School Gate Orthotics

​​I dropped Danny off at school like I always did on a Monday morning, watching him walk up the short path and past the gate. His teacher was stationed there today, in the bright-yellow vest that they made them all wear when they were on gate-duty for some reason. She saw Danny and looked up, waving at me as well. I smiled and waved back. She was good for him, this year – much better than the old toad they’d lumped him in with in Grade 3.

         I turned the key, firing the engine back up, and closed my eyes as the radio drifted on again. I love this song, I thought to myself, as an objectively bad pop tune drifted towards me, a strange mix of electronic bass and acoustic guitar.

         I nearly jumped out of my compression stockings when someone tapped on my window.

         It was Danny’s teacher, waving at me apologetically from the other side of the glass. Fixing a smile on to avoid showing my annoyance, I rolled the window down.

         ‘Sorry, Jan,’ the young woman smiled at me. ‘I didn’t mean to frighten you!’

         ‘Not at all,’ I said through gritted teeth. ‘What’s wrong? Is Danny okay?’

         ‘Oh, yes, he got in safe and sound,’ she said. ‘But I did notice that he looked like he was walking uncomfortably?’

         I frowned. Had he been? Was I a terrible mother for not noticing?

         ‘Those are new shoes,’ I half-lied – they were on their third month. ‘He might be breaking them in.’

         ‘Oh, okay,’ she nodded, biting her lip. ‘It’s just…’


         ‘I know a great podiatrist, where I take my own little one actually. They have a great range of children’s orthotics options. Near Cheltenham, just off the freeway.’

         ‘Right,’ I frowned. ‘We have a different podiatrist, but thank you.’

         ‘Oh, okay,’ she smiled weakly. ‘Just wanted to—’

         ‘I appreciate it,’ I cut her off. ‘Now, if you don’t mind, I have to get to work.’        

‘Of course,’ she nodded. ‘Have a great day!’

Northern Glass Install

My buddy Phil, he’s got this small-time electrical business, right? Runs it out of his mum’s garage, see? He don’t live there no more, of course – Phil’s a man who made himself by himself, you get it? But his mum doesn’t have a car or nothing, so she lets him use the space for his little electrical business, you see? Of course, she don’t want nothing for it, and of course, Philly ain’t never gonna take advantage of nobody’s ma – least of all his own. So he slips her some cash whenever she’s not looking, does odd jobs around the house and whatnot. He’s a good kid, Phil.

But why am I telling you about my buddy Phil? Well, you see Philly went and got himself in a bad spot with some tight fellas (or is that the other way around?). So he comes to me; says I can help.

How can I help? I ask him. This is your problem, I tell him. Deal with it, right?

Well, Phil goes away, long enough that we start to worry he’s been sent to the professional glazier in the Melbourne area – the great big glasshouse up north, you copy?

But Philly comes back, spring in his step, flower in his hair. You’ll never believe it, he tells us, joy stretching his big dumb face. I’m married! he tells us. 

We don’t believe him, the schmuck, but we start with the back-slapping and the shoulder-tapping – it’s a real love-fest, alright?

But Philly? I eventually asks him – what about those boys down from Melbourne who were looking to install a new glass balustrade in your home, if you know what we’re saying?

He did indeed know what we were saying.

What do you think I’ve been doing?! he laughs. That’s who I went and got married to!

And he turns around, introducing us to one of them tight fellas I was telling you about earlier – the two are hitched. Philly’s a made man – and protected.

Ah, Philly. Always did know how to deal with a problem.

Renovation Report

The Cloud Kingdom was astir as the cloud people prepared for battle. Princess Plum and Marion arrived with the penguin child just before sundown, heading straight toward the cloud castle, hoping to find the Ice Kingdom refugees there.

It was clear that the kingdom had received word that Trowser and his turtle minions would be attacking the Cloud Kingdom next, once they were done with the Conveyancing Kingdom.

They had no trouble entering the castle, given that everyone knew Princess Plum by appearance alone. After a few minutes, they reached the throne room, where Princess Precipitation paced about frantically. In the corner of the room, Princess Plum noticed two penguins, who immediately came forward at the sight of Arabelle with them.

Once the penguin family was reunited, Princess Precipitation looked across the room. “What news from the Renovation Kingdom, Plum?”

“Well,” started Princess Plum, “they’ll need more than a simple bathroom remodel by a professional renovation company, to put it briefly.”

“That bad, huh?”

Princess Plum nodded. So many bathroom, kitchen and laundry renovations completely destroyed. All the hard work by countless renovation experts and bathroom designers – gone in the blink of an eye.

“Our intel suggests that Trowser will be coming here next, once his army is done with the Conveyancing Kingdom.” Princess Precipitation crossed her arms. “We are running out of time to prepare. It won’t take long for the beast to crush our defences and take our power stars. If the best bathroom design team from Melbourne couldn’t stop Trowser, what hope do we have?”

“You have to try,” said Princess Plum. “Once the Cloud Kingdom falls, Trowser will go for the Fungus Kingdom next. How much time do you need to prepare a proper defence?”

“Look, we’re not replacing a bathroom sink here. We’d need at least a day.”

Princess Plum considered. “I think we can get you that. Marion and I will head to the Conveyancing Kingdom immediately and do whatever we can to slow Trowser and his minions down.”

Princess Precipitation sighed. “Good luck. We’re all counting on you.”