Graduation

Preparation is key.

The day begins with a shower; hair washed and deep conditioned, legs and armpits shaved, face scrubbed and body exfoliated.

She dips herself in moisturiser, plucks her eyebrows, cleans her cuticles and paints her nails, careful not to smudge silver polish on her skin.

Dressed simply in a sleeveless shirt and shorts, she hustles out the door to her hair and makeup appointment, mere hours before the event. Time passes as she is primped and polished, hair curled, pinned and sprayed with product. Pimples and oily skin disappear behind foundation and bronzer, wide green eyes enhanced with powders and mascara. A slick of gloss completes her transformation.

Forbidden now from eating anything that doesn’t fit through a straw, she goes home to perch on the couch.

Finally, it’s time to dress. Lace underwear first, then shapewear. No bra, just chicken fillets taped under nipples. Glancing at herself in the mirror, she takes in her bizarre appearance before unhooking the delicate lace and silk dress from its hanger and sliding it over her head. Twisting awkwardly, she zips it up and readjusts herself, tying the ribbon under her bust into a bow. Finally, it sits perfectly, navy satin pooling at her feet slightly until she can slip her shoes on.

She balances her hand on her mother’s shoulder as she is assisted into her silver heels, sighing in relief as she finally stands tall, fully dressed and ready.

Soon, the limo will be here, ready to whisk her and her friends off for their final night as high school students.

It’s time to graduate.

***

My baby sister is graduating high school tonight – it promises to be an interesting evening :D

Break-in

Andy landed on the grass with a soft whump of his soft-soled shoes. Pausing to listen, he crept along the moonlit length of the house, checking windows and doors as he went. All locked but one; a cracked bathroom window with flimsy fly wire. Perfect.

Wriggling the frame, Andy fist-pumped silently when it came away with a sharp crack and a shower of musty smelling dust. Pausing again to listen, and reassured when no lights came on, he leant the fly wire against the brick and hoisted himself through the small window.

Gaining his feet inside the shadowed bathroom, he made to creep out into the hallway when the light flickered on.

“What the fuck?! Andy, is that you?”

Andy took in the scene before him; his girlfriend stood with one hand on the light switch the other holding her marble rolling pin defensively, Batman undies and matching singlet on full display. He rubbed his neck nervously. “Uh…I forgot my keys?”

Not surprisingly, she didn’t look very impressed.

Five Times Five

When I was five, my cat walked me to the bus stop. Half way along our enormous drive way, she appeared from a garden bed to curl between my legs in affection, and then plodded along behind my mother and I until we reached the gate.

A kiss from mum, and an affectionate face rub from Meggie, and I hoisted my school bag and crossed the road to the bus stop. Both stood at the gate until the bus pulled up, and as I settled into the seat beside my best friend, I looked back and spotted the cat still waiting patiently for me to go. As the bus pulled away, I watched as Meggie turned tail and disappeared into the garden beds at the front of our property.

It was at this time I realised my cat was more special than I knew.

***

When I was ten, I discovered Harry Potter. Already well advanced with my reading, I borrowed a book from a friend for a bit of light reading, and my love was born. A few short months later, I opened my Christmas gifts to discover the first two novels in paperback.

Christmas Day was spent in a cosy house surrounded by trees, sitting by the fire as I devoured the story of a young wizard and his two best friends. By twilight that evening, I had closed the last page of Philosopher’s Stone, and picked up Chamber of Secrets.

This habit of binge reading, and my love of Harry Potter remains to this day.

***

When I was fifteen, I became a goth. Far from being depressed or Satanic or any other stereotypes, I embraced the style of a friend and found a world in which I could wear costumes in public. I discovered my latent femininity, and the tiny glimmer of theatricality lurking inside my quiet, timid soul. I learned that I didn’t care what others thought of me.

I also learned that sometimes, friendships turn sour. That abusive behaviour doesn’t have to be blatant, or bruising, to damage you. I learnt that I was strong, and that I had friends who loved me for me, and not for the person I was trying to be.

Black lace and purple lipstick was a phase; the lessons I learnt during it were not.

***

When I was twenty, I dragged myself out from underneath my crippling anxiety and made a change. I educated myself, got help, and tried not to hide behind my anxiety. Once I knew what was happening, I owned my anxiety so that it would never have an opportunity to own me ever again.

I got a full time job, and booked an overseas trip. By myself.

I slip sometimes, but I’ve never forgotten what anxiety does to me if I let it marinate. I don’t let it dictate my life. Much.

***

Now that I’m twenty-five, so much has changed, and yet nothing is different.

