Through the looking glass
It had been some time since I last looked through the kitchen window, with sincerity. Nothing much had changed the avocado tree still offered shade among the palms that competed for space, a crescendo of crickets hummed their melodies above the chorus of native birds, and into the urban close distance beyond it all, the hum of traffic purred in tune to the holidays beginning.
The same hills hoist twirled with tablecloths and beach-towels hanged, and stained tea towels swayed in the wind. It had galvanised a bit, and leaned heavily to one side. A hint of jasmine lingered as the hot air prickled, the airs salty breath fermenting, and the fresh cut of grass reminisced of summer arriving. I was lost in solitudes of thoughts, melting.
As a child my mother sometime told me stories of the lady who lived downstairs, who was having an affair with the neighbour. I didn’t understand how naughty that was but I would always giggle abashedly. At that moment I drifted back to the times when I observed the world through the innocent lens of a child. Before my mother left my side succumbing to cancer of the ovaries. I cried into my pillow almost every night for many years after in grief feeling sorry for myself. Abandoned.
This was the inherited home we would meet family for school vacations. A divided brick cottage by the ocean, we occupied the upstairs space, it had a small verandah covered in a mauve bougainvillea that overlooked a grand backyard. At night fairy lights made it all look so magical. It had a swing that was hung by my great uncle from a tree, who was a retired army officer.I remembered clear visions of when my cousins would come to stay. There were four of them all boys and very boisterous. Besides fighting to get on the swing. We would swim in plastic blow up pool with pictures of dolphins on it and in the heat of summer haze we would splash around having lots of fun.
Sometimes our next door neighbour’s wife the one mum would to tell me about who never new the gossip about her husband and the lady downstairs, would bring us angel cakes, and jugs of red cordial filled with ice. That all did taste heavenly I must admit. She was really big, and she always wore tent dresses that were pretty shades of pink that had floral designs with lace all around the edge. She wore a straw hat too that was really funny as it was had corks hanging from it, and for the life in me I couldn’t really understand why. I think it was to keep away the flies.
I was looking back with fondness, I wanted to click my heels and be entranced in the fantasy of that. From that perspective things time had distanced as I reminisced that little girl I was, and still am really. I wanted to join in but time had sped up since then it seemed impossible to return as looked out, just for while I drifted back and found myself below in the yard lost in array of landscapes playfully.
We would to have tea parties some-days. Dress up like we were in a wonderland, and I was Alice of course. Smiling I considered all this, I am of that time imaginary and free spirited dancing always as that child in an enchanted Garden of Eden by the sea.
A reflection glinted through the window as the sun refracted my current view. I wiped the sweat from my brow as I considered all of this and continued to wash the dishes in that moment, as I did sometimes back then with my mother. The sound of crashing waves nearby, and the soapy bubbles would pop glistening as would catch them, marvelling. As I interacted at my internal dialogue of special times gone by… I felt rather refreshed.
All this came into close proximity, as distraction for as I was doing this I noticed my tiny grandson at my side nudging my leg. ‘Nanny Angel come…’ he lisped with his new found words adoringly, at that same sink he grabbed my hand excitedly, as he could see me watching the view, and ushered me outside onwards. Into a place we could share together and play with his cousins too.
Senses of loss revisited
If you could squash up all the ants and centipedes in the world mix them with bleach, turpentine and fertiliser this might describe what it was like to smell the urine of my cats litter box ‘kitty’. Now I clean her box happily, and am not repulsed by the pungent stench I once used to gag on, even her fishy breath are just vapours as she licks me compulsively and I don’t care, it’s just a wetted sense of feeling.
My housemates always get me to clean the yucky things in our apartment these days like put out the garbage, clean the shit in the toilet when visitors have dropped a stinking gross one. It seems funny to them I really don’t mind it at all. In fact I find joy in it, just to be of use. It’s useful not wanting to puke anymore that way after smelling something really bad.
