Wordless Whimsy

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Supermarket Stacks

She had this tattoo of a ufo aircraft on her forearm, underneath the hovering disc the words ‘never alone’ were written.
It was the stupidest thing I’d ever seen. And I was forced to follow it around for a good five hours while she showed be were the bathrooms were and explained how to stack the displays properly. 
She helped me build a pyramid of baked bean cans, and the whole time I was just desperately trying to find an actual good reason for her putting that ufo onto her arm. Desperate, because if there wasn’t a good reason I’d have to give up, maybe on everything. My sense of cosmic angst bounced off the walls the supermarket. When they hired me to stack shelves, I doubt they’d considered the amount of existential crisis I could derive from a tattoo and a small stack of saucy beans.

Apr 9

I’d wanted to kill her. In that moment I’d really wished she’d never existed. It was an overreaction, of course. But she’d been staring at me with this politely bemused look. She’d been so disinterested by anything she’d done wrong. 
My mother would have called her dynamic.

Apr 9

When Henry danced we all noticed that his heart pounded under his shirt. Our eyes would stalk the swirls his feet made on our expensive floor. Afterwards we would clap.
..

He arrived in a storm of my snobbery, a piqued frost that easily managed to seclude me from most house guests. I remember there had recently been spout of irritably humid nights. I don’t remember what the season actually was when he arrived, and I don’t think it really matters if it was summer, winter, or any of the slush in-between.

There were so many rooms in our beast of a house. So many boxed spaces to bundle oneself in that it wasn’t until the third day of his stay that we were even in the same one. It was the concert hall. We didn’t notice each other, there were more beautiful things the stare at. The ornate floor was positively dapper in comparison to the many pairs of shoes that buffed it. People rotating and rubbing their heels, really only served to better the gleam of the marble and not the dazzle of their dancing. This observation had one exception. A graceful boy with a drippy smile. From what I can’t remember, and have only been told, he had noticeably danced the most skilful waltz out of all the company that night.

Clutched in my self-occupied mist, I remember only my own reaction to the clutter of movement. My claps my were tepid, my palms behaved as they had been woken up from sleep, drowsy and irritated.
On that first evening I did not appreciate the way his knees bounced when he kicked them up, I did not understand the soul in his spins. His ‘jig’ was just the cushioning between Isabella’s harp solo and Vanessa’s gruesome attempt at singing. I did not care for all three performances, I did not care for him.

Apr 8

Sigh

His angrily flung saliva, splatters my jacket and her arm. I’d like to think the watery glob is cooling the skin just above her elbow, I can’t decide who’s angrier, him or her rash.
"WHAT THE FUCK SARA!?"
"chill out" she says, it’s become a catch phrase today.
"YOU STOLE THE, YOU YOU" there is a tiny pitter patter as more spit hits my front. I don’t say anything.
"Ew Adam your slobbering all over me" of course, she says something.
Adam’s face is redder than her ripe skin, and I take the opportunity to study his teeth on the occasion his lip is curled over them. It actually makes him look like an angry rat. This is almost funny, almost. 
She tells him to chill out again.
"Chill out, you want me to fucking chill out. You stole my tat!"
"Really Adam" she reprimands him like a child "It was never your tattoo. You merely tossed it about as an idea"
"EXACTLY! MY IDEA, MY IDEA
She’s sighs, she’s probably bored “Well, there’s nothing anyone can do about it now” 
We all stare at the rat sketched into her arm. It’s carefully inked tail and beady eyes sit in a pool of reddened skin. Because it’s her, I know to assume that it’s not hurting. Adam looks like he wants to peel the furry artwork right off her arm. He whirls around in search for something to kick, but finds nothing malleable in this tiny living room sprinkled with plastic chairs. He sits down in one of them, pauses for a split second and then immediately gets back up. I freeze as he lances toward me and I continue to stare stupefied as he stalks out of the house. He disappears down the driveway. When I turn around to share a grimace with her, she’s disappeared too. 

********

The first thing I notice is her sparkly top. Which is unusual because normally I immediately look at her face, or her neck, or her calves. Today she’s head to toe in disco shimmer, green sequin top, metallic trousers and bangles. I’m forced to wince in the face of her dazzle, but that’s not unusual. I know Ben doesn’t think she’s beautiful, but Ben’s doesn’t notice anything other than his shoes.
“Hi” she grins.
Apparently not noticing the tension in my stare. The last time I saw her I was shouting, and she was rolling her eyes.
Unleashing all of her teeth in one swift blow, she smiles again. She’s probably forgotten it happened, not forgiven me. She’s like that, forgets before there’s need to forgive.

