Vignette Compilation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: House of G
Some vignettes of memories throughout my childhood.
All of these are true stories written with artistic license.

Submitted: October 23, 2016

A A A | A A A

Submitted: October 23, 2016




Vignette 1

“Colour Through the Black and White Frame”

Age 2


Shrubs. The pohutikawa trees that bloomed soft, red needles, all clumped together with a handful of knotted wood and thick, congested leaves. The colours aren’t vivid, but they’re vibrant. The red is rich and piercing, the green as thick as blood. You can feel it in the wax that coats the broad, elongated spades.

Ferns. They were curled tight, like Shirley Temple’s hair tied up in rags at night. That’s all I have to say about that.

The flax. The flax bushes covered the hill I looked down upon from Bob and Reyo’s balcony. The Sky as clear blue but the blind flax seemed to sap the sky of light. It tasted bland when I looked out at it, just like any other day in the south by the sea.

The ocean was unreachable. The green made the water seem untouchable; it stood between us. Maybe that’s why I always loved the ocean. I always had a longing for it. That’s where my Dad was.

A white window frame, larger than my vision scope could contain, framed all of this. Everything else inside the house was gray; the couch to my right, facing away from me, and the wall to my left: bleak. The window contained colour, swaying gently to and fro like the gentle rocking of a gold fish bowl.


Vignette 2

“Redford the Cucumber”

Age 13


My mother liked making up songs. She would amuse herself by singing her little improvisations, going back and audibly editing the lyrics upon each repetition. They were round-house songs, not unlike Row Your Boat, or Waltzing Mathilda. She would perform her new wee creations with the basic melody, just out of pitch. No embellishments to show any kind of singing voice. No riffs, no vibrato. The songs were simple, just like the lyrics:

Redford is a cucumber,

A cucumber, a cucumber.

Redford is a cucumber…

… and my memory wants to finish with the melody with “my fair lady.”, but I know that’s not right. Wrong song; memories blend together.


Her songs made little sense. If I were to break it down I could say “My mother always loved cucumbers as a snack.” Sandwiches, with French onion dip (homemade, of course, with a pack of French onion soup mix, sour cream and Worcester sauce), and sometimes she would straight up eat cucumbers with no prior preparation.

To continue the breakdown of her song: She named our fat, ginger cat Redford after Robert Redford. My mother had the unabashed hots for him.

Mama never really had more than one friend at a time. I was her best friend and she was mine and I still sing Redford is a Cucumber, even 8 years after I moved away from her. We don’t really talk anymore.


Vignette 3

“The Language of Us”

Age 8


My step mum always had friends where ever she went. We go on holiday and there is her group of ever-changing Vietnamese friends. She would find the Vietnamese people in the area, city, country, and befriend them. They were her friends and they all spoke Vietnamese together like a gaggle of geese. I would like to add that Vietnamese geese sound far more intelligent, sophisticated and fun than English speaking gaggles.

My sister and I couldn’t speak Vietnamese, but we didn’t want to speak English in the sauna where we were chilling out in on this particular holiday. We were upset to be excluded by the language barrier, so the following conversation was with the goal of also being able to communicate without them being able to understand. It was a game:


Embro astan enta yania.

Ekro implaa shantaa.

Ii pun na astenza.

Koplo. Jen stya kiki ri.

Aotearoa ipla storo. Ok, now we have to laugh together.

Zendaya kakariki. Ok, make a joke.

E I oa a tur a. HAHAHA.

 HAHAHA. Ong te mato whenua.

Teplah ispishii.


…and so on.



Vignette 4

“Sports Luggage and the Receipt”

Age 15 and 11 days



Do you have a credit card?

No. I’m 15.

Do you have the number of your mother’s credit or debit cards?

No. She’s poor.

I’m going to live with my Dad.

She has no money to pay for this.

Does your father have a credit card?

Yes but he lives overseas and

I don’t know his number and

I don’t have any money

on my phone to call him.

Oh, please don’t cry.

There’s no need for that.

I don’t know what to do.

I live in a different city.

I can’t go home.

I’m…going to get my manager.


l l l l l


My dear, I’m going to waive the fee,

But I’m going to claim that this is

“sports luggage”,

so we can get your things on the plane.

If anyone asks, it’s

“sports luggage”.

