You have no items in your cart. Want to get some nice things?Go shopping
A ring as alarming as the beginning of Beethoven’s 9th cuts through my dream. I answer the dastardly machine with a wheeze and racist cliché replies.
Surprise!? I open my eyes.
‘Who i- thi-?’
There is silence at the other end. I don’t hang up and fall back asleep listening to the regular shushing of static.
[private]The alcove where unwanted teddy bears were once piled contains a dark basement kitchen. From where I work a series of door-less doorframes gives onto a packed church, archways stretching into the giant blank canvas hanging on my bedroom wall. Blinding white walls punctuated with gold. Three women in Edwardian velvets and floppy hats darken the floors, singing as they usher lovers’ dead brothers and hundreds of other unforgotten faces inside.
Scanning the crush, my hands blindly begin their work picking a pear out of a row of five placed along the windowsill just above my head. In the darkness I squish one thumb into its bulbous bottom.
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. But I beseech you, beloved congregation, if your insides are mirrored, those rays will bounce right back out of you.”
Moist white tunnels into the fruit. Flaps of green skin stuck to the edges of each opening. I pierce each in turn. The congregation start to sing. “Are the floors of your parlour empty and bare? Do you ever look at your bald head and wish you had hair?”
I turn my attentions to potatoes. Mercury-like bubbles of liquid move beneath the loose sacs of skin covering their hard little bodies. The peel comes away easily, releasing a clotted brown colour onto my fingers, forging paths for the viscous liquid to run up my sleeves, burrowing into each crease of my skin. I run my hands under water. The blood washes off the potatoes revealing clean white vegetable.
The 9th trills again.
I know my house very well, and already I can hear the first footfall on the stone step three storeys down. A mobile phone slipped into a back pocket. A pause outside my front door.
Bang, bang, bang!
I lean as far as I can off the bed without falling out and peer up the pitch-black corridor. The letterbox flips open.
The last time this happened it was the postman. ‘Take this £10 and go buy some whisky we can drink together, I do not have time to go to the shops take the money please take the money.’
‘Supplies! Supplies! I bling you supplies!’
It’s not the postman. Maybe one of the casuals? I had met one of them only the other week; a deranged retard walking in circles at the end of my dead end street.
The voice has taken on a horrifying sing-song tone and the throwaway images of last night’s TV (a bum pulling a night-worker’s teeth out with rusty pliers. Every tooth, in real time) flits through my mind.
With complete confidence that my Single White Female routine (‘The neighbours don’t like me’ scrawled on the back of free cinema postcards. ‘Please send chocolate’) will far outshine any Leonardo DiCaprio fantasy this loon might enact, I tumble out of bed and feel my way down the hall. I clasp the latch with bloody fingers, jiggle the door out of where it has sunk on its hinges and expertly snatch it out of place.
A sea of shopping bags flood into my hall, teaming open mouthed-trouts and loaves of bread; extra long packets of spaghetti shuffling out like a pack of cards; bundles of beetroots; a squashed carton of pears and, beneath everything, piles of loose, rolling tatties.
Rising out of the mayhem, his head bowed in an Oriental nod, his hands palm to palm is my Pa. ‘Your leelel yewow fwiend sink maybe you need a supplies.’[private]
Iphgenia Baal is a writer living and staring out of windows in Bethnal Green. She once had a promising career as a journalist and an enviable social circle, but she is much happier now. She has nearly finished her first book (about trains and brains and cliques and freaks).