Sarah crawled across the wood floor, which was in the curl of its decline. Slapped up and frigid. The wood turned up at extremities to pare the bell end of the white wall. A cast of small shadows had sprung up, pared fields of not light, from the sticking edges of wood in an outreach to the wall achieved. Their smallish, short-lived bodies wavered in the admitting daylight on the calm of breastrock of the back wall against sun.
Sarah–a much greater body–hoped that Sarah could not hear her.
Sarah had been with Sarah–in or about her home or house of mind–for as long as she could remember.
She can remember Sarah leap off her chest to cling to the shoulder of her childhood friend Emma. They were five. Emma had closed the door of her bedroom but Sarah could still feel Sarah there; just beyond the door. She was not invited where Sarah could go, walking by purer paths. The grandmothers, romantically entwined wooden souls of her own head, had laughed, joking with one another:
“In the bedroom of a girl let the shadow of no man fall.”
“But, the bedroom of a girl is also the shadow of a man!”
An adult’s voice had come stroking out of a glass of water – “queer or . . . could sexually abuse her . . .” before settling back into the circle of the liquid.
One in a series of amputations of character that had affected Sarah from birth. Before, even. Amputation of the potent through the potent. Not that amputation was a bad thing. She is not convinced that there are such things as whole bodies pure. Yet, a standard of purity exists the proof of which: that it was amputation she was subject to over years.
Her trick: to make of the lessened whole. To project: this less piece over the wholer time is you and the amputated may be erased by the nature that knows it as it is memorized and restored by the features of your (intimate) knower (yourself). The green field with its absent cows may know Sarah as much as Jeremy, but Sarah may know only Sarah.
What was lost off couldn’t be you, or it wouldn’t lost, so the green field . . . but she remembers it all. She indexes it all in the variety of her, bolting, down bearing anger, grin. Her persistence that makes lessens.
The end of Sarah’s ‘subjection’ came about when she recognized, and in recognizing accepted, the hatred of others for her. She recognized that, whatever the ritual of acceptance, hatred of her would endure.
A true body, moving through a tide of splitting shadows, distinguishes itself in hatred. Is moved through the heavy earth by wearing a dizzying, conical and evanescent hat of hatred; it makes you seemfloat. It is wearing an absence of others you have cut from you.
Sarah has a practice of watching them. The haters. And does so from her window, recording them & their bodies by drawing them in her green–plastic encased–notebook.
On her windowsill she keeps a copy of a populist book ‘To earn back the world of people, we first had to believe we forgot them’ by a Lily Mushiga. She has read this book twice this year and its argument–that we can only get to one another by recognizing we are already with one another–has had and will have no effect on her practice of drawing.
The end of a public amputation–a motivated by concern amputation–generated a paradox of hatred. She was wholed now, and all her lessening forgiven, because hatred had that grip on her; that grip of gym hall, ball echo, sorrow. If there were no hatred to find in the world she would, in that instant of knowing what she wanted was so, cease to be held together. She would come apart like the dust loo roll her brother had placed in the low river’s stream when she was twelve. Her skin would gently fold down, and parts of it would crack into singles. Her grandmothers would come out from the large o the largesse of which was growing as the paper skin softened and ripped – they would come out and finally they would get to go on the journey–adventure–which had been their conception.
Sarah had witnessed, at age ten, a televisual portrayal of a hen night and the women had bright lollipops in the shape of penises. That was when her grandmothers had come to exist and she knew that if she found that there really was not hatred out there–but that all hatred was just, and only, and disappointingly narrow people crashing against each other as singles (and this was impossible to her, hence paradox, because singular people were made of real hatred)–they would finally go off to fulfill their conception. To go around the old village, knot of hair in the now suburb, with their pockets full of these coloured lollipops. Overflowing with these melt-marked penises. And every person they would hand one to would make a hen party’s sense. They wouldn’t, because they are magic, hit a single person in their journey who didn’t belong to the bride.
And where would she, the granddaughter of all people, be? She’d be a disintegrated womb of drymouth topsized by water.
Sarah was not happy to room with recognition of hate. She liked to play cold princess above the square compound of Sarah’s body. She considered it to be in her imagination. In her mind. She could look at the changing properties of it, the waxsound, waxshape, waxsmell, and see the square it was. She could see it composed neatly into boundaries; the fountain pen extra of her tongue and tip collapsing into the shadow of the surface of a face. Folded away.
Post-recognition Sarah could look, moving in her ghostly way about the house – making it feel without halls, without trafficking spaces she graced it as if moving claustrophobia – and Sarah’s body would not fold away from her eyes and come, peacefully, to sit in her mind. It would, instead, scream. It would cry out as if in need of help. It would make itself move like a thing that suffered but only by imitating the letters of the word that said suffering.
The body like a poor, otherworldly, actor who has confused the object of her imitation; taking the words of the speakers for the world of the act and the speakers–the persons–as vases of temptation, procurement, and induction.
Sarah had always managed closeness to others. She profited from the misrecognition which Sarah experienced. She filtered it into the minds of the others around her; creating gaps and possibilities for them and so drawing them close to her. This was how she managed closeness.
She offered something rare. Not herself. She offered the value, as a lump, of a missing whole ( person ). In the day it is so surrounded. So many to think of and break through. Something has to fall through it cutting. Ending the harangue of interaction. Can you imagine being as close to a man as close? A failing of identity. Some identities must be failing-identities if others are to even breathe for once, you know?
How they would sigh a hateful sigh of relief at–for once–running over a partly constituted person. I needn’t stop dear that person is only partly constituted and how Sarah would laugh.
Now that Sarah was building hatred into the wellish work of going through a day’s round and bucketless delight as a shut in with her recording of the people who went flat over the same day’s breadth, there was less and less of her to miss. To misrecognize. The less of her that was there the less of her there to not catch.
‘I miss her absence’ thought her absence, and Sarah commiserated.
One night Sarah joined her in bed. The closeness was so real to her, so consuming and so inexperienced that she carried on with it. Having never before slept.
The novelty of this experience produced in Sarah a love for Sarah she had not thought possible. The oxymoronic orthodoxy of Sarah, a material shadow through her life of closeness, was transformed in this novelty of their close lying bodies to a love.
Sarah understood herself well. She was not a whole mass of life but her actions were a code of pleasing others that, whatever narrative pressure she applied, broke down into proper discreteness and a vulnerability of exposure to interpretation. She was exposed even in safety for her safety was a function of the proper action of her solvent body. In Sarah, however, she discovered a means of elevating herself into an existence.
She began to eat of Sarah. Though just the superficial. The layer of dead skin.
Regularity makes a beginning.
In nights Sarah whispered graphics with her unreal and productive mouth. The Arizona blaze of the white coloured font hanging over and illuminating the two becoming bodies lying close–made close–in the clever dark of the am. Dark that figured out the world to around them and slotted it in place.
In the beginning Sarah wanted only the misbegotten of Sarah. Surface not depth.
Sarah found herself quickly with depth in mouth. Sarah’s organs were visible to Sarah. They were preserved on her glassy eyes. Her eyes were collections of frozen ponds in the gardens of another century; preserving on their cold surfaces the eachness of each organ so that the eyes of Sarah, so often turned away, could still provide in moments of collision a map to her interior. The drip vision of Sarah tempted. It offered a look that admitted only the least and the exact, paring down all things to create the most evidence of space between them. You could, once breaking the skin, leap from one organ to one organ in a purity affixed by those out-hanging, dull eyes.
Sarah is snug against the back of Sarah. She mis-matches the buttering and breaking liveness of her own eye, which holds itself on the slope of Sarah’s bare and borroughed back, to the opaque coldstocking of the eye of the woman she loves. Sarah does not see the world of people there is to know and love, to find solidarity with, and so she may see in the innate preservativeness of what’s vision the need of hatred to divide. Grandmothers, at once and together –
“You may pass GO! and not collect a world.”
She moved her hands around Sarah, pressing closer to the holes of her menstrual back, and closed each hand over each eye feeling the lack of difference.
The most traumatic event in this history occurred moments ago: is the occasion of Sarah’s escape.
Sarah was on all fours on the bed and up at the bedpost and Sarah could not hold back. She was eating of Sarah back and forward, back and forward. Biting down to make drag and biting up again to make letter. She made a slough of peached skin to reach up. She made a hood and nose of flesh that falls into itself like a ship’s mast falls in a movie where the water is actually parking lot shallow and the nose of the mast senses asphalt. She made a perspective of tang flesh that is ridiculed by the soft, wet air.
Think of the produce!
Can you believe that in the end the first mover was tucking?
I would say that an observer would describe it as genital semaphore.
The ghost stood up and had the perfect body–which all would envy or desire–that of a Brazilian transexual–congratulations ghost, you’re More than a Suzerain could hope to suffer fuck. She tumbled off the bed and collapsed onto the wooden floor of the bedroom. The warmth of the wood teased the end of her bodies and she slept for the first time involuntary.
The grass is pressed down and tiled with blood. Sarah lies on the front lawn, well maintained despite the desert climate, of her rented home. The ghost is there, standing over her. The pain is a lot for each of them. Outside they are properly confronted with one another. A neighbour goes by, thinking primarily of sorbet in the heat, and he sees them both. Really, he sees one of them but in seeing one of them he sees the other, and they cannot tell which one is being seen. The suspicion is it is the ghost.
Why are you calling me that?
I will eat of you completely.
Sarah sees, as she falls into the manicured grass, the two-bodies, the plural-body of so many others. She sees the part of it that lies falling underneath and the part of it that eats of; strong women, natural women who eat to survive their pluralism.
It is like, neighbour, when you see a woman in the street who knows she is seen. Who turns and sees you. Who has your eyes in that moment and is eaten. And you crawl out the other side of the blood tiles of time but her body breaks into two. In preparation.
Kate Kiernan is a writer based in Dublin. Another incarnation of herself once published work with the Stockholm Review of Literature and the Honest Ulsterman, among others. Now she waits for estrogen.