Ok. Thank you so much.


l l l l l


Are you the girl

they made cry?


Despicable, making

a little girl cry.


They wanted to charge me

six hundred dollars

for overweight baggage.



Vignette 5

“Australian Woman’s Weekly Trifle for All Occasions”

Age 10


On an early summery Christmas Eve afternoon, my mother and I made a trifle from the recipe book she has had for ten years. Mummy always makes it in a huge, heavy, octagon crystal bowl. All of the sides go straight up and down but curve at the bottom. It’s bigger than my head, I swear! Every Boxing Day we get to eat trifle out of the bowl and every day until its gone (it doesn’t take long). Trifle is my favourite part of Christmas lunch.

For those of you who don’t know what a trifle is or the way my mummy made it, this is how it’s compiled:


It starts with a vanilla sponge cake. We bought it at the supermarket with the box of jelly and cans of peaches before we started making it. The shelves in the supermarket are about three stories high and I love looking at all of the things you can buy. When I’m rich I’m going to buy all of the expensive ingredients because my mum always says no. I’m going to make the best cakes ever with the expensive chocolate and the expensive cocoa powder and those small bags of flour…but I’m going to make so many cakes that I use a 2kg bag of flour a day. I can’t wait.


When you get home from the supermarket you have to prepare all of the ingredients, like cutting the vanilla sponge cake into smaller squares so it’s easier to eat and so the jelly can absorb into the sponge better. Mummy always cuts the sponge so well. I’m allowed to cut it when I’m older, but I get to spread it in the bottom of the bowl evenly. It looks so fluffy.


Then comes the jelly that we prepared earlier, but only half because we need to share it between the layers. That also comes from a packet that is made with hot and cold water, then stir until it cools down. We drizzle that over the sponge slowly so we don’t drown the cake and make it super soggy. It’s fun to watch the white sponge cake change to a bright red because we bought raspberry flavor because it’s my favourite. Sometimes there are white corners that stick out that we spoon jelly over so it’s all red. Then we refrigerate for an hour until set.


Next are the canned peaches (because we didn’t have enough money for the fresh ones) that we strained; just enough to cover the jelly sponge. Just enough orange cut perfectly into slices of eighths. A few peaks of red stick out but we can’t spoon peaches over them so they stay sticking out.


We do have custard though. I wish we didn’t have custard. It tastes gross and feels gross in my mouth because it’s so thick. Luckily it’s really fun to make. Mummy lets me mix it together and it’s so hard to move the spoon through. I like stabbing it with the wooden spoon. We make it from scratch because it’s best to make everything you can from scratch. It’s also cheaper. So that fills in all of the gaps that the peaches couldn’t. It feels weird between my teeth, like puke. We need to put it in the fridge again.


Now, while the custard is setting, comes the cream that I got to whip with the electric hand beater! I’m working on making it so the cream doesn’t spray everywhere. Sometimes my arm gets tired and I get bored but the best bit is when mummy slowly sprinkles the icing sugar in and also a little bit of vanilla essence so the cream goes from one hundred percent white to cream colour. The trifle is ready for us to plop the cream on and, once again, spread evenly.


We repeat all of that again and then it’s done for the day. By this point it’s super heavy so mummy gets me to open the fridge door while she transports it from the bench to the second shelf. Sometimes she tells me to quickly make space so we can fit it inside.


As she lifts the shiny, stuffed bowl into the fridge it slips through her palms and fingers. The weight of the ingredients pulls the crystal bowl bottom to the ground where it shatters into three pieces and hundreds of little splinters. Even though the maroon carpet is fluffy, it wasn’t cushiony enough to save the bowl. I can’t help but turn bright red. Instantly I burst into tears.

“Why are you crying? Baby, you don’t need to cry.”

“I loved that bowl! Didn’t you get that when you married Daddy?”

“Yes, it was a wedding present from, uh, the Ching’s I think. It was old. We can get a new one.”

“I don’t want a new one. Can we fix it?”

“No. Don’t worry. I didn’t really like the Ching’s anyway. They were such snobs.”

“But I loved it!”

“I don’t care. That was the last thing from our marriage so I don’t care. You shouldn’t either. We can get a new bowl that’s bigger and better.”

But I loved that bowl and will never forget it.


Vignette 6

A dedication:

“For The Little Blond Boy with the Blue Eyes”

from the little brunette girl with hazel who never forgot.

