Day Three Hundred and Forty-Five.

11/12/14

Today’s theme: seances.

Izzy circle

izzy

4:02am
The children wake up and no one is there to sing them back to sleep

4:28am
The children self-soothe and fall, hiccuping, back into sleep

4:52
The front lawn crackles with frost

5:18
The paper doesn’t thud against the front porch

6:25am
The kitchen is empty. Dishes piled precarious like Jenga

7:09am
The car’s not in the driveway

7:34am
The train doesn’t come.

7:54am
The train doesn’t come.

8:13am
The radio’s gone static.

8:42am
Every TV channel is playing re-runs of Friends.

8:59am
The Prime Minister makes an announcement. The press room is almost empty.

9:41am
A national state of emergency is declared.

10:14am
The remaining half of special forces are deployed to search.

11:03am
The reports start to trickle in.

12:37pm
The reports are a flood.

1:06pm
The reports a deluge.

3:11pm
It is confirmed that on the outskirts of every city, town and locale the gatherings are growing.

4:17pm
Some eyewitnesses describe the scenes as raving naked women dancing covered in blood. Others declare it more of a peaceful gathering, more like a vigil.

5:32pm
They say they’re never coming back.

5:33pm
They say the changes seem so simple, so obvious.

5:34pm
They dance in wider and wider circles.

5:35pm
They sing softly.

5:36pm
They sing like it could break the sky.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

They lit the candles out of deference to cliché, and the light was thin and frightened, the way they were, the way they had been for months. The Ouija board was a shitty one from Kmart, but they cleared off the tablecloth nonetheless, and sat solemnly with their shirts buttoned up and their skirts ironed. Dad nodded, and they all placed two fingers on the planchette and looked at him, big-eyed and small-lipped. Silence settled in the cracks between them and they breathed. It was Matthew who asked, in the end. Seven years old with cheeks that looked stuffed as a hamster’s, he whispered so softly it barely shifted the candleflames, ‘Mum?’ The planchette shot over to the ‘Yes’ on the board, so fast that they laughed, accused each other of pushing it, jostled shoulders, grinned. ‘Are you okay?’ asked Abigail, and this time the pointer swung across to the I, looped down to the M, the S, the O, the R, looped, R, Y, and they all fell quiet again. Dad’s eyes were down and his forehead was shining. Matthew shifted. ‘Where are you?’ And again, the I, the M, the S-O-R-R-Y, and Dad was breathing out through his teeth so they whistled, a vein pulsing next to his ear. ‘What’s it like there?’ said Matthew and the planchette darted so fast to the I that it hurt his shoulder and he started to grizzle and Dad’s eyelashes were wettening. The second the pointer hit the Y it started again at the I and kept snaking around, faster and harder. Abigail whimpered and looked at her father and said ‘Please’ and ‘Enough’ and Matthew pulled his chubby child hand away and she followed him, and then it was just Dad, his whole hand on the wood and snot running out his nose and him pushing so hard that the ball bearings creaked, I-M-S-O-R-R-Y, I’M SORRY, I’m sorry, ImsorryImsorryImsorryImsorryImsorry.

*

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Day Three Hundred and Forty-Four.

10/12/14

Today’s theme: airports.

Izzy circle

izzy

Yr blood lips are like cherries
hot sour hit in my mouth
taking off

undercover security guard watching us
from behind a cleaners cart

don’t say bomb here,
don’t taste sweetness

sucking the pith of you,
turning you over to the sky
dropping to the floor like an avalanche of blossoms

*

Sarah circle

sarah

There is such a space in me, and for the longest time I never knew it. One day, running my hands down the walls of my insides, I found a crack, felt a hiss of cold air. I spidered my hands until I found the latch, wrenched it open, stepped through. Felt the shock of finding an aircraft hangar in the back of the pantry. How vast it was. How full of quiet and sad and snow. White flakes sifted through the air like icing sugar, catching in spirals of wind, sighing as they settled to the crisp concrete earth. The keening of the wind, high up and far away. The aching rumble of aircraft taking off, felt rather than heard. The silence where the shrieks of birds should be, the high pitched whine where the lack of human chatter falls. And of course, when I turned around to the walls back home, they were gone. Nothing but white fading into white, nothingness blurring into nothing. The collapsing of self into self, the whisper-soft implosion of the lost and lonely mind. For the longest time, I clung to the sound of the planes taking off overhead, knew that where there was flight there were fliers and if I wandered far enough they would be there with smiles and sweaters and candlelight, laughing to welcome me home. I crunched through snow and drifting air, night bleeding into day as at the edge of the world, where the air gets thin and the stars get sharp. I bled into the wind. I strode through strange and wild places where the view never changed and the sounds never stopped. I walked out of my memories, the past shredding like sawdust in the sky. I walked out of my childhood, stepped out of my dreaming until all that was left was empty and longing. At the very edge of my own existence, I breathed out everything that I was as the planes roared past and it was then, with my feet stretched flat on the dead nothing ground that I realised that the roar was the roar of my own breath. Nothing greater or finer than the naked machines of my lungs. And there, deep inside, with my life shrieking above me in heavy high wind, with all the secrets ground down to the quick, I stood silent and sad and alone.

