‘Being creative’ showcases the creative work of talented Griffith Gold Coast students. This edition we have three short stories for you to enjoy.
Three Intimations of Power
Three Intimations of Power
Part I: Power(trip)
It happened one rainy Monday morning. Outside, the rain has dampened everything from the ground. People were scampering in search of a dry pathway or temporary shelter. Then, I saw him in the hallway with that menacing gaze. He looked away to hide his simmering glare as I carried my washed containers back to my office for drying.
Moments later, I heard a knock on the door; several hard knocks followed after. I was surprised that he followed me back to my office. I returned his evil gaze with a questioning look from the door window.
Just as I open the door, he barged into the room like an animal looking for a kill. “I’m looking for my umbrella taken by two ladies.” He dashed along the room corridor, darting his gaze squarely at every corner, looking where his brolly hides. I barely dithered at his angry swoop. Surprised, I asked him “Have you ever set foot in this room before?”. He said the ladies were from Room 2.40.
Swiftly as he entered, shamefully he left. I slammed the door behind him. He entered Room 2.39.
His unwarranted suspicion became a dragnet that collared his better judgement. The animal in him turned into a dog, whimpering with his tail curled down to cover his arse behaviour.
Part II: Power(play)
They came to take the two vacant rooms in the house. I sensed discord in the air around them. It was foreboding.
In barely a week, they claim the entire house with their rules.
Rule #1: Share with the trash disposal. It seems fair if we have an equal share of trash production, only that it’s not. From breakfast till dinner to midnight meals, they churn out plastics upon plastics of garbage from the processed food they consume while I just have an egg carton or a bag to throw. I ignored the sign and throw my trash straight to the outside bin, or the compost I made for my organic wastes. After days with no engagement from the rest of the housemates, the sign was taken off the wall. They ended throwing their own trash by themselves.
Rule #2: The use of communal toilet. They posted a stick figure standing, pissing with a red ‘X’ on top. From my recent memory, we are all male living in that house. So, they want everyone to pee sitting down? How do you reason with this madness? The sign is still there but now serves as a comic relief for the rest of us.
Rule #3: Open doors and windows. All. For them, the house is badly ventilated, and it serves right to open the windows, doors and garage to let the air come in. Then they complain of fleas (that is how they pronounce flies) and a rat visiting their rooms. I tell them because they keep the doors wide open, these pests come in. They say it’s the fault of the compost attracting pests. So, I covered the compost. I tell them to pull out the screen door when they open the glass door. They said it is too heavy to use. Months passed by, and one day, the landlady arrived and saw the house wide open, all the way from the garage to the lawn. Meekly, they say they only open the doors when there is cooking in the house. The house is sealed for the time being.
Rule #4: Move the dining table where it is directly below the ceiling fan. Because the house is badly ventilated. Sure, but how about the illumination, the pathway and access to the lawn? And hey, there are three electric fans on standby just around the corner. I pulled the dining table back to where it was. It remains to this day. Right is might. It cancels the power play.
Part III: (Em)power
She looks fragile and soft spoken. But her presence commands attention, or action. Her instructions are clear, her expectations are fair. And she reflects on her shortcomings after being called out, and will not hesitate to own responsibility to correct an earlier decision. She presents her case on the table and listens to each of us. She does not hesitate to relinquish her own idea for a better one.
She communicates and leads by allowing us to do our own thing, for as long as we deliver. That is by far a power that is refreshing. It empowers everyone in her team.
Like water, power slips easily if you try hard to hold on to it. Yet it flows and fills your being when freely shared. It corrupts the feeble mind, like what politicians wantonly does. It clarifies the air like justice won justly on time.
Addicted to the Adrenaline High
Addicted to the Adrenaline High
Emmeline Freda Du Faur was born on 16 September 1882 at Croydon, Sydney, Australia. Freda’s early climbing involved scurrying around the gullies of the newly established Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park, entering from the road’s end with her dog Possie tagging along. Scrambling up the rock cliffs and exploring new terrain Freda quickly built her confidence as a competent rock climber. Due to her family’s wealth, Freda was able to indulge in a privileged lifestyle of back-to-back summer trips to New Zealand before heading off to England where she wrote and published her book in 1915.
When I finished climbing in New Zealand I too headed for Europe, having made valuable contacts and introductions to people running a rope access company based in Sheffield. Working there I was able to finance winter skiing on the continent, and off-season climbing with my Kiwi mate, Murray, who was working as a guide out of Chamonix, France. I also funded climbing Mount McKinley/Denali, North America’s highest mountain from access work.
My flight to Anchorage, Alaska crossed from Gatwick to Amsterdam and then over the North Pole, affording a clear view of the mountain before landing. I witnessed this when the pilot invited me to the cockpit, having learned I was off to climb the tallest mountain in North America. Returning to Amsterdam on an evening flight after a long session celebrating my success on the mountain, I arrived at the airport with a wobbly foot. Suddenly aware of hearing my name being paged, an attractive KLM stewardess took me by the arm.
