if you don’t risk anything – Reprise

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In February I posted if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more, mentioning the 1500 word short story I was writing for the Australian Country Style Magazine’s 2013 competition, “referencing directly or obliquely, the idea of ‘chance’”, and commented how the inspiration came to me via a dream.

“This dream… worked hard to convince me what it had to tell was inspiring rather than annoying. Three times I extricated myself from its grip. Three times it dragged me back. Over Sunday morning coffee, I told the G.O. “I had the worst dream last night. It felt awfuI. It wouldn’t let me go”. As I recounted the dream, I felt my gut wrenching over again. I asked “Why would I dream something like that? God forbid it ever happens. What chance would we have?”… as realisation dawned.”

As I was writing the story, I relived the feelings and thoughts of the dream whereby the G.O., me and our dog (who was my real dog until about 10 years ago) had to flee our home, stopping only to say goodbye to my aunt and uncle. I woke up at that point and had to make up the rest… What would you do, where would you go, and how, if you had to flee?

This is my version.


The room is warm but I slip my arms into a robe, tie it around me before walking to the front of the house. I unlatch the bolts on the door, tug it open onto an empty coolroom quiet street. Brittle air crackles and a remnant of frost sheens the ground. The usual drone of city traffic is muted. I haven’t seen or heard a bird since last weekend.

I woke to unaccustomed daylight. Jerked upright with feet on the floor it’s too late panic until the knowledge it’s Saturday resolved the confusion. Alongside me, still, my husband and beside the bed on the floor, dog, both breathing evenly although I know they listen within their one eye open sleep.

In the kitchen the microwave LCD panel flashes 1.07 am. I check my watch, 10.33 am. Power cut overnight. We needed to sleep. We’re not late. There’s plenty of time. I turn the radio dial. Each station emits muzak. I open the laptop, click the Internet Explorer icon, No Connection Available.

I pick up my phone, press Last Number Dialled. It rings until a synthetic voice suggests I leave a message. I don’t bother to again. Nor do I go to the television. Broadcasts devolved to repeats of soaps, and hourly news bulletins saying not much but somehow saying enough.

I can’t think about this yet. I need coffee. I pour the last beans into the machine and add fresh water. Noisy grinding summons my husband and dog. They greet me briefly; my husband with a kiss, the dog runs her head under my hand, before moving on to attend to nature’s call. Vin unlocks the door to the yard for her on his way to the bathroom.

Coffees in hand I follow the dog. From the back step I see Zee; halted, head up, intent, listening. Movement causes her to turn around. She barks softly, skips across to bump her nose into my leg, hard. I follow her gaze to assess the sky, sunlight obscured by a film of cloud tinged with bruised colours.

Vin appears, reaching for his coffee. His other hand rubs his ear. “It’s getting worse”. I know he means the hum. For me it’s a low continual resonance. The effect on Vin whose tinnitus it amplifies, and super-ears Zee is torment. Zee repeats her nose bump on Vin’s leg. He acknowledges her, “We will”.

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False awakening

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The memory and sensation of my fingers gripping coarse fur and my own screams waking me to a room that was usual in every way except one, remains strong and tactile. My logic has tried to explain it away as a type of false awakening dream but 12 years after it last happened, I still wonder.

I mentioned in the post if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more  about writing inspiration… “Previously I wrote a short story about not a dream, recounting the events where I was asleep and my then husband morphed into a werewolf beside me in bed. It wasn’t a dream. It did happen. That it occurred annually three times, and the two subsequent times my other sleeping companion, Baddy Cat, stood guard… gives the it was real argument weight”.

Werewolves were a topic again last week when Buried Words and Bushwa posted Death of a werewolf. 1893. Commenting, my thoughts returned to the experience, and the 500 word short story I wrote about it for fantasy genre competition. There are 2 versions: the real, and the vamped up version I submitted. For me, writing about something that happened is enjoyable, so I blog. Easy craft of short story writing still eludes me. I find it hard work. Out of curiousity I did a compare of the 2 versions, and the result is the version below.

