There are many memorable stories in the real that beg for another life, that of fictionalised and immortalised.
My memory is initially drawing them as if I am an eager girl artist with chalk on a pavement.
Yet these stories ask for more than a moment and long not to be washed away like chalk with the passing of time, if it can be helped.
They need more than a passing remembrance.
Often they have to be disguised and transformed to protect the teller and the subject. With names changed and a few specific events altered they could lose some of their power, and yet their authenticity because they are inspired from real events speaks imploringly and passionately. Sometimes in the fictional realm, endings can be rewritten to what we hope for people, not what actually happens.
I found a few of these stories spoken this morning to my eldest son as we shared memories of other places we have lived and interesting people we have met. They were stories of everyday sorrow and lost promise, of perpetual children in adult’s bodies, so very Peter Pan, of children lost because parents did not put them first – the poetry of sorrow ebbs in these stories and pulls the participants in them into the undertow. Sometimes there is shame mingled with the sorrow.
I realise I will not write characters of privilege, but characters who long for transformation from the undertow, the places of margin and sadness. Perhaps they will live in poverty, perhaps they will be from rural country towns where the suicide rate is high. They come from places where dreams are lost as people are caught up in their fear of the unknown beyond the town. Yet their future if beyond the town has promise and hope, if they leave for the destinations of empowerment.
Some of the stories to tell are of people of strength, who build the margins into places where people would want to be. The margin is sometimes, if you are blessed, a community of sanctuary – that builds character ready for when you move into the centre.
When did I begin to want to tell these stories? What made these stories come to mind today?
Perhaps it was the first time I read Ann Frank’s diary.
Perhaps it was when I realised that people hated being Indians in the Cowboy Indian games when I was a child. Now they are native Americans and some want to be them more than they want to be cowboys.
Perhaps it was when I heard the N word used to describe me and my dark skin and wanted to know where that word came from and why it hurt so much.
Perhaps it was when I heard stories of my mother’s Papua New Guinea and felt tears spring to my eyes.
Perhaps it was yesterday when I heard of a million children in Australia growing up in the shadow of domestic violence.
Perhaps it was when I spent time for myself in the sanctuary of the margins, living alongside the lost and found.
(c) June Perkins