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Friday, February 17, 2006

dead lee

Let's start simply: you're a normal person with a job and family. You may be a mother or a father, a sister or a brother, have children and a home. You work, you come home, you play, you eat and sleep.

You are at work when you notice a few people close to you clustered together near the pantry talking. Walking past and trying not to act interested in case they are preparing your surprise birthday party you try to eavesdrop. They don't look up for you. They are talking about someone who died. You walk on.

Suddenly you notice a lot of people are talking about something, sounds like the same thing. You ask Jim from Accounts, as he walks through.

"What's everybody talking about?" you ask.

Someone just died, he says.

"Who is it?" you say.

He says your name.

"No," you say. He takes it for disbelief.

It's true, he says. Funeral tomorrow.

You walk to your desk. Everything is as it was, photos pens potato snacks next to the keyboard. The drawer with your change of socks and bottled water is still locked.

Sheila from across the hall thinks she understands the look on your face.

It is a pity, she says. Weird that it could happen to any of us, isn't it?

"There's something wrong here," you say.

Don't take it to heart, she says. Just be glad it wasn't you.

You decide to go home. On the way out the door, someone calls out to ask if you're okay cos you look like a zombie. You keep walking. Don't forget to come back to work tomorrow, they say.

There are people at your house. Some friends you haven't seen in a long time, and some relatives. Not everyone is dressed in black. Your best friend is comforting your spouse. They look up. Thanks for coming, they say, before your spouse dissolves in tears.

"But I'm not dead," you say.

"Of course you're not dead," says your daughter.

You turn towards her. "Thank goodness. I thought I was becoming invisible."

"Of course not silly," she says. "You're still standing here aren't you? You're not in that coffin. Besides, dead and invisible aren't the same."

You smile. "Yes, they aren't." You reach out a hand.

She doesn't take it. "Are you a friend from old school days?" she asks. "I heard alot about that school."

You have keys in your pocket. You try the car keys. They work. You start the car, and no one says anything. You begin to drive off. No one stops you.

Your daughter comes running up and you stop. She comes up to the window. You wind it down. She asks you what it was like being at school with yourself when you were young.

"I'm afraid I can't tell you much," you say after a long, confused pause. "I don't think I have much perspective on that."

She runs back into the house because someone is calling. You realise you haven't seen the body in the coffin, but now you are already leaving and blocking other mourners' exit. You leave. The funeral is tomorrow.

You don't sleep that night. First you ask people on the street if you are alive or if they can see you, but they just look at you as if you are crazy. Then you sit in the car wondering what to do and find no answers.

The next morning you drive to the funeral service. You look at yourself in the mirror long and hard, but you realise that the image there is a reversed image, and not what you'd see looking at yourself. You should have had a photo. (But who keeps photos of themself on them?)

You attend the service. Your daughter waves hi to Old School Friend. Like the other mourners you file past the body. You blink and squint. Is that what I look like? It's too short a moment to tell. Now the earth is being tossed, and you're standing alone wondering where everyone has gone. You must have been crying too.

Not knowing what to do you return to work. Maybe it's a wormhole or something that originated there. You sit at your desk with the pens and potato snacks. Someone comes by with work you recognise.

Oh, so you're sitting here now, she says. It's a bit soon but... Well does that mean you can take care of this?

Yes, you say. Because you can. She leaves it with you and soon nobody is all that surprised to find you sitting there. Soon you have a home a family the same job different photos and maybe a different car, only you died once.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

four feet under

what is the name for the top part of your foot? the part before the ankle.

the bottom of your feet are the soles, the inside the arch, toes are toes of course, and an ankle an ankle (what an 'a' alliteration) - but is there a name for the top part? like the supersternal notch, i want to know because that's the part that's so close, when naked feet touch on a sofa, beneath the dining table or under covers, pleasantly crowded together in a small space.

sometimes i think that it's an event that's even more close than holding hands - anybody holds hands, for any number of reasons - like crossing the road, and teens do it to go steady though probably nowadays they do a whole lot more - but how often do we get close enough to someone to sit at home together, reading on the couch or slouched on the bed?

is that why playing footsie under the table is such a big deal? because like goodmorning, feet are a special space? is that part of why beaches are special, to feel the sand beneath your feet, and without their armour of shoes?

i know this is asia and we're functional and we expose feet to all sorts of stuff in our slippers, but we wash them and take off our shoes before going indoors, that's all quite significant too. it's rude to show your soles in thailand, but they teach kindergarten kids to clean off before going into classrooms too (so i've heard).

i remember a girl in shorts, on the phone, oblivious to me, her bare feet idly stepping on the tiles one way and then the other, step-step-stepping.

what is the word for when the soles of your feet touch mine as we drift of to sleep?

i want to know the word for the feel of four feet under the covers.

Monday, February 06, 2006

the descent,

or How It Feels To Be Indulging In Mayhem

inhale, because the smoke smells like strawberries.

listen, because it's not every day that you can hear this sound.

move, if you don't want to get hit.

scream, because that's how you feel inside.

move, because everyone is moving.

move, because the crowd is seething.

clap, at the burning spectacle.

hold (my hand), because we are both conspirators now.