Manic Readers

Linda Brooks

I was born in the Chinese year of the horse. Early in life I found that being born in the year of the horse didn't mean that horses liked me. Perhaps because I wasn't Chinese. Perhaps I should have been born in the Australian year of the kangaroo. My paternal grandmother called me 'skippy hoppy' so maybe there was a cosmic mistake.

Every other girl fell in love with horses at about 10, so I thought I would join the craze. Having proved to be an excellent tree-climber and accomplice on my brother's escapades (usually on the back of some hotted-up motorbike or 'bush-basher') I thought horse-riding would be a snack. In my fertile imagination I could picture myself flying gracefully over fences like Elizabeth Taylor in National Velvet. I flew over fences, but unfortunately minus the horse. Ouch!

I tried again and again but it was a love affair that ended, as many do, with regret, recrimination and wounded pride. Finally a horse that I tried to gently goad into actually moving trod on me after throwing me to the ground. I was winded. It was the first time I was speechless.

I then decided I would be a writer and circulate my own newspaper in the local neighbourhood. However, I was short one printing press. Not allowing this small detail to stand in my way I commandeered my cousins to rewrite my articles so that there would be lots of handwritten copies to distribute. They were very poor employees and after having the job descriptions explained to them they ran home shouting, "Get lost!" It was a phrase I would hear again through life.

I then decided to be a nurse. Bandaids were in plentiful supply at our house so I ran around the schoolyard putting bandaids on hapless students who fell off the monkey bars. That career choice seemed to 'take' a bit better.

Now, after 20 or so years of nursing I have decided to write again. With my first short story collection, 'An Australian Childhood' now as an ebook, I am excited about the journey ahead and the stories I am passionate about.

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