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Carpet Calender

by Liz

My tiger-print curtains are drawn back and the window is wound open half-way. I don't know about you, but I can feel a grey breeze that slips into my room and then slips out, quietly yet noticeably. The sky is overcast: a scope of murky whipped cream not yet whipped to perfection. I know what it's like with whipped cream, and I'm sure you do too if those weekend afternoons in your kitchen are anything to go by. It's painstakingly hard work trying to assess it. Usually I beat it for too long and it becomes granular. It's a difficult task, scrupulously watching the white mass until ivory, stiff peaks form. In seconds it's overwhipped. So I can't blame whoever whipped the sky this morning because I try not to be hypocritical.

Here I am, drinking tropical fruit juice and holding a paddle-pop stick of an exotic slab of lime ice with a slash of white icecream down the centre. You told me I wanted to defy the seasons. I don't think that's the situation; my cravings just don't always coincide with the weather. I cast my eyes across our unruly lawns and see you in your favourite black coat, drinking a mug of something which I hypothesise is bitter black coffee with chocolate shavings floating on the surface. I presume now, as you focus your eyes on your mug, that you are twirling your teaspoon around and around in the coffee, creating that whirlpool of charcoal and chocolate. You laughed at me when I used to examine you warily while you stirred recklessly. I could just imagine the thick, black liquid sloshing over the rim of your mug and staining the carpet which your father had so thoroughly vaccuumed. There I was, biting my lip and cautioning you, and you just laughed and kept stirring until you had beat it up into a frothy well of dark ink.

Well, I'm sorry for ever caring about the ashen carpet that glowed because everyone walked behind you and bent down to pick up anything you dropped as you went on your way. My carpet is gathering dust and dirt and insects' wings and bits of coffee mugs and strands of black cotton and over-whipped cream. I used to be able to see the days of the year so clearly, like a calendar.

But then a cyclone hit and disrupted every particle that was sitting so contentedly in its own little square. It tore through my carpet calendar, twisting its spine and thrashing its head around. Its teeth gnashed every piece of tranquility that lay, slicing off the raw, undersides their heart that I hadn't had a chance to cook in the soft, sensible heat of the oven. The juxtaposed fire and ice of this cyclone scorched every inch of skin, every notch of bone along every spinal cord, and set a violent, blue chill in every cell, manifesting a matrix of gelid, biting cold that gushed along the pathways of veins and spread to the entire body. The tyrant held tiny knives in its ghostly fingers; I thought I glimpsed their gleaming, scintillating tips as I hid under desks and behind doors, my teeth chattering turbulently in my head. I became transfixed by the meticulous, slashing movements that the knives danced in. The room was dark, and you couldn't see the resplendence of my carpet which was the result of hours of methodical labour of picking up after myself, but you could see the incandescent points of the miniature knives glinting in the night. They moved swiftly, inanimately, merely the tools of this inhuman dictator which controlled them . In fact, as I squinted, I thought it looked like the knives grew from it, like fingers; the handles seemed to flow from the nightmarish mass of the cyclone. As it moved, the millions of tiny blades moved, working quickly but not hastily, expertly but not passionately. I wanted desperately to avert my eyes, to escape from this terror which was making me nauseous. But it was enthralling, the precise way in which the knives ripped all pulses out of wrists, and jabbed at the left sides of chests that I had so carefully nurtured and placed in specific days on my calendar.

When the cyclone had surged out my window in a sweating whiteness of cruelty, I got to my feet and anxiously stepped into the ruins. I cut my foot on something, an element of the past that was now lying dead and sharp, and was making me bleed. I dug through all the anecdotes, the conversations, the dreams, the nightmares, the laughter, the tears. And I saw the remainders. The remainders of my carpet calender which I used to glide along in slippers, sneakers, heels, it didn't matter. I twirled the black outline of a box around my finger, wondering which day in my past that was. I dug out a pile of numbers and placed them on my desk. They are now a myriad of mismatched dates, days and months and years stirred in together, like your coffee. Frothed and mashed recklessly, but tasting of bitter confusion. Of unfinished goals, and dreams, and words. My past destroyed in one ruinous moment, with terrorising knives and fire and cold.

I stare down at the remains. There is flesh, blood, bones: meaningless materials which used to make up everything I had. I glare down at it all, and the hate that slayed it and still lurks faintly and putridly amidst what used to be pure. Yet I do not stir. I reach out for the skin of what looks like last April, and I carefully put it away. And I continue. Right across my carpet, deep down where the most destructed lie. I work late into the night and at six am I find a tiny, delicate, silken heartbeat which shivers on my finger as I let it rest there. It shivers, but it may as well be roaring. Alive. My head rocks with vivacity and hope. I place it in my shirt pocket, where I can always feel it quivering with life against my own skin. So I know that whenever the powdery cyclone gushes through my window, I can feel the tender heartbeat on my chest, even when I cannot feel my own.

written: Friday 29th October, 2004, 10:50pm.

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750 Reviews

Points: 11808
Reviews: 750

Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:18 pm
CaptainJack wrote a review...

Hey there Liz.

I looked through your portfolio and I saw that most of your works never received enough reviews. I'm just trying to consistently stick to one writer so I can comment on how the style changes and adapts as time goes on. It would be probably be impossible for you to ever come back and I realize that, but I do want to leave some mark of someone who appreciated your writing.

I've seen through your writing in both poetry and prose, that you're a major fan of imagery. On the poetry side, it's working out pretty well for you and it gives the reader a vivid sense of the happenings. The colors. That's the focus of the imagery.
And I say color in reference to the imagery because when applied to prose, it results more in purple prose. The descriptions of each scene are just a bit too over the top for me and not in the matter of gore either. It just seems like you're trying too hard.

You're trying too hard.
That's the overall feel I got from this short, even though I've mainly skimmed it at this point. It's horror and so I like the concept, I'm just not digging the execution of all of your ideas, which seem to bouncing around a bit too much.

For instance, look at the commentary in the first paragraph. The main character has decided to speak directly to the reader but it's not yet totally in relation to the suspense, it's just after commentary to the curtains thing.

My tiger-print curtains are drawn back and the window is wound open half-way.

The curtains are another matter. Perhaps you added the details for a hint of realism or relatability for the reader to the main character, but eventually it comes down to being another distraction.

An overall issue in your works is adding extra details to assist the scene along but having them come back to bite you in the butt.

Another, is the walls of text that make it impossible for me to get through the text easily.

In the end, I enjoyed the story but like my commentary on your other pieces, I found it too hard to get through the other issues. Your messages are being blocked by these other inconveniences, and as I continue to read through the rest of your portfolio, I hope they begin to fix themselves.

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321 Reviews

Points: 890
Reviews: 321

Sun Dec 26, 2004 7:39 am
Liz says...

No, it's not based on anything...

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Points: 890
Reviews: 37

Fri Dec 24, 2004 7:20 am
mim wrote a review...

whoa! That was amazing. It confused me a hell of a lot but i honestly loved that. It reminds me of 'The Dreamcatcher' by Stephen King. Is it slightly based on that or am i just completely wrong??? Overall i loved that, absolutely brilliant and, in my opinion, almost unique.

"But like, if you're an ex-vampire, ex-nazi with literally centuries worth of PTSD, it helps to play a lot of instruments to balance it out."
— SirenCymbaline the Kiwi