SHORT STORIES & POEMS
Short stories, poems and anecdotes to make you laugh, and sigh
Writers, all bound together by shared experiences, an appreciation of their natural surroundings and the challenges of living in a heavily wooded, water-access-only location, send their fingers tapping.
For the full list of Authors, Storytellers and Poets featured in the book, see "About Us"
FROM: CURVE BALL
By Juliet Wills
……Before I even got to the ferry stop I was in love with the place.
Pittwater Road winds and bends around wooden boatsheds, marinas, mangroves, sandy beaches, and glistening waterways dotted with yachts, overlooked by a canopy of trees.
Church Point is the meeting place for offshore residents. Locals dressed in shorts and t-shirts chat, dogs and children play underfoot or splash in the water. An agent picked me up in her boat. We climbed 85 steps to get to the home but the view from the wonky deck was magnificent.
I returned to my brother’s home to declare that I was moving to an island. None of my family had ever heard of the place. A family meeting was held.
“She’s gone mad,” they concluded. My brother was tasked to straighten me out. In the end, he agreed to check the place out. I don’t think any of them took me seriously then, but they went along with it. I flew back to Perth a week later and put my house on the market.……
FROM: THERE ONCE WAS AN ISLAND
By Nettie Lodge
There once was an island
Where everyone walked,
There were a few hills,
But nobody baulked.
They hoisted their shopping
Up on their backs
And lugged it decisively
up their goat tracks.
The Island held secrets
Of thousands of years,
In its rocks and its middens
Its shape and its tears.
And the islanders loved it,
It was their sacred space
But to others, it was simply
Just a crazy place.
Newcomers were welcome
And when they arrived,
If they lasted a month,
Then they generally thrived.
So, the Island attracted
The bold and the strong,
Who came looking to find
A place to belong.
They befriended the huntsman,
And wrestled the mozzies.
They rescued possums from tanks,
In winter, in cossies.
And when the howling westerlies
Blew them away,
They hauled themselves straight
Back into the fray........
ADVENTURES AT MACKEREL
By Alex Hawthorne and James Robison
……. James spotted the sinking tinny through the rain and started to row out to it, realising that the rowboat itself was taking on so much water he mightn’t make it. Rowing madly, he had to gamble that his weight was not going to sink the tinny should he get into it and start bailing it out as quickly as possible. He gingerly got out of one half sunk boat into the equally compromised tinny, taking the oars with him in case the engine didn't start. With much effort, he bailed the tinny out sufficiently to row it back to the shore with the additional weight of the half-submerged rowboat being towed behind him.
Scrambling to shore absolutely exhausted, he hurriedly secured the boats and arrived home white and shivering - a shell of the man who had left only hours before. Barely keeping it together, he headed straight for the bedroom, peeled off his drenched clothes and lay in the foetal position under a blanket till dinnertime.......
CROSSING BROKEN BAY
By Mary Pearson Andrew
While getting a cavity filled in a dentist’s chair in Los Angeles
I close my eyes and visualise the boat trip from Little Lovett Bay to Church Point
Untying from the long timber jetty and donning a sun-faded life vest,
Lowering the two-stroke engine and turning the key,
Glancing over at gum trees along the shore, dotted with white sulphur-crested cockatoos.
The brief floating moment mid-journey when the tinnie planes atop the water.
The deceleration as the Pink Water Taxis floating office appears to my right.
A customary wave at a fellow pilot as our vessels pass
Slipping the boat into reverse to slow into a park at the commuter wharf
Just as the sound of drilling stops.
THE K9 MELBOURNE CUP
By John Travers
……It's a local institution
Put on every year
Down at the Point on Christmas Eve
With beer and beer and beer
The world comes to a standstill
The girls get all dolled up
For the Scotland Island Dog Race
The K9 Melbourne Cup
It's not your normal dog race
With greyhounds round a rink
They barge the dogs across to Bell
Then hurl them in the drink
And their owners in their kayaks
Or with flippers on their feet
Yell out Fido Fido Fido
As they urge them to compete
They’re not your normal type of dog
That races in the Cup
They breed them on the Island
They’re called the Aqua-pup
They’re raised there by the locals up there, up on the range
And I hate to say but some of thems got mange
And some of thems gone feral and some of thems inbred
And the dogs as well, they’re also kind of strange ……
FROM: STORMY WEATHER
By Kathleen James
………trees were falling all around, in the narrow band from Susanne’s place on the top of the island to Ellie and Steve’s, from Steve and Kath’s to Sophie and Paul’s. Numerous trees big and small fell on Susanne’s garden and the bush track to her house. Two trees crushed part of Steve and Kath’s house, one fell on Ellie and Steve’s and one on Paul and Sophie’s house. It seemed to go on for ages, howling, crashing and swirling, with the rain pouring down like the end of the world. Everyone was trapped in their houses, traumatised and totally shell-shocked.
When it finally calmed down, people emerged stunned into the stillness, where a drenched, muddy, smashed-up landscape blocked their way. It was chaos.
The volunteers from the local fire brigade arrived with their big chainsaws to clear the road, a very welcome sight. Later, Nick helped, and Peter got some mates from the Terry Hills fire brigade to pitch in with the road. Outside our dining room all you could see was the two enormous fallen tree trunks, their multiple branches and leaves spread out everywhere. You could follow the trunks up the slope to the massive root ball, torn up out of the ground and looming high above our washing line............
