This week's edition to our Olympia Extracts is a contemporary fiction called, It's All About Melinda by Rhona Dunwoodie 




The Shape of Things




I don’t like the look of her. She’s far too stern for my liking; serious, with no sense of humour. Not my type at all, and she’s wearing an outfit of reds, yellows, and purples, like a rainbow. I think she’s competing with the sombre background. Her office is sterile. The walls and desk are white, and she sits in that high-backed, brown, leather chair. She sits regally behind her desk, so sure of herself. But I tell her straight; she’s made a massive mistake.


“What a load of rubbish. It’s like everyone and everything has to have a label, and I’m certainly not wearing this one, not from you, not from anyone.”


This being-labelled business started before I even emerged from my mother’s womb. Evidently, the midwife shouted:


“Call the doctor, this is going to be a difficult one.” From about lunchtime onwards on a cold and blustery Saturday late in the month of May, and many years ago now, I was categorized – ‘difficult’.


Mum still talks about the hard time she had. I think she rather enjoys a moan. Some people like to complain, it gives them a purpose in life. Sadly, they develop a complaining, whining personality, and it’s not a pleasant attribute, although Mum appears to thrive on her classification. This arduous pregnancy seems to give her some kind of status, taking the blame from her. Perhaps this vindicates her, explains things. Mum likes to think of me as her downfall, but to me, it’s the other way around. Life’s often like that: someone’s always trying to put the blame on someone else, and then there are others who can’t get enough blame and act all tragic.


I believe my Dad cried on the day of my birth and has done many days since. Unfortunately, not all were tears of joy. He did get some respite for the first twelve and a half years, before I reached puberty, though. After that, the Thompson family changed forever and life at number eight Addison Grove became volatile and complex. In reality, I threw my parents’ lives into chaos and confusion from the time of my birth, and let me tell you, it’s grown to be a habit. Some routines are hard to break, and I seem to have no desire to interrupt this cycle.


Our home is a conventional double brick and tile two-storey, of traditional design. It’s one which any decent architect who treasured their reputation would not claim to have created. But some people like run-of-the-mill houses. Like people, they blend in – become invisible.


We grow the mandatory geraniums and have a rose garden running along the side fence. We possess the traditional lemon tree out the back, but I would prefer an orange tree, all sweet and juicy. There is a green jade bush at the front door, which is supposed to bring good luck to the occupants, but I’ve never seen any sign of its effectiveness. I think we should have cacti: all prickly, like the people that live here.


Our house, home, dwelling place, whatever you wish to call it, is deceptive. The building may be sound, but not all houses are safe or secure havens. Like people, they can be two-faced – deceiving. There’s no doubt about it; houses have personalities.


Mum and Dad are safe, boring, and afraid of rocking the boat, but I rock it for them and often. Perhaps my parents have been too complacent in the past. No doubt a shake-up is in order: a shock with a little agitation can be therapeutic.


I do love my mum and dad but never acknowledge it. They are always trying to ‘rein’ me in, and I’m always trying to kick over the traces, which can be hard work at times, let me tell you. The more they try to keep me in line, the more I push the boundaries. They have grown tired and it’s getting increasingly difficult for them, but I am hard to put into a box. I will not be put to one side, contained or labelled.


My brothers are well behaved, and it’s awful being in the middle of two ‘goody-goodies’. I wonder how Marcus and Brendan feel, being on either side of a rebel. They will never tell me, as both are so limited emotionally. With their stiff upper lip attitudes, they should have been born in England.


As I look back on my life, I admit that I have been erratic. For as far back as I can remember I’ve been considered troublesome which, I understand, is unusual for the middle child. I believe the middle child is supposed to be uncomplicated, but not me. Quite early in life, I realised that I reacted to my environment, and I responded to pampering, to being fussed over. I feel I deserve it. Too much will never be enough for me; however, the family believes otherwise and finds my behaviour irritating.


I couldn’t be as infuriating as the woman Dr Browne sent me to: that stern ‘rainbow-clad’ doctor I’ve just visited, who lied to make out she knew her job; well, she didn’t. But, as you can tell, I’ve always been this way – insightful.        




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