Powerless, Niko Campbell-Ellis

It had always been a struggle for Cate, seeing her grandchildren wanting for something so easy to give. Holding out a book to their parents and asking them in perfect English and Korean to “read it to me. Please, pleeease.” Seeing them head out into a frozen Seoul winter day without a coat and only cloth slippers on their feet. Seeing them slapped for not eating properly, not speaking properly, for getting a bad report from school. Tory was only seven for God’s sake, and Nano only five. Lucky, or perhaps not, Kara was too young for school.

It wasn’t something she wanted to face but these three little people, wild, fierce and desperate for love, forced her to see that her son was an idiot and her daughter-in-law a cold-hearted bitch. They were such an odd pair. Sure, she could see the attraction, they were both beautiful, but they had nothing in common. Cate knew that Tory, coming when he did, glued Sam and Akari together and that without him they probably would have split. But in their shoes Cate would have left, pregnancy or infant notwithstanding. And now the crazy pair had added two more kids to their brood.

The straw that broke Cate came a week ago. Nano had not eaten her dinner. She didn’t like it she said and Cate could understand that. Was there no room for the child to have her own opinion? Apparently not. Akari pulled Nano from her seat and delivered a slap to her knickered bum in one practiced movement.

Lip quivering, Nano still refused the food. Arms crossed, mouth clamped shut, a shake of her head. Then Sam, Cate’s only child, the one who had been brought up in a home of gentleness and love, her Sam grabbed the plate and shoved his daughter and her meal outside onto the balcony. “Come inside when you’ve eaten it all.” His words swirled around the heated apartment in an eddy of icy air.

Cate had looked from Sam to Akari and back again. They avoided her eyes, watched Nano instead.

“It’s freezing out there…

She’s only wearing a singlet and undies… she doesn’t even have any shoes on…

Let me take some warm clothes out to her.”


Both parents spoke at the same time.

“She can come in anytime she wants,” Sam said, not taking his eyes off his shivering daughter. “All she has to do is eat it.”

“Sam, this is cruel.”

Cate could see Nano watching them through the glass. Stoic, she wasn’t crying and she wasn’t eating. Her arms were still crossed but Cate couldn’t tell if this was defiance or an attempt to keep warm. Every breath haloed around Nano as it hit the cold air. She locked eyes with her grandmother.

“Sam, it’s freezing…

Sam, let her in…


Cate started to cry. Outside in the cold, Nano began to eat.

Iridology, Louise Robinson

The naturopath came highly recommended. As she pointed her long black lens at my eyes I gripped the bottom of my chair, like I used to do on roller coasters and boat rides. I hoped she might heal me, find the root cause. The doctors were no help. The essential oil burner bubbled and wafted sweet lavender through the clinic as she studied my results and bloods. Eventually, she cleared her throat.

‘Your results are quite unusual, Lucy,’ she said and reached out to pat my hand.

Sydney Harbour had whipped itself into a froth by the time I reached Cremorne Point. The wind made floss of my hair and iced my cheeks. So much for the relaxing walk. I called mum and explained I wasn’t feeling well (‘completely exhausted’), that I took the afternoon off (‘fuck work anyway’) and that I saw a naturopath (‘turns out I have adrenal fatigue’).

‘What’s adrenal fatigue?’ Mum asked.

‘It’s when your body’s over-stressed and in flight mode all the time. You’re burnt out from constant adrenalin, rushing around–so your adrenals give up.’

Ferries criss-crossed the choppy water as I walked. Couples hoping for sunset picnics packed up their baskets and frowned at the darkening clouds. I sat by the rocks at the harbour’s edge.

‘Then she did this iridology thing, analysing my eyes. It was strange. She said, you only see eyes like this in prisoners of war, refugees, torture victims, people who’ve been through serious trauma. Then she asked me, has something happened to you, Lucy? I’m guessing she’s just picking up on work stress, my bully-rich corporate environment.’

I could hear mum breathing heavily, and what sounded like a wet, muffled cough.

‘Mum, what’s wrong?’

‘Oh honey.’ She was crying. ‘There’s something I have to tell you.’

The harbour lashed waves against the rocks, frenzied and rough. Sea spray fell near my feet. There was no one else at the point now.


‘Your grandfather… I found out at the funeral, from your aunts… I didn’t know.’

‘Didn’t know what?’

‘I’m so sorry.’

‘What are you talking about?!’

‘He sexually assaulted your aunts. Joanne and Faye told me themselves. They’ve known for years what a grub he was. But you and your sister, all that time you spent with him when you were little. The school holidays, the trips to Wonderland… God, I’m furious! I could kill them for not warning me. And I’d definitely kill him if he wasn’t already dead.’ Mum let out a breath and sniffed. ‘I have to ask, did he touch you?’

‘You think that’s the trauma the naturopath saw?’

‘Yes.’ I looked up. The foreshore was a blur, my jacket and pants soaked through. I couldn’t see the ferries anymore. I could barely see anything.

‘I’ll have to call you back mum, it’s raining.’