Age 3


After my parents divorced…or separated, my Dad started seeing other women. He had a few girlfriends that I remember and they were all lovely. He must have been lonely because my Mum took my sister and I. We didn’t get to see our Dad much and we missed him a lot. I suppose he took us to his girlfriends’ houses to introduce us to the kids of previous marriages, just like my sister and I were.


The first girlfriend I remember had two kids. I don’t remember her name or her daughter’s name but I do remember her son’s name; Andrew. He had silky blond hair and pale white skin like mine, but I had brunette hair at the time, I believe.

We would play games like “Which Barbie’s Head Doesn’t Belong” where every Barbie was a winner. Our sister’s would cry to our parents so we would run upstairs and hide to escape the danger of being told off.


I remember they had a huge, beautiful stone-plated fireplace that would keep us warm as we played our destructive games.

I remember it being peaceful.

The memories are void of sound.

I remember how much I loved Andrew because he was my friend.


Vignette 7

“Memories for Future Reflection”

Age 9

My face is close to my Mama’s shin. The hair on her legs is clipped close, freshly cut but the hair is still visible through her clear, vitamin D deficient skin. The ends of the hair are so thick I can almost see the flat end of the hairs. I pull the pen of blue ink over her calf and connect it to another line I created previously. The patterns swirled with the shape of her swollen legs, covering everything from her ankles to her knees. In the future I will think: “Upon reflection, it’s a wonder how she didn’t get ink poisoning considering how frequently I would tattoo her.”

Drawing on her gave me focus, and in focus came comfort. I love drawing patterns. They swirl and stand straight next to each other. They make small pictures and the small pictures together make bigger pictures and bigger patterns. I lie on her to access certain parts of her leg. I knelt next to the pale brown couch where she lay as she occupied herself with a book of religion or self-help for her abusive marriage that I know nothing about and can’t recognise. In the future I will imagine she reads books on how to make friends, but I know it would be out of character for her to read such titles. I moved around her as she read her book and watched TV simultaneously.

Everything is calm; a warm weekend afternoon with no stress, no confinements and no fear. I have no fear right now. I’m not afraid my step-dad will walk through the door and tell me to go away. I’m not afraid that I will have to make his tea that I will spill a little bit and burn myself. I’m not afraid I will put too much milk in his tea and he will yell at me to make a new one. I’m not afraid that I will get locked in the dark garage with the dead spiders again, unable to get out. Mama isn’t allowed to come and get me for two hours or more after I get locked in. I’m not afraid that no one will come to find me. I’m not afraid that I will be told to go to my room and not come out until morning. I’m not afraid he will kick me for not making my bed again.

I’m not allowed to draw on Mama much. We only spend moment like this when my step-dad is away working, touring the world playing bass guitar while leaving his wife, children and step-children behind in what I will come to think is his shitty pale baby blue house, on the shitty street called “Lin-dis-farne”, in a shitty city called “In-ver-car-gill” in one of the most isolate countries in the world: “New Zea-land”.



Vignette 8

“On the Road to There - Let’s Stop and Smell the Roses”

Age 12


My mother decided it was a day to go to the cemetery because we were in the area.

Driving past the newborns always made me cry because it wasn’t fair. Their little bodies…


“Do you remember where the grave is?”

“No. I always forget.” —and I always did, but I did remember the image of the grave in my head because it was so large.

“It’s in the back” said my mother as the Toyota 8 seater van slugged through the plots at 5kmp/h.


I read name after name as fast as I could through the finger-printed window:


Mr. & Mrs. - 1869

Daughter of - 2003

Beloved Mother - 1981

Dearly Missed - 2 Months Ago


Some of the older graves had white, pearly ovals embedded into them with a grey-black print of what the person 6 feet below you once resembled. Standing on people’s graves always made me feel the moment I was in as my mind zoomed into tunnel vision. Nothing existed in this moment of me, only of what their life might have been like as hinted by the stone plaque shunted into the ground.


We turned right at a fork in the road that pulled us right, and we headed into a new section of graves. After snaking around for a few minutes the van stopped and my mum announced our arrival.

