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Girija Tropp

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 trapped warmth.

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 Award 2006.

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