Riding Blind 5
She squeezed her eyes shut, the sound of his voice overwhelming her.
“This is such a mistake,” she thought to herself.
Another loud cheer erupted from up on the clubhouse deck. The voice responded again,
Her head filled with mindless chatter so loud that it left her with nothing to say. Slowly she pulled the phone from her ear, fear and regret drizzling steadily, slowly filling her up. Her hand shook as she hung up the receiver. Her coin clanked its way through the phone and clattered into the tray. She dug another coin from her pocket, her silence costing her dearly.
She stood in the booth for a while, and the notion of filling herself with booze passed fleetingly through her mind. She reminded herself that those days were gone, and caught herself out on her own backward slide. How quickly revisiting the past could restore such dangerous patterns.
She fed the coin in the slot and redialled the number. It answered at once.
“Hello?” she noted a tinge of annoyance in his voice.
“Jack?” Her hand clenched the receiver so tightly, her fingers hurt.
“Yes, this is Jack. Who’s this?” There was a hint of playfulness now back in his voice.
“Jack, Hi, it’s Ella…I got your …”
“Ella?” he cut her off.
“Yes, it’s me,” she said, looking back out at the darkening sea. A silence drifted between them as dark and as deep as the ocean before her.
“Where are you?” he finally asked, his voice softening.
“I’m down at the surf club,”
“Our surf club?” she could hear the surprise in his voice. He clearly wasn’t expecting a house call. Something fluttered inside her at his reference to “our”.
“Yes, our surf club,” she smiled.
“Fuck. um…where are you staying?” he asked. She realised she hadn’t a clue, hadn’t thought much about where she would be by the end of the day.
“I actually hadn’t given it much thought until now. There’s a motel I passed back on the coast road, I’ll probably…”
“No, no,don’t do that. I just thought you might be already staying somewhere. I’m guessing you got my letter?”
“You’d be guessing right,” she said staring at it as it lay in her upturned helmet that rested on the bench.
A silence fell between them again. In the background, voices carried over the quietness. She imagined him somewhere, sitting back, watching the tele, drinking a beer.
“Well, you know where I live. Come on over.” She heard his nervousness tightly disguised by his laughter and figured he was possibly even more scared than her. The thought made her feel better.
“Maybe I should book a room first and then…”
“Ella, it’s me. There’s a spare room here…”
“Enough said then,” she answered quietly.
“Enough said,” he answered back, and then she heard him hang up the phone.
She replaced the receiver with both hands, leaning her head hard against them as she processed what had just happened. She wondered how ten years could pass and yet have it feel like no more than a week. She let go of the phone, and folded the letter, and tucked it back in her jacket pocket. She picked up her helmet and pulled open the door, relieved to be out of the tight confined space. In the twilight, she crossed the car park, pulled on her helmet, straddled her bike and cranked it to life. With the cover of darkness slung gently about her, she rode out of the car park and headed back onto the road that would lead her to him.
‘our surf club’, she reminded herself as she rode.
Like a lovesick teen, she could feel the distinctive flutter beating its wings inside her. In less than ten minutes she had pulled into his drive. The outside light burned like a beacon guiding her home.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2008
Riding Blind 4
The sun was resting on the horizon by the time she reached the turnoff. She headed along the coast road until she came to the surfclub and then veered into the carpark where she stopped the bike. The cool afternoon air swum through her hair as she eased the helmet from her head. She sat straddling the bike, staring out over the ocean, her arm hugging her helmet against her hip the way you might nurse a small child.
The ocean was almost as she remembered it. The clubhouse was much the same, less paint but more space where they’d added a few meters on to the upper deck. She looked up at the small crowd huddled behind the new perspex shield that ran the perimeter of the deck. Harmonious laughter rang out from a table followed by the discordant sound of chinking glass. Just being this close to the club had memories drowning her logic.
She reached inside her jacket and pulled out the letter, checking the address once again. The letter was written four months ago and was now worn and battered from her constantly folding and unfolding, trying to make up her mind what to do. It had arrived so suddenly. Was so unexpected and she had carried it with her every day since. She wondered how long it took him to find her after so many years. Some days the weight of it all was almost too much to bear.
She checked the house number again and tried to imagine the place. He’d moved since she left. She recognized the road where he now lived. It was as close to the beach as you could get without actually swimming in bed. At least one of them had followed their heart. She climbed from the bike, fishing for change in her pocket. She strode through the car park, her boots squeaking all the way to the phone booth where she stopped.
