Messing up in Ketchikan

This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess us sometimes, it’s a universal truth. But the good part is you get to decide how you’re going to mess it up.
– Marilyn Monroe


It’s an odd place, Ketchikan. At least it is in early October, when the cruise ships have ended their season and the town returns to the residents.

The skies were grey for the entire duration of our visit, as if to warn us away. We were met with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion by the locals, who couldn’t understand what two young people could possibly be doing in their little town as independent travellers – we were asked more than once if we’d missed our cruise ship home. Saying no and that we were Australians seemed to be a valid enough explanation for at least half of them.

We stayed in a guest house on Creek Street, because everything else was closed for the season. It was a creaky, old weatherboard building that served as a dance hall and Alaska’s first registered brothel before it was closed in the 1950s. Creek Street is full of these aging wooden tributes to the past, sitting in a wonky line along a rickety boardwalk, held up on criss-crossed wooden stilts.

They stand like aging movie stars past their prime but too proud to step aside. Tarnished metal plaques on their outer walls bear their names – Star House, Preacher’s House, June’s Place – and their bright colours stand out against the grey sky – mint green, sky blue, salmon pink.

Salmon. The perfect Alaskan stereotype. The creek is full of them. Walking the boardwalk at dusk, when the sky is turning pink and the air is still, there’s an acrid smell of gutted sea creatures that reminds you of the end of the day at a fish market. The water in the creek rises and falls fast, faster than many of the salmon can keep up with.

When the creek water falls at the end of the day, you can finally see what lies beneath. Below the wooden stilts of the boardwalk, a vicious valley of jagged rocks appears, and caught up them are the salmon. Dozens, maybe hundreds of them.

Things started moving too fast for them, and they’ve gotten themselves stuck just as the tide falls back out. And just as you’re processing the savage fate of the fish, the seagulls sweep in like vultures, picking at them as they lay helpless in their death throes.

That’s life. Sometimes things change too fast for us to keep up, and we stumble. Occasionally, there will be those who come along when we’re most vulnerable to pick at our wounds. Shit happens; we mess up and we get stuck. But we’re not victims of the tide. If we’re paying attention, we know when we’ve messed up, and if we can mess up right, we get the chance to learn something from it, save ourselves, and keep on going.

Duck-egg blue

Entrant in the 2020 YPRL Booklovers Festival Flash Fiction Competition.


She put the rusty car in park, opened the door and swung her feet out as she slung the worn straps of her handbag over her shoulder. Shaking her hair out to cover the old bag straps, she took a deep breath, threw her shoulders back, and strode purposefully towards the front door. She smiled back at the real estate agent waiting on the porch.

“Back again! I take that to mean you’re interested?” “Oh, yes,” she said. “I have to have it.”
The agent laughed, not realising how serious she was.

Her black heels clicked over the shiny floorboard as she crossed the lounge to the kitchen. She ran a perfectly manicured red nail over the grey marble bench top, looking longingly at the duck-egg blue walls and bay windows. She had to have this house.

As she stepped towards the laundry, her phone rang. “I’m so sorry, I have to take this: it’s my doctor.” “That’s no problem, I’ll just step outside a moment.”

She turned her back to the agent, and answered the call. She fell silent, nodding wordlessly, although Dr Hartman obviously couldn’t see her.
“Do you understand what I’m telling you Rachel? You only have twenty four hours… I’m so sorry I had to tell you like this, but there simply wasn’t time… Rachel…?”
“Yes. Yes, thank you Dr Hartman, I understand, I have to go…”

She slid the phone back into her bag and made her way to the front door.
“Thank you, Marcie. I’ll be in touch.”
“Oh, Mrs Calloway, I’ve just come off the phone with the vendor. They’ve just received an offer, and have given me twenty four hours to take any others to them before they accept it… Mrs Calloway?”

She didn’t hear; she was already at her car.
She drove, fast, all the way home. Then she drank the fancy wine she’d been saving, the whole bottle, and fell asleep on the couch.

–   –   –

She woke to the vibration of her phone. Eight missed calls. She answered: Dr Hartman. With the little vial she needed to ensure her survival. She jumped up, threw on her shoes and grabbed her keys – she only had three hours and the clinic was almost two hours away. She threw the car into reverse and flew down the driveway. The phone rang again just as she approached the freeway. Marcie. The house. Shit.

“Mrs Calloway, I’ve been trying to reach you all morning. The vendors are ready to accept the offer and I hadn’t heard from you. If you still want it, I need a figure, and I need you at the house in the next hour to sign the contracts. Mrs Calloway? Are you there?”

She had to have that house. It had to be signed back under her name, even if she’d never live in it again. She swerved out of the freeway entrance lane, spinning the car in a very illegal turn across four lanes, and sped towards the house.

“Marcie, tell them $1.2 million. I’ll be there in 45 minutes.”

Keep Your Chin Up

Keep Your Chin Up

Everything You Never Knew You’d Need To Know About Pierre-Robin Sequence

1st edition available in:
– PDF (instant download)
– eBook (compatible with Amazon Kindle Fire, Apple iOS devices, and macOS computers)

2nd edition available in:
– Black & white print (softcover and hardcover)
– Full colour print (softcover and hardcover)

About the Book

So you’ve been told that your new baby has a medical condition called Pierre-Robin Sequence. OK. I know you’re scared right now, because I’ve been there. Finding helpful information online was almost impossible, which only made it scarier. That’s I why I wrote this book.

Within, you’ll find many of the questions we searched for answers to when our son was first diagnosed – how will this affect his development? What difficulties will we have with feeding? What treatment options are there? How will his time in NICU affect him long term? With research drawn from over 150 medical sources, photos, and interview with more than twenty PRS families, and my own personal journal entries from birth to NICU and beyond, this is a guide to PRS written for parents, by a parent.

• • • • •


If you just found out your newborn has PRS, read this book! It provides an extensive and thorough understanding of PRS without being overwhelming, while also providing relatable insight into the experiences you may have as a parent of a newborn with PRS while the NICU. This helpful guide is written by a mother who has lived it herself, and wants to help others by providing an easy to read educational tool. I absolutely wish I had something like this book for support and guidance when I was in the NICU with my PRS newborn!
– Shannon, PRS mom, USA

This book is what every parent with Pierre Robin Sequence should be presented with upon diagnosis. The book gives the options parents may be presented with surgeries to help their child, with ideas for families to mention to their providers, with real life results. It is so helpful to see other families’ progress and healing.
– Kelly, PRS mom, USA

This book is exactly what new PRS parents and families need to read. If only this was out when we first found out about PRS! Showing your own journey and providing all details, even the frustrating ones is exactly what is needed.
– Kiera, PRS mom, Canada

• • • • •

Book Details: 1st Edition
  • Categories: Medicine & Science, Parenting, Baby, Pediatrics
  • # of Pages: 246
  • ISBN
    • Hardcover, ImageWrap: 9781715035440
    • Softcover: 9781715035457
  • Publish Date: Jun 11, 2020
  • Language English

Book Details: 2nd Edition
  • Categories: Medicine & Science, Parenting, Baby, Pediatrics
  • # of Pages: 218
  • ISBN
    • Hardcover, ImageWrap (colour): 9781006660191
    • Hardcover, ImageWrap (black & white): 9781006660030
    • Softcover (colour): 9781006660184
    • Softcover (black & white): 9781006660023
  • Publish Date: Aug 03, 2021
  • Language English