Dancing on Quicksand

You find yourself wandering around a familiar house naked, all but an apron stuck with pins. They dig into your body, into your un-shapely thighs. You ignore the pain, and decide to clean the oven, and knees bend down onto a hard tile floor of a kitchen. Bare, naked hands scrub furiously at the dirt and build up of fat and grease. You soon find yourself covered, dripping in the stuff, all over body and face. In the beating of a heartbeat hands are no longer hands at all. No longer human at all.

The front door opens, slams. You turn your black, coarsely-haired head and she is standing there looking sophisticated, young, and beautiful. There is a man behind her; he looks tall, well-bred and strong. He is wearing a tailored suit. She walks into the sitting room, followed by the tall, bespoke man. You go to follow her, but everything around you distorts and changes. Perception is muddied, immersed in unclear water; you can see a bubbling froth hitting the shore line of smooth, white porcelain. Your transparent insect like wings are covered in layers of grease; realization hits. You know what you are, where you are, you are alone in the washing up bowl, with the dirty water and detritus. Insect legs attempt to clamber aboard a plate emerged in the bowl, out of the water, but you are powerless, impotent; still covered in so much grease. Razor sharp teeth thrust out of the water. The kitchen knife jaws slice, they cut. You can almost feel and sense them about to pierce you below, through the abdomen, between your scuttling legs…

You wake up. The dream is disturbing. You never remember your dreams, but this was so clear, so lucid. It’s lunchtime, feelings of numbness pang in your stomach, and you feel strangely tired, almost atrophic from a gluttony of sleep. When you eventually drifted into a half sleep last night you had left the TV on standby -symbolic of your life, on standby, in some sort of red dot limbo.

Thoughts dissipate, the TV is on, flicking through the channels, creating a montage of fractured dialogue. You rest on a channel-five quiz show; the female presenter is blonde and beautiful – she reminds you of her. You’re mildly titillated by her orthodontic, wholesome smile, but no response from your prick occurs. Life changes: sometimes fast, sometimes immeasurably slow. Life now in this instant has become like a prosaic TV quiz you no longer have interest in, you have no care for the trivial questions. You’ve lost all recognition for the cash prize and cuddly toy. At the tender age of twenty five, you lay in crisis. If your life was a show it would certainly be scheduled between the morally bankrupt chat show and a program that sells bits of antique tat. You let go of your cock. You have even made an enemy of your penis – it’s too depressed, too deflated to perform.

You can hear an old man outside your door in a towel dressing gown, pottering about. You know he is old, in a gown, because he is your Father. You returned home a long week ago. You went back to the London flat, packed up the last of your things and returned to your Father’s house, your old home. You drove away in your higher purchase car, driving out of the cold, congested, cruel City streets along the malignant motorway and you finally found yourself spat violently back into your hometown of stale, bitter-sweet memories.


You hadn’t been that way for perhaps over two years. It has become a uniformed and ugly town; a citadel for blandness. Pubs dotted on every corner; driving through you could see more and more looked to have sprouted up all over; like a pubescent boy with bad acne, bars and clubs erupting and spreading over the face of the entire townscape. For some reason, perhaps misplaced nostalgia you had navigated slowly through the newly paved and littered streets, following the snaking, and constricting concrete and glass python that is the new shopping centre. You arrived at a roundabout; one of the new buildings appeared reminiscent of a large fort-like garrison, JRR Tolkien’s Helms Deep. You couldn’t help but to stare out the window and picture orcs, chavs and drunkards being released on a Friday night from the countless bars. You imagine them being corralled and channeled by Police to this point, the cavorters and revelers crashing like a wave onto the mighty concrete walls and glass plated windows.
You arrived home; you had parked the car, shook your Father by the hand, both of you unsure whether a hug was too much, and unpacked your things. You were back home; back in the wilderness of suburbia.

Now you lay here, having quit your job, relationship, quit your shinier life in the nightmarish dreamscape that was and is the big smoke. Thoughts swim, wondering replaces doing, what next, what is it all about, what awaits… Must regroup and head back to the City, back to being a young professional, back to urban body combat, back to buying to let, back to the merry go round of sexually paranoid physical relationships, back to visceral smoke free bars and smoke full streets… must you?
You don’t know. You are in crisis. You are dancing on quicksand…

…All that floats through your mind is her face, her soft body, her fucking that prick behind your back. Numbness prevails, and nothing makes sense. You lay back in the womb like splendor of your old single bed with BMX racer duvet. A phone beeps.

‘I heard about the break and that you’re back home, sorry mate; but listen don’t get stuck to the fly paper that is Romford, see you soon as!’

You will reply. You will get out of bed. You will look to avoid the flypaper. Just not yet, just not now, just sleep, just sleep.

Story by Tom Siggins
Illustration by Linda de Canha

Enjoyed this? For another short story written in a similar style, check out Scene from a Typical House Party… 

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