BROUGHT TO YOU BY

Animated Logo: FleXpo!

DELIVERING WHAT YOU'VE BEEN MISSING

Welcome to the inaugral FleXpo trade show!
We’re Tantrum’s in-house FleX Development Team.
FleXpo is innovative.
FleXpo is influential.
FleXpo is in your ears.
After months of grueling psychometric analysis on volunteer test subjects (i.e., ourselves), we’ve pushed the boundaries of audio engineering to invent a suite of products, bringing you the experiences you’ve been missing most. Whatever you’re yearning for during this period of isolation and restriction, you’ll find it at FlexPo*. From the depths, we have delivered… like a Deliveroo bike rider in the dead of night.
*Our lawyers would like to tell you that this is more of a poetic, less literal statement.
The safest place for us to showcase our products and for you to try them for the very first time is the Virtual Tantrum Exhibition Centre (VTEC), which is identical to our physical site in Newcastle. The VTEC is far too big to fit in a mobile phone, so for the best experience we recommend accessing the main website from a desktop or laptop. It’s okay if you can’t – we’ve put the best bits below. It may not be a COVID-19 vaccine but it’s our gift to you, nevertheless.
N.B: If you require a Tantrum Tour Guide, we suggest the following order: Sound Bites, Petrichor, COVID-Safe Hugs.
But feel free to choose your own adventure and please leave your feedback in the comments below.

SOUND BITES TRANSCRIPT

CHARACTERS
Narrator
Bradleigh
Penelope
Waiter

NARRATOR. Newcastle on a zesty spring night in the not so distant future. The time is 9:03pm. Most people have eaten, tucked their kids into bed or even themselves with nothing but Gogglebox to pass the time. But there are some whose nights are just beginning. Nocturnal animals who believe that being active after dark makes them somehow more cultured. Bradleigh is one of those creatures. He stands on the sticky pavement of King St in front of the recently opened Kingsley Hotel. What was once Newcastle Council’s HQ, a hive built for the city’s decision makers and their public servants, has now become a shimmering idol to attract the most beautiful but mostly rich people from across the lands… or across the ferry from Stockton. Bradleigh is not beautiful. Nor is he rich. But deep down… he knows he belongs here amongst the Egyptian cotton and the hipster glasses that don’t actually help one see better. He deserves to taste the sweet honey… from the rooftop bar and restaurant. His words deserve to matter and be heard…

The slamming of a car door…

[Sound effect.]

NARRATOR. And the scuffle of feet…

[Sound effect.]

NARRATOR. Mark the arrival of Penelope.

PENELOPE. Woah. I did not get the memo to dress up.

BRADLEIGH. Clearly.

PENELOPE. But I did get the memo about free dinner. Just so we’re simpatico… this is on you, right?

NARRATOR. Without turning, Bradleigh gives a slow, intense nod. He walks towards the glass doors to the foyer, which open as if by mind control. Penelope follows.

[Sound effect of a bell.]

NARRATOR. The elevator doors open. Bradleigh and Penelope walk down a winding corridor of black tiles seemingly inspired by the Ministry of Magic from Harry Potter. They catch the reflection of a jumble of red neon letters, which can only be deciphered when they’re staring directly at them above the doors to the restaurant. F-A-N-C-Y.  Bradleigh breathes in…

[Bradleigh breathes in audibly.]

NARRATOR. Penelope breathes out.

[Sound effect of a burp.]

NARRATOR. The doors suddenly swing inwards again guided by invisible hands. It takes a moment for their eyes to adjust… and then they see it.

[Ambient restaurant sounds – guests conversing (signified by the repetition of the generic word “rhubarb”), cutlery clinking and chairs squeaking. This continues throughout.]

