Sunday, December 30, 2012


( Note:  This story was for our Writers' Group monthly assignment.  The topic was ‘friendly fire’ which has a military connotation of course but not so in this story.)
Organ music signaled the bride’s arrival to the country church.  Abbie turned to watch the very short, very plump bride walk slowly down the aisle with her father.

Despite her dimensions, the bride had chosen the latest trend in bridal wear, a sleeveless, strapless torso hugging gown.

‘Sleeves would have been preferable for those chubby arms.’ She told Ben.

‘Ssh!’ he hissed then quickly added, ‘Sweetheart.’

Ben had learnt a few unpleasant things about Abbie after working with her for 12 years.  Abbie was brutally frank and, worse, she was incapable of whispering.

He wanted her to accompany him to his cousin’s wedding.

‘Why don’t you take your latest boyfriend, Sam isn’t it?’  Abbie replied.

‘I need a girlfriend.  And you’re a girl and a friend.  I don’t normally attend family dos but Sharon is my favourite cousin.’  He explained.

‘Your family doesn’t know?  How can they not know?’

‘Easy.  I left home at 17 for uni.  Mum died shortly after. I was the only child.  Dad remarried after a while and started a new family.  I rarely go home.  They just think I’m citified.’

‘You know I love you and I owe you big time for helping with that budget project but I have a bad feeling about this.’

‘Please Abbie.  I will pay for everything.  I will pay for your outfit, hairdo, undies.  Hell, I will pay you by the hour.’ Ben begged.

‘Well, okay.” She relented.  “But now we’re even with that budget thing.’

‘Great!” Ben said then paused before adding.  “One small thing.  We’ll have to do some handholding and cheek kissing so we look authentic.’

‘That, my new boyfriend, is going to cost you a very very expensive pair of shoes.’

After the ceremony, the guests milled about in front of the church whilst the photographer snapped the bridal party in various poses.

Ben took the opportunity to introduce his girlfriend to his extended family. 

They did look an odd couple.  Tall thin Abbie was elegantly dressed thanks to Ben.  Ben’s medium height was greatly reduced thanks to Abbie’s five inch heels.  He did wonder if she chose them as a ploy to reduce cheek kissing whilst they were both standing.

The reception was held in the community hall.  Abbie and Ben were seated at a table with the bride’s siblings and their partners.

Abbie dragged Ben to a quiet corner.

‘I love Sharon.  She is the sweetest girl.  No wonder you love her.  But this is getting out of control.’  She warned him.  ‘First Sharon told me how happy she is that you’ve found someone to love.  Then your great aunt May insisted we attend her 80th birthday party in June.’

‘She’s got dementia.  She’s probably already forgotten she met you.’

‘What about those engagement questions? When we are going to make it official?  You’re both getting long in the tooth!  And, when are you going to make her an honest woman?’

‘Just the usual wedding day banter.’

‘Well, your step-mother wants us to come home for Easter.  We have to do something Ben.  If you won’t then I will and it won’t be pretty!’

When the huge servings of roast meat and veg arrived at the table, Abbie gasped.  ‘This is three day’s worth of kilojoules.  No chance of a salad I suppose.’ 

‘Just eat a little, sweetheart.’  Ben encouraged her.

‘I’ve just reached my goal weight.  I can’t spoil it with grease and gravy.’ She insisted.  ‘Do you think I should give Sharon a copy of my diet?  A little late for the wedding photos though.’

Her dinner partners gasped.

‘Maybe my sister prefers to look like a woman and not a praying mantis.’  Bruce, Sharon’s protective older brother, sneered.

‘Excuse me!’  Abbie spat back.  ‘I was merely suggesting that Sharon would be healthier and happier carrying less weight.  It also helps with conception when they want to start a family.’

More gasps.

The mudcake and cream dessert arrived at the table.  Abbie immediately pushed it away. 

‘The mudcake is great Abbie.  You don’t know what you are missing.’  Bruce called out to her.  ‘Here have a taste.’

A spoonful of mud cake flew across the table and landed on Abbie’s bony chest.

‘Ben!  Did you see that!  Do something!’  Abbie insisted.

Ben tried to remove the cake with his napkin. 

Abbie pushed him away, grabbed her dessert, stood up and walked around the table to stand beside Bruce.

‘Well, Bruce.  Because you love it so much, you can have my share.’  She dropped the dessert into Bruce’s lap.

