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I wrote this today at the Peter Cowan Writers Centre (PCWC). A bit of a laugh. Designed to be read fast.
Writing Prompt: You’re put into a recovery program to help you give up a bad habit.
The hardest thing to get used to is the cold. I call it the always cold… because it is literally always cold. I cannot — though the pits of my arms long for it — recall the sensation of sweating. Nor can I recall being near-naked. They’ve got me wrapped up in a white garb — and I swear its mammoth wool or something. Meat is murder.
When I said the hardest thing to get used to is the cold, I lied. The hardest thing is getting used to — being forced into — this primitive diet: full cream milk, caged chicken eggs, salami (or is it jerky… I don’t know, I have never been on a road trip in my life… unless you count driving to Freemantle to raid an op-shop a road trip).
No… it’s the cold. Yes, definitely the cold.
Hmmm, maybe it’s the music. I have heard all songs before. How twisted is that? Music isn’t about repetition, it’s about waking up at five AM to be put back to sleep by the soothing tone of an RTR guest speaker that has released an album on which every song sounds exactly the same but is still amazing because it’s fresh and hip and alternative.
No… it’s definitely the cold. The always cold.
Ahhh, but I have my escape planned. I could have pulled it off already, but I don’t think I have enough tattoos.
Okay, the plan —— wait, someone’s at my door.
Muffled through the metal: “Forty-Seven, you h—have a visitor.”
My first thoughts are: It’s Him. Come to take me away… to Nirvana.
It isn’t Him… it’s my biological parent. At least now I am in a room with a garden view.
My biological parent is saying something absolutely nonsensical as I scrutinise a flower patch just outside the window.
“Your father and I… we want you home,” says parent.
Still on that flower patch, I share a valuable insight: “You know that you could convert that to a vegetable garden. Kale is a superfood and——”
“That’s enough!” shouts parent.
Parent looks at the nurse who had escorted me to the visitor room, says: “You told us it had gotten better?”
The nurse — who is sweating… lucky thing — claws in defence: “It—it has. The temperature treatment… the diet: animal products… and the m——”
“Meat is murder!” I shout.
Then I am restrained by the nurse while my parent sobs. I could definitely have pretzeled my way out of this, but the mammoth-garb is hardly as flexible a yoga pants.
It is a week before they allow me out of confinement. But jokes on them, because I had used my solitude to further devise my escape.
Now in the games and social space, I have first to convince some fellow inmates that my freedom is essential to the continuation of niche literary arts in Leederville.
I approach a being who is playing against itself in a match of Connect Four. It has wavy blonde hair, let out over its shoulders.
“You would really suit a top-knot,” I say.
“My hair-ties… they took them all.” It drops in a yellow chip atop three others.
Perfect. Now to find one more.
There’s one in the corner, sitting with a black front-fringe buried into its knees.
“If you help me, I will write about you in my autobiography, which is written in a second-person omniscient point of view.”
Who could resist that?
They are both ready, and I stand by the entrance to the games and social space.
I give them the signal.
“Fit-tea will improve your life!” shouts the blonde.
“Take six shits a day!” shouts the front fringe.
I hear hurried footsteps coming for the door. I hide patiently.
“Abolish gender roles!”
“There are five… maybe even thirty-seven genders!”
The distraction has worked. The nurses barge into games and social room. I don’t stop to look. I catch the closing door, sneak through it.
I sprint down the hall as fast as someone can without first limbering up in a forty-degree room.
But I soon feel my muscles giving in…
I collapse into the double-door at the end of the sterile hall. It’s locked. I didn’t count on this.
“T-there she is!” A nurse gang blurs toward me.
“Did you just assume my gender!” I screech, severely triggered.
I kick at the door — hard.
It gives in. I burst into a car park, noticing not a single bike rack.
I make it to the lawn across the carpark, but so have the nurses. They are close. They will catch me.
I make one last attempt: “Savasana! Dead body pose!”
It doesn’t work. They are not relaxed at all… Probably because they don’t have two-hundred-dollar yoga mats.
I am tackled to the grass, and as I am choked out, my fading vision focuses on a garden sign with an arrow pointing toward the carpark:
PERTH RECOVERY CENTRE
FOR BIKRAM YOGA AND VEGANISM
STAFF PARKING THIS WAY