Fears for 28 missing in bushfire-ravaged Gippsland

Floods in Indonesia’s capital kill 21 people

Tear gas, water cannons and smashed ATMs mark Hong Kong new year protests

  • 2nd January 2020

The phone on the bedside table vibrated, then burst into klaxon. Celia dragged her head from the pillow and reached for the phone, mashing her fingers onto the screen until the alarm muted. Propping herself on one elbow, she checked the latest notifications and thumbed the home key to access the day’s top stories.

Her sleep had been fitful, and her head ached from the newsreel of thoughts and images that had punctuated her dreams. Each snippet of information from the day before attempted to burrow its way into the catalogue of her mind, and it felt like her brain had gone into overdrive to process the uptake while she slept.

Celia dragged her head from the pillow and started to get ready for work.

Over a billion animals now dead in NSW bushfires, wildlife experts say

Gold Coast man charged with sexual assaults decades after alleged crimes

Father charged with murdering ‘fairytale couple’ on New Year’s Eve

  • 9th January 2020

Celia tried to pick up the pace. If she really pushed it, she’d make the train, but parking at the station was getting ridiculous, and circling the block had added several more minutes to her walk. Her shoes pinched and one heel was already developing a blister. It was already nearly 30 degrees. None of this boded well for the day ahead.

But none of it was weighing on her mind as much as the heaviness she’d been feeling in her limbs lately – vague at first, just a slightly creeping fatigue. But it was making today’s brisk walk feel like she was dragging iron chains behind her. She set her mind to catching the train, as sweat started under her arms and at her hairline. She huffed her way onto the platform just as the train doors were opening. Win.

Anti-LGBT raids and ‘crisis centre’ planned as Indonesian mayor calls for a crackdown

UQ Liberal National Club protests drag queens reading to children

Trump knew exactly what was going on: explosive claims about Ukraine investigation

  • 16th January 2020

The screen of Celia’s phone lit up. She thumbed the home key and opened the alert. The train lurched suddenly, forcing her to change her grip on the pole she was hugging and shift her bag from one shoulder to the other. The heaviness had lately spread to her lower back, so the pole was more or less holding her up today. Adjusting her bag and hand positions, she returned her attention to her phone screen and toggled between the apps. News, emails, advertising, media, socials, videos, updates; Celia uploaded another packet of data into her overtaxed brain. She’d sort it all out later.

C–130 waterbomber crashes while fighting NSW fires

Dutton’s office suspected of leaking classified information after medevac debate

World court orders Myanmar to take all measures to prevent Rohingya genocide

  • 23rd January 2020

She was walking downhill. Downhill. So why was it so difficult? This stage of her morning commute was usually delightful. She would walk to the office through the park and past all the grand old houses, imagining what it would be like to live in one of those beautiful places. Then she’d remember how much money you’d have to have, and how much privilege you’d be accessing, to live in such a way. The houses didn’t look quite as great.

And anyway, this downhill section just beyond the park, was giving her some trouble. The heaviness that had been slowly seeping throughout her body of late was starting to reach the very marrow of her bones. When she’d mentioned it to her mother on the phone, her mother had suggested she was actually getting too much iron, and it was weighing her down. Celia was starting to worry vaguely about her mother’s faculties.

But for all that, there really was something leaden in her walk – as though the pavement was filled with magnets and the iron filings in her bones were dragging her inexorably towards it.

Man sentenced to 18 years for ‘horrific’ killing of his partner in front of their children

Pressure continues to build over sports rort scandal

Federal Government accused of withholding information on travellers at risk of coronavirus

  • 30th January 2020

Thank goodness her boss was away. Celia was having trouble keeping her head off her desk – her arms were tired from propping it up, and her elbows had red marks from being ground against the hard Formica top.

Her concentration had been slipping. She could still flick between all the necessary screens, but nothing seemed to be lodging in her mind with any…with any… stickiness. Was that the right word? She wasn’t sure. But at least her fingers were still agile enough to thumb the home key on her phone and check the… check… check something. Celia couldn’t remember what.

Questions about grants programs haunt the government

Is Australia headed for recession?

Court told racist Instagram comment sparked alleged bashing of 13yo

  • 6th February 2020

Celia made the trip home in darkness. On the train, a man her own age offered her a seat. Did she look that old? She wasn’t much past thirty. But the effort of this train of thought was too much. She was too tired to decide whether to be cynical, offended or desperately grateful. She dropped into the seat with the all weight of existence.

Her phone lay in her palm, but her wrist was aching with the effort of simply holding it. In the periphery, she could see the alerts flashing on the screen and feel the buzzing in her hand, but her mind seemed too disconnected from it to respond. She let her body rock with the motion of the train and fell into a kind of fugue state until she arrived at her station.

Celia dragged herself off the train and tried to remember where she’d left her car.

BP announces plans to offset all carbon emissions

  • 13th February 2020

‘See, I told you climate change is real, even the oil companies know it, Harry!’

Celia’s mother was enjoying having a go at her husband. She was brandishing the broadsheet at their kitchen table, while Harry studiously ignored his wife and daughter in the other room.

Sun shone into the kitchen. Celia could hear birds outside in the pear tree and was enjoying the good-natured teasing between her parents. She took a long breath of the peppermint-scented steam rising from her cup and chuckled, a joyous movement of little to no effort. Her chest expanded and contracted easily – the bands that felt like they’d circled her ribs for weeks had gone.

Her sleep had been deeper this week, and her legs no longer felt like lead. Her dreams, if she had them, were gentle, and her concentration at work had started to improve.

When she had finally arrived home from work a week ago, she’d literally fallen in the front door and crumpled into a heap. She felt like the ground beneath her was drawing her in, and rocks had been placed on top of her to ensure she wouldn’t get up. She’d stayed that way for close to 24 hours. She knew it had been at least that long because when she came around, her phone, still gripped in her hand, was dead. The battery, for the first time in its life, had gone flat.

Despite spending 24 hours on her floor, Celia felt slightly better when she woke. Because she wasn’t in her bed, and it was dark outside again, she abandoned all the other usual parts of her normal routine and took a bath. Then she cooked herself a meal – nothing much, just a toasted sandwich – but she ate it at her kitchen table, while doing nothing else. At all. Just eating. No television, no news, no social media, no reading: nothing. And a weight had started to lift.

Not a weight. The weight.

After eating, she had placed her phone in a drawer. She had closed it gently. And she had acknowledged that the world was in a mess, full of tragedy and injustice. But she didn’t need to carry it all with her.

Now she sat, with a novel sense of lightness, drinking herbal tea at her mother’s kitchen table. Where she let go the troubles of the world for another day.