She pulled open the door and nestled herself inside, leaning back against the glass as she picked up the receiver and started to dial. It was only manners to call first. She turned to the sea as the ring tone buzzed in her ear, and she watched the last of the sun slip beneath the horizon, the sky now bruised with purples and pinks. The phone rang four times before a click and a voice.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 28, 2008
Riding Blind 3
She unzips her jacket and fumbles for something inside. She pulls out a letter and tosses it on the table and then shrugs the jacket from her shoulders. The letter is worn and has been folded and unfolded so many times it had almost worn through. She unfolds it again and begins to read.
Her brow creases slightly as she takes in the words, though she almost knows them by heart. They have been written by a man she hasn’t seen for the last ten years. She’s not even sure if he’s living or dead. She’s willing to gamble against the odds. The news is old and worn and knows if she’s honest, the point of this exercise is moot. The chances of finding him are perhaps as remote as sharing a table with elderly folk in a small cafe, south of Bunbury.Danger is present in both possibilities, and for all parties concerned, depending on whose view you take.
She reads the letter again.
Ella…it begins, and it ends with forever yours, Jack….
He’s the only one who has ever called her by name. She drinks her latte and glances at her watch. She will need to make time if she is to get there before dark. She downs the coffee and pulls on her jacket, tucks the letter back inside. She picks up her helmet and makes her way to the counter and slides a ten dollar note to the boy. He takes the money, eyes downcast and then glances out the front window to the street.
“Nice bike,” he says, flashing her a quick look.
“Thanks,” she throws him an enormous grin that waters the harshness from her face. Her teeth are still good, despite her years of wild living. She is proud to have managed to steer herself back on course. Her savage days are long over. He succumbs to the infectiousness of her smile and grins back at her.
“Have a good day,” she says, leaving the change on the counter.
She walks out onto the pavement and presses her head into the empty dark space of her helmet as the empty dark spaces inside her head begin to fill once again with the vivid memory of Jack Alamus.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 27, 2008
Riding Blind 2
The cafe has been newly renovated and stinks of linoleum glue. Above, a ceiling fan chops through the thick summer air. She sits under it, at a table for two, resting her helmet on the spare chair. The waiter approaches,
“What would you like?” he asks.
“Soy latte,” she says, and can see the immediate surprise on the young boy’s face. Perhaps she looks more like she should be slamming down rums. The boy wanders away with his note pad still blank.
She watches an elderly couple walk in the door and linger beside the cake cabinet, inspecting the contents. The old lady signs to the man with a nod and they turn and survey the tables behind them. The hold hands like they’ve never once been apart. The old man spies the room cautiously. He takes one look at her in her black leather gear, eyes her slowly from hair to boots and then leads his elderly bride to the other side of the room.
Her latte arrives with extra froth. It is just how she likes it.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2008
She straddles the bike in her black leathers. Her helmet obscures a face once pretty; the booze and the drugs having etched their various brands in her skin. She cranks the throttle, revs a few times just to piss off the neighbours then pulls out of the drive. She hits the motorway and settles in for the long ride down the coast. The weather looks ominous with a storm banking out to the west. There’s no going back. No point going back at all. Life here is done and has been for a while.
The bike thrums between her legs, and offers a false sense of bravado. On wheels, she feels invincible. The space in her head fills as she rides. She knows where she’s headed but isn’t sure if its where she belongs. It’s been nearly ten years since she visited the place and can only imagine much has changed in that time. For her, an entire life has been lived and for the most part, lost as well since then.
She rides for nearly three hours before she spies the old weathered sign advertising the small town up ahead. She motors into the town, aware of the turning heads as she pulls up outside a small cafe. The bike’s engine dies, introducing a welcome silence. She swings her leg over the seat and stands, unfastening the helmet, pulling it from her head. A swirl of dark hair unravels as she shakes her head. She hooks the helmet over her fingers and then saunters inside for a drink.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 25, 2008
Just Another Day
Ho Ho Ho!
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2008
Christmas Cheer Part 2
The old man reclined in his chair and lifted his feet onto the poof that he shared with the cat. He popped open a can of Lemon Fizz and slurped loudly from the can before setting it down on the small table beside him. He adjusted his robes, brushing away the dust that had gathered over the afternoon. He looked at the cat. The cat looked bored, having grown tired of grooming itself near to death. It startled at the fizz of the can being opened, its eyes all dark and slitty and its tail switching about in the evening air.