FROM: MY ISLAND LIFE
By Ambrine Dray d'Hautefeuille
…….. Before you know it, you’re at the wharf, either dipping your toes in, or running towards the end, waiting for the water to enclose you in its hold.
Throughout the morning, people arrive slowly, some one by one, others in joyful groups that chatter like the cicadas. You swim in the water for hours, diving, flipping, jumping, kicking, spinning, you lose track of the time. The only marker you have is your belly, which feels gnarled by hunger. Looking at the sun, you realise you’ve probably missed lunch.
At home, you scarf something down and call a bunch of friends with the first phone you can get your hands on, organising to meet at Tennis and hang out for a while. You climb trees, walk the waterfront, talk and explore the wilderness of the top of the island.........
FROM: THE CARPARK SHUFFLE
By Geoff Bullock
I’m circling the carpark,
I’m stalking the lunchtime crowd
the only space that I can find
is the one I’m not allowed.
I can hear their voices chattering,
to be honest, I am peeved,
I’ve done ten laps already
and I wish they’d bloody leave.
The ferry toots impatiently
and I’m impatient too,
surely there is someone
who’ll escape this crazy zoo.
I park beside the ruins
of the Pasadena Inn
asking stragglers, the question
“Going out or coming in?”
I’m glaring at the patrons
eating up my time
drinking oh so merrily
don’t they know that it’s a crime?
I wish them well and follow
their flatulent retreat
and steal their bloody carpark
cursing “never return to eat" ..........
FROM: THE AMELIA K: CURIOUS CARGO AND OTHER INCIDENTS
………She may not be the most beautiful of vessels, but our own ‘Tin Can’ is a hearty girl. She dependably ploughs the worst of the worst of Pittwater swells. She is safe passage for children, dogs, groceries … and fridges, truck tyres, lamps, not a few unnerved chooks, and wait for it … a motorbike.
At one point the cargo became so curious we had to tell one of the drivers: “If passengers cannot load their cargo themselves, it shouldn’t be on board.
No helping, and further, no elephants or giraffes onboard. Ever.”
For me, the Amelia K is the school boat. When Simon and I first bought the ferry service, most days I would go with Carrie or Tim and a deckhand on the school run. Hilarious is an understatement.
When the school year begins gorgeous little five-year-old’s climb aboard, crying, with parents left behind, standing at the wharves (often also crying). The little ones hop on and sit with a friend or a designated “looker afterer,” a role that the big girls just love. Inevitably they’re colouring in, happily chattering in record time. Heartbreaking sobs morph into high spirits in less than 60 seconds…….
By Penny Gleen
By Juliet Holmes A Court
. ……Maisie, not her real name, already an island legend, and as large as her reputation, had been quietly observing the chaos along with the others from inside the ferry. She put her knitting down and slowly straightened to a stand and headed for the door. “I think I’m required”, she said.
People moved aside as she manoeuvred herself down the spindly ladder beside the capsizing boat. “Move aside young man” she said in the same tone she’d use when wielding a trolley through a crowded shopping aisle. As he legged himself up onto the wharf, she stepped onto the boat.
Her weight pushed it down as a mighty stone ballast might stabilise a Spanish galleon.
Meanwhile, the men pulled the ropes and out it jerked. In it she stood like some epic figurehead, a Queen Victoria of the Royal Navy, holding firm onto the crushed tarp as the craft was dragged to the shore…….
By John Bryson
Paused, at a stilled pool,
reprise an often wish,
to watch the gifted child
painting such colours
on the scales of fish.
INTO THE BLACK
By Juliette Robertson
........There’s not a light to be seen on the shore or channel.
I am driving blind into the storm front towards the thunder. I throttle back on the revs and slow to a crawl to climb each cresting wave, water streaming down the inside of my jacket. Nothing but blackness, my boat and me edging forwards, tossed by the waves and the drone of my 60 hp Yamaha struggling to keep us straight.
“This is not good” I hear myself say and for a brief moment, fear appears then blows away on a gust as I drive into the black ...
Way past Carols bend in the middle of Pittwater, somewhere in the darkness I instinctively turn north. The wind swings behind me and I surf past looming yachts, with gusts surging from the south, chased by roaring thunderclaps.
I must be crazy. The only other girls I know who would attempt this, are my neighbours .... Scotland Island chicks ... gotta be slightly mad, capable gutsy gals......
NEW YEARS DAY - WHERE AM I?
By Angie Robertson
……. Huddled on the beach on a cool day, raindrops ping my skin as the shoreline unfolds before me. I’m sitting on the sand, hugging my knees while the sun plays havoc with my hair. The sky is straight out of a Constable painting. The sound of the wind, the screech of kids playing, the warmth of the sun between passing clouds….
….. I find myself daydreaming about being there, surrounded by nature, when mundane chores become less significant because your soul is enriched by the landscape and that glass of wine with loved ones at the end of a busy day. Where the beauty and artistry of nature is at its best and the natural music in the atmosphere always plays.
It is, to say the least, so comforting – like the smell of cut grass or old books or freshly baked bread.