What I have been doing lately: I was lying in bed and the doorbell rang. I ran downstairs. Quick. I opened the door. There was no one there. I stepped outside. Either it was drizzling or there was a lot of dust in the air and the dust was damp. I stuck out my tongue and the drizzle or the damp dust tasted like government school ink. I looked north. I looked south. I decided to start walking north. While walking north I decided that I didn’t have any shoes on my feet and that is why I was walking so fast. While walking north I looked up and saw the planet Venus and said, “It must be almost morning.” I saw a monkey in a tree. The tree had no leaves. I said, “A monkey. Must look at that. A monkey.” I walked for I don’t know how long before I came up to a big body of water. The big body of water was blue and silver and rippled and looked as if it had been a painting painted by a woman. I wanted to get across it but I couldn’t swim. I wanted to get across it but it would take me years to build a boat. I wanted to get across it but it would take me I didn’t know how long to build a bridge. Years passed and then one day, feeling like it, I got into my boat and rowed across. When I got to the other side it was noon and my shadow was small and fell parallel to me. I set out on a path that stretched out straight ahead of me. I passed a house and a dog was sitting on the verandah but looked the other way when it saw me coming. I passed a goat eating green grass in a pasture but the goat looked the other way when it saw me coming. I walked and I walked but I couldn’t tell if I walked a long time because my feet didn’t feel as if they would drop off. I turned around to look behind me to see what I had left behind but nothing was familiar. Instead of the straight path, I saw hills. Instead of the green grass in a pasture, I saw tall flowering trees. I looked up and the sky was without clouds and seemed near as if it were the ceiling in my house and if I stood on a chair I could touch it with the tips of my fingers. I turned around and looked ahead of me again. A deep hole had opened up in front of me. I looked in but the hole was so deep and so dark that I couldn’t see the bottom. I thought, What’s down there? So on purpose I fell in. I fell and I fell, over and over as if I were an old suitcase. On the sides of the deep hole I could see things written but perhaps it was in a foreign language because I couldn’t read them. Still I fell, for I don’t know how long. As I fell I began to see that I didn’t like the way falling made me feel. Falling made me feel sick and I missed all the people I had loved. I said, I don’t want to fall anymore and I reversed myself. I was standing again on the edge of the deep hole. I looked at the deep hole and I said, You can close up now and it did. I walked some more without knowing distance, I only knew that I passed through days and nights. I only know that I passed through rain and shine, light and darkness. I was never thirsty and I felt no pain. Looking at the horizon I made a joke for myself: I said, “The earth has thin lips” and I laughed. Looking at the horizon again, I saw a lone figure coming towards me but I wasn’t frightened because I was sure it was my mother. As I got closer to the figure I could see that it wasn’t my mother but still I wasn’t frightened because I could see that it was a woman.
When I got closer to this woman I saw that I had never seen her face before so I looked hard at it because what if I saw it again. When this woman got closer to me she looked at me hard and then she threw up her hands and I realised that she had seen me before because she said, “It’s you. Just look at that. It’s you. And just what it is you have been doing lately?”
I could have said, “A school of fish, though each of them completely different, swam together aimlessly.”
I could have said, “A number of men, some bald, some wearing wigs, attended a boxing match.”
I could have said, “A pack of dogs, tired from chasing each other all over town, slept in the moonlight.”
Instead I said, What I have been doing lately: I was lying in bed on my back, my hands drawn up, my fingers interlaced lightly at the nape of my neck. Someone rang the doorbell. I went downstairs and opened the door but there was no one there. I stepped outside. Either it was drizzling or there was a lot of dust in the air and the dust was damp. I stuck out my tongue and the drizzle or the damp dust tasted like government school ink. I looked north and I looked south, I started walking north. While walking north I wanted to move fast, so I removed the shoes from my feet. While walking north I looked up and saw the planet Venus and I said, “If the sun went out it would be eight minutes before I would know it,” I saw a monkey sitting in a tree that had no leaves and I said, “A monkey. Just look at that. A monkey.” So I picked up a stone and I threw it at the monkey. The monkey seeing the stone quickly moved out of its way. Three times I threw a stone at the monkey and three times it moved away. Then the fourth time I threw the stone the monkey caught it and then threw it back at me. The stone struck me on my forehead and over my right eye, making a deep gash. The gash healed immediately but now the skin on my forehead felt false to me. I walked for I don’t know how long before I came to a big body of water. The big body of water was blue and silver and rippled and looked as if it had been a painting painted by a woman. I wanted to get across so when the boat came I paid my fare. When I got to the other side I saw a lot of people sitting on the beach and they were having a picnic. They were the most beautiful people I had ever seen. Everything about them was black and shiny. Their skin was black and shiny. Their shoes were black and shiny. Their hair was black and shiny. The clothes they wore were black and shiny. I could hear them laughing and chatting and I said, I would like to be with these people, so I started to walk towards them, but when I got up close to them I saw that they weren’t at a picnic and they weren’t beautiful and they weren’t chatting and laughing. All around me was black mud and the people all looked as if they had been made up out of the black mud. I looked up and saw that the sky seemed far away and nothing I could stand on would make me able to touch it with my fingertips. I thought, if only I could get out of this, so I started to walk. I must have walked for a long time because my feet hurt and felt as if they would drop off. I thought, If only just around the bend I would see my house and inside my house I would find my bed freshly made at that, and in the kitchen I would find my mother or anyone else that I loved making me a custard. I thought, If only it was a Sunday and I was sitting in a Church and I had just heard someone sing a Psalm. I sat down because I wanted to see myself but then I couldn’t find a mirror and that made me sad. I felt so sad that I rested my head on my knees and smoothed my own head. I felt so sad I couldn’t imagine feeling any other way again. So I said, I don’t like this. I don’t want to do this anymore. And I went back to lying in bed, just before the doorbell rang.