Pride, Purpose and Perspectives

This time one week ago I got the shits when confronted with the knowledge that my friends’ black babies are dealing with the shit I, my brothers, my Mum and everyone else, have dealt with all our life, by mostly well-meaning but still rude people. I felt it deeply, knowing that these comments were going to make a new generation of black kids question their authenticity as Aboriginal people, and therefore make them feel inadequate in their identities. It was going to cause them distress, it was going to contribute to the divide within and between our communities.

With the young ones in mind, I hand wrote that post in about an hour, then typed it onto my phone and published it immediately. Today, one week later, it’s clocked over 4.4k 4.5k 4.6k likes and shares on Facebook alone. It might be no big deal in the grand scheme of the blogosphere, but for someone who’s last blog post got 40 likes (and yes I thought that was deadly) 4000 is quite an overwhelming number.

I am under no illusion as to why people are interested in listening to my viewpoint this week. The themes of race, categorisation and identity are topical at the moment, with the RDA coming under intense debate, in no small part by the opinions of George ‘Bigot’ Brandis and Andrew ‘Assimilation’ Bolt. My perspective adds to the discourse. It’s a marginalised and mostly ignored perspective, but a valuable perspective, according to the majority of Australians who want to shrug off our country’s racist reputation and use their privilege to do more good than continuing harm. Yes, my perspective does have value.

That said, there have been a few public comments and private messages from people who missed the point. White people, indignant that my perpective should make them look racist and in the wrong. People who felt their freedom of speech to express their institutionalised embedded racism to young, beautiful, innocent black kids to make them feel not good enough. People who demonstrated their privilege and power by whitesplaining to me why our feelings and reactions are wrong; why their intentions take precedence over my affectation. Again I say to those – you missed the point. There is no need to try and exonerate yourself. I know why you say it and I know your intentions are not malicious. I know you are but a drop in the ocean, that you are a product of your socialisation. I know this. But that doesn’t change the fact, the evidence, the actuality that those words hurt. So instead of telling me I’m wrong, why not just believe my [educated and experienced] viewpoint, cop it on the chin, and just vow to not say those words again? Reconciliation should not just be our responsibility.

I reiterate: I addressed my post to the people who tell Aboriginal people that they don’t look Aboriginal. I addressed it to the ones who think it’s okay to say it. I addressed it to them in the hope they could better understand why it’s not okay, and that even if they couldn’t fully empathise or understand the history or frameworks or language of oppression, or to understand why it’s not okay in a practical sense, that they could at least move forward with the theoretical understanding that its not okay. I addressed it to them so they could consider that what they are doing is more harm than good, more problem than solution, more hurt than healing.

I had considered not publishing the ignorant comments but am glad I did because I’ve been heartened by the dismantling and debate put forth by better-educated commenters. And that said, the support for my post has been overwhelmingly positive. Besides people complimenting my style of writing, I have had communications from people of all walks of life telling me that the message was received in the spirit I’d intended it. Such as:

My white friend who printed this out so that she could give it to nosy busybodies who say this about her black babies, making them feel hurt. The many black people, of all skin-tones, who’ve shared my writing and stood in solidarity with me. My other white friend who, after reading this, felt confident enough to sit her black daughter down to talk about this, and told me that the connection they made and the smile on her daughter’s face was worth all the previous heartache. My black Aunties who thanked me for articulating what they had been too shame or too shy to express all their lives. My white friend who supported me and shared this amongst his mostly non-Indigenous network. A black artist overseas who encounters this outside the context of generic Aussie racism, who thanked me because my writing made her feel less alone, overseas and away from mob. The whitefellas who get it and came in to bat when other people tried to whitesplain their entitlement to me. My black friends who thanked me for speaking for them, for sacrificing my private nature for them by putting my emotional history in the public sphere. My white friends, some of whom I’ve heard say this in the past, sharing it around so that healing could begin.