NARRATOR. A central, somewhat awkward looking light installation made of twisted metal and glass gives the expansive room a dim orange glow. Under the shade of leafy plants hung from the ceiling, there are red leather benches next to long, sleek tables with dangerously sharp edges. Following the glossy oak floor to another corner of the restaurant, smaller spruce-topped tables, sanded just the right amount, gather as if gossiping. They’re waiting by a black marble bar lined by dark metal stools with mumbling guests atop. Their eyes are animated by the various bottles of colourful liquid backlit by LED strips and the flicker of a fireplace nearby. The flames smell overwhelmingly of roses… or is it cream? There are shelves upon shelves of taxidermy exotic animals. A fairy penguin with sad eyes and a raccoon that forever shrieks as if warning visitors to get out. The nature motif continues with vintage floral wallpaper ripped in places like jeans to expose the rustic brick walls underneath, scattered with suede yellow couches and a mosaic of cushions. Lots and lots of dark emerald green ferns between pillars made from old railway sleepers give way to a second, larger bar of solid polished concrete. More glass bottles, this time with colourless liquid, seem to hover over the bar unconcerned by gravity. A final area of different sized square tables seating even numbers of guests – two, four, eight – each with its own egg-shaped light suspended above. There are only two other doors that lead out of the room. One silently swings open and closed broadcasting short sound bites from the kitchen. The other is half the size of a normal door as if out of the pages of a fairytale. The word “bestaurant” is carved into it and kids come and go, some smiling and some screaming. There doesn’t seem to be any bathrooms. It has to be said, there’s a lot going on in the restaurant. But you don’t get the name F-A-N-C-Y any other way.

WAITER. My sincerest salutations. Please follow me.

NARRATOR. The waiter leads Bradleigh and Penelope through the labyrinth of fine dining and shows them to an irregular shaped glass table that seems to be positioned on its own. They sit. The waiter artfully throws cloth napkins onto their laps and leaves momentarily.

PENELOPE. What even is this place? And what are you doing?

NARRATOR. Bradleigh takes a small moleskin notebook from the breast pocket of his suit jacket and begins to scribble enthusiastically.

[Sound effect.]

BRADLEIGH. Would you say the interior design is chic or industrial with poetic touches?

PENELOPE. I would say neither.

NARRATOR. Bradleigh starts tapping the glass tabletop.

[Sound effect.]

PENELOPE. Please stop that.

BRADLEIGH. As I suspected. Genuine glass.

PENELOPE. Oh, I get it. You’re doing one of those Google reviews where random people rate restaurants or cafes or petrol stations –

BRADLEIGH. This is nothing like that. My blog (French accent) ‘Novo Exquisite’ is widely followed.

PENELOPE. That’s right. You flog that on Facebook, don’t you?

BRADLEIGH. It won’t be long before I monetize.

PENELOPE. I thought you were studying podiatry.

BRADLEIGH. I’ve been studying gastronomy all my life.

PENELOPE. I don’t think I could handle cutting up dead people.

BRADLEIGH. Shh-shh. Here he comes…

NARRATOR. The waiter returns with sparkling water.

[Sound effect of pouring.]

WAITER. Courtesy of the chef.

BRADLEIGH. Thank you.

PENELOPE. Have you got coke?

WAITER. It’s my great privilege to recite the menu for you this evening. First up, our signature roulade garamond with seared combination helvetica on a bed of hand-refined local macro greens. Or for something with a bit more bite… cashew induced, spinach implanted, tomato infused mini calzones with succulent crocodile sauce. I would tend to suggest pairing this with the deconstructed fruit tacos. Plant-based shaved pineapple, shredded tangerine and passionfruit puree, grown in bitter weather and spritzed with freshly harvested foam. Of course, if you’re intolerant to long descriptions., our legendary sandwich.

[Pause.]

WAITER. Personally, whatever you choose, you just must follow it with the cake of the day. Rich Belgian chocolate, crafted from ancient cocoa beans stolen from Mexico, completed with a fresh raspberry brulee with aerated vanilla cream. The whole thing is baked only by the sun’s rays for that ultimate enhancement and toothsome flavour.

BRADLEIGH. No.

WAITER. I beg your pardon.

PENELOPE. Yeah, do you have a burger?

BRADLEIGH. I said “no”.

WAITER. I dare you to say “no” one more time.

PENELOPE. We don’t want any trouble –

BRADLEIGH. No!

[Cut ambient restaurant sounds.]

NARRATOR. The restaurant suddenly goes quiet and is filled with a pregnant pause.

WAITER. As you wish.

