The Ute’s Destination

They came to an old homestead deep in the hills beyond Robotopia. It was in a poor state, with the garden overgrown with weeds, the roof looking as if it was about to cave in under its own weight, along with the lovely sight of rotting wood in the form of window frames and doors.

“What is this place?” Rylee asked as she climbed out of the ute.

“Used to belong to my grandparents, before they passed away a few years ago. Nobody ever comes here anymore, but I thought it might be a nice place to catch up. I know it’s a bit… dishevelled, but at least it’s peaceful.”

They spent a few minutes searching for a patch of grass in the garden that hadn’t been corrupted. Once they found one, Cole returned to the ute and searched through his tapered under tray tool boxes. Rylee thought it was weird that he had two of them, but Cole had always loved his ute accessories. 

Her once fiance returned with a picnic basket and a rug. They set up together, Rylee hiding her surprise at the picnic as well as she could. When it was done, they sat beside each other like old times, enjoying the late afternoon and the delectable cheeses Cole had brought along.

After a while of comfortable silence, Rylee tried to bring the conversation back to something she’d mentioned before. “So, as I was saying about you starting a business for ute canopies around Melbourne…”

Cole held up a single finger, silencing her. “Please, love, allow me. I have something much more pressing.”

“What is it?” Rylee asked, cocking her head.

She could hardly believe her eyes as Cole shifted forward, resting on one knee. From his coat, he produced a brilliant sapphire ring.

“Rylee, will you marry me? For real this time.”

And not for the first time that day, Rylee was completely lost for words.

Viking Boat Meeting

Lorcan tugged at the hem of his dark grey furs and tried to look at ease. Think of it as a party, he told himself. He had managed to endure countless awkward social engagements at his friends’ huts. This was perhaps easier. There would be no uncomfortable conversations about when he would take up a wife; tonight, he only had to stay quiet and trail after Valdemar as men from other clans brandished their spears and called for war. 

It had been just under a week since they’d reached Melbourne, almost a month since Lorcan had first been inducted into the viking government, and he still felt out of place. His fancy new shirt was wrapped so snugly around his chest that it was suffocating, and his furs — well, they swamped his slight figure, making him look even younger than he was. The idea of him one day growing to be a clan leader was laughable.  

Across the table, a burly man lifted his spear, and the scattered groups turned towards him, falling silent. “We commissioned a quality boat catch installation,” the man said. His voice was low and gruff, like he swallowed his straw instead of spitting it into the dirt. “While you have all spent the last few years of peace dallying with your livestock, my clan has been equipping our fleet for battle.”

“And the results?” Valdemar asked. 

The burly man smirked. “Launch time has been decreased to two minutes.”

A wave of approval rippled through the crowd. Even Lorcan himself, who had never seen a ship in the flesh, drew a sharp breath. 

After years of relentless ocean battles, there had been a call for repairs and better marine fabrication. Melbourne clans had taken up the challenge with gusto, constructing ship sheds along the lining of the bay and braving the icy spray even in the depths of winter. However, despite their best efforts, the Melbourne vikings had been fighting a losing battle. Until now. Faster launch times wouldn’t just mean smoother trips for sailors; they could completely change the tide of the war.

Protect Us Please

We’ve lived out of home for three months now and seriously, it’s great. It’s exactly how we all imagined it and we are like our own little family. We are now closer than ever and I get to see my family enough so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on being with them or anything. That was the main thing I was worried about. I love my family so much and I used to get really sad at the thought of not seeing them every day. Sometimes I’m still sad that I can’t easily just give my mum and dad a hug or know for a fact that they’ll be there to protect me if anything goes wrong.

On that point, I’ve actually pitched the idea to the girls of us getting a CCTV camera. I’m often here alone because two girls work the night shift and the other girl is often at her boyfriend’s, so I get a bit scared sometimes. I’ve looked into it and residential CCTV installation for Melbourne homes isn’t actually that hard to do and is relatively inexpensive. Especially when you consider the fact that it could save us money on damages if an intruder tries to visit and will let us keep an eye on who is around. It’s just the little things like this that you have to consider when you live in a house full of girls. It’s not really the safest thing to do in Melbourne because of this, that and the other. 

To sweeten the deal, I’ve heard that the company that does CCTV installation will also help us enhance our wifi signal at home. That would be good because our internet has been running slower than usual for the last couple of weeks. We don’t want to be hindered by slow internet speeds and we also don’t want to have to deal with any intruders. It will be good to know who is near our property before it’s too late.

I’m Freezing

God, I am so cold. I wish my housemates would let me turn the heater on but they’re really concerned about the price of our bills this month. We split the bills four ways and seriously, it’s like a maximum of $200 each per month. My housemates spend more than that on dinner and drinks on a Saturday night. Surely turning the heater on isn’t that crazy of an idea.

But alas, when you live with people you can’t always do what you want. As much as it sucks to not be able to turn on the ducted heater when I want to, at least I know that it works. A technician offering ducted heater servicing in Canberra, which is where we live, came to our house the other month to service our heater. Apparently, that’s something that our landlord has to pay for and so my housemates and I happily invited him in to do the job. Not that we’re allowed to use it, but it is good to know that it works.

