Today the eight word story that I submitted for the Queensland Writers Centre will be beamed up on selected  billboards across Brisbane for much of the day, being seen by thousands of people as they make their way around sunny Brisbane.  This news made my day on Saturday, thanks so much to the Queensland Writers Centre!

 

 

You can see it streamed live here 

 

 

 

You can still enter this competition to flex your micro story writing muscles.  Have a look at the details and some of the other winning entries, by authors like Holly Throsby and Anna Spargo-Ryan and enter your own #8wordstory here

Yesterday I worked on some more micro-fiction, this time for Swinburne, in conjunction with the Digital Writing Festival.  This competition release a prompt every day for ten days, and you can write up to 500 words.  Each days winner is published in Seizure, and the overall winner scores $1000.  It’s great word smithing exercise, if nothing else.  Take a look and enter yours.

The prompt for yesterday (which would have been my dad’s 70th birthday) was “Lost” and I wrote a piece about a story that I have long been interested in.  My great grandmother used to tell the story of her cousin, Chris, who drowned in the Basin on his sixteenth birthday.  The Basin is a vast man-made reservoir near the towns of Rushworth and Tatura.  It was made in 1906-1908 and was at the time a very big deal, being the biggest irrigation project that this country had ever seen.  Chris died in 1908, and reading  contemporary reports on Trove, he died of heart failure, not drowning.  The irrigation channel that my father and brother drowned in, many, many years later runs off the Basin, and it though this and other such channels that the Basin irrigates farms all the way to the Mallee, where I grew up.

Anyway, here is my entry for yesterdays prompt:

 

Chris floated in the brown shallows of the new lake. He saw the object, a white boater with turquoise silk band, sail over his head, as if emulating the most novel of clouds. The hat travelled on the hot northerly wind for another half a chain at least, before the wind tossed it back to earth, or rather to water, where it landed, to loiter idly on the surface. The shore party watched in stifled amusement, it truly was an ostentatious piece of millinery, and Mr O’Flaherty was inordinately proud of the thing. Chris chuckled quietly to himself, sending a stream of brown water from his mouth up into the air in a spout, as if he was an errant, landlocked whale, and not a boy just turned sixteen years old, swimming for the first time in a man-made lake that had not been here a year ago. He turned his head languidly to peer through half closed lids at the fat man on the shore, the bald head gleaming with sweat in the sun, whiskers wobbling on the jowls as he worriedly strained to track the progress of his lost prize. Chris was moved to pity, it was a splendid thing when you thought about it, ill suited though it was for the bush.

 

He swung himself upright, and looked in the opposite direction. The hat continued to float, boat-like. It was making good speed now, in its escape.

‘It’s all right, Mr O’Flaherty, I’ll fetch it,’ He turned to start out even as he called, hearing and ignoring the fussing of the girls. He was done now with being cossetted by women, he was old enough to conduct himself in the deeds of men.  The depths of the water grew colder on his lower extremities by the time he got hold of the escapee. Clamping it triumphantly between his teeth, he began to make his way back to shore. He could see all four of them standing at the muddy edge, hands like visors to their foreheads, studying him as though he was a painting at a gallery. He struck through the water boldly towards them.

 

He came face to face with a dragonfly at the moment that the pain clutched his heart so thunderously that the shock made him forget how to stay afloat. The creature watched indifferently, as he sank and then crashed up again momentarily through the surface, spluttering and calling for the girls to help him. He had time to see Mr O’Flaherty come splashing in, and to see the startled fear on Doll’s face, before the pain sent claws to pierce his heart, and he sank, deep, deeper into the cold. The last thing that he saw was the white shadow of the hat, afloat above him.