Here I sit, writing this in my break from marking essays that are discussing race and representation. Essays from mostly non-Indigenous students; the social workers, teachers and policy-makers of the future. People who will have the power to make or break Aboriginal people. Thankfully, they mostly get it, and if they don’t yet, well. Instead of getting angry at them I remind myself that it is only Week Four of a twelve week course, that they should not bear the brunt of my frustration that’s better directed at the history, and at the institutions. That despite their cognitive dissonance in the face of learning true Aboriginal (and therefore Australian) history, they are doing the hard work, the necessary work of decolonising their minds, and examining their assumptions and attitudes that will one day hopefully lead to right action.

Once these essays are marked I will then work on my thesis that is exploring the ways in which women from my community (including myself) have experienced transgenerational trauma as a result of past government policies, and how they interrupt these effects and move forward, spreading strength. Real evidence of Aboriginal people transcending our historical legacies, and doing what we’ve always done: resisting assimilation, healing trauma and caring for our kids. The unsung heroes who are having a go, who have been hurt in different ways by the seemingly innocuous but assimilationist comments of non-Indigenous people.

Here I sit writing this, on the bank of the Deerubban, not far from the place my grandmother was born. The very same place that she last saw her mother before welfare took her because to them, she didn’t look Aboriginal enough. Here I sit, reflecting on the week and the impacts of my writing, the power we all hold to heal instead of hurt. And, here I sit, safe in the knowledge that my grandmother would be proud of me.

