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‘Love can make you go crazy and drive you insane if you let it,’ I said.

She watched me carefully and I casually, tentatively, edged half a step closer.

‘So?’ She straightened her stance, a counter action to my movement. ‘What are you proposing, Edwin?’

My heart pounded. In my head it was easy. I was proposing a lifetime together, a family together, then growing old together, and being happy together … forever. But what came out was awkward and modest, and now that I think of it, a whole lot clumsy. ‘Do you want to get an ice cream later?’

She giggled, and although she didn’t say it, I knew it was because I offered ice-cream instead of lunch or dinner. But what could I do? That was all I could afford. The three of us had to pool our money together to have enough, even for that small purchase.

‘Okay, I’d like that,’ she said. ‘We’ll meet you down at the shops, say one o’ clock?’ she edged towards the door.

‘Perfect,’ I said, in the calmest voice I could muster. But my heart was beating ferociously. ‘Wait. Nicole.’ She stopped. ‘Can I grab your number, you know … in case I have to call you later or … sometime?’

There was a wolf whistle from behind us, followed by hysterical laughter as Leon and Ray enjoyed the show from across the street. She pulled her hand away, her face turning serious.

‘Why would you have to call me,’ she said, making quotation marks with her fingers. A cool, crisp tone. She didn’t look impressed. ‘It is a dare, isn’t it?’ Her accusation came with such force that I stumbled back a step. Before I could answer, she turned and twisted the doorknob and disappeared inside the house, slamming the door behind her, leaving me stunned and completely embarrassed. I waited but she didn’t come back. I contemplated leaving, but decided against it. Surely it wasn’t ending like this? I lifted my hand to knock on the door again, then thought better of it. I wanted to call out her name, to yell for her to come out so I could explain. But I just stood there on the front porch with the sun on my back and the smell of roses from the garden in my nose.

There was more laughter from Leon and Ray who were loving every minute of their friend’s demise. Shocked and disappointed and standing by the front door like a fool, I turned to leave, wondering if I had completely F’d the whole thing up, when the door suddenly swung open.

‘Edwin.’ Nicole held out her hand with a folded piece of paper between her fingers. ‘Ring me if you have to,’ she said, giggling as she made the inverted commas with her fingers again. I took the piece of paper and she smiled and then laughed a genuine laugh that shook her chest and reached her eyes, and I remember how amazing that sound was to hear. ‘I needed to know how badly you wanted it,’ Nicole said. ‘Most boys would have left by now. But you didn’t. Impressive.’

‘Oh, so you were testing me?’ I said, raising my eyebrows, relief flooding through me.

‘Kind of,’ she teased. ‘The real test comes later today.’

‘So, how do I score?’ I asked, grinning.

‘Mmm! You’ll have to use your imagination,’ she replied, and gently closed the door.

Excerpt (novel)Insane Truth – Grant Ackermann

 

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Definitions for farouche – adjective [fa-roosh]

  1. sullenly unsociable or shy.

His confidence, brought on by a few jeering mates and few early vodka shots, had propelled him across the busy dance floor in a twirling, hip-swinging gyrate to the presence of this beauty … the woman of his dreams … this Goddess. But now, under the dull, sobering scrutiny of her and her friends, he was suddenly farouche and berating himself for ever leaving his lounge room.

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A blank piece of paper is God’s way of telling us how hard it is to be God.

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The fog settled, blanketing all around him.
He sighed. Well, he enjoyed the beautiful sunshine while it shone upon him, that was for certain, but could he be so lucky as to have that always? He looked around again and believed not. The change had come and the world was shifting into its ghostly darkness. But surely it was worth a try? He deserved it, didn’t he? He deserved a place of comfort where he could rest his weary head, a place he could call home, a place that could teach him to smile again. He let the thought stay with him for a moment and then shrugged it off. Who was he to say?

He could move, he supposed, but even then the sunshine turns to night, right? And isn’t that the same thing? He guessed so. The night that brought everything cruelly back to him, that filled him with terror and uncertainty, that stole any glimmer of a way out was sometimes more than he could handle. But there was no one to listen to him anyway.

Now what? He brought his hand up close to his face and studied it in the haze of white. His hand old and calloused and hardened by the long hours he worked showed fingers bent, tired and dirty, and a trace of a lifeline that was short and faded and perhaps as insignificant as he was in this white darkening world. This fog was only going to get worse before it got better, and the thought of losing his way, to stumble further from his destination was no comfort. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, he thought. Now he brought up his other hand and together covered his face—exhausted, perhaps even defeated. Such was the struggle. But he had come this far, seen such beauty, experienced the wonder of a life he could only have dreamt of, and now there was no going back. It was done. In the darkness of his hands he could see it all so clearly, and it was worth it, if only his feet and his heart would oblige.

He dropped his hands and shook his head abruptly. No! He could do this. His journey was set, his sacrifice long ago ordained and so it would be done, no matter how hard it would be, no matter what the obstacles. That was his destiny. So he picked up his duffle, lifted his face skyward to let all of the white cover him—a prayer in a cloud, an acknowledgement, an understanding, a summons for strength—tiny beads of moisture forming and rolling away down his face. Tears? Perhaps.
Then he straightened and took his first step forward, doing what needed to be done, continuing his journey towards the sun.

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Definitions for ferly – noun [fer-lee]

  1. something unusual, strange, or causing wonder or terror
  2. astonishment; wonder
  3. unexpected; strange; unusual.

He stood on a platform high above, hands folded across his chest, watching the crowd be seduced, the ferly of strobing lights, dancing shadows and hypnotic persuasive rhythm on the loud speaker, luring them unawares to their death, and he smiled—satisfied.

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If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.

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Amy: They clinked teacups and sipped their hot drinks, the steam rising and twirling before them, while the rain pelted down against the soft green earth outside. Amy wishing and naively believing, as a young mind is inept to do, that death was still a long long way away … but she was wrong.

Rose: Her daughter nodded more in acknowledgement than in agreement but the mood remained as dreary as the weather and Rose, taking it upon herself to lift the mood, tried to shake off the vibe that stuck to them like a wet blanket. ‘Today is a celebration, so let’s forget the bad news and celebrate,’ she said enthusiastically, raising her voice to an almost cheer, bringing a sudden spark to their energy and a smile to both their faces. Rose hoped with everything she had that it would last but as they drank their tea and watched the rain roll down the window, she could only see tears, lots and lots of tears that only supported her deathly premonition.

Excerpt (novel) – The Wish List – Grant Ackermann

 

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