Wednesday, March 31, 2010

#fridayflash: Sacrilege

Warning: this Fridayflash is not for the easily offended.

By Lily Mulholland

It's kind of ironic that I ended up in the job I'm in. I have a very low pain threshhold. But, someone's got to do the dirty jobs no one else wants to do. For a so-called 'civilisation' we're surprisingly uncivil in some of our collective choices, don't you think? So anyway, my mum hears of this job. Great pay, flexible hours, health plan. Can't ask for more than that, I say. She reckons I might even get a woman out of it. Being employed by the government and all. It's a job that gives me status, although I'm not the kind of person that gets invited to dinner parties. If you ask someone what they think about my job, they kind of shudder. I think I'm up there, or is it down, with politicians and journalists. But, hey, it doesn't bother me. I know that I'm needed and that's enough reward for me these days.

So, anyway, today's a big day. My team and I have been preparing for for weeks now, ever since the courts handed down their verdict. And it's not just any execution we're doing today, it's the harshest form we have available in our inventory, and we have some pretty gruesome ways to kill you. I'm not necessarily a supporter of capital punishment, but it does send a message and keeps the marginally good in our society on the right side of the ledger. The bad guys, well, they keep me employed, so I don't complain.

Like I said, today we're making history. We've planned it down to the last detail and have a great risk management plan (just in case something goes wrong, we're working in pretty unique circumstances here). Everything's ready, so we're just waiting for the prisoner to arrive. I hear Mr Pilate ordered a spot of flogging and and the slow walk, so we're not sure when he'll get here. I hope he's not too shattered. I've got a few questions I'd like to ask him.

Friday, March 26, 2010

In good company

I'm thrilled to have one of my stories published in a real-live, used-to-be-a-tree, crisp-when-you-turn-em-pages book! Not only is that very exciting (it's my first), but some of my writing friends are also in Miscellaneous Voices: Australian Blog Writing #1, as well as some great Australian writers (fiction and non-fiction), including James Bradley, Alan Baxter, A S Patric and Angela Meyer. My lovely friend Amanda also has a poem in there. It's good to be included in such company, I must say.

Also a big shout-out to writer and publisher Karen Andrews of Miscellaneous Press - she conceived the idea for this project last year, when debate was raging among the intelligentsia over whether anything published on a blog was any good. Karen seemed to think it was and, voila, the idea for a book was born. She put a call out for Australian bloggers to send in their best work and I was fortunate to have 'No Sanctuary' selected for the anthology.

The press launch will be held at Readings in Carlton, Melbourne on 14 April.

You can order the book here. Postage (within Australia) is free on purchases before 1 April. While you're visiting Miscellaneous Press, check out Karen's book for kids - Surprise - my little ones love it.

#fridayflash: The Crystal Set

Image: Badseed
By Lily Mulholland

Jessie scraped at the verdigris on the bronze art deco sculpture with her thumbnail. Visiting granddad was like going to a museum, only this time she could touch. She traced her fingers along the objets d’art stuffed into every spare space in the large walnut bookcase. Her granddad was a fossicker and collector, born between world wars, when reusing and recycling weren’t the latest fad but a simple matter of survival. She had never respected his need to keep everything, just in case. A kid of the disposable generation, she sneered at his frugality.

Jessie remembered the time she’d been messing with granddad’s prized crystal set. He had picked it up at an estate sale and, when he discovered it wasn’t working, pulled it apart, fixing it with patience and determination. Strictly forbidden to touch it, she had dared one day when he wasn’t looking -- a resin knob came off in her hand. Having never confessed, she still felt the guilt.

Her mum came out of the main bedroom, her face raw with emotion. Jessie was shocked – Sarah had always been stoic, her father’s daughter.

‘You’d better go in,’ said Sarah. ‘There’s not much time.’

Jessie stepped into the room, the bed was as she remembered, but the bedside tables had been replaced by beeping, whirring machines. The nurse sat on a low chair near the wall, not looking up from her knitting.

Settling upon the bed, Jessie took the dying man’s hand, cradling it in hers.

‘I’m sorry granddad,’ she whispered.

‘I broke your radio.’


This week's #fridayflash story is a slightly modified version of an entry into Every Day Fiction's String of 10 Two contest. (It didn't win, clearly!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

#fridayflash: Not a single ripple

(Image: Common-pics)

By Lily Mulholland

The surface tension of the dark pond pulled the small, upturned yellow leaf toward others similarly caught, hostages of Mother Nature. Hunched on a coal-black rock at the water’s edge, Alisha watched the leaf-boat collide with the rest, the cause of its doom a breeze so slight it created not a single ripple.

Worlds away, Alisha did not notice the wispy clouds coalesce into grey cotton balls until they passed between her and the sun and the afternoon grew cool. Before the wind’s breath corrugated the pool, Alisha glanced at her reflection. Not since she admired her youth in the iridescent dew drops decorating the forest on a cool spring morning long ago had she really looked at herself.

Gone were the dazzling coats, the lustrous fibres that adorned her silky limbs. In their place were tattered, dust-encrusted rags. Her face, once smooth and pearly, was dun-coloured and parched; the bloom of youth was short. Alisha was not worried for her children – she had made them a home, they had food to eat. She knew their lives would not be easy, but they would survive without her.

Stretching her wings, her antennae quivered in the strengthening late afternoon breeze and Alisha knew it was time to go, to find a place to rest, a place to die. She lingered a few moments longer, watching an eddy corral the leaves on the pond. They would circle the pool endlessly until, at last, they submerged and drowned. They had served their purpose.

Friday, March 12, 2010

#fridayflash: She might just disappear

Image by SatuSuro

By Lily Mulholland

She thinks if she stares long enough at the sea she might just disappear. Beautiful once, the tides of loss have hollowed her skin with the painstaking care of a taxidermist. Grief’s handmaiden, she’s been taken apart like an Escher drawing, pieces drifting just beyond reach. Though the tears have run dry, she can taste the salt on her lips; he is gone but love's pain lingers. She stares at the sea, hoping she might just disappear.


For Kate.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Published: Positive Words

I'm very happy to report that one of my early pieces of flash fiction, The Waiting Game, has been published in the February 2010 edition of Positive Words (ISSN 1447 3720), a little writing magazine out of regional Victoria. It's nice to see my name in print!

Friday, March 5, 2010

#fridayflash: Nellie's Web

(Image: Luc Viatour)

by Lily Mulholland

Nellie was becoming a little tired of Wilbur. Take, take, take. He never gave her anything except a growing list of words he wanted her to weave. Well she’d fix him. The country fair was coming up and Wilbur was pegged as the star attraction.

The day of the fair arrived and the Zuckermans transported Wilbur in his five-star trailer. Nellie still had to ride in the truck with the other animals. They were installed in a curtained exhibit and Nellie went to work.

Crowds arrived for the big unveiling.


The crowd gasped. Charlotte’s daughter smiled.


Published earlier this year at Flashshot. Also published at Short Humour.