– Defender Of The Faith, 31st of March 2014

But You Don’t Look Aboriginal

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are denying that I am Aboriginal. To deny that I am Aboriginal is to deny that my grandmother was taken by welfare because she was Aboriginal, by the dictates of past government policies. To deny that she was taken because she was Aboriginal is to deny that past policies attempted genocide of Aboriginal people. To deny that the government’s objective was genocide is to deny that the government is responsible for the widespread decimation of Aboriginal language, traditions, land rights and intact family trees today. To deny that there is no widespread crises of identity within Aboriginal individuals, families, communities – and indeed our entire country – is to deny our lived reality. And when you deny our reality, you deny us our humanity. And so when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, it goes much further than just skin-deep.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, it says much to me about your level of misunderstanding and your adherence to the tenets of the obsolete pseudo-science that is biological race theory. Your individual ignorance is however, symptomatic of a widespread pandemic, where these beliefs are not systematically dismantled in the education system from a young age, thereby perpetuating the dominant white-male-heterosexual-Christian-dual binary values that are normalised and exude from the hidden curriculum. And so when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you’re not entirely to blame; the weight of such culpability is much too much for an individual to bear.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are nevertheless still guilty of perpetuating violence control through your embodiment of racist values. You are acting as a vehicle for oppression, an agent of history and part of the framework that continues the legacies of past assimilation policies. Does this come as a shock to you? Are you in denial? This is where the recognition of your privilege must come into play on your part. You must locate your beliefs in the historical and spacial continuum of oppression, and only then will you realise how you are an agent, acting out this culture. Conversely, you will then be responsible to be an agent of change. With knowledge comes responsibility, because education without action does nothing. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you’re not getting off that easily with a seemingly innocuous comment; ignorance does not equal innocence, and I’m going to take this as an opportunity to do my responsibility.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are implicitly perpetuating harmful stereotypes. Prevalent misperceptions and misconceptions of Aboriginal people include that we are lazy, drunk, dole-bludging, violent, sneaky and uneducated [sorry, I couldn’t think of any good ones that I’ve encountered in my whole life; not my fault]. When you compliment me for not embodying any of these negative stereotypes, and upholding me as the paragon of black virtues because of my perceived whiteness, you are reinforcing these stereotypes of what all “real”, “authentic” Aboriginal people are like. By telling me I’m the exception to the rule you are reinforcing the rules. You are promulgating a colonial hangover of media-created deficiencies. You are telling me that I’m inauthentic and you are telling yourself everything that centuries of racist politicians, scientists, missionaries and journalists have told you is the truth. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are deluding yourself with the very tools they created to oppress us.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, and you grill me about the whyfores and how-sos I have the gall to identify as such, you are being invasive and rude. By believing you are entitled to know the minutiae of my family tree, you are presuming that your sense of entitlement takes precedence over my personal boundaries. But not so. When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, and you drill me with your intrusive eyes and prod me with your blunt questions, you are telling me that you do not respect me.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, and add that I ‘mustn’t have much’ in me, or enquiring after my caste and blood percentage, you are attempting to reduce over 40 000 years of deep and vibrant culture to a quantifiable measure; over two hundred years of survival and resilience against colonialism, attempted genocide and ongoing assimilation to a drop of blood; my own nearly thirty years of lived culture in family and community to a miniscule section of mammoth lengths of DNA. You are reducing who I am in flux and flow to an immutable, graspable number for ease of understanding, to further reduce and divide the entirety of me and mine. By continuing to ask how much I have in me, after not getting the hint to drop this line of eugenic economic interrogation, ‘what part?’, ‘what caste?’, you continue to ignore the fact that it just doesn’t work that way. That despite centuries of imposed definitions that sought to variously segregate and assimilate us, to provide a solution as though we were a problem to be solved, that tried to cut us down enough so that we would fit into their constricting frameworks, you do not hear the truth that I just am. Not half of me, nor a quarter, or one seventy-eighth; not my head or my heart or my left arm or right pinkie toe; not my eyes or hair, not tooth or nail. I just am. All of me, all the time. Always was and always will be. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’ you are attempting to reduce the entirety of my identity and relationships and activism to one single moment, now, where you want the answer that I will never give you the satisfaction of giving you. You will never cut me down to size.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, and add that I am too pretty, my features too fine, my height too wonderful, my feminised body too elegant, you are telling me that you believe all other Aboriginal women to be ugly. You are saying that my Mum and my grandmother, my Aunties, my cousins, friends, nieces and my unborn daughter are all ugly. Not just different by the narrow standards of the male gaze of the white beauty industry, but actually unattractive, fullstop, done. How then could you explain all of our non-Indigenous fathers? Lovers? One-night stands? Here I will acknowledge the fact that rape has been a reality for us the last couple of centuries. However, this does not explain the many healthy mixed race relationships, or even the unhealthy fetishisation of black women. You are ignoring the reality that black women have always been desirable to non-Indigenous men and women. