Scorched Memory

Scorched Memory

A Story by KWP
"

thinking of turning this into a short story

"

It’s hot as hell out here. The kind of dry heat where body movement requires an upheaval of force. Decisions are never over thought, for if they are, there is every likelihood they to will disappear  into the unreachable oasis of water always up ahead and out of reach, on the highway.


The fifteen hundred kilometre drive west bore me witness the vibrant coastal colour and life that is Sydney, to dissipate into a pallet of drab, dirt encrusted, sepia portrait of disparity. To say it’s dry out here is an understatement. It’s dead.


As much as I want to remain immune to the cause and effect of the outback, it’s hopeless. The sun is unrelenting, screaming in intensity, pushing down, adding, it’s own heat to the already boiled melting pot. It smothers the scraps of life that remain with such an oppressive strength you are able to feel the air being sucked right out of your lungs. 


The earth below me and my car is scorched. Parched cracks criss-cross in arid, valley like formation across the horizon. The landscape yielding to the sun. The hope for rain long since has been replaced, the norm is now the sterile existence in its place. Wind picks up dust and it cakes itself onto my skin, gets caught in eyelashes, forms mini mud rivers at the creases of elbows, knees and, if it’s windy enough across the fold my belly as I drive. In the rear vision mirror I see more tiny rivers of muddy sweat cascade from my hairline looking for some kind or refuge before they too shrivel and cease to have even been.


With windows down, this road is leading me back into the sapless history of my childhood. Thirty years ago I left this place, vowing never to return. Now it seems, my mother, who deemed herself incapable of helping me back then, is about to die. 


If it were my own decision, I’d let her die. Let her live out her remaining days alone. I imagine her  lying comatose unable to feel, no, that’s too kind. She’s able to feel, yes, let her inaction of the past penetrate her comatose body. I want wretchedness to scratch and naw unceasingly at her soul until her last breath. 


And why not? Her actions, all that time ago, or perhaps I should say, inactions, have caused me to pass my own life paralysed to emotion. At times I see my moments as a tiny sand particles passing through the hourglass of my life. Each coming and going without fanfare. Each dropping into the ever increasing pile of infertile memories. 


‘It’s about closure.’ Pamela, my current therapist, in a long line of therapists said. ‘If you miss this opportunity, you may miss your last chance at a new life. This will be good for you in the long run.’ 


‘She did nothing for me then, I can’t imagine her being on her deathbed, she will do anything for me now.’ 


‘As I said, it’s about closure. And let’s put it this way, if you don’t go, you can find yourself a new therapist.’ 


She had me then. We both knew it. Over the last year, I’ve kicked all kinds of hurdles with Pamela. I believe I’m even starting to get a sniff at what people describe as happiness. I’d call her a friend, but as I’ve learnt in the past, therapists don’t have clients as friends. Which means the countless dinners, lunches, picnics and walks along the coast, exchanged subtle glances have all been ‘uncharged’ therapy sessions. Pamela can even touch me now and I no longer flinch. A light tracing of her finger down my cheek, an occasional embrace that feels as if she could to rest there forever. She’s my long road back. I just need to figure out the point where I currently stand.


I drive past the town sign. The sign which encases the start of a book holding so many chapters of my life I never wish to reread. Yet here I am. 


’Tibooburra, population 252’. 


I feel the cracks from the enduring drought of emotion resurface within. Population 252. My mother is about to die. 251. If he is still alive, he’d be over eighty by now. If not, population 250. I’m hoping for the latter. At the thought of him, my hands grip the steering wheel so hard my knuckles are popping white. I need to calm myself, but it’s not easy. Snippets of myself as a fourteen year old girl slam onto my already bug ridden windscreen. Unlike the bugs, the memories are demanding my attention. I begin to falter. With all of my inner strength, I turn my thoughts to Pamela.


‘Look to your future.’ That’s what she’d say. ‘Focus on what’s ahead, not what has already passed. You cannot alter life happened, you can however alter life ahead.’ 


When I am with Pamela, she makes life seem so easy, graspable even. But right now, Pamela and everything she’s jumbled into our relationship seems to be vanishing with the dust cloud behind my car. I see nothing, my vision is blurred. The distance I have come with Pamela all whisked away into the exanamite Tibooburra landscape..


As I drive down Main Street I notice time has taken it’s toll on this town. There’s nothing new, not one building. The same bakery, the same pub, the same post office. These still open. The fifteen or so other buildings lining the street look long since closed. Windows either boarded up or so full of dirt you can’t see through them anyhow. Surely the whole place will be known soon as a tourist destination. ‘Tibooburra, The Town That Never Did’, that’s what they could call it. 