I’d wanted to kill her. In that moment I’d really wished she’d never existed. It was an overreaction, of course. But she’d been staring at me with this politely bemused look. Stared at me with her eyes, gleaming with the sort of innocence that was ignorant of guilt. She’d been so disinterested by anything she’d done wrong. I had been warned. She told me once that she didn’t waste herself away on regret, regrets and I forgive you’s. ”Chill out” was basically all she’d said before I stormed out.
My mother would have called her dynamic.

Apr 7

I’d wanted to kill her. In that moment I’d really wished she’d never existed. It was an overreaction, of course. But she’d been staring at me with this politely bemused look: Staring at me and gleaming with the sort of innocence that was ignorant of guilt. She’d been so disinterested by anything she’d done wrong.
I suppose I had been warned. She told me once that she didn’t waste herself away on regret, regrets and I forgive you’s. ”Chill out” was basically all she’d said before I stormed out.
My mother would have called her dynamic.

Apr 7

I stare at Adam, his arms are dangling over the couch pillow. He’s asleep and he doesn’t even know it. Until he wakes, he’ll stay ignorant of the fact that he’s accidentally dozed off in the middle of the film. His trusting bout of unplanned napping makes me want to laugh. I don’t really know if it’s because I’m happy, or if it’s because I’m making fun of him. 
I’m bored of this film already, it’s become a blur of gun shots and sweaty brows. I picture Adam’s eyebrows leaping up and hanging off his fringe. In the fantasy, I’m snagging him with a surprise. It’s a shock that seems so cunning he’s forced to stare directly back at me, and ask me if it’s true. But I know I won’t answer. You know, like I’ll say something, words, noise, but I won’t really answer. 
I lie all the time. For some small, wobbling reason that never really makes me feel guilty.

Apr 6

Rebecca had tried to drift into sleep. Even though her body was exhausted, it still could not compete with the long ribbon of thought that twirled in her head. Her eyelids moaned at her to let go, but she couldn’t. 
She thought of sam, with his too big jacket scrunched around his body like a sweet rapper, she thought of emily and her paper dolls, and even of Jeremy’s massive frown. 
Their faces lunged at her, ramming into her. She kicked the blanket off her, despite the outcry that came from what felt like every muscle she had. They were easily trumpeted out by something else.
"Hey" Will said, turning over on the mattress "what are you doing?"
Such a blank question, but she had already left. Dragging the blanket behind her so that it’s threads slithered along the sandy floor. Will was left only, with the blanket’s hasty swoosh for an answer.

The first thing I notice is her sparkly top. Which is unusual because normally I immediately look at her face, or her neck, or her calves. Today she’s head to toe in disco shimmer, green sequin top, metallic trousers and bangles. I’m forced to wince in the face of her dazzle, but that’s not unusual. “Hi” she grins.
Apparently not noticing the tension in my stare. The last time I saw her I was shouting, and she was rolling her eyes.
Unleashing all of her teeth in one swift blow, she smiles again. She’s probably forgotten it happened, not forgiven me. She’s like that, forgets before there’s need to forgive.

She

Today

Holy shit I’m freezing.
My ears have frozen in the cold, they feel like chilled cabbage leaves.
Self consciously, I rub the knobbly rings of cartilage that gather around my ear drum. Still cold, still nervous.
Beside me she sighs, and like some kind of tiny blonde dragon, the woosh of breath appears as smoke. It’s so cold our breaths are morphing into pathetic clouds, crap.
She turns slightly in order to face my unhappy face, and rolls her eyes. 
"Chill the fuck out Ben" she sighs, annoyed again and spitting mist towards me. 
Oh you have no idea how chilled I am, I think sarcastically. But once again I nourish my disapproving silence and say nothing.
Damn, I grapple for her attention. I try to snag her gaze but her pupils squirm in her eyes like tadpoles, glistening black dots, that always want to wriggle someplace else. It doesn’t help that her neck is dragged to the left; peering into the tattoo parlour, pretending not to notice the shattered bottle camped beside her feet. I pretend not to notice too. 
I really really want to leave this frosted lackluster street, forget I never came here with her. But instead I force my gaze to surface through the glass window, letting it spin onwards and into the parlour. 
Squinting against the glacial breeze I locate the displeasing scenario in which a person gets a tattoo. I watch on as a man decorates his raw skin. He’s barely permitting, at what looks like a miniature jack hammer, to jab at his blubber. The pain has glossed his eyes. And the agony marches over his brow, stomping on the skin in-between his eyes and making it crumple. 
She does’t say anything, doesn’t matter. I’ve stopped listening.
Wistfully I start to guess how warm it inside there. The man looks pink and puffy, but I’m not sure if it’s due to the exertion or the dingy heater.

I hadn’t been surprised when she ended up choosing a rodent. She wants a rat inked onto her arm. Filthy, misunderstood things.
I didn’t advice her on any of it, didn’t say anything. Just like how I don’t try to persuade her to find us someplace nice to go defrost.

