She adjusted her cloak then pushed open the heavy arched door. Of course, the cloak wasn’t real, but neither was the door, yet when her phone lit up and ‘mum’ flashed on the muted receiver, it was what she did. Her parents were of an age now where L dared not risk ignoring The call. The one she’d imagined all her life. As a child, she’d pictured herself living in a large, echoey house, all timber and marble with generous servings of sweets in crystal bowls and lots of room to pace while having long conversations with friends on the phone, or if she was done pacing, she’d sprawl out on a soft shag pile carpet that would be used solely for late night talks that required the phone to be dragged on its extra long cable, the curly cord draped beside the round of carpet like the tail of a poodle, but longer. Continue reading →
‘It’s not over till it’s over’ he’d said. If it hadn’t been such a heated conversation and had she not been walking out on him, D would have burst into song, repeating his lines and adding ’till I’m over you’. It was 5 years since that day, also his birthday. The reminder had been in her phone up until last year, but by then the date was lodged in her mental calendar. She’d felt horrible doing it on his birthday, but there was hardly an opportune moment to talk with him, and he’d given her his full attention in anticipation of being showered with gifts and adoration.
Pauline’s husband died on the eve of their 50th wedding anniversary. A heart attack. It was no surprise as he had been one of a dying breed. A smoker who over the years had to trade the convenience of smoking anywhere he chose for surreptitious drags in the shadows wedged between the looming office tower where he worked and the adjacent apartment block where he kept four walls for late nights at the office, doubling as a faux bachelor pad for the high class hookers he was dependent on. He’d work late into the night, billing clients for time that would never be his again. Pauline had been busy with arrangements for their anniversary party that coming weekend. It was just another of a long list of projects that kept her occupied through the course of their marriage. Their secret for longevity, they’d only half joke to anyone who cared to ask, was that they were both too busy to have any marital discord. This was of course not entirely true. There was discord, but it was spoken of in the hushed tones of their body language, separate beds, and dreams on divergent paths. Continue reading →
Every morning—I assumed it was morning, but couldn’t be sure as the only light came from stark fluorescent tubes that were always lit—my horns were clasped and measured with calipers cinched by gloved hands.
‘Growing too slowly…’
The man in the white coat would mutter to himself each time before shuffling away, almost tripping over his too-long trousers, to top up my trough with a bland oily porridge that was served cold and congealed. It was unappetising but I’d eat it all, nothing escaping, not even the irony of all the meals I once snapped and shared with friends as though they’d mattered (the meals that is); the freedoms I’d taken for granted had never been photo worthy. Continue reading →
I’ve lost count of the number of times ‘the only thing private are his thoughts’ has been muttered by passers-by believing their words to be original and witty; while I retain the dignity of private thoughts in my nakedness, the pleasure is dimmed somewhat by the many distractions that rarely allow for a single coherent train of thought: visitors taking photographs; amateurs and professionals alike making sketches I’ve learnt to not take personally when certain proportions are downgraded to fun size; pretentious conversations about art; scrunched up pages of a sketch book hurled at me; crude paper planes projected with whimsy in my direction, their sharp points denting on impact, gravity ensuring I never receive the message; heads bowed in studious attention toward a Lonely Planet within my line of sight, page open to an image of me as the reader verifies the importance of their visit; and of course, that originality and wit rearing its head again with poses mimicking mine, taunting me as the comedian’s jaunty limbs move in and out of freeze frame with fluidity that escapes me.
As the sun sets on the grounds and the last of the visitors makes a beeline to the gift shop, the first muted signal of evening’s silence cloaks me like a lovers embrace, something akin to a tempered version of that kissing pair who don’t get a moment away from one another.
With the quiet of closing, when left alone with my thoughts for a spell, I’m grateful for being on the right side of the real gates of hell; knowing the screams from that garden shed will take their queue when the bells toll at midnight, telling a tale of a more brutal inferno than our maker envisioned, the fury and despair of forced retirement where the wounded, the shattered, and those with chips on their shoulders too large to repair are banished for eternity.
In the unseen timelines of the mortal trio, that day was marked as the occasion of the light dimming in each of their hearts forevermore, disconnected as they were from the source.
They’d slunk out of the forest triumphant, leaving behind an unrecongnisable world: sacrifices made in the name of gods they didn’t believe in, although flashbacks were tinged with fear of the wrath of those same dieties.
Meanwhile, the sun continued to rise and set, bearing witness to daylight thievery and acts of grace with the same silent intensity.
We stopped at Novosibirsk and waited on the platform; as with all other stops, there were locals selling soda, peanuts, pickled fish, two-minute noodles, and the powdered mash potato that had been my staple; I’d get hot water from the surly samovar attendant and with a little stirring, giving me that sense of having cooked a meal, I turned out a delicious starchy mush that paired nicely with whatever vodka was going. Continue reading →