*

Day Three Hundred and Forty-Three.

9/12/14

Today’s theme: pigeons.

Izzy circle

izzy

they moved in under the floorboards
tamping the earth flat under the house
to a packed rust, paved with crusted grey shit

they crowded the water mains, making the pipes shudder
held the electrics to ransom
aggressively cooing every time we turned the TV on

now everything is made of feathers
soft and brittle and light like air like you

*

Sarah circle

sarah

Green scarf at her throat and new red shoes on, she stalks in a grey haze through the tottering town, kicking up her feet, nodding along to the beat of the steelworks smelters. Arms kicked up, she’s looking for a bite of bread and a song to sing and the sky to shake her out of the morning and into the day.

*

Day Three Hundred and Forty-Two.

8/12/14

Today’s theme: cake.

Izzy circle

izzy

my boots have walked further than I ever will
they’re patched in more places than I have scars
and my knees are a tender network

I baked you a cake for your 100th birthday
I’m saving it til then.
the cream’s going sour, but
I don’t care
I like it better that way

I’m still working on your present.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

The gas went out so the cake never cooked right. Thick caramelized crust and then just goo underneath. The skewer came out coated so I pressed a finger in, felt the top give way. The warm wet syrupy batter swallowing my knuckles to the palm. I pressed my fist in, and as I drew it out again it made a sick deep suck, a deathless gurgle and I balked at it. I saw myself reflected in the microwave, hair shoved aside, flour-dusted, forty, lonely and sagging, baking cakes for my own puckering stomach. I spat. Spat what was left of the cake on my teeth back into the black of the springform tin, watched the bubbles sit sullenly on the earthquaking top. I wished the gas would come back on so I could tape up the doors, black out the windows, leave the oven door open and sit for a day on the kitchen floor with a packet of matches and a mind for the boom.

*

Day Three Hundred and Forty.

7/12/14

Today’s theme: blood.

Izzy circle

izzy

Their bodies turn toward us in unison, raising their arms in a way that is somehow delicate and urgent all at once. We pull onto the side of the road and Jordan and I are out of the car striding toward this cluster of waving people in the middle of the road. Ben’s stuck in the back seat of the car, peering out the window. There’s a guy in a bucket hat and one in a Hawaiian shirt. A guy with dreadlocks is talking into a mobile phone, squinting his eyes either to block out the sun or to make sure he doesn’t cry. None of them are wearing shoes. He’s splayed out on the road like he’s trying to be consumed by the bitumen and only then do I wonder why I walked toward this, why I thought I had anything to offer, how I thought I could help. His friend is crouched over him, holding his helmet still and shivering with adrenaline. A white motorbike is spun out on its side a few metres away. A blue motorbike perched neatly on its stand on the road’s shoulder. I don’t ask what happened. I crouch next to him. He’s breathing, and it sounds like a terrible snore. Blood bubbles on his lips. I rub my hand in circles on his crouching friend’s neoprene-clad back, between shoulder blades that run down into two muscular arms poised white glowing and freckled, cradling his friend’s head like he could unstitch the last few minutes from existence. I ask his name, and he shudders ‘Blake,’ without moving his eyes from the closed, almost peaceful eyes resting long lashes behind the smashed-in visor. Salt rolls down his face and falls onto the black plastic crown of the sighing helmet. We follow every laboured breath like it is sacred. Blake, shaking, worries about the blood congealing in thick bright swathes across his cheekbones. Jordan runs to get him some paper towel and his enormous white hands delicately soak the blood from his friend’s face. I keep rubbing my hand in circles over his back, cooing that he’s doing really well and keep going and he’s gunna be fine and the ambulance is on its way and just kind of saying his name over and over like it might make him surface from the 50cm gap between his face looking down at his friend’s helmet that is his whole world right now. The guy with the dreads on the phone to the ambulance is telling the operator every time he breathes. Now. Now. Now. Blake’s hands are moving like sparrows whose bones have gotten too big for their skin, ‘the blood’s – huh – ah, the blood’s getting in his eyes, can you – ‘ We are all vibrating in the wires of the mobile phone, the dreadlocked guy our mouthpiece, our assurance that an ambulance is on its way. Eyelids flutter and he starts groaning, moving his legs. All these men rush in to hold him down. Suddenly he’s human again. ’They said we gotta talk to him. Talk to him.’ I take a paper towel and I am wiping thick red from his cheeks, dabbing at the streams running down from his forehead. I don’t even know his name. I’m glad he’s moving his legs. Maybe that means no spinal damage. I’m glad he’s moaning, I’m glad his clotted throat works, I’m glad the helmet is on his head, that the visor seems to be the only smashed part of him. Everyone is yelling and holding him down to stop him from moving and I am just stroking his face, trying to speak as level as I can. The screams feel like they’re ripping from the cavity between the bottom of my lungs. The gum leaves are stirring, closing in on us from above. The ambulance is somewhere. ‘Diego. His name’s Diego.’