‘Oh dear Mr Dignan you must be very tired, let me help.’
Ever so drunk but still polite I explained my tardiness. To my delight and great surprise, she suggested we take the spiral staircase to the upper level, first-class in an old 747. Settling me into a fully reclined seat with pillow and blanket she said,
‘Don’t hesitate to buzz down if you wake and need something other than alcohol to drink.’
I vaguely remember saying, ‘Oh my gosh I’ve had more than enough to drink.’
After a full night’s sleep, my stopover was in Amsterdam landing just before breakfast, that came with good coffee and a smorgasbord of hashish and ganja. I left the twenty-four-hour sunlight of Alaska where I spent ten weeks climbing and living on the ice, now needing to assimilate to city living. The contrast between the seedy nightlife of the red-light district to morning walks along canals leading to the Van Gogh Museum is a far cry from the months living on frozen snow. I freed myself from the single-minded narrow focus that climbing demands to indulge in history and all the pleasures on offer. Daytime painted a kaleidoscope of colour in an old city with a new feel about it. Nights were spent chatting with an Englishman, Ian, a motorcycle courier in London who frequently visited for the sake of downtime from dodging and weaving through the city traffic.
I used this random meeting to reflect on what was important to me and I recognised my need for the adrenaline rush, and although I did flirt with the idea of courier work it was time to head home. A few of my climbing mates had taken to working on fishing boats. Then I learnt that wild Billy from Yosemite, a mate from 1978, had shifted his income stream from Alaskan fishing boats to swallowing condoms loaded with hash oil. I realised an improved drug smuggling method could tick all the right boxes for me.
Back in Melbourne, I tracked down big Jim, an ace welder dodgy-as and trustworthy with a creative design capability. We decided to redesign ice climbing tools, reshaping existing heads and the bottom spike of ice tools and replacing old handles, giving us ample space to carry our booty. We welded the bottom spike and the heads were removable until the stash was loaded into the handles, then sealed with a cap and glue. The ice axe and hammerheads were then fitted manually with rivets.
This was a time when airport x-ray machines were not very sophisticated and also when I flirted with the idea of combining climbing in South America with smuggling the kind of powder that can make serious dollars. Was I ever going to pluck up the courage to do deals with the violent gringos of that part of the world and survive? Probably not, But maybe? This so could have been my Armageddon.
I watch it spread furiously through the undergrowth. A true force of nature in motion. We never thought that it would find us here. A sleepy town that lies silently on the coastline.
It reaches the treetops with a sense of insatiable hunger. A mere 100 metres away, the heat reaches across the landscape.
As the sky turns black, we lose power and phone service.
Soon the heat becomes unbearable. For the first time today, I feel that we have lost.
With nowhere to evacuate, we sit in heavy silence and wait.
Watching the flames dance back and forth toward our home, I consider my mortality.
Since my very beginnings, I have never felt more human. Torn from everything that brings comfort, of everything that brings distraction, I somehow feel clear.
For the first time in my young adult life, I remember what it feels like to live. The fire’s sheer power and uncontainable force allow me for one moment to forget my fears for the future and be present.
Embers begin to spray across the yard. We do our best to hose them down and stamp them out.
As I face the flames, I realise my powerful insignificance. My place as simply one person in a sea of billions living on a rock floating through space.
At this moment, I realise that nothing I have ever been stressed about matters. I have had 30 years of life. But not 30 years of living. Now, facing death, I understand that nothing I do really matters.
Nothing really matters.
Realising that it doesn’t matter what I do, I feel the desire to everything I have ever wanted to do. To do everything I always thought I wasn’t good enough to do, that I was too scared to try for fear of wasting time or not being enough.
Released from the chains of thinking that everything I do matters, I feel free. Free to feel the love of my family as we await our fate, free to see my past for the joyous moments that had been previously overshadowed by anxiety and doubt, and free to finally see that I am enough.
My thoughts are interrupted by a thundering sound from above.
We look up to see a plane flying low and moving toward us. My first thought is that the pilot had become disorientated and was crashing. But as it passes over our home a glorious bright pink stream unleashes over the fire front, stopping it from moving further toward our home.
Within 30 minutes the wind has changed and the fire retreats in a new direction, moving away as fast as it had arrived.
As my family celebrate, I sit in quiet disbelief. Looking across at blackened branches and smoking stumps I am unable to comprehend what has just taken place and could not begin to imagine what was unfolding in the areas surrounding us.
In just a few short hours it had ripped through the landscape, disrupting the everyday and starting a new chapter.
And, just like the landscape, I felt bare. Forever changed and ready to embrace new gro