The Werewolf

Screaming. Someone was screaming. I opened my eyes. The screaming stopped. I thought I heard my husband ask A voice asked “Are you alright?”. I rolled over turned to face him my husband. There was enough light in the room to perceive a Instead, the moon lit the menacing shape of the werewolf lying next to me, asking “You were screaming. What’s wrong?”. I blinked unbelievingly and otherwise too terrified to move,  my arm instinctively shot out to push him away keep it at bay. As my hand met the primitive fur on his of its back, I struggled to comprehend. I looked at my the contrast of my own pallid arm and my hand firmly holding against the dark hairy body at bay, and around my bedroom, yes, everything was normal except there was a werewolf next to me, speaking to me.

His Its brown eyes shone glittered, looking at me quizzical and concerned speculatively. In the soft darkness I could discern his a face, although furry and dog like, did not look evil, just scary hirsute and primordial. His The body and coarse fur felt dense and muscular against my fingertips. When the werewolf spoke his voice had a soft growl like timbre, the menace of its voice belied the ordinary words, “What’s wrong? Did you have a nightmare? “Was I having a nightmare? I asked myself. I couldn’t think remember what I had been dreaming or why I would have been screaming. Now it seemed I was awake and conversing with a werewolf. A one sided conversation, as I was vocally paralysed.

Only Slow seconds had passed but they were slow seconds, stretched out with fear. “What are you doing here?” was the response I eventually managed. Again, the puzzled look. The werewolf’s eyes were gentle and expressive but his muzzle as he spoke revealed long, pointed, yellowed incisors. “What do you mean?” he asked back. I struggled to verbalise my thoughts, “You’re a werewolf” was the only response I eventually managed. He looked at me, then down at himself. His The werewolf’s expression showed no trace of reaction but its eyes glinted evilly like deep set coal fires. When it spoke, the muzzle revealed long, pointed, yellowed incisors. “You’re dreaming, go back to sleep” he it responded, breath fetid with death, and as he it looked deep into my eyes, sleep reclaimed me.

I next awoke in the early morning light, my grey cat curled at my side watching over me. As I remembered the night, I rolled over anticipating with dread anticipation of the werewolf, my arm outstretched, but my husband’s pale skin shone faintly in the light from the window. The cat nudged against my arm and I slept again. In the morning I asked my husband “Do you remember last night?”. “Yes, you were dreaming had a nightmare” was his only short response.

The next following night I felt reluctant and uneasy so I delayed as I prepared for bed. My husband was already sleeping by the time tiredness prevailed and I eventually fell asleep with the cat next to guarding me. I awoke to her licks on Her warning growl woke me, my arm already rigid arm and my hand enmeshed in the rough texture of the werewolf’s fur. My As my eyes recognised the same dark sinister shape, I closed them again and when they reopened, it revealed what my fingertips had felt in that moment, the change back to the bare skin of my husband.

The grey cat always slept with me after that, and although my sleep suffered with expectation there were no further visitations, until exactly a year later,mail I awoke to her licks on my arm outstretched, hand planted against its back her urgent growls opened my eyes to the sinister form once again revealed by the light of the December full moon.

According to the consensus of dream interpretation websites, and best said by Blackridinghood “To dream of werewolf means that someone you love and trust has revealed (or is hiding) a different side of themselves. They are hiding something important from you.” Hell yes, didn’t that turn out to be so. False awakening indeed.

You can’t always get what you want…

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“There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
Hamlet, William Shakespeare

Much as I’m practical and take life day by day, I know there are portals we can access for insight. From time to time I avail myself of them, akin to getting a preview of exam questions, to prepare. The effect is limited because although I may gain a little insight, there’s some things that can’t be changed.

Dreams have informed me at their will for as long as I can remember. On occasion when I’ve been stuck and couldn’t see the way forward, or had an inkling and needed more information – dream messages not being evident, the fault possibly mine for not paying attention – I’ve consulted psychic counsellors whose clues may be similarly indirect.

