Calculus in the afternoon

A 7300 word non-fiction piece of mine, about my college days in Perth, Australia, will feature in the upcoming Kwani? 07 journal (the ‘diaspora’ issue). It’s called “Calculus in the afternoon”.

I wrote the first part of that piece just a few days before the start of the 2012 Caine Prize workshop, in early March. It was only natural some of what I wrote would bleed into the short story I wrote at the workshop…one of the easiest ways to start a new short story is to shamelessly steal from your ownself!  I cut out the below section from “Calculus in the afternoon” since I used an idea from it in “Elephants Chained to Big Kennels” and didn’t want to repeat myself. It describes the moments immediately following a heartbreak (my senses were jolted into a state of extreme awareness).

I lay on the grass outside No.11 like a dead animal.

The spring sun was angled at 3 o’ clock and I looked directly at it and saw the outline of its circle of fire and the wash of its corona. There was a smooth wind ghosting about. My eyes began to burn and the blue sky seemed to turn into smoke. I thought the wind was blue coloured; that the sky had become the smoky vapour of a blue incense lit by the sun.

I had my cream winter jacket on. It’s pockets were now empty. I was sweating and feeling very sticky around my armpits and on my back and I wanted to take it off. But I was a dead animal.

The taste of the garlic bread was still alive on my tongue. My mouth was slightly open. Some insect was tickling my upper lip. The garlic smell escaped my mouth and I smelt it in my nose.

The wind picked up and now it howled. I could hear variations of the howl as parts of the wind blew through two parallel blades of grass that were tickling my right ear. The wind died. My ears caught the murmurous pumping of a sprinkler. I hoped a drizzle from it would land on my hot temple and cheeks but it did not.


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