SmokeLong Quarterly

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Story by Girija Tropp (Read author interview) March 15, 2008

She and her husband were falling apart in every way but so was everyone. In rooms long and tiled, walls the color of fashionable baby-caca, anger grew fangs. Wildlife steered clear. She could no longer boast about living close to the earth. Her friends all had kinks in their nature and so did her children. This year, there would be no time to pick fights, iron out others’ problems and ignore her own. One day, people would be able to see others on distant moving escalators experiencing time differently, getting younger. They might look back and see her dead while alive. She tried yelling and the echoes boomeranged to shatter glass.

They were doing it slowly, her husband the leading geriatric, humming, as if it wasn’t happening.

The store-bought berries were tasteless but she put them in the blender with the yoghurt and milk and ice. Whirled and tasted. Added lemon. The froth was tart.

They were doing all the things they had read about or seen at the movies. They were doing art. They had stopped being themselves, if they knew what it meant to be themselves, and were now unable to tell the difference between one lie and another. Soon it would be Christmas and time for turkey. It was hard to get excited.

What kept her going was a feeling of being watched by a thing that didn’t care much about her happiness. She could have called it god or God but more likely it was herself watching herself. Open the door, let me free—and saying this, she cleaned the fireplace and took the dustpan out the back, tipping the lot over rosebushes. The wind swirled the ashes onto her clothes as if searching for an excuse to piss her off.

About the Author

Girija Tropp’s fiction has appeared in several Best Australian Short Stories editions. She has been published in The Boston Review, Agni, and various other journals. She has also won or been short-listed for major awards. Most recently, her flash fiction has appeared in New World Writing, and anthologised in Cafe Irreal and SmokeLong Quarterly: The Best of the First Ten Years. She lives in Australia.

This story appeared in Issue Twenty of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Twenty

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