambitions stated, career choices touched on and travel plans listed, all with a confident flow of the pen.

She paused, sometimes smiling. Sometimes her shoulders slightly shrugged at her mental ledger.

Daisy raised her eyes to the kaleidoscope of colours the ocean now provided.

She turned faded yellowed pages to a telegram, pasted in with the little plastic lid brush that came with the tub of pinkish-purplish paste, but resisted bringing it to her nose:


A long, tear-stained typed eulogy to her Grandmother had followed a week later. Daisy gently bit her finger as she read.

Thumbing through the many pages of her marriage, Daisy openly laughed at fond memories, pausing on the black-and-white photograph of both dressed in Sunday best beaming outside their first fibro home. She fondly touched the lock of hair of their firstborn, pressed between the following pages.

A roller coaster of a partnership and he had long passed away. Her entries on his imperfections had her shaking her head and his indiscretions made her bite her bottom lip. She rotated her wedding ring on its thin finger.

The ocean was choppy now as the afternoon breeze picked up and the fading sun tossed more colours into the waves. Daisy pulled her shawl tightly around her shoulders.

She turned to the phone contacts in her journal and smiled at the neat line through early entries, which had just four numerals repeatedly replaced with longer numbers as their tiny coastal town had expanded.

Tears welled as she traced her finger across the many names crossed out.

Tiredness weighed Daisy’s head to her shoulder…

Her eyes opened to the nurse's gentle touch.

“It’s time to go, Daisy.”

Daisy picked up her pencil, took a shallow breath and attempted a weak line under the last diary entry, closed it, rested her elbows on the cover and cupped her shaking chin.

Her watery eyes a prism for more colours in the forever youthful sea.

She openly sighed and for the first time, allowed the nurse to assist her to her walking frame.

“Yes, I know… It’s time to go.”

John Longhurst is a former industrial advocate and political adviser. He currently works as an English and History teacher on the South Coast of NSW.

* Full IA Writing Competition details HERE.

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She change

This short story is an *IA Writing Competition (creative work category) entry.  
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