My plan was to speed past the Police Station. I see the blue and white sign ‘POLICE’ has been replaced, making it seem like the shiniest and most well looked after piece of property in the whole town. I’ve stopped. In the middle of the empty street my car is at a standstill in front of the Police Station. My heart has decided to masquerade as a native indian drum, beating its way to an ominous crescendo. Is is trying to ward away evil? My hands grip the steering wheel even harder than before. My nails pierce the skin on the palms of my hands as I try to put an end to my body shaking from my hands down.


One man deemed himself chief of this area for four hundred kilometres in every direction. The State handed him his own privilege of being the sole police officer in his own single unit police station. State put him here, then they turned turn their backs let him do as he pleased. His perfect scenario. How one man could suffocate a whole town into believing he was their saviour still leaves me wide eyed and bewildered. I’m not sure if it was stupidity, ignorance or fear that froze this place into its own inertia.


‘You okay there?’


I’ve slid into the cracks of my own memories. My car is idling out the front of the Police Station. I have no idea for how long. A young guy in uniform approaches. In the quick scan of his face I allow myself, I believe I see a softness to it. That’s what Pamela has given me, a softened view of life. I put the car back into drive and place my foot on the accelerator so fast I hear the dirt skid and slide as the car resumes its motion. I don’t bother looking back.


A kilometre away from Main Street I turn into the driveway of my childhood home. It’s exactly as I remember it, besides the fact it doesn’t look like it’s been painted in the thirty years since I left. When I was young, much younger than fourteen, the bright blue paint covering my house reminded me of the vastness of the sky. Now, the paint is peeling with such ferocity the grey undercoat resembles treacherous storm clouds. The corrugated tin roof is no longer silver. It’s rusted over complete matching the red of the earth. Fly screens are missing. The garden has long since surrendered to the drought. 


I note all the places this house is broken. The second of three tiny concrete steps cracked away, the mailbox fallen from it’s post now resting on the lifeless grass, a shattered window taped up, holes in the lifetime old faded curtains. The house number eleven has been reduced to number one. What a joke. Number one. No not ever. 


Her car is in the driveway, flat tyres, doesn’t look like it’s been driven in years. Spiderwebs cover the side mirrors, bonnet and wheels. Dead leaves mound the wipers. The vinyl seats split with age spewing foam from the sunburnt cracks.


Sitting in the car I check myself. I can do this. It’s about closure. I can’t help but to picture Pamela in my minds eye. She wants to know that I have put my past behind me before our relationship deepens. She hasn’t said this of course, I feel it. I know I am right. 


My mother is inside, death is calling her, I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything at all. Therein lies the problem, so I’ve been told. 


My mother never helped me. She knew what was happening, but she never did a damn thing. I had to learn to build brick walls so strong around myself just as a survival technique. In doing so I protected myself from the world. In doing so life was locked out with the rest of it. 


I can’t help but think of my mother as I see her dilapidated house, her unmoving car, this derelict town with death calling out from every direction. 


The years are not kind out here. Kind has never visited Tibooburra. 

© 2020 KWP


Author's Note

KWP
I think the opening description is too long - what other work needs doing - thoughts and advice apprecaited :)

My Review

Would you like to review this Story?
Login | Register




Reviews

' The earth below me and my car is scorched. Parched cracks criss-cross in arid, valley like formation across the horizon. The landscape yielding to the sun. The hope for rain long since has been replaced, the norm is now the sterile existence in its place. Wind picks up dust and it cakes itself onto my skin, gets caught in eyelashes, forms mini mud rivers at the creases of elbows, knees and, if it’s windy enough across the fold my belly as I drive. In the rear vision mirror I see more tiny rivers of muddy sweat cascade from my hairline looking for some kind or refuge before they too shrivel and cease to have even been. '

SAW, felt that. A visual and physical description.

The deep and many faceted relationship with Pamela seems such a strong step from your thoughts of the past: news of your mother and the life.long aftermath of your relationship with her. Then you move on to the many changes in Tibooburra. The breakdown of what it was, a past that's lost a sense of life and welcome. Places boarded up. like scarred bodies, ready to die.

