EMBODY

Conspire to make great art
Play around with different combinations of these written and visual beginnings, middles and ends to mix your own stories!

Thanks to our partners Tutti Visual Arts Studio and the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion

Contributing Writers:Gaele Sobott, Michelle St Yves, Colin Hambrook & Gayle Kennedy

Visual Artists: Kurt Bosecke, Giorgio Mouzakitis, Jasmine Jones, Kurt Bosecke, Josh Maloney, Scott Pyle, Debbie Osbourne & Charlie Taplin

Step 1

Click the arrows or press your keyboard’s left and right arrow key to browse the Story beginnings, middles and ends to mix your own story.

Step 2

When you’re happy with your choices, lock them in by clicking the lock icon for each section

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Happy with it? Hit SHARE to submit your story to the gallery, then share it on social media! Want to try again? Hit CLEAR to start again.

1
Choose one beginning...

Finally, I have my very own little boat and I'm floating on the sea. It took a long time to get here. I made the paper myself, from pulp gathered from my old books, that I couldn't have anyone read.

I tore those pages by hand into tiny pieces, so not even a single letter could be read. As I tore, shame flowed out into my tears, turning the paper to pulp. Blue pulp. Blue from the ink on each tiny piece of paper.

"Will I ever be free?"

"Will it ever end?"

As I kept tearing, and my tears kept falling, I formed a lumpy vessel of blue around me. The thoughts kept coming, but I wouldn't write them again.

"Once I'm alone there will be stillness and quiet." 

Originally written by Pony Horseman

It seems that something has lain dormant within my genes for many years. With hindsight the beginning of it all could have been traced back. But who was to know? What is it that leads any of us to become more solid? We are all water, mostly – but that change, usually occurring in infancy when we lose an essential 10 per cent of water from our cells, just never quite happened within my body.

Looking back, at 5, mum and dad noticed I’d become fixated by water, watching the slip of clear fluid bubble from the bath tap; listening out for the flow of dirty water down the drain; feeling the fall of rain drenching my body, as if in a trance.

I remember knocking a jug and being mesmerised by the liquid coursing in rivulets across the surface and down in a persistent drip, drip over the edge onto the floor. Mum called insistent – but it was as if I’d fallen into a dream. 

Originally written by Colin Hambrook

That yellow dog and its black eyes. Black coal in yellow cake. Has pylons as legs and paws of filers as nails, pinning me to the ground through my splintered rib-cage. I am a metal carcass as that floorless, upended and de-upholstered car, abandoned in the mallee scrub with one wheel left spinning. This yellow dog driving me. The four-cornered black sheet of sky now its protector, its enabler.

The breath of this moment arrives with weight. The dog's tongue delivers a heavy metal compound in its drooling and rank bark. My absent airbags exhale soapy bubbles of carbon dioxide rimmed with composted oxygen from the last time I inhaled. There is no alchemy in this conjugate moment.

Originally written by Michele Saint-Yves

"So lovely to see you out and about" says the stranger, her face a mixture of concern and smugness. She feels with absolute certainty that she is doing the right thing.

"Why?" I snarl. "You don't know me so why do you you give a fuck about seeing me out and about? " She is taken aback. Shocked.

She recovers. "Well, you know you being in a wheelchair and all."

"What the fuck has that got to do with it?"

"Well you don't see many people like you out and about" she says defensively.

"People like me?" I snap in no mood to be patronized.

Pulling herself up to full height, she's been kneeling by my wheelchair, her face close to mine, her breath smells of gin and desperation and says "Was just trying to be nice. Never realized you people could be such arseholes."

Originally written by Gayle Kennedy

Sun is shining, sky is blue and I'm in love with you. Joking, I'm not in love with anybody, not even myself.

Crookedness rules the waves, God Save the Queen, advance Australia! My unsteady gait, every step I risk tripping, falling in a heap on the ground. Security has never been my strength. Strength has never been my security. Not physical strength anyway.

At school, one kid used to yell, "Run, run, as fast as you can, you can't catch me I'm the gingerbread man," and tear off laughing.

I thought, "Who the hell is the gingerbread man?" and wobbled my way to the classroom.

Originally written by Gaele Sobott

2
Choose one middle...

I continue to walk the dangerous mile, the sea lapping against the stone wall, salty rhythms, lullabies smelling of seaweed. Alone, longing for the steady arm of a kind person.

They don't know. Why would they? How could they . . . know? Running, jogging, speed-walking, sweaty in leggings, ears plugged, pump up the jam, isolate the sound, pin it down, silence the soundscape. The landscape, the sky, the water blue, yellow warmth on my skin.

The familiar fatigue skulks heavy through my limbs. My muscle shredded like pulled beef, slow-cooked thigh. My knees grind.Pain and I insist on walking the beauty, the peace of the bay. Not far now. But I must rest.

Originally written by Gaele Sobott

Finally, with my head resting on my little paper boat, I am watching the water.

The light glimmers on its surface, and reflects onto my face.

I think of all I have left behind, and I feel relief, at least, I think?

The way the water moves with its layer of light over shadowy depths, remind me of times with those I loved my hardest. Times when they called out to me "not too far! Not too deep!"

Those words were surely some form of love, reflecting back at me?

The shadowy ink beneath though, could that just stay beneath?

"Forget! Forget it!"

But this water reminds me, in its shadows and light, and that I cannot forget.

So, I stare out across the water, and I drift away in my head. I turn those shadows to the ink that bleeds from my paper boat, my words to rest beneath.

Originally written by Pony Horseman

I am always starry-eyed and difficult to distract, hard to reach at the best of times. I am made of something other, a different solution.