We trudged to the top of the hill where they lay. I stood on the other side of their grave, afraid to face the reality of death. I didn’t want to be reminded of how I had forgotten or of how I had lost someone I held so dear even though my age and time had rendered my feelings of loss to be irrational. I circled the row of stranger’s graves as to not be disrespectful by stepping over them, and I faced the plaque. The plot was so wide, three sections marked by a faint line, and edged with a thin metal rod around the whole perimeter. It framed them. The plot was broad because there were three sets of bones, unable to be parted by any line. They lay together, entwined forever. They died together, clinging to one another and their dog as the house they grew up in consumed them through the night in flame.


Here lies Elizabeth, Andrew and Sandy

May they forever rest in peace.


Their mother lay to the right.



­­Vignette 9

“Tiller of Soil, or Farmer”

Age 7


We were at an obligatory wedding where my sister, Belinda, and I knew no-one. My step-dad was in the wedding band as a bass player. I don’t remember my mother being in this memory. Maybe she told us to go off and play. Maybe my step-dad didn’t want Belinda and me in sight of everyone else. We ran off into the rose garden where we met a bunch of older gentlemen around my step-dad’s age; late fifties. One bent a little at the waist:

“Hello, there. What are your names?”


Shy and uncomfortable, I said my name avoiding eye contact.

“What lovely names. They’re the names of songs.” To turned to me: “Do you know what song your name is?”


He sang the opening words. “I love that song. We’re part of the band so how about we play it for you?”

“No thank you.”

“Oh, come on. Don’t worry about it. We’ll play it just for you.”

“No thank you. I don’t want you to.”

The men sauntered off as their break was over and it was time to get back to work. Belinda and I were alone in the garden and it had been a while since we had gone adventuring through the ruby and ivory roses. Belinda pulled a thorn off one and stuck it to her nose, making rhino sounds and telling me how she was going to knock me in the butt so I would fall over. I want to say “ram me with her horn” as I’m sure that’s more accurate, but out of context it may not be appropriate.

We made our way out of the maze and the band was setting up for their next song. I saw my mama and started heading towards her. She was sitting at an embellished table, all alone; chords ran past her table, almost framing her as my beacon. The stage was across the field, but I could see one of the men on stage point at me. Dread shot through my body. I couldn’t move. I hoped with all my might that they would forget my name and the whole conversation we had, but I heard through the loud speakers clean and true:

“Now this next one is one of my favourites, and this is especially for the little girl called Georgia.” And he pointed at me. “Georgia on My Mind”, ladies and gentlemen.”

The eyes of my step-father flashed towards mine and burned through me as he started the baseline. All eyes started turning towards me. I wanted out. I wanted the power of invisibility and my body responded – my feet moved so swiftly that within a minute I was invisible, buried deep within the rose maze.

I sat in that rose garden with my sister and cried from embarrassment about how my name was a song and now everyone knew.



Vignette 10

“Silence at Dawn”

Age 14


It was rare for my mother to be up so early on the weekend, or at least up and about at the ass-crack of dawn like I had to be for my weekend-morning supermarket job.

She offered to drive me to work and it felt particularly odd because I wasn’t used to being with company at dawn, but also because the word ‘work’ made me feel uncomfortable. ‘I have to go to my job’, I said. Everything was quiet and chilled, not yet warmed by the morning sun. No one was up except one or two birds out for the worm that wouldn’t be up for 45 more minutes. I guess worms sleep in on the weekend, too, after opening their slimy eyes and muttering “Fuck this” before curling back up into their dirt-poo beds and chucking the alarm on for one more hour.

The drive was short but my mum needed something from the supermarket early and so decided to pull the two-birds-one-stone maneuver.

After arriving through the barren parking lot, she cut the engine ten spots down from the main entrance. We were far too early, so much so that the employee entrance wasn’t even open so we waited.


“I miss Andrew.” I sulked through the hum of the heater.


“Andrew; my friend when I was little.”

“Why do you miss him?”
“Because I can’t help thinking about who he would be today.”


That day he would have been around 14. We might have been friends still, or we might have been completely estranged like I was with my Dad’s other ex’s kids.

Maybe if they hadn’t died my father would have gotten back together with their mother. Maybe he wouldn’t have been the lead suspect in the fire investigation even though he had a solid alibi of being in a city 9 hours away. Maybe we would have been half-brother and half-sister, maybe not. Maybe he would have died another way.


Today he would have been 23.

© Copyright 2019 G. E. Davies. All rights reserved.

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