Tag Archives: short stories

Lost and Found 6: Miracles

Montreal Sept 2013The smashed crutch was found in Montreal, at the seedier end of Chinatown. The number of pieces indicated a particularly vehement dislike of the thing.

The popular image of a faith-healed cripple, tossing a walking aid jubilantly in the air as they skipped chirpily from the scene of their salvation was clearly inaccurate. The image conjured by this wreckage of a crutch was more one of vindictive rage. Fuck you, crutch, the pieces said, I always hated you. Fuck off and never come back.

If it hadn’t been for Rosy the Bag Lady, the whole shards-of-crutch incident might have gone unnoticed. But she told someone about the man she’d seen, hobbling along on one crutch. About the angelic little child who had appeared out of nowhere and held hands out to the man. The man had fallen to the ground with a cry, and the child had petted his legs, lifted the crutch, snapped it in two and fled, giggling, into a mist.

To be fair, the first person she told didn’t believe a word of it, because Rosy the Bag Lady was pretty famous among her set for seeing things. Celine Dion bickering with William Shatner over a poutine, aliens singing French karaoke, Jacques Cartier in a bearskin coat, and talking patchwork cats weren’t the half of it.

But by her twentieth retelling, the story had gained some credence, partly because it was being told in loops all around the streets of Montreal. It had been overheard and retold in a dizzy spiral of rumour and breathless hope from the Parc du Mont-Royal to the coffee houses of Mile End; from the biodome of St Helen’s Island and up and down the banks of the St Lawrence River; whispered in the plain corridors of the underground city and amongst the ripest tomatoes of the Jean-Talon market.

People began to visit the grimy street where the miracle was said to have happened. Flowers were left, and notes thanking god, fate, the stars, the mysteries for kindness given, and begging, of course, for one more, just one, gesture of grace. Someone yarnbombed a nearby lamppost with a colourful offering; graffiti of joy got painted over the corrugated iron and the filthy brick.

And a man came, who limped, and stared down at the pieces of a crutch, painted now with happy acrylic daisies, woven through with plastic ivy and rain-damped wool.  Like all the other visitors to this strange holy site of hope, he brought one question and left with new ones, although his new questions were unique.

If that little shit hadn’t tried to mug me, was his question, and broken my bloody crutch, and if I hadn’t finished the job on his thieving skull, would he have staggered off and fallen off the overpass onto the freeway? And does this mean I got away with murder?

Still and all, he gave thanks, and limped away on his newly healed broken ankle, and swore to live a better life.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.

Lost and Found 5: Plot Bunny

Plot BunnyShe is small, to hold so much rage in her. Small and ferocious and so, so tired. She had to dig her way out again, and her with no bones, no muscles, just cotton and stuffing, weeping all the while.

Dig she did, though, and she found the sky again, and now she seeks something more. It will take a long time to find it (to take it) she has no doubt.

But revenge is patient, yes it is. Revenge has time enough. A dish best served cold, they say. Has no use-by date, they say.

It is a long way home, but that’s all right. That will give her time to think, to plan, to plot.

The days and weeks and months she’ll spend wending homeward will provide so much careful, burning time to decide which of them to punish – or punish first, at least – and how best to share with her enemies how it felt.

How it felt to be seized in hot, hard jaws and taken away.

How it felt to realise that Beloved Little One didn’t raise a squeak of protest, being too enamoured of the splash of low-breaking waves on the sand to notice or care that the Beast was in motion, Bunny in its mouth.

How it felt to hear Uncaring Adult say in a bored, peeved tone ‘No, Cheezle, put Bunny back; bloody dog,’ as ineffectively as a cat protesting, with no real interest, the closing of a door.

How it felt that no-one came to her rescue.

How it felt that nobody cared, and that Older Bully only laughed when she saw Cheezle carrying Bunny away on the beach.

A heart of cotton and stuffing (but a heart all the same) can still break when it understands the words: ‘I’m not digging my way up and down the beach to find that bloody rabbit. Amelia has plenty of toys at home. Forget it. It’s starting to rain. Let’s leave.’

Bunny, down in her damp and sandy grave, buried there by Cheezle (jealous Cheezle, vicious Beast) was afraid, and then bereft, and then forlorn, and then outraged, and then enraged, and then, oh then, so full of fury and fire and hatred that despite the softness of her unboned limbs, the tatters of her stuffing heart, she began to dig.

Rabbits dig, you know. Even the soft ones. Even the ones made of cotton and polyester and tagged with washing instructions, they can dig, if properly motivated. Usually they burrow into little hearts, making a kindly warren of comfort and safety; days of play and nights of comfort, and those tunnels and dens make memories that keep old hearts gentle down the long, long years.

Bunny’s burrows of love and comfort have been blasted and filled with stones, this day. Instead, Bunny dug up, up, up from the pit where Cheezle (filthy Cheezle, the Beast who will know what it is to be sorry) buried her.

A moment’s pause by the sea, by the vast desert made of millions of pulverised bones and stones and dead things, and then Bunny will be off to fulfill her purpose.

Bunny will take whatever time and effort it takes to retrace her steps; to follow the path that the Metal Toybox on Wheels took to bring her to this cold and loveless shore. She will return to the home she knew and lay waste to Older Bully and Uncaring Adult and Cheezle the foul Beast and even Beloved Little One, faithless tiny bitch that she is, and Bunny will know what it is to be drenched in blood as well as sea and sand.

And they, the family that spurned her, will know what it is to be mauled and buried and left unmourned to be swallowed by the sea.

Oh yes, they will.

Lost and Found is an irregular series of posts about random items I find abandoned on the streets and the stories I make of them.

Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.