NARRATOR. The waiter bows deeply and exits. The restaurant returns to its usual cultured hum.

[Ambient restaurant sounds continue.]

PENELOPE. Do you think he’ll remember my burger and coke?

BRADLEIGH. You don’t know what just happened, do you?

PENELOPE. That’s correct.

BRADLEIGH. That’s the code for the super-secret three-course house special.

PENELOPE. Yelling?

BRADLEIGH. Saying “no” three times. It’s a metaphor.

PENELOPE. I don’t get it.

BRADLEIGH. You can thank me later.

PENELOPE. As long as you’re paying, I’m happy to eat anything. You know I hate food going to waste.

NARRATOR. As Penelope is talking, the door to the kitchen opens to reveal the waiter throwing several barely eaten dishes, along with the plates, into the garbage.

BRADLEIGH. Your taste buds will be overwhelmed.

PENELOPE. Did you just see that?

BRADLEIGH. Prepare for your mind to be blown.

PENELOPE. I think it’s already starting.

NARRATOR. Music momentarily blasts from the kitchen.

[Heavy metal music.]

NARRATOR. The waiter emerges carrying a golden bucket in each hand, liquid sloshing within.

[Sound effect of sloshing liquid.]

WAITER. My dearest friends, your entrée is served. I give you… soup. There are no words to describe the delicate balance yet simple elegance within these buckets. It will be like eating poetry. I can also inform you that we are currently experiencing a fork and spoon shortage. But obviously, we still have a selection of knives.

NARRATOR. The waiter carefully places three different sized metal knives in front of both Bradleigh and Penelope.

BRADLEIGH. How do you suggest we eat it?

WAITER. I recommend the old-fashioned way. Or… imagine you’re a cat…

BRADLEIGH. This may affect my scoring of service.

WAITER. Excuse me. It appears the pigs have escaped.

[Sound effects.]

BRADLEIGH. A risky choice but it may prove genius.

PENELOPE. Bottoms up!

[Sound effects of slurping.]

BRADLEIGH. A really nice texture. Velvety yet still wet though not too wet.

PENELOPE. Is it like sticking to your teeth?

BRADLEIGH. The flavour profile is quite robust. Certainly for more sophisticated palates. And maybe a surprise hint of saffron. Or is it bay leaf?

PENELOPE. It tastes like thick, flat Mountain Dew.

BRADLEIGH. Are you trying to make me sick?

PENELOPE. What’s wrong with Mountain Dew?

BRADLEIGH. Grow up.

PENELOPE. Are you going to finish yours?

BRADLEIGH. A critic doesn’t eat. He absorbs.

PENELOPE. Awesome.

[Again, sound effects of slurping.]

NARRATOR. Music blasts from the kitchen.

[Gregorian chanting, which continues underneath the dialogue.]

NARRATOR. The waiter emerges again, this time balancing two pieces of wood the size of fence palings on each shoulder.

PENELOPE. This is more like a Bunnings than a restaurant. Am I right? Woah!

NARRATOR. Penelope ducks down to avoid being hit in the face as the wood is placed on the table in the shape of a cross, now revealing a colourful landscape of amorphous substances.

WAITER. (Whispering for affect) Imagine a field beyond right and wrong where nothing is quite as it seems. Is it pasta? Is it curry? Is it stir fry? Is it deep fried? Is it gooey on the inside? Is it gooey on the outside? Is it underdone or overdone? Rare or raw? What is it? My soul mates, I’m telling you the truth when I say it is all these things at once. It is fusion and it is beautiful. I wish you all the happiness for this main course.

NARRATOR. Clearly emotional, the waiter runs back to kitchen with his head looking towards the ground and without swinging his arms.

[Cut Gregorian chanting.]

PENELOPE. You better roll up those suit sleeves. This is going to get messy.

BRADLEIGH. How are you any better than an animal?

PENELOPE. I’m not.

BRADLEIGH. As my mother always says, maintain your dignity against all odds.

NARRATOR. Bradleigh takes one of the many metal knives from the table and awkwardly prods at the food, slowly transferring it to his mouth. Penelope uses her hands.

