Spring 2017

2018

2017

Auckland Shorts

By Ashleigh Smith

Wen-Juenn Lee
© Wen-Juenn Lee

On the Street

*

A cafe blackboard’s daily ‘nugget of wisdom’ promotes money, happiness, and crying comfortably in Porsches. A white Corolla slows at the lights. Electrical tape clutches waterlogged cardboard spelling a license number in sharpie, its liquefying letters birthing strange unidentifiable creatures. It convulses into Cromwell Street. Cardboard entrails spit out behind the wheels, splattering George’s ankles, as he beheads perennials in his berm garden. The patch is a careful square; its sides equidistant from dandelion-yellow gate posts, and a matching house burrowed in frantic vegetation. It contaminates the street with dusty blooms, milkweed, and green gilded chrysalises dangling from every letterbox.

*

Outside

*

My flatmate found another package under our house last week. Sent August, 2016. Our postman likes hiding things. We play along, unsure of the terms, and often lose. Once, after tripping up the back steps, I spotted a parcel deep beyond the top step and the door sill. Much has been lost to this cavity beneath the house. Through one particular opening, below the kitchen, we found a suitcase. I lifted the lid, head turned away from the fibrous damp, body recoiling. Inside: a package. Macarons from Grandma, according to the label. I do not unwrap it to find out.

*

In the Taxi

*

We reached his third child: a daughter, thirty-five, living in Johannesburg.

‘She called, we haven’t talked in weeks, she says “Hey Dad...’’ He scrunched forward. ‘‘My cat’s sick, please lend me the bill?”’

An automated voice had threatened thirty-six minutes from Glenfield to Mount Eden. We indicated off the North-western motorway. Almost home.

‘My wife, she always says “Ed! You spoil her!” - that’s what fathers do, hey?’

The daughter and her husband had just repainted their house. Pale green. Their cat had mistimed its dental problems.

We pulled up.

‘Most people give me five stars,’ he said, ‘for telling stories...’

About Ashleigh Smith

Ashleigh is a graduate from the University of Auckland in Architecture, and is currently completing a BA in English. She works part-time at the School of Architecture whilst writing, studying and printmaking.