As part of the Digital Writers’ Festival for 2015, we hosted an online discussion about confessional memoir – how anonymity and technology play together when it comes to confessional memoir writing. As part of the event, we asked the public to send us secret confessional flash memoir pieces for submission here. These are those pieces – the authors remain anonymous.
The Scum Team
I never predicted, when you went overseas for 2 months that the only thing you would bring back with you was the threat of infecting me with HIV. Having unprotected sex with someone in a country known for its high rates of HIV infection – and then having unprotected sex with me, your long term partner, wasn’t particularly intelligent. It was, in fact, incredibly thick of you. I celebrated my 21st birthday heavy in the knowledge that you may have sentenced us both to HIV, and that my first long partner had cheated on me 3 years into our relationship. Your guilt over this was so overwhelming I barely had time to think of me, and my health. It took 10 weeks to get the results back – that you were clean, I was clean, and we could finally break up. I still haven’t forgiven you, by the way. I’m okay with that.
The unsent draft section of my email account paints a foreign picture of someone who is capable of standing up for themselves.
Me and my friend jacked each other off before when we were about 12. I was deeply ashamed but I didn’t know whether it was worse to masturbate or to be masturbated by another guy. I’d rather play with girls but they were not as keen. He is a professor of Law, I am a director in an insurance company, we’re both married with children. I just wanted to write this because most of the pieces on scum are really lame.
When Rolf Harris was convicted of all that stuff I cried and read things on the Internet all night and then again into the pink slushy morning. Later I sat in the car and watched the road roll black, all glittery, swallowed by the moon and the sun and the clouds. I never liked Rolf Harris or his music and I barely knew the song ‘Tie Me Kangaroo Down’ until he was found guilty yet I still cried and my tears blinded me, like blue flowers in front of my eyes, except not flowers at all and nothing was blue. My tears hurt because sometimes tears just hurt. Sometimes they crawl inside and get under your skin and are like sticks or ugly stones or big gulps of air that have been trapped in zip lock bags with mouldy sandwiches, and you can’t breathe and not breathing is no fun but then realising you can breathe is good and feeling good after feeling bad for so long is one of the best things you can ever feel. I wonder if Rolf Harris ever feels good in prison. If he smiles at people. And what do his teeth look like when he smiles? Are they all sharp and pointy, like nails in wood? Or are they butter yellow? Maybe they’re stained with grief. Or maybe they’re white. Like snow. Not that sort of stuff you play in when you’re little and have never seen snow before because you live in Melbourne and snow is rare and you’re used to grabbing ice out of the freezer and chucking it at Mum. Instead, it’s the kind of snow that shines and sparkles, all crisp like biting into a Granny Smith, and you’re in Canada – in a little place called Pemberton, and the sky’s blue and you can’t help wishing you could stay there forever. Back then you never thought about Rolf Harris. Back then you ate McDonalds on the side of the road and held out your thumb and climbed into cars with strange men and stared out the window at the rain climbing from the sky. And Rolf Harris was somewhere laughing, maybe playing Glastonbury because he did that a lot, and drumming his hands on his knees, and grinning a grin that wound round his neck because people loved him, and he knew he deserved that love. Do people always deserve love?
R, go back and don’t be gay. Let’s do it all again. We will play on rocks and drink sugary tea and create love heart post it notes and dye our hair outrageous colours and sing loudly and madly and collapse on the bed, clutching our sides and we’ll hold hands in the dark and paint in the garden and dance like zombies and throw out perfectly good spring rolls and kiss innocently and then strip each other down and stare in amazement at our naked bodies and have fast, awkward sex. Please? We’ll get better at everything. Like rose tulips in their first year of growth. We will get better. I don’t want to share you with anyone and I promise that I will be all yours.
I’ve had more sex cheating on my girlfriend than I ever had cheating on my mother.
