9. Mirror

I am told I don’t sound like a woman on the phone. Since I cut my hair off I don’t look like one either. My breasts aren’t much help, at best anonymous and unfound beneath a T-shirt. I am supposed to have these. Would my neighbours complain if they saw my nipples in the front yard? My bathroom window opens directly onto a window of the neighbouring house. I did not know this until now. I wonder if anyone has been watching me wash my hands and whether they think I am working up enough lather. I lather for thirty seconds. Perhaps this is someone other than my partner I can talk to about the sun spot on my breast and whether it looks ok, or whether they stay awake at night as well thinking about what it could be doing while I sleep. The spot and I are both brown, but I am browner in the summer. It is not a competition.

I miss my hair. My partner says he doesn’t mind but in public I see him looking at the hair of other people, any length longer than mine. His hair is longer than mine as well and I wonder if he looks at it more often now, wishing it was attached to my head. I consider cloaking all mirrors in case, but fear obscuring his rear vision mirror would be a bad decision. We have a strained relationship, and once he flipped a pancake into a wall which may have been a warning sign early on. My partner makes us pancakes out of yoghurt and flour for dinner. They taste like yoghurt and flour unless you cover them in maple syrup. I would cover my life in maple syrup if I could, perhaps it would be more palatable. I would like to be more wholesome. I consider spending time inside baskets of market produce or wearing R.M. Williams blouses. If you want to carry yourself well, a basket is your best option.

Having a bowl cut makes you feel like you’re constantly wearing a cap. In future I will distance myself from the idea of a hat phase otherwise I will look as if I am wearing two hats. Maybe that is just how I will feel. I have been trying to define myself – perhaps I have only been drawn with pencil so far and I’m attempting a steady hand outline to become a good copy in my twenties. I do not have a steady hand. My partner describes himself as twenty-something so I know he isn’t a very specific person or he is afraid of his own age. He doesn’t want to pin it down, perhaps it will hurt. I have started eating shop bought mandarins and they taste like they’ve been watered down. It’s a steady decline, like searching “Perth weather” everyday until you want to type “Perth weather is shit.” Stop asking questions and just say something.

My mum tells me my health is on the decline. Yesterday I ate a bag of skittles, pouring them into my mouth and ignoring fine flavour profiles, so I cannot argue with her. It is hard to eat healthier when you always feel like hot chips. There are hot chips in cafes and restaurants, wrapped up in white paper and punctured to let out steam. I would like to be taken home under a proud arm but I lack the warmth. My partner and I don’t hold hands in public anymore. He tells me he is tired. He places a chair outside the bathroom while I deal with a bowel movement. He has a 7.30-4.30 job so any time we can spend together is important. Time is an animal and we are sustainable eaters consuming every last bite. Toilet time is the tail. He closes the door when he uses the bathroom so I know we aren’t extremely close even though we have been together for two years (when rounded to the closest year). He tells me it is a private time like cleaning your ears or crying in the car. I listen to Richard Hawley when I cry. His Spotify profile describes his voice with the word “anguish.” It is not how I describe myself in my Instagram bio.

I am trying to make art again; I am trying to make anything. There are only so many midday movies you can watch until you want to give something back to the world. I make peanut butter sandwiches with the back of a spoon and eat packets of date rolls. Once I found a piece of gravel in a packet of dates and didn’t inform the company. I wonder whether they would have even believed me or whether they watch a lot of The X-Files. Trust no one. I have stopped riding my bike because the weather is too disappointing. Summer is approaching slowly like someone with a limp or someone who has recently bled in their shoe. My parents purchase me a cassette player. The only cassette I have is called “Feelings” and there are 2 sides.

Words by an Anonymous Author, 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).