Desert – Day 93 – My Fears

Last day of fear Feb- so I’m gonna write about something that’s scaring me right now.

Her mind was an arid desert and thoughts slipped through her fingers like sand. She’d walked for months. She was sure she was making progress, but when she looked back she could still see her house. Her destination was so far away it was hidden by the horizon. Her optimism was fading like the sun.

She sat down in the sand and imagined the day when her supplies would run dry and her people would stop caring. It seemed inevitable on such a long journey. In fact she couldn’t believe they’d supported her this far. She was a fraud, and she would fail them in the end. 


India – Days 80 to 90 – India

So just finished typing up all the stories from India and uploading the pictures here they are. Just a quick note before you read- I went to Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Alsisar and finally to a small village in Punjab for a friends wedding. 

Day 80 (15th Feb)

first day

On the first day we got into Delhi I completely forgot to take a picture of me with my story. My senses were overloaded as I ventured into the streets in a tuk tuk (pictured above- my face says it all). In retrospect, I think this goes with my story better anyway.

Following the crowd

Laying her belongings bare

Yonder an unknown world culture

Inside, a globalised no-man’s land full of loud carpet and duty free

Nothing sleeps; the days seem endless

Gathering her things, she leaves cultural ambiguity behind and is hit by the force the city

Day 81 (16th Feb)


On this day I came to terms with the traffic as we made our way through Delhi and to the mini Taj.

Electric spider webs hung above his head and screeching noises pressed in on his ears. He took a deep breath of thick haze.

Colin, the Office Safety Manager, was experiencing his own personal nightmare as he looked out at the 16 lane mess of Delhi.

“Come sir, very safe,” the rickshaw driver was prompting him.

Colin had no choice. He dived into the sea of traffic and found if he didn’t struggle against the current it took him exactly where he wanted to go.

As every type of wheeled object whizzed past, he thought about his pages of rules and fine print at home. It suddenly seemed meaningless.

Day 82 (17th Feb)


After seeing all these amazing monuments and temples and hearing the stories behind them it was impossible to resist trying to write my own story about a fake monument.

Sinda loved to laugh, though her mother told her not to, as it would spoil her perfect face with wrinkles. In fact most people in the village regarded her as the most beautiful girl in the kingdom. They told her it was a blessing, because she could capture the heart of a wealthy man.

Sure enough, one day King Vijay visited the village. He had heard of Sinda’s beauty and wanted it for his own. Determined to wed her, he asked her what she liked best.

“Laughing,” Sinda replied.

And so it was decided that Sinda would marry Vijay if he could make her laugh. Just a few months later, Vijay returned to collect her. He had built a temple for her in the city that he thought would make her laugh.

As she was escorted in, Sinda saw that shelves stuck out from every surface. They held small pots filled with different laughs. She opened a few and found a range guffaws, cackles, titters, giggles and wheezing. A smile spread across Sinda’s face and her laughter echoed around the chambers confirming the marriage.

Sinda did her best to be a good queen but she noticed that her people were unhappy. They had short tempers and never smiled at her. She payed for festivals and theatres to cheer them up but nothing helped.

Despairing, she took a small group into her laughter temple. They glared at her. She opened laugh after laugh and still they glared.

“Vijay took them from us,” said one, “why do you taunt us so?”

And suddenly Sinda realised why no one ever laughed.

Now the temple is a monument. A bowl sits at the centre and anyone who opens it can hear Vijay’s laugh. Thousands come from all around to hear it, and pay their respects to Queen Sinda who opened the temple to the people and returned laughter to the city.

Day 83 (18th Feb)


Our lovely tour guide Yusuf gave me today’s prompt. He had told us an amazing story about his own arranged marriage and told me to write my own story about an arranged marriage.

Note* Astrology is incredibly important to Hindu’s so much so that they don’t marry if their star signs are not a good match.

They grew up together, and she had hopes they’d grow old together too. But he was engaged to another against his will. So she left the village and vowed never to enter an arranged marriage.

Soon enough her family called her back. Her mother was ill. Reluctantly she returned to find her mother looking perfectly well and clutching a photo of a man. Without looking, she tore up the photo and ran.

He found her in a neighbouring village. Childhood friends reunited. He told her how he had bribed the astrologer and gotten out of the engagement. Then handed her the torn photo. She pieced it together. It was him.

