Balwyn, Melbourne 1966

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December

I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock I am an island

Run this message into Mrs C next door, she instructed me.

No… do I have to???? I silently, desperately beg.

I let the back door slam as I leave and creep through the side garden to their backyard gate. As I tread softly, slowly, silently down the side of the house, I try to make myself small, invisible.

Please, please, please be there Mrs C

Please, please, please not Him

I get to their kitchen door and peer through the flywire. I can’t see her.

Come in Sue – the door’s open

In the darkened room behind the kitchen He is there, his face lit by the flicker of the TV.

A presence.

Sitting, Waiting, Watching.

Mrs C is out, but I’ll give her the message. Come and talk to me.

Come, sit on my knee.

I’m too big to sit on anyone’s knee – I’m nine years old

I sit there, frozen, on His knee, in the massive black leather chair.

I look at the TV.

It’s all dark, bleak, a dream.

But it’s not.

I scamper back to my room, safe and warm.

I play Simon and Garfunkel as loud as my portable turntable lets me, drowning out my fears as I yell out the words.

I’ve built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pains
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain
I am a rock I am an island

 I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armour
Hiding in my room safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock I am an island

I forget. I sleep.

I dream. In black and white.

I’m on a road that has barbed-wire fencing running down either side.

I am alone and so small and insignificant.

I walk down the arrow-straight road towards the monster machine in the distance.

There’s a single yellow flower on the verge, which I pick

Then I keep walking, walking until the monster swallows me

And I fall, fall, fall …….

It’s the morning, the light streams in.

I’m still here.

I’m still me.

 And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries

Stereo story #724