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are not only saying that desirable black women are not authentic black women, you are also saying that only non-Indigenous women are allowed to be beautiful.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, that I look more Lebanese, or Italian, or Spanish, or Croatian, or whatever, you are reducing what it means to be Aboriginal in all its gorgeous complexity to an essential list of clinical physical features, to a cold and simple checklist for cookie-cutter authenticity. Not only is this sheerly stupid because of the evidence that Aboriginal people today come in all shapes and sizes, with an astonishing diversity of facial features and skin colours; to discount certain items off the checklist in favour of other items is to racialise our bodies, to racialise our very beings. By subscribing to the Dulux colour-card myth of Aboriginality, you are continuing the work of past welfare and government institutions who held colour swatches up to the skin of black babies before they ripped them from their mothers’ arms. They grouped these babies according to tone, often separating siblings by this completely arbitrary division that could change seasonally with the strength of the sun. Further to this unpredictability, it was an actual division in many cases where sister and brother were physically separated not only from their mother, but also from each other. This was the case with my grandmother, who was taken from her Aboriginal mother at the age of four, along with her seven-month-old brother, never for any of them to see each other ever again. Yes, they took their heartbreak to their graves. So for me and mine, colour is not just an objective judgement of a visual hue, it has a crushing historical weight that has crippled all of my family members, each in their own way. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, this shameful historical legacy reaches to me from the past to haunt me to this very day.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, my deep-running empathy and over-active imagination come into play. I imagine and feel what this would have meant to me if I had been born one hundred, eighty, sixty, or even forty years ago. And I consider myself lucky that I was born in the year of Orwell’s hell, although my Mum still did instil in us her very deep fear of the welfare, so that we knew how to perform for society and never draw attention to ourselves. Because growing up as we did, with a single Aboriginal mother, if we had not performed well and hidden ourselves, if we had been born ten years earlier, there is a statistical probability that we would have been taken too. Do not misunderstand me; we were very much loved and always supported. We weren’t abused and we were never in danger, however we never had any money and poverty is criminal in the eyes of the welfare. Furthermore, traumatic events necessitated that we move far away from our extended family – my Mum’s only support network – and begin to integrate into a completely disconnected community who thankfully very soon took us in. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’ you are telling me how lucky I am to have been born when I was.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, I imagine that you are the welfare with the authority of government policies behind your words, and that you have the power to take me from my mother and my brothers. And in a way, you have, because I step back in time to the known story of my grandmother’s life. My grandmother, who never knew me, walks beside me every day in the only form I’ve ever known her. I look very much like her, and it’s not just her beautiful features that have left their mark on me. Her entire life-story haunts mine, and I continue to try to make sense of myself in the context of her struggles. She walks inside me every day and I have an ongoing relationship with her. I have an obligation to ensure that what she suffered through is known, and also that it stops. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you have taken me away from my family and into her life.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, I feel, viscerally, my grandmother’s pain; I panic in the knowledge that I will never see my mother again, that every letter I write to her will not receive an answer. That instead of the girl’s home guardians telling me the truth that they are not passing her replies on to me, they instead tell me that she has forgotten about me and that she doesn’t love me. I am paralysed by the knowledge that my mother will not be there when I am sick, when I need her to love me. I will never hear her voice again, nor smell her skin, or have her kiss me goodnight. Ever, ever again, forever, never. Never. She will never pass on parenting practises to me, and the adults I have as parent figures are inturn abusive, cold and transient; all unloving. These early role models imprint on me and my first escape from them is straight into the arms and wedlock of a man with an uncanny resemblance to my early caregivers. My mother will not be there when I get married, when I am in labour, when I am sick, and when I die too young. She will not be there for my children, when I need her to love them. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you have taken my mother from me. You have taken my world from me.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, my breath catches, knowing that if not for the grace of my being born when I was, that I would never see my brothers again. As we five, joined to each other through our Mum, and glued to each other through our close upbringing, some of us have different Dads, creating a beautiful diversity within our obvious similarities. But that because we have different skin colours, body types, nose shapes and eye colours, we would not be deemed similar enough in the eyes of the law to remain together as would support our basic human dignity. That some of us would grow up in cold hard institutions, trained for domestic or menial labour according to gender, yet regardless of gender as befits our darker skin. That the others would be adopted into a white family to become their chattel, neglecting to nourish our connection to our true culture; denying us our rightful inheritance, severing who we are from who they want us to be, and therefore butchering our very being. Placed far apart, names changed and changed and changed again, we would never even know where to start looking for each other, and so we would all live out the rest of our lives as only, lonely children. So when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are tearing me from my big and little, but all strong brothers. You are dictating that we have different worth and different levels of usefulness according to your cold and convenient colour-coordinated doctrine.