Day 84 (19th Feb)


Two boys

Arm in arm

Became two warriors

Two husbands

Two fathers

Two leaders

And still they walk arm in arm


One day when war was upon them

They led a march to a strange land

Arm in arm


The strangers laughed

And told them they were not men

Because they walked arm in arm

So they challenged the strangers to a duel


And now the strange land is called home

And the mark of a fierce warrior is to march

Arm in arm

I saw so many men and little boys walking with their arms around each other as they chatted. It made me wonder why in Australia we would be so scared of this, it didn’t threaten anyone’s masculinity in India, why should it here?

Day 85 (20th Feb)


I was quite stuck on this day, so I came up with this eventually.

Once there was a great story teller. The king heard about her and asked her to tell him the best story in the world.

So he sent her on a trip across the kingdom for inspiration. It was very different to her life back home where she worked tirelessly on her family’s farm and told tall tales for fun. She visited palaces, tasted the finest spices and met the richest people.

But the fear had set in and when she returned to the palace she had nothing. Desperately she cobbled together a story and told it to the king. But he just yawned, and asked the guards to imprison her.

In the years that followed something amazing happened. With nothing to look at but a stone wall, the story teller imagined the most epic tale. They say it took her a year to tell it to the guards, who were so impressed that they let her walk free. Unfortunately the king was so angry to find her cell empty that he executed the guards and never got to hear the greatest story in the world.

Day 86 (21st Feb)


My sari for the wedding arrived on this day, so I wrote about a magical sari.

The princess had been told she was ugly by her father many times. At 15 when her mother died, she gave her a magical Sari. When she put it on, her features became beautiful and her figure looked perfect.

A year later her father passed away and being an only child she became Queen. She tried her utmost to rule fairly and wore the sari every day, concerned that if she didn’t her people would dislike her, just like her father.

But one day as she dried the Sari by the fire, a loose ember found its way to the silk. The sari was reduced to a small heap of ashes in seconds.

She faced the people that day, convinced that they would see her for what she truly was. But no-one blinked an eye. When she returned home for the day, she looked through her mother’s letters searching for answers.

She found a note from a tailor addressed to her mother that read:

I have made the Sari you asked for, it has been enchanted so that whoever wears it will see themselves as others do.


Day 87 (22nd Feb)


Piles of plastic wrappers line the streets in India but I didn’t get a chance to take a photo near one so I went with the opposite. In this photo I am on a farm in rural Punjab, behind me is a gorgeous field of mustard.


Suffocating the landscape

Dependant, I feed the beast

Day 88 (23rd Feb)


Thousands of arms and legs pound the floor as the dragon moves. Carried in its clutches I struggle to break free but it’s futile. It walks across its carpet of treasure fiercely beating its chest. Its scales are blindingly sparkling and bright, and its breath is hot and spicy.

The dragon swallows me whole and I find that in fact it is warm and friendly inside. It is only fierce because it is proud, the scales are intricate and beautiful and its breath is new and fresh.

This story is a bit abstract but it is based on the wedding. Sikh weddings are quite intense, the crowd was huge (850 people) and they throw money on the ground (which gave me the dragon idea). There are drums everywhere, sparkles on everything, and the food is spicy. At first it was too overwhelming, but once I adjusted I found it was really fun and very interesting.

Day 89 (24th Feb)


I stayed with a gorgeous family on a farm for the wedding, and I was terrified of being an ungrateful, culturally unaware guest

I fear disappointing others.

I fear being rude.

I fear embarrassment.

So I dance until I fear collapse.

Eat until I fear illness

And get involved until I fear losing myself

Day 90 (25th Feb)

2014-02-26 14.28.37

As an Australian in a small village in Punjab- expect to be treated a little like royalty or a doll. It was quite bizarre and inspired to think about how a doll might feel. I wrote this on the plane from Delhi to Singapore- sorry the photo is so dark.

Once there was a doll. She was dragged around everywhere, showed off to strangers and locked away at the end of every day. So one night, she escaped. She didn’t want to be an object anymore.

Going Home – Day 91 – India Final Day

I just got home! I’m quite jet-lagged so I’ll catch up with uploading my stories from India tomorrow. Here is today’s though! The photo is of my hands after getting Henna from the lovely family I stayed with.Image

She’d explored abandoned palaces hidden in dust

Communicated in foreign tongue and dance

Weaved through chaos

And tattooed the tale on her hands

For she feared when she got home

The knowledge would vanish

And the memories would become empty anecdotes

Dredged up only to impress others at parties


Dream Farming – Day 79 – Matt Hsu

The phrase ‘Dream Farming’ came up in conversation this morning, so that’s what today’s prompt is. I am going to India in a few hours so this will be the last story I upload for 2 weeks. I’ll still be writing, and will take a photo of me and my story wherever I am on my travels to upload when I get back. See you soon!

