Feb 3, 2012

The Write on Wednesday Spark - The Nature of Place

This week's writing exercise from InkPaperPen:
Write about a particular natural geography, a natural place or space close to your heart. Tell us about the weather, the landform , the creatures who live there, what the place means to you and why. You can write prose fiction, poetry, non-fiction and/or a photographic narrative. You might mix the landscape with a personal story. Wherever the prompt take you...Let us peek into your place.

Nowhere's nowhere...

"Quiet, honey, it's the adults' turn to speak."
I spat the bush fly off my lips and swatted around my face. "Mum, I need to go to the toilet."
Mum looked at me, paused, and turned away. Whatever words she had, she forgot to say them. The intense afternoon sun glared at me from behind her profile, and I shifted to stay in her shadow.

Mum and Dad were speaking to an old friend. As the friend's canoe rocked in the shallows of the river behind them, my desperation grew worse.
 "When are we going back to camp, Mum?"

Camp was in the middle of nowhere on the banks of the stunning Macalister River. It might be in the middle of nowhere, but at least it had a three foot wide tent housing a portable toilet seat with a biodegradable bag hanging from it. Camp was also on a section of river where, carved into the rocks, natural water slides were coated in slimy green moss, protecting the bum of your bathers.

However, after a long drive from camp, we were in Nowhere's nowhere.

"You'll just have to go in the bushes."

My sharp huff didn't disturb the fly patrolling my chin. My eyes drifted across the rough-cut stones, up the greyish sandbanks, and to the small cliff that hedged the river. High along the ridge were the only bushes my mum could be referring to.

I set off up the cliff, climbing from grass clump to grass clump. With my hands busy clutching tufts for dear life, the best I could do to swat the flies was blink. Why couldn't we be like normal families? Why was it that our holidays involved deadly bush tics and heat stroke? Was it normal to have fork lightning blast a hole in your accomodation? I just want to go to a toilet! Why couldn't we go on an aeroplane to Noosa? It's the eighties, dammit!
I stood up and dusted the dirt from my palms and arms. 

And I forgot the flies, and I forgot my thoughts.

In front of me, long grass grew over a gentle mound in a perfect circular clearing. The trees practically hugged each other to keep a tight wall around it. In the beautiful space within, hundreds of orange Monarch butterflies flitted in the air.

I walked into the cloud of butterflies, palms up and fingers reaching. I lowered each foot carefully; I blinked to prevent them landing in my eyes. My heart filled with the level of wonder at this world that makes you feel ageless, even as a ten year old.

I remained in the giant fluttering sphere until I couldn't stand it any longer.

I really had to pee.

Laughing with joy, I crouched down on that very spot, looking up at the blue sky spotted with such brilliant, orange, brief little lives. As I pulled one of my white socks off, I decided it was the grandest toilet in the world.

Write On Wednesdays


Stephanie said...

I love the beauty that surrounds this child as she is desperatly wanting to go potty. Ha! The descriptions of the buterflies are magical. Nice work!

Melinda Chapman said...

Thanks Stephanie! Funnily, the story is true. It happened to me as a kid.
Also, a large tent was indeed struck by lightning in one of our trips. I did have heat stroke one year, and another time, my mum spotted a deadly bush tic in my neck and had to get the tweezers fast. ;)

Tiffy Birch said...


Feisty Cat said...

Humor and a great story. What more can you ask for?

Lovely piece.

--Feisty Cat

Melinda Chapman said...

Thanks Tiffy and Feisty Cat! Glad you enjoyed it. :D

Sarah Mac said...

Absolutely beautiful and humour - this has it all.

Really lovely!

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