Consulting my horoscope is easy, just a click away. I’m not such a sap that I’m looking for specifics, but a general feel of the planetary influences of the day, week, month as might apply to my particular circumstances. I’ve learnt from experience that communiqués from clairvoyants, horoscopes and dreams may resemble Chinese whispers, and you need to take them with a dash of soy sauce.

On the menu:

SagittariusA clairvoyant advised me you will have 2 children although that metaphorical boat had sailed and was 1000 miles off the coast.

Frequently the advice I received was patience, keep doing what you’re doing things will move forward.

I was given information you will buy a house and move north not too far in the future. It didn’t happen right then but a couple of years later the opportunity arose and I acted quickly.

I also received timely advice be diligent in financial affairs which set off a chain of events that obliged my then husband to disclose questionable financial dealings.

I was advised do not take the job option that’s in the air, take the next… and almost 10 years later, I’m still in the next job. It became apparent the first option was only ever hot air.

My favourite information was at the end of a session when I had 5 minutes to fill in, I asked about my sister who was a teenager at the time. The reply was she will rebel and disrupt the family. I thought… not unless she changes a lot. Her style is to make things right not make them wrong. A couple of things I learnt about psychic advice is never rely on the timing… spirit messengers don’t have earthly calendars, and they don’t say more than they need to. Anyway, the information was right, and my sister has the honor of being the first (and to date, only) vegan within our omnivorous family.

Ditto, the ubiquitous Daily Stars’ message you will experience conflicts with children isn’t for me to take literally. My encounters with actual children are infrequent and ephemeral.

Last week my Sagi horoscope suggested not taking a risk is riskier than taking a risk. My risks are off mountain climbing in the Himalayas because at chez EllaDee dullness is the status quo.

This week  it’s “Something new and exciting lies on the horizon for you so don’t be freaked out if you’re seeing big changes ahead. Actually, the signs are all pointing to any changes being very beneficial for you”. I wonder how long until the literal big boat of change sails. I’ve had my bags packed for well over a year.

I’m a gun with my lucky gold coin, tossing it for heads or tails guidance, footy tipping selections – augmenting its real purpose of activating supermarket trolleys.

For a while I indulged in my own variety of divination by water bird omens. I miss those heady 4 pelican days.

A convincing dream over a decade ago, where I was in the local newsagency with my sister and grasped a $9.6 million Lotto cheque in my hand hasn’t yet transmuted to reality.

I’ve also been the recipient of helpful messages from, I assume, my personal spirit guides. They come in the form of the 4D knowing accompanying the cryptic crossword clues of my dreams – a feeling, sixth sense or message.

The magic moment that looms large in my mind is the one that promoted mine and the G.O.’s worlds from parallel to merged. Waiting at the lift, about an hour late leaving the office, the words “ring the G.O.” sounded loud in my head. As I exited the building, I pressed his number in my phone. Answering, he said he was in Sydney for another couple of days working, had left his wallet with my contact details at home but did I want to have a drink and dinner the next night… like he’d been waiting for the phone to ring. Sometimes he makes me wonder, that man.

The houses and cars I’ve bought have been accompanied by that knowing.

Remarkable, many years ago upon seeing a little green weatherboard house advertised in the real estate agency window I thought I’ll get it for $104,000. Not paying attention to the knowing, starting the negotiation process I offered $114,000. The response from the real estate agent was No, the vendors will only accept $104,000. Right. Fine by me.

In need of a new car my then husband constantly suggested vehicular candidates of his predilection, all of which I rebuffed. One Sunday afternoon my next car enticed me along an alternate route where I would drive by its car yard, and know there she is. Over 10 years later, we’re still together.

The results are no always so dramatic, it can be a simple as knowing to turn left to find an empty parking lot car space. Random thoughts I didn’t pay attention to… shop at Surry Hills, turn out as knowing messages, such as I realise during the 20 minutes I spend stuck in traffic within sight of the entrance to the Marrickville shopping centre last week.

