Thursday, 19 August 2010

Two Up, Two Down - Friday Flash






It was our dream house. White picket fence, hydrangea and bougainvillea, understated unassailability and overblown fecundity, the lot.


Interiors designed by ourselves. Hand drawn plans, lofty elevations with the highest of intentions. Carving out our own shared space. Shutting the door on the world, just to inhabit one another.


Our abode, a place of constancy, of abiding bricks and mortar solidity. A uniquely private realm in which to abide by its own internal rhythms if not its house rules. Those windows kissed by the sun in the morning. The walls limned with shadows from the electric lights. Our own projections. A place to bide time, until you can abide one another no longer. Once ineffable percolations of each have seeped into tiny cavities in the masonry. Blisters of self bubble the wallpaper and welt the paintwork. The very fabric of the house sweats, colonisation by odour cologne boy and attar girl. Suffused with one another like blocked up pores, we seek to pop one another like blackheads.


A dwelling, a place to tarry and linger. A place to be led astray into, boxed in and ensnared. Instead of dwelling within a condition of happiness, a place to dwell on morbid thoughts and recollections. She's gone now, vacated this space. Leaving me free to roam its walls. To restore and reconcile it, having been divorced from its design through hosting our conflict. For other than the one I may be located in, all rooms are now spare.


I stand in the Parlour. With no one to talk to. I've wearied of shouting at events unfurling themselves on the TV to make myself heard. It can't be deemed a Lounge, since I find I cannot relax here. The sofa dwarves me in its spongy embrace. Nor does it merit the name of a Reception, for though I have removed the rug where we liked to fuck in front of a roaring fire, the bare floorboards only accentuate my lone tread. The fire too is playing up, suggesting sympathies lying with her as it draws not through the chimney, rather choking the heart of the room with its fumes. Her geegaws, knicknacks and trinkets which were meant to be conversation pieces, are nothing of the sort of course since they only silently brook her side of the argument. So I swept them all from sills and mantle, into a cardboard box and evicted them. The piano still stands there, even though I cannot play a note. Removal logistics have defeated me, since it is too outsized to squeeze back through the door. I have at least shut both its lids, so that its works do not mock me with their simulation of the idle bars of my typewriter keys.


The kitchen was never really my province. Its units being fairly neutral, it was the crockery and its ilk that were partisan. They have departed with the figurines. I don't utilise the oven, settling for take-aways, but the washer-dryer presents me no such qualms, though opening its maw to receive its first male-only minotaur's offering, revealed a part undigested former oblation of one of her popsocks. In actuality, I have used the cooker once. The gas hob to ignite the sock and watch it shrivel and burn in the formerly stainless steel sink.


Up the stairs and one is confronted by the possibilities for take off lying behind each closed door verging the landing. But it struck me that the doors could either admit inward, ushering you into the room, or as you leaned forward to open them, they swung out and demanded you give ground before crossing their hallowed threshold. And if positioned within, similar dynamics. The door that opened as if trying to press you back inside the room; or which swung outwards with you hanging on to the handle almost being dragged out of it. We had mounted all these doors ourselves, yet I had been oblivious to the unspoken echelons implied by each's loaded singularity.


Needless to say, the Master Bedroom was nothing of the sort, opening inwardly and seeking to hold me there. A Boudoir, her word, means a place to sulk, how fitting! I had tried aerosols, burning incense and leaving the windows open all day, in order to purge the funk of her. The linen had been disposed of, but her sex still ruffled the room. I had covered the mirrors with cloths, until a buddy pointed out this is how Jews mark mourning. Then I contented myself with smashing them with a hammer, seven years bad luck being a small price to pay, even if they're cumulative sentences. I simply abandoned the clothes marooned within the wardrobes festooned with broken glass.


The Bathroom was an unavoidably wretched strait. Both the medicine cabinet and shower door had been her last direct communiqués with me, but I had managed to wipe clean the hateful lipstick messages, until all that remained were carmine smears. Enhancing the room's locus of blood and dirt and skin. A labyrinth of hidden plumbing running down beneath plugholes and cisterns, with their curves and U-bends for trapping our run offs and effluvia. For all my rubber-gloved bleaching sorties, how she must still reside there, little tiny shards and spoors of hair, nails and other off-cuts. Totems and clippings of her unsympathetic magic, cursing me from beneath the ruts and gouges in the linoleum. She persecutes me from within the pipes, blow darting me to a slow ruin.


So it's hardly surprising that I have retreated to the sanctuary of my Study. I've put a camp bed down, hang my clothes from the curtain tracks and it's here I partake of my meals too. For this was ever the one single room stamped entirely with my cast. Though somehow her poisonous essence even manages to slip under the door and waft itself within these precious walls. I only returned to writing by a typewriter, because every time I switched my computer monitor on, there in lipstick font would appear the message "How can you live with yourself?" No matter what I did to try and change my screensaver, always it would return afresh to taunt me. Somehow she had hard wired it into my system, and I didn't even know she could work a computer! So I junked that, the only possession of mine to disappear along with all of hers. Yet my own words have never since flowed beneath my fingers. The emotional integrity of my room, the refuge for my thoughts, had somehow been penetrated and my prowess was bleeding out.

