#4 The Unfamiliar

David Lever, History in Colour, 2013
Macquarie University Art Gallery, Exhibition December 2013

The fourth issue of The Quarry has arrived!

In 2013, Macquarie University’s postgraduate writing students worked zealously to develop and hone their creative works throughout the year. Macquarie writers are an industrious, multi-tasking bunch. They resolutely juggle work, study, and home life with the dexterity of skilled octopi, coping with all the various hurdles of full or part-time employment, parenthood, and life or travel overseas.

Along the way, this feisty bunch has demonstrated their ability to fend off these vigorous adversaries of daily life. They’ve slashed through doubt and danger, fended off sharks (metaphorically) remembered to feed themselves, and remained sane enough to make it to these pages! We’re proud to showcase a selection of the best work of our postgraduate creative writers in this fourth issue of The Quarry. A big round of applause to all!

For all their diversity, the pieces submitted for Issue Four contain a common thread: the unfamiliar. Works in this issue include short stories, poems, creative non-fiction pieces, sci-fi and speculative fiction, and chapters from novels-in-progress. All works relate in some way to the concept of distance, journey, escape from the known, and encountering ‘foreignness.’

Whether the disorientation of travel and homecoming, the anxiety of diasporic peoples or themes of resettlement and culture shock, distrust of the unfamiliar and the truly ‘alien’ in every sense of the word, are throughlines that bind this collection together. Issue Four is a true reflection of the cultural diversity of 21st Century Australia, and of the themes current to our popular consciousness; themes of globalisation and belonging, expressed through a rapidly changing vernacular, technology, and zeitgeist; shifts and changes that are occurring in Australia, right now.

So enjoy this issue, and get reading – let these stories and poems take you away on a journey…


A big thank you to the creative writing postgraduate students of 2013 for their hard work and good writing. Thanks a million to the Editor-in-Chief, Claire Catacouzinos for being proactive and organised. And a round of applause to this issue’s editors and contributing writers: Cassandra Cochrane, Ally Bodnaruk, Anna Williams, Natascha Wiegand, Alexandra Parsons, Peta Andersen, Emma Dorreen, Lauren Armbruster, and Suzanne Turner. We’re also (as always!) extremely grateful to Jane Messer for her unwavering support, guidance and enthusiasm throughout the course of our writing.

The cover image, ‘History in Colour’ for this issue is from the Macquarie University Art Gallery’s recent exhibition of works by David Lever.


Pioneers, Natascha Wiegand

  A russet plume of dust chases my old car along a typical Queensland country road. An old wound cut through the dense scrub and scattered stand of blanched gums. I slow at a wider stretch of dirt and gravel opposite the aged, colonial-style metal gate that serves as a carpark. I doubt if little … Read More »

The Narrator, Melissa Farrell

  As he dresses for work, Harry wonders just how long his parents-in-law will be staying. They have exchanged their life in the suburbs for one on the road, selling their house and buying a large motorhome with plans to travel the country. So far they have only managed to travel the twelve kilometres across … Read More »

The Sideboard, Patrick Pearson

  The past is not gone. We carry it about with us, in our genes, or in our characters, or in our faces, or in those secret places within our souls where the present is denied access. And sometimes we carry the past quite literally as baggage. In the corner of my lounge, or lounge-room … Read More »

Taras’ Parthenians, Claire Catacouzinos

  They would have their revenge one day, these bastard children, sons of bitches and Helot slaves, they were filthy mutts, unworthy of Spartan rights and citizenship. Their Spartiate fathers had disowned them after the First Messenian war, their Helot mothers tried to protect their puny sons, but they were better off to be thrown … Read More »

Skyfall, Stephen Henry

  It was a way to fill in two hours and a velvet darkness that promised forgetfulness and escape, so Kyle bought a ticket to the latest Bond movie without even considering the name – Skyfall. He chose a seat at the side and settled in to the soothing murmur of other cinema goers, the … Read More »

Dancing Shoes..., Suzanne Strong

Edges crumpled in triangles on two corners of a fading poster, plastered onto the door of the Rio Rhythmics Dance Studio. Proud vivid feathers stand at attention to the sky, mingling with shimmering sequined head dresses on bronze kissed women’s heads, winking glittering bra tops, barely concealing nipples, exposed skin, silver navel ornaments falling to … Read More »