“You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes well you might find
You get what you need.” The Rolling Stones

If you dream of a ginger cat, love is in your heart

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If you dream of a ginger cat, it could also mean it infiltrated your dream to persuade you to move to an apartment convenient to its needs. That’s what happened to me.

When offering guidance my dreams come through not necessarily loud and clear, more often like a cryptic crossword clue, which I’ve never had a talent for. Fortunately cryptic dream clues are often accompanied by a feeling, sixth sense or message.

My dreams are frequent and various: recall, processing, healing, psychic, recurring, nightmares, and messages which are usually delivered just before I wake. Sometimes I wake with the dream in my head, or later the memory is triggered. Other times the dream will be hazy, difficult to recall or simply puzzling. I recently I had a mixed mode dream in answer to a request of the Universe for inspiration for a short story. It got me thinking about ways dreams have inspired me.

The ginger cat dream stands out because it’s the reason we came to be at our current apartment, and living with the repercussions. Our beloved Darlington apartment was to be sold and we needed to find another. I looked at real estate rentals online, found a contender a few blocks away, lodged an e-application prior to viewing the apartment. The application required more details than we submitted for our mortgage.

Before I could view the property my sister rang asking for my assistance while she was O.S. to liaise on her behalf with the managing agent of her rental apartment as the tenant was moving out. No problem, I could do that. A few hours later she called back just as I’d been about to call her… I’ve been thinking, you don’t suppose we both said. Talking it over in the evening the G.O. & I both had gut feelings that renting my sister’s Erskineville apartment rather than the other was the right option but the fact her apartment had no parking niggled us with uncertainty. We owned two cars & a motorbike, and coped with a single car space and on-street parking. At Erko there was no car space and oversubscribed demand for limited street parking.

Upon waking the next morning, I said to the G.O. listen to this and tell me what you think… I had a dream I was waiting on the road to the Erko apartment and a ginger cat came up to me, so I fed it some of the hamburger I had and it jumped into my handbag. The feeling accompanying the dream was to go with my sister’s apartment. And that’s all it took. We did. We found car spaces, at a cost, but the proximity to the train line and consequential grime & noise has led us to suspect the ginger cat had his own agenda in commandeering my dream.

A few weeks after moving, I looked from our balcony into the small adjacent park between the street and the train line, and there he was, the ginger cat of my dream. The neighbours knew his story. Ginger was a commitment phobe. His dad was half wild and showed up occasionally – once I’ve seen, his mother disappeared, and brother taken in by another neighbour of whom Ginger was very wary. Ginger had briefly been homed, desexed and tagged but absconded to street life and charity of the neighbourhood. He was well liked, fed and affectionate on his own terms. His routine was to show up in the park most evenings or mornings. One or more of Ginger’s supporters would appear with a bowl of food, and socialise with him. Ginger was happy with pats and rubs even before food. But don’t touch too much and respect his boundaries. Ginger could have come home with any us but he made his preferences sharply clear.

When construction work commenced near the train line, Ginger moved around to the common area between the apartment buildings, where we’d spy him less often but give him a meal when we did. But again footpath construction and workmen disrupted his environment, and we hadn’t seen him since May last year. It doesn’t mean I don’t look. I do. Every day.

Then it happened, when I wasn’t looking, busy chatting. A few days ago, the G.O. and I were walking through the common area between the apartment buildings, and spied a ginger lump in the bushes. There was Ginger Boy – appearing well, wary, affectionate, and a happy recipient of a tin of cat food.

Everyone dreams. The G.O. says he doesn’t dream much. He’s recounted a few dreams to me, mostly about cars, motorbikes or work – things which preoccupy his mind. I’m guessing he dreams more than he recalls. Dreams have always interested me. They’ve been attending my life for as long as I can remember. I trust my dreams and know them well.

