40-odd years ago Australia was considered a workers’ paradise. After hard-won battles, unions had seen legislation gradually introduced for paid sick leave, paid annual leave and paid public holidays, as well an eight hour day and penalty rates for those called on to give up time with their families to work on Sundays and public holidays. It’s hard to believe that we have given up so much without a fight.
This September, Black Inc. is publishing an all-male anthology of short stories called Where There’s Smoke. It’s going to feature people like Nam Le, Tim Winton, Shane Moloney, David Malouf and JM Coetzee. When I first heard about this all-men anthology, I thought it was a joke.
NO BREAKS rings in her ears when she goes to bed at night and if it is a good dream, she takes a break, and uses the toilet. She is resentful towards her boss, who doesn’t know she has IBS, nor can he ever, because he might fire her and say, YES BREAKS, as in, bye bye, see ya, you’re done. No breaks, IBS, and RSI in one hand, left or right, it doesn’t matter which, she can’t tell.
He sauntered under the marri trees, feeling her absence. Ashley usually accompanied him on these mindless sojourns, but she couldn’t come out today. Her dad said she needed to help out at the bakery. He told his mum about this and she baulked. She said a child shouldn’t be expected to work. It was a form of slavery.
‘The Sleep Walkers are coming,’ he whispered once in the dark, ‘and we have to be prepared.’ This has gone on for months now, him talking in his sleep, usually babbling incomprehensibly. It’s only on occasion, like that night, where he will say complete sentences. Sentences containing words I didn’t even realise he knew.