I hope my housemates go out so that I can put the heater on soon. They’re party animals and it’s a Friday afternoon, so I assume they’ll be heading out in the next couple of hours. As soon as my last housemate leaves I’m putting the heater on. What they don’t know can’t hurt them and if I choose to stay home when they choose to go out then surely I get free reign to use the house however I choose. 

I am so glad that I’m a renter so that I don’t have to pay for my own heating services. In Canberra and surrounding areas, it’s always cold and I’d have to pay to get my heater serviced every year to try and stay warm. It’s nice that renting has at least that one perk. Other than that though, renting is pretty much dead money. If only I could afford to buy a house.

No More Stairs

There’s only one word I can use to describe Melbourne’s recent weather: random. If we’re meant to be starting summer soon, why is every second day filled with rain? Why are we experiencing freak wind storms? I have no answers. It’s interesting to behold, nonetheless – except when it affects you. And it definitely affected me last night. I got distracted and stupidly left my window open. Overnight, the wind must have been so strong that it was able to pick up a slim tree branch and hurl it through my window, where it hit my stairs. This wouldn’t be an issue for most people, but my stair balustrade is made of glass, you see. As soon as that little branch hit my balustrade, the poor thing shattered. I was woken instantly and rushed from my bed to see what had happened. At first, I thought I was being robbed, but when drops of rain hit my face it became clear. It was all my fault! Please remind me not to watch television before bed ever again. I become much too distracted. 

Anyway, now I have to contend with the issue of the broken glass. I absolutely adored the look of my stair balustrade before this happened. The glass beautifully reflected the light coming in from the window, and because the glass was obviously transparent, it didn’t clash with the rest of my interior decorations. I’d like to recreate my previous stairs, if that will be at all possible. I’m hoping to contact one of the best glass repair companies Melbourne has and ask if they’re able to fashion some sort of balustrade that looks identical to my previous one. It might be difficult and expensive, but I’m willing to do it. The original was custom-made by an Italian glazier, and I haven’t been able to contact him since that weird global event happened. In the meantime, I’ve swept the pieces of broken glass and set up a barrier to ensure nobody steps on it before it’s been fixed.

The Punch Test

I have sustained an injury. That’s a nice way to put it. That makes it sound more pleasant than it probably is. Simply put, I got punched. My kid got into an argument with another kid while the parents were around, and when I stepped in to break it up the other dad got defensive and he punched me. No biggie, really. It just means that now I have a black eye, and my eyelid is swollen shut so tightly that I can’t actually see out of it. I wanted to make sure that my vision is okay, so I visited a Brighton eye doctor to get checked out. She literally gasped when she saw me, which made my stomach drop. Apparently, my injury looks a lot worse than I had initially thought. Guess my son’s friend’s dad packs a powerful right hook.

We did a couple of preliminary examinations, and the optometrist said everything was fine, but that I should rest for about a week. She also offered me a few different remedies to soothe the swelling. The cheapest was just plain ice, which I appreciated because it’s simple to make in big batches. The most expensive product she offered me was a purpose-built eye cream that I could get a prescription for and pick up from the pharmacy. This special cream had a promotion attached to it – if you purchased the cream you could book your next eye test, for Bentleigh customers only. Luckily, I lived in Bentleigh so this wasn’t an issue. I travelled to the pharmacy to pick up the cream and then went home to start freezing some water for ice. It’s going to be a few weeks before my eye returns to normal. I’m a bit embarrassed to go out in public looking like this, but my son just thinks it makes me look cooler. Small victories, I guess?

Caring Friend

I love my friend so much. I am going through the worst period of my life right now and my friend has been there for me the entire way. From the moment my dad went to the hospital to the moment I told her the date of his funeral, she has been there checking up on me and doing her best to make sure that I’m okay. It means the world to me, truly. 

You should have seen the beautiful unicorn wall art she had installed in my room. I was out at the time organising and packing up my dad’s apartment and when I came home and my bedroom was covered in beautiful unicorns. She wanted to make me feel happy and give me a distraction even just for a second and it worked. For a moment I completely forgot what it was like to be in immense pain because my dad died. It was only an extremely brief moment but that reprieve was incredible even if just for a second.

I want to do something to repay my friend. I don’t have much energy at the moment to do anything, but when I do I want to show her how grateful I am for everything she has done for me. I’m going to need her support for a very long time and I want her to know that I appreciate everything she has done for me. Maybe I’ll talk to the same person who did my unicorn wallpaper. In the Melbourne area, there are plenty of wallpaper designers around, but this person did such a good job that I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. 

Even though I’m in the very early stages of mourning and I can’t really comprehend what is happening or how the rest of my life will be now, I do still appreciate the people around me. Without my friend, I wouldn’t even be able to write this message today.

