Unprotesting

The dog looked dead. A deeply purple pansy, crushed as if by a boot, ran a
scalloped pattern on the canine’s ears and united with a whorl of white on the
forehead. Two airline pilots stood beside the dog, in deep consideration, as if
the presence of the animal were deeply troubling. To their left, passengers
were stationary on a rail that moved them over the tarmac and then up and
into the fuel tanks of that particular jet plane.

I am not sure if I was one of the pilots, or one of the passengers, but in
any case, I felt united in accomplishing the transportation. I believe I am
wearing high heels which is so unlike me since I don’t like too much noise.

What if the death is pretence? When I wake up, sure I am mistaken, and that the dog was me, I determine the root cause as my parents.

When I was little, they would drag me across pedestrian crossings, even
though I tried to be as limp as possible.

The mid-winter rain has a similar rag-doll effect on my motivation to get to
one of my classes, where my feet begin to freeze half-way through the
lecture, though I can’t figure out why the woman who insists on turning the
heating off would not move a bit closer to hear better. She has a sharp bitter face that one would not want to contradict. So I leave early for my favorite
bakery, to get a spinach and fetta roll heated up in their ovens, not the
microwave common to most cafes. The owner, Kylie, is not in the shop and
this could be why the item does not taste as fabulous as it usually does.
Getting back in the car, I think of the ticket I bought to a Danish film from the
screening festival, and how the theatre had been cold when I went to another
festival, and if I would get up and complain if it was. Perhaps I will warm up by
the evening.

Yesterday I was consumed by an emptiness that caused me to eat a
whole bag of honeyed macadamias, and wake up periodically through the
night regretful, and even though grumbling about the weather that sploshes
water in great sprays as we accelerate from the stoplights, I am enjoying–if
that is the word, the litany of my complaints.

The drabness of the streets is almost-memorable, and I drive home in a
dream of living tropical, or at least in Northern New South Wales; noting a fear
come upon me at these thoughts, that there might be a problem to watch out
for, like cockroaches. And I have a sensation that something extraordinary is
about to happen or, stopped at a red light, that it is happening and all I have to
do is shift gear.

***

Girija Tropp’s fiction has been appearing in ELJ and New World Writing recently. Her work has also made its way into several Best Australian Short Stories editions, and has been published in The Boston Review, Agni, and various other journals. She has won or been short-listed for major awards. She lives in Australia.