This page is a showcase of short works written by U3APP members. Some are members of our Writers Group, tutored by Pat Ryan. Others are poems and stories submitted to the annual "Port Phillip Writes" Seniors' Festival Events, where all but one of the Awards went to U3APP members.
Each box gives you a paragraph or two to give you a "taste" of the story. Just click on the link symbol in the box of your choice to read the full story. See if you can pick the stories and poems that won Awards or were Highly Commended in the Seniors' Writing Awards.
by Sheila Quairney
Major Award - Port Phillip Writes 2020
This time last year, I lived in a happy bubble. I believed I was an active person who slept the recommended 8 hours a night and burned a respectable number of calories every day.
I now know better. The painful truth of my sluggish, piggish, insomniac lifestyle is revealed relentlessly to me every waking minute.
And the reason? I have bought a Fitbit. And I am its slave.
The device almost never leaves my wrist. It is my constant companion, closer to me than my partner.
Feasting on Art
Last time I was in USA I was looking for love! This time, thirty-eight years later travelling with ‘the current husband’, we are looking at art. Feeling some marital pressure to get value for our below parity dollar, I have booked a number of guided tours through galleries, museums and memorials.
We begin in Washington DC, a capital not unlike Canberra, spread out and car infested, where everything appears big but not high-rise; a touch of Paris with its radial roads and circuits.
I left the pub and walked home past the houses with their Christmas lights blazing. Tomorrow was twelfth night. They’d take their decorations down and then Christmas would be over. It couldn’t come soon enough for me.
It was a warm evening, with the moon shining through the clouds. I was gob-smacked by a vision of Santa and his reindeer racing across the sky. There were people in his sleigh.
But for the grace of my cat
“Are you sure that’s what you want to do?” my mate Les asked.
“Yeah. I’m sure enough to give it a go.”
“Well it’s over to you. I like her, don’t get me wrong but she doesn’t seem your type. You need to be with someone like Amy.”
“Yes well Amy doesn’t want me. So we can forget about that.”
Up to Speed
“Often away and believed ineducable.” I stared at the words. This was Phil’s last school report, hand written on a sheet of paper. There was no other information. He had not completed primary school. He was now 14, six foot tall, and wanting to live at my place, which was then an open house. Of course he could, but as he was under the school leaving age, he would have to go to school.
“Just relax” murmurs the doctor soothingly as she attempts to probe tender bits of my anatomy with something alien, cold and rather unpleasant. Relax? Seriously? I think to myself, trying and failing to unclench my jaw, and other bodily parts.
Maggie was tidying up. It was a never-ending job with a four-year-old. She straightened the blankets on the little bed, picked the teddy bear off the floor and placed it neatly on the pillow.
She sighed as she looked out the window and watched Millie and the old dog cuddling up on the front veranda. Looks like Millie had found her own teddy bear. Maggie watched as the little girl ran her fingers through the tattered ruff around Max’s neck as he snuggled up against her. Then she heard Millie’s soft voice.
I was waiting for my fifteenth birthday, March 1945 to start work. It was the year the war finished, in two stages actually, V.E. day in Europe, 18th May, and VP day in the Pacific, 15th August.
One seed, two lives. But very different stories. It happened on a long, sticky langorous summer’s evening. When the setting sun painted its colours of crimson and gold across the darkening sky and the birds sang themselves to sleep. The seed was planted.
I’m sorry that I didn’t speak at your memorial. But I felt that those who did; had done so with such heartfelt eloquence. Anything I’d say would have been superfluous.
At any rate, you’d have dismissed the whole performance of grieving friends and relatives, albeit celebrating your life and achievements, as hogwash.
Give me the time of day
And I give you the hours
Of my life.
Give me the seasons of the year,
And I give you the buds
Give me the nights
of your dreams,
And I give you a
Galaxy of stars.
For you are, my love,
Like the ripples of ocean waves
and the rhythm of my heart,
The darkness of my life
Can dim the light
Of my love for you.
Fairies Walk Amongst Us
We Fairies have walked, slipped, flown, hovered in this land for millennium, perhaps we are the oldest civilisation in the world; however it must be said that we are not apparent to all who walk, swim, slither, pound or gallop across your fine brown land.
We are everywhere, watching, smiling, delighting in, smirking, wondering why and taking note of what you do.
A Childhood Wonder
by Dota Abdilla
Where is the sense of awe and wonder?
That came from innocent youthful eyes
Mesmerised by the small twinkling stars
Each disappearing by the sunrise
The God Gig
Every now and again the Gods have a conference to review developments and kick up their heels in ungodly frivolity. A key part of the celestial fun is to review a component of the universe and, in 2021, the focus is on planet Earth.
The performance criteria are, basically, related to matters that affect the longevity of the planet and, to simplify the review, this is defined as a place where the apex predator maintains a viable breeding population. On Earth, Homo sapiens is the focus of the study.
Life is a Juggle
Award - Port Phillip Writes 2020
‘Well, juggling chainsaws is obviously out,’ thought Flo as the colourful beanbags plopped at her feet.
