Image for post
Image for post

Once a month, the Australian Writers Centre runs a ‘Furious Fiction’ writing competition. In August 2019, each 500-word max story had to include, word for word, ALL of the following SIX descriptions:

  1. shiny, silver

2. cold and greasy

3. scratched and weather-worn

4. sweet and pungent

5. ink-stained

6. shrill, piercing

And one of these six descriptions had to appear in the first sentence of the story. The challenge sounded like so much fun, I wrote an entry — and I loved writing from a spookier angle than I usually do!

Here was my entry:

The body is sweet and pungent.

Not coarse. …

Image for post
Image for post

I’ve spent a few years at my keyboard weaving together novels.

And in 2018, I decided that one of those novels was fit for public consumption.

It’s called Goodbye Newsroom and it’s a fun, modern tale about two journalist sisters who find themselves out of work and decide to set up their own media website.

Now, many of you know: there are a lot of ways to release a novel today.

Yes, I submitted to a few traditional publishers.

Yes, I had a few rejection letters.

Yes, those letters arrived in my inbox at six to eight-month intervals (if at all). …

Image for post
Image for post

I’ve gotta lift my book game.

I’m currently reading a paisley pink-covered novel, while wearing flower-patterned pants, a grey t-shirt, and black-and-blue checked flannel shirt.

It’s a ghastly clash and, clearly, I’ll need to tear it all off and begin again before I venture out into the public. Starting with the book…

It’s true, I do usually dress like I’m about to paint a house, but I’m being tongue in cheek about how this pairs with the latest book I’m reading, after spotting headlines about model/celebrity sisters Bella Hadid and Gigi Hadid.

Tucking books under their arms while strolling the street, they were the subject of this breathless story: “Bella and Gigi Hadid Make Books the Hot New Accessory of 2019”. …

Image for post
Image for post

I’ve wanted to be a novelist for a long time.

In one way or another, I have been writing all my life.

My father bought me a little red typewriter when I was in primary school and I taught myself to touch type, producing everything from a weekly column for my school, through to the end-of-year-play.

Fast forward to uni, I studied journalism but quickly learned I didn’t want to be a journalist. I was writing short stories, which were published in various spaces. …

Image for post
Image for post

That walk.

There’s no mistaking it.

Even pushing a trolley, under these fluorescent lights, slowly ambling this vast vinyl floor, and fifteen years since I last saw him, that’s definitely Troy.

Shoot me.

Shoot me now.

He’s facing the other way, heading toward fruit n veg. The same coat-hanger shoulders, the same haircut, a new layer of flub around his waist. Grey shorts, slapping black thongs, misshapen white T-shirt.

Quick. Check my blind spots.

Over one shoulder. Old man in a ride-on scooter, an Essendon scarf choking his neck.

Over my other shoulder. Skinny young staffer with flaring red skin, struggling with Pepsi crates. …

Image for post
Image for post

Why do I always get the table leg?

There are 15 other people seated for dinner.

The table is covered with gleaming wine glasses, shining cutlery, and porcelain plates holding the remains of a lemony zucchini saffron risotto.

And I’m sitting awkwardly, legs hidden but held apart beneath the stiff white tablecloth.

Jake would say I’m exaggerating. But he’s wrong. I absolutely do always get the table leg.

He’s beside me but turned away toward Sally, laughing too loudly. I adjust myself on the chair and take another sip of the harsh Sauv Blanc. It seems Richard and Sally don’t get absolutely everything right. …

Image for post
Image for post

[If you missed Part One of this short story, read it first here]

I jump up, frustrated, grab my empty water bottle and look around me. The five girls on my same shift are also standing. Two of them are stretching casually in their cubicles, one is dashing to the toilet, two are heading to one of the break rooms.

I stay standing in my cubicle and chew my thumbnail, looking down at my dimmed screen. What information do those tabs hold about Marc Scharenberg? I want to delve in, but my PC alarm will sound if I do that before break time is over. When I glance up, Clementine is watching me.

“Oh god,” I think, and stop chewing my nail.

Tonight, my cubicle isn’t too far from the wall of windows and I make myself stroll over. I lean my forehead against the cool glass. Look at all those city lights; look at the slow-moving cars on the black streets below. Where are they going? Who are they collecting? …

Image for post
Image for post

“Take another little piece of my soul now, baby!”

Tory is singing again.

The first time, she had to explain to some girls who Janis Joplin was. Now she just needs to hum the opening bars of her appropriated chorus and the room joins in. Tory sways and gradually sings more loudly. She finds it difficult to keep going as the singing swells; she always ends up laughing.

“You’re all awesome, you know that?” she calls. Then we go back to work.

One night Clementine walked the gaps between us, dispersing tiny wrapped chocolates, not even watching where they were falling. “Here — have another little piece of your soul back, ladies!” Clementine said. Girls cheered. We all thought she was very clever, riffing off Tory, but I saw Tory watching Clementine, unsmiling. …

Image for post
Image for post

My family adopted two kittens.

So now I know all about felines and I’m keen to share two things -

1. Cat faces

Each individual cat in the universe has a ‘forever expression’ which they can’t change no matter how happy or sad or hungry or excited they are, a bit like some of the stars of Married at First Sight or My Kitchen Rules:

· One of our cats has a permanent Look of Disdain.

· The other cat has a permanent look of Startled! O Fark Me What’s That?

Humans might have Resting Bitch Face. …

Image for post
Image for post

Good TV shows. They need “love or hate ‘em” characters and a riveting plot, stellar acting and a memorable soundtrack. Right?

What’s even better?

Lovely sofas.

A comforting kitchen.

That same set of giant mugs or sparkling wine glasses, used again and again and again.

Because let’s face it ... most of the time when I fall in love with a television show, I fall in love with the backdrop as much as the characters.

Cases in point:

The Good Wife: lawyer Alicia Florrick has an apartment to die for. Wood-panelled floors, French doors, elegant nooks and crannies with side tables and lamps, framed paintings, brimming book shelves and oriental rugs. It’s a pity she has to leave the place to go do lawyerly-things. The apartment has been so remarked upon by fans, there’s a host of articles from the show’s designers on how you can achieve the same look, and inspirational Pinterest boards. …


Michelle Prak

Wannabe “beachside-dwelling writer” living inside a self-employed PR consultant | Author of The Train Guy, and Goodbye Newsroom |

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store