“Where’s mine?” the cat asked.
“Your thumbs painted on?” the old wizard asked. The cat had been born with opposable thumbs. Many thought it a peculiar and unusual thing for a cat to have working thumbs. Strangely, no one thought much of his ability to speak. The cat lifted itself from the chair and stretched itself into an arc before leaping from the poof, in search of a drink.
“So where’d you put them?” he asked, glancing over his shoulder toward the wizard.
“The blue esky, and make sure you shut it properly tonight. I woke up to find slush in the thing this morning…” he chastised the cat. The cat leaned back on it haunches and wrestled with the lid of the esky, eventually freeing it from its locks. He drew out a can of Orange Tang and as instructed to do so, he replaced the lid and secured it firmly. He lay the can on its side and proceeded to roll it back to the poof.
“It will fizz everywhere, you know that,” the wizard informed the cat.
“What’s up your robes tonight, old man?” the cat asked. It was true. The old man had been grumpy since lunchtime.
“Nothing much, thanks for asking,” he said, watching the cat tilt the can upright to crack it open with his infamous thumb.
“This is me you’re talking to,” the cat retorted, jumping back up onto the poof.
“There’s nothing up my robes, I’m fine, really…,”
“Yeah, right…talk to the paw,” the cat replied, holding his paw toward the wizard whilst deliberately looking the other way.
The cat dropped its paw and swung its head back toward him, staring at him with its large china blue eyes.
“Wanna talk about it?” he asked.
The old man drew a deep breath and wriggled about in his chair.
“You remember the tablet we dropped on the Earth…the one with the pinch of goodwill and all that?”
“Yep – October 21 – .8:26 pm. I told you it wouldn’t work, remember?” The cat took a long swig from his can and then belched.
“Yes. I remember. And you were right. It hasn’t made a scrap of difference it seems. I just thought that maybe this year it might…” his voice trailed away.
“You’re not going to give up, are you? Just because you made a bad batch?” the cat asked.
“It’s Christmas Eve. Its too late to do anything now,” the old man sighed. “Tomorrow they’re going to get drunk and fight with their relatives and half of them wont remember the day and I guess I just wanted it all to be just that little bit different for once,” the old man lamented. “You know, make them see beyond all the catalogues and bottle shop sales.” he added.
“Well, its not all bad. Why don’t we rustle up a cracker of a sunrise instead? That wont take long to mix up and toss over the edge.”
The old man’s face softened a little as he considered the cat’s proposal.
“You wouldn’t mind helping. Really? I just want to do something that I know has made some little difference…”
“Come on…’ said the cat, jumping down from the poof.
Together they toddled off to the wizard’s chamber and in record time had concocted a perfectly set Christmas Sunrise in tablet form. They rolled the tablet from the room, down the narrow hall and out the back passage toward the edge of their world.
“Same deal..on three..”said the cat.
“On three,” agreed the old man.
“One…two..three…” they shoved the tablet over the edge and peered after it, watching it spin through space and time.
“How will we know?” the cat asked.
“We’ll have to watch tomorrow’s weather, I suspect,”
“You wanna know what I would have got you if we did presents?”
“Sure – what would you have got me?”
“Socks and Jocks,”
“Oh. Thanks. That would have been good. Want to know what I would have got you?”
“Gloves. With thumbs.”
“You’re welcome. Merry Christmas then,”
“Yes. Merry Christmas.”
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2008
Tea Time 4
A week goes by in this strange land and the basics of living here are explained to us new comers.It feels more like a pact for survival at first. We form of group of about twenty, from all over the globe, employed to do all sorts of jobs from nursing and medicine to security and putting out fires. The compound sits behind walls and to venture outside, I must be covered from head to toe.
During the week the girls have been taken”down town” to make one of our very first purchases. The abaya – a signatory black cloak that becomes my closest and dirtiest friend. It allows me to blend, though my long blonde hair stands out in a crowd. I cover my hair with the obligatory scarf and am grateful that rarely will I ever have to iron what I’m wearing beneath my abaya. Nor will I ever have to fashionably match. There will be many a time that I duck to the shop in my PJ’s, with my trusty abaya, disguising my nocturnal wears.’
MONDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2008
Tea Time 3
I’m up at some ridiculous time the next morning and decide to venture out of the apartment. I get up, shower and change and then grab the key and head out of the door. I’m not really sure if I’m dressed right but most of my bits are well covered so figure I’ll probably be OK. I poke my head out of the corridor which looks identical in either direction. I look at the number on the door. Its in arabic but to my relief it is signed in english numerals on the other side of the door. I commit it to memory and head off down a long brown corridor toward the lifts.
The lifts spit me out in a foyer that is more marble than glass. I weave my way out toward daylight and push my way through the glass door. The temperature outside smacks me fair in the face and I feel myself wilt as I wade into the heat. It burns to inhale. I have arrived on a Friday, the holy day of the week. Nothing is open and I have no idea where to go anyway. Later on I get a tour of the hospital grounds but it is days before I am game to venture beyond the walls of the compound.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2008
Tea Time 2
It’s after 2 am when the driver pulls into the compound. My eyes sting and I feel the deep pitted nausea that comes with a long haul flight. My body hasn’t a clue what it wants, having had its clock truly shafted in-flight. I clamber out of the car and I follow the big bulky man who plucked me from the airport. He is my work representative sent to deliver me safely to my new dwelling. Now he has done so, he leaves me with the key and a small pile of luggage that is now the total sum of my life. I stare at the back of head as he walks out the door.
“Now what?’ I poke around in the tiny apartment, beginning with a search for the stairs. There must be an upstairs…surely. The only feasible space for a staircase turns out to be full of shelves and spare linen. One would be pressed to swing half a cat in here.
On the kitchen bench is a “new arrival” basket, stocked with various foreign foods that I promise myself immediately I will never touch. Not ever. I am tired and yet hyped by the realisation that I have indeed arrived in the middle east. There is a window in the small lounge-room and I open the slats of the blinds, and stare out into the night. To my right, I can see a crescent moon atop of a mosque, silhouetted against the arabic sky. I feel I have landed on some other planet. I carry my things into my room, and without changing, I collapse on the bed and fall into a dream filled, fitful sleep.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2008
It’s one in the morning and I gaze from my taxicab window. Outside, a world in shadow rushes by, as I speed down the highway that would eventually deliver me to Mecca. The journey is slowed as we hit the traffic of Riyadh, and find ourselves crawling along at a snail’s pace. I look from my window again and notice a car parked off to the side of the highway, its doors swung open.
Pulsing from inside is the powerful beat of an Arabic song; eurhythmic clamor that competes with the noise of the passing cars. On the ground next to the car, a rug is sprawled, and on it lays several young Arab men, raising small teacups to their lips. The sight is foreign to me and replaces the vision of young boys at home swilling stubbies and cans and the like. The arab boys encircle an old tea flask, raising their cups amidst laughter and song, enjoying an age-old tradition.
We make our way toward what is now to be my new home, edging along the highway, where more cars have pulled over to the side of the road. I see children playing under the Mid-Eastern moon as their families’ huddle around teapots and baskets brimming with Arabic delights. They, too, sip at tiny cups brimming with tea and I begin to ask “Where on earth have I landed?” As I drive into the thick of it all, I am too mesmerised to realise that my life has begun to change forever.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 19, 2008
A Dark Place
I push myself up between the last of the boulders. I squeeze through the narrow space, my pack snagging on the edge of a rock and from here, I can already see the mouth of the cave. It yawns its usual mystery toward me, inviting me in. The sun is down and a chill has descended upon us. Us. She doesn’t know I am here. Has no idea that I’ve come.
I move closer, skirting around the rocks. I don’t want her to know I am here until I have clambered inside when it is too late then for her to retreat even further. I edge to the mouth and I can hear a faint whimper, like an animal that is lying in pain. I listen closely and realise it is her. She is crying again. I stare into the darkness, my eyes useless, still affected by light. I pick out vague shadows and something moving along the back wall.
“Mica?” I call. No answer. I move into the blackness, using the roughened wall as my guide. The whimpering stops and now all I hear is a strange combination of two people breathing, the rhythm all out of synch. I stand in the dark and I wait. She answers after a while.
“Why are you here?” the words push up through her dry gritty throat.
“Mica, it’s time to come home…” I say. My words echo a little inside the cave and I wait for her to crawl out of the blackness and into my arms. But she doesn’t. She keeps herself pressed against the back wall and the whimpering starts over again.
