An Annual Forecast

I wasn’t prepared for winter when it came. I was confused, living with more questions than answers, and didn’t own nearly enough jumpers. I went to the psychic in April. Her office was on King St (a Sydney street that can only be described as alive, all hours of the day), up a set of stairs, warm. I knocked my knees on the low table between us, upsetting the cards, and she apologised. The session was recorded for posterity, and because I knew eventually I’d want to compare notes. It was an expensive half hour, but it got me out of my house, and once I was out of my house, it got me out of the rain.

“There’s nothing light about this energy at all,” she said. “But why does it need to be? I think you’re feeling a lot more deeply than you ever have before… and with that comes an awareness that this is a strange place to inhabit.”

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Art by Siobhan Schmidt

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Big City, Big Heart

Before I left home, I had to have an x-ray. I have a crick in between my ribs, on my left side. Every time I breathe I feel it there. All I wanted was for it to crack, the same way my spine does when I anchor myself on a doorframe and twist. I had to wear a gown and hug myself. Stare at the wall. Listen for the click. My doctor looks younger than he is, and bulk bills me no matter how many times I turn up in his office with questions. He tells me all my bones are where they should be, just one of those things—sit up straight, do some jumping jacks, maybe it will go away—and in passing notes the size of my heart. Small, he says. That’s a good thing.

This is all in an afternoon. The next time I go to the doctors it’s the width of the country away on Hercules St, which I walk down most days. Every time I pass the bakery right before the traffic lights, I look to my left and spot the donut with pink icing that’s always there, wondering when I’ll finally buy it and why. I’m always walking at a pace by then. No time for donuts. A few steps more and I pass a shop with fresh seafood, another with what I assume is duck hanging in the window. Let’s pretend it’s a weekend. I think I like myself better on weekends, when I belong to myself and not the world. I get to leave my street and forget that I’m seen, stuck in my own loop of thoughts instead: choruses, grocery lists, arguments. Mornings are spent with Nat Geo or the radio, a healthy dose of pretention after sunrise. I don’t have to pay attention to the headlines or Twitter. I get to walk down Hercules St, and from there I can go anywhere I like.

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The Hole in the Pocket of My Bag

There’s a hole in the pocket of my bag that I suspect holds five pens, a stick of gum, and a lost fortune.

Sometimes I poke my hand through the tear in the fabric, prying out lost treasures: an old spray bottle of lens cleaner, a hair tie, a loose gem from the Pirate Princess of Thaw’s tiara.

When I reach in, blind, I fear I might lose my fingers to a rattle snake or a wild boar. I suspect one day I’ll feel the bite, see the blood, and never know who or what the inflictor was. It has scurried into a fold or a crevice, never to be seen or named. Sort of like Schrödinger’s Cat. Sort of not like Schrödinger’s Cat.

Also, there are futures that I imagine—rife with drama, a gun pointed to my head—where I’m asked to produce something ordinarily impossible: a trombone, an entire mango flavoured ice cream cake, a particle travelling two times faster than the speed of light. And in those futures I poke around the hole in the pocket of my bag…And the impossibilities are there!

A lifesaving antidote, a perfect pair of prescription glasses, the soundtrack to Mission: Impossible, an umbrella, a toaster, a Thin Mint, Unified Field Theory written on a napkin, Mary Poppins herself!

I could sew the hole shut, trapping the possible impossibilities inside. I could keep all the items in my inventory found and not lost. But where’s the fun in that?

Nothing ever truly feels lost anymore. Not even the imaginary. More-likely-than-not, it has slipped through the hole in the pocket of my bag. If I feel around and don’t come across it, it just doesn’t want to be found yet.

Ghost Boy

There was one figurine left, sitting in the far corner of my Grandma’s glass cabinet. A porcelain ballerina tying her shoes, looking demure as she crisscrossed the ribbons across her ankle. I had to get on my tiptoes to reach it, and as the shelf dug into my chest all I could smell was dust.

“Um…Liss?” Maggie called. She was standing right above my head – I could hear her small, sensible shoes shuffling around the attic floor. I grabbed the ballerina by her head.

“What!”

Sliding the glass cabinet closed, I caught my muted reflection in the mirror and saw the bags under my eyes before anything else. I pushed my fringe from my forehead.

“What!”

“Can you come up here?” Maggie said.

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CHECKLIST:

CHECKLIST:

Book x1 (The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury)

“Chicago’s got more alleys than…anywhere else in the world.”

“Why are we running?”

Charlie’s orange hair tumbled behind her, and I followed it. We flashed past closed garage doors and roller bins, weaving between groups of kids playing in the lane.

“Elena?” one of them shouted at me. I caught a glimpse of more red hair – Charlie’s little brother stopped bouncing his tennis ball to stare at us. The storm clouds overhead roiled with the promise of rain.

“We’ll be back for dinner!” I yelled. The cold air stung the back of my throat as I breathed in.

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Echo

The bowler hat had its own spot on the sidewalk. It was kicked and nudged so much that it generally stayed in the same position – an arm’s length away from its owner, tipped on its top and begging.

The woman wore the hat at night. The rest of the time it pleaded on the pavement, and the crown of her grey hair was left in the sun to bleach into white.

The homely colours she once wore – grandmother’s colours – had been washed out by the wind that whipped the sidewalk. Every person who walked past her painted her further into the background.

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