Suddenly Abbie felt a second mudcake assault.  This time it landed on her hip.  She turned to see a sheepish Ben armed with the offending weapon.  ‘Ben!  How could you?’

‘Sorry sweetheart.  It was friendly fire.  I swear I was aiming at Bruce.’ 

Abbie strode back to her seat to confront Ben.  ‘Friendly fire my arse!  I have had enough of you and your hillbilly friends.  I am going back to the motel via the bottle shop.  And don’t you dare follow me!’ 

With her back to the table, she winked at Ben and stomped off.

The guests watched her retreat with sighs of relief and much sympathy for Ben. 

The word ‘engagement’ was not uttered again.

Michelle Keleher 2010 (Copyright)


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Friday, September 02, 2011


‘What did that signpost say?’ Doug asked.

“95 kilometres to go.’ Sue told him.

‘How are the kids travelling?”

Sue turned to check the back seat passengers.

Little Robbie was fast asleep in the infant safety capsule.

“I wish that boy would sleep so soundly in his cot. We’ve been a few hours on this rough road and all the bumps and stops and starts haven’t disturbed him at all.”

They had crossed the Queensland – New South Wales border some time ago and Doug dropped his speed to cope with the poor condition of the road and also to give them a chance to take in the new territory.

“Katie is awake though. That booster seat gives her a bit of height so she’s got a good view of the countryside.” Sue reported.

They were driving through a closely settled rural area and the recent signposts had promised a town was coming up.

“I’ll stop for a break at this next town. We can stretch our legs. Find some toilets and a picnic area.”

Doug had taken regular stops on the long trip to their much anticipated holiday at the beach.

“Oh, I know that shed.” Katie said suddenly.

Sue looked back to Katie. She had jolted forward, her passive gaze replaced by an attentive scan of the road side.

“I used to live here.” She said excitedly.

“No baby, we’ve never lived in New South Wales.” Sue corrected her.

“No. Before. With my other family.” Katie told her. “In a white house with lots of stairs. And a cubby next to a really big tree with a swing.”

Sue looked to Doug. He just grinned at her and shrugged.

As the car rounded the bend, there was a high-set white house on their left. Its tall stumps a precaution in case of flooding. In the yard was a large tree supporting a home-made swing. A wooden cubby house was nearby.

“The red car isn’t there. They must be out.” Katie observed, then relaxed back into her car seat and cuddled her teddy bear.

Sue looked to Doug again, her eyes wide with alarm. This time his face was quite pale and rigid.

Neither said a word until they’d reached the small town.

They sipped the coffee they’d bought from the takeaway shop and watched Katie climbing on the playground equipment.

“She’s never been one for creating stories.” Sue said.

“No.” Doug agreed. “Perhaps she had a bit of a dream.”

“Must have been a very vivid dream.”

Sue looked across to the highway intersection where the signposts pointed in all directions including the road they had just travelled.

“Next time we come down this way I think we should take the coast road.”


Friday, December 26, 2008






Tuesday, December 23, 2008


When I was a young girl I was entranced by music boxes.

I have a vague memory of a little pink music box that played “One Enchanted Evening” when the lid was raised and the tiny ballet dancer twirled about in front of the mirror.

No doubt it belonged to a first-born daughter in our extended family.

I never gave my daughter a music box.

In retrospect, I am most surprised and guilt ridden about this oversight.

So it was most difficult for me to deny my daughter’s request for a music box when she was asked what she would like for her 21st birthday celebrations.

We had considered whatever was essential for the party.

We booked the lovely old country hall and we arranged for the food and drinks.

When it came to the music for the evening, I had foolishly thought that one of our four stereos could be carted to the hall along with the family’s very comprehensive library of CDs and tapes of music ranging from the early 1900s to the current releases.

But no, my daughter wanted a music box and she promptly gave me the name and telephone number of a reliable jukebox hire company.

We met with the owner of the company and we filled in the request form and we passed over the deposit and he handed over the list of available music for my daughter to peruse and the deal was sealed.

I quickly warmed to our jukebox provider because he was sincere and friendly.

However I did worry about his abrupt and inexplicable bursts of laughter during our interview. They did seem a tad manic.

On the day of the party my daughter, my sister and my nieces were helping to decorate the hall whilst my husband, brother-in-law and son were busy erecting the hired marquee in the grounds of the hall car park.

