Monday, April 15, 2013

Lava in my loungeroom

The following is the result of a memory writing exercise from the Life Writing workshop I attended on the weekend. It was facilitated by Patti Miller and organised via The Australian Writers' Centre. This is not a sponsored post, but I thoroughly recommend the workshop for anybody wanting to write about their life.


My dad used to be a teacher, but he wasn’t always that. Before I knew him, he was a geophysicist.

Our school holidays were spent driving to remote parts of Australia, looking at rocky outcrops, sedimentary formations and soil erosion. I remember being cold, and always sick.

We didn’t go to fun parks or playgrounds like other kids, but I did own a very impressive rock collection.

Late one night I crept out of my bedroom and slithered down the long hallway, past my parents’ empty bedroom to the hallway door. The hallway door marked the No-Go Area. It was always closed at bedtime and all hell broke loose if we dared open it after lights-out.

Weird sounds were coming from behind the door. They drew me from my bed and tempted me. Do I dare risk the inevitable parental wrath by opening the door? Do I dare enter the No-Go Area?

Normal No-Go Area sounds were comfortingly familiar. Documentaries about science. Bodie and Doyle shouting and shooting.

These were not those sounds.

Clickety clack. Clickety clack.

Waves of crashing thunder.

Clickety clickety clack.

I dared a peek.

Lava flowed out of a crater, oozing slowly down a hillside, filling my lounge room with eerie yellow light.

My Dad spotted me and I froze, cringing, waiting for the inevitable get-back-to-bed script.

Instead, to my permanent surprise, my Dad beckoned me onto his lap. I watched the reel-to-reel film with saucer eyes as pyroclastic flows burst down mountainsides, and the earth’s core broke free of its mantle, pushed up and out by inconceivable eons of pressure.

It would be a few years yet before I knew how that felt.


  1. My Dad was a teacher also.He taught at uni and I have wonderful memories of him teaching us kids about the universe.We would lie on the lawn with him at night and look up at the sky and learn so much.
    I love how your words took me back to a happy carefree time in my life.
    I could feel every word and I was with you in every step down that hallway.Thankyou.x

  2. Brilliant memory! Brought back a flash of my dad walking downstairs naked in the middle of the night to go to the toilet and me accidentally seeing his hairy willy and us both being absolutely horrified. My mind works in mysterious ways.