2. It is raining. It is as if the sky is hovering above the girl with red lips, about to flow down upon her, there to wash away all the newness and replace it with a different kind of newness, even a new world entirely. In this world, everything is possible, and for her, only limited by what she was taught of darkness and safety, creation and control.
Nobody wishes me a happy birthday. I’m not even sure half of the people in this office know my name. In fact, I am not even sure the half that knows my name knows me as myself, and not Sarah or Jane or another forgettable name to go with my forgettable face. A man from accounting approaches. I smile, readying my new red lips for their moment, but I keep them closed, waiting. Look at me, the lips are saying.
I don’t think he hears. He places a pile of papers on my desk, and walks away with no more than a nod and a cursory glance at the red lips. I broaden my smile.
“Thanks Adam.” I glance down at the papers. ‘Attn: Sarah’. The smile fades.
3. She is staring at her flat brown desk, and it begins to waver and blur under her wet cheeks. It fills her vision until it is so present that it ceases to be a desk at all, and gradually broadens, lengthens, becomes softer and rougher, earthier and yet possessing an insubstantial quality of being not quite there. She looks around her and sees a new place with broad, flat plains and tall, splintered trees. There are piles of flat white river stones scattered at her feet, which might once have been official looking papers.
In this world, I might be a nobody. I have sat at this desk every day for so long that I no longer know why I sat down in the first place. I don’t speak my mind, for I have nothing to say, and nobody to say nothing to. I am not just a nobody, I am an invisible nobody, and when I disappear completely, even I won’t remember who I am.
There is a red ink pen in my hands, and it is shaking. I have been unconsciously doodling over the documents I am supposed to be proofing. I have drawn an elephant. Surrounding it are tall and spindling trees, flat earth, white stones. They seem to me to be trying to escape across the edge of the paper and onto the floor. I imagine the elephant fitting into this office, munching on papers, knocking photo-copying machines over and with a devilish glint in its eye swiping a toupee from an important old head. I would get up upon that elephant, hitch my black skirt up to my knees, and ride out into the sunshine with my hair blowing in the breeze from the air-conditioning vents.
I wanted to join the circus when I was sixteen. I would have ridden around the ring with only my palms upon the elephant beneath me, a balancing act: here solid, over there emptiness and a painful fall. Somewhere between then and now, I have fallen off my elephant.