Her head bobs up and down across the glass window. She arches her feet, the movement no doubt elevates her nostrils over a brutal smell. And I sense she’s almost stretched to my eye level. I don’t want to look into her squirming eyes, so I study the hems of my jeans and wait. 
She wavers.
I consider complaining, whining until she lets me run away. Actually, I consider just simply running, but I hold my refrigerated toes in place. 
Eyes back to the man. 
The soon to be complete inking is I’m sure, supposed to snatch my attention. But the confusing swirl affectively swerves my interest, passing my judgements onto the rest of him. He would be scary if he weren’t on the precipice of tears. His intimidating physique is coated in a creamy layer of cellulite that wobbles in time with his lip. 

She scans the parlour with an expression cooler than the weather. It’s like she hasn’t noticed the torture scene playing out in front of her.
My neck aches from all this panicked glancing, and I’m now actually bored with my own trepidation. Switching, I steer my eyes over to the hunched and villainous back of the tattoo artist. The only compilation of his character I have is the back of his t-shirt and his patterned nape. 
Would he be propelling, what was essentially glorified biro ink, into her arm?
My head tips toward my legs, and I wait amid her waver.

***
Tonight

His angrily flung saliva, splatters my jacket and her arm. I’d like to think the watery glob is cooling the skin just above her elbow, I can’t decide who’s angrier, him or her rash.
"WHAT THE FUCK SARA!?"
"chill out" she says, it’s become a catch phrase today.
"YOU STOLE THE, YOU YOU" there is a tiny pitter patter as more spit hits my front. I don’t say anything.
"Ew Adam your slobbering all over me" of course, she says something.
Adam’s face is redder than her ripe skin, and I take the opportunity to study his teeth on the occasion his lip is curled over them. It actually makes him look like an angry rat. This is almost funny, almost. 
She tells him to chill out again.
"Chill out, you want me to fucking chill out. You stole my tat!"
"Really Adam" she reprimands him like a child "It was never your tattoo. You merely tossed it about as an idea"
"EXACTLY! MY IDEA, MY IDEA
She’s sighs, she’s probably bored “Well, there’s nothing anyone can do about it now” 
We all stare at the rat sketched into her arm. It’s carefully inked tail and beady eyes sit in a pool of reddened skin. Because it’s her, I know to assume that it’s not hurting. Adam looks like he wants to peel the furry artwork right off her arm. He whirls around in search for something to kick, but finds nothing malleable in this tiny living room sprinkled with plastic chairs. He sits down in one of them, pauses for a split second and then immediately gets back up. I freeze as he lances toward me and I continue to stare stupefied as he stalks out of the house. He disappears down the driveway. When I turn around to share a grimace with her, she’s disappeared too. 

***

6 months Ago

The newspaper screens most of her face. All I can see are her eyes peeping over an article about house prices, or gas prices, or oil prices. Her pupils move across her sockets like they would if she were watching a lethargic ping pong match, her eyes guided by one of those tiny plastic balls; it’s rolling slowly across the newspaper paragraphs. We think she might be entertained by the words, but it’s just so hard to tell these days. 
She sets the paper down and frowns at Adam. And like me, he’s struggling to pick a reaction to follow through with, so he stares blankly back at her, a little more stressed than he was a second ago.
She shakes her head at us, at everybody in the room, at herself. She Leaves.
It’s just me an adam now, squatting on a couch, toying with our best suits. I fiddle with my cufflinks and search desperately for comfort, someplace where I am not stiff with apology. But I look around and realise the whole room is covered in thorns.
"Geez" Adam half whispers, half whimpers "What are we supposed to do, I don’t know what to say"
He looks expectantly at me, and I realise he did a better job of side stepping the barbed congregation than I did. It’s me, I’m his chosen escape. 
Right on cue, somebody swathed in black acknowledges the pair of us from across the room. Adam perfectly demonstrates his cop out by dropping his gaze first, forcing me to stare sympathetically back at the mourner.
Oh don’t you dare, I am not your leader, I hiss mentally.
He assumes I know how to handle these frail pleasantries. Ha.
My eyes whiz around the room again, he’s pissed me off. I stare at what is probably the most depressing castle of sponge and icing ever baked. The funeral cake is shuffled next to platters of food.
I stare at my shoes and pretend I’m not hungry.

***

Tomorrow 

She winks loudly in my direction. I throw her a crisp nod and continue to weasel my way out of the crowd. I flee towards the unoccupied patches, which only briefly appear in this undulating maze. After banging my shoulders against countless strangers, I eventually push my way out of the swarm. It’s a relief to detach myself from the stew of human bodies, even if it’s all only a few steps away. If the crowd were a sloshing soup, I imagine I’d be balancing of the edge of the bowl right now. She appears out of nowhere. 
"Are you leaving?" she asks
"No" I lie. 

