By Jason Geary
I’m bleeding from every orifice. Shit. I think I’m dying. I hate this. I want to stop. I want to. Why can’t I? I’m sorry mum. I am. I’m sorry dad. I let you down. I know you done your best. I fucked it all for you. I shouldn’t be coughing up blood. I’ve over done it this time. I gotta sleep now. Then I’ll make it better. I promise mum. Tomorrow I’ll make it better. I swear.
By Emilie Collyer
At a certain time each day, there is no shadow cast on the fence. The tree stands alone, directly beneath the sky high sun. It is proud.
And the gardener, at a certain time each day that he is here, stands before the tree in stillness. I can see by the alert frame of his shoulders that he is in some kind of reverie. He does not know that I watch him from the study window.
“Got to get rid of it babe,” my husband calls me babe. I do not approve but it is not my role to change in him what come naturally. “Before it gets too big. Christ, it’s already too big. Bloody dangerous. Strong wind, it’d smash right through the back wing.”
He is right, the back wing (as my husband calls it) is where my study is located. And were that tree to fall, it would no doubt do severe damage.
The gardener needs to get help in. It is too big a job for one man. I watch from the window as the three fellows do their work. The chainsaw whines and clouds of tree dust fill the air.
At the end of the day, the gardener stands to survey their labour. His posture is as erect as ever. And yet, I can see, by the slope of his shoulders, that hope has somehow left his body.
I ask my husband to fix a new work room for me, at the front of the house, where I can gaze out onto the lively street below.
We shut up the back wing of the house, using it only for storage.
There is nothing constant from the front window, on which to fix my eye. I simply follow the changing seasons, the shifting traffic of passers by. The shadows shift and change.
The gardener no longer winks at me as I had him his weekly cheque. His work remains steady, nothing overt in his practice changes. And yet slowly, surely, around us, the garden begins to die.
By Rebecca Skinner
It was the third night since he arrived at her home. No longer could she breathe in the tranquillity of her refuge, lazily eyeing the dust motes spiralling in late afternoon sun from her place on the couch.
His things littered each room of the apartment, not only the one allocated to him. All of her being prickled with an awareness of him,extending to whichever corner of the house he occupied, awake or asleep. There was no respite.
He had barely looked her in the eye since the moment he had arrived. Orders were given randomly, at all hours of the day and night, with no regard to common politeness. Communicating in a tongue incomprehensible to her,his voice became louder and louder as she dissolved like an aspirin, spinning around in her confines, blindly bumping surfaces as she raced to accommodate his needs, just hoping she would get it right.
And yet, through all of this, she loved him. As he drifted off to sleep in her arms she gazed at his little lashes fluttering against translucent skin that had only seen the light of day for one week. The little lashes of her newborn son.
By David Witteveen
I arrived at work, hung over and wet from the rain, to find an octopus lying on my desk.
Its slimy tentacles were wrapped around my keyboard. Its eerie eyes swivelled to face me.
“Um,” I said out loud. “Excuse me. Who left an octopus on my desk?”
No one in the open plan office answered. I looked back down at the creature. It was quite large. And wet. What the hell was I supposed to do with it? Call the cleaners?
My computer was turned on. Windows software update was running in one window. Pitchfork.com was open in another. I never read Pitchfork. I looked around the office again.
“Sorry. Did anyone leave an octopus on my desk?”
Jenny who sits opposite me shrugged and shook her head.
I eased a plastic ruler out of my desk drawer, and prodded the octopus with it. The octopus reacted by flailing its tentacles over my keyboard.
I dropped the ruler.
In all its random button-mashing, the creature had accidentally opened up Notepad on my computer, and written some text into it. I assumed it was gibberish. But the shape of the letters caught my eye:
ouch! stop that!
“Did you…” I said, and stopped because I was about to ask a question to an octopus. “Did you just write that?”
Tentacles wriggled over the keys.
yes, said the words in Notepad. hello!
“Um. Hello. I don’t mean to sound rude, but… what are you doing on my desk?”
updating your software, it wrote.
i work for IT. it’s my first day.
“Oh. Well. Hi. Welcome to the company.”
It seemed like the polite thing to say.
Windows software update pinged to say it was finished. The octopus wrapped a tentacle around my mouse and logged out of my computer. Then it waved goodbye, slid off my desk, and started suction-cupping its way across the carpet between the cubicles.
I reached for my phone and dialled.
“Hello, IT Help Desk,” said a voice on the other end.
“Hi. Listen, I just had an octopus on my computer installing software updates.”
“Uh-huh. That’s Nigel. It’s his first day.”
“He’s an octopus.”
“Yeah. He’s great a squeezing under desks to run cables.”
“But he’s an octopus!”
“Mmm. Sorry about the slime.”
I hung up. A squelching noise came from the cubicle opposite me, and Jenny stood up.
“Hi Nigel,” she said. “Have I got time to go make a coffee?”
Moisture steamed off my damp coat in the air-conditioning. My hangover was pounding behind my eyes.
I pulled out a box of tissues and started wiping my keyboard clean.
By Jason Geary
“Once I’m inside the door, I’ll close the sale. No doubt. When they see what the Vacuum can do, they know they need it.” He says completely believing his own rhetoric.
“How much do you sell them for?” I ask trying to catch the barman’s eye.
“Three thousand a piece.” He says without skipping a beat.
I choke on the last of my beer. “You can buy a car for that.”
“Yeah, a shit one. This is the last vacuum you’ll ever need.”
“It would want to be. How many do you sell in a week?”
“Sometimes maybe none, Sometimes one. I usually move around three a month.”
“And you knock on doors all day?”
“No way, that’s for suckers. I watch. Stakeout the neighbourhood, you know? Only suckers cold call for sales.”
“How long you been doing this?”
“Five years. Gettin’ better everyday too.”
“Doesn’t the rejection get to you? All those doors slammin’?”
“Nah, it’s part of the deal. There’ll always be another door to knock. You gotta have back bone to do this. It only takes one to open.”
“You got a family?”
“Nah man, that’ll come later.”
“How long you going to do this?”
“’Till I own the company. See, that’s why the others come and go. They’ve got no vision. I do. I’ll keep selling, then I’ll get promoted to team leader, then a management position, then I’ll buy into the company, you know, watch other people sell, then I’ll have a family”
The barman finally saunters over. “Another pint of Manny’s please, and one for my friend here too.”
The salesman smiles at me. “Thanks man, nice of you. And don’t worry, I ain’t gonna try to sell you. I can tell by your coat you can’t afford it. I’m good like that, I can read people.”