‘For both of us, I reckon,’ chuckled the obviously novice juggler next to her. She was also awkwardly retrieving beanbags.
Flo realised she had, once again, voiced her thoughts. She’d been doing that ever since this pressure from her children. The three of them cheerfully bandied around suggestions like: you’re not getting any younger; downsize; the new retirement village looks lovely; at least have a look. Which is how she has allowed them to deposit her here at the Open Day, having “fun”.
by Roderick Waller
Major Award - Port Phillip Writes 2020
In 1956, eager, carefree, innocence in flush of evening dusk, joy of haying the summer rye, raking, tying sheaves, stacking into stooks. The Clydesdale clopped, pulled the dray-cart, crossed the stream to the hidden ley of laughing kids and folk The pitchfork taller than the boy, though he mastered it, broke it to his will pitching the sheaves to the stacker boys, the cart filled twelve feet deep
The old grey stood, stubborn, careless, her face deep in the nosebag, giant ribs puffing in and out, a few glad snorts, a clear mist of breath. The reinsman under the elm, his tea a cheese and pickle sandwich his dear old mother made ‘This, the last load’, he sighed ‘been a long, hot, dusty day’
So He Killed Him
The day was drawing to its end, the sun had already started its last fall to the West and people were moving from their coffee to wine, beer or spirits, and the mood was changing along with it.
People were at the old convent in the inner city, all there for their own reasons, some to meet others, some to wander, and others for therapies of some sort; she was there to meditate with “like minded people”. ...
Groote Island 1970 - A Memoir
by Wendy Butler
It’s hot, stinking hot - she can feel the sweat pouring in rivulets between her boobs and down her legs. Her rubber boots are so sweaty she might as well be standing in water. If only she could take her daks off - but then she there’d be no protection from the sandflies. She imagines she can still feel them biting her through the rubber of her boots. She can’t stop itching - needs to scratch - can’t do that. They’ll get infected.
Letter Home to Scotland
from Canvas City
I was glad to hear that you are keeping well, thanks be to God for giving you that blessing, and may you ever continue to be so.
I am now biding temporarily on the outskirts of Melbourne Town in Australia. Our ship from California entered Port Phillip last week and sailed to Hobson’s Bay, which was crowded with possibly 100 ships at anchor and smaller boats taking passengers to shore. Being crew, we were the last from our ship to be ferried to the pier at Sandridge Beach, then made our way towards Melbourne Town for about 3 miles through marshy scrub.
It was one of those sunny days with blue sky in Albert Park.
Layla decided to take a trip to the city.
On her way to the No 1 tram, she saw people happily walking, all wearing cheerful clothes. Smiles and greetings were shared and acknowledged.
Kosta’s Music Box
Jayden sidled up to the back door of the factory and jemmied open the door. Inside, he passed a door that was propped open and found himself facing an inner door with the usual intercom keyboard beside it.
Once again raised his trusty tyre lever. At that moment there was a click and the door behind him swung closed. He was trapped between the two doors.
Going for a Walk with the Dogs
Walking the dogs is a pastime that often involves me although I don’t own a dog.
A friend believes it is mean to have only one dog; they need a mate so she has two. On Easter Monday she and I joined another friend who is perfectly happy with one gentle and loving dog called Fleur who is somehow related to a King Charles spaniel.
Bonny Goes Nursing
by John Craven
Bonny was destined for greatness. She was born into Labrador royalty and there were huge expectations for Bonny and the rest of the litter. This high achieving canine dynasty had provided raw material for the police, customs, emergency services and assisting blind people to negotiate the perils of their environment.
All the early signs were propitious - eating, feeding, playing on schedule....
Japan: What They Don't Tell You
by John Craven
When planning to go to Japan, or anywhere else, it is desirable to do a bit of research. There are plenty of places to start – glossy pamphlets, confusing websites, newspaper articles, and, if all else fails there is no shortage of young enthusiastic travel agents. In the excitement of planning it is easy to overlook the possibility that most of these sources have a conflict of interest – their compelling aim is to sell you something. In their haste to sign you up it is possible that they might overlook a few essential items...
Bulrushes and Black Ducks
Poldi decided to emigrate when he was nine years old. America would be a good place to go, and it was far enough away. He just didn’t know how to get there.
Poldi’s mother died when he was a baby. A family friend saw her picture and told him she was a beautiful woman and that now she was an angel in heaven. With the logic of childhood, he thought if she really was an angel, she would have stayed alive and looked after him. His father remarried. His stepmother wasn’t that pleased that her husband came complete with a small boy...
The Pumpkin Grower and the Uncle
She was cruising through the town, slowly and observantly; up and down streets never driven by her before, seeing how gardens grow, how fences divide and keep worlds within and without. It was enjoyable and calming to where she had been as she farewelled a treasured family member as he gasped toward that long and welcome goodnight.
Covid Coffee Underbelly
Over many years, people have remarked that my integrity is beyond reproach. But, dear friends, I feel that I need to tell you an almost unbelievable tale about how I stumbled on a conspiracy and had no choice other than to blow the whistle and take the consequences.
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