Short Story: Blink

By Matt Blackwood
The Occupy Melbourne protests, 21 October 2011

Blink is a short story inspired by the recent eviction of Occupy Melbourne from City Square. Click here to read an eyewitness account of the eviction by our Editor-in-Chief, Andre Dao, with an accompanying photo gallery.

Adam didn’t blink from the high pitched screams.

His eye simply pressed harder against the viewfinder, making sure the pandemonium was in focus. With a flick of his wrist, he quickly re-framed the woman sobbing in a prenatal position in the dirt. Her body still convulsing from the shock of being dragged head-first by three police officers. Adam zoomed in to get the trickle of blood that ran from her nose, but strands of her hair were in the way.

As back up, he still had that shot of the Goth being pulled across the square, and some decent close-ups of police diving in and wrenching protesters from their line of defiance.

“Do you know how much longer this will take?”

Michelle and her Sunsilked hair had already aimed shotgun mics at young kids with placards and spruiked an impassioned piece to camera, and had since moved on to her mobile, no doubt organising dinner with friends. Adam and Michelle had been at the City Square since 7am, because word had spread that the Mayor had placed a time limit on freedom of speech. The result was cutaways of sincere faces, manifestos on walls, and milk crates stuffed with free clothes.

In the hours spent framing and re-framing and weaving between protesters, not once did Adam share more than a nod with those around him. After all, it wasn’t Adam’s job to mention that he also liked growing organic food, or that Oxfam was one of his Twitter friends, or that he bought local whenever he could. It wasn’t his job to say that he also once used milk crates for clothes. He stole six of them from the back of Franklins, and had one cube for shirts, another for pants, and one reserved for jocks and socks. But after scoring a camera op job, he moved to Southbank, and the crates were the first things to be Ikeasized. Now his bedroom wall was faux oak with sliding glass doors. It cost him two weeks pay, and despite all the drawers, there never seemed enough room for underpants.

“If you squeeze us in at six I promise to be out by quarter to seven.”

Michelle put on her baby voice. It came out whenever unlikely favours were required.

Adam loosened the tilt handle and panned for something lead worthy.

The frame landed on the cute student they had interviewed earlier. She was the one doing honours in politics and spruiked the virtues of tutoring refugees. Two hours ago her bluey green eyes were brimming with optimism. Now they were grey with fear.

The whole reason why Adam went into journalism was to make a difference. He studied hard and got top marks to score work experience at 3AW. There he made coffees for Neil Mitchell. He then covered bushfires and car crashes, heatwaves and Chimpanzee births, and now as Adam gazed deeper into the eyes of a girl he hardly knew, he found himself questioning the difference he was actually making.

A flash of blue and white paused in front of the girl. Her mouth primed for a scream.

The police officer leapt at the girl, pulling her shoulders and ripping the vintage lace dress that Adam had silently admired. Hands pulled at her hair, and when she wouldn’t yield, they grabbed her slender neck.

The camera began a slow tilt forwards with no-one to hold it upright.

Adam had fled its side, dashing between the wire fence, and with a running jump, he hip-and -shouldered the officer to the ground.

“Sorry mate,” came the apology for the bump back to reality.

Another camera op was trying to squeeze in the space between elm trees and wire fence.

“No worries, I’m done anyway,” and pulling away from the eyepiece, Adam flicked a switch, and the wailing pain of the university girl blinked to something nearing black.

Matt Blackwood is a writer whose short fiction and screenplays have won awards and been published. His locative literature project, MyStory, gained a City of Melbourne Laneway Commission, showcasing his own work alongside that of Barry Dickins, Cate Kennedy and Tony Birch in digitally immersive forms. He has ghostwritten blogs for Olympians, written two-and-a-half almost readable novels, and project managed a mobile cinema providing free film screenings to the bushfire affected residents of St Andrews.

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