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Shades of Green

by JRB1 

Posted: 14 July 2008
Word Count: 500
Summary: A short story I entered for a competition, 500 words allowed - theme Migration. I was shortlisted

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Shades of Green
‘Where are my thongs?’
Jenny shook her head as she said it and reminded herself they were flip flops, not thongs. She already felt like she’d lost part of her identity and didn’t want to start forgetting her language too.
She hunted amongst the dry crisp leaves which had pooled by the door but couldn’t find them. So she took a sharp breath, braced herself and then tiptoed barefoot as fast as she could to the washing line. The bare red patio bricks burnt her feet and she was glad to reach the small square of shade made by a towel flapping on the line. Although the sun had been one of the major attractions which had drawn Jenny to Western Australia, these days she tried to avoid it as much as possible. She could just about cope when it was twenty five degrees but today was one of those awful forty degree days.
The hot dry air smelt of eucalyptus mixed with washing powder and above her the towering palm trees rustled in the wind. The rainbow lorikeets screeched as they hoped from frond to frond hunting for nectar. Originally from the Eastern States these birds were unpopular with the locals, but Jenny found them both beautiful and intriguing. She’d heard that a Sydney resident, who had adored the lorikeets, had brought some over when they moved to Perth in the sixties. The lorikeets had adapted to the environment so well they were now dominating and wreaking havoc on the local parrot species. Unlike the lorikeets with their bold brazen colours, Jenny hadn’t acclimatised quite so well.
The rich blue of the sky reflected down on to the pool as the water glistened and gently lapped the sides, like a picture from a holiday brochure. However Jenny knew there was a big difference between being on holiday somewhere and actually living there. ‘You must be mad to miss the UK’ her family and friends from home had often said. Stories of how the UK was overcrowded and generally going down the pan had worried her slightly, but the pull of home just wouldn’t go.
Nearby the springy prickly grass was scattered with brown burnt patches where the reticulation hadn’t quite reached. She smiled as she thought of previous generations of migrants who had tried to recreate English style gardens in what was essentially a desert scrub. But lately things had changed and the more modern Australian garden consisted of landscaped limestone rocks and native shrubs. People were finally taking notice of the water shortage. The grass definately wasn’t greener here, just different.
The washing she had put out thirty minutes ago felt dry and hard, like cardboard. Jenny always brought it in as soon as it was dry; the sun had previously bleached too many of her clothes. But this would be the last time she would worry about that as these clothes were going straight in to her suitcase. Today, she was finally going home.

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Comments by other Members

NMott at 14:23 on 16 July 2008  Report this post
Hi JRB, and welcome to write words. I think you might get more comments if this was posted in the Short Story group, but I' m glad I got the opportunity to read it. Well described - it brought back some lovely childhood memories of Australia - and I' m not surprised it was shortlisted.
Good luck with the writing.

- NaomiM


To upload it in the other group, go to Owner Edit and there should be a list of groups you're a member of, and just choose the other one.

Nik Perring at 12:08 on 18 July 2008  Report this post
Good little stoey this - very evocative. Not much else to say, I';m afraid, certainly nothing by way of critisism.

Welcome to the group.


Becca at 19:11 on 18 July 2008  Report this post
I liked this story, but probably I';m partial, it being about Aus. I had Jenny as an Aussie because of ';thongs.'; Then I realised at the end that she was a pommie using an aussie word.
Typo at definately > definitely. You got over the sense of terrible heat in the story, especially with the washing like cardboard, and I liked that ';she was glad to reach the small square of shade made by a towel flapping on the line.';

Becca at 19:11 on 18 July 2008  Report this post
Oh, and well done you for being shortlisted!

JRB1 at 20:30 on 18 July 2008  Report this post
Thanks for the replies, much appreciated. I am a new member to this site and quite new to writing. I am looking forward to being in this group and reading others stories.

Katerina at 09:30 on 21 July 2008  Report this post

Welcome to the group and thanks for a nice little read. You';ve done well seeing as you are new to writing, look forward to reading more.

Slight typo -
The rainbow lorikeets screeched as they hoped from frond to frond hunting for nectar.
I think this should be hopped!

Kat x

Cornelia at 14:02 on 22 July 2008  Report this post
A pleasntly evocative story. I've been to visit Australia a few times, so this brought happy memories, especially of the lorikeets. Some good descriptive parts too, - I liked the eucalyptus smell and the 'cardboard' washing. I hadn't heard of reticulation before but it was clear it was some kind of irrigation system and a good way to point out the parched earth problem. I remember how foreign grass is so prickly.


Account Closed at 10:30 on 28 July 2008  Report this post
Thoroughly enjoyed this.

I admire the way you get tons of atmosphere and story in such a small number of words. I think it does very well what stories of this length should do, which is make us curious to know more about the character. But it is still a wonderful snapshot.

The writing, apart from the odd typo, was confident and flowed, and personally I can't find weaknesses anywhere.


Indira at 14:59 on 04 November 2008  Report this post
You do a marvellous job with the atmosphere - feel the heat and the aridity, the colour.
I wondered if you needed
Unlike the lorikeets with their bold brazen colours, Jenny hadn’t acclimatised quite so well.
– you’ve already identified that she finds it difficult.
Apart from that it really reads well. Congratulations on being short listed.

PS: Hopped over from Short Story I

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