My wonderful feline companion is gone, but so are the poisonous people I once called friends. My love of Harry Potter remains, complimented now by more than a decade of books, movies and interactive experiences. I’ve learnt lessons and discovered myself, discovered the strength that defines my weakness and the constant battle between them.

Friends have come and gone, and the ones I have now accept me for the Harry Potter loving, dessert making, sarcastic, anxious, solo-traveling cat lady that I am.

As far as birthdays go, twenty-five seems a bit of a non-event – but I hope that in another twenty-five years I’ll be able to look back and know that I learnt something.

For now, cake and wine are calling.

****

In case you missed it, today I turned 25. It’s also my 150th post, which means I’m nearly half way to my daily blogging goal :D

Sunk

Harsh ringing broke the relative quiet of the afternoon.

Slipping an oven glove onto her hand, Kylie opened her quietly humming oven. Ignoring the wall of heat that erupted over her as the door opened, she reached in and lifted out the perfectly risen cake, nestled in its well-used tin.

Whistling happily, she set the cake aside to cool, inhaling the warm chocolatey scent filling the kitchen.

Half an hour later, Cara stood horrified before the sad, sunken thing that only a little while ago had been her perfect, beautiful cake. Poking it morosely as though hoping to re-inflate it, she sighed and ran a sharp knife around the edge to loosen the cake from the tin. It might be salvageable yet.

Flipping the cake tin upside down, Cara tapped it gently against the cooling rack until the cake came free. Moment of truth…

Lifting away the cake tin, Cara frowned in consternation. Far from being salvageable, the mess of cake left on the cooling rack was improbably worse. Half the base was still stuck to the bottom of the cake tin, the rest broken and flaky in uneven chunks on top of the cake.

It was a disaster.

Ants

Charlie squirmed in his seat again, the toddler seemingly unable to sit still. Meanwhile, his dinner got cold.

“Got ants in your pants, do you buddy?” asked Anna, nudging the plate towards her fidgeting son.

Her tow-headed hellion looked up from his intense squirming and grinned. “No, mum! Not pants. I got ants in my bum!”

Erupting into shocked giggles, Anna saw Charlie’s face shift from confusion into high-pitched cheeky laughter. This kid, Anna thought amusedly. Seriously, the things he comes up with…

Tape and Wishes

Stale cigarette smoke clung to the interior of the cockpit, burning his nostrils as he ran an absent hand over the instrument panel.

The obnoxious snap of gum interrupted Terry’s thoughts. “So, think you can do it?”

“You mean, do I think I can push this tobacco-soaked tin can across the galaxy at ninety-nine point something percent of the speed of light to your rendezvous point, under the radar of the Taskforce and hoping that this stinking, rattling can you’ve bought from some second rate illegal salesman doesn’t fall apart when it’s clearly held together with tape and wishes?” Terry turned, and grinned impishly, “Sure, why the hell not?”

Comfort

The door opened, and shut again. The sound of keys reached him as they were tossed on the hall table.

Steve stayed in the kitchen washing potatoes for dinner, waiting for Vic to find him. He listened to her shuffle about the house, lights switching on and off as she changed, muffled bangs coming from the walk-in as her heels bounced off the wall where they’d been flung.

Peeling the potatoes now, Steve inhaled their starchy scent as he waited for his girlfriend to appear. She didn’t disappoint; some moments later, her face was mashed into his back as her hands slid around his waist.

“Muh,” she said intelligently, voice muffled by his shirt.

He continued peeling, knife moving quickly through the potato skin. “Bad day?”

Vic’s arms tightened, and she breathed a damp kiss onto his back.

“That bad? Let go for a sec, I need a saucepan.” Rather than letting go, Vic’s arms tightened even further.

Shuffling around the kitchen with his human-sized limpet shuffling behind him, Steve found a saucepan and dumped the potatoes in and filled it with water.

“Wine? White, cold, alcoholic, solving problems since forever?”

Vic peeled her face from Steve’s back long enough murmur “Uh huh,” before burying it in his shirt again.

Right. Patting the arms linked about his waist, he put the potatoes on to boil and pulled the largest wine glass they owned from the cupboard.

Wine in hand, he led his exhausted, non-communicative girlfriend out into the lounge to the couch. From experience, some wine, telly and a cuddle and she’d be right as rain – with any luck, before the potatoes boiled dry.

Actually…

A light buss to her cheek and wave, and he was gone. Down the ramp, onto the jet bridge and through the door of the plane that was taking him to Brisbane. Out of her life.

Hugh Grant didn’t know a damn thing about airports. They weren’t about love. They were sad, sterile places where dreams went to die. The dreams of those left behind, at any rate.

Carina knew a lot about being left behind.