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“Uni Life”

This is my most recent poem, which I wrote about an hour after my website went live. I’ll probably change the name later, so Uni Life is just a placeholder title for now.

I find that my favourite poems to write are the ones that are written at obscure times in the morning, especially this one. I wrote this poem in a stream of consciousness style, which I tried to use to reflect the way that my brain relaxes after facing an assignment.


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“The Dumb Blonde”

I wrote this short story after being posed the challenge of creating the fictional history behind a myth.

Read on to find out what happens when a blonde woman captures the attention of two men in a bar.

***

The Dumb Blonde

A blonde woman in a short dress sat in a crowded bar last night. She seemed to watch the world go by, as she sat at a table and sipped on a margarita that the bartender had delivered with compliments. Her slender index finger traced the rim of the glass absent-mindedly, dislodging the salt as it moved. She pretended not to notice that two men had approached her table: one with glasses and one with a moustache.

Moustache man cleared his throat and the blonde woman slowly, almost lazily, glanced up at him. He asked if the two spare seats at her table were taken, stating that all the empty tables had been claimed. The woman gestured for them to take a seat and both men moved to sit across from her. As she continued to play with the edge of her drink, the pair of men started a conversation centred on their own achievements and which one of them was superior to the other. When the woman did not give any input, the men started to mock her, suggesting that she might be just another dumb blonde, without a word to say.

For the first time since they sat down, the blonde broke into a smile, saying, “I have a story to tell you, if you’ll listen.” Seeing this as a possibility to take the woman home that night, both men swiftly agreed to hear the story. So, the blonde began her tale:

“Many centuries ago, before the society that we have was even thought of, blondes were known to be the smartest beings on Earth…”

Before she could continue, the man with the moustache interrupted. “Is this a long story? I’m worried you’ve already forgotten some of the facts!” he said, winking and nudging his friend, who laughed along with him. A small crease formed between the blonde woman’s eyebrows, as she replied, “You can believe me or not, just at least wait until the end,” before jumping straight back into her story.

“Blonde people were the best advisors, the first and best alchemists, and even the best thieves,” she continued, a mischievous gleam in her eye. “My kind were the stuff of legends! But this all ended when those with other hair colours became jealous of our skills. My kind were hunted to the ends of the Earth, chased for something that we couldn’t control. Blondes were burnt at the stake, hanged from the trees and drowned in the rivers. Eventually, only a handful remained.” The woman took another sip of her drink, looking up at the men, who seemed to be having great difficulty keeping a straight face. The man in glasses, who seemed to be slightly more composed than his friend, asked the woman, “What happened next?”

The blonde woman looked both men in the eyes, one after the other, then signalled the bartender for another cocktail.

“Though they were hunted to near-extinction, all was not lost for the blondes. Those remaining devised a survival plan, deciding that it was too dangerous to show the extent of their skills anymore. From that day forth, the blondes pretended to be dumb. The people of other hair colours didn’t know what happened to the blondes but didn’t complain, as they immediately warmed to the idea that they were now the smartest people in the world. The jealousy faded to a minimum and the world was happy.” The bartender delivered the cocktail and the blonde woman nodded her thanks.

“Even the blondes kept themselves happy by practicing their now-hidden skills in secret. They taught their blonde children and their children’s children to appear dumb as well, whilst nurturing their superior talents in the privacy of their homes.” The blonde woman leaned forward, making eye contact with both men.

“To this day, believe it or not, blondes are still smarter than others.”

Silence hung in the air, as the men processed what they had heard. Finally, the moustache man found his voice. “Do you really think you’re smarter than us?” he angrily exclaimed. The blonde woman considered his now-red face. “Yes, I do believe so. Though not many believe my little story,” she answered wryly.

The moustached man’s frown deepened, and he crossed his arms. “Why should we believe your little fairy tale? We don’t even know you!”

The woman gave a soft laugh. “Well, judging by your wondering eyes, you seemed more than happy to get to know me physically. I figured it seemed only fair that you got to know me more personally first.”

The two men exchanged a glance, then turned back to the blonde woman. The man with glasses speaks up. “I don’t know whether that was supposed to be a joke or a game, but it was not funny, nor was it interesting!” he exclaimed, with a huff.

The blonde woman threw her arms up in frustration. “If you’d like to talk about games, how about we discuss the game that you started here? The bets that every person in the bar has made? Moustache, the ladies’ man, versus Glasses, the underdog, in a race to get the dumb, lonely blonde into bed!”

The men tried to backtrack but can’t find the right words to even begin. Their glances shifted around the room, hoping that someone would save them from their dilemma. Seeing the helpless looks of the men, the woman growled, “Get away from my table and out of my sight.”

The men quickly rose to their feet, muttering about the dumb blonde that didn’t accept either of their advances, before they left the bar.

Moments later, the blonde woman went outside for a smoke. She shivered as the wind crept up her exposed legs and down the back of her neck. One of the bartenders came out for a smoke break and they smoked together in silence, gazing out into the quiet street.

“A bit chilly tonight,” he comments to the woman, offering his jacket to her. She extinguishes her cigarette under the toe of her pink high-heeled shoe and takes the jacket with a nod to the man. “You ought to be keeping warm,” the bartender continued, “Pretty thing like yourself.” The woman methodically pulls the jacket on, smiling fiendishly as she feels the weight of two wallets in the pockets. “Thank you, my love. It was dumb of me not to bring a jacket.”