The giant bags under her eyes looked as though they were carrying her guilt. The past year had been hard for Rosie. She was a dream farmer by birth. It was a meticulous craft only mastered by the finest artists. Her grandmother had taught her how to produce the finest quality crops. They had been the most prosperous farm in the district.

Imagination and ambition grew in excess on earth back then, but last year had been so barren Rosie’s crops had spoilt. She had scraped through the year by selling off the nightmares to a dodgy looking spirit.

Rosie had never imagined she would be in the nightmare industry. Wild nightmares would creep in through her windows at night and she would dream of the poor restless humans who had been given her spoilt crop.  

One night, after a particularly haunting nightmare involving her grandmother, Rosie decided she had to change things. She forced herself to write down hundreds of cheerful and wondrous thoughts. It was slow work at first, but eventually they came naturally. She cut them up and planted each one in the rotation cloud beds.

To her surprise they began to grow. Word slowly spread, and rich spirits began to flock the farm, bidding ridiculous prices. Rosie took the highest bid and used the money to run classes for the neighbouring farmers. The more farmers she taught, the easier it was to farm good dreams. And the more good dreams they sold to earth, the easier it was to find imagination and ambition. 

Speech – Day 78 – Embarrassment

The conversation I imagine goes on in my body as I begin a speech.

“Sir? We’re losing her. Her eyes are glazing over.”

“Alright, administer shot of adrenaline.”

“Administering shot.”

“Dilate the Blood vessels.”

“Blood flowing.”

“It’s spreading.Repeat, the blush is spreading from neck to face.”

“Perfect, that should help her through the speech.”

“Anything else we can do sir? Quivering hands? Constrict the throat? Press on the bladder”

“Good thinking, we’ve saved her.”

Steel Scars – Day 77 – Alex’s found photos

Another found photo from Alex. It’s an odd photo. It’s hard to make out at first. It’s almost as if taken from the perspective of the ship. I think the strings of gold are ammunition.


She used to be scared of the sea, having spent most of her life in a warehouse. Her first foray into the fleet had been violent and short. But now she returns to the sea, cutting confidently through the water. Strings of shining ammunition hang on her deck like bunting and safety signs are framed like artwork on her cabin walls. The shiny new steal on her side serves as reminder of her wounds. She could have sunk on her first mission, but she had fought her way back to shore. Now she knows she is strong enough.

Confession – Day 75 – Religion

The words in brackets explain what the phobia is of (eg. theophobic- fear of religion)


I’m having Theophobic (religion) thoughts.  

I can’t stop thinking about the power religion wields.

I see it breed homophobia,

Promote gynophobia (women),

Grow Hedonophobia (pleasure),

Nurture Epistemophobia (knowledge),

And generate Cenophobia (new things).

Perhaps it is born from Eleutherophobia (freedom);

Our need to have rules and guidance.

Maybe I need to rid myself of Optophobia (opening one’s eyes)

And take a look at the positive side.

Weapon – Day 74 – Matt Hsu

Today I got ‘I’m scared that I’m not scared anymore’ from Matt. Here’s what I came up with:

I think they got it into our food with a covert operation. It’s the only explanation I have. One day we ate dinner and suddenly the entire camp was relaxed. The other camps thought we’d been drinking but after a few days they were the same. We have no adrenaline anymore. I used to be frightened of shooting. I didn’t sleep. I felt so anxious that I only ate when I was so starved I couldn’t bare it any longer.

Now, I sleep through raids, I eat while I fight and I shoot without looking. But we are dying by the hundreds, taking unimaginable risks at every opportunity. I’m scared that I’m not afraid anymore. So I’ve come up with a plan. Every soldier that has a picture of family, is to tie it to their wrist. It reminds us that someone else is scared we won’t come home. It sounds sad, but I think the fear is going to help us survive this war.

Fear – Day 73 – Election

I had incredible writers block today but finally extracted this. I then slipped it in with my ballot paper today whilst voting in the by-election.

The people were divided. They were taught to fear each other. They got their information from leaders who feared honesty and reporters who feared low ratings. Strangers from across the water were locked up, new sources of energy were ignored, and people who loved regardless of gender were shunned. They were offered a chance to change things. But familiarity always won and so things stayed the same.  

Dear 17 yr old Freya – Day 72 – Xavier/Your Friends House

I was challenged on facebook last night to write a letter to my 5-year-ago-self by Xavier Rousset. 


I’m no Frank Ocean but I’ve given it a go. This is probably the scariest ‘Fears February’ challenge I’ve got so far.


