The Mutt

So, the other day I went shopping for some groceries, which, all in all is a fairly domestic and commonplace affair, but I do have to say, it was rather surreal.

In the next few years, I’ll be looking to immigrate to Canada. I’ve had a chat with an immigration lawyer and all those things, and I have some paperwork ready, but sometimes the simplest things are the most startling.

So I walked into a supermarket yesterday, yeah? And I know supermarkets are fairly regional things, but I realised something when I walked into that supermarket chain.

Being an ex-pat is all about adjustment.

Walking into a supermarket can remind you that you are, in fact, entirely out of your element.

I picked up on some American brand names and waded blindly through everything else.

There’s a Starbuck’s in the supermarket? Okay.

And, as I was pushing the cart with no sense of direction whatsoever, I thought – will this be the new normal for me? Is this what life looks like in the landlocked prairies in Canada? I, who grew up on the coastline in the southern hemisphere, an hour away from some of the world’s best beaches, on an entire continent surrounded by water?

…it’s sort of exciting though, isn’t it? The challenge of it. The challenge of living somewhere completely different, of changing cultures and climates and customs.

I’ve made a list of the things I think I’ll miss when I go home for a while. Don’t tell the wife, though.

I’m also quickly making a list of the things that I’ll miss when I do finally move. They creep up on me, one by one. Quiet realisations of all the things I won’t be there for.

But I suppose, too, there will be a growing list of things I’ll love – until it balances out.

And for a while it might be awkward – all this adjusting. I’ll be Australian-Canadian and a smattering of other things, too, probably.

I’ll be a mutt.

But it sounds…good. Big, but good.

Day-Dreaming

Mornings were…are always the hardest. I often refuse sleep because I don’t want to go to sleep, and forget him, only to wake up and remember he’s not where he should be.

It had been six months since Arthur had died. Mycroft had not said a single word since I had told him. A deep, unerring vow of silence that penetrated his thoughts. His face would be so very still, unmoving – and I often wondered if I looked like that when I thought about him. 

I was in the kitchen, waiting for my husband to come through the doorway like he did on the night of my mother’s debutante ball. Any doorway brought up a memory.

I was supposed to be talking to a young man called William who was studying law. I had become cornered on the balcony. All I could think of was how boring everything was. I had just turned my face away from him when…

A shape appeared in the doorway. 
“Well, how about a dance, then? Even if it’s just to appease our parents…”
William turned when he felt a tap on his shoulder.
“I’m sorry, lad. She’s spoken for.”
And there he was, Arthur Holmes. The only man that could ever speak for me. I don’t remember how we came to be standing so close together, but we were.
“Get me out of here.”
“I was thinking earlier – before I fell asleep at my desk – that you might like to see where I met the Doctor?”
“Oh, Arthur. Arthur Holmes, I would love to.”
“Well – Helen wait we can’t just —

“Mum, are you all right?”

I look up. Sherlock is standing in the doorway, he’s frowning hard. “Yes, I’m fine, darling. Thank-you. Just dreaming.”
“You haven’t eaten since yesterday.” He was good at deductions. He would know by the number of plates used. He began to busy himself in the kitchen, and I continued to dream.

Torchwood, in Cardiff. The smell of coffee, chemicals and slightly damp paper is overwhelming. Arthur is sleeping on a separate bench. I plan to wake him soon. Jack was sitting across from me, his legs kicked outwards. We had been talking for a while, over coffee.
“He’s the best, and the wisest man I’ll ever know.”
I smiled. Amongst a mix of charisma, sex jokes and smiles Jack had lightening-flashes of utter devotion and loyalty.
“Jack, I’m pregnant.” He was the first man besides Arthur to know.
“Really?” His eyes are bright – he’s happy, and also about to say something wildly ‘inappropriate’. “I was pregnant too once, I can give you a nice remedy for the morning sickness…never again, though.”
“You’ve got some cheek on you.”

“Here, Mum. Eggs. Salt and pepper, sunnyside up,” Sherlock sat beside me, long limbs spilling over the table and chair. He was tall and lanky even then. Growth spurts.
“Oh, thank-you. They look lovely. I always had a hunch you could cook.”
“Did not.” He was feeling combative. He had every right to be.
“Did too.” I ate, I didn’t even realise how hungry I must have been.

