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“Hi, I’m Anja Tanhane, and I’m going to read an excerpt from my short story ‘He should have died hereafter’, which was published in [Untitled] Issue 4 in 2011 by Busybird Publishing. It is the story of a mother who visits her son, who has suffered a severe brain injury, in hospital:
She had to focus on her son, somehow pour some healing energies into him. All the teenage angst was gone, his anger at her which she’d never really understood. Now he seemed to like it when she stroked his forehead and sang him made-up songs. It was all gone – his anger, the unexpected moments of sweetness, playing tennis, a sudden interest in studying physics, secretly watching porn on the internet, his electric guitar, the band at school, a few early dates with a girl from his class. Kiara, her name was, or something like that. The girl had come to the hospital every day at first, swore she’d do anything for him and never abandon him. It was she who’d found Stephen on the pavement in a pool of blood, not far from the nightclub. For two weeks she’d perched, slender and lithe, on his bed in the ICU, intense and amazed to find herself in the middle of such a tragedy. It now was 11 ½ months since her last visit, no doubt she was distracted by boys who could walk, talk, and remember her.
Had they kissed, made out, made love? She hoped so, for his sake. She hoped those lips, which had once smiled happily and sardonically, which were now drooping saliva, she hoped those lips had known the joys of the first kiss, the fantastic passion of young love. She wanted to hold him like a baby, to rock him all day and make it good again. She’d been patient with Stephen when he was born, walking up and down with him in her arms for hours when he cried, humming for him whole movements of Mozart and Beethoven symphonies. His baby blue eyes gazing into hers, his whole face lit up in a smile, or scrunched up crying. An easy birth, and, as soon as she held his slimy body in her arms, knowing she would always love him. Stephen, her only child, her baby, boy, young man. Stephen, with his head of light-brown curls which had been mostly lost now to operations and scars. Only a few tufts remained, and she often ran her fingers through them and could not bear to shave them off, though he looked slightly ridiculous with his remaining scattered bushels of hair.”
ABOUT ANJA TANHANE:
Anja Tanhane is a Melbourne writer and music therapist who grew up in Ireland, Japan, Germany, and Australia. She has published a number of fiction and non-fiction articles and stories, has worked as a literary correspondent for SBS radio, and is currently completing her first novel, set in Tibet, which has been awarded the HarperCollins Manuscript Assessment award. Her short story, ‘He should have died hereafter’, won equal first prize in the 2011 [Untitled] short story competition, judged by Arnold Zable. A selection of her articles can be found on the website www.mindfulnessmeditation.net.au
“I was awarded a Varuna HarperCollins Manuscript Assessment Award in 2005 and the Eleanor Dark Fellowship for Creative Writing in 1998.” Anja Tanhane
• He should have died hereafter in [untitled] Issue 4, Busybird Publishing and Design, 2011
• Choice in every moment Article published in Prajna magazine (a bi-lingual Chinese and English glossy magazine distributed in Australia and China) 2009
• A world of pain when the life you knew is lost published in The Sunday Age News Extra 25.5.08
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