Frances’s fiction marries her love of still and moving images and her ongoing commitment to issues that concern contemporary women

Touching the Past

Urgh. What’s she doing there? Lukas grumbles as he careens over cracks in the path on his skateboard. The sound of hard plastic wheels over concrete sends birds flying, but an old woman sits, seemingly unfazed, on the bench he thinks of as his.

Four White Walls

I sit on a wooden chair surrounded by four white walls. They define the spatial limitations of my world. I examine the chair, wondering where it came from, and I ask myself, why doesn’t it match the décor? The chair is old and splattered with pink, but the walls were recently plastered and painted. All white. I smell their newness, fresh as a daisy. I call the walls mine because this is where I belong, at least for now. I am here alone. I don’t know how I got here, or how long I have been here. But I do know, it’s long enough to have become intimate with the details of the white-tiled floor, and marks left on a wall by three grubby fingers. I have had plenty of time to imagine the story of the person who was here before me, the one whose touch tarnished the smooth white walls.

Behind the Mask

My fingers go numb as I turn the page, and read the news of your death. “Emmanuel François Blanchard of the 6th arrondissement, found dead on 27 August 1914, circumstances unknown.” Our encounter was fleeting, but the memory has stayed with me in the twenty years since. I have wondered what became of you, and as I sit here in the house of another man, I recall the relationship I once hoped would develop between us.

Caroline

“I can’t… ugh .. get … argh …” Caroline mutters as she struggles to extract her left foot from a bed of cast metal. Her deep-set eyes stare vacantly, across an expanse of grey concrete floor. At the far reaches of the room, floor to ceiling windows give out onto Chicago’s East Monroe Street, scorching in the midday sun. Caroline forgets; she is stuck. She drops her hands to her sides, allowing them to lightly brush her generous hips. Her small breasts spill outwards to touch her long, thin arms.

Time to Leave

The view through the dirty windscreen was filled with the orange hull of a roll on/roll off cargo liner at anchor in Port Melbourne. My friend Anna had borrowed her boyfriend’s red Mercedes Benz to deliver me to the ship I was about to board. We sat in dazed silence inside the car, sequestered from cargo, storage facilities, forklifts, top loaders, and men in hard hats bustling around Webb Dock East..