Fifty Years Ago, 1968 Christmas Eve, Much Ado About Nothing.

Fifty Years Ago, 1968 Christmas Eve, Much Ado About Nothing.

By Susan Mehr

 

“It was gone in a flash,” My attention draws to a tall, busty woman. Her hair pulled back tight in a bun, wearing or to better describe, a painted on white nurse’s uniform pretty much as short as mine said with a huff. She wore a silver badge with the hospital insignia and the name, ‘Matron Frances’ over her right bosom.

“Yes, Baby Jesus, kidnapped, again. No ransom letter, nothing. What is this world coming too?” an equally tall man wearing an unbuttoned white doctor’s coat said, his voice jingles with amusement while sipping a mug of strong coffee. My heart jumps into high gear when I notice the swell of his pectoral muscles cause his white silk shirt to shine. He stops, but the aroma of his coffee carries through the air.

A grin stretches over Nurse Gwen’s face, her eyes twinkle and tucks strands of her red curly hair behind her earlobe. “You have to be kidding me,” she said singing in a soft and womanly tone. “It’s the third time today. I placed Baby Jesus back in the manger only fifteen minutes ago. Those lovely darlings, the children take turns holding him. How adorable.”

“Baby Jesus, kidnapped?” My brow furrows, running through in my mind what’s said. It’s three thirty and an hour into my first early afternoon shift.

The Ward Clerk giggles, “must be the Macalister Sisters, their Grandparents picked them up ten minutes ago from the waiting room. That’s why they were so quiet, busy holding him too. Their mother is in room twenty.”

Nurse Gwen winks at me; her eyes hold a glint of humour. “Delvene, please let me introduce you to Matron Frances our Nurse Unit Manager and Doctor Clooney the Head of Obstetrics. Matron Frances, Doctor Clooney, Delvene. Straight out of Nurses College, it’s her first day in the Maternity Ward.”

“Christmas Eve, what a day to start. Welcome and please forgive me, two new Mothers are to arrive at any moment from the Delivery Suite. I promise to catch up with you later this evening. I’m sure Nurse Gwen will help you settle into the Maternity Ward. Please, Nurse Gwen, see to Baby Jesus! Thanks,” Matron Frances blurts as she rushes away.

“No problem,” Gwen replies.

Doctor Clooney extends his hand in friendship, “My dear, save the ‘Doctor Clooney’ to when we are beside the patient’s beds otherwise please call me George,” he said with a wink as his fingers grasp mine. “There’s a group of us gathering on the hospital’s roof after the shift tonight for a drink and a bite to eat. We’re celebrating the first hours of Christmas under the stars. May I have the pleasure of your company? My mate Ridley, Doctor Scott has his telescope set up to view Apollo eight’s orbit, maybe I can show you how to use the focus, it’s technical. Who knows we might even spot an alien or two.”

“Yes,” I reply. “Thank you, that’s nice,” pursing my lips I let go of George’s hand and watch his smile etch deeper.

“No. Thank you for agreeing to join me,” Dr. Clooney answers, then turns and begins to walk away. Serendipitous he stops and gives a suave glance back.

“Oow,” Wide eye Gwen squeaks.

I look away and blush.

“Here,” the Ward Clerk said as she hands over a second-hand plastic doll wrapped in a hospital towel. “Please place the replacement Baby Jesus in the manger before Matron Frances returns.”

My mouth opens’ and no words exit.

Nurse Gwen turns making her way to the nativity statues at the corner of the room mumbling out loud, “Don’t ask, please don’t ask why. You don’t understand how many Baby Jesus’s become victims to kidnapping tonight. It’s those little darlings, kidnappers in the making, on the other hand, ooo, how exciting, you, Dr. Clooney, Apollo eight, orbit.”

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GIRL, BOOK, FANTASY.

Girl, Book, Fantasy.

Haiku #4 by Susan Mehr

 

girl

 

I take a peep outside from between the lounge room curtains at my grandparent’s home; an enchanted forest stretches before me, my imagination runs wild, inspiring dreams, so many stories.

“Now I don’t want you to venture into the forest on your own. It swallows up children, you know.” Thoughts remind me of Grandma yelling and shaking her finger at me from her kitchen. She spends days preparing food. I can’t help and enjoy the amazing aromas of Christmas floating throughout the house.

