Nine Lives: A Life in Ten Minutes Anthology is a collection of 148 short, nonfiction pieces written ten minutes at a time by 121 authors, (including me!) and collected by Life in 10 Minutes founder Valley Haggard and her co-editor, Sarah Allen-Short.
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pecking the grassy verge
or have they escaped
Grasping the armrest of the door as he swerves, I gain loud criticism for distracting my learner driver with trivia- “Mum, do you WANT me to crash? How can I concentrate when you’re talking?” asks the indignant young male.
How grateful I was to my own ever silent father, all those years ago, when he took me out to practice my skills in a battered white Mazda with no second gear. It is somehow harder for me, although similarly un-talkative by nature, to sit quietly beside my seventeen-year-old son in his father’s sleek, silver, company-owned Ford, as he accelerates modestly down the quiet country road.
He parks quite nicely in the asphalt car park, far away from the few other shoppers.
He carries the car keys through the shops as we find corn chips, grated cheese and other essentials for nachos. I feel the power shift and smile at this child of mine, taller and stronger, pushing the trolley and carrying the bags – but it is still my prerogative to pay.
A slight moment of anxiety during the reverse, but then we are away –“Oh look!” I shout, as we drive out into the dusk:
in the paddock beside
© Julie Thorndyke
First published Yellow Moon 19 August 2006
I have saved coins in a money purse for the bus fare. The journey is quicker than expected. I walk the few blocks up to the Hilton, among crowds of office workers, students, tourists. There’s an optimistic buzz in the city-centre this summer morning.
town hall clock
chiming on the hour
on this corner,
another on the next
Through the revolving door, up the marble steps, follow the signs. That irrational moment of doubt – what if my name has slipped from the attendee list? Find the confirmation email, hold my phone up to the girl at the registration desk. All is well. I accept the canvas tote printed with company logos, hang the orange lanyard around my neck. Still time to find coffee before the opening address.
I sip it sitting in a chair beside the large plate-glass window overlooking drive where taxis and limousines pick up and drop off dark-suited men. A green wall planted with ivy provides a view.
Business like, I survey the profiles of day’s speakers. More of the same. Each year, the same words, sung in a different key. More bells and whistles. I was once seduced by a nineteenth-century passion for organising knowledge—time to let it go?
of verdigris dome
above the high rise
© Julie Thorndyke
Tending to the Miraculous
I haven’t watered the garden for more than a year. I take water restrictions seriously. I have not dobbed in the neighbours who water their lawns in the dark of night; I have not installed a rain water tank. I have just let the garden ‘be’.
Dark pink daisies by the letter box erupted first. A crowd of round, dense cerise heads watching me as I look for letters. Someone next door has pruned the buds from my star jasmine. I try not to let the anger rise. I’d been looking forward to the white star petals. I carry two bills and a writers’ newsletter across moss-rimmed bricks up the drive. Violets on long, vigorous stems emerge from every crevice of the rockery. Twisted vines of purple sarsaparilla cover the native frangipani. Lillipilli berries cluster amongst glossy rippled leaves.
After a weekend away we arrive home to a burst of yellow—freesias are out, all across the lawn, under the budding maple tree, amongst the azaleas which have never looked so well. I make smelly posies to fill the house with their grandma fragrance.
Today the lavender heads are opening and a flush of roses revel in unexpected spring rain. The strident tones of TV politicians denounce the other side, watering their crop of terror. I look at my miracle garden and wonder at the resilience of spring—someone, somewhere, is tending the garden.
the bowed head
of the peace rose
First published Contemporary Haibun Online December 2006, vol 2 no 4
© Julie Thorndyke 2015. All rights reserved.