I won’t accuse you of being splendid,
but I will draw perfect circles on your forehead. It will
give the spheres of your face and the rings in your eyes something to fraternise with.

Hannah winks loudly in my direction. I throw her a crisp nod and continue to weasel my way out of the crowd. I flee towards the unoccupied patches which only briefly appear in this undulating maze. After banging my shoulders against countless strangers, I eventually push out of the swarm. It’s a relief to detach myself from the stew of human bodies, even if it’s all only a few steps away. If the crowd were a sloshing soup I imagine I’d be balancing of the edge of the bowl right now. Hannah appears out of nowhere. 
"Are you leaving?" she asks
"No" I lie. 

She stands in front of orange wallpaper, she’s wearing a black t-shirt, she’s wearing a frown. The whole composition of it all makes her look like an unhappy pip stuck in a backdrop of apricot pulp. This is strange.
She’s wearing black jeans.
She’s wearing black lipstick.
She’s wearing black sandals.
She is a sandal clad, goth gladiator. And she’s staring at me like I’m rotten fruit. I want to know, so I ask.
"Why did you paint your wall that color?" 
She shrugs, she glares, she doesn’t answer.
"Why did you wear a top that color?" I stare down at the green blouse she’s directed me too. 
I shrug, I wince, I don’t answer. 

Greta is in a mood. A formidable mood, a crummy mood, a bad mood.
And I blink back at her, three times, then three more, and three again. We don’t say anything because the whole correspondence is already sorted, it’s stacked between her frown and my shudder.

Falls off chair/ Grins/ Wags tail/ Cries

Black Cake

The newspaper screens most of her face. All I can see are her eyes peeping over an article about house prices, or gas prices, or oil prices. Her pupils move across her sockets like they would if she were watching a lethargic ping pong match, her eyes guided by one of those tiny plastic balls; it’s rolling slowly across the newspaper paragraphs. We think she might be entertained by the words, but it’s just so hard to tell these days. 
She sets the paper down and frowns at Adam. And like me, he’s struggling to pick a reaction to follow through with so he stares blankly back at her, a little more stressed than he was a second ago.
She shakes her head at us, at everybody in the room, at herself. She Leaves.
It’s just me an adam now, squatting on a couch, toying with our best suits. I fiddle with my cufflinks and search desperately for comfort, someplace where I am not stiff with apology. But I look around and realise the whole room is covered in thorns.
"Geez" Adam half whispers, half whimpers "What are we supposed to do, I don’t know what to say"
He looks expectantly at me, and I realise he did a better job of side stepping the barbed congregation than I did. It’s me, I’m his chosen escape. 
Right on cue, somebody swathed in black acknowledges the pair of us from across the room. Adam perfectly demonstrates his cop out by dropping his gaze first, forcing me to stare sympathetically back at the mourner.
Oh don’t you dare, I am not your leader, I hiss mentally.
He assumes I know how to handle these frail pleasantries. Ha. Like anybody understands how to interact with grief. 
My eyes whiz around the room again, he’s pissed me off. I stare at what is probably the most depressing castle of sponge and icing ever baked. The funeral cake is shuffled next to platters of food.
I stare at my shoes and pretend I’m not hungry.

His angrily flung saliva, splatters my jacket and her arm. I’d like to think the watery glob is cooling the skin just above her elbow, I can’t decide who’s angrier, him or her rash.
"WHAT THE FUCK SARA!?"
"chill out" she says, it’s become a catch phrase today.
"YOU STOLE THE, YOU YOU" there is a tiny pitter patter as more spit hits my front. I don’t say anything.
"Ew Craig your slobbering all over me" of course, she says something.
Craig’s face is redder than her ripe skin, and I take the opportunity to study his teeth on the occasion his lip is curled over them. It actually makes him look like an angry rat. This is almost funny, almost. 
She tells him to chill out again.
"Chill out, you want me to fucking chill out. You stole my tat!"
"Really Craig" she reprimands him like a child "It was never your tattoo. You merely tossed it about as an idea"
"EXACTLY! MY IDEA, MY IDEA
She’s sighs, she’s probably bored “Well, there’s nothing anyone can do about it now” 
We all stare at the rat sketched into her arm. It’s carefully inked tail and beady eyes sit in a pool of reddened skin. Because it’s her, I know to assume that it’s not hurting. Craig looks like he wants to peel the furry artwork right off her arm. He whirls around in search for something to kick, but finds nothing malleable in this tiny living room sprinkled with plastic chairs. He sits down in one of them, pauses for a split second and then immediately gets back up. I freeze as he lances toward me and I continue to stare stupefied as he stalks out of the house. He disappears down the driveway. When I turn around to share a grimace with her, she’s disappeared too. 

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