Sarah Widdup was one of five writers with disability who received a Writeability Fellowship in 2014.
The Fellowships, a joint initiative of Writers Victoria and Arts Access Victoria, enabled Sarah to work with mentor Matthew Hooper.
Enjoy this extract from Sarah’s novella…
Skeletons of Character
He lay there, sort of propped up against the wall, looking for all the world like one of those artfully posed clothing ads in a glossy magazine. I thought he was doing that thing he did all the time, the thing where he arranged himself in a physical vision of his mood so I had to notice and ask what was wrong, or comment on his new shoes, or just say something. How right I was, really. But the odd shimmer that played across his cheeks and the rigidity of the pose weren’t the stylings of some genius photographer. He was dead.
I’d been with him the whole time, been within a few steps, and I didn’t notice this happening. I‘d been blatantly ignoring his ‘huff’, pretending I wasn’t worried about the growing silence and his black-ringed eyes, fighting the urge to hold his tired head in my hands and sing quietly to the wounded songbird that he’d become. The wound had been fatal, and I’d missed it.
The pages that were scattered around him crumpled as I swept to his side, and I crumpled with them. The pages and I, well I suppose it was just me… I wept and called out like a frightened horse and promised to never hide from him again. My incantations didn’t work, and the cold began to seep into me, grief and blame riding in too, clutching at the frozen reins of the chill.
I could swear his heart stirred faintly as I buried my head in his chest. Maybe that was what did it. All the lies had finally filled him up and even then, even when he was clearly gone, they were still trying to get out. They were kicking a man when he was down, from the inside. Down forever, and how could I get there too?
The wind sang across the top of my beer bottle, which was teetering on the edge of the battered coffee table. It’s amazing what nature does when you angle yourself just so. I was angled down at heart though. Far, far down. I would have been obtuse had I cared to notice what anyone else thought. But then again, there was nobody else there.
That was odd. There should have been someone else there, someone pouring into the void like muddy flood waters, sucking at its surfaces and taking Mordecai’s place. The air was still, save for the breeze singing through the window, and no one came.’
© Sarah Widdup 2015
Writers Victoria acknowledges the generous support of the Grace Marion Wilson Trust for this program. The Writeability program is a partnership between Writers Victoria and Arts Access Victoria made possible by the generous support of the City of Melbourne and the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation.
Writeability is also grateful for the support of the Copyright Agency Ltd, the Ian Potter Foundation, the Australian Government through the Australia Council and the Victorian Government through Arts Victoria.