“Humbug! You’re scaring the poor child.” Pop’s opposing replies always follow. The entire time he sits heavily on his couch in front of the television yelling out comments. A methodical routine begins each morning by rolling out of bed and into his couch where breakfast waits on his fold-up coffee table. Apart from a few moments during the day when he uses the bathroom, I can’t recall Pop being anywhere in the house except his couch.

Nan and Pop have the same conversations every year. This year is different. I’m almost nine and a young lady.

My finger reaches out for the door handle, and I open the door, slow. It’s early, everyone still sleeping. Next, the crisp morning air fills my lungs, and barefoot I take my first steps outside on the icy concrete verandah. It sends shivers up my spine, so I dash on to the dew-covered lawn. My toes squish at the wet grass. Quick steps turn into a stiff-legged frolic as if in a dream. I dance closer to the forest where I can hear the breeze whistle through the leaves. It invites me to enter.

Butterflies fly overhead and add colour to the smooth tree trunks. I make my way further into the forest and dry leaves crackle as I step, they form a thick layer of mulch everywhere. The twisted arms of the tree’s branches create a sunshade above and the entwine wooden fingers matt the canopy creating a caged atrium which now, I strangely find myself in. I look up; the sun twinkles through the small holes and dart on to the forest floor. I look back. I can’t see Nan’s house. Where am I?

Panic sets in, I turn, left, right, left? The forest is everywhere. I turn again. A book, bigger than me materialises. The book opens, I step back. Wind rifles the word-filled sheets turning the pages on their own and the book rattles. My eyes widen and my scream echoes throughout the forest. A ghostly mist fills the air. Halfway through, the sheets stop. There are two blank pages. Peacock feathers decorate the edges. No at second glance they’re not peacock feathers. I peer closer and focus. No, I cannot believe. Oh my god, they’re eyes. They’re giggling. The book is looking at me; it’s alive.

‘Oh my god!’ I can’t help repeating.

Bold words appear on top of the page, ‘A New Chapter.’ The peacock eyes are moving and speaking.

‘It wants me to read.’

‘No, I can’t, I need to find Nan’s house.’

Thoughts rampage. What do I do? I close my eyes, my heart pounds, ready to explode from inside my chest. I open my eyes again, hoping it’s a dream. I wince. Oh my god, it still wants me to read. Why? I must, to escape this cage then darkness descends. The atrium is closing in. I can barely make out the other smaller words in this mist. I step closer and start.

‘I can’t.’

Screeching laughs squawk in the distance and echo inside my head. Shrills won’t end and howl in joy. Heart pounds faster and my eyes dart back and forth to where I think the echoes originate. “Who is out there?” I scream. My breathing quickens, it’s scaring me.

‘I must. No. I can’t. No, I must try,’ I whisper to myself. I inhale, take a step closer and start.

Once upon a time.
In a land far, far, away.
Innocence wanders.

A wallflower waits.
In full bloom before her time.
Pink petals unfold.

Fingers slide down arm.
His hand finds, her empty palm.
The magic begins.

The dance floor awaits,
fingers’ grip tight and beckon,
flying without wings.

She curtseys, he bows,
under chandeliers they stand.
Acoustics allures.

‘In his arms, I blush,’
Pink transforms a cherry red.
‘Enchanted we sway.’

My hand he raises,
heavens twirl, I pirouette.
Then the clock chimes twelve.

Embrace breaks, I run.
To safety, now I must seek.
Evil surrounds me.

Tears of sorrow drown,
a love never meant to live.
Apart we shall be.

I wince, head echoes.
Laughter, a menacing mock.
Devil’s eyes haunt me.

Paralysed, I stare.
Devils hoofs pound hard the earth.
Grey skies, thunder cracks.

Sword shines brightness blinds.
Knight emerges from the dawn.
Now, the clash begins.

Blade strikes devil’s horns,
he plummets on to his knees.
A coward’s mercy.

Helmet falls, sword trails.
On green grass, they lay to rest.
Victory achieved.

Serious eyes ask.
Chest draws breath, his arm welcomes,
uncertainty leers.