We installed a device that senses toxic gases since we use natural gas for cooking and for heating our home in the cold winter months while the snow is dumping outside. At least I know I might be safe and warm inside, and be alarmed when being alone if I forget to turn the gas of after cooking. I still cook even I can’t really tell in a connoisseur’s sense what I am cooking will be tasting like, and even I wasn’t a master chef ever.
I use recipes sometimes just to test what I can create. To see if it could be something delectable on my boyfriend and family sometimes, but really I don’t like to eat anymore, so it seems pointless it’s all the same blandness, but with variance of texture. My favourite Sauvignon Blanc could be the worst cask wine ever. Steak Diane like chewing cardboard and a salty mush of liquid. It makes no difference in the flavours of sense. But I do hear my cooking is pretty yummy though. That’s pretty cool. I don’t know what is yummy now, not in the full sense of it.
Yeah it’s been six months since the accident, when some coward ploughed me down and left me to die on the asphalt while riding home from work. And the brain injury I acquired that took my sense of smell. From that point of view living with anosmia the days grow long and cold as I watch my fellow humans suffer/enjoy these kinds of things. It’s like part of a dimension I am not part of anymore like no one can notice it but me. It’s invisible you see.
I hunger for the sweet allure of my partner’s scent, even just a hint of the small explosions between his legs, those silent but deadly aromas I miss badly that might have made me pinch my nose tightly before. The way he smelt when I snuggled into his neck as the morning rose, and when lying on his chest how his odour intoxicated after we made love; that delicious heady mix that may linger in the atmosphere after tantric sensual embrace. That scent of desired arouse I adoringly knew is lost from me now. That is only in touch and sight. His aesthetic beauty is still there however, and my gaze has become more acute.
I find it hard to know where I belong in the sterile blankness of it all. I hold onto it longingly as it is slowly erasing from my thoughts that my brain patterns try to mend in the olfactory but are now severed, and likely wont be ever be recovered. If I could have that sense back of course I would as much as I don’t miss the smell of my cats urine, I do long to enjoy the smell of buttered vegemite toast being cooked in the morning especially with lashings of butter that my mum would make for me when I was little, the aroma of coffee brewing anywhere, the splendour of chocolate cake in the oven baking, and the joy of sniffing my favourite flowers when passing a garden especially the red of rose, on a fresh autumn day. The unique odours of all my loved ones, my Nanna, and even myself…
Now it’s all a slowly dissipating memory as it closing down lost forever as it reminds me of being home. I have now become clueless. This belonging to the world without the smell of its forest is snatched from me now. In the alienation that follows that harsh realisation I might never smell again follows me like a dark cloak of envy I lovingly miss.
I was strolling past the exit inside a shopping mall recently when the loud bellow of laughter interrupted my journey into a spending I was about to indulge in. It was a group of sales staff from target or something, maybe k-mart gathered at the entrance, and they were all looking at one of their phones, as we tend to do these days. I was curious to see what all the fuss was about, and I wasn’t the only one, other shoppers slowly motioned towards them. It seemed a private affair as it does when we share in this space seemingly private in the public atmosphere, as I got closer the laughing got louder, it wasn’t coming from them I could see as they all looked on perplexed. It was coming from that something they were watching. As it got louder and was becoming quite loud, kind of scary if you must know, and this whole scene was becoming a spectacle, as more gathered. Then as I got closer I sensed a pending doom as something more foreboding was in place.