PENELOPE. I’ll take a crack at this one. It’s really slimy in the mouth and pretty sour. I don’t enjoy it personally but I can appreciate that there may be other people in the world who do. It’s like oysters. They’re not for me but then I’m sure there’s someone in, like, Norway who loves oysters and only eats oysters. But in my opinion, it’s way worse than a grilled cheese sandwich. What do you think?

BRADLEIGH. (Trying to hold back coughing) Rich… sweet… succulent… increasingly evocative…

PENELOPE. Are you okay?

BRADLEIGH. It’s stimulating something quite strong in me like all great art.

PENELOPE. Maybe you should stop?

BRADLEIGH. Woah! That bite was even more exciting. Thankfully, I’m trained to deal with such intense flavours.

PENELOPE. (Calling to the Waiter) Could we get some more water?

NARRATOR. Bradleigh tries to distract himself by writing in his notebook but the coughing now turns into an itchiness in the mouth that starts to spread through his entire body. He feels unusually warm and then suddenly cold, manifesting in uncontrollable shivering.

PENELOPE. Has anyone got some water?

NARRATOR. Music momentarily blasts from the kitchen.

[Country music.]

NARRATOR. The waiter runs into the room carrying an esky. He puts in on the table.

PENELOPE. About time.

NARRATOR. The waiter puts on a pair of safety glasses and gloves and produces a set of long, metal tongs. He opens the esky and mist starts spilling over the sides. Using the tongs, he retrieves two super chilled martini glasses and then two small blueish green spheres no bigger than golf balls. He places one in each martini glass.

PENELOPE. What is this? He needs water.

BRADLEIGH. (Struggling to breathe) I’m fine. I have to finish the meal.

WAITER. As we all must. At F-A-N-C-Y, we want to give you the world. And here it is. Your very own little earth. A feat of science, the frozen shell gives way to a hot, molten core. It’s a dangerous dessert but it’s everything you ever wanted. What will you find inside? Maybe yourself. Smoke bomb!

[Sound effect.]

NARRATOR. There is a burst of smoke and the waiter is gone… a few metres to the left. He keeps walking back towards the kitchen.

BRADLEIGH. It’s too beautiful to touch.

PENELOPE. Now we’re talking.

BRADLEIGH. My heart is literally racing.

PENELOPE. Oww!

NARRATOR. Penelope’s dessert ball is now hanging from her tongue, stuck on account of the difference in temperature. She shakes her head like a dog shaking off water to try and dislodge the ball.

BRADLEIGH. I can taste hazelnut but I haven’t put anything in my mouth. It’s as if I’m in a dream…

NARRATOR. Bradleigh loses consciousness meaning he’s unable to dissuade Penelope from using one of the knives to cut her dessert loose.

PENELOPE. (Swollen tongue) Easy does it. One… two… owww!!

NARRATOR. Bradleigh suddenly wakes only to –

[Sound effect of vomiting.]

NARRATOR. Projectile vomit all over the table.

PENELOPE. (Swollen tongue) I’m okay.

BRADLEIGH. I have to go. I have to leave now. I have to go…

NARRATOR. Bradleigh runs blindly away from the table and exits.

[Sound effect of distant vomiting.]

PENELOPE. (Swollen tongue) That was intense.

NARRATOR. Now lying in the centre of the table, Penelope’s desert ball starts to melt, releasing red plasma.

PENELOPE. (Swollen tongue) What’s that?

NARRATOR. Penelope fishes a metal capsule, no bigger than a capsule of medicine, from the plasma. Learning her lesson, she lets it cool before opening it. Inside is a tiny scrap of paper. Penelope starts unfolding it. Once, twice, three times… again and again until it’s the size of her hand.

NARRATOR. Music momentarily blasts from the kitchen.

[Electronic dance music.]

WAITER. That’ll be $1784.40.

NARRATOR. The waiter presents an EFTPOS machine to Penelope who now realises she’s holding the bill.

[Sound effects of machine beeping.]

WAITER. Would you like to make a tip?