Hand on beseeched heart,
‘You Believe in love again?’
Stares rise, hushed they meet.

To see love so true.
He comes, takes her by the hand.
Takes thy breath away.

Devil at death’s door.
Defeated by true loves kiss.
Happiness begins.

Amour’s magic tune.
Flowers unfold, secrets free.
Summer never ends.

I inhale deep, my body relaxes, I sigh and raise my hands to my mouth, ‘That wasn’t bad, it’s a nice poem,’ I whisper. The eyes are still giggling; they enjoy the poem too. They’re so cute; I reach out to touch one.

Suddenly, flaming blackened hands burst from the middle of the book and claw at my arms. Giggles convulse throughout the forest, and a deep bellowing laugh terrifies. Deathly squalls reverberate, filling the air and pulsates through my body. Blackened fingers fan out, long and bony, with red pointed nails, stretch out slow in front of my eyes then clasp tight my wrists and tug. I lose my footing. I try to free myself and scream, but it pulls me in.

Eerie silence follows. Birds tweet, leaves rustle and a hint of a breeze’s whistle fills the air; Sunlight returns shining through the forest. ‘Poof.’ the book disappears.

 

Published 18 November 2018. Two Drops of Ink: A Literary Blog.

Link. https://twodropsofink.com/2018/11/18/best-1000-words-for-the-image-contest-susan-mehr-haiku-ballad-4/

Girl, Book, Fantasy on this site is an edited version.

 

 

 

Doorway to Hell

 

mine

 

Doorway to Hell by Susan Mehr

Legend says a presence exists inside the cave; I say they’re wrong. I’m convinced it’s the cave; alive with souls of the dead miners. So many wanted to strike it rich; gold, diamonds; it’s anyone’s guess what these miners were looking for, in the end, the miners found death. You can hear their moans alongside a whistle as the breeze twists through the shafts. Their endless cries warn anyone who’s brave enough to enter.

‘Enter at your own risk,’ the elders caution the city cowboys who believe they know better. They don’t listen, they never do, and they’ll never emerge out of hell’s door. That’s what the locals named the cave.

I take a step closer. Sent of scorched wood, the entrance of Hell’s door screams shades of red. Is it the blood of those men absorbed by the cave quenching thirst for revenge? What a sacrilege. One by one each man dug deeper into the earth destroying nature in a whim. No consideration, their minds focused on what could make them rich. Miners never considered what they were digging into might be alive. Stupidity to conclude life cannot exist on a different plane.

Two city cowboys entered yesterday. They haven’t emerged. No one wants to volunteer to lead a search inside the cave. Do you blame them? The Village people warned the city cowboys. I raise my hand covering my nose and mouth. A foul stench fills the air. That’s how close I’m willing to get. I take steps back and into onlookers keeping vigil. They’re keeping watch; beginning the final countdown.

Now everything I have to say to the missing city cowboys, “My prayers are with you.”

Haiku Ballard #3.1

park-bench-in-autumn

 

Haiku Ballad #3.1
Park Bench by Susan Mehr

“Are you answering your mobile?”

I raise my stare unafraid still tears burn my eyes. ”Nope,” I answer, shake my head and shrug my shoulders to a decision made well before the volley of incoming calls.

Seated shoulder to shoulder on our special bench with a tender smile and warm eyes my intended welcomes my response. My stare drifts into the nothingness, and I sigh. Now I find the strength to accept that time keeps moving forward and waits for no one. I can’t stop thinking; my brain hurts with the pain of knowing what my future will be, and as the weight of my heart sinks further inside my chest, I realise I have no control. An empty hollow consumes and drags me further in the depths of my abyss. I have no energy left to fight. A distraction; leaves rustle in the distance, the beginning of death, summer’s bloom turns into shades of red and orange, while a hint of a cool breeze quenches the last of summer’s heat.

“Days are cooling,” his voice foreboding.

“Yes,” I answer, the only word left inside my head.

“Talkative?” A slow smile warms and erases the creases between his brows.

I smile back, “I can be if I try.” Tears flow over my cheeks, I turn my head resting my temple on his shoulder and breathe, only to listen to my breath echo in the void of my being. Unhurried his hand rubs my back while fingers massage the right places trying to comfort the emptiness inside my soul.