Suddenly word filtered into the hall that the music box had arrived.

Fortunately I had warned my extended family about our jukebox provider’s merry bursts of laughter.

I was the sole witness to his entry to the hall which was from the front stairs. As he backed up the stairs, tugging the music box on the wheeled trolley, I saw more of his nether regions than I needed to see due to his work shorts slipping well below his waist.

I have always been far too quick witted for my own good so, before I could stop myself, I heard myself saying to him, “Oh, I am getting a peepshow here.”

Manic laughter echoed about the empty hall.

My extended family, safe in the supper room, could titter without causing insult to him.

My daughter’s music box was the highlight of the party.

No one enjoyed it more than her Uncle Darryl.

He had studied the song list and he found his favourite song and memorised the number.

Whenever my daughter approached the music box, Uncle Darryl would call out, “Put on 5105 lovey.”

The song in question was Harper Valley P.T.A.

Only one person enjoyed the 21st party more than my daughter. Uncle Darryl.

I am certain it was because he was born and bred in the country and he had spent many Saturday nights in a country hall, just like this one, attempting to get some girl up to dance with him.

I am so very pleased to report that Uncle Darryl was not without a partner all night and, more often than not, it was with the birthday girl.

The music box remained in the hall until mid Sunday so that everyone got great value from its presence until our lovely merry jukebox provider came to pick it up.

It seems I did eventually give a music box to my darling daughter.

Michelle ©



Monday, December 22, 2008


An old shed on our property that is in retirement now.



Saturday, December 20, 2008


In the early hours of the morning, a bedroom can harbour ghosts. They become apparent as moonlight filters through the windows.

You wake to find a figure lurking by the door. You blink and look again and it is still there. You squeeze your eyelids tight and then refocus and try to force the ghostly form into something commonplace. And at last you do. With relief you realise that it is not a ghost but your winter dressing gown hanging on the back of the door.

One night I woke to see a luminous figure standing at the end of my bed. I blinked and tried to refocus a number of times but it refused to transform into something mundane. It remained steadfast, a glowing apparition in the form of a woman standing at the end of my bed where dressing gowns do not hang.

Oddly I did not feel any fear.

Was this my guardian angel?

No. I don’t believe in such things. The idea that someone or something is stalking you and watching your every move is downright creepy.

No thanks. I can do without that sort of intense scrutiny.

So I decided that it could be the ghost of my great grandmother who had decided to take a quick visit to Earth to see how her great granddaughter had turned out.

She had died long before I was born but I knew about her because my mother had loved her dearly and told me about her.

Yes, I decided. That is who it is.

So I took one last look then pulled the blankets over my head, willing dawn to arrive.

Michelle 2008©



Michelle 2008©

MEG AND THE BLOWFLY (or Don't ask your family for help with fiction)

(As the links to the right of my blog will reveal, I am part of a writers' group. We have monthly assignments that we can contribute and the fiction below is a response to one of the topics. The task involved writing about "diamond, fly and beer". My imagination produced the work below.)

“What noise does a blowfly make when it hits a window?” I asked the family.


“No. No. Not buzzing. I can’t use that. It’s a cliché. I can’t use a cliché.”

Despite my concerns, the family vehemently insisted that buzzing was the only word for a distressed blowfly.

“I can’t use buzzing in my opening sentence.”

“Well don’t make it the opening sentence.” The son said.

“It has to be the opening sentence. The fly being trapped at the window sets up the storyline.”

‘Why?” The son asks.

“Because of my next sentence: “Tell me about it.” Meg scoffed. “I’ve been trapped in this house for 36 years. The last four have been in solitary confinement.”

“Who is Meg? Do I know her?” The son asks mischievously.

“Why is she trapped in the house?” The spouse asks.

“Because her children expect her to maintain the family home even though they never visit and she is left to pay all the ongoing expenses.”

“Why don’t her kids visit?”

“Because Andrew is a solicitor in London and Jody and her family live on the other side of the continent.”

“Why can’t her son be a Formula One driver or a C.I.A. agent?” The son asks.

“And why can’t Jody be a long haul truck driver?” The spouse asks.

“I need one of them to be settled and responsible.” I explain. “Meg has put the house on the market and she is going to travel Australia and New Zealand by house-sitting. So she needs one of them to be responsible for the family heirlooms.”