It wasn't those particular words themselves that were corroding me. It was the groundwork she'd put in underlying them. When she had re-consulted our original ground-plans for the house and overwritten the word 'Study' in my angular uncial, with the word 'Nursery' and appended a heart above the 'u'.

*

This may have been prompted by a weekend of spring cleaning & decolonising the children's annexation of our living space...

32 comments:

dijeratic said...

This is the sort of story you read and think - yes, I've been there, wish I had written this. I love how the deeper you dig, the more whimsical your language becomes:

"Totems and clippings of her unsympathetic magic, cursing me from beneath the ruts and gouges in the linoleum. She persecutes me from within the pipes, blow darting me to a slow ruin."

This is a richly devastating experience. Also - burning the sock in the sink holds a certain charm. Wish I'd done that.

DJ

G.P. Ching said...

Such complex emotions in this story. From the beginning which is downright romantic to a tragic and angry middle and then permanent loss eluded to in the end. Just gorgeous writing. Loved the house/relationship metaphor.

Laura Eno said...

G.P. said it all. I loved this.

L'Aussie said...

Spring cleaning has never had quite this effect on me, but I'm glad it did on you. Wonderfully written, great use of language..:)

Linda said...

Really rich, complex story here, layers and layers, the rooms different facets of the relationship. Fabulous writing, per usual, and so good to see my old friend 'limn' tucked in the text. Peace...

ThomG said...

the movement of emotions in this just shows your deft handling of language and life. Pure joy to read.

Maria A. Kelly said...

I loved the language and the flow of this and the raw emotion. It cuts deeply because of the truth in it.

Well done!

Marisa Birns said...

It's always about the language and you definitely are quite masterful in taking it to new heights of complexity and beauty, as you tell your stories.

Loved the sentence: "To restore and reconcile it, having been divorced from its design through hosting our conflict."

John Wiswell said...

Setting as character is one of my fetishes. Fun to see you try it on.

Bukowski's Basement said...

One of the most rich and complex flashes I've read in a long, lonnnnnng while. Bravo!!

alisonwells said...

Brilliant, every paragraph has a different joy. One I will come back to, to savour. A subject dear to my appended heart.

Regards,

Housebound.

Cathy Olliffe said...

One of the best descriptions I've ever read of what a break-up does to a person.
Your words, all the way through, are thoughtful and rich, but your last paragraph - ah. Incredible.

mazzz in Leeds said...

Of course, he could have just sold up the house and moved, but that would have robbed us of some limningly good stuff

"Though somehow her poisonous essence even manages to slip under the door and waft itself within these precious walls."
Marvellous.

Carrie said...

"For other than the one I may be located in, all rooms are now spare."

Damn Marc, you blew me away with this one.

Icy Sedgwick said...

There's an awful lot of stuff in here that I want to get my head around. Think I'll have to re-read it and really sink into those excellent descriptions! Very emotive.

brainhaze said...

Wow the ending hits you right between the eyes and some powerful sentences in here too - great work

Matt Merritt said...

Holy crap awesome. Thanks for lesson in descriptive writing.

Leah Petersen said...

Incredibly beautiful. What a powerful piece. Thank you for that.

Deanna Schrayer said...

As others have said, this is remarkably well written Marc. But that last sentence? That's what got me - I never expected anything remotely close.
Well done!

V.R. Leavitt said...

Amazing, Marc!! Just wonderful. Well thought out and complex. Great work.

Gracie said...

This is what fiction is supposed to be. It's pure and gorgeous. It simply sings.

One of my favorites of yours, Marc. Exquisite.

PJ said...

This is breathtaking, Marc. I love the house as metaphor and the slow reveal. Lovely work.

jasonwarden.com said...

This is just beautiful really, almost poetry. So deep and rich, the words just flow together and it's not like you're even reading anymore. Wonderfully done.

Laurita said...

So multi-layered, and true, how the essence of the relationship permeates every room. The range of emotion in this is staggering.

"For other than the one I may be located in, all rooms are now spare." Spectacular.

ganymeder said...

So many layers here. Nicely done.

afullnessinbrevity said...

Complex, focused, fluid, emotional and brilliant.
Adam B @revhappiness

Eric J. Krause said...

Quite a powerful story. The descriptions throughout brought out such emotion. Excellent, excellent work.

Tony Noland said...

Terrific piece, heavy with pain. Powerfully done.

Anonymous said...

Absorbing read. 'Slow ruin' hit me
Pen

J. M. Strother said...

Pure raw emotion in this piece. Well done.
~jon

shannon said...

Terrific writing, as always, but that last line...OUCH. What a killer ending, right through the heart. Masterful!

Rebecca Emin said...

Beautifully descriptive writing, but as others have said it was the last line that drew the most emotion. Well done.