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Eclectica: An anthology

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Eclectica: An anthology

  An anthology of short stories, poetry and non-fiction

  Published by Publishing Portfolio 2012

  Part of the Diploma of Professional Writing & Editing at the University of Ballarat

  Copyright 2012 Publishing Portfolio

  Copyright of the pieces in this anthology remains with the authors. All rights reserved. Eclectica is a limited edition student publication produced as part of an assessment for Publishing Portfolio for the Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing at the University of Ballarat. Every effort has been made to fulfil the requirements of copyright. Any omissions are accidental and unintended. The views of the authors are not the views of the University of Ballarat.


  Introduction by Brownwyn Blaiklock

  A Hostage's Reality by Zoe Donkin

  Faery Tales by Rachel Triska

  Femme Fatale by Jasmine Van Den Hoek

  Happy Birthday Courtney by Zoe Donkin

  Hedgehogs by Jan Samuels

  In the Cold Night Air by Jodee Lockman

  Johnathon Paynter and the (Frightfully) Ugly Jumper by Danielle O'Donnell

  Kingdom by Maury Brown-Daniels

  Moving On by Courtney O'Neill

  Purgatory by James Taylor

  Reflections by Julie Sharp

  River Ripples by Ray Wallace

  Stitches by Julie Sharp

  The Formula, the Algorithm, the Equation: Love by Phill Boas

  The Garbage Man by Jordyn Chapman

  Those Snails by Cliff Broome

  Torment by Zoe Donkin

  Tragic in the Extreme by Cliff Broome

  Two Armchairs by Saffron Hazelager

  We Buy Him on Our Hands and Knees by Melissa Watts

  About the authors


  ~ ~ ~

  Special note: The story ‘St Petersburg’ by Melissa Watts appears in the original print publication of this anthology, but is unable to be included in this eBook edition due to the specialised typesetting required for the piece.

  ~ ~ ~


  By Brownwyn Blaiklock

  Eclectica: Derived from the word ‘eclectic’, composed of elements drawn from various sources.

  This is a fitting title for the 16th publication to emerge from the Publishing Portfolio students at the University of Ballarat. This anthology is greater than its elements. It is greater than the number of its pages and the stories within them, not only because it pays homage to the various sources that inspired and sustained its creation, but because it draws together the voices of two regional Victorian communities: students in the Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing, and members of not-for-profit regional writing organisation, Ballarat Writers Incorporated. Because of this unique composition, Eclectica is an important departure from previous years’ publications. Eclectica melds two communities speaking of life in a regional centre, yet the stories and poems are diverse and the voices distinctive.

  An intrinsic part of the Professional Writing and Editing experience, Eclectica has been a vehicle through which aspiring wordsmiths have learned the craft of professional writing and small print publishing. The creation of an anthology requires persistence through an exhausting process of seeking submissions, selection, editing and revision; tasks that the 2012 PWE anthology group have clearly mastered. Eclectica also stands as testament to the group’s entrepreneurial mettle, having required of them significant fundraising to support its production.

  Congratulations to the 2012 PWE anthology group, their teachers and, in particular, to the program coordinator Irene Warfe for her unwavering support of generations of budding writers and the development of writing in the wider community.

  Bronwyn Blaiklock

  Chair, Ballarat Writers Inc

  October 2012

  Back to Contents

  A Hostage's Reality

  By Zoe Donkin

  I can’t see.

  Everything is covered in darkness and my mind is foggy to the point that I can hardly tell where my hands are. A strong smell of copper surrounds me and a sticky substance makes my clothes cling to my body.

  This is my reality; there’s no denying it. And I’m ok with that.

  I’m treated well, considering. Having no light makes it hard to tell how much time has passed, but I can say that once every now and then I’m allowed to bathe and walk around freely in a little courtyard, which holds everything I could desire. It should be coming up to this time again—it always follows this fogginess.

  It’s a nice little routine that we have going, every moment leading up to this next stage. When I’m allowed to walk free, in the bright light, it warms my skin.

  I just have to wait. It’s worth it for this bit of freedom, where I can do anything I want. They prick my skin first, making my head foggy, like it is now. But that’s ok. Next time I will be left in the light and not the dark. I’ll be able to see. There will be greenery and running water. It’s always cold, but the light warms my naked body as it dries. I’m not allowed clothes in there. I don’t know why. But I am always given clean items when I go back.

  I always go back willingly. It’s expected of me. They are my superiors, they have the control. It’s the way it should be.

  These people are like me, but different. I can tell. When they lay their naked bodies next to mine I can feel the difference, though I’ve never seen it. Before that happens, I feel the prick to my arm and my mind goes foggy.

  These differences, they are strange—but these others are bigger and heavier. I’m never scared though. I hurt when I wake and the fog disappears completely, but I’ve grown accustomed.

  I can recall being told that I make them happy and that making them happy is my purpose. I don’t want to disappoint. I let these things happen; it’s what I’m here for. I’m happy to make them happy. When they’re happy, I’m happy. It works.