PETRICHOR TRANSCRIPT

VOICE 1. You press play. Shutting your eyes if it helps, you take a moment to tune out what’s around you. The static of your surrounds. The lure of other devices. The presence of people. You resist it at first… your body letting out a few final fidgets. But then something shifts and you sink into a comfortable stillness. You sink into your breath.

VOICE 2. In. Out. In. Out.

VOICE 1. You sink effortlessly into the ground.

VOICE 2. In. Out.

VOICE 1. You fall gracefully, your body rolling gently over itself, as if wrapped in water.

[Sounds of waves gently washing ashore fade in.]

VOICE 2. In… out.

VOICE 3. Your head breaks through the surf and you find yourself washing up onto a pristine beach. Your body makes an imprint in the wet yet warm sand. Your desperate longing to be at one with nature over the past months is finally being satisfied. The sun flickers through your eyelids as the waves gently lap at your legs. You feel pampered and lulled to sleep as you breathe as one with the ocean.

VOICE 2. In. Out. In –

VOICE 4. Until a frisbee slaps you in the face. You turn and face the crest of the sandy dune behind you. You witness an aerial opera of different projectiles. Balls, kites, sand, drones, seagulls. The intimacy you felt when you were lying with the beach dissipates as you walk into the commotion.

[Ambient sounds of a crowded beach fade in.]

VOICE 1. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people.

VOICE 4. You search for patterns.

VOICE 1. In the distance, there are rows upon rows of coloured towels carefully laid out. The leathery skin of sunbathers blurs the mosaic. Your nose turns you towards the smell of chicken salt. You’re instantly engulfed by a swarm of seagulls as a gang of children conduct them by throwing handfuls of hot chips this way and that. You stagger away from the squeals of laughter and sit for a moment amongst plastic wrappers and bottles.

VOICE 3. Facing the waves again, the previously empty waters are now full of flesh and floating objects pushed and pulled by the tides. You close your eyes to focus on the coolness of the breeze on your face instead of the ultraviolet radiation penetrating your skin. A wet mass of hair suddenly blankets your left leg and you awake to the suggestive nuzzles of a scruffy dog with a tennis ball in its mouth. You throw the ball into the crashing waves and the dog quickly becomes another swirling pigment in this technicolour mural. Your mind sloshes around in your skull and you close your eyes again.

VOICE 4. The cacophony of noises rises around you. Portable speakers moving closer and further away playing Travis Scott and G-Eazy and other music of the day. Laughter and screams and squawks and yelps against the rumble of the wind and waves. It’s nature remixed. You seal your eyes as tightly as you can…

[Ambient sounds of the crowded beach fade out.]

VOICE 1. In a moment, the dissonant composition thins as some of the tracks disappear. You finally release the tension in your eyes and take in the scene once more. Every human being around you is gone. There are no tracks or clues to suggest where they’ve gone. Just the remnants of their presence on the beach.

VOICE 4. A series of sandcastles topple like dominoes with no hands to protect them. Body boards are tossed around in the surf without bodies to weigh them down.

VOICE 1. The tiled mosaic of towels becomes more vivid before its colours slowly begin to vanish as they catch on the wind. Within an hour, they have spread out in tangled heaps. Within another two hours, the sand has already started to hide them. The sun is setting, a sight no longer beheld by anyone but you. By you and animal eyes. The seagulls have taken to the land with no flailing limbs to bother them. They share the spoils of uneaten chips and melted ice cream, while others calmly nest in the sand as if suddenly stress free. You’re reminded of your right ankle as the dog from before gently nibbles it. It leaves its tennis ball and walks towards a cliff at the far end of the beach. You follow it through the twilight.

[The sounds of waves are replaced by the gentle chirping of insects.]

VOICE 3. Led by your canine companion, you wind along the weathered coast. Once driven roads lay waste to rusting cars and cracks in the bitumen reveal the richness of the soil beneath, sprouting all manner of flowers and fruit. You begin to focus on your footsteps.

VOICE 2. Left. Right. Left. Right.

VOICE 3. You take massive strides over space and time.

VOICE 2. Left… right…

[Sounds of the insects chirping are replaced by ambient sounds of a forest.]

VOICE 3. The dog leads you into the cover of forest. It is quiet but not quite silent. In fact, the wind rustling through the leaves sounds identical to the turning of pages in a book.