I saw on the phone a video of me they were looking at – it was of me laughing like some crazy hyena. It got louder as I moved in to the arena. I began laughing too as I watched on hysterically. It seemed I was the only one laughing then. As right at that moment they all then looked upon me accusingly, and the laughing on the moving phone images ceased but I couldn’t stop laughing. While the laughing increased in volume, everyone started to laugh along too, including them thankfully. A young lady with purple streaked hair pushing a toddler in a stroller- that wore matching designer labels from Mums and Kids clothing company, and a middle-aged hippie in a tie died outfit of singlet and sarong, and matching thongs that had peace signs all over them, an old lady with a blue rinse and wheelie walker with a pink plush puppy in tow. We were all laughing hysterically, bellowing like cows if you must know, it was a moment of commune really, and anyway over the loudspeaker an announcement interrupted the scene abruptly, or so it seemed above the crackle and cacophony of noise, and cackling nonsense. The announcer announced in a soft and purely feminine voice ‘who is that laughing’ while trying disguise her laughter. It was all getting a bit crazy really, and then it all ceased in that split second as I listened intently and I stopped laughing, we all did.
It all went quiet then. And everything seemed to drone and dim in focus losing its color and vibrancy. The noise lost frequency of pitch as the crowd became a blurred and lulled, and everything hushed, turning many shades of grey, as if a storm was about to start. I decided to move on then suspiciously in fear, and moved away from them, out of this terrifying space as I considered the schizophrenia of how life has become in the information age, with the uses and abuses of technology, and our desire for overspending on all things that will end up in the landfill.
Smiling a cheerful smug navigating the empty shopping trolley around the crowd, as if I were about to continue with my shopping spree for the day. I didn’t. I left the shopping mall via that emergency exit breathing a deep sigh of relief. As I merged onto the concrete verge in the multileveled car park outside, and as was I glancing towards the blinding sunlight that caught the multitude of the cars sparkling rays- as if some destiny was ahead. I could not help wondering with a pang of apprehension where in the hell did I park my vehicle today.
Through a set of three short stories that were class exercises experimenting with imaginative details, sometimes amusing, sometimes mundane, sometimes spectacle, sometimes on borders of insanity, in use of the our senses in domesticity, measurement between objects, destiny in spaces and places we inhabit as in movement. It is hoped that I conveyed from first person perspective an understanding of what was intended with my understanding of Contemporary World Writing course and the readings and works introduced. My work largely depends on the way I am sensing the world here and now, my life and abroad speculation through story telling currently, through the works read prior and in the course, as these have offered me ideas that have been hopefully imported in these three short stories, that are impressions of states of being in transition, senses of of self, senses of the loss, and journeys of this as we embark with the character in between these things travelling in and out of sense of places, spaces and identities, positions and time.
I hope my work is evident of that as I try to engage the reader in philosophical ways, but also in real-time and real events transporting them, and my work is mostly born out of non-fiction episodes, and imported to fictional verse, and sometimes might seem be science fictional as it questions humanity now. It might be felt through observation, and experimenting with narrative voice, that characteristic? How we engage with our worlds like some character who has become like a machine possibly as in cyborg status as we keep tapping away, and looking into a screen for some hope, that has become our reference to life but looking outwards from it, like we are trapped inside it, like a story telling-alienated and fractured senses of self might be illuminated. And in identities that doubt and question our arriving in narrative forms post-structurally. It is this sense it may have offered and exposed suggestions at risk about us in this world about how we face endlessly our future, past and present on this interface of word and images/sounds, and online spheres of communication and life business. In using inside and outside spaces as referencing points to juxtapose heterotypic and transitory spaces in flows linking towards each other, and sometimes with nostalgic influences.
My hope that the reader might seriously consider what is this the path they follow as individuals, or in groups, and follow the signs that promote nothingness or everything in thought processors about the capitalist system in which they live, in the cultures of difference that still dominate conditionally, and if this is purely speculative, the natural selection of lives at stake could be imposed albeit by a world society stuck in glitch schizophrenically and apathetically speaking, I am grappling senses of that. Our human conditioning right now…
Are we laughing at that? Are we alienated? Are we lost out of control in our own senses of space, in the control mechanism itself? If that is a Machine of thought our consciousness- how do we stop thinking? In the gap we might find what reveals the virtue that words cannot describe, and that is indeed something to smile about in silent retreat.