Cinderblocks circumvent the compartmented lives.
I. The Gray One
Seven crisp shirts hung on the railing. A different pale stripe for every day of the week, except for Monday’s, because then she wore white. After putting away the ironing board, Emily went to the kitchen where she got one of the two glasses that were in her cupboard, and filled it halfway with filtered water. She sat down at the synthetic white table and took out her phone. No messages. A sip of water to get rid of the dryness that she only now realized had taken a hold of her mouth. The apartment always had that effect on her, the central heating evaporated every hint of moisture from the building. It was a tiny place, more like a studio, and furnished by the owner. She kept it neat, making sure that there was no trace of her left in the tough cushioned couch or in the low pile rectangular carpet – both gray.
A scent of iron preceded the rush through her nose. She did nothing to stop it, and straightened her already upright back as three red drops fell on the wiped down white synthetic table. The only color in the room. She was alive.
II. The Family
A fresh red trace of cranberry juice led to toddler #2. Henry dragged his sippy cup behind him as he straddled over the carpet towards his brother’s Duplo blocks. Each block was put together into an impressive piece of red, yellow and green architecture. Little Andrew had been dropped off at kindergarten and their mother was already in her second meeting. Dad was in the kitchen, finishing the dishes. “Are you keeping clear of your brother’s masterpiece, young man?” he yelled over the sound of his hands groping after two knives under water – a cut – Henry gurgled as he plumped down and freed his right hand from the upside-down dripping cup. The unencumbered hands now proceeded to fondle the brightly colored blocks. First tentatively, but soon his little claws became eager little excavators working purposely towards the downfall of his senior. And then the two towers fell. A red block scratched Henry’s cheek in its decline and landed on the freshest red specks deeply absorbed in the polyamide. Henry was startled, proud and outraged all at the same time – and cried.
III. The Guy
Four cases of True-Mass supplements were lined up against the wall and neighbored two dumbbells ready for use. Every morning, Matt got up out of bed two and a half hours before he left for work to get that work-out in. He had been weight training for a while now, and hadn’t skipped a morning since that one time. It had made him feel inadequate and weak. The week after he strained himself by doing double work-outs and denied his body the rest it needed to recuperate. At six fifteen to the dot, Matt pulled out his bench and got to it.
On Wednesdays, when he worked on his legs, he stretched the ligament that attached his right femur to the tibia a little further. He savored it.
IV. The old man
Matt’s apartment looked straight out onto the apartment across the street. Every morning until eleven thirty, and every afternoon from two to five, the old man sat in his wheelchair looking at something out of sight, to the left. Aside from one occasion, he couldn’t remember ever seeing someone with the man, and he always felt awkward as the weak arms slowly rolled the body out of, or into, his vision. His hands made obvious trepidations as he brought his coffee to his mouth. Matt knew the cracked Ferrari mug contained coffee, because last week the old man’s grip loosened midway and the dark liquid gushed down his white shirt. There was no Kleenex in sight, so without fussing he slowly dragged himself out of sight, only to return with the same stained shirt and a fresh cup of coffee.
Next week, Matt would find his view altered. The lady he had once seen before was running around in the diorama, touching and moving all the immovable props that had surrounded the old man’s portrait. A week later, the frame was empty.
V. The Artist
Seven canvasses hang on the wall that stretches from the window to the kitchen. Each show a different style you tried to make your own, and each show too much likeness to the textbook paradigms we all know so well. The pleasure of creativity has been long lost to your eagerness to satisfy and the organized disarray in your apartment is only there for show. You are an artist in the broad sense of the word, making it a way of living by subverting the essence of artistry to conning the audience.
You are the Red White and Yellow, scared to show yourself.
VI. The Writer
The writer moves out of the frame and writes outside the lines. As such, he or she pushes the reader to move along with them. The ideas that arise from the writer’s mind take form in the combined letters and spaces that conjugate all parties involved into one and the same process.
Let me help you with that
And show you how it works
Writing as activism
The writer does not preserve any omniscience, let alone all. The writer merely proposes what he or she hopes sticks to your marbles. On the seventh day, we all leave. But through the conjugation the writer’s words proceed.
VII. The First
On Mondays we wear white, so let’s make the last the first.
Written by Saskia Soelaksana. This collection first appeared in Stilleven, which was the publication that resulted from our first PIY event last April.