“You’re dead, too, you know. He died, and now you’re dead,” Sherlock kicked a chair under the table. “You’re just, dead.”
I took him in my arms and held him, fiercely so. He was right, in a way. I wasn’t dead, but I was dying.
“I will always be his wife,” I smothered his hair in kisses. “But I will always be your mother.”
“Have I been expelled from that school yet?” That school.
“No, you left voluntarily. We’ll find you something else.” I paused. “How do you feel about the violin?”
“Hate it.” 
“Really?” I raised an eyebrow.
“Yes. Hate it hate it hate it hate it. It’s stupid.”
“What if I taught you how to play?”
“I’d still hate it.” But I had him. That look in his eyes. I’d caught his curiosity. We practiced and played so much, Mycroft came down to listen. The look on his face had softened.

“I like the name Holmes. Helen Holmes. Has a nice ring to it.”
He swallowed. “Helen Holm– Oh. Oh. Yes. It’s lovely.”
“So is that a yes, then?”
“I could never say no to you, Helen.”
When I kissed him, he tasted like vinegar.

“Hate Beethoven. Beethoven’s stupid.”
“Sherlock, please. He’s a masterful composer.”
“He was DEAF!”
“Only before he died.”
“Still deaf.”

Sherlock always had a wonderful way of bringing me back to reality, and making me laugh. I only hope that in the years to come, he can do the same for someone else.

Detective in the Shell

Sherlock takes in his surroundings, eyes drifting over every available surface.

 

It takes him a while, but eventually his fingers are drumming along with the beat of his heart.

 

Members of the team start to arrive, and Sherlock stands with a decided swiftness that is particular to him. He doesn’t plan on sitting down again.

 

“Mr. Holmes,” a young man says, stepping forward for a cursory introduction. The consulting detective doesn’t give him the time.

 

“Dr. Watson?” He asks, with a frown.

 

“He should be on his way here, otherwise he’s probably in his workshop, take a left at the end of the hall, then down a flight of stairs and–”

 

“Thank you,” Sherlock says over his shoulder, already taking long, even strides towards the hallway.

 

“…how long do you give him before he realises he needs a code to get in the door?”

 

“A few minutes,” the young man replies with half a smile.

*******************************************

2-8-4-5.

Obviously.

The Englishman takes in the room slowly, carefully, with a measured step, like a honey bee finding its way home.

 

John’s asleep at his desk.

 

Sherlock is even more surprised when the frenzied foaming noises from the coffee machine don’t wake the good doctor at all. Sherlock runs a cursory hand through his hair.

 

He takes his time, adds milk and takes his place across from the other man.

 

“…good morning, Dr. Watson.”

 

The good doctor wakes up suddenly, abruptly, and swings his legs out from underneath his desk, searching for his boots with his toes. They aren’t there, and he isn’t in a rickety cot in the middle east. He’s still in his apron and shoes, tray of bolts and washers on one side of the desk and Sherlock Holmes on the other.

 

John stands up far too quickly and awkwardly for his artificial joints, but doesn’t grimace. He also doesn’t set down the small mechanical leg still in his hands.

 

“ … right,” he says, instead of the hundreds of other things he can say, that he wants to say — from haven’t heard someone say my name like that in a while to still haven’t gotten around to changing that passcode, have I?

 

“I’ve missed something, then,” he mutters at the other man, blinking.

 

Sherlock reaches for John’s arm, and finds it across the table.

 

“The Major came to my flat in London yesterday to consult me about a series of cyber crimes, anomalies in regard to hacked or edited messages, could be an inside job – can’t be sure, I have hardly any data – in any event I got on the tube, boarded a plane at Gatwick, cleared my attic for twelve hours and arrived 22 and a half minutes ago,” he cleared his throat.

 

The detective let go of the other man’s arm when he realised he was still holding it. “I took the case, obviously. There’s a team upstairs. They’re waiting.”

 

Sherlock’s long, even, purposeful strides take him effortlessly to the door, which he opens, standing in the entryway with all his limbs perfectly charged.