VOICES 3 & 5. You instantly remember what it was like to feel little again. To be young.

VOICE 5. The enormous, ancient trees watch over you as you play hide and seek, keeping you from harm. You dive into the lush leaf litter beneath you. It’s as soft as a pillow and you sleep undisturbed for months.

[Pause]

VOICE 5. You wake to a dryness in your mouth and your body leads you confidently to a slender river. You drink the running water, refrigerated by the forest. It tastes like nothing. You hear the creak of a humanmade structure for the first time in a long time. A wooden bridge shakes beside you. Moss and fungi have reclaimed the bridge, making it slippery to walk. You stand at its peak and you can feel the pine slats stretch beneath you. Holding the handrail, your fingers trace over letters carved into the wood, though only just distinct.

VOICE 2. ‘K’ plus ‘M’.

VOICE 5. Humanity now seems like a forgotten dream. You close your eyes and breathe in the smells of the earth. A single drop of rain lands on your face making its way past the thick canopy. Then another. Then many more.

[Sounds of heavy rain fade in.]

VOICE 5. A downpour quickly envelopes you, releasing hidden scents trapped within the soil. And then, the bridge collapses under the weight of the rain, detritus tumbling into the rushing river below. But you don’t fall. Suddenly, you’re not there at all…

[Sounds of the rain fade out.]

VOICE 6. The rain ceases and the filtered sun slowly dries everything. No longer concerned by the presence of the world’s apex predator, the forest begins to move and vibrate in a way that no person has ever experienced. Small insects scuttle over the brown brittle leaves, their steps now discernible and amplified. Ants, centipedes, crickets, and spiders. Lizards and snakes come out from hiding and warm themselves on smooth rocks. The forest has been home to their ancestors and relations for millennia. There is only one foreigner that remains. The dog, now old with a limping walk, returns from one of its many journeys away. It searches for you. Hours turn into weeks. Weeks into months. It finally gives up and lies amongst the washed-up remnants of the bridge. It scratches over the letters ‘K’ plus ‘M’. A part of it will always miss you… miss the humans that bred it to rely on them. It closes its eyes thinking of you and the tennis ball. Every other creature has now forgotten you were ever there.

ALL. Maybe the memory of you will be held somewhere in the complex root and communication systems of the ancient trees.

VOICE 6. Or maybe, they too will forget…

COVID-SAFE HUGS TRANSCRIPT

N.B: Each piece is spoken by a different teenage voice.

Hot Tea

I’m slightly taller than you. I’m wearing red checkered flannelette pajama pants and my favourite striped cashmere sweater. My thin brown hair falls messily over my shoulders. I’m holding an old mug filled with boiling hot Russian tea. The steam rises in front of my face before dissipating around me. Though I’m tired and I may not say it, my tanned bronze face tells you that I’m glad to see you.

I’m probably more of a hugger than you but you get the sense it’s an open invitation. We don’t have to hug but we can if you want. You can press pause. It’s up to you.

I put my mug down as you step towards me. We embrace in a hug. You place your arms around my upper back. My hands clasp together behind your neck. After a shared breath, we turn together, my right arm still resting behind your neck. We look into the distance. I get the sense this is a bittersweet moment for you. I can feel your mind trailing off into the future. I pull you back to the present with a soft squeeze.

I know the experience of feeling such stress and I can only imagine what it feels like to set such high expectations of yourself that you’re still disappointed even when you do better than most. These high standards are what drive you but don’t let them crush you. I understand what you’re feeling and understand why you’re feeling it. You’re exhausted even when you’ve just begun, and you’re frustrated when something’s more difficult than you think it should be. Whatever happens will happen. It’ll be done and you’ll get through this tough time. And I’ve got your back no matter what…

 

Vanilla & Hazel

I’m quite short, although I would never admit it. In fact, I get quite defensive when provoked about it and say I’m two full centimetres taller than the average height. I’m sitting cross-legged wearing my beloved crocs and jean shorts or jorts if you will. Tucked into my jorts, my t-shirt is a green that is neither light nor dark with the words “THINK GEEK” scrawled across the chest in white letters. My straight, brown hair stops just below my shoulders. It’s soft and silky and has a subtle scent of vanilla. I have a petite nose and my eyes are very distinct due to the variation in colour. The technical term is heterochromia. They’re hazel on the edges and a deeper brown in the middle.

