Free writing: our bodies
This is a little bit I wrote this morning but have decided not to include in the novel, and instead to extrapolate into its own longer story.
For five days we sent our bodies into the world without us. On the first day they sat in a windowless chapel. Other people were there, parents and friends, and our bodies told us afterwards of the way the carpet was torn in places, and that in a week or so we should expect to receive a wooden box in the post. Had the bodies given them our correct address? Our new one, I meant, the borrowed one. They had, they said. The wooden box would arrive at our new address and maybe we would know what to do with it after a while.
My body wore a black cape and a black shirt and black shoes, and its edges blended into the poorly lit corners of the room.
On the second day, our bodies went out into the garden and found a flat bit of lawn at the top of the hill. Dave’s body lay a blanket and my body scratched where the tough buffalo grass made contact with its skin. The cheese was delicious, they told us. The air was hot but moving. If you pushed your nose into the sky just right, you could catch the smell of the sea.
On the sixth day they went down to the main street to buy chips, and sat on a low wall and flapped in the wet wind. There’s lots to see, they told us. People everywhere. There’s a farmers market in the park by the public toilets. We got you some eggs, free range. Dave’s body cooked them in butter and we ate them but they tasted of nothing.
I wondered about the house. My memories of it were limited, the way they are when you inspect a house twice before deciding to live in it for ten years. I felt sure it had a bedroom across the hall from ours, with a bay window. And I was convinced of a little door at the end of the corridor that opened into a staircase. Maybe in the attic there were rows of windows and maybe from there one could see the horizon damp with smog.
‘What does the house look like?’ I asked my body.
‘Why don’t you go have a look?’ it said.
‘No,’ I said. ‘I can’t.’ My body sighed, pulled at its black robes. I touched my fingertips along the corrugated length of my wound. In each stitch, my heart was beating.
The next morning, Dave and his body stood in the bedroom in our new house and put on a collared shirt. ‘Where are you going?’ I said, and Dave’s body said, ‘I’m going to work, remember?’ I did remember, sort of, like maybe he had told me while I was sleeping. ‘No,’ I said. ‘Even so,’ he said. ‘They’re expecting me.’
‘What shall I do?’ I said.
He kissed my head and I let his paper smell sit with me. ‘You’ll rest. I’m just up the road.’ Then he frowned. ‘Have you got everything you need?’
‘Yes,’ I said. My body pulled the blankets over both of us and I burned there next to it, my uncourageous body.