My Rebellion (for ELLE magazine talent competition 2013)


At sixteen I was desperate to rebel against my parents.  I didn’t dislike them; they were perfectly fine as parents go.  But I was sixteen, chafing under the bit of their authoritative yoke.  I needed me some rebellion!

I experimented with calling them by first names then I failed a school choir audition and cried for Mommy and Daddy.  I stole Dad’s cigarettes.  He didn’t notice.  I stomped to the breakfast table wearing borrowed Doc Martins, mismatched knee-high argyles, artfully ripped t-shirt, neon tutu and denim jacket I had tortured then repaired with a hundred safety pins à la Donatella Frankenstein.  My mother grinned.  She told me about the plastic mini skirt she had loved when she was my age: black with yellow daisies worn over shiny white Go-go boots.  Outwardly I mocked her absurd fashion sense; inwardly I cursed her for not keeping these vintage relics to pass on to me.

            Honestly!  What was it going to take to get a reaction from these people?  Tattooed boyfriend?  Mom critiqued the shading around Betty Boop’s boobs inked on his bicep.  Obnoxious punk music?  Dad bought me a walkman—I was the first of my friends to have one.  Arrested at a political rally?  Just try and shock former flower children with that one! 

            Fail.  Fail.  Fail.  Against the front of my parents’ open-minded, freedom-loving, daisy-painted tolerance this rebellion seemed doomed. 

‘Instigate Generational War!’ vowed I.

But how?  Who could possibly battle against the stubbornly non-confrontational? An answer came on a pure beam of sunlight bursting through parted clouds across an azure sky.  Sympathetic to my recent musical failure at school, my friend Michelle, invited me to join her church choir. 

‘Church choir?’  I grimaced at the hymnal she handed me.  Its cover depicted a beam of sunlight bursting through clouds.  ‘Why would I want to join a church choir?  I don’t even like Amazing Grace.  I’d have to attend church every Sunday and my parents would not approve of—

            Hang on.

My parents would not approve.  My atheist parents never set foot in church unless attending a wedding (even then it would have to be the wedding of someone they really loved) or a funeral (even then it would have to be the funeral of someone they really hated).  If I joined a church they would be furious. 


Michelle’s church choir welcomed their new alto with open arms and voices.  But I didn’t stop there: baptism, confirmation, youth ministry.  I even preached an Easter Sunrise Service.  I dressed the part as well, building a collection of vintage cocktail dresses, Mary Jane shoes and dainty cross jewellery.  I looked like the Catholic school fetishist poster girl of 1957. 

Best of all was the expression on my parents’ faces when they reluctantly attended the baptism.  Forced to conceal their fury and horror, they sat in awkward tight-lipped silence on the edge of their pew.  Those patent leathers of mine clicked delightedly.  God blessed my successful rebellion!


Authorial Intent: a rock song

(You have to imagine a loud electric guitar—something Joan Jett or Chilli Peppers.)

Staring down the barrel of 40

Had a lousy day at work

Satisfact’ry just ain’t good enough

Think I’ll go and write me a book.

 (Here’s the chorus bit where even the drummer who can’t sing joins in)

I think I’ll write a book.

Maybe write a book…

Could I just write a book?

Done some poetries and some essays,

Even wrote some daily news

After thirty years of killing pens

Reckon that I’ve paid my dues.

I could write a book…

Why not just write a book?

Wanna write a book.

 (This is the bridge which may or may not be rapped)

 JK in her cafe

EL and her porn

Meyer got a movie deal

Why am I even torn?

I could be Prachett

I could be Gaimon

Gimme half a chance

Bet I sell a ton.

(This final chorus repeats a capella with the audience clapping while the lead singer pans a microphone around the crowd)

If I just write a book.

Wanna write a book.

Gonna write a book.

Shut up and write that book!

(lead singer screams this final line at the mosh pit before leaping into it)