I watched the tap drip, drip, drip, onto the plate. As it landed in the centre of the homogenous orange-brown mess of last nights curry it cleared a steadily expanding circle of ceramic. Small globules splashed outwards from the centre pock marking craters into the surface of the sauce. It was like a living changing landscape sped up to hyper speed.
‘When you’re done staring at the washing maybe you could actually clean it’?
I hated the way she used to break up those moments. When I fell into reverie it was like time stood still. Like the anchor of responsibility was lifted from the rocks and left to breeze through smooth silt sand.
I’d tried just ignoring her before but there was no use. It would only escalate.
‘Doing it as we speak.’
I turned on the hot tap and watched the orange-brown planet’s surface wrinkle and melt into the water. A hot cloud of curry smelling steam filled my nostrils and the illusion was gone.
I began the menial task of washing up the towering mass of dishes and cups. I started by dividing the dishes into sizes, starting with the larger pile of dinner plates that I had gathered up. As I finished that pile I decided to take a break from large plates and moved onto mugs. I felt that by changing the scenery of waste I could keep things interesting. Maybe I would move onto cutlery next.
I grabbed a handful of gravy sodden forks, there was some slimy residue on the handle which now covered my hands.
‘Dad, can you not fucking hear me, you have a letter.’
‘Emma if I hear you swear again.’
‘Look it’s addressed to you. It looks proper weird.’
I dropped the forks into the sink and immediately regretted the loud metallic tintinnabulation.
‘For fucks sake are you trying to ruin the house?’ it was like she had developed some kind of marriage specific super hearing.
‘Sorry! I washed the gravy off my hands with some washing up liquid and then grabbed the dishtowel and turned to Emma as I wiped to white froth from my hands. She was telling the truth, it was weird, so colourful and not the normal rectangular shape of an envelope but hexagonal, with all the points folded into the centre. She handed it to me and waited expectantly.
‘Look I need to finish these dishes before your mother goes spare. Ill tell you later if theres anything interesting but it’s probably junk mail ok?
‘Yeah but look at the front it’s…’
‘Emma it’s four o’clock don’t you watch that programme.’
Before I finished speaking she had already run off in a wild panic. I turned the letter and looked at the front. It was handwritten in a sweeping and elegant cursive script, probably in an expensive fountain pen from the look of the ink. I rubbed my chin. The stubble was getting pretty long now but I didn’t want to shave it. I thought I might grow it back to the former glory of my 20’s. I put the letter on the dining room table and went upstairs to shave.
between the beats of Bach’s aria de capo, through the edges of the wireless headphones foam cups, I could vaguely hear her whining voice. I put the headphones around my neck so that I could still hear, in muted tones, the delicate strokes of the piano.
‘What? Im trying to listen to some music!’
‘Fuck your music where’s Emma gone?’
‘Just come in here so we’re not fucking shouting!’
I took a deep breath, got up from my armchair and burst into the kitchen.
‘She’s probably gone to her friends house can you not wait five minutes?’
She was crying uncontrollably, holding the envelope that Emma had tried to give to me. To be honest I had totally forgotten about it.
‘Look,’ she said, ‘shes gone, she’s fucking gone.’
‘What’s that letter got to do with anything?’
‘You wouldn’t understand’ She sobbed more deeply than before, tossed the envelope back onto the table and cradled her face into her hands. I hadn’t ever felt so confused. What was in the letter that had caused Emma to go missing?
‘What was in there? Was there some bad news?’
She just sobbed away, didn’t respond in the slightest.
‘Well?’ Again nothing. I grabbed the envelope off of the table. It was torn along the bottom edge and Inside I noticed not a letter but a neatly folded bundle of fine purple silk.
Face still planted in her hands my wife addressed me in a murderous tone, ‘you prick. It was meant for you. It was addressed to you why didn’t you just fucking open it?’
I had lost interest in my wife, though. I lifted the piece of silk from inside the envelope and opened it up onto my open palms. Bach’s Aria de Capo become louder as If I had put the headphones back on. The edges of the silk fell over the outside of my upturned palms and then seemed to fold open again from the inner seam again and again and again and then from all sides like a flower opening for spring. It impossibly fell in on itself whilst still spreading out and then began spinning. A plethora of folds formed diamonds out of which grew more and more like a kaleidoscope, into a horizon of pure colour. It wrapped around me and inside me until it formed an infinite shinning gossamer skyline as far as I could see.
The purple never stopped expanding and spinning from the centre seam and from within its deepest folds a voice called out to me. As it spoke time turned back inwards on itself and all the images of my life rushed past me.
They were not just images though, it was like I was feeling all of the feelings that I had at those times,
the heat of the sun,
the biting cold of the snow in my hands.
The voice became more audible as I went further back in time until the dark of the womb surrounded me again.
Now I heard it as clear as if it was standing right next to me. The only other sound were my mothers heartbeat and mine, which beat in time with the voice.
Do… not… waste… it…
Do… not… waste… it…
Do… not… waste… it…
And then I came screaming into the world again.