MAYHEM - Issue Four

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Aimee-Jane Anderson-O'Connor

Filament

He told me that the laugh tracks they use in these shows are pulled from corrugated boxes out the back of some studio. He told me that they are mostly all compost now and we laugh alongside old dead people coz we don’t know what else to do. He twisted my ponytail in his hand and sighed. Changed the channel.
          He told me that electricity runs in two kinds of currents. Direct current and alternating current. Direct current stays positive. It is an electric fence that bites your tongue into the back of your throat. An alternating current switches from positive to negative sixty times a second. Staccato rib rhythm.
          On. Off. On. Off.
          If you flick a lightbulb on off too many times then the filament melts and you hear a crack. If someone turns a lightbulb on at the wall when you’re still changing it then your muscles contract and you can’t let go and you just keep on burning and burning.
          He kept plates under the bed and the noodles eventually dried up and the green specks became part of the design. He used my Oma’s Delft saucers as ashtrays. They lay like blue windmill breadcrumbs between the sheets and the fire escape.  We ran out of clean cutlery so we drank soup with teaspoons. He said maybe I’d eat less that way.
          The smell that ants make when you squash them is rancid butter and they drown in marmalade. He told me that they don’t have a backbone and have no sight and work until they die and they are like us in that way. They reach for one another so they can feel which way to go, and I like that.
          He told me that when I laugh I open my mouth too wide. He told me that silver molar fillings are made of mercury. It causes blindness and insomnia and madness. When it freezes over it groans and cries. They used to put it in the lining of hats but now they just put it in our mouths.
          He told me that Venice will sink by the end of this century. We are up to our knees in it. Maybe my grandchildren will dive down to see St Mark’s Basilica. They will be stitched with apologies and gasoline excuses. They will pray oxygen mask prayers. They will read about trees and climb concrete stairwells. They will wear stilts and learn to waltz ten feet above the pavement.
          He said that they would be better off at the bottom of the ocean anyway. I held my breath until I saw pinprick shadow. There will soon be alligators in the Antarctic. He said that if you put a frog in a pot of lukewarm water and slowly heat it up, it will not hop out and it will slow boil with the water. Its marrow will harden and its brain will cook and it will not even twitch.  In the eighteenth century, physicist Luigi Galvani applied a metal scalpel to the skinned legs of a dead frog and it kicked. This was the first time a dead thing danced upon a table. The electricity was not alternating or direct. It was static.
          Off.
          He told me that inside Chernobyl’s ruins, there is a radioactive blob called Medusa. He said that after two minutes in front of her, your cells start to haemorrhage. Fluoxetine stays in your bloodstream for ninety six hours. It makes the roof of your mouth dry. Your saliva like hot glue.
          He said that every robot sent into the reactor has been fried.
          I wanted to see her.

Contributor's Note
Aimee-Jane Anderson-O’Connor is in her final year of a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Waikato. Her work has appeared in Starling and Tearaway Magazine thanks to the Waikato writing programme and the tireless support of some of the best people on this great watery rock.