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When I was thirteen, my best friend was a girl called Dale. Her grandmother lived near a park, and sometimes we would go down there with Dale’s older cousins and they would sit by the lake and smoke, and we would watch them and talk about how we would never smoke. But her other grandmother was Marjorie Jackson-Nelson or Marjorie Nelson-Jackson, and we went to her house a lot. Sometimes my friend Dale called her “the Lithgow Flash” to her face. One summer Marjorie Jackson took us to Greenhills Adventure Park in her Nissan. I thought she would have a…

This is a little bit I wrote this morning but have decided not to include in the novel, and instead to extrapolate into its own longer story. For five days we sent our bodies into the world without us. On the first day they sat in a windowless chapel. Other people were there, parents and friends, and our bodies told us afterwards of the way the carpet was torn in places, and that in a week or so we should expect to receive a wooden box in the post. Had the bodies given them our correct address? Our new one,…

When I was eleven I watched a brothel be raided. It was one of two brothels from my childhood. The first was a neighbour’s duplex, a tiny carpeted place in which I babysat her children. She didn’t fit my teenage view of sex work: she was thin and plain, with a hissing, scraping voice. She worked late at night while her husband was away, but what I mostly remember about her was that she tried to steal my cat. The brothel that was raided was the other kind: a ramshackle house, partially lost to time, bedded into a big city…

You may have seen this piece in today’s The Age, wherein we discover that, unsurprisingly, a large percentage of the population either doesn’t understand what anxiety means, or actively denies its existence. Apparently, 50% of people think that anxiety is a personality trait. You’re a nervous person. You need to get it together. Miki Perkins has interviewed a person with anxiety and this person has said, “yes, I have anxiety”, and Beyond Blue has said, “yes, anxiety exists.” Job done! Now everyone knows about anxiety. If only it were as simple as stamping our feet and telling them it is real,…

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For a while, I was not a person. I passed the time with droll thoughts about how terrible everything had become. Sunsets? Rubbish. Seaside? Disgusting. Chocolate? Tolerable. I had stopped functioning, at a very basic level: I didn’t even go to the supermarket. (I started writing ‘I couldn’t even go to the supermarket’, but of course I could, I just didn’t. That’s how it feels. Sometimes I was so determinedly not going to the supermarket that I could see the obstacles in the road. I can’t. I can’t. I want to, but look at the size of those penguins at…