A Sexy Ocean’s 11
Nothing brings me more joy than a really sharp list. I tick off each task on my neurotic to-do schedule with a manic smile and a song in my heart. That song is probably from the original 1984 animated Transformers Movie, btw, and is about super motivated robots! I have an appreciation for organising people’s schedules that is probably akin to the enjoyment Indiana Jones feels running away from rocks, or that the sun feels when it’s being a big hot face that looks at my house too much. One of the first inklings of my willingness to over-organise my life, and also that I would never be happy in a share house, was when I was 19-years-old and I sat down and wrote ‘how to lose my virginity before I am twenty’ in my notebook, right next to a shopping list. Now before this turns into some kind of coming-of-age teen road trip springbreak summer comedy, I have to point out that my lack of sex was not something I was particularly fretting about. I wasn’t slouching around in my fedora complaining about being friendzoned. I wasn’t striking out with the ladies and the gentlemen at the local dance club after pulling a lacklustre shape on the dance floor. In fact – I wasn’t even particularly trying to lose my cherry, feeling like I had an entire fruit salad of things to care and be excited about. But there was a finality about turning twenty that made me look at my goals and achievements, and I felt that I wanted to be the kind of twenty-year-old who could work their way around some genitalia with the casual ease of a grizzled mechanic popping the hood to an old truck. Hugh Grant movies taught me that the best way of losing my virginity would be to meet someone, establish some kind of sensual rapport via conversation and a mutual appreciation of how our bodies are all held together and then through mutual consent there’d be all sorts of naked nonsense. I mean, sure, I could do that – but it hardly seemed efficient. It seemed like the method that a time wasting fool would employ. And, to be brutally honest, there was a catch-22 involved in that scheme. To learn how to properly have sex with someone, I had to go out and have sex with someone, a task I did not know how to do. I wanted to play the tutorial before I leapt into chapter one. Who could teach me the required hand-locks and sensual karate chops necessary to trigger an instant orgasm from my sex partner? It seemed to me that two friends of mine that I’d met at university were the obvious choices. I wrote her name down in my notebook, and then called her immediately. ‘Hello, yeah I’m good thanks – I was wondering if maybe you’d be interested in helping me lose my virginity.’ There was a short pause, and then a gale of laughter. ‘OK!’ Her girlfriend was also roped in, as we discussed all the particulars for this event – time, place, duration, and setting achievable goals, expectations. We decided on a week from today, and I set the phone down, pleased and terrified and gave my notebook a jaunty tick. The only other thing I had to do that day was give the dogs some de-worming medicine. On the day of our scheduled threesome appointment, it was decided that I would probably be less nervous if I was severely stoned, which meant sometime after the introductory round of foreplay I lost a lot of memory and remember having numb hands and feet. There was no way I performed in any sort of satisfactory or sexy way, but my coaches did find the whole situation incredibly funny, so at least I provided a laugh. While I may not have unlocked secret moves or discovered the precise amount of times you need to press on the clitoris like a door buzzer, I did discover that organising helps me process fear, and once the fear is gone, sex is just a big naked NSWF stroll in the park.
I was never afraid of monsters hiding under my bed, or in the closet. I never needed a night-light. I was so confident, so unafraid of pain, of failure. I climbed the biggest trees, rode my bike down steep hills. I jumped into the deep end of everything before I knew if I could swim or not. Maybe that’s what attracted the monsters. They sneak up slowly, so slowly I didn’t think anything of them. They don’t even look like monsters. They look like friends. Friends who were concerned for me, who wanted what’s best for me, friends who were always sitting on my shoulder, whispering to me. “What if you fail?” “What if it hurts?” At some point, theirs became the only voices I listened to. The only ones I trusted. It was just the big things at first. I didn’t jump straight into the deep end anymore, I would wade in from the shallows. And the monsters were there, looking out for me, telling me to be careful, oh please be careful, it may be shallow but it can still be dangerous. Eventually I stopped going in the water altogether. I’m not afraid of monsters. I’m afraid of everything else.
I am 32 years old and married with children, but a day never goes past when I don’t think about the high school English teacher I fancied when I was sixteen.