 

“…you mentioned something about J.D. Salinger, then?”

 

(I certainly cannot take all the credit for today’s piece. My wife wrote the good doctor’s part, and also introduced me to Ghost in the Shell – though admittedly I haven’t gotten around to watching it yet. You can find her blog here: artbyval.ca, and one of her doodles here: http://artbyval.ca/post/82632941827/another-sunday-afternoon-another-doodle-to

I do love her work, and her method, and am entirely grateful for this wonderful little crossover of ours, along with all the others.)

I Am Not Holly Golightly

But I am travelling.

I don’t miss my parents. I haven’t missed them for years. (That sounds inconsiderate – I just don’t really get homesick anymore.)

But sometimes I find myself thinking of the smell of bodies that spend all day in the sun. The weight in the sky before a summer storm, and the strength of the thunder in the afternoon.

When I travel, I find myself more or less guessing the weather. Glancing warily at an unfamiliar sky with a half-creased brow and turning up my collar, hoping for the best. I do not know the sky here, I do not know her habits or her idiosyncrasies. I only know the sky at home. And so I look over my shoulder all afternoon, wondering why the sun’s so far away.

I miss the freckles on my pale shoulders. I miss the six-month summers the southern hemisphere and a sub-tropical climate do so well.

But then again – I don’t get to wear jumpers, or scarves, or jackets or coats. It’s normally too hot in the kitchen to really cook most of the year and we never use our fireplace, as much as I’d like to.

And maybe I’ll get used to the sky being so tilted away from the sun. I’d like to. It’s not so bad. A little less blue sometimes, but no less wide. I’d like to know it.

But I’ll still keep my habits. Every time I come back to that little corner of the southern hemisphere –

I’ll look up.

 

A Rant and a Half

The theme of today’s post is going to be something that’s been on my mind for…oh, some considerable time. Years, I suppose. It won’t necessarily be coherent, all of my facts won’t be correct and somewhere towards the middle it’ll turn from an impassioned argument to a rambling mess.

I have a bachelor of arts, with a major in history. I know how to read critically, think critically and write critically – it took a while, but it’s one of my party tricks. I can pick apart bias and pejorative language and calculate how much of an article is conjecture. I have an eye for evidence, proof and cross-references. These are all the things I was taught, all the things I learnt – and a lot of those skills I can apply to other areas of my life.

I am about to talk about something where I can do none of those things, where I am completely and unequivocally lost.

Australia’s current political climate, the (poorly named) Liberal Party. And its leader, Tony Abbott.

It is difficult for me to read about any of the news currently coming out of my native country at the moment because it is demoralising. Disheartening, discouraging, dismal, distressing, absolutely downright depressing, okay? Okay. This isn’t going to be an insightful political commentary that will break down all of Abbott’s choices piece by piece. This is the rant of an incredibly frustrated 21-year-old queer Australian girl who is just not happy.

Australia has the ability to be a great country, one with a reputation for compassion and a brilliant healthcare system with world-class education and intelligent, welcoming, friendly people. And that’s just to start.

I want to love my country again. I want to hear about something other than the rising cost of education, taxes to our healthcare system, sexism in parliament, our non-existent science minister in cabinet – never mind the overwhelming male presence. The complete and utter unnecessary vilification of asylum seekers, the total disregard of marriage equality as a concept or indeed any acknowledgement of LBGTIQ people in Australia, the rapidly dwindling resources facing Aboriginal Australians, the dismissal of climate change and gratuitous spending of the country’s budget.

…would you like me to continue? Because I’m sure I could, I would just have to wade through article after article of warped news sources to find something that resembles the truth. (There are, of course, many, many trustworthy newspapers and websites out there that deserve every accolade in the world of journalism. But for every trustworthy source, comes one so blatantly biased it makes my eyes water with frustration.)

This piece isn’t really political, so much as it comes out of a need for me to be candid. This feels like something that belongs in a dystopian novel, as a model or an allegory for something that should never, ever happen. A reminder of what should never, ever happen.