17 year old Freya,

You’re 22 now and you’ve finally realised that the faded, torn Ludo shirt you’ve had since year 9 is unacceptable to wear in public and bought yourself a new Labyrinth t-shirt. But the changes don’t stop there. You call yourself a ‘writer’ now, and sometimes people even believe you and give you money for it.

I read your diary (sorry). You don’t seem to have much self esteem and you have this idea that you are doomed to be lonely. Well I can tell you that you’ve picked up a bit of esteem since then, school turns out to be a hot box where all sorts of nasty worries and hang ups thrive. You’re also not lonely so far, though you’ve had your heart broken and repaired once already.

Despite all these changes some things are always the same. You still worship British comedy. You still have all the good friends you know now, plus a few extras you’ve picked up along the way. And, you’re still scared of spiders, bad marks, leaving formal education, and people disliking you.



P.S. Don’t run up the stairs at your formal. You will stand on your dress, rip it and flash all your teachers.

Home – Day 71 – Alex’s found photos

Another photo. Another story. And some more fear. Image



I cleaned out dad’s house today. It was eerie being back. Vera still lives next door. She’s not as creepy as I remember her being. She gave me this photo of the place from when we were kids ‘to remember happier times’. It still looks the same. Do you remember we used to call it ‘the asylum’?

x James

Neil – Day 70 – Alex’s found photos

Alex, a friend I made at the National Young Writers Fest last year, posted me an envelope full of photos she found in a book shop the other day to use as prompts. This is the first photo and the first story:


Neil holds his fear in his hand. The tiny picture makes his insides feel empty; a clash of anxiety and nostalgia. He remembers climbing onto the fence and smiling at the camera. He tries recalling the carefree attitude he had at the time, but the moment is now so far away. It had been the last time his family was together, after that he was forced to grow up fast. He feels cheated, but then he has an idea. He walks out of the nursing home and climbs the patio banister.

“What are you doing up there?” a nurse asks him.

“I thought it might be fun,” Neil answers.

 He smiles, and it’s the same smile he remembers donning all those years ago. 

Contained – Day 69 – Kait

There is no escape.

They cling to friends and family.

Small and inconspicuous.

Lined up in army-like rows.

Staying close to the chest.

Right by the heart.

They seal you in.

Fiddly and frustrating.

I cannot escape buttons.


‘The fear of buttons’ donated by Kait Moncrieff. 

Tides – Day 68 – The Beach

Just a short confession today. One of my deep fears for your entertainment:

70% of the earth is covered in it; a whole other world. Full of mysterious under water waterfalls and unidentified creatures. It could be full of beauty and wonder but like most humans, I am terrified of what I don’t understand. The beach is a terrifying gateway and the tide a potential kidnapper.

Staring Contest – Day 67 – Spiders

Stacey admitted her fear of spiders to me over twitter yesterday. Something we share. I am so scared of spiders that daily tasks like walking through this path become terrifying ordeals with bizarre bowing rituals in order to avoid being webbed. 20140202_164404

As most good arachnophobes would know, once you see a spider- it’s particularly important you continue to stare at it. Because the only thing worse than seeing a spider, is not seeing it. So I ran with the idea and came up with this:

Quick! Don’t look away. It might move.

This is fun, a staring competition.

Okay get the traditional weapons.

Oh it’s coming closer. Bring it buddy, you’re going down. I was born to stare.

Please don’t move as I put the glass down.

What’s this crazy forcefield? 

Okay, glass bit is over. Just slide the postcard in gently. Don’t let a leg out.

Hey a gap! I can get a leg out! 

Ew! It’s escaping.

Ouch my leg!

Alright buddy, off to the garden. Where you belong.

Hey, I can’t leave now. What happens at the end of Game of Thrones?

I’m scared. I guess I don’t need this glass. Just throw the whole thing into the bush.

Wow, what a sore loser. I have 8 eyes, I was always going to win.


Failure – Day 66 – Dark Matter Zine

fear tweet dark matter

I got a tweet from @DarkMatterzine today about fear of failure. Well you and me both Dark Matter. Here’s my story:

The sky would shatter into a thousand tiny pieces. The grass would catch alight and the oceans would boil. A giant sign would pop up over my head saying ‘FAILURE’, and there would be a daily laughing ceremony with me as the main attraction. That’s how I saw it, in my head.

But when it really happened, when I inevitably failed, something much worse occurred. No-one blinked an eye. Everyone just kept going about their business, leaving me to fester in my own thoughts.

I would have to battle myself. Silence the voice that tells me it’s time to give up. The voice that tells me I am nothing. It was loud and persistent, but I practiced ignoring it every day and now it’s just white noise again.