*

Sarah circle

sarah

I found out that lipstick is coloured with horse piss
so I gnawed on my lips til they bled, and I’m telling you now
no gloss ever gave so much life to my smile

*

Day Three Hundred and Thirty-Nine.

6/12/14

Today’s theme: dinosaurs knitting.

Izzy circle

izzy

Clack of bone on bone, scent of dragonbreath and sweetbread, ‘fetch me another tea, dear?’ and the claws, the claws, the claws. They still smoke. Knit one. Eyes slide around young blood. Pearl two. Piles of doilies, jumpers and Pom Poms. A patchwork of quilts and a million po-faced dolls sprawling over the ground like so many dead, so many prized hides as they feast on 50cent lamingtons and sigh. Booties to keep little chubby bubby bits warm and a scarf and a bobble hat for the kids and a jumper grinning square clown teeth to stuff the stockings. Thin fingers wrapping around yarn like a long lover’s trist – the perfect wrists to give your neck a twist. ‘It’s ten dollars for the beanies love’.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

God had called it a day, and the world was ruled by terrible beasts with wide smiles of toothy splendour. The earth was complete, and time stood still, smoking a cigarette in the heart of a volcano. And all was at peace as violence shrieked through the hazy hot foliage and small scaly things scuttled under the feet of giants.
But Myrtle couldn’t cast on her knitting. There was a fetching scarf she had in mind, blood red and snug as a skull in its skin, but t-rex arms are doomed never to meet, and try though she might, she couldn’t get the wool on the needles, and damn God, damn the universe, damn the clocking off of time, this fucking scarf was getting made if she had to wait a thousand years for her arms to slink out of their sockets and reach for the sky. Myrtle was evolving and she didn’t give a fuck who she pissed off while doing it.

*

Day Three Hundred and Thirty-Eight.

5/12/14

Today’s theme: women are hungry.

Izzy circle

izzy

grind my insides up like you are diamonds
and I am sand and rocks turning to dust

crush my centre into little sparkle splinters
broken glass that sings and shimmers

grind my bones into glitter

*

Sarah circle

sarah

You know what? I don’t want your fucking cronut.
I don’t want your quinoa and massaged kale salad.
I don’t want raw high vegan paleo bliss balls.
I don’t want a banana and a plate of chips.
I want to sink my teeth into your collarbone and feel it break in my jaw.
I want to suck the marrow out of your fingertips.
I want to feel your arm hairs sizzle in your forearm skin crackling.
I want to jam a fork between your ribs and lever out your arteries.
Calories don’t count when it’s true love, baby.

*

Day Three Hundred and Thirty-Seven.

4/12/14

Today’s theme: eating alone.

Izzy circle

izzy

I’m wearing a jumper with waves on it so I feel like I am made of waves and I’m walking up the hill because that is what you do here. Sandwich and a camera and a pocketful of trail mix and a – fuck, I forgot the water. Hit the top. Sit. Taste of spit turning white and gluggy. Chew. Swallow. Chew. Think. Admire the roll of the hills through slatted eyelashes. Sun lashing my back, trail mix in my curled fist. Mountain and me. Hill, if you please.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

I wonder what I’d say at his funeral. Something like ‘He was the best one, you know’, while feeling the eyes roll in the audience. ‘He was the kindest’ – yeah, right – ‘the sweetest’ – sure he was – ‘we had the most beautiful’ – fuck off, everyone’s a saint when they’re dead. So perhaps then I’ll stiffen up, sniff a few times, clear my throat. I’ll say ‘There was this game he played when walking past restaurants. He’d look in and find the people eating alone. Usually older men. Usually, and let’s not let death make us saccharine here, usually overweight older men. Eating alone. And he’s stand outside the windows, just behind where the saffron light fell on the pavement, just far enough away to avoid steaming up the glass, and he’d imagine what his life was like, the patron. The patron sitting at his table with his napkin folded into his badly ironed shirt, nursing a glass of wine, could never justify a bottle, see, staring into his plate of calamari or spaghetti carbonara or whatever it was, and standing outside, this figure in the shadows, he’d stand transfixed imagining how lonely this guy at the restaurant was. How he’d had a wife, maybe, but she’d left him, and his kids never saw him, and he’d tried internet dating and failed, because the world was too cut-throat for him, and all he wanted was someone to smile at across the table, all he wanted was a soft sweet hand to brush his over the salt shaker, but he had nothing, this guy, this lonely, desperate, milky-white man sitting alone in the corner table of this cheap nasty restaurant, and standing outside, these thoughts burbling through his brain, he’d get so upset, so desperately empathetic for this imagined life that he’d cry. He’d honestly make himself cry imagining this man’s sad cruel life. And when I said ‘You know, some people just like eating alone. Some people are on business trips’, he’d reply ‘Of course, of course I know that. But I think of these stories, and they just, they just break me, you know?’ And that’s who he was. He could be an idiot, and unintentionally offensive, and just plain dumb, but he had all this kindness, this empathy in him and it just seeped out like that. At men in windows of restaurants. Nursing their forks and their slow beating hearts.’

