Just Desserts

Opening night for Just Desserts had a bit of an abnormal hiccup. With an ambiguous location (The Park, Gluttony) and unfortunately some misdirection from Information staff, I found myself among perhaps thirty other show goers at a loss for where the show would actually be. Among fans of Michelle Pearson’s previous work, I heard stories about just how much they enjoyed last year’s Main Course and why they came back to witness her work once again. Thankfully, we were all able to make it to the show (which started late because of this hiccup) and enjoy the talents of Pearson, the band, and the night’s cooks.

With a comparatively high ticket-price, Pearson’s show is well worth the admission. She and the band work well together to present quite a neat cabaret about cooking, revenge, and the realities of being a new mum. While most of her songs are covers or simply altered covers, some like ‘That Don’t Impress Me Much’ have been altered to have just a touch more political commentary about our revered role models: Trump, ScoMo, and Ms. Pauline Hanson.

What makes this show unique is that, as the title suggests, it is Just Desserts. Throughout the show Pearson serves up three desserts to the audience including a toffee and apple lollipop, a chocolate truffle, and a nipple-cupcake. With a small amount of audience participation (one male individual selected at random) this is the kind of cabaret you could bring your mum to.

It is incredibly impressive of Pearson to be performing after giving birth just six weeks previous and some of her show is devoted to speaking to that experience. Pearson, like any new mum, wanted it all: to have the healthiest, smartest, and best-sleeping baby around, and to be able to perfectly manage working and motherhood together. Of course, no one can be the perfect mother and just like everyone else Pearson does her best to be the best mother possible.

As much as I would love to give this show a higher rating because of the amazing band and the incredible vocal talents of Pearson, I have to acknowledge the lack of narrative cohesion and the unrealised potential of the show given they could go so much further with the Just Desserts theme. Of course, as it is, it is well worth a visit.

4 / 5 stars


Words by Kayla Gaskell

Just Desserts is playing at Gluttony until March 14

For more information and to book tickets click here

Please note for anyone confused by the show’s location, that it is at the very back of Gluttony near the food trucks

‘Warm Skin, Cold Skin’- By Sarah Ingham

In that moment, the memory of when she discovered she was pregnant pushed itself into her mind. She had been in awe, amazed that her body could incubate and bring forth another human being. Underneath her warm skin was another, smaller heartbeat. This new life was her responsibility now: a big responsibility and hers alone.

He had grown up as a happy child, full of life’s zest. A sprinkling of stubbornness and his temptation towards the unknown had always kept her on her toes, but he was forever her boy. Scraped knees were healed with a kiss, hungry tummies always fed, and that’s as complicated as life got. She would wake up to his warm skin beside hers on cold nights. His cheeky grin and dirty face underneath all that bouncy, curly hair was the reason she got up every morning to face the day. It was just the two of them, and that was all she needed.

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As he grew older, he started distancing himself and seeing her less and less. The two bedroom apartment was small enough that it was hard to hide, but he did. He began communicating purely in short grunts, like some kind of cave-man. She told herself that this was just a phase, that all teenagers did it. She herself had stopped being a daughter many years ago. She convinced herself that she could be there for him, for the moment he decided to return to her.

She let him have his privacy; she knew that was important to him. She began smelling the distinct smell of marijuana smoke around the house, seeping in from underneath doors and out windows. She closed her eyes, gathering strength. What should she do? Would this continue? Should she act now or let her boy figure it out himself? She had no-one to ask. She felt helpless.

He began becoming more aggressive, refusing to help out around the house and yelling at her about the smallest things. He would play loud, angry-sounding music late at night and she cringed, knowing that the entire building could hear it, thanks to the paper-thin walls. She grew afraid of him, this life she had created. He had grown in her womb, small and happy, but now he towered over her, shouting and smelling acridly of cigarettes.

He continued growing, physically up and mentally down. He locked himself in his room and refused to come out for anything but food or more mind-numbing drugs. Existing with him made her anxious and confused. He was far from her little boy now. She tried to love him unconditionally, but loving him became harder and harder each day.

Desperate to get away from her, he moved out at the first possible opportunity. She cried for days, her heart aching. Not for the monstrous Neanderthal that had left her, but for the small boy whose tiny body had snuggled close to hers when he felt frightened. Now she was alone.

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Years went by, and she missed her boy every day. Every day she prayed to God to protect and shelter him. Her small child was out in the world with no-one there to help him. He was lost and she couldn’t find the bright little boy he used to be. Grey crept into her hair and her eyes grew dull. Worry aged her.

She received a short message from her son in the early hours one morning, containing an address and a few words about wanting to meet. Her heart leapt into her throat. Was this true? Was her son returning to her? She rejoiced!