When you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’, you are alerting me to the fact that if left unchecked and uncorrected, you will repeat this comment to others, maybe others who are less resilient or strong in their identity than I am. Perhaps young children, maybe of my blood or maybe not. Perhaps one day my own daughter. Probably, you will impress upon your own children that this comment is okay, maybe they will continue this legacy. I do hope you might leave that in the past where it belongs. I also hope you might get with the times. When you comment, I wonder who you are and what power you wield in the world, and what influence you have on Aboriginal people. Are you a social worker, a teacher, a doctor, a cop? A football coach, a journalist? A shop assistant, an employer? A real estate agent, a model scout? An anthropologist, an art dealer, a miner, a farmer? A magistrate, a screw? Or are you just the average busybody, keeping the hard-to-kill-but-not-yet-obsolete White Australia policy alive and well? Whoever you are, do you have the power to invoke feelings of shyness, shame and inadequacy in our young black kids? Or even our Elders? So, when you tell me ‘you don’t look Aboriginal’ you make me wonder whether you can change your position, change your course, catalyse reconciliation and continue on as an embodiment of alliance, acceptance, validation, respect and healing that our cultures have so sorely missed from you.

– Defender Of The Faith, 24th March, 2014

I highlight this because I’ve heard it said that recognition and identity is only a “small issue” compared with the health, housing, education, employment, and criminal justice statistics that describe our situation today. I first point this out to demonstrate how imposed definitions blatantly attempted our genocide in the past, and I further point this out because this attempted genocide is absolutely, unequivocally responsible for our fourth-world socio-economic status that we live through today. Finally, I point this out because our current low life expectancy, high infant mortality rate, incarceration and deaths in custody ratio, and child removal rates – that far surpass Stolen Generations rates – tell the tale. These facts and figures speak to a government who still do not care. Although they have changed the terminology and phrasing of their policies, the effects of their actions and interference is ongoing, yet with even worse outcomes than at the times the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths and Custody, and the Bringing Them Home report, were published.

I wrote this for the people who still come up against this, in the hopes that they can more deeply understand why it’s not appropriate, and maybe get some new angles on their reactions. I especially wrote this for the parents of black kids: the Indigenous parents who may also know what it’s like, and the non-Indigenous parents who might not know on a personal level. I wrote it for all the parents who want to defend our black babies, so that they know what to say, but more importantly, so that they can instil the pride in their kids that my Mum instilled in me – pride so that they can be resilient and not buy into out-dated myths.

However, I addressed this to non-Indigenous people who do this, who might be setting a bad example for their own kids to follow in their footsteps. I addressed this to those people who might be making our kids feel angry and hurt and defensive, for all those who have made me and mine feel this way, and for those who still attempt to. So whether you intend to belittle us or not, you can recognise where you are located in the continuum of oppression, and hopefully make the decision that racism stops with you, to become our allies instead of remaining as obstacles in allowing our babies, and even ourselves, to feel as valued and strong as we should. As we must.

This post was published by The Stringer on 1st of April, 2014

A Portal To The Past

Chemtrails (work in progress)

Chemtrails (work in progress)

(an excerpt from my Poland story – a very rough draft)

There was a small nick on the floor where the bed had landed. Nothing major, but it stood out in her vision against the smooth wood-grain patterned lino. No, it wasn’t much, but it was something, and in this Eternium of Boredom, the blemish on the otherwise smooth floor unlocked things in her mind, sending a stream of thoughts tumbling around her skull like slapstick circus clowns. The previous emptiness clanged loudly with exciting notions of escape! work! moving! concentration! fun!

Sepia-toned images of rugged and cartoonishly muscular convicts played out their roles in a silent movie on the screen of her third eye. The plot was simple – dig through the floor and get the fuck out of there. Tattered, boldly-striped black and white prison issue clothes hung off them as they worked away, dripping in sweat. Before now, she – like every other viewer of these almost archetypal scenes – would have observed them with smug pity – skeptically predicting that they would be caught just before their moment of freedom, and then doomed to an extended sentence, with authoritarian eyes watching their every move. They would be separated from each other in every conceivable way to avert the danger of their thoughts feeding and encouraging new plots and plans, and devising each others’ emancipation.

The longer she thought about it, the more completely she realised that these age-old scenarios were written in bias by Disney and his minions; the NWO shills who carefully and cunningly constructed the future dreams, fears and desires of generations of children who were hooked on their colourful fare. The message was one of control: “Don’t dig. Don’t rebel. Be good and follow the rules and you will eventually be free. But if you do the wrong thing we will ruin you.” It was a classic theme throughout many children’s and adult’s prison stories. Yet not so subtle, when she thought deeply about it.