*

Day Three Hundred and Thirty-Six.

3/12/14

Today’s theme: dink.

Izzy circle

izzy

It’s not like we would’ve gone any slower even if we could’ve. Your face gets all cold from the rush of it when you’re going down and sometimes you skid a bit and maybe even some leaves slap your face but I wasn’t focused on that this time. My eyes watering a bit, peering out of her slipstream and the warm weight of her hips pushing into my forearms was like the best thing ever until –
it’s not the gravel that’s the thing. Like, it cuts you up and maybe takes a bit of a chunk outta you and you bleed a lot but it gets better. It’s not the gravel that’s the thing, it’s the drop. The sheer fall tumbling down past all them reaching white skeleton trees. That’s the thing. That’s the thing that’ll get you. I haven’t looked down yet to see how she landed. It’s been a while. I keep seeing the image of her sprawled down there somewhere and – I dunno how long exactly, but a while. It’ll be fine. I’m gonna look. She’s gonna be fine. White gum spindle-fingers and a slash of blue sky and. She has to be fine.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

I never trusted my flat-clap shoes to hold me
and my scab-sick knees to keep on folding,
accordion-esque, once the blood stopped clotting.
I never had enough hair to hide behind
and my nose was less a button than a squashed pink sore
I was never the ingénue, always the nerd.
And so the nights never called to me, lilac-heavy
bitumen-bit, never whispered in my bones
and saw me leap from the window-ledge
into the sap-dense arms of the night.
I never could fit on the hard steel handlebars
without tipping off sideways
but I can still kiss like a teenager
with overwet lips and too much tongue
and my heart clawing up like a cat in a sack
so come dink me a while on your thighs.

*

Day Three Hundred and Thirty-Five.

2/12/14

Today’s theme: spit.

Izzy circle

izzy

She sticks a swab in my mouth and wiggles it around so I can taste the powdery blue of her gloves, feel the weird stumps of her fingers sliding up under my lips chipped and crackling. I think about biting her plasticine flesh fingers.
‘That’s it, all done,’ she squeaks like a fucken chew toy.
Her tits bob as she stands back and I watch. Think about shoving my face in her cleavage, her gripping the back of my head with rubber-gloved blue hands that don’t slide. Can’t feel. Think about ripping her buttons off with my teeth. Bitch.
‘Won’t take long. D’you want a cuppa while you wait mate?’
I spit on the floor, right next to her black polished boot. Far enough she can’t do shit. Close enough she knows. Her badge glints. Tight black hair shines.
‘Suit yourself.’
She goes and I want her to come back. Cuff me. Hold me. The walls bend and glow. Useless dried up hag thinks she own me, think I’d listen to anything comes out of her shrivelled mouth. Time drips like sour milk.

*

Sarah circle

sarah

There’s a string of spittle suspended from my lips hanging half an inch above your eyes and we’re frozen. Neither of us breathing. If I try to suck back this bubble-foam rope, it’ll snap and come to kiss your contact lenses, shatter your dignity, spray lunchtime’s garlic toasts across your wrinkled nose bridge. Between my thighs I can feel your stomach start to shake with the effect of keeping in two pints of old oxygen turning bad. I sway my head side to side like I’m listening to old music and the spit-string wobbles like you’re the pit and I’m the pendulum and it’s getting lower with every swing. Your eyes are starting to go red as carbon dioxide invades your retinas, bursting blood into the whites like tree roots in Spring. I’ve been raking my gaze across your face, across your pinkening cheeks, your six-year blackheads that you never let me squeeze, your shitty-shaved stubble and then I lock on with you and stare. A bubble seeps out between my lips. I make sure I’ve got your full attention, make sure every pinprick of you is looking at me, and then I open my mouth with a laugh like ‘Pah!’ and I watch in slow motion as the filthy spittle snake goes rushing out into the freedom of the air and down towards your horrified eyes.

*