Writing, life: In secret whispers

She writes in secret whispers

Speaking herself as heroine of her own story

The diary holds the key to free her soul

Her friend listens intently as she scribes

Today I did this, tomorrow I will do that

She writes in secret whispers

She promises herself more than a fairy tale

She dreams of taking revenge on all that would contain her

The diary holds the key to free her soul

The pages are filled with words of wonder

Which mask a universe that intimidates her

She writes in secret whispers

Soon the notebook becomes heavy and she sinks into nonsense

Because she has no grasp on the world she is forced to see clearly

The diary holds the key to free her soul

Recorded in its pages are truths she cannot bare

She gives herself up to this penchant

She writes in secret whispers

The diary holds the key to free her soul

The year is 1982 and as Australia experiences one of its worst ever droughts, the country celebrates the 50th birthday of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. In the south Bob Brown leads a blockade of the Franklin dam while in the centre others protest legislation which paves the way for the development of the Roxby Downs uranium mine. Queen Elizabeth II opens the new building of the National Gallery, and the Dalai Lama shows compassion and visits to mark 30 years of Buddhism down under. The Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser stands by while Bob Hawke raises his fist and a glass of beer to fight the good fight for the common man. Business entrepreneur and adventurer Dick Smith makes a record solo helicopter flight from Sydney to Bundaberg and random breath testing is launched in New South Wales. Women in certain kinds of suburbs rush to the newsagent to purchase the first issue of the Australian Women’s Weekly and retreat into domestic bliss while Wendy Mold is beaten to death with an iron bar by her lawyer husband while she sleeps in their marital home. Michael Jackson releases “Thriller” and the phrase, “A dingo ate my baby” similarly becomes a common refrain across the air waves as Lindy Chamberlain is committed to stand trial for murdering her daughter Azaria. In a small country town in Western Victoria, an 11-year-old girl watches and wonders as these extra-ordinary events pass her by, however, it is the ordinariness of the everyday world which catches her attention and stays with her as she makes her very first diary entry. She sits in the sun by her bedroom window and opens her journal to begin. “My New Year’s resolution”, she writes, “is to stop being frightened of the dark. I think I’ll be able to keep it”.

I pick up the small white diary and carefully wipe the fine layer of dust that has found a home on the cover. I turn the first page. The words “MY DIARY 1982” are written in bold capital letters. I turn to the second page and begin to read. There are five lines per day and the writing switches from large letters, to cursive script to tiny scribbles. Today we went swimming. Today we had a BBQ with home-made pancakes. Today the washing machine overflowed. Today I visited my Nana. Today I ran under the sprinkler. Today my sister Sally vomited all over the place and her sick smelt like spaghetti. Today I went collecting rocks with Dad and it was cold. Today my Auntie Flo bought home a new calf called “Sal”, my sister Sally is not very happy. Today is a sad day because a chicken I bred called “Honey” died and I loved her very much. Today my little sister slipped in the bath and cut her forehead on the tiles; we were only playing. Today I don’t think my parents love me as much as I love them. Today Michael Firth said he loves Narelle Wright instead of me; I hate Michael Firth. Today I’m not going to sleep with toys anymore but Mimmy knows I love him very much, he will be OK. My breath catches in my throat as I read the next line. P.S. Today I am sorry about the writing.

I’m in Grade 6 this year, the young girl writes. I did a reading test today and my score was 47 out of 50. I got my safe swimmer certificate today and my teacher told me I have a lovely side stroke. I did a reading test today and did better this time, my score was 41 out of 42 and my teacher says my reading age is 15 years and two months; but I didn’t understand the one I got wrong today. Tomorrow in school we are going to make up poems, and mine is going to be called “The Blue Zepelisa”. In library today, we started making a bookworm that we can all sit on while we are reading, I love my library teacher Mrs Edgar. I did a reading test today and my score was 30 out of 34, it was the highest in the class. In language today, we had to write two paragraphs about something and I wrote about the Melbourne Show, but I’ve never even been. I won first prize in the Australasian Mine Disaster story competition and today they gave me a ten-dollar voucher to purchase goods from the newsagency. Nothing special happened today, she adds at the end. I close the small white diary with a picture of Holly Hobby on the front and take hold of the young girl’s writing, her hand in and as my own: writing, life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *