6. Birds

I run my hand across the capsules as I make my way past bowl cut me and experimental bowl cut me. They’re having a heated conversation about Le Snaks. I wish I was a more creative hairdresser but to be honest, I can only base them off what I know. At first it was odd, opening up enough capsules to gain company the size of a soccer team (subs included), having all these copies of myself. I’ve since found they’re passive enough to try out hairstyles I might potentially want in future.

Funny how negative you can be after emerging from a capsule. I don’t blame anyone, but we huddled in the dark for two hours before someone found a light switch. Turns out it’s actually all right. At that point we realised we were all naked, but we figured it’s like a uniform – a uniform made out of skin, nipples, and hair where society doesn’t want it. It’s not weird or unsettling having all these copies of myself; more just one big old group of chums supporting each other and understanding what it’s like to live with these facial features. Realistically, if we were exposed to the outside world we’d develop diverging views, but considering we’re trapped inside the chamber, we’ve kept the same ideas – that Animal Crossing is the unexcelled innovation of mankind, and that we all wish the Food Network would program less repeats and more Man Fire Food.

Eventually I reach a me who is affectionately referred to as Darren, not that I have any favourites. I greet them by saying, “I like your hair cut”, which I say to everyone, because it’s my own work. We have a prolonged conversation that runs the gamut from mini Coke cans to ironing starch, and I’ve come to realise that I myself might be a boring person. We’ve been getting pretty cramped up in here, and because of who I am as a person I begin toying with the futile concept of exercise, which is only possible through escape. I begin questioning my sources of incentive as I should have more structurally sound priorities, like how I haven’t visited my town on Animal Crossing for seven days, weeds could be sprouting and the debt I owe to Nook wouldn’t be loosening up any time soon.

I try the door, the chamber is actually unlocked and there are cars parked outside. Given that I’m still on my learner’s permit, a law abiding citizen and there’s no qualified adult supervisors around, I’m not about to fuck it up. Furthermore, bearing in mind my age along with the stage I’m at with my license, I avoid showing my L plates at all costs. Not to mention the image adorning my license, which was taken many hairstyles ago – can a single photo truly represent who I am as a person?

I go and stand in the doorway and realise that I’m yet to lift my gaze from the cars parked outside. There are houses on the horizon and I’m about a kilometre away from my home town. The distance alone is enough to make me want to turn and go back inside. I do go back inside. I ask everyone whether they’d like to join me in walking out which is responded to with my own blank stares, Moss from IT Crowd haircut me clears their throat and says “I think we’re alright thanks” and they all nod their heads collectively. I sigh, but as I’m used to disappointing myself, it doesn’t seem to have that much of an effect – I conclude that I’ve had it with this lot, and exit the chamber.

I reach my parents’ house in half an hour. I knock on the door four times. My Mum has locked it, and I can hear her moving around inside but she doesn’t answer the door – she doesn’t like confrontation. I reluctantly climb the gate and enter through the back. I take a shower because it seems pretty essential with my current body odour. When washing my hair I enter my final form – I am a seal, I belong in the ocean. Being shower deprived for seven days really does things to you. My partner bursts in to the bathroom, at this point it’s important to note that I am only metaphysically a seal, seals don’t have eyebrows, and right now mine are furrowed like hell.

Why haven’t you been answering my text messages?

I’ve been away

What? Where?

On a journey of self-exploration. On the dream spectrum.

What?

Why am I getting more of a beetroot vibe from your nose?

I got a haircut.

I noticed that too, makes the root vegetable shape more pronounced, almost like a different variety.

I’m going to go check the fridge; your mum might be going through a sponge cake phase again.

I stay in the shower and try to understand why someone would have made a couple hundred duplicates of me. I recently learnt how to make pasta sauce though I still don’t think that’s reason enough to clone me. I think about the other me’s, I think about whether I should go back. I realise I can’t, they’re too selfish, wrapped up within themselves and their own inner monologues. I wipe off enough condensation on the mirror for decent eye contact with myself. How do I know that this is still the original me? When did I get this haircut?

I look outside and watch an air borne animal defecate onto a towel on the line. I’ve always hated birds.

Words and illustration by Skye Newton

‘I Am In Your House’ is a collaborative story by the creative writers of Pelican. It is published in weekly installments, every Sunday. Read more ‘I Am In Your House’ here

If you would like to contribute, either as a writer or illustrator to ‘I Am In Your House’ contact the web editor (pelicanwebeditor@gmail.com).