Now, though, she understood that the outcome didn’t matter, and what’s more, the convicts themselves knew their fate. But, given the opportunity, they cleverly allotted it beneath their rational minds – the part that imagined the effects of causation – and, no matter the outcome, at least they fucking tried. It proved that they were alive. A plan is a purpose and movement is motion, because acceptance, submission and stagnation is death. Doing – something, anything – is an affirmation of dedication to yourself that you will live life your way or fucking well die trying.

Rebellion is a sign of life.

She knew before she began that she would be caught, and she knew that she would be punished for it. She knew she wouldn’t get anywhere – she had neither the tools, nor the plans, nor the maps to get very far. She knew that they would restrict her even further. All this she knew, but she had to do it. She saw the potential in such defiance – a promise of self-respect.

She moved slowly across the now nearly empty room, sat on the ground in front of the blemish on the floor, and started picking. She picked, she flicked, she peeled and she pulled, she picked and picked and picked and fucking picked until it came up[1], slow and sure, revealing the ash-grey concrete streaked with glue underneath. What had this floor contained before? Whose feet had trod this ground before her? What place was this once upon a time in war-torn Krakov? Had it held prisoners, had it shattered lives?

The lino looked new, and the glue was still strong as attested by her hour-long picking project. Was this a newer initiative of the greenest EU member – to turn unused factories leftover from the war era into functional spaces in which to rehabilitate the walking dead? The generational time-lag[2] – casualties of the occupations – whose effects rippled down toward a historical hangover to rear their ugly heads years after the horrors of history were swept under this lino? What ghosts stalked these halls? What unrest was imprinted beneath these floors?

The heavy noosphere penetrated her permeable skin. And here she was, adding her own distress to that massive, invisible presence; prying open this portal with skeleton fingers and ghost keys, opening a door to days past – to restless spirits and to vengeful vows. She was Pandora again, but who could blame her? Curiosity is a powerful thing, and she was no pussy.

After some time, she noticed that she held a rhomboid-shaped piece of the lino in her hands. Where the puzzle piece was missing on the floor, the grey cement breathed in the relief of its unmasking and sighed out ancient troubles. In and out, a heavy phantom respiration. Inspirare. Exspirare. Breathing along – conspiring with it – she put her cheek to the wound, patted its edges and whispered lovingly to it, “I know, I know.” Watering the space with sympathy and self-pity both, the dove-grey cement turning charcoal in the wake of her weeping; the drought of forgotten memories watered to life once more by the river of her tears. She closed her eyes against the pain, but images of those ghosts fleshed themselves out in her mind’s eye, showing her how they had lived through their ordeals. They gave her glimpses of their anguish and glances of their memories.

In these new visions, the pictures played out vibrantly. There were women and there were men, of all ages and classes. Most were thin or getting that way. There were wars outside, wars in the home and wars in the head. Psychosis and despondency. Violence and inertia. Fists and weapons, hammers and sickles, skulls and swastikas, starvation and famine, failed crops and stolen harvests, poisoned wells and scorched earth. The intense desire for comfort; for freshly baked bread, warm hearth fires and the soft cushion of family. Sunshine, warm on the skin, and cool gentle rain, sweet and cleansing. The knowledge of immediate death and interims of torture, reprieves of neglect, but ultimately driven mad by solitude, which is truly the smothering of the self by the self.[3]

Each vignette was fleeting, but the feelings would stay with her until the end of her days. They left their impressions in the crevices of her soul and then dissipated – maybe back to the past, or maybe they were never there at all. She was soon alone again. Just a sad detainee hugging the ground, clutching her pitiful prize with red-raw fingertips, and sobbing to the music of her own bleeding violin heartstrings. [4] Here she stayed until she was spent and numb.