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“New Neighbours”

One of the first short stories that I wrote when I started my Bachelor of Writing was called ‘New Neighbours’. The goal of the assignment was to base our writing on a true story.
I chose to base my short story off stories that my Mum would tell about her childhood experiences with Vietnamese refugee families in Sydney.
Though I wrote the original short story in 2018, I have updated it to reflect my growing writing skills.

***

New Neighbours

Lori Shepherd, a seven-year-old girl living in Cabramatta, Sydney, did not like meeting new people. However, Lori’s mother insisted that she must come along to meet the new people that her father had helped move into the neighbourhood. Her mother explained that they were a Vietnamese family that had just moved to Australia and that Lori should be very polite and welcoming towards them. Though she hadn’t met them yet, Lori didn’t like her new neighbours. After all, she was pulled from playing with her newest doll just to go and see them. Sulkily, Lori followed along behind her mother, as they walked toward the house of the newcomers.

When she first saw their house in the distance, Lori could see that there was something hanging from the veranda. Maybe they’re decorating for Christmas really early, she thought. As the pair moved closer to the house, Lori gasped as she noticed that it was not a few large Christmas decorations but several lifeless ducks dangling from the gutter. Lori’s mother guided her forward, assuring her that they weren’t going to hurt her. Still, Lori stared into the glazed eyes of the nearest duck as she passed, afraid that it would fall on her head.

When they reached the door, a woman greeted them warmly. “Welcome back to our home, Mother Judith! And hello there Lori, my name is Khin.” Addressing her feet, Lori muttered a greeting, playing with the hem of her blouse. Khin ran her fingers over Lori’s hair. “You have such white blonde hair! And look at those cute chubby cheeks!” Khin squeezed Lori’s cheeks, in awe of things that seemed commonplace to Lori. I’m not the only one with chubby cheeks, she thought sulkily to herself. Before she could frown, her mother caught her eye. Lori could recall a lecture from another day, where her mother had informed her that frowning is not polite. So, tucking her discontent deep into her mind, Lori managed to bring a small smile to her face.

As a timer buzzed its completion, Khin led her visitors down a hallway into the kitchen, explaining that her cooking was ready. On the way, Lori observed her surroundings. This place looks weird, she thought, eying a milk crate being used as a TV stand in the living room. She noticed that there was not a lot of furniture and decorations around the house, especially when finding only a mattress in each open bedroom that they passed. When they reached the kitchen and dining room, Lori saw two people seated on the floor, at a low table: a man and a young girl. Khin introduced the man as ‘Khan’ and the girl as ‘Truc’. I’ve never met a Truc before, Lori thought.

As Khin opened the oven, an unusual smell drifted from within. Lori scrunched up her nose but, catching her mother’s disapproving look, unscrunched it immediately. Lori’s mother asked Khin what she had cooked. Smiling, Khin explained that she had made spring rolls for their family gathering tomorrow. Unsure of what to say, Lori muttered a small “Oh,” before studying her shoes again. Khan came over to the kitchen bench and invited Lori and her parents to the gathering, explaining that there would be plenty of food to go around. Almost scrunching her nose again, Lori thought, That’s not real food.

Nevertheless, she could hardly say no when her parents accepted the invitation and they found themselves at Khin and Khan’s house the next day. Though there were no hanging ducks to watch her on this occasion, a couple of chooks were grazing in the front yard. Lori wasn’t used to seeing chickens so close to the city. However, she still preferred them to the hanging ducks.

Khan welcomed the family at the front door. “Father Paul! Mother Judith! And little Lori! Welcome back to our home.” Lori could hear that there was a large number of people at the other end of the house, so she stayed close to her parents. Once they reached the kitchen, Lori was greeted by an onslaught of unfamiliar scents, which seemed to be coming from a number of strange-looking foods on the bench. Lori glanced through the dining room, into the backyard, and could see no one with hair quite as light as hers. She felt, just for a moment, that she was the foreigner and not them. Khin moved to greet the family alongside her husband, guiding them to the food on the bench. Lori picked up a vaguely familiar smell and identified the spring rolls that she had encountered yesterday. Because she was hungry, Lori decided that the spring rolls would be the safest thing to try. Khin offered her one and she took a tentative nibble at one of its corners. Deciding that it was indeed safe to eat, Lori finished the roll and thought to herself, That wasn’t so bad!

After devouring a few more spring rolls, Khin led Lori toward the backyard, where Truc was playing with a couple of other girls. Truc smiled at Lori and asked if she would like to play dolls with her and her cousins, Lan and Minh. While she was playing, Lori began to realise that these girls were just like her. They like playing with dolls too! They must be like me after all, she exclaimed inside her head.

At the end of the day, although she had to tolerate the adults touching her hair and pinching her cheeks, Lori realised that these people were safe. Her parents were very kind to them, and she wanted to be kind too. When her parents called her to go home, Lori gave Truc a hug and promised to return to play with her again soon.

And, in the end, Lori stayed true to her promise and developed a friendship with Truc that was sure to last for a lifetime.

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“5am”

At the start of 2020, I took a class called Word and Image, where I fell in love with the idea of visual poetry.

Before I knew what visual poetry was, I had written a poem called ‘5am’. It was born from staying up until 5am and just writing whatever came to mind, which was a fun experience.

I thought that this poem would be nothing more than just a poem on paper, yet it has developed into one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever undertaken.

I hope you enjoy watching this poem as much as I enjoyed making it.