“What’s house-sitting?” The son asks.

“There are websites where you can contact people who need someone to live in their house, feed their pets, collect mail and look after their indoor plants and gardens while they are away for a period of weeks or months. You don’t get paid but you get free accommodation. I looked up the sites and some of the houses are in really nice places. So that is what Meg is going to do.”

The second half of the football game had resumed on TV and my advisors lost interest in my story.

Meg sorted through her meager collection of jewelry. She decided to keep her diamond engagement ring, her wedding ring, a string of pearls and three pairs of earrings.

She placed the rest into a padded postal bag and addressed it to Andrew.

She had been feeling lighter, happier and free since listing the house and shedding her chattels. Her aim was to fit her belongings into one large suitcase and one large piece of hand luggage.

Soon she would be an itinerant touring the country in her small car stopping off to house-sit now and then but basically she would have ‘no fixed address’.

“Just like Jody.” She smiled.

There was an ad break on the TV and the spouse strolled over with a cold can of beer.

“How is it going?”

“Good. I have decided to take your advice. Jody is going to be a long haul truck driver.”

Michelle © 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008


(As the links to the right of my blog will reveal, I am part of a writers' group. We have monthly assignments that we can contribute and the fiction below is a response to one of the topics. The task involved writing about "an empty room, a window and a chair". My imagination produced the work below.)

“I’m here to look at the room.” Raine told the punk who answered her knock.

His pale face registered bewilderment.

“I’m meeting Rob Jamieson.”

“Ah, you’re a friend of Robbie’s. He hasn’t moved in yet.”

The slumped black-adorned figure suddenly became animated, “Knew him at boarding school. Great guitarist.”

He led her towards a large empty room.

“Biggest in the house.” He enthused. “I’ve got an upstairs bedroom. Shared kitchen and bathroom.”

They stood in the doorway. An incongruous pair. Michelle Phillips and Sid Vicious.

Raine wondered if he knew the Mamas and the Papas.

“Was it a lounge room?” She asked.

“Dunno. Look. Gotta go. Uni assignment to finish.” He sauntered off.

She wondered what uni course an anarchist would choose.

Raine looked into the room. There was a three pane window overlooking an unkempt garden and Milton Road.

A bay window, she decided. Not that she knew for certain. There were no bay windows in the suburb where she grew up.

She scanned the rest of the room and was surprised to find an abandoned chrome and vinyl chair, in good condition, in a corner.

“Surplus to requirement.”

A term used at her day job when returning stock.

She decided that the previous tenant, now graduated from uni, could afford more refined furniture.

“Move in with me.” Rob had insisted.

She examined Rob’s new residence. The floor boards were bare and grubby. The smoke-stained walls harboured the ghosts of posters long removed.

“You don’t love Barry.”

It wasn’t a question. Rob was 18 and certain about everything.

He was right and it was the reason why she had succumbed to her sexual attraction to the beautiful young Rob shortly after he joined the band.

There was no guilt. She was no longer the besotted 17 year old who’d caught the eye of the lead singer. Barry added her to his band when he found that she could carry a tune.

They had been living together for seven years now and it had become more of an arrangement than a relationship.

Raine knew her place.

She, like Michelle Phillips, had a sweet but somewhat weak voice. And she, like Michelle Phillips, was attractive, a drawcard for the male audience.

“He just wants to play covers on weekends. I want my own band, write my own songs. Music is my life.” Rob’s youthful enthusiasm was endearing. “I’ll buy a house in L.A. and London and Sydney. And you’ll be there.”

However, Raine knew that she would not be a part of his dream.

She didn’t like the new wave music and she believed that the punk movement was an excuse for middle class kids to dress up and act atrociously.

And she vividly recalled that look on Rob’s face when she questioned his lyrics and criticised his favourite songwriter.

It wasn’t disappointment or hurt. It was disdain.

Raine knew that, before too long, she would be surplus to requirement.

She tapped the doorway with the toe of her cork wedged sandal, unwilling to cross the threshold.

Fashion, not music, was her life.

The company had offered her a well paid management job in a new boutique opening in Indooroopilly Shoppingtown.

She’d seen a phone box at corner when she’d got off the bus.

Raine decided she would call her sister and ask if she could stay with her while she arranged a place of her own.

Michelle 2008 ©