She eventually pushed herself up and stood shakily, weak with exhaustion. She steadied herself against the wall and breathed deep to revivify herself. In, out, in, out. Inspirare. Exspirare. The piece of lino she held was about as big as one of her hands. It was strong and sturdy and thick, pointed on two opposing corners and blunt on the obtuse angles. She slapped it against her thigh and it stung; good. She dug one of the points into her palm and that hurt too; even better. Violent thoughts sprang upon her – visions of gouging soft eyes, of piercing thin eardrums and penetrating the delicate flesh of the throat. There was blood and gore in her eyes’ desire and it made her smile.

Her next concerns centred on how she was going to get away with this. Surely they’d see the gaping wound on the floor and search her, and probably fuck with her even more. “Oh well; so mote it be,” she muttered. She was not going to put it back – she’d put too much effort into its extraction.[5] She could probably pick the whole fucking floor up if she were so inclined. “Imagine that!” she said to herself, “just fucking picking all of the lino off the floor, piece by piece. That could be fun.”

She decided that if they didn’t let her out soon she’d begin that mission. She’d just pull the cunt up and create a gnarly mosaic with the pieces. Depending on how much time she had, it would probably have to be a simple design. She hoped for a hammer and sickle, but maybe she’d have to make do with a little pentagram, or a swastika in a pinch. She would have killed for a pen and some paper to write this out, or to be able to draw something.

She tried to carve the floor with her new knife, but only light markings were revealed. She rubbed her dirty fingers into the etchings and a faint tattoo appeared in their wake. Not good enough. Not dirty enough! Well, at least she had a souvenir from this memorable holiday, and even a weapon if it came down to it. She wouldn’t do much damage but she’d sure as fuck go down trying. “Has anyone ever been assaulted with a piece of lino before?” she wondered. “Probably. They make shivs out of all kinds of shit these days.” Her Dad had told her some beautiful first person stories.

Just to be smarter, she decided to hide her lino knife down the front of her undies when they came. She felt safe with it in her hands, the hardness of it reminding her that even if things got worse from now on, she’d be able to feel good about defending herself and at the very least, they’d have to find room in their obviously small budget to redo the floor she had just wrecked – not to mention the beds, mattresses and even the cup and tray she had destroyed.

“God bless my opposable thumbs,” she said to herself as she handled her weapon.

She thought back to the knife fight in Kill Bill Vol.I, and wondered how skilled she would be in hand-to-hand combat. Never having fought with a deadly weapon before – only boondis – the truth of it dismayed her somewhat. But, she could punch and kick and bite and scratch with the best of them, and she’d even perfected a killer chokehold many years ago.

Inspired by Streetfighter and Mortal Kombat (those idiots who said that video games had no impact on their players were fucking kidding themselves), she and her older brother used to practise moves on each other. She’d go nuts; all flailing arms and legs, a messily lethal warrior child. The only way her brother could ever really get her was to pick her up because he was older and he was stronger. But she was a sneaky little cunt. She figured out a way to wrap her legs around his neck and choke him out so hard that he’d drop to the ground. The power balance tended toward an equilibrium after that.

Throughout the ensuing years, in playfighting her male friends, she had learnt that this was the only way she could maintain her physical superiority. She was grateful that her innocent emulation of fictional warrior heroines had evolved into this elegant coup de grâce. She doubted she’d ever get to use that move on the screws in here though. There was always two or three of them because so far she had exhibited nothing but vicious non-compliance, and they were all big cunts, especially for Polskis. They’d just pin her at any sign of violence. They’d probably inject her with something sedating too, and she wouldn’t have a bar of that.[6] So, it was clear. The knife would have to be used.

She danced around the room, thrusting and feinting. She was already a pretty good dancer, but this practise session gave her extra confidence for any potential skirmishes at close quarters. “Light on your toes, my girl,” she remembered her Mum saying, teaching her how to punch on. “It’s all in the footwork.” And so she danced, and moved and practised, until they came for her.


[1] one hour?

[2] Formulate this better

[3] more ghosts and more hauntings

[4] need to open this up more. More words, more weight, more time…/

[5] extradition?

[6] Talk about the offer of meds