Leporine, Alexandra Parsons

Primal is a young adult novel set in Australia, in the not too distant future, after a corpse-reanimating disease has swept the globe. We follow a group of young martial artists as they fight for access to a ‘safe zone’. After a mission in the bush, our main protagonist, Kaye, has been bitten by one … Read More »

All His Dead, Judith Mendoza-White

NOTE: This short story is one of the collection ‘Of Goodbyes and Mourning’, which consists of twenty-two stories dealing with death, fear and loss.   In every summer afternoon, when the entire city took refuge behind closed shutters and drawn curtains to escape the scorching Buenos Aires’ heat, don Luciano Gómez sat in his usual … Read More »

A White Arm, Hiroki Kosuge

My mum has gone to the universe. That’s true. Because I saw her off to the station. She seemed to be a bit tired then. Just before she got into the train, she gave me a cake as a Christmas present. There went the starting bell. When I waved the hand through the window, she … Read More »

Absolution, Leigh Coyle

Mack didn’t say a word either. We just watched as she swept the meat ants away from the dead man’s body, working a perimeter of clear space around him in the red dust. A pig dog, frenzied by the smell of blood, wrenched at its chain and she raised her broom at it and shouted. … Read More »

Falling, Willo Drummond

The chimney is leaking again. Clara stands in front of the slow combustion stove, watching the tiny drips roll down the outside of the flue. This must have been happening for a day and a half now, each drip hitting the stove top and sending a spray of moist ash, like fine dark diamonds, against … Read More »

Dee Why Pools, Hannah Macauley-Gierhart

  We were standing on the rocks by the pools one late spring afternoon when I turned to him after a long silence and asked him if he had once loved me. He didn’t see it coming. He drew his breath sharply in and looked out at the ocean. And it was turbulent. The large … Read More »

Custodian, Lindsey Hodder

Shadows blew across the ground, gently caressing the streets of packed dirt. Ghostly echoes of the clouds that threatened to blot out the moon the shadows provided ever growing opportunities to be taken advantage of, if one wished to remain unseen. One did. Emme hovered in the meagre shadows cast by the piles of debris … Read More »

The White Line, Cassie Hamer

  It was the woman’s stomach that Kat noticed first – round and ripe as a February mango. Eight months pregnant, she guessed. Kat shuffled along the bench to give her extra space. ‘Thanks,’ said the pregnant woman, panting a little as she lowered herself slowly onto the seat. The air in the station couldn’t … Read More »

From When the Dust Settles, Ellen A. Williams

  When the dust settles, Elsie is running; running into the quiet suburban night, retro kitchen scales clutched to the ridges of her side. The dish was lost a block back, the clang onto the concrete barely registering above the rhythm of pounding feet in her head, pounding blood in her ears. The dial jerks … Read More »

The Great Roaring Noise, Bruce Naylor

  This is sort of a kid’s story. Not that I believe in kid’s stories… I am currently expanding it into a novella, which is turning out to be rather macabre, so perhaps it’s more of a nightmare than a story. However, this is the short story where it all began….   ‘But what was … Read More »

Peroxide and the Doppelganger, Rebecca Fraser

  Johnny ‘Peroxide’ Steele placed his sweating palms on the cool ceramic of the basin. He closed his eyes briefly to offset the bile that clawed at his throat. Christ, it had been a big night. Again. He took the weight of his body on protesting arms and leaned forward to inspect himself in the … Read More »

From Fae’s Labyrinth, Eva Matheson

  ‘Everything is simpler than you think and at the same time more complex than you imagine‘ – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe    Bonnie is the new school councillor after the usual one ‘disappeared’. Sarah must routinely visit the councillor, due to her home situation. Hayley is Sarah’s mum’s best friend.  For the past five … Read More »

Mud, Cassandra Webb

  The mud sucked at our gumboots, making every step an effort.  Soon effort became pain, but on we trudged. It had rained for three weeks straight, and the first ray of sunshine made us rush to escape the house. ‘Walk backwards, it’s easier,’ my brother said. I turned to try it.  ‘I bet you … Read More »

When the World Turned Grey, Lynda A. Calder

  Bringer is a Young Adult Fantasy that begins in the real world and takes Jemima Jennings into the mystical world of Maladria where she meets Lamasuard Ingan and his horse, Amicus. Both of them are searching for something but they will both find more than what they are looking for.   When the clouds … Read More »