Everywhere I go, I hear whispers of Tinder this, Tinder that. Can one find love on Tinder? I found love alright. The more I swipe, the more I see men sharing obscure sizes. Being 6 feet is apparently important to share. Seriously, what’s with guys and their dick a pick? Hearing it and seeing it are two very different things. At least you can giggle and switch of the visual scums. But my eyes! My poor eyes – It cannot unsee what it saw. The fact they clean shave off the pubic hair – dude do you think you’re a porn star? eww I wonder, is it a ritual and visual urgency for sex or maybe it’s a symptom of male detrimental psyche. What’s with this profile and coin next to his piece of meat? Oh, it’s to help show the “size”. The perception of male beauty in modern times has become so warped, that they try to be the Renaissance’s David. Chiselled abs and their gym selfie is the social online. But with one major difference – size really does matter. David, what a hottie, always hard, smooth, toned and guess what? He ain’t big at all. David’s dick is normal compared to the ones found online. There is a plenty of love online, indeed love of one’s ego and their tools. Go, free Willie!
I walk this earth in a constant state of concern about my large clit and full inner lips. I have never felt at peace with them. Is this due to them being too big, my own insecurities, or the fact that no one I’ve ever loved has made peace with them either? I still don’t know. Doesn’t stop me playing with them, though.
Success was expected. Family severely disappointed when I eventually lost my sh$t. 7 years of hospitality, abusive relationships ( boyfriends and friends) and drug dependence. Depression. Light. Found/fell into my passion and life. Reflection. Each disaster was a stepping stone. Gratitude. I am so lucky to have experienced and chosen to learn from my mistakes.
You get home from holiday, you’re young but not as young as you think and your Dad kicks up a stink when you reach for your blanket and hook your thumb along the curve of your palate. You take this action, this comfort to bed with you for years, it’s a type of therapy. It isn’t so much about the suck of it, but about the smell of your blanket, that becomes your pillow, that becomes your safety. You don’t know why you do it, but it’s addictive. You suck your thumb until you’re in your early twenties. You know its wrong, you know you’re weird but the anxious bubble in your chest says, ‘Do it.’ You don’t suck any more, not like that anyway. But your shame is still loud. Still dresses like a three headed dog and sits at your door, rushing at you each time you call its name.
I’m stressed as hell. I got fired from my new job last week. I couldn’t do the work because my mouth had swollen up due to issues with my teeth. I have almost no savings and can’t afford to go to a dentist. I’ve just moved into a new apartment where the rent is exorbitant but I could initially justify it as close to work. Now I’ve got no job, my savings are running out fast and my teeth are literally falling out. I’m screwed.
We used to take a class together at uni. I liked Ryan in a giddy teenage kind of way. He liked me back, I think. Once, the morning after a party fuelled by leftover of blood alcohol, I wrote a note on a paper plate and slipped it under to door of a sleeping mutual friend. I wrote that I liked Ryan, thought he liked me, asked if the mutual friend could put a word in. I caught a bus home, sticky and hung over. I never heard back about the message on the paper plate. Years later I wonder what Ryan is up to. I look him up on Facebook but discover that we’re no longer friends.
I was only 18 when my boyfriend beat me up Sometimes I still believe that I asked for it because I always knew that he one day would hurt me but I stayed Nobody has ever touched me tenderly
Literature speak SCARES ME. As a writer without a writing degree I feel constantly LOST. I have no idea what “flash memoir” means. Have I done this right? Who knows.
