The Bubbling Pen


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Message to Readers

See the first piece of the series here:

Once Upon A Time

January 2, 2019


Let me start with one.

For some people, there is a once upon a time, but for me it starts with one day. Well, actually one night. I don’t know when it was exactly - which is sad considering how dear this event is to me - so maybe it is suitable after all to say it was once upon a time.

The white fellas who own my bullocky complain everyday about the seventeen hundreds. All I know is it’s a big number for sure. “Seven’een  ‘undreds,” they mutter, “stralia’s gettin’ too hot ‘n stuffy for us’n!” I don’t understand what they talk about most of the time. Everyone says my folks’ speak is rough and unintellectual, but from what I know, the white fellas speak their own language like it’s worth garbage. So even though I can’t always be sure what they shout at me, I nod. That’s the best course of action after all. Boys like me go missing all the time. By missing, we all know what that actually means.

My sister didn’t though. And that’s what got her in trouble. So, like they say - it was once upon a time. In the seventeen hundreds. The eighteenth century. Don’t ask me why there are different numbers for the same times, ask the old whities who walk on this land like they own it. Ask them.

We were down by the old boat shed that they let us black young’uns play in, hiding behind the hay bales. In my eyes, we’re not black. We’re colourful - like the song of the wind. But I think theys are uneducated. Theys have no idea ‘bout our colourings. Our decorations. If they had waited long enough, we would have been able to welcome them to country, but no - they were in a hurry. Not in a hurry to leave though. In a hurry to create settlement. I don’t know what exactly that means. I can guess though. They be wanting huts, like ours. But instead, they made crazy little caves out of fabrics: they stick some fallen trees into the ground, hitting the tops with hammers so it makes a clink sound; the fabrics they use are like our broken mats, the ones that take months to weave and mend; they call their creations tents and when they put it up, they call it pitching, sames as they throw a ball playing cricket. They is a confusing bunch.

And the little Missus from up the hill is confusing also. I think she’s always pale - too pale, like when our wee girls are feelin’ under the weather - but her sorts say that’s what beauty looks like. They says white is the colour of elegance and class. But from what I can see, white just gets dirty, is all.

Like her umbrella. If she were here, she would correct me. Parasol, it’s called a parasol. I can imagine her nose scrunching up, as if asking herself why there couldn’t be two names for the same thing. I spin her umbrella in my hand. The inside is green but the outside is white. Dirty white. See, what did I say? But it’s still beautiful and fit for a queen. Like Delilah. Delilah my sister. She was a pretty little thing too, but much to mischievous for my liking. Is, I should say. She’s just out yonder, wherever those white fellas took her. They said it was a doctor’s check-up and that they would be back by the evenin’, but we knew she wasn’t coming back. Nobody ever comes back.

I hope she’s alright, that one. Not my sister, I know she’s alright. Delilah’s a tough one - she is. But Abigail Brown. She’s different. Her Jean’s different too. In another world, we’d be friends, he and I. But more like big and little brother friends. But we’re in this world. And in this world, it canna be. I think Abi’s a good one. I can see it in her eyes. I’m not one to talk much, but when she’s around, it’s all I want to do. I want to tell her about the ‘roos and the koalas in the trees. Them folks call them drop bears sometimes an’ it makes me laugh. Never seen one of ‘em drop outta a tree before, but it would be a real funny sight I’ll tell ya.

I keep spinning her umbrella in my hands as I watch Jean from the shade of the bushes. He be tellin’ me right now how green they are compared to where thems parents are from. But to me, the bushes are the colour of nature. Just normal colour. Them’s the background. And so’s the sky. But the earth, now that’s different. The red is a pigment that you canna ignore an’ I’m sure you’d get punished if you did. The sun too for that matter. So happy and yellow - I wonder what them white fellas were thinking making somethin’ like this umbrella, just to block out the sun. Maybes they don’t like the happiness?

Jean’s great comp’ny, but I’m missing the Missus and her big mouth. Sometimes she reminds me of Delilah, but most of the time, Abi’s different. She becomes more and more like the Big Missus everyday. Maybe I should stop that and talk more. Talk to her. Because we could be friends. In another world and this one.

I give a shy hoot when I see her stumbling up from the river bank. Her skirt’s wet and as unladylike as it could possibly be. That’s what her white folks would say anyways. I think she’s beautiful. And daring. And for once, I want to talk.

So when she sits down, smiling like an idiot, I give her a smile back. One for one, right? No fraternising. Who cares? We need to be friends in this world too. And so I sit back and tell myself to wait. To wait for her to talk. This time, I’ll give her an answer.

She taps my arm carefully, like she thinks I’m about to run away.

“I want to hear your story.” she whispers.

I grin back, surprising her. “Let me start with one.”


This is the second allegory from my Bullock Boy series. You can find the first piece here:

Hope you enjoyed <3


See History
  • January 2, 2019 - 4:21am (Now Viewing)

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  • The Bubbling Pen

    Thanks so much Anha, it really means a lot that you took the time to check out my piece and leave such a lovely comment. I'll definitely let you know if and when I write the next piece (might be a while though, as I have a lot on my plate) <3

    almost 2 years ago
  • Anha

    i'm so late to the party, but i've had this bookmarked for ages. this is amazing?? you should be so proud of what you've done here, this is historical fiction like i can almost see it happening. if you do write the next piece, definitely let me know.

    almost 2 years ago
  • The Bubbling Pen

    Thanks Johanna :) I'll let you know when the next one comes out <3

    almost 2 years ago
  • Johanna

    Ahhh this is so sweet and I loved it as well. The details and the background you've set here is great! Keep writing~

    almost 2 years ago