She refuses my help. I am powerless, and all this is pointless. I shrug off the pack and let it drop to the ground. There’s enough food and water to last her a couple of days. I turn and I leave and wonder when this will all come to an end.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2008
A Train of Thought
There is this train that steams by at the oddest hours. Not a normal every day train. This train you can’t see but I know it is there. It passes by often and is crammed full of fabulous things. It has open carriages, which are painted bright red. Open so that you can see in them easily and pick out what it is that you want.
The train chugged by my bed last night, and stopped just on the far side of my pillow. I was nearly asleep but I heard it pull up, all hissing steam and squealing brakes. I could see through the dark it was crammed full of fabulous lines that would fit perfectly into the part of my book I am working on. These fabulous thoughts just sat in their blazing red carriages, and begged me to stir; to sit up and take note.
“Flick on the light and write us down,” they implored. “If you don’t, we’ll just go and find somebody else…”
“I’ll remember you all – fear not…” I say to them.
“You are far too fabulous to forget,” I add, clamping my eyes shut, reciting the fabulous lines in my head over and over again.
I hover beneath a fine blanket of sleep, and can hear the train chug away into the night; into that ethereal land of creative abundance from where it first came. Even this far away I can hear it change tracks and I know its journey is far from over. It searching for someone who will turn on the light and relieve it of its valuable cargo.
I wake in the morning – empty headed and full of regret.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2008
I see it happen in slow motion. In front of me a car backs from a car space into a car doing the same. The smash and gnashing of metal can be heard a street away. Expletives fly from windows and abuse charges up the rear, ready to slay and defile. I slink off into the shopping centre, grateful it wasn’t me.
Inside, I saunter down the first aisle. Time is a friend today – no pressing engagements. I busy myself in the vegetables, picking and choosing, dodging elbows and trolleys of those who are fighting the clock. A trolley wedges itself in my kidneys. No apologies from the driver – just a rolling of eyes and sucking of teeth as she extracts the metal from my flanks and moves on.
I gather my things, nothing special – some things for the dogs, as well as some dinner for me. I stand in the queue as a man lets rip at the check out attendant. He quibbles over a yoghurt that should be on sale but isn’t and he’s not backing down, no matter what, and who cares that the line is now snaking back down the aisle I have just come from. My line is suddenly defunct over dairy produce, and I question myself as to why I must pick the line with the greatest potential for snags.
The man with the yoghurt is winning the war. He’s beating them down for the thirty cent gap. The attendant applies that embarrassed fake smile that pretends that the customer always is right. I offer to pay Scrooge the thirty cent gap just to get him the hell out of the line.
“Pigs arse you will…it’s all about principle,” he snaps at me. I want to tell him its all about ‘use bys’ too, and could he please hurry up before my dinner expires, along with my patience. But I don’t. I wait quietly, listening to the whispered complaints of my fellow shoppers behind me. It seems everyone is tired and cranky and in need of an afternoon nap. He struts away with a look of victory plastered over his miserly face.
Outside, the abuse is still flying as the car wrecks untangle themselves, hurling blame and obscenities into the air as tow trucks hover like vultures waiting to strike. I pay for my things, glad to be heading home. I pass by a fat man wearing a suit the colour of cherries. He is swinging a bell and passing out sweets to pedestrians. He looks hot, tired and grumpy and also in need of a nap. Seems everyone’s cranky. And so this is Christmas…
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2008
There is a soft fog dwelling about you,
Amid the greys and haze, I glimpse your truest colours,
Through saline water blues in a deeper sea of green,
Saddest eyes I’ve ever seen
Look to you, settled in the garden you have planted.
Your Eden, your Hades, your state of mind dictates the season,
Mother wit, an unknown reason given
just to chide you in a basting fashion,
As you sow the seeds of knowledge with such passion.
Sequestered from the common species,
Searching for a place to rest your head
as the subtle autumn changes confine you to your garden’s bed,
So tenderly you slide a searching hand,
Deep beneath the fold that blankets my eternal soul,
I wonder could you find such comfort there?
As we couple in the chamber that I proffer,
How I long for your caress, that silken touch that you may offer.
Could you sweep beneath the canopy of everything I long to be,
And relegate my idleness and such?
As I watch the weather turning in your garden here before me,
You roll yourself into an orb and hurl yourself at my direction,
Rolling, roaring, thunderous,
So passionate without exception,
Erupting from the knowledge you embrace,
Like sudden cloudburst raining down,
To fall so clearly on my face.