  They treat me well. They give me water, though it never tastes the same as when I drink from the light. I’m given plenty of food between the fogginess. When I get round in the tummy, they give me more food and I keep growing. Then they make everything go foggy again, when the pain starts, and then my tummy is flat again.

  I’m always in the dark—even when my belly gets round; even when they strip me of my clothes and prick my arm.

  They said that there wasn’t enough light for everyone. And that’s ok. I want them to have more. They need it more than I do. I’m happy to sit in the dark and await the fog and the light. They come hand in hand.

  My hands are sticky. So are my clothes.

  I can smell something metallic.

  This is my reality.

  Back to Contents

  Faery Tales

  By Rachel Triska

  The room was warmly lit by the soft glow of a bedside lamp, and the curtains had been shut against the darkness that loomed without. On the bed, the young girl had her brightly-coloured coverlet pulled up to her chin, and her dark curls, shining fresh and clean from her bath, spilled across her pillow in a mass of ebony locks. She looked up at the young woman who sat beside her and opened her clear, brown eyes pleadingly.

  “Will you tell me a story?”

  “Of course, sweetheart. Which one do you want to hear?”

  “Tell me one about our faery.”


  In the tiny gap between the ceiling and the roof, where many of the fae have chosen to make their homes in our world after leaving their own, the faery in question landed delicately beside the light bulb and settled down to listen to the voices which drifted up from below. She was a Cornish faery, one of the largest types there are, and had accompanied the girls home fro
m their recent trip to England. It was the storytelling that drew her, that kept her and other fae in this house; storytelling and the absolute faith that always grew in the audience, while the stories were being told.


  “Well, our faery-dear used to live in Cornwall, right at the tip in Land’s End, where some magic still lingers and dreams can come alive. This magic is kept flowing thanks to the faery ring at Boscawen-un—the home of the faery princess of Cornwall.”


  Above, the faery suddenly closed her eyes, overcome with nostalgia and a sudden wave of homesickness. Boscawen-un! A circle of stones, surrounded by moss and hidden by ferns; but so much more as well. Boscawen-un! A place of magic and enchantment, where the flowers sang their joy to the sky and tiny piskies made their homes under the brightly-coloured fungi that grew across fallen trees, like a blanket pulled over a favoured grandparent. Boscawen-un! Where the wind danced with the sunlight and moonbeams were like lullabies, falling softly from above. And yet, few who lived there believed—and it was belief that kept her kind safe.


  “One day, our faery received an invitation, delicately carved onto a green leaf with a pine-needle and carried to her by the wind. It was an invitation to the faery princess’s wedding!”

  “Who was she marrying?”

  “A prince, my little curious one. A prince as handsome and brave as any from your storybooks, and just as charming. He and the princess had been in love for a very long while, and now the time had come when they could finally get married.”

  “Did our faery go?”

  “Yes, my darling. She packed her clothes in an acorn travelling case and put on her best dress, the one that was made from flower petals. Then she climbed atop her bumble-bee and buzzed off from her home in the cliffs, towards the famous faery ring.”

  “Faeries ride bumble-bees?!”

  “Of course! Did you never wonder how bumble-bees could survive, when they didn’t make honey, as other bees do?”


  Bromley. Set apart from the childish logic being used in the debate which was now raging below, the faery closed her eyes against the pain of the true-to-life memories that flashed through her mind.

  Bromley, her cherished Bumble.

  In her mind’s eye she saw him nestling down in his bed of clover, wings folded into his sides, as he relaxed into sleep. She remembered lightly brushing him until his stripes shone; his vibrating so hard at the joy of being groomed that his soft fur tickled her face, and she was unable to suppress her constant bursts of laughter.

  Sweet Bromley, buzzing for joy at a gift of honeysuckle and flying up in the air to perform wild loop-di-loops of glee, before returning back to gently nuzzle her face in gratitude.

  Oh, Bromley.

  Drawn from her reminiscences by the changing cadence of the voices below, the faery focused her attention once more on the tale being told.


  “What did she see when she arrived?”

  “Everyone was helping to set up for the celebrations. Tiny spiders were spinning silk into shining banners, which were strung in swirls throughout the glade. Ladybirds were balancing dew drops carefully on their shells and sticking them to the web, so that when the sunlight caught the water, it sent shimmering rainbows dancing over the audience below. Rows and rows of little black ants were marching with supplies towards the open-air kitchen, where squirrels were busily pounding nuts into flour with their strong little paws. Everywhere, bluebells rang out in joyous sound and snow drops tinkled merrily beside them. Tiny, spotted toadstools were set up as chairs for the guests, and the aisle was carpeted in a soft tapestry of Queen Anne’s Lace.”

  “It sounds beautiful!”

  “It was, my little dreamer. But even that paled in comparison to the faery-princess.”


  The faery remembered that day. How could she ever forget it? As the sun had finally set and the dusk had bathed the world in a beautiful, pink glow, a single white butterfly had slid silently down from the trees above; gliding in graceful whorls, until he had reached the end of the walkway.

