Purim

By Mira Schlosberg

My lips are sticky with cinnamon and sugar when I see her across the room. Red hair twisted up at the back of her neck, sensible dress. I wonder if either of us dresses outside of the synagogue the same way we do when we are here. I have half a warm donut in one hand and a strawberry cocktail the colour of something much more chemical than strawberries in the other. I try to wipe my mouth on my wrist as subtly and effectively as I can before she sees me. Our eyes catch each other’s and she smiles at me.

She is eating a gluten free hamantashen. I say I don’t think I’ve ever done Purim before. She says it’s always fun, though she is new to this shul as well and isn’t sure what to expect. I ask how long she has been coming here. Since Rosh Hashanah. When was that? September. Oh right.

The foyer smells sweet and doughy. People in costume are bright all around us. We are ushered to our seats. One of the rabbis is dressed as a banana and the other is a pirate. They make jokes at each other across the room while they hand out the scripts and the noisemakers. We are sitting in the section that is meant to be reading the part of Esther. Our scripts are pink.

I spin my noisemarker very lightly, holding it between my thumb and forefinger. When I am not spinning it I hold it in my lap the same way, too gently. Maybe it is the cinnamon sugar or maybe it is because she is next to me or maybe I am just clumsy, but I drop it. It falls on the edge of her glass, which she has placed on the floor, and a piece of the glass breaks off. Two shards skitter across the carpet but the rest of the cup stays intact. The soggy strawberries continue to float, oblivious. I wonder whether she has noticed. She has. I make a face and mouth that I am sorry.

After the service and the spiel I text my sister about breaking the cup.

She texts back, ‘God answered u.’ This is a reference to a text I sent her earlier about asking God when I would find my soulmate.

My sister says, ‘U kno they smash glass at Jewish weddings.’

I did know this, but I had forgotten.

Les fées sont d’exquises danseuses

By Elizabeth Tan

©Roy Chen

©Roy Chen

On the morning of Marigold’s punishment, I wake before sunrise and fly to the rotted stump at the edge of the woods. Drake is already sitting there. I recognise him by the broken cell near the tip of his left forewing, the legacy of a skirmish with a child from the village. Last we heard, that child drowned in the village well – glimpsed something in the water, scrabbled up the side, tipped. Drake swears he had nothing to do with it.

He twitches his cracked forewing; he can smell me on the wind, but doesn’t turn his head when I land beside him. In better light we would be able to see the village: smoke of fires, huddled homes. The clock tower proclaiming the hours of their tedious lives.

‘Why do you think she did it?’ Drake asks.

‘Marigold?’ A furry black fungus has grown on the stump; I pry some up to taste. ‘Curiosity, I guess.’

‘We’ve all been curious.’

‘Not me.’

Drake darts a glance but doesn’t challenge me. I smell the fungus trapped under my fingernails; I try to gnaw it out.

‘Luna,’ Drake says, ‘I never told you how I came to be at the glade. The day when that child damaged my wing.’

Morning dew fattens on his hair, his wings. How long has he been sitting here?

‘He drew me there. That boy and his friends. They set up lights. They tied bells to the trees. It was a trap.’

The sky hums the first hint of daylight. Soon we will be able to distinguish the rooftops, the clocktower’s hands.

‘They were going to kill me.’

His voice bends like an aching branch.

‘They were hunting,’ Drake says, ‘for us.’

***

They lie her on the toadstool, arms spread, ankles bound together. They’ve already punctured her wings so that vines may be threaded through, but these hang limp for now. Marigold props her chin up so she can meet eyes with the assembly – with us. Drake lowers his gaze. The Sage announces that the Council has found Marigold guilty of consorting with a human. Before these sacred woods, the elders, her kin – all of whom she has betrayed – she will be punished.

The Sage motions the elders forward. They each take up a vine. Some of them remain standing as they pull, but others take to the air, hovering over Marigold, who is starting to squirm, to claw at the toadstool. She buries her face and clenches her teeth on the mushroom flesh but I can still hear her, moans thrashing in her throat. Some of the elders pull so hard her body arcs like a worm, like a larva, something witless and newborn. Slowly the sinew separating wing from spine begins to yield, to snap like a petal torn from a flower, and when at last Marigold’s wings are wrenched clear of her body the whole assembly seems to shudder with the thrill of justice, a fever of love and loyalty for our kin. They drag the swooning Marigold away.

 

 

In the Valley of Good Things

–ingesting the berry in liquid form, when mashed, strained and fermented, has known to spread warmth through the head and neck, giddiness and erosion of social inhibition. While some note the clarity it brings, others speak of its ‘jolly clouding’ effect on the mind. Eaten raw, the Meloberry provides a great surge of energy.

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Some Things That Happened

By Oliver Mol

1995

But I knew the world was full of good things too a week later my neighbours had puppies me and Daniel played with the puppies there were seven puppies they kissed our hands and feet and mouths that evening I begged dad for Jojo she was the runt of the litter a week later he said, "Yes" then I screamed, "Yes" too me and Daniel put Jojo on a skateboard we showed her slip & slides we dressed her up in capes told her what a trampoline was five years later Daniel fell off his BMX taking a turn too hard and suffered brain damage and a year after that our neighbour died of cancer but before that everyone was happy everyone was healthy and alive and on that first night me and Jojo slept together beneath a blanket with our hearts pressed together while the grass frosted outside and we dreamed the dreams of children we dreamed the world wasn’t sad and people didn’t hurt we dreamed that everyone belonged.

2012

Lucy and I moved to Melbourne we moved into a squat with some friends it was an old abattoir and there were newspapers on the floor from 1970 I remember they were yellow slowly all our friends moved out and this new guy moved in he was maybe 35 he had a rat tail didn't believe in showers or “work” one time I came home and he said, "I need $2.75 for a new gas canister" another time I came home this girl was giving him a hand job on the couch they were both wearing bathrobes the following week we had a party I did a reading and then some bands played and later a bunch of kids got on the roof one of the kids was the bassist from the band and she fell through the roof and died.

2015

One time me and mum were walking through Mount Coot-tha I told her the story about the drug dealer who buried 1000 “white heart” pills somewhere on Mount Coot-tha I told her the guy had a mate in the police force who’d tipped him off so he dumped the pills in a black garbage bag brought a shovel and set off towards the mountain he dug himself a hole then popped the pills inside except the next day he couldn’t find them and even now people still go digging with shovels and spades because maybe if they found them they could feel the feelings they'd felt in the past and not feel lonely anymore.