I hesitate as I walk through the front gate, trying to decide whether I should turn right or left. I choose left, away from town. I walk with a sense of purpose, even though I have none, really. My boots slide in the mud sideways as the facts from the night before trail through my thoughts relentlessly.
A cloud passes over the sun as my foot hits the gravel.
I walk along the crunching edge of the road for at least 400 metres before I reach the dead thing.
It is partially submerged in a muddy puddle and something has eaten it’s tail off, revealing rings of red, pink and peach coloured flesh around a bright white core of bone. The dead thing’s fur coat is a curious shade of pale orange, an almost biscuity colour, which makes it hard to identify a species. A piece of corrugated cardboard which must have blown across part of it’s torso whilst it was dry has now become like a body bag after becoming wet, it’s soggy ridges hugging the small animal’s form.
I keep walking, thinking about the universal smell of dead things. Are their other universal smells? A that moment I am hit by a giddying wave of sweetness in the air, immediately identifiable as wattle flowers. Familiar, but not universal due to it’s unique Australian-ness. The special smell of the end of the earth, bottom of the world.
I mount the bank towards the cemetery, now heading North.
A row of pines on my right seem to invite me to grab a handful of their needles from a low-hanging branch.
I crush them between my fingers, then roll my palms together. Bringing my hands to my nose I am overwhelmed with the smell of Christmas, the most universal of all smells.
Atrophy of Fear.
‘You always assume the worst’ he said after she had described her fear of being judged by others, one night after dinner, while the kids were in the bath.
‘But if I assume the worst then I am always pleasantly surprised when something goes right or when someone likes me,’ she answered matter-of-factly.
‘Yeah, except who wants to live like that? Always expecting the worst possible outcome? Assuming that people hate you? Instead, you could just trust yourself and others and be happy with whatever outcome.’
She thought it through as she walked from the kitchen, her socked feet on the tiles, until she reached the studio and sat at her desk.
Opening the plastic packet, cutting off and then picking up a lump of fresh clay. Cold and clammy in her hands as she thought about how someone else had once told her ‘just try to embody each day a bit more, make it mean something.’
She rolled the clay into a ball.
As she rolled she remembered the revelation she had as a young girl when she realised that no-one could hear her thoughts. They were her own secret. It made her feel bold and mysterious. Fearless.
She pounded the clay.
She thought about how she could turn that lump of clay into anything she wished.
At that moment, the cat jumped up onto her desk and sniffed the clay. He seemed very interested in why she would be exerting so much energy onto an inert piece of earth. He licked it. He looked at her with a questioning look, she laughed.