  Then, with the reflected light of the sun glowing across her guests, Princess Aurelia had stepped onto the ground. She was barefoot—as all faeries are—and it had taken a thousand silkworms a thousand days to weave the dress that she now wore. Even through the rose-tinted vision of the assembly, the gown had shimmered with the pearl-like luminescence that matched her wings and hinted at hidden layers of colour beneath the surface. Her hair, held back by the circlet of flowers that served as her crown, fell in soft waves down her back, and seemed to flow effortlessly into the fabric beneath it.

  How happy she had looked, as she locked gazes with her love!


  “So they got married? And they’ll live happily for ever after?”

  “Until the stars shut out their lights and the rainbows fade to grey my love.”

  If only.

  “I like this story.”

  “I’m glad you do. Now be a good girl and go to sleep, the dream-fae will be waiting.”

  “She sprinkles her magic powder over you and gives you dreams, right?” “That’s right. But if you keep wriggling like that you’ll scare her off. Goodnight.”

  The little girl was tucked securely into her covers and her lamp was switched off. This left only the faint illumination of the night light in the corner, keeping watch over its precious treasure.


  As the child’s breathing settled into the soft rhythm of peaceful slumber, the faery stirred herself from her eave and wiped the moisture from her eyes. She was joined by another, smaller fae; one who glowed with the same soft radiance as the moon.

  “Well?” snapped the Cornish faery, embarrassed by her display of emotion. “Don’t you have a job to do?”

  “She dreams already,” the dream-fae replied, gesturing sedately down at the child’s peaceful form.

  “Dreams of what?” she asked, curiosity getting the better of her as she gazed down at the small girl. The child now had her fingers in her mouth and a smile on her face.

  The dream-fae’s eyes glazed over as her mind bridged the gap between our world and the realm of wishes, which our minds instinctively seek in the quiet of the night and where all dreams are born. Her voice grew as distant and remote as the echo of a thunderclap, ringing of the dreamscape from which it had come, and a time when those of the fae were less of this world.

  “She dreams of light and shadows, hope and happiness. She sees sweet scenes of the fae world as it should be; as once it was.”

  The Cornish faery nodded, her expression becoming fond as she once more regarded the sleeping child.

  “Then let her keep her thoughts of the golden world of yesteryear … for tonight, at least. The faith of children like her is all that serves to sustain our world and stop it from crumbling ever more into the abyss. I wish that others believed as she did; then perhaps we could dance again on the highest peaks of cloud, and twirl through ribbons of mist, as once we used to do.”

  Back to Contents

  Femme Fatale

  By Jasmine Van Den Hoek

  Skin-coloured tights with a black seam that ran from her heels to the top of her thighs, disappearing under the hem line of her dress: that was her secret weapon. Her long legs were already show stoppers, but now nobody could help but take a second look as she walked by. As she passed the high pub table surrounded by four men, she winked at one with a stubble beard and a ring on his left hand. She had found her prey. To Reuben, that moment seemed to last hours, when realistically it was only a matter of seconds.

  His gaze followed her step, which is when he noticed that this miraculous being had dropped an object from her purse. He pushed his peers to the side to make way for the rescue of this inanimate object: a capsule. He opened it and twisted the bottom to find a deep shade of red lipstick. After a moment of being enchanted by this colour, he looked up to call after the dame, but found himself fumbli
ng in shock as she was standing right in front of him.

  “Do you always take items that don’t belong to you?” she asked.

  “I, uhm, well I thought ... You dropped——”

  “Well, I should like to have it back now, thank you,” she demanded, holding out her hand.

  Unsure of himself, Reuben placed the lipstick in her palm.

  “To make it up to me, buy me a drink,” she suggested, and proceeded in the direction of the bar.

  It was when he sat next to her that he was overwhelmed by the beautiful scent that seemed to be coming out of her very pores.

  “Tell me about yourself. What’s your name?” she enquired.

  In awe of her beauty, it took him a moment to reply. “Reuben Caliper, and yours?”

  “A lady doesn’t just give out her name to strangers, Mr Caliper. Now tell me, does that ring on your finger restrict you from having fun tonight?”

  “Yeah, yes, yes I am married,” he said regrettably.

  He started to twist his wedding ring on his finger. He contemplated not wearing it tonight; not after the fight he had with Carrol.

  “Well, it mustn’t be very serious if you are seated here with me.”

  “No, I love her, she just—she drives me mad sometimes.”

  “Shame, I was going to invite you to spend the night with me, but I suppose you would decline. You wouldn’t want that, would you?” she said and placed her hand on his knee.

  Swallowing hesitantly, he lied, “No I don’t want that.”

  “Oh really?” she said with a smirk. “You don’t want me to undress for you?”

  She leaned forward and placed her head next to his and whispered with her deep red lips: “You don’t want to feel my hot breath on your ear?” Her hand had slowly made its way up his thigh. “You don’t want any of that?”

  Reuben swallowed again. His heart was racing, he wasn’t thinking with the right part of his body, there was no reply.

  “That’s what I thought.”


  Reuben was nervous when they stood outside her hotel room door. When she unlocked it, she grabbed Reuben by the tie and led him inside and sat him down.

  “Drink?” she asked, bending over to open the mini bar.

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