My life has not been extraordinary. I have not suffered outside the realms of the normal human experience. I have only been confronted by grief and loss as we all have or will, and I do not carry heartache with me. Instead, I keep it in a box on my bookshelf, and sometimes late at night when the window is open and the world has stopped its noises I open it. In the moonlight it shines. I cry and this is precious. Continue reading

Hunting Conch Shells

Some memories have archives, and these exist in a book I kept when I was seven.

I would pay my way in the world by selling conch shells to tourists off of the edge of a jetty on Petite Martinique. My business partners were my older sister and my younger brother. and I made quite a profit – it’s hard for anyone to resist that pink perfection of a Caribbean shell forever playing the ocean against your ear.

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When I go home to Sydney to visit for Christmas my brother picks me up from the airport. I get a late flight and Mum doesn’t like to drive at night. She says her eyesight isn’t what it used to be and I guess that’s like a lot of things.

My brother drives through the back streets to avoid the tolls and we’re on this one stretch so long I think he’s lost his way. There are no streetlights and a lot of greenery so I know we’re far from home. We don’t talk much on the drive home. It’s like we’ve gotten to a point where we don’t really know what to say.

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It was a slight, old woman in a pie shop off the highway who told me who my grandmother was. I barely saw her over the counter but she propped herself up with one foot on the skirting board and pointed at me accusingly.

‘You’re a Kresinger,’ she spat. ‘I have something for you.’  She tried to put what looked like a wood whistle in my palm.

‘No,’ I said. ‘My grandmother was Marie. Passed now, but she’s my grandmother.’

‘Cousin,’ the woman said. ‘That was your grandmother’s cousin.’

I tugged at the traffic all the way back to the city, and quickly found my father — on the back stairs, painting — who denied it. He spilt paint three times on his boot so I went back. The shop owner told me a story, starting with my grandmother’s real name, Pearl:

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The Baby-sitters Club: Kate and the Best Contraception Ever

When I was 17, my friend Sophie and I took a week-long job in Yamba, babysitting five kids under five. I didn’t have any experience looking after children, but I had read a lot of Baby-sitters Club books. I was convinced our holiday would be like issue #8, Boy-Crazy Stacey, in which Stacey and Mary Anne go to Jersey Shore as mothers’ helpers. There’s a carnival, and ice-cream, and Stacey falls in love with a hot lifeguard named Scott, who ends up being about 900 years old and a total douchebag, but it’s okay because then she meets the guy she’s really supposed to be with and they get it on in the Tunnel of Luv.

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