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ADELAIDE Independent Monthly Literary Magazine / Revista Literária Independente Mensal, New York / Lisboa, Online Edition  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STRIPPED
by Caleb Eriksson

 

 

 

Her fingers curled around the base of a wine glass like voracious talons. She was in a transition, a metaphorical train stop. Smashed picture frames and empty wine bottles littered the floor. Strewn work scrubs and cushion feathers buried the couches, all showcasing a chaotic complexion. But with another sip of wine, she was flourishing toward peace.

It had been three weeks since Adam had moved out and two weeks since Sarah’s phone had rang with anyone but Thai delivery. Sarah had learnt friends were a commodity, something to trade in and out like bonds.  After she and Adam had split, the stocks were good, she had offers to go out, dinners to catch-up, shoulders to cry on. But now the market had crashed.

Pushing the sheer-curtains aside, she balanced her mulberry stained glass on the summit of a pile of self-help books she’d taken to reading after work the past few weeks. All of them, Sarah scoffed, were by the Dr.Who-knows and the Dalai Lama of the week.

Out the window, night was emerging from its crouching place. The sky was rimmed red. Streetlights flickered on. A din of people emerging for dinners, clubs, pubs. Their loud chatting, slurred shouts, screeching squeals played to Sarah like a scratchy record, like some music she knew from the past. There’d been a time she would’ve let her lithely legs shimmer from below a low cut silk dress to lure the eyes of drunken men. She would’ve been the last on the dance floor and the first greeting the sunrise with a jog. However lately, her Saturday nights had been reserved for stripping.

The books all described stripping differently. Some made it sound fun, exotic like a strip in a nightclub- that below it all you would discover a new sexy skin radiating through the abandoned one. Some made it sound medicinal, like a vitamin shake that would restore the balance of ‘you’. Either way it called for discarding any ornaments, candles, photos or clothing that were tainted by memories of past relationships.

At first there’d some resistance by Sarah and the four years of Adam-crested items pleading for a pardon. Steamy tears as she watched photos of their smiles burn into crisp piles of ash. A hot stone of coal seared her throat as she’d stabbed teddies until they bled their white stuffing.

But tonight, Sarah felt brazen, even as her hands wobbled pouring her fifth glass of wine. She laid out the last item she had to stripherself of.

Her fingertips traced the cool touch of the leather, flattening out any bumps. She posed the fluorescent pink motorbike suit, spread the arms out like an entrance she must exit. Sarah steadied her hands, her phone clicked and she collapsed backwards staring at it on the screen. This suit is what the books would call a ‘clump’, a TNT of memories waiting for Sarah’s match to ignite.

The fifth glass of alcohol stung the back of her throat, her eyes watered and she allowed herself a moment of indulgent reminiscing.

She clung, like a koala, against the warmth of Adam’s back. His motorbike intrepidly zipping along the curves and cliffs of the Spineridge Mountains. The golden sun flashed bursts above them. Her cheeks were tickled by stray hairs. The tessellation of Paperbarks’ shadows dancing a hypnotic show above them. The world rushed by, when she closed her eyes on the bike, during their kiss; she floated.

She spiked herself upright, rubbing the grainy stupor from her eyes. Opening up Gumtree, and Facebook Sales, the poisonous reverie trickled from her veins. She uploaded the photo of the shining suit and posted- For Sale: Motorbike suit, pre-loved condition, twenty dollars O.N.O.  

Confident her inbox would be bombarded by responses and the suit sold by tomorrow, she turned off her phone. Sarah took a final swig from the bottle of the remaining wine, toppled into bed and spent the night being haunted by domineering mountains and the hellish cackle of motorbikes.

The next morning a knock, as if against her brain, roused her from sleep. She raked her fingers down her face, trying to scrub some of the hungover grit away.

“One minute,” Sarah huffed, slipping into a pair of tights.

Another knock. Sarah flung open the door and stopped in the glue of shock. It was a mirror, a joke, an illusion. A girl stood at the door, Sarah’s doppelganger.

“Hi, sorry to wake you, but it is past ten, is the suit still available?” The stranger’s slightest movement jangled a chain of bracelets around her wrists.

Sarah stood in bewilderment. Silent.

“Hello?” The woman verbally prodded.

“Ah, um, yes it is come in.”

The woman smelt of a tangerine perfume and her heels tapped haughtily against the small apartment’s floorboards. With a crinkled nose she surveyed her surroundings. Sarah flushed with embarrassment, suddenly aware of her apartment, disappeared to fetch the gaudy suit.

The woman held the suit up to her, measuring it with her eyes, while Sarah stood back and studied her. They were very much the same: eye colour, hair colour, tall, athletic, but as Sarah searched deeper there were distinct differences. The woman’s face was softer, skin dewier, eyes kinder, and her bones less rigid. The woman was dressed more feminine, in mascara, lipstick, and a flowery, summer smock.

“This will be perfect, still twenty?” The woman opened her purse before she could answer.

“Yes.” Sarah stammered, her eyes detaching from the visual autopsy.  

The woman gleamed a smile of white and vanished out the door, the pink suit slung over her arm like an evening coat.

The door click closed, the tapping of the woman’s heels quietened. Sarah’s head throbbed as she observed her now completely stripped apartment. She therapeutically inhaled and exhaled, feeling lighter for a moment. When outside, the cackle of a familiar motorbike engine shredded the serenity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

Caleb Eriksson

Caleb Eriksson is a reader, writer and soon-to-be-librarian. He has had several poems and short stories printed and aspires to have novels published. Caleb enjoys the works of Australian authors, especially Candice Fox and Markus Zusak. He currently resides on the tropical east coast of Australia with his beautiful, newlywed wife.

 

 

 

 

     
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