When she ordered books she gave one name, when she ordered food she gave another. She gave a different name again when meeting friends, and had another reserved for family. There was one she used only for book clubs, but many for when she went dancing. And one or two, slotted between, which she gave only to police.
She always paid cash; she possessed no credit card.
It was not easy to keep track of so many identities, but she managed. She did not see that she had a choice.
The list grew longer and longer, like a scroll in her head, and on her deathbed there was great confusion as everyone remembered somebody different, somebody more like themselves.
When I came home from work one afternoon, I discovered my aunt had turned into a carnivorous plant. Finish the story here.
This piece first appeared at Quart Short Literary Reading Nights in Adelaide, and was also performed at Salon REaD, an emerging literary salon in Brisbane (photos of the latter below).
Feel like one last sweet treat to farewell Easter?
Try listening to my short story, The Master Class, read by Holly Myers, as part of Quart Short Literary Reading Nights.
Something is not quite right at this bakery…
She wanted to grow up so she could eat Milo straight from the packet, stay awake till 3am, and decorate her room with stars.
She wanted to put monkey bars on the ceiling throughout her entire house and flood the hallways with water – her own jungle gym.
But now that she’s done it, she is ready to grow down again.
The first bust lost its nose and had another nose affixed to it.
Or, rather, the nose of a second bust lost its face and so was affixed to the face of the first bust.
Therefore there is both a nose without its face and a face without its nose somewhere in the world, and no matter how much each piece longs for it, they will never again be reunited.
Additionally, there is a nose and a face that will be wedded together for all of time, whether they like it or not.
‘That woman is a red pepper,’ was what he said.
‘A red pepper has such a strong flavour, that whatever dish it’s added to is overwhelmed, every subtle flavour supressed, and I have seen this woman often enough to know that every person who encounters her in conversation is, for a moment, totally absorbed by her presence, and while it can be interesting to lose oneself so completely in someone else, it isn’t long before you begin to feel smothered and afraid that you might never re-emerge at all—or, worse, that you will have to re-emerge by force, and because of this force, this obliteration, you will always carry something of her with you, like that one Tupperware container everybody owns, stained with pasta sauce, a sauce made of a dozen ingredients, and yet… smelling only of red peppers.
She didn’t like to talk about herself unless she trusted the person she was talking to, and even if she did trust them she still didn’t like to talk about herself because she didn’t know how long she would continue to trust this person, and the thought of someone she didn’t trust carrying around pieces of her, moving further and further away from her (as they invariably would if she decided she didn’t trust them), terrified her into silence.
Check out my flash fiction piece published on the 4th floor journal today.
And if you enjoyed that, read this poem.
It is strange how things repeat themselves, especially when you’re so certain that they won’t.
Like when you go to the fish and chip shop on a Monday night and find it closed.
‘We’ll remember next time,’ you say to each other, thinking you’ll never forget standing out in the cold, peering through the windows into the empty displays that usually house fresh fish. Your stomach growls as if in confirmation: it is as angry as your brain at your stupidity.
Because this isn’t the first time you’ve done this.
Six months ago, you found yourself outside the fish and chip shop on a Monday. It was late, and you were hungry. ‘We’ll remember next time,’ you all said, ‘for sure.’
But you didn’t.
He tried to remind himself that the process of ageing wasn’t a disease, it wasn’t a contagion— it could not be caught.
And when he couldn’t do this, he tried to think of it as a disease that he had already caught. But it occurred to him that this made ageing a disease which was advancing on him at every second of every day.
Then he tried to tell himself ageing was a disease that everyone had caught. But instead of a feeling of camaraderie, he was faced with a feeling of inevitability, like when you’re driving on a country road and a deer jumps out and you know you’re going to hit it.
So he told himself ageing was a thing like hair growth, it just happened slowly over time and, like with hair, you should treat it all gently. And so he took extra good care of his hair, and was calmed.