Click on the arrow above to listen (In emails: click on the title above)
“Hi, this is Janine Mikosza and I’ll be reading an excerpt from one of my short stories, titled “White Horses”.
Sarah saw it all now, the same as Charlie once did. Plates of food covered the dining room table, hiding Charlie’s favourite tablecloth printed with pictures of galloping horses. In the centre sat an oversized turkey. Next to it was a pot of soup, bright orange with a swirl of cream in the centre, and a cake heavy with globs of icing. Sausage rolls and meat pies were piled onto her mum’s best china, and plates of sandwiches sat at the edges of the table. Sarah watched as her mum stuffed food into her mouth and washed it down with white wine, while mayonnaise dribbled from her red lips. Do we have enough food? her mum asked.
Aunt Doreen ate apple pie and the crumbs fell from her mouth onto the carpet. Sarah watched her sneak into the bathroom and come back five minutes later, wiping her mouth before moving onto the custard tarts. One after the other, down they went until her cheeks were red and shiny. Aunt Doreen talked with her mouth full: it was the longest speech on earth but it was nice, it really was. Uncle Will gripped his beer, tore at the label and told no-one in particular what a waste.
Sarah’s dad stood in the corner, ignoring her and her mother. He spat tiny pieces of pie all over her first cousin, or perhaps second; she was never sure, because they were all as fat as one another. It was the first time her dad had set foot in the house since the break-up – Sarah wasn’t too sure how long ago that was anymore. For the first couple of years, time had been measured by how many days since he’d left. Now she had a new measurement: days without Charlie.
They all left Sarah alone. She leant against the living room wall, and knew she’d never be hungry again. Covering part of the green wallpaper was a portrait of her and Charlie. The photograph had a frame chosen to match the mustard carpet. She and her brother were once fleshy twins, with cherry cheeks and golden hair, the apples of their parents’ eyes. Next to the wall, on the mantel, was a small photograph of her and Charlie, ten years old, grinning like donkeys. She liked that one better. He held a half-eaten apple in one hand while the other lay on the back of her head, pulling her towards him and the camera. Behind them, in the distance, was a white horse carved into the side of a hill.”
ABOUT JANINE MIKOSZA:
Janine is an award-winning writer of short fiction, based in Melbourne. Her stories have appeared in literary journals and an anthology, and she has been shortlisted for a number of national and international writing awards and prizes, including The Age Short Story Competition 2011, Fish Publishing Short Story Award, Wet Ink/CAL Short Story Prize, and longlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize. In January 2012, she spent two inspirational and productive weeks at Varuna as a recipient of a Writing Retreat Fellowship.
“Varuna is a treasure – no distractions during the day plus wonderful company and stimulating conversation at night. It gave me the time and space to understand the rhythms of my writing process.” Janine Mikosza
‘Flight’. Etchings 10 (2012)
‘The Other Woman’. Page Seventeen, Issue 09 (2011)
‘In the First Place’. Wet Ink, Issue 23 (2011)
Award Winning Australian Stories 2011 anthology
Winner of the My Brother Jack Literary Festival Short Story Award 2010
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.
If you would like to be part of Writer-a-Day submit your application via our online form.