From Slipstream, Kylie Nealon

  The two men stared at the screen in front of them, disbelieving. ‘It worked,’ the older of the two whispered. His companion’s eyes glittered under the lab’s eerie artificial lights. ‘This changes everything,’ he said. ‘Everything.’ The older man shook his head. ‘It makes no difference at all. We still can’t guarantee the subject’s … Read More »

Angel, Jamie Derkenne

  Lots of people had theories on how to catch those silver perch swimming in the water holes where the Nambucca snaked round Bowraville, but not many people ever seen any theory work. Ray Glossip freely gave advice to any passing tourist or local, whether asked to or not. He’d swear a small hook with … Read More »

Backyard Ink, Ramona Hester

Your naval medals commemorate   twenty years of undetected crime that’s the salty term your sun wrecked mates throw ‘round inked like youngsters.   Caught on the web between your thumb and forefinger a butterfly in Hong Kong backyard ink a coloured Emperor a sailor’s papillon seafaring homage to the wing. In the 70’s it … Read More »

Pervasive Poetry, Amanda Midlam

  Memory Poem, Watching Life Go By On Twofold Bay, and a Suite of Three Poems: Quondola, Flotsam, and Community Soup      QUONDOLA   It begins for me with the news of a body found floating off Quondola an ending for someone else. The police say there are no suspicious circumstances which means an … Read More »

Trophies, Scars and Confusion, Angelica Wright

 Trophies, Scars and Confusion: a four part retrospective of events and effects some decades on   Zipped Moving down floating Towards the drift Of oblivion Sleepless Honing Creating infinite parallels between this world and next Continuing to be battered By pressures plundered by a thousand souls Hopeful of perfection Ever striving for absolution in a … Read More »

Black and White, Tianqi Li

  In my grandma’s eyes, the world is clearly divided into black and white. Life should follow one right and light trail, beyond which there are only dark, cold forests. Every day, we should follow a scientific and healthy daily schedule; for every stage of life, we should do what is supposed to be done, … Read More »

In A Grove (Two Parts), Rashōmon, Vanessa Ryan

  The Woodcutter   In a mountain hollow, woodcutter sees a body wrinkled and worn in a smooth silk kimono   splayed like a spray of bamboo leaves fallen upon the ground   blossoms of blood bloom around the corpse A gad-fly buzzes languidly, the lone witness.     The Samurai   in the cool … Read More »

Another Day Above the Ground, Anatomy Dichotomy, Minarets, & Cotton Fences, Susan Lewington

Another Day Above the Ground Shrouded sleek secret burqas  billowing mesmerising                                     kohl – lined bullet eyes                                                 glinting. Gilded clicking Arabic                                   magical kinetics click                                                              connect lyrical                                                                              voices.   Delicate dynamic               melodic prosaic verse quelled   rhyming              Arabic chants.   Alien identity         Diminished hidden beneath                                          Layers of bold cold … Read More »

Life As We Know It, Elsa Lilienfeld

 Life As We Know It, a collection of poems   7 September 2013   Forgive us children for we know not what we do. It has been three years since our last confession.   Snaking across cracks in the tarmac, up three steps, past the bag hooks lining brick walls outside classrooms, past high windows … Read More »

A Matter of Style, Christine Ireland

  These poems, one light and the others not, explore                                                                                        different types of conformity.     Out of Style I’ve clicked my selections on websites of fashion but have often been tricked by the fit, so I’m lugging a dozen garments on hangers, their hooks biting into my flesh – I’ve collected them all … Read More »

Excerpts from Teagan’s Notebook - Age 15, Elizabeth Claire Alberts

  Writing   My grandma tells me I’m crazy for writing poetry, she tells my parents they’re crazy for running a bookshop, for home schooling me, for letting me waste time collecting words in spiral-bound notebooks.   But I don’t care what Grandma Hartigan thinks because I know that I would die if I couldn’t … Read More »

From Didus Ineptus, Cassandra Cochrane

  Edward came home with a parcel under his arm. ‘Mother, Doodles,’  he said, taking the parcel to the table and unwrapping it.  A leg of lamb. Granny took one look at it and burst into tears. What was he thinking? Nothing got past Granny. Of course a leg of lamb was the kind of … Read More »

Our Anzac Special, Emma Dorreen

  My grandfather was irresistible to children. For me – eldest grandchild – there was always a secret treat, lavish toy or £5 note. He was the master of the corny joke. He was naughty and you could join him in cahoots against other adults. Once, he rolled up his sleeve – to shock us … Read More »