Washing out the sorrow in my eyes,
Filling crystal goblets with the knowledge that my heart desires,
Grateful for the chance to spend my days,
Sharing in your garden, here amid the haze.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 15, 2008
The Kissing Convention
Padua-Italy: A kissing convention,
Speaking in tongues, ever seeking attention,
And there in the corner, clad under robe,
Judas Iscariot pleated his thobe.
In old leather thongs, he cut through the throng,
As troubadours lauded in spirited song,
Discerning another’s familiar face,
Judas fronted the woman and stated his case.
“Pardon me, Madam,” he said to the shrew,
As she eyed him with malice and spitefulness, too,
While dogding her venom and obvious hate,
Judas offered a hand and said, “You must be Kate’,
She slapped him aside in ignorant bliss,
Returning her thoughts to those she might kiss,
And as if by some magical twisting of fate,
Judas leant and he whispered, “Come, kiss me Kate.”
He whispered it softly, with honest intention,
What else was to do at a kissing convention?
Ignoring his plea while keeping her cool,
Kate turned to acknowledge a transient fool.
Renowned for her talented torturous tongue,
She lashed at the fool as the troubadours sung,
And though it appeared quite bitter and cruel,
Helpless, she begged, “Kiss me you fool.”
The fool felt a dupe but with standing ovation,
Kate stole the show with her fine osculation,
Failing to tame her outlandish display,
Judas retreated and scuttled away.
He left her to service the lips of a fool,
A talent she’d learned in the yard, after school,
Alarmed and abraded, her target withdrawn,
She banished the fool with her womanly scorn.
As Romeo passed, providing distraction,
Kate noticed Juliet missing in action,
“Juliet fine? How is she…do tell?”
“She has glandular fever. She hasn’t been well,”
“The kissing disease? How tragically sad,”
“She’ll be fine in a while…she’s not got it bad,”
And lurking behind, resisting temptation,
Judas discovered a long lost relation,
A kissable cousin, delivered by fate
saw Judas forgetting all about Kate.
Now standing alone at the kissing convention,
Kate spied Iscariot’s wandering intention,
In front of her there,in the arms of another,
Judas betrayed her, kissing the other.
Scorning, contemptuous, pitiful, too,
No one came close to taming this shrew,
And filled with despair and deep – seated contention,
Kate pulled the plug on the kissing convention.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 5, 2008
It is morning and fingers of light shine down on the river, piercing their way through the cloud that has bulked to fill one side of the sky. Ripples crinkle the water as an asian boy crouches in the end of a small fishing boat, awkwardly steering his vessel with a thin stalk of bamboo. The bow of his boat points toward where a huge ball of yellow white sun has finally outwitted the clouds and risen beyond their cumulus ways. He is alone in this magical realm, cradling the peace and the quiet as though it has been entrusted to him for the day. He paddles on through the water. By the time the sun is high in the sky he will have reached the market. This peace and quiet will be a thing of his past. He begins to miss it even before it has gone.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 4, 2008
There is something tapping on the window…tap..tap..taptaptaptap…tap. I vaguely remember the rhythm, but dismiss my suspicions as I am forty flights up in the air, where no one can reach me. It is late and I am annoyed at the intrusion, for the night has been spent quietly reading alone in my bed. I have been robbed of my bliss.
I tune out the noise, or try to, as my hand plunges into the gaping neck of a large bag of chips. I was suitably sated until the tapper turned up. I hear it drumming its fingers against the glass, in between taps. I flick back the sheet and my chip crumbs fly south, and I slam down my book. I move to the window and fling back the curtain and there I see it, hovering in space, its head framed by a star-studded sky. It smiles at me from its spongy round head and I see it is wearing a ridiculous hat that is covered in cobalt blue feathers. Its tiny round figure bounces in space. I can only surmise it has been drinking again for it is actually wearing the pig’s wings I gave it last year. It hovers outside the window, the wings flapping madly, upholding its weight. It seems impressed with its antics and grins like a fool. It knocks even harder, now I have seen it.
“Pleeeeaazzzeee,” it whines to me. I give in to its foolishness, cranking the bolt and then throwing the window wide open.
“What do you want?”
“I need to come in. I have something to tell you,” it pleads.