Building A Table

Today is probably going to be the longest day of my life. It’s just a waiting game. I feel sick waiting for my friend to let me know the news. Her life turned upside down within the space of forty-five minutes. I spoke to her at 3:45 pm yesterday and everything was normal, and by 4:30 pm she was at the hospital begging the hospital staff to let her in to see her dad. He suffered a major medical episode and is currently fighting for his life. I feel absolutely helpless and I know that nothing I can say or do is going to make this any better. The only thing that is going to make it better is for her dad to be okay. 

Whilst I wait, I think I’m going to try and keep myself busy. Often when I’m feeling anxious I try to keep my hands busy by building something. I think I have some leftover timber supplies from the Cheltenham hardware store that I can use. I might build a little coffee table or something. If it’s good enough, I’ll give it to my friend as a ‘thinking of you’ gift. If it isn’t good enough, I’ll dismantle it and use it to make something else the next time I’m feeling anxious. It’s so messed up because if I’m feeling this way, I can’t even imagine how my friend is feeling. It must be horrific. The whole situation makes me feel sick. 

I’m spiralling a bit. I need to refocus my thoughts. I’ll go get all my materials out and build something. Actually, now that I look at what I’ve got, I probably don’t have enough timber to make a good coffee table. I think I’ll make a trip to the hardware store. Cheltenham has plenty of hardware stores around but the one I’ll go to is my favourite. It just always has everything that I need. I’ll update you after my trip.

Glass For Two

‘How long are your parents out of town?’ James called up the stairs, anxiously looking around like they were going to come back at any moment.

‘Would you relax?’ Pete rolled his eyes, leisurely strolling down the stairs. ‘A week, at least.’

‘What do you mean “at least”?’ James asked, eyes wide. ‘You don’t know exactly?’

‘It was more of a “take me to Paris or I’ll divorce you” kinda trip than a neatly planned holiday,’ Pete shrugged. ‘But it’s not the first one, so there’s precedent for at least a week.’

He pulled a bottle of whiskey out from underneath his arm and James momentarily forgot how terrified he was of Pete’s father.

‘Woah, that’s…’

‘Yeah,’ Pete nodded, basking in his success. ‘Very expensive.’

‘Won’t he realise?’

Pete rolled his eyes again. He took a step back, onto the landing of the staircase. ‘You see those,’ he sighed.

‘The glass?’

‘Yeah, the glass. Last time my dad went on a business trip to Japan, mum had some place near Melbourne that specialises in glass balustrades come in and replace them. He never even noticed.’

‘Well, I mean, glass can be difficult to—’

‘They used to be wood, James.’

‘Okay, point taken.’

‘Relax!’ Pete laughed, clapping his friend on the back. ‘We’re supposed to be having a party!’

James grinned, despite himself, starting to loosen up. Pete shook the bottle celebratorily and marched towards the kitchen.

‘It’s amazing work by the way,’ James called out to him, not moving.

‘What’s that now?’ Pete asked, twisting back around.

‘The balustrade — you don’t see quality residential glazing work like that every day.’

‘James, what are you talking about?’

‘The glass! It’s so clear too…’

He stretched out a finger to touch it and Pete’s blood ran cold. The world slowed around him as he dropped the whiskey bottle, shattering on the ground as he flung himself down the hallway and tackled James into the tile.

‘What the hell?!’

‘If you get a smudge on that glass,’ Pete whispered, terrified, ‘my mum will hate me.

Recorded for Posterity

‘Tell me you caught that,’ Dan groaned from the bottom of the stairs. He could faintly hear his skateboard rolling away from him, but he needed the air to start cooperating with his lungs again before he could chase it down.

‘We got it man!’ Alex chuckled, skipping down the steps to show him the camcorder. ‘We got it all!’

Dan propped himself up on his shoulders to look up into the lens. ‘You’re still filming?!’ he groaned, shoving the camera out of his face.

‘Mate, after that fall I don’t think I’m ever gonna stop filming you again!’

Dan tried to fake-laugh, but his ribs protested — apparently unaware that the lungs had already refused.

‘I wonder what we could use this for?’ Alex mused out loud, playing back the footage.

‘Aren’t we just chucking it up online like we always do?’

‘Think bigger, Dan! This could go viral! And then what? We just go on with our lives? What if..’ Alex got a glint in his eye. ‘What if this is the start of something? What if we send it to a marketing video production company to really make the video shine?’

Dan was starting to get convinced. ‘Going viral would be awesome! Maybe one day that could turn us into an animation!’ ‘Exactly! I’m so surprised you’re on board!’

Dan looked hurt. ‘I thought we were friends Alex. I thought you knew it was my dream to go viral with the help of the best corporate video production company in Melbourne.’

Alex teared up. ‘I’m sorry man. I had no idea.’

‘It’s okay,’ Dan said, welling up too. ‘I should be more open with my feelings.’

The two boys embraced.

The projector flicked off, and the lights were turned back on. Daniel and Alexander, in slick suits from their newfound fame, strode to the front of the table.

‘And that,’ Daniel said, gesturing with his thumb, ‘is why you can trust us with your business.’

The boardroom burst into spontaneous applause, as the two men hugged.