– coffe & tea

Something I wrote a long time ago which was part of a larger piece of work. I was reading Anne Tyler the other day (The Ladder of Years) and she had any number of characters talking about when they saw in all reality, for the first time, the person they knew and loved. For one character, it was at the sickbed of his wife when her face had become hollowed and gaunt.

I think I know that feeling. I have experienced it, and it is written in the third paragraph below.

The first person narrator in this is not me, but a character, Josephine. The other character is Joachim.  Joachim was a jeweller, Josephine is returning home, they share a house, but are only housemates.  She thinks she is carrying the spirit, or actuality, of her dead twin inside of her.

I (the writer of this blog) would love to know what you think.

Coffee and Tea

Today is not a good day. My wings birr. Turning in the light, flashes of red shine through their shellacked black. Resin collected from twigs where coccid insects sit and shit and mate, coats my skin. I don’t move with their scrabbly alacrity, nor their scarab-certainty, am more like the cautious lawn beetle slowly lifting one wing and then the other, trailing two of my six legs against the plaster wall. If I fall I’ll never get up.

He doesn’t notice as he leans in towards his work. I don’t want him to. Stories of washing machines and babies and twins. What must he think? He holds a ring in the fingers of one hand, and chisels a fine groove into it with the other, blows filings across the kitchen table.

So different to the other night when I saw his skin spread across his face as if it were wetted-down newspaper pasted over chicken-wire. Laugher, like ball-bearings, rolled below its surface, distended his flesh, and the laugh, the emotion, was more real than the thing that contained it, as if his skin was nothing more than the scrape of bitumen over gravel. And for that second Joachim was almost ugly, for that second, almost plain.

Now though, hair tied back, strands arcing like finger-scattered rainbows,* he is anything but. Thoracic legs mangled and tangled and awry, my handbag hits the edge of the table. “Sorry,” I mumble as he jumps and – eyes not quite focused – looks a little past my shoulder. It takes him time to register the four walls, the Formica smooth under his elbows. “You’re right,**” he says, already looking down, his thumb smoothing the ring, tracing its pattern round and round.

*Not so keen on this expression any more, but haven’t got around to thrashing it out.
**An Australian expression which means, “No problems”, “No worries”.

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2 Comments on “– coffe & tea”

  1. Somebody Somewhere Says:

    Is this the everafter of Metamorphosis? Actually, I can’t remember how that one ends anymore so that might not make any sense. I found your piece intriguingly discombobulating; brow furrowing down even as my lips were rising in a smile, as if caught in some odd, symmetrical pact. I had no idea that ‘you’re right’ was an Australianism. I use that all the time. Although, since moving to the bush I use ‘no worries’ as well and was even startled once to hear ‘cobber’ popping off the top of my esophagus. The third paragraph is very good, although I might choose the first if I could only keep one (paragraph 1! paragraph 1!). If this was Vimeo I would hit the ♥ button, but I’m afraid that my feedback gets no more useful than that. Is there more?

    • theheartbeatsoftly Says:

      You’re quick. I never liked Kafka and was never able to finish him. This is part of the book, so yes, there is a whole book.But it got a bit hodge-podgy with the rewrites and whatever, so I remember a bit here, a bit there of the parts I particularly like.

      Yes, I like the first paragraph too.

      You said ‘cobber’? I fear for your sanity. My American friends use ‘No worries’ a lot now. Never was my favourite expression, but with widespread usage it’s kind of lost its yobbo touch, I guess. “You’re right,” might be used in the U.K. too, I don’t know. Maybe it’s used elsewhere. I used to use, “She’ll be right”, a fair bit, but it wouldn’t have fit the situation, nor Joachim’s personality. I think I used to use it when I wanted to ocker meself up a bit 😉

      What is this vimeo that everyone keeps linking to? When did it appear on the scene? Guess I gotta google. Everything changes so quickly.


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