❦Clay Coloured❦

Bleak and bland, a bothersome blight.


Dog Days

Glasgow, 27/8/22

I dream about a suitcase full of pale pink meat – not 'full' as in stuffed to the brim, but 'full' as in the meat has grown to take up the entirety of the suitcase's interior. Besides its pinkness, the meat is defined by a spindly, red vascularity and a subtle wet shine, as if it's perspiring. Along the seam by the zipper, a milky grey slug-like parasite stretches out. It has no identifiable features, but does appear to writhe slowly within the confines of the narrow furrow where it lays trapped. Its lumpy, translucent skin occasionally catches on the rough synthetic fibers. Every time I look away and then back at it, it appears to grow ever so slightly.
I shut the suitcase and carry its distinctly alive weight off behind an overflowing dumpster. The rest of the dream carries on as dreams do, erratically jumping from scenario to scenario with no rhyme or reason, but throughout all of it, I think about the suitcase and the meat and the parasite. Is it growing? Is it eating away at the meat instead of just circling it? Is it eating away at itself to keep circling it? I want to return to the dumpster so badly, flip the case open and force myself to stare down whatever horror lies within. But I don't. When I wake up, it's with a hand tucked between my legs, fingers absently fiddling with the moist folds there.
(Hours later, while sipping decent coffee and peering up at Edinburgh castle, I picture pressing my cheek against the meat. Would it ooze clear, salty liquid for me to lick at? Would it have a lot of give, like a pillow, or very little, like a thigh? What would happen if I hit it, bit it? Would it bleed, would it bruise? Would it squirm like I do?)

There are perhaps twenty fat, black flies lethargically moseying across my kitchen window in the morning. A cockroach skitters out from under the kettle when the circle of gas ignites. By my foot, a dusty dot moves – I crouch down and observe a misshapen, undeveloped, crumpled-looking fly stumble this way and that. Its wings are half-formed and crooked. I imagine what it would feel like to crush it under my thumb, or perhaps through the thin veil of a sheet of two-ply toilet paper. A dry crunch of a death, perhaps. It looks like if someone wiped the green, slick shine off the back of a regular fly, and I think it's my duty to kill it. I go to get a sponge from below the sink so I don't have to feel the small body distort from the pressure, and when I turn back around, the fly is gone.

Rötmånad. The dog days. Dies caniculares. Late July through mid-/late August. Food goes bad much faster during it, due to the heat and humidity creating a perfect environment for bacterial growth. Milk sours, fruit rots, bread moulds. My heart grows heavy with the sweet-smelling, foul death juices that collect at the bottom of it. It's said that all kinds of unusual things happen while the world is decaying – animals are born with too many limbs, people unexpectedly succumb to madness. I wake up one morning and everything has changed within me. All my organs have flipped sides, or maybe I have bile running through my veins instead of blood, or I died and came back to life while asleep. When I look in the mirror, I notice how a green fuzz grows around my belly button. As time passes, it spreads outwards, sneaks into my armpits, mouth, groin. I am no longer palatable.

As I'm leaving, he shouts 'you don't know how to be in a relationship' and I don't respond, because he's wrong but unfortunately I'm the only one who knows that. I see three dead birds on my walk home – one dry and mummified through time's passing (the death of an hour, of a day), one freshly ripped open with its rib cage hollowly displaying red and pink, one scattered across the pavement as if it never was whole in the first place. A small piece of me says 'this means something', but the part of me that didn't cry (the part of me that's coming out on top) disagrees. This morning, I messaged my ex about my dream. He responded, 'Aha – synchronicity, my old friend! I've just started on a new story, and the first line is 'xx hadn't touched meat in five days'. The suitcase meat remains (remain) behind the dream dumpster, temporally suspended in a non-reality and kept eternally fresh by virtue of it not moving through time, nor space. All form and no matter; 'you were a waste of time', fair enough, but was I a waste of space? Was I a waste of body, of speech, of emotion? Why did I assume the grey thing to be a parasite instead of an appendage, an organ, a trembling tongue or tentacle, a companion, a protector? I think about the pale pink mass gone black below the closed lid, and about how even if the thin, grey, writhing chord is a parasite, it too is enveloped by blackness.

Essay 1


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