Continuing with the festival of awesomeness … another extract from a piece by one of my fabulous students at USQ, Kerina Dearling. Kerina has been reading and writing poetry and fairy tales this semester in CWR2001.
Kerina is a young writer who has been developing her skills over the last three years at USQ. Her passion for writing began in her early teens, writing longer pieces but never seeming to have the dedication to finish them. Through her learning and close mentorship with high school English teachers followed by university lecturers, she developed her writing skills and narrowed her passion to short story writing. In 2014, Kerina entered her first short story competition, the State Library of Queensland’s Young Writers Award, and was longlisted. The beginning of 2015, Kerina submitted her first few short stories and poetic pieces to various publications and is eagerly awaiting reply.
She hopes to be published before her degree is through, and will be entering the SLQYWA again this year.
I searched the garden for something to distract me, something to avert my eyes to when it happened. The little cubby tucked behind an overgrown wisteria caught my attention first. The spring was nearly over and the heads of purple flowers were all but gone. I could barely see our secret house, which my sister and I would escape to. It was nearly all covered up by new summer leaves. A few wisps of sparkly streamers, dancing in the breeze, tied to the cubby windows and along the veranda railing, were the only reminder to the wandering eye that the house existed. A wind chime of miscellaneous cake spoons and teacups clanked in the doorway, alerting us to any visitors who wanted to enter our secret castle. We were Queens in the little palace, ruling over the wisteria and fairy garden that lay before us, feeling our hair catch in the wind as we balanced on the railing watching over our lands. Lily ruled over the butterflies and beetles, squealing delightfully as they kissed her cheeks and tangled her hair. I ruled over the leaves and the flowers, weaving magnificent crowns for our heads.
My mother’s fingers were in my hair, tugging me from my efforts to distract myself. She brushed the long, sun-kissed mane that billowed over my shoulders, and plaited it down my spine.
Lily sobbed beside me.
In the little cubby we wrote songs to the birds with sticks in mud, melodies which we etched in the walls of our hearts. We made sweet pies for the neighbour’s dog with mint and berries and love. Lily whispered soft lullabies as she combed my hair with a wisteria branch, collecting the purple flowers to make a pillow for my head. We could stay all day in our castle tucked away, until our mother called us for tea.
“Mummy, don’t,” Lily came to her side and pleaded my case once more. Her little hands tugged my mother’s dress and her sobbing grew more desperate as she watched our mother lift my plait.
“Lily, sweetheart, this won’t hurt Vera. I just want my little queens to leave the garden in the garden when they come in at night, and not drop bark and bugs all through the house.”
The cold metal blades clinked together as they sliced through my plait. It fell from my head into a pile on the grass, the strands collecting into a heap. My mother combed through my new bob, snipping at the stray long hairs that remained.
Lily burst out in great heaving cries, picking up the plait and willing it back to life.
I couldn’t distract myself any more and ran my fingers through my hair. Cut above the shoulder, my long locks were gone, and somehow the magic of it too. My childhood was left behind. I was a grown up now with a grown up haircut. Short and practical and holding no power. I stifled my tears, but it was different now, everything would be different now. I couldn’t rule the fairy lands if the majesty of my hair was gone.
But my mother didn’t see that. She didn’t know how the knots and the dirt made us great queens. She wanted us to rule without the hassle of tangled tantrums in the bedroom at night when she came to brush our hair. But she wasn’t just taking away our fairy land. She was taking away our life.
Lily was next, her hair was even more crucial to her role as queen, and I knew that once it was gone, our fairy lands would never be ruled again. And the wisteria would grow over our secret palace, sealing in our childhood forever.