It was a common sight. She had fallen asleep on the train, a book open in her lap. After several consecutive days of cloud and rain, the skies, with their truth, cleared, and unexpected sunshine suddenly lightened the carriage. The train, however, was delayed, and stood, motionless, in the countryside. She wasn’t aware of any delay. Her head pointed down, and her pale blonde hair hung untended, the strands loose, faintly pagan. The words, untended too, lay imprinted on their paper, a shadow cast across the neat, geometric valley formed by the book’s delved spine. What negligence! she thought, observing. Or, what a poor novel! She rather envied the sleeping woman, who looked so calm, so natural, so part of a process, like slender fronds of green weed waving slowly along their lengths in a slow-moving stream. She has abandoned the words, the story, and soon she would abandon her dream. It was our fate. We could stay faithful to no one thing, only to everything, and the manner of our faith was an unwilled, a helpless treachery: wisdom would always be rueful. When the train started moving again, still, she didn’t wake. Around her, the headlines were the usual sad mishmash of hatred, disaster and celebrity. The sleeping woman looked so unoccupied, a part disengaged from the rest of the machinery, permitted inertia. Her lover was fascinated by her shoulder bones, and would spend hours looking at them, or stroking them. Sitting on the edge on the tub while she rested part submerged, he’d gaze down at where her body had collected small nooks of water, foamed with ethereal pavilions of soap, like tiny rock pools hinting at the iridescence of corals, a fairy landscape. The corridor, though, was endless. She marched in her silver jumpsuit, conscious of the slow strobe of the disc-shaped ceiling lights as she passed below them one after another, a scent of disinfectant, the metallic sheen of a power that had no centre, no direction, no morals, no perimeter. Her heels clicked out a strut, a martial beat, too cool to be incorporated within the national anthem of an ephemeral third world tyranny. When the walls fell open, despite her guns, there were red deer on a highland ridge, their breath vaporising in whirling sleet, and the weather was like the materialisation of a gradual and deepening embitterment. Where could she go now?

 


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)