I’m not sure how you, as a reader, would react to this. But I can promise you I will attend every protest, sign every petition and listen to every piece of carefully-crafted political commentary that I can. (Oh – I will also not vote for him ever ever ever. And I never have. And I’m quite proud to say that.) But I want my country back. This man, this cabinet, this government has a certain spirit-breaking strength I have never really felt before.

Right now, I am rather ashamed to be an Australian – and that’s difficult to admit. Because we have so many good things going for us. (I’d talk about the brilliance and balance that is the High Court but I’m not sure I have the wherewithal or the word count to do so.)

I’m currently on a two-month jaunt around Canada with my wife, and I don’t want to go home. Legally, I have more rights in Canada than I do at home. I know this post is just hugely upsetting, and if you’ve read this far I’m impressed. I did just need to expel all the terrible worries and angst and bitterness I have – I promise this has a point. If you’re feeling the way I am, I hear you. If you need to talk about it, please do. I’m not entirely sure if this post will be controversial or not but either way it’ll be out there in cyberspace, and I hope I get my point across well enough.

I want to empower everyone, to speak out, to protest, to vote, to sign petitions. I want to turn this around. I want Australia to be the Lucky Country all over again.

In short, what am I trying to say after this giant wall of text?

Tony Abbott, you need to step down.

I want my country back.

21st July, 1972, 12:13am

20th July, 1972. 

I generally don’t write in diaries. I’m not a dear diary person. Mum got it for me, to express myself. She’s half-thinking she wants to be a psychologist now. I generally don’t write in diaries, as I said but I thought I might this evening. My graduation ball – there’s dancing. I invited the Doctor, a childish part of me hopes he will come. I was…going to buy a blue dress, actually. But, as I expected, I couldn’t find the right shade.

I wanted to write something down this evening because, as childish as it seems I feel as though this might be a…beginning of something. Travelling with the Doctor, perhaps? Seeing the stars, I hope. My mother wants to throw me {or her, more accurately} a party after I graduate. A debutante ball. I don’t know why she’s bothering. I’m wearing one of her dresses though, it’s quite old, and quite beautiful and I’m very grateful that she has leant it to me. I’m not sure what else to say, what do people generally write in diaries? 

Today was good, Gerald looked at me in physics again! 

I’m being a bit harsh, aren’t I? The little things are often the most important, that’s what the Doctor always says. I suppose I should get ready now. I do hope he comes after all, otherwise it shall be endless glasses of champagne and secretive chatter and set-ups with young college men studying engineering. 

21st July, 1972, 12:13am.

Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur. Arthur. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes. Arthur. Arthur. Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes.

Arthur Holmes. Arthur Holmes.

Arthur Holmes.

The Things That Matter the Most

So the theme of today’s blog post was supposed to be Australia’s utterly bollocksed political climate, but I currently don’t have the wherewithal or mental capacity to list what upsets me about the behaviour and choices of our current prime minister. So I will save that for another day.

What I will talk about for today, and what I like to talk about most days, is being domestic. I’ve been on holiday in Canada almost two weeks now…and I haven’t really done all that much. I’ve eaten out a lot, been to a concert, gone to two movies, watched several movies and seen a lot of people. And I suppose in comparison to my every day life, that’s a lot.

But I haven’t really done anything particularly touristy yet – although I’m planning a few trips over the next few days, and that will be lovely.

But being with my wife, making tea, watching films, sitting in companionable silence, all the things I said I would look forward to – I love. The novelty of it hasn’t quite worn off yet, and I’m sure when it will, or if it will. I am not a fussy person. I don’t need much. I just like to have company – or, her company. I’m relatively happy to do anything at all, and so is she.

…thus we don’t really do much.

We will see some big touristy things eventually, but right now a Star Wars film and some leftovers sound more appealing than anything.

And you know what? It’s a relief to know that at the end of the day, I can go home to her. I will go home to her. Australia’s political climate upsets me to my very core, so much so that it’s difficult to articulate, that it’s difficult to picture staying for much longer, – but for now I have somewhere else to come.

And that’s a lovely thought. I have the wife (and Star Wars, or the Big Lebowski, or maybe Fargo) and she is all I need right now.