On reflection, by my teens, mum and dad had always hoped against hope that my need for water, to be by water, the call to be in water, was a phase.

Tests undertaken by the doctor revealed unusual signs in my physiognomy, but nothing that responded to answers. No amount of special diets, supplements and medication had any affect. Attempts to balance the high levels of oxygen in my red blood cells, excessive plasma and low weight always seemed hopeful, but led to no substantial improvement.

The classroom was always a difficult place of unfulfilled expectation. I could never be the person they wanted me to be; so happy now to be free of school.

Originally written by Colin Hambrook

Male friends spoil and cosset me. Proffering drinks, we flirt, we laugh. I can see the woman her friends have no idea why I'm the centre of so much male attention. They can't see the easy camaraderie, the cheek, and fun, the flirting because they can't see me.

They see an overweight woman in a wheelchair. Someone who must be grateful to be out in the world. Escaping what they imagine is some life in the corner of a hospital room or a a nursing home. They feel entitled to the attention; they are after all, slim, pretty, walking. I'm sure they content themselves with the idea that I am simply an object of pity. They content themselves with the thought that the men are just being nice as they continue to glare and comment amongst themselves.

Originally written by Gayle Kennedy

This yellow dog and those black eyes. It couldn't help itself. Energy to burn. Busting fit to emit. To pay it forward. To Frankenstein me.

It does not comprehend that I am a spent fuel rod. I can't take carbon, iron and lead: I need pure protons with my oxygen to arise.

Whoever I was in that moment before ceases, as its apparition hears the oxidising of my now steel skeleton. The red ochre effervescence my new coating. A rusting corpse in a rust-bucket State Corps.

This yellow dog's heavy metal licking delivers no proton motive force to jumpstart my motor. My sparks are plugged and the cleft between my synapses is a deep and dry gorge. Maybe I ought to have oak barrel-banded my body to that red river gum. Upright on sacred ground. My back against its bark.

Originally written by Michele Saint-Yves

3
Choose one end...

The yearning to be water is upon me.

I am looking at a road ahead, a path towards and towards, and I see a river. Moving closer to an edge, it’s as if everything sings with a greater clarity. There is an all-encompassing stream of light, expanding and contracting, mimicking water. Surely, I have arrived.

I am gripped by a voice outside of time, moving me forwards to a new reference point. Listening, I am sliding through air, slowly losing definition. Everything turns increasingly to echo. The very substance of the world becomes more manageable, more charged yet imbued with a sense of peace and wholeness.

All is unbroken, undamaged; as if the procession of matter across infinity were connected and resolved in a combination of hydrogen and oxygen in which the universe and everything in it were in a state of grace… and I am home.

Originally written by Colin Hambrook

The night's over. I'm giddy with whisky, music and the smell of testosterone. I wheel towards the exit, followed closely by my male phalanx.

"Must give good head" snarls one of the women.

"How else would you explain all those blokes hangin round?" says another.

"Living proof that cripples can be cunts" says the original woman.

I turn towards them. They join forces, the combined malice palpable as they attempt to stare me down. Intimidate me.

"Enjoy your night ladies" I say, smiling sweetly.

Their makeup not so perfect anymore as alcohol and bile smear their lipstick. They go as a gaggle to the restroom to tidy up then head to a bar where they'll be gorgeous and get white girl drunk. They might pick up but will more likely end up holding each other's hair as they vomit multi coloured drinks and failure.

I will lie in bed and smile.

Originally written by Gayle Kennedy

"A bell dings, dings, dings and I move out of the way, leaning against the wall, in the slip stream of a cyclist. Too fast for me, people sprinting by.

"Run, run, as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the ginger bread man." Someone behind me, yells.

I turn to look. He slows down. "I ran from the baker and his wife too. You'll never catch me, ha ha, not you."

He stops and leans on the wall next to me. I breathe his skin, freshly baked, just out of the oven. Such a cocky man. I turn and in two bites, I eat his head, his black currant eyes. I eat his arms and his legs. Seagulls dive, wailing, squawking. They peck and gobble until there is nothing left.

I continue to walk my wobbling path. Revenge is ginger. Revenge is sweet."

Originally written by Gaele Sobott

Finally, I am alone, laying here in my little paper boat. The sun has gone down and the whole world is like a single dark drop of ink, I'm like the tiny fleck of reflected light.

Although alone, there are things I need to tell.

I go to write on the surface of my boat, but the paper is no longer the smooth, clean page it once was. Any ink would catch in its lumps and bumps.

I close my eyes. The waves underneath me are the only sound. I listen. It's like a soothing voice, which envelops me in a hum.

I sing back to the waves, my voice floats across them.

"Will I ever be free?"

"Will it ever end?"

When I open my eyes, stars have gathered above me reflecting back my stories. If others look up from where they lay, will they understand?

Originally written by Pony Horseman

The yellow dog and these black eyes. It's a supernatural force of nature. Guided by uncertain coordinates that lie in the stars, it roams looking for weak flesh searching for stone caves.

The disrobed weak shadow crawling out to the edge of night where the world half opens its stone circle. A half-opened world where I forgive night for day, where I want to come to die at dawn and be reborn at dusk and in the encircled darkness of the tomb become the "I" I was meant to be and will be again.

Yet at the final leg of the crawl, the entrance in sight, my spirit encounters this yellow dog and its black eyes. It is monumental as it sits up on its hind-legs, blocking my entry and locking me in. I stare at it with silent reverence. A moment without weight. The moment before its leap. The moment before it bestows faith. No matter how long it must lick, faith that I can be alive to life as I am, no matter my form.

Originally written by Michele Saint-Yves

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