I try to think of a dozen reasons to slap it and send it away. But I can’t think of a single one. The truth is, I have missed it and never expected to see it again. I move out of the way and watch as it flies into my room and settles on top of the bed. Without asking, it helps itself to a chip.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 3, 2008
I walk in on you both, in the back store room – in that little space that is brimming with perfect spots to conceal many things. You have made it your personal hovel. You both shift away from each other, and stare at me like deer caught in lights and it is me who feels suddenly guilty. I have hampered your infidelity. I blurt out some lame excuse as to what I am wanting and we all cough and sniff and avoid making eye contact. Later you ask if there’s anything I am wanting to say, and I consider you there before me, your wife tucked away in a job that she hates while you gambol about in dark places with women you’ve only just met. I look at you and say nothing and hope you can read my contempt. I wish you away.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 2, 2008
There is little light left in the sky and she is huddled inside, on top of the sheet, her sleeping body coiled like a comma. The room has grown dim and the dusk breeze catches the curtain. The scent of the street rolls inside uninvited, carrying with it the increasing din of the evening as the quiet of the day rushes away. The girl is scantily clad, her legs long and bare. The room is modestly furnished, its walls old and grey. Like the girl, it is tired and rundown and abused.
Outside a truck’s engine complains in passing, the hiss of its breaks piercing the air as it pauses to stop at the lights. The girl on the bed stirs from the noise, and rolls on her back and assumes the position of a capital “T”. She lies like somebody crucified. Her eyelids flick open, her eyes dart left and then right. She struggles up from the bed to study the room.
She winces from pain and reaches a hand toward the throb in her head, and discovers a split that runs over one eye. Her fingers come away sticky with blood. She adjusts a spaghetti string strap that has slipped down her arm, and she swings her legs over the edge of the bed. She has no idea where she is or how she got here. No hints lie strewn, to help solve what has happened.
In the dwindling light, fear settles beside her, keeping her company, making her fret. She is foggy from drug induced sleep and she fingers a bracelet that hugs at her wrist. She stares down at her arm and in the light of a car’s sweeping headlights, she reads the inscription on the plate of her bracelet.
Her name is Jasmine. This is all that she knows.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 1, 2008
He digs about in the filth, the stench of people’s past lives rising up through the air. He knows it is in here somewhere, and is sure he probably tossed it along with the old television. He shoves an old computer screen out of the way, watches it topple onto another pile, then he digs with his foot through the remaining mountains of crap. He remembers what it looked like, back in the days when life seemed just a little less frantic. And if he is fortunate enough to find it today, he swears he’ll take better care. He just wants it back.
Between the mountain of designer like labels and technical gadgets, he glimpses the soft milky glow through the darkness. His heart skips a beat at the sight of it. He knows it despite it still being covered in junk. He parts the garbage, thrusting his arms in up to his elbows, like a midwife ready to work. He moves in on it, gently wrestling it free and cradling it inside his warm fleshy palms. He carries it away from the pile, tucks it into the pocket of his coat and then hops on an old bicycle that he found. The bike works fine. Its amazing what people will throw.
He rides to the ocean, down to the place that is water and salts – just like his own physical self. He sits on the shoreline and sees a bleak wintry day, and slips his feet into the sand, anchoring himself to the earth. He takes the thing from his pocket and examines its small dome-like shape. It pulses gently there in his hands. In his chest he feels the space that has grown – a great hollowness that he has tried so hard to fill with this life. But the answer he feels is right in his hands – a return to his former self, a passage back to the simpler way of life that he lost so long ago.
He rolls the egg in his hands and sees the red waxy seal is intact where the two halves of the thing have been joined. He knows then that the contents have been kept safe and sound. He picks at the seal, and instantly feels the fear slowly leech from his doubt. It trickles into the big hollow space in his chest, filling him full of freshly baked dread. He closes his eyes and wraps his hands around the dome. Hugging the fragile egg to his heart. The fear in his chest shrivels and dies. It is then with his greatest intentions set in his mind that he opens his hands, cupping the glowing thing in his palms.
He pinches the tip of the seal between finger and thumb and then peels it away, separating the halves. The egg splits open and a radiant warmth expands from inside. It is breathtakingly beautiful and he winces a little from the brightness. He stares in awe for a short while and then slowly leans forward toward it, closes his eyes and breaths in the light – great deep and deliberate breaths that reach down into spaces he’d long forgotten. He opens his eyes and the world has changed. The sea is now indigo blue and the egg in his hands still faithfully glows. He gently closes the lid, encasing the light and slips the egg back in his jacket. He stands and notices the emptiness gone – the empty space in his chest has diminished. He takes a deep breath and begins the long journey home.