The Children Rise
The problem was I couldn't get back down.
It was 1986. I was 12 years old.
I live really close to a train station. Every time I hear the train horn, especially at sunset, I'm reminded of Ponyboy and his escape to Windrixville. I don't hear that sound with my ears. I hear it with what is under my skin and something rattles and swells inside myself.
I climb up the stairs and head west where my children's window is. In winter, when I'm all alone in the house during the day, I feel transparent. I imagine it is much colder than just rain and grey cobblestone. The snow is icing on rooftops and the antlers of trees and I'm trapped because the black sea is rising like a snake and his meaty arms are around me.
Snakes and Ladders.
And in summer, I watch the sunset from here. Summer is when everyone in my family is on vacation. I'm in my children's room because I'm still a child. I don't understand what it means to fly yet. I asked him a question because he was the only one who saw me lift off the ground and I thought he might understand. I can rise — just a little — so I can get up on the roof of the barn.
I told him once that I was worried. If I fly properly off the ground and fit myself into the sky, then maybe I wouldn't know how to come back.
I made such a racket. I cringe when I think about it now. Then I laugh. I kept star jumping. My dad shook his head 'What the hell is she up to now?' My dad flapped his arms like a sandy towel. I opened my arms like the risen Christ. I wore a war bonnet and ululated like a two year old until all my neighbors were wondering what was going on. A crowd of boys took off their shoes and threw them in the sky like students do on their graduation day.
Climbing over the gutter was the trickiest bit.
I was laughing so hard I had to hold my stomach in. He could take the ladder away now. I did what I wanted to do.
I'm not sure how long I sat up there. But it was something I wasn't gonna miss.
My dad told me I could only surf if I learnt how to swim.
I rang up the local swimming center. They told me I would have to go on a waiting list. I waited almost a couple of weeks. Then I rang up again and told them I wanted to join the club instead.
I had to compete on Sundays. I always came last. Or second last. Sometimes by more than a lap. My kids ask, 'But weren't you embarrassed?' I say 'No—that's two edges beside the point.'
My dad said I had to learn how to hold my breath while swimming a straight 25 meters.
So I learnt that too.
Then I needed a surfboard.
I begged until he took me to a store along the coast. It was more than an hour away. He bought me a second hand one. One that had been glued together because it had hit rocks and had snapped in half. It wasn't really that obvious and that was all he could afford.
Then I shawshanked him a little more. I needed waves to learn. Higher and stronger than bay ripples.
He drove me to this place. It looked like farmland. And he stopped me in front of a pond.
I still have that board. In the garage. And I learnt how to fiberglass and resin the fins myself. As I lay down in bed one night listening to the drain rain and the living of winter as fat and sticky as a grub, I decided it was time. I started driving to the coast after work. I was 33 when I first touched an unbroken wave and rode it to the shore.
I've seen too many boys climb the roof of a train. The silver webs are too low. You have to wait until the spider folds in its skinny legs like the metal of a broken umbrella. When I'm driving my car parallel with the tracks, heading for the city loop, I watch boys climbing between the carriages. Or they just wait by the tracks. The heart of the tracks beat too fast.
I digress a cross the yellow field. The children laugh here—spring onion that grow into seagrass. Sometimes we sleep under the belfry. Sometimes they sleep in front of the door of the welfare department. We smoke until the church can take the heat. Ketoret. The golden altar of incense. Ponyboy and the ritual of the dye. Children of the golden head.
The gutters overflow when it rains sometimes. The sides of the roads become the Teklanika River. My kids always urge me to drive close to the gutter when it rains. I think of the Fairbanks bus. Fairbanks means beautiful or fair-haired. Bank or a hill. The shore or the mountain. They love the water all over us and how the car floats for a couple of seconds like we're on a water slide. They laugh and roar. I fire up too. But I warn them. Just a little now.
Icarus got too close to the sun. Wings that aren't made from under the skin will wilt. The wax will melt and mix up all the feathers.
Finding the right wax for my board makes it less slippery in summer. I covered the tip of the board with a nose guard to minimize scars to myself or anyone who would happen to be in close proximity if I wiped out.
Then I saw the comet. Shiny as Venus. An Australian twenty cent piece. As it painted the queen's crown a cross the sky. Halley's Comet. The platypus in a river. I waited nine months for this. Its tail—of a kite—made up of twenty dollar bills. I climbed up from my knees. I realized how high the barn roof was. It felt silent and holy. The other stars were soft bodies—their lights as yellow as sesame oil. Like small lion heads bobbing in and out of black water.
Boys are not old enough to conjure the paredros. I took down my headdress, plucked all the feathers out and tucked them between his skin and his clothes.
Because you have to be a man to be crucified.
He was ready to answer me. He said flying high means the omega. Turn it upside down and it becomes a vessel and the snake will climb the cross.
His eyes were in my eyes. You keep flying east... He looked away. Then you'll never have to worry about the ground again.
is an Australian writer and divergent thinker. She is a wife and mother of five children. She started school as an EAL student and was raised and, continues to live in a multicultural and industrial location in the West of Melbourne. Her research aims to exfoliate branches of psychoanalysis and metaphysics. She is currently focusing on in medias res and art house writing. She enjoys semiotics and exploring the surreal and phantasmagorical nature of unconscious material. Her work is best understood when interpreting them like dreams. She is a member of the C G Jung Society of Melbourne. As well as her website, you can visit her on Facebook