I wonder if other people have crazy dreams that impact their waking life and if the effects are as tangible as mine?

if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more

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Last week my astrological guru Moonology.com offered up words for Sagittarians to the effect not taking a risk is scarier than taking a risk… Risk hadn’t been on my mind. Chance had. I was considering as I do writing a short story for the Australian Country Style Magazine’s 2013 competition, “referencing directly or obliquely, the idea of ‘chance’”.

I commented on Dianne Gray’s post ideas on ideas how for the first time writing inspiration came to me via a dream. Let me it put it another way. For the first time I considered something I dreamt as writing inspiration. Previously I wrote a short story about not a dream, recounting the events where I was asleep and my then husband morphed into a werewolf beside me in bed. It wasn’t a dream. It did happen. That it occurred annually three times, and the two subsequent times my other sleeping companion, Baddy Cat, stood guard… gives the it was real argument weight.

This dream which was a dream worked hard to convince me what it had to tell was inspiring rather than annoying. Three times I extricated myself from its grip. Three times it dragged me back. Over Sunday morning coffee, I told the G.O. “I had the worst dream last night. It felt awfuI. It wouldn’t let me go”. As I recounted the dream, I felt my gut wrenching over again. I asked “Why would I dream something like that? God forbid it ever happens. What chance would we have?”… as realisation dawned.

Within 24 hours I had the story written. Working title Between a Rock and a Hard Place is incubating on a memory stick. In a few weeks I’ll look at it to review grammar, punctuation and ending. Although I knew straight up the story I would write for the 2012 ACS competition, it took weeks to come together. Thanks to the dream and maybe the benefit of a year of writing blog posts, 2013 story was no challenge at all. Short story due at the end of April done and dusted in February. Might have to write another.

The horoscope rattled the bones of risk. Despite the many conversations the G.O. & I have about our dreams and plans, risk is a word unspoken, irrelevant. Our latest conversation was along of the lines of it will be time to get out of our comfort zone, and back ourselves. To read the word risk even loosely in the context of possibilities of my life was intriguing.

Curious about the juxtaposition of chance and risk I consulted an online dictionary.
Risk: exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.
1. the absence of any cause of events that can be predicted, understood, or controlled: often personified or treated as a positive agency: Chance governs all.
2. luck or fortune: a game of chance.
3. a possibility or probability of anything happening: a fifty-percent chance of success.
4. an opportune or favourable time; opportunity: Now is your chance.

Those words… “Chance governs all”… Risk is exposure to chance. Do I risk taking a chance? Do I chance not taking a risk? How much say do I have in chance or risk? If chance governs all, chance governs me. It appears risk is the silent partner of chance.

The title of this post is a quote I recollected from… somewhere. Google searching, I found it derives from “Do you want me to tell you something really subversive? Love is everything it’s cracked up to be. That’s why people are so cynical about it. It really is worth fighting for, being brave for, risking everything for. And the trouble is, if you don’t risk anything, you risk even more.” Erica Jong, Fear of Flying.

Fear of Flying according to Goodreads was “Originally published in 1973, the ground-breaking, uninhibited story of Isadora Wing and her desire to fly free caused a national sensation”. I didn’t read it in 1973 – I was 7 going on 8 years old. I read Fear of Flying a decade or so later in my 20’s. It apparently had negligible effect as while I recognised by author & title I had read it, I couldn’t recall the content. The Wiki article “In this humorous novel, Erica Mann Jong coined the term “zipless fuck” ” gave me slight context. Yesterday’s sensation, today’s ho hum?

risk_street art_king street, newtown, nsw, AustraliaI’m not a gambler. No casino or poker machine for me. I’m an unenthusiastic card player. Rather in hindsight, by knowing my form, the state of play, backing myself or being blindly optimistic, it appears life’s game of chance has been my arena. I’ve won and lost, and there are several hands I wish I could play again, experience stacking the odds in my favour. But, I’ve always felt lucky.
Is yesterday’s risk today’s ho hum?