The Back of My Father’s Neck, by Anna Ryan-Punch

Anna Ryan-Punch is a Melbourne writer. Her previous publications include work in WesterlyAntipodesThe AgeIslandOverlandSoutherly, and the anthology Prayers of a Secular World. Her work has also appeared in issues Four, Six, and Thirteen of Tincture Journal.

This piece appears in Issue Eighteen of Tincture Journal alongside much more. Please support our work by buying a copy.

There was no way I was going down to breakfast. Even school was looking unlikely, but having to trudge through cornflakes while my father efficiently dispatched his own meal was out of the question. He’d always start with coffee (instant, cheapest available; it smelled like Weetbix). Stirred the cup five times round, then dinged the spoon on the rim of porcelain twice. Ding ding. The noise of an angry tram. Ding ding. Such an ineffective sound, like a fairy stamping its foot. Ding ding.

Then came toast. Every day he was Grandpa Simpson: “I set the toaster to three; medium brown”. He smeared exactly 15 grams of butter across his bland bread and topped it with a flitting scrape of Vegemite. The butter was always right to the edges, but the Vegemite left a one centimetre border of yellow. Cut in half (always rectangles). The whole family would pause as the butter oozed between his wide-set teeth. Then he would smooth out the already-flat newspaper on the table, frown, and begin to read.

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