No Strange Circle
With no money in the cheque account, Dan said to his son that he
hoped for a legendary market day. At 4am, the alarm went off and was
followed by the hot water firing up. The refrigeration in the truck
hummed in the driveway next to the master bedroom. I fell asleep
again, not hearing them drive away, and stayed comatose till the guy
next door scraped metal along his porch. I lingered with the heater
on and watched the pock-marked clouds scoot past, thinking about
past mistakes, fixing them in my head. There was a tentative knock
at the door and I squirreled under the covers.
The logs in the fireplace were slightly green and required the
crumpling of many newspapers. Sparks flared out onto the threadbare
carpet and I moved the grate in front before ringing my brother.
"I'm bored," he said. He had been moved against his will to an
assisted care facility since he was refusing the injections, the
Rizipan, saying they were the cause of his diabetes. "Did you knock
on my door this morning?" I asked. He restated his boredom adding
flourishes. "Go for a walk," I said, repeating till he hung up the
phone. I wrote some stories, put my brother in it and took him out.
A friend called me about the film Adaptation and I told him that
writers should keep themselves out of their creations, including
myself. "Well, I loved it," he said.
When my goose refused to lay any more words, I looked at some old
work, hoping for gold. Deleted whole folders at a time.
I experimented for dinner, going for a spicy risotto, and used fresh
turmeric and galangal, snipping the makrut lime leaves into slivers.
My stepson came home exhausted and ate--even though the dish was a
little dry from being kept waiting-usually I aim for sloppy creamy.
After eating, the boy cycled through the rooms with his mobile. "How
was the market?" I asked and he shushed. "Yeah all right," he said
into the phone, and then, Catch which meant See you later in their
special language. Then he got dressed and went out--without a key.
Dan went to watch football in one of the bedrooms and the house was
cold--the heaters were being repaired, so I took to bed, pretending
to be from the Stone Age.
At two in the morning, I heard scuffling. "You go," I said--speaking
to the empty room--the pillow next to mine lacked a body. I saw a
glowing green woman sitting on the edge of my bed. She looked
peaceful. "Wake up," she said, "Before it is too late." The ghost
image remained seated the whole time I was preparing for a night
expedition--pushing my clothes under the quilt and dressing in the
She looked like the woman Dan slept with last year to prove he still
could. I made a gun with my index finger and fired bullets until she
vanished. Noises like loud rats came from the laundry. It was the
boy trying to get back in the house through the dog entry and
trapped by his hips. "I did this last term and it worked," he said
after I got help from the victim of television, asleep in front of
the static blue screen. His dad told him that the only constant in
the world was change. When I lay back down, the birds were
exchanging greetings and in the main street, the traffic ballooned.
Girija Tropp lives in Melbourne, Australia and her short
fiction has been published in Agni, The Boston Review,
Best Australian Stories 2005 and 2006, Southword,
sleeping fish, Fiction International, Denver Quarterly,
and Blip Magazine Archive; online fiction at Diagram,
elimae, and Café Ireal amongst others; forthcoming in
Meridian and Quick Fiction; finalist in the Faulkner
Awards for the Novel 2006. Winner of the Josephine Ulrick Literature