He closes the book he pretends to read and rests it on his lap. Like I haven’t noticed. The present circumstances are hard for him too. I watch his palm cover mine, a warm blanket soothes the pins and needles in my fingers. I look up, and his lips brush mine. I blink and peer into his eyes: his eyes sparkle, the only place I find happiness. Then they stare into mine, they’re bursting with conversation, darting to every corner of my face before his lips move and hear him whisper.

“They phone because they care.”

I blink and lower my gaze to our hands; his hand squeezes mine. The smile on my face diminishes to a harden sadness. “I know,” uselessness looms in the moment of my reality. His hand slides over the side of my face in a warm caress, cupping and raising my chin. It breaks my heart to see tears well, tears he didn’t want me to see. Raising my hand and brush away the hair from over his eyes; unruly dark curls keep falling then I lean forward and kiss his lips. Suddenly he pulls me in an embrace. My face presses against his chest, and we listen to an endless silence. I shut my eyelids and feel his heartbeat and inhale the sweet scent of his kindness.

“I love you.” Words choke in his throat.

“I love you back,” I reply. Both our chests rise and fall inhaling deep controlled breaths while his fingers weave through my hair and massage the back of my neck.

Our embrace tightens, and he holds my head close to his heart. He rests his cheek against my temple and hums. We rock, a soothing tune warms and I melt into his chest. “Till the end, I will love you,” a hint of a whisper fills the air.

*

Autumn begins, leaves fall covering the ground. Now he sits alone, stares into the nothingness and ringtones from his mobile fill the air. He peers and does nothing, waiting for the rings to stop. Now sadness hardens his face. Smiles and laughter fade same as summers’ warmth. He holds his book and glances at the cover. There’s nothing much to see.

A minute turns to two then three. In the stillness, plays with the corner pages before turning the front cover. His eyes fixate on a letter addressed to him as it falls on his lap and draws a deep breath. His name penned with delicate strokes dances on the face of the envelope. Fingers trace every curve as embers of happiness flicker on his face. A moment later his eyes pool when he inhales my scent from the perfumed paper envelope. ‘He smiles.’ I witness his eyes shut, and his smile etches deeper. ‘It kindles memories. He’s thinking of me?’

I peer from the heavens as he rips at the corner pulling out a folded piece of paper. Love in his eyes still sparkles when he reads. He looks to the heavens. Does he know he is looking at me? Tears pool and spills over. He’s trying to look brave — his brows furrows. ‘Please read more,’ I pray, while my heart aches. Then he lowers his stare and continues to read.

‘You’re sitting on our bench, and in spirit, I’m sitting next to you. I have so much to tell you. Our dream was never meant to be. This bench only gave us a moment in time. I never thought I’d leave so soon. Our love shone; now its treasured as the twinkle in your eye. I know one day we’ll have another chance to walk a tree-lined path and sit on a special bench in heavens garden. Please remember our special times.’

Remember

Remember the time.
We kissed, and your hand held mine.
Our special moments.

Sandwiches ‘n’ tea.
Summer picnics you and me,
Under shades of trees.

Crisp Winter’s snuggles,
Steeling sunlight, we loiter,
Warmth amidst cool breeze.

Spring flowers warm bursts,
Smiles infect our hearts sing,
Perfect melodies.

Lost in time we sit,
Days pass you stay here with me,
We fulfill life’s dreams.

Time waits for no one,
Weathered leaves rustle and creek,
New dawn shapes the morn.

Autumn days begin,
Your face no more before me,
Emptiness I see.

Two now become one,
So many stories to tell,
Picnics are no more.

Heart fills with sorrow,
Life flashes before my eyes,
Drowning in despair.

Sadness overwhelms,
Many times I’m so afraid.
Where am I going?

First glow creeps dawn peeps,
Your soft words still comfort me,
Dances a crusade.

Memories flicker,
Magical moments lips kiss,
Hidden behind trees.

Two sets of footprints,
In silence, they leave their mark,
Friendship beyond words.

I will promise you,
Forged with tears torn from my heart.
I’ll always be here.

Now alone you sit,
Cat purrs a welcome ‘hello’,
A friend I send you.

His eyes refocus at his shoe and a kitten curls by his feet.