Hello Granddad, How are you? Happy New Year! We just got back from our sailing trip. We sailed around to Wilson’s promontory, a spit of land along the east coast of Victoria that is mainly national park. Its fairly wilderness in there and very beautiful, with lots of rocky bays and coves. We stayed in a natural anchorage called Refuge Cove, so named because it is a neat little double bay that is protected from weather from all directions except dead easterlies and westerlies are the prevailing winds in Bass Strait. The boat is a 38ft Cutter Rig named Destiny, her draft is just over two meters at the keel. She is made of New Zealand Kauri timber with a fiberglass coating over her hull. She was built and launched in about 1968 in New Zealand. She sleeps about six people in four single and one double berth in the bow and is fitted out in the cabin with a toilet, fridge, stove and wooden trimmings. She has a 20hp Bukh diesel engine of danish manufacture and an eighty liter fuel tank, she uses about a liter of diesel an hour. There is a small inflatable dinghy with a small petrol outboard. I believe her mainsail and jib are made of dacron, Destiny has a spinnaker as well but we’ve never used it, not even in light weather. She was designed as a racing boat but then fitted out for cruising, so she does a respectable eight knots in the right conditions and can point very close up into the wind. There are only two really frustrating things about her design; that her third reefing outhaul line needs to be winched on from the mast as opposed to the cockpit, so when you’re in really bad weather you’ve got to spend most time on the foredeck sorting things out and secondly that new winches have been installed for the jib sheets and they are too close to the spray dodger, so you’ve got to hold the thing back to get a full turn. Otherwise Destiny is a beautiful boat that just leaps along. She is a dark blue up to the water line, then a light blue and white from the toe rail up; which, like a lot of her deck fittings, is teak. There are some photos, I will upload them and send them along. It was a good trip, though we had some difficulties with the engine on the first day. We set out across Port Phillip bay and had just ridden out a storm of 40-50 knot winds when the engine gave out and we had to turn back. We got it fixed, with the help of a retired diesel mechanic who had also gotten the worst of the weather and set out again; fortunately we didn’t have any more problems with the engine. We were unlucky again with the wind once we got out the heads of Port Phillip bay and had to beat into the wind all the way to the prom, with strong easterlies. We spent a few days at Refuge cove and then headed back via Oberon Bay but were becalmed for about a day and were just bobbing about before Cape Lipptrap. Luckily a good wind got up and we managed to reach and run pretty much all the way back to Melbourne from there, we made the distance from Queenscliff to Melbourne in about four hours, which is pretty fast. A reach is such a wonderful point of sail, you get the heel and that dolphin like bounce as the vessel cuts through the water but its so much smoother than going into the wind, you can stay on tac for an age. We did a fair bit of running as well, which is an interesting point of sail as well, as the wind is coming from behind you, you really don’t notice exactly how fast you’re going and I say it were very gentle, if it weren’t for all that rolling! When I was hand sterring it was ok and I could account for it and kind of surf down the waves but when we put the little automatic steering robot to work it couldn’t make the same allowances and we took more water from freak waves while running in fairly light conditions than we did in two days of beating in gales. Bass Strait is a pretty interesting stretch of water. There is a lot of marine bird life out there; Albatross, Pacific Gulls, Sooty Sheerwaters, Storm Petrels, Gannets, Turns and more. The wind is very odd and your passage can be raging one day and completely calm the next. The prevailing wind is westerly but we had mostly easterlies and plenty of cloud. There are lots of little rocks and stony islands out there and many historic shipwrecks in close to the coast. On the outward passage, we stopped in at Oberon bay, on the western side of the prom and we had to come through a ring of little islands; it was dark and blowing a gale but we made it without too much trouble but a lot of tacs. There was such an odd wind that night, it was blowing very hot off the land and you could smell all the gum and teatree on the prom, I imagine it must be what the sirocco is like in Venice. There are quite a few dolphins and seals running around there too and they will come and play in the wake of the boat, particularly if you don’t have your engine on too much; which we did try to avoid as much as possible. In fact the we mostly used it to hold the boat up into the wind for reefing sail and anchoring, which is a pretty nail biting process; you drop out the chain, then reverse wait for it to go taught but it still often drags and you sit up worrying about it. I’d feel more comfortable if Destiny had a slightly longer chain, as it is we only have about thirty meters, and apparently the ideal is to anchor in a depth where you can have about six meters of chain for every meter of water; so we’re really limited to about five meters. What kind of boats have you sailed in? Have you had a nice Christmas and NY? What have you been up to? What are you reading at the moment? I am reading a book about the legends and mythology of ancient Egypt, its quite fascinating; a very complex religion, with a clear influence on our own cosmogony and literature. With love, James