' In the middle of the empty street my car is at a standstill in front of the Police Station. My heart has decided to masquerade as a native indian drum, beating its way to an ominous crescendo. Is is trying to ward away evil? My hands grip the steering wheel even harder than before. My nails pierce the skin on the palms of my hands as I try to put an end to my body shaking from my hands down. '

THAT is rising terror. and written in such a visual and physically impressive way. Incredible"

' How one man could suffocate a whole town into believing he was their saviour still leaves me wide eyed and bewildered. I’m not sure if it was stupidity, ignorance or fear that froze this place into its own inertia. '

IS that a clue to more and more terror. Must read on. A change of emotion at hearing.seeing the young man.. but you tear away. His soft look hurt you, bewildered you.. What?

' A kilometre away from Main Street I turn into the driveway of my childhood home. It’s exactly as I remember it, besides the fact it doesn’t look like it’s been painted in the thirty years since I left. '

COULD see that house.. a so.called home. Broken down like your past association with it, maybe.

' My mother is inside, death is calling her, I don’t feel sad. I don’t feel anything at all. Therein lies the problem, so I’ve been told. ' - ' The years are not kind out here. '

That, E. is one of the most descriptive pieces of writing Ive read in years, anywhere You use brevity and language with amazing skill and respect.

Posted 2 Months Ago


KWP

2 Months Ago

ah, thanks you - trying to slide back into some form of writing by rereading stuff from a cooked of .. read more
emmajoy

2 Months Ago

Do it. Develop it. Please.
memories and closeures walk hand in hand,and you`re right it had nothing for you then why would it now

Posted 3 Months Ago


This is awesome. Makes me want to write about a certain childhood home of mine where the worst abuse rained down on the family of my childhood. You do a superb job of describing the surroundings to reflect the storyline & theme of broken parched family relations. I love it all, even the long lead-in, but here's an idea for breaking it up a bit. The first 4 paragraphs seem to be purely description of the road trip & the next 3 are largely description, but starting to break into the human aspects of this saga. I would alternate these concepts -- first a paragraph of purely description, then a very short paragraph or even a one-liner to start bringing in the human aspect of this desolate life. Then another long paragraph of description, then a short line about the human aspect, until finally your story dives into the human aspect almost completely, still nicely expressed in terms of describing the surroundings. Love the new police sign observation, but the Tibooburra slogan does not pop (good idea, but the execution is so-so). There was a moment toward the end when Pamela shows up after not being mentioned for a while -- this felt a little surprising & I wondered if it might not be good to put Pamela into the story more continuously, so she doesn't show up surprisingly, later on. I also got to thinking how Pamela is only a concept, in psychological terms, but no sensory descriptions of her. You could describe Pamela in a similar way as you describe the terrain, making her attributes symbolic to what she represents in this story. You're on a big fat boon here & there are many ways to embellish this to an even more intense treatment of dread, going to the mom's place. Great ending, as far as landscape resembling feelings (((HUGS))) Fondly, Margie

Posted 4 Months Ago


What a sad story but well written! Reminds me of the time I visited Kangaroo Island!

Posted 4 Months Ago


Well written I was with you as y shut your car door and drove across a barren landscape > although my vision was in Spain - all hot and dusty > expecting at any turn you would mention the fires You looked in the rearview mirror - expecting to see a dust cloud behind - I never look at myself in a mirror when driving
Outside the police station > very much like the town in Exteramurader: weeds in the dry gutters and unpainted shutters - now nameless to me except on the map and now bypassed with a four-lane motorway

Therapist Pamela was correct if you did not make this last visit you mat regret not making the effort to heal the wrongs of the past - but you would have expected it to be any different

My parents emigrated and we lost all contact - well we refused to go to the other side of the world and begin again on the bottom rung - not when I was just a couple of rungs from the top here
I was in bed with flue sis rand at 05-00 she had to speak to me, not to our son who was already up preparing for work > Dad has died; we are burying him in the morning then we are going on holiday - first thing we had heard of them for forty years

Posted 4 Months Ago


KWP

4 Months Ago

oh - I am a bit at a loss of what to say - that last paragraph - I'm so sorry. Where did they emigra.. read more
Wild Rose

4 Months Ago

They went to New Zealand > They went to join sis & her husband who moved across the world seeking t.. read more

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Stats

77 Views
5 Reviews
Rating
Added on January 25, 2020
Last Updated on January 25, 2020

Author

KWP
KWP

Sydney, NSW, Australia



About
'The kernel, the soul — let us go further and say the substance, the bulk, the actual and valuable material of all human utterances — is plagiarism. For substantially all ideas are sec.. more..

Writing
On the Road On the Road

A Poem by KWP


Untouchable Untouchable

A Story by KWP



Related Writing

People who liked this story also liked..


Agents (SOE) Agents (SOE)

A Story by Wild Rose


Wish I Was Wish I Was

A Poem by L