try writing a little every day she had said. and i did, never guessing at the time, as i studied the curvature of her nostrils and their similarities to her ear lobes, that i would actually listen to her, that i would actually do as she suggested.

that first day i went home, i took my unopened mail and wrote on it, about her nostrils and similar lobes. could think of nothing else. not that they were remarkable really, but that everything else was so overwhelming that i could absorb nothing else. the sun in the yard was too bright, its warmth on my forehead too much, the sweat that trickled down my neck too close, too much like a finger tracing a line.

i would write of her nostrils as everything else was too much.

as i neared home that day, the sweat forming and trickling, my skin burning, my eyes squinting, i stopped under a tree. even the relief was too much, the sudden lack of direct heat, the barely perceivable drop in body temperature, the shade on my seared eyes, all too much.

i contemplated dropping to the ground that day, slamming my knees into the earth be it hard or soft, screaming til my lungs burst or just curling into a ball like i had done so many times before, but i didn’t. i thought of her nostrils, and her ear lobes, and what i would write, and i went on.

later at home i filled up the envelopes, and then a napkin as i wrote. and i continued to write each day, filling spare areas on newspapers, tissues and dust jackets of books. when i filled these i searched the neighbours bins, taking phone bills and emails and catalogues, all i filled with my writing.

when forced to go out for food i bought notebooks, 53 of them, and continued writing. it was relief, from the noise of the traffic, from distant laughter, from whistling wind through the windows, and from my own poor head.

i wrote each day as she had said, that day many years ago, that day when the sun was too hot to walk under and the sweat rivulets reminded me of the touch of a woman, tracing her finger down my neck.

now my writing is a hard task. there has been no power for years, i didn’t see much use for it, and my desk is covered in frozen rivers of white and coloured wax. but even candles don’t help much now, my eyes deteriorated over time until the shapes formed on the page are done so from memory as much as assisted by sight. but, you will be delighted to hear, none of that matters now. i am almost there. my great work, the labour of my life time is almost finished. what began as an exercise, a way to clear my thoughts, to make me like everyone else, has turned into a tribute, a eulogy to myself. with a shaking hand and diminished vision i begin the last page…

..her nostrils, fine and curved. at once so natural and yet all together alien to my eyes, like looking at your twin for the first time, and oh so similar to her ear lobes…

each word formed from memory.

every word formed by a hand writing the same thing it has done every day..since that day too warm to walk in, when the sweat felt like a finger on my neck.


Michael Douglass

Alexandria, Australia

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