I stand abruptly and fling my arms open. You think about pressing pause. You know I wouldn’t judge you either way. You step forward and I give you a hug that’s a little firm and longer than average. Your head rests gently on top of mine. I shut my eyes. You absent-mindedly play with my hair. The smell of vanilla is unmistakable.

You’re not the only one who’s afraid. I am too. I know you’re scared right now that time will slip away before you even know what you want to do with it. It’s okay. In fact, it’s completely understandable. I get that way too, sometimes. Tell you what. Whenever you feel like this, give me a call and we’ll figure out how to make the most of our time together!

 

Rock Soft

I’m seven foot tall. I’m wearing a fur coat, cashmere scarf and fluffy white slippers because I can. I’m buff. I have a pair of reading glasses perched on top of my head, though I rarely use them. My nails are bitten and my knuckles are dry. I should probably moisturise more.

I give a small nod. Feel free to press pause.

You step forward and we hug. You imagine this is what it’d feel like to be hugged by The Rock wrapped in cotton wool. My body’s warmer than yours and you absorb some of the heat. We hug for as long as you want. Even though I’m bigger than you, you make me feel protected.

By the way, America scares me too. I’m not sure what will happen with everything going on over there. But let’s worry together. It’s fine for us to be afraid, though it doesn’t mean we can’t stay positive. Let’s hope that love will win out.

 

Bare

I’m about a head shorter than you. I’m wearing a cozy jumper. I feel like I already trust you. Implicitly. My hands open slightly to show you I could use a hug but press pause if it’s too much.

You move closer to me. I slowly sink my head into your shoulder. Your chin gently brushes against my short brown hair. My chocolate brown eyes are obscured. You wrap your arms around me and pat my back. We share a comforting warmth between us.

I really understand what it’s like. To worry about letting people down. To worry about letting yourself down. I know because I feel that way a lot. I can tell you have really high standards of yourself because you want to make a difference. You want to help and that makes you amazing. But even amazing people have bad days and when you do, remember you’re not alone. You’re not bad or broken for feeling like this.

 

Eye Contact

I’m slightly shorter than you. I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt that’s tucked in at the front. I think it’s called a French tuck. My perfume makes me smell like flowers. My hair is long and curly and most of it rests over my shoulders. I’m always smiling but it’s not forced. I’m looking into your eyes because I want to connect. Hopefully I don’t come across as pushy. I’m here if you want. Please press pause if you’re unsure or uncomfortable.

You step forward into my arms. I hug you tightly. Our heads gently rest on each other’s right shoulder. I feel at peace and you feel safe. We’re in no rush to let go…

All you can do is try your best. Your effort is what matters. Your curiosity to find your interest and to be interested in other people. Your attempt to push yourself. There will always be someone who doesn’t see it. People blinded by results. But every mistake is a lesson and the way you dedicate yourself to learning from them is what makes you great.

 

Spinning Ninja

I’m tall. I’m cool. I’m wearing epic sunglasses and my favourite denim jacket. I’m drawing a cartoon about a robot ninja with flame throwers for hands. They’re about to go on a rampage but that can wait. You can press pause too whenever you like.

I drop my pencil and stand up. As you step forward, I sweep you up in a hug and swing you round and round. Your feet return to the ground but we’re still spinning. It’s silly but that’s what makes it amazing.

I know what fear is. Fear is someone in your family getting sick. It’s losing your best friend or getting attacked by an octopus with chainsaws stuck to its tentacles. I’ll never judge you for being afraid. But I will help you snap back to the present. Even if I have to do a backflip.

Online Now: RW Team, Sparkle Motion, Matthew’s Minions, Megs Yellow Party, Sleep Deprived Duo, Foster Coffee, Ottoman, The O’Dons, Al the Ex, Mears Family are all (M)ears., Proud Grandma, Hills, Dr Mishka & Mrs Mimos Moops (+ more).

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