Click on the arrow above to listen (In emails: click on the title above)
“Hi my name’s Jewelene Barrile and I’d like to read you an excerpt of a short story of mine that was published in Griffith Review 30 in 2010. The name of the short story is The Geometry Lesson.
MY FATHER AND I sat on either side of the laminex table while she sat on one end. First we formed the triangle, but the curtain was open and my mother looked out. Bruce was pushing a hand-mower, shredding green grass. He was the teenage boy from next door. I saw his arms and face were tanned a rich brown, but his chest was an unexpected white.
We made a rhomboid.
My mother grasped the stem of her wine glass and drew an arc in the air with it. Her arm was long and bare. When she tilted her head back to swallow, the tracery of veins at her throat was visible. Her backdrop was the wall behind, hung with photos of her dancing. In one she was dressed in top hat and tails, complete with twirling black cane. She wore a red flamenco dress in another, fingers snaking above her head.
When my father moved over to the window and snapped the curtain shut, we made a triangle once more.
‘Eat your carrots, Eve, he told me. They′ll make your eyes bright.′
I thought of the Polaroids on the side table in the lounge. I liked the one of the three of us laughing together on the banks of the Murrumbidgee, where the water flowed dark and deliberate.
‘Louis.′ She indicated her glass was empty.
‘Remember when we went down to the river?′ I pointed in its direction with my fork. I′d watched her shake her wet hair out in the sun, sparks of water piercing the air.
She glanced back at the curtains.
I saw she wasn′t listening; she dangled her glass. I turned to my father to see what to do next.
‘Pass it to me.′
My mother passed her glass to him across the table. He clutched her wrist hard, skin and bone.
‘Pay attention to us.′
‘Let me go or I′ll scream.′
I held my breath until he loosened his fingers, and she put her glass down to nurse her red wrist. We watched when she walked over to the window and ripped the curtains wide. My fork slipped into my bowl; I heard its faint ceramic bleat.”
ABOUT JEWELENE BARRILE:
Jewelene Barrile lives in Melbourne and is a buyer for Coventry Bookstore. She has twice spent time at the Varuna Writer’s Centre and in 2009 won the Marian Eldridge award for aspiring female writers. Her short story, The Geometry Lesson, won the 2010 Josephine Ulrick Literature Prize and an Olvar Wood Fellowship. She is currently working on a novel titled CLOSE. This is a triangle love story with a dark edge set in Melbourne over seven days. It examines the shifting intersections between love and death.
“I’ve been to wonderful Varuna twice. The first time was in 2008. I did a week long manuscript development with Peter Bishop. I wrote the first part of The Geometry Lesson there in Eleanor Dark’s studio. My second stay was August last year. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Fellowship and was able to write at Varuna for three perfect weeks.” Jewelene Barrile
The Geometry Lesson, Griffith Review’s Annual Fiction Collection: Issue 30, October 2010.
Agent: Pippa Masson/ Curtis Brown. email@example.com
Varuna has been funded by the Australia Council to produce a Varuna Writer-a-Day “app”. When we have recorded 365 writers the app will be made available via the iTunes store. In the meantime, if you subscribe to this free blog, you can receive a daily reading delivered to your email inbox which can also be directed to your mobile phone.
To find out more about Varuna’s programs, residencies, events and support services for writers click here.