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She pushed the door open with great difficulty. Beer cans and empty spirit bottles littered the floor, and the rancid stench of alcohol wafted from them. The posters on the wall were torn and slowly beginning their descent to the grubby floor. Chip packets crunched under her feet and tin cans clattered as she moved slowly across the room. The mattress haphazardly thrown in the corner of the room was stained and the small, thin blanket barely covered the corner. He sat, slumped in the darkest corner of the dingy room with his chin on his chest. His soiled, oversized clothes hung limply on his skeletal frame. He looked like a child sitting there. Like the lost child he was. This was her boy. She had found him, and he hadn’t aged a day.

His matted hair still showed small signs of curl around the edges but most was stuck to his face and scalp – with blood or sweat she didn’t know. His limp arm was dotted with his needle-marks, more than she could count. As she drew closer she could see that his mouth was slightly open and his face was pale. She knelt next to him in shock. His once baby-blue eyes were bloodshot and glazed. Rips in the knees of his faded jeans revealed scrapes with dried blood crusted over them. No kiss could fix this. She reached and clutched his bony arm. His skin was as cold as ice. This was no Prodigal Son. He was dead.

As she sat amongst the filth, she began to shake. Her eyes filled with tears at the loss of this part of herself. She struggled to lift her arm up to rub her face, her arm was heavy. As she pulled her arm away, now caked with the makeup she had so excitedly applied only a few hours before, she spied something lying underneath his foot. It was a picture of her, smiling and holding him tight. Her heart broke into a million pieces, and she let out a guttural cry. Her small boy, she had failed him. In that moment, the memory of when she found out she was pregnant pushed itself into her mind.


Words by Sarah Ingham

sarahI’m Sarah Ingham, and I’m completing my first year of a Bachelor of Professional Writing and Communication. I have folders of unfinished writing, and I am so glad that I can put my ramblings to use! Being a part of Tulpa Magazine has made me feel like I can release my full artistic voice, and I love it dearly. I hope that I can continue to write my way into a writer, editor or publisher position after finishing my degree. Until then, I hope that you enjoy my imaginings.

‘Mother-To-Be’ by Tina Morganella

 

At the baby shower, I watch the mother-to-be warmly welcome each guest. Soon exhausted, she accepts a chair and sits regally. Beatific. Drawn and tired, but plump with life too. Women paw at her belly and coo over her. She doesn’t seem to mind. I smile at her, at how beautiful she looks. She returns it, encouragingly.

Flutter, flutter, flutter. I can hear my hope’s wings beating. A little silver moth with metallic wings sits in my rib cage. Lately, my husband and I make love with intent.

The other women laugh and sip champagne. They offer each other nappy-changing advice as they childishly lick icing off cupcakes. Presents pile up in the corner, all bows and ribbons.

My sister refused to come. She doesn’t believe in a celebration before the baby is born. ‘What if it dies first?’ She has two of her own. Did she carry the fear to term? I try not to worry.

When it’s my turn to guess the size of the mother-to-be’s girth for the measuring game. I tentatively reach out a hand, but she laughs, takes it and presses it firmly over her belly.

Don’t be afraid,’ she jokes. ‘Can you feel her?’

The mother is so poised. I gaze back at her as I smooth my palms over her belly, my eyes wide. An unnatural warmth, like the energy given off by machinery. A sort of hum, a tautness, a pulsing.

I am unsteady. I can almost feel another heart beating alongside my own. My breasts seem to swell, and the back of my neck grows clammy. The twist of a frustrated scream spirals up from my toes and curls around my soul like smoke. The ache of want is unbearable.

Hope, at times a consolation, at times just cruel, is overwhelming. The moth’s wings are frantic. Flutter, flutter, flutter.

I pull away from the mother-to-be and step back. Another woman jostles into my place.

Retreat. Just for a moment. I go to the bathroom and breathe scented soaps and freshly laundered towels. I splash cold water on my face and gather myself; prepare for the kindly-meant but needling questions about when I’ll be starting my own family. They rattle my confidence. They know so much, but they don’t know this?

Maybe this month, maybe this month. Be positive. Flutter, flutter, flutter.

But when I pull down my pants and sit on the toilet, I see the familiar smear of sticky red-brown blood. My period. That earthy smell of promise which is no promise at all.

Hope is a celebration for a baby that hasn’t yet been born.

The moth folds its wings closed.

 


Words by Tina Morganella

Tina Morganella is a freelance writer and copy editor with an MPhil in creative writing. Tina is most interested in fiction and travel literature and has most recently been published in Rush (US), and STORGY Magazine (UK). She also has nonfiction articles published in the Australian press (The Big Issue, The Australian, The Adelaide Advertiser). You can read some of her work at www.tinamorganella.com

Artwork by Joel Tuckwell