Excerpt: ‘Get Me Out of Here’, by Paola Balla


Photo by chrisjtse. Image reproduced under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

Too much too young.
Get me out of here…

Chrissy Amphlett wails into the microphone while I vacuum—it’s up loud so I can her over the big bloody Dyson I thought would be the answer to domestic problems and anxieties about dirt.

“Too much too young…” I see myself splayed on a hard dirt river bank edge, my skirt pushed up my belly and my undies round my ankles like shackles. A hotted up Commodore idles nearby, its red tail lights like red eye at the window, seeping into the exhaust fumes like beautiful bleeding little clouds, red eye mooky taunting me, watching and disapproving while I open myself up to a complete stranger.

A young Italian from the western suburbs, older by about nine years to my sixteen has me pinned onto Yorta Yorta Country pushing me into her until I feel like I don’t exist at all. I fall through the Country like a little dark Alice, falling and falling, passing dead rabbits and foxes and pretty middens and mussels and yabbies and crays, their little black eyes move over my body but their bodies stay still and I see pity and love in their eyes and they tell me I’m welcome to stay but the Italian comes and pushes off my body, doing up his jeans and laughing, calls out to his cousin that it’s time to fuck off.

I play bold and unafraid, my friend sits in the backseat talked into it by the other Italian, touching, coercing, forcing, fighting her when she fends him off. I’ve really put us here with my limitless vulnerability, daring myself, daring someone else to take me away. My body goading the ever present numbness, trying to feel something, anything. Anything but the boredom and oppression of being normal, drinking, drugging, smoking, fitting the fuck in and watching fucking neighbours and blue light discos and pervert cousins and mums useless and dirty boyfriends and pedophile teachers.

“Get me out of here…”

The Murray laps ever so gently this late at night under the bridge when no paddle steamers or petrol spewing speed boats come past, no cousins or mates jumping off the bridge laughing or yelling or running down the dusty bank and diving in, heels sending hot sand over Mum’s old Cottee’s cordial bottle filled with tap water and ice, buried where the river meets the sand.

There was only quiet here, just the sound of a stranger grunting over my small body.

I dream about Melbourne, about being famous and beautiful and being skinny and perfect. I want to be Lisa Bonet and Neneh Cherry.

They burn off into the bush, leaving us to walk home through the dark, over the bridge crossing New South Wales back into our Victorian town to sleep it off and to never talk about it again.

This piece appears in full in The Lifted Brow #29. Get your copy here.

Paola Balla is a Wemba-Wemba and Gunditjmara woman of Italian and Chinese heritage. She is an artist, curator, speaker, educator and cultural producer.