SADNESS

swing

 

Sadness by Susan Mehr

A river flows underneath mist and snow.
Trudging forward an endless inhumanity.
Snowflakes seek and welcome tomorrow.
Heart bleeds leaves the soul an aching insanity.
Dreams drown and hope dies swinging underneath a willow.

Haiku #5

Haiku #5 by Susan Mehr

beauty

Suspended in time.
Alone with nature’s fairies.
Kaleidoscope’s wings.

Feel peace at its core.
Blending of paints, dreams enchant.
Colour of my thoughts.

 

Haiku Ballad ~ Park Bench

Haiku Ballad #3

Park Bench by Susan Mehr

 

park-bench-in-autumn

 

Sandwiches ‘n’ tea.
Summer picnics, you and me,
Under shades of trees.

Crisp Winter’s snuggles,
Steeling sunlight, we loiter,
Warmth amidst cool breeze.

Spring flowers, warm bursts,
Smiles infect, our hearts sing,
Perfect melodies.

Lost in time we sit,
Days pass, you stay here with me,
Fulfilling life’s dreams.

Time waits for no one,
Weathered leaves, rustle and creek,
New dawn shapes the morn.

Autumn days begin,
Your face, no more before me,
Emptiness I see.

Two now become one,
So many stories to tell,
Picnics are no more.

Heart fills with sorrow,
Life flashes before my eyes,
Drowning in despair.

Sadness overwhelms,
Many times, I’m so afraid.
Where am I going?

First glow creeps, Dawn peeps,
Your soft words still comfort me,
Dancing a crusade.

Memories flicker,
Magical moments, lips kiss,
Hidden behind trees.

Two sets of footprints,
In silence, they leave their mark,
Friendship beyond words.

I will promise you,
Forged with tears, torn from my heart.
I’ll always be here.

Now alone I sit,
Cat purrs a welcome ‘hello’,
A friend you sent me.

DREAM OF DREAMS

DREAM of DREAMS 

 

“I Have a Dream.”*

The Dream of Dreams.

The country grows in Diversity.

Underneath the Great Southern Cross.

 

The Dream of Dreams.

Seared in our Hearts.

Underneath the Great Southern Cross.

People Unite, their Birthplace Proud.

 

Seared in our Hearts.

Freedom and Hope.

People Unite, their Birthplace Proud.

We Achieve, Together as One.

 

Freedom and Hope,

Travel the road, Belief.

We Achieve, Together as One.

Human Spirit, I Love the Dream.
*Martin Luther King, Jr.

DREAMS

DREAMS

 

The late 1700s a nation adorns.

Afghan cameleers establish outback transport,

the Great Southern Rail, the Ghan is born.

 

Liberalism, radicalism, Eureka Stockade.

Gold rushes, prosperity,

A Government self-made.

 

Celebrated in song, literature, and art.

Melba, Patterson and Lawson,

Albert Namatjira made his mark.

 

Egalitarianism, freedom, and hope.

People, mateship,

viewing pictures inside a kaleidoscope.

 

Hand on my heart, I have a dream,

perpetual peace,

the ultimate scheme.

 

People unite their Birthplace Proud.

I believe. We’ll achieve.

Here and Now!

YUM

 

YUM

Australian’s possess the knowledge to allure,
A complete range of foods, a keen eye, a connoisseur.

Meat Ball Mondays, topped with cheese and in tomato sauce, they drown,
amongst mounds of spaghetti, gnocchi and linguine enough to go around.

Tuesdays, Taco, Nachos, Gazpacho and Tortillas,
fresh salads, sharp salsas and chillies for thrillers.

Weiner Schnitzel Wednesdays with mash and peas,
topped with gravy and garlic mushroom. Yes, please!

Tandoori Thursdays come around with ease,
chicken fiery red as sunsets that’s the key.

Fried Rice Fridays with Stir Fry galore,
veggies abundant enough to adore.

Saffron Rice Saturdays scented with fresh coriander and ground cumin,
in a sea of Kormas and Kabobs is where I find them loom-in.

Sunday is my day to rest.
Time for the hubby to try his best.
I relax with a stubby and wait for the cue,
to smell the aroma of an old fashion Bar Be Que!