Reality Made Isabelle Sick
November 15, 2013
Stories are memories no one had. I am Isabelle, and reality made me sick. This is how I re-imagine my life.
For starters, lots more colour. Biege? – I’m sick of beige! Blues, turquoise, magenta, all the cool shades; greens, jades for thoughts; reds and purples for those fiery moments. Nature? Leave her as she is in those places where she has been left. Otherwise … anything!
Mick, my stepfather, would make any friend I had over help in all the chores, feeding the chooks, shifting the sheep from one paddock to the next. It annoyed me with a vehemence I felt I conveyed in my eyes.
While Branwell – dear Branwell – had come to our small town to stay with his grandmother in the only historic mansion that town had left, a mansion with all the charm and mystery only age can bring – I lived with my mother and step-father in a new house, a house of the eighties, unimaginative, as low-ceilinged as our towns folk were low-brow, as unadorned as they were unsophisticated, as resistant to magic as a bright, lurid day.
Later, with Branwell and I herding the sheep from a stubbly paddock to the verdure of the next, my dear, my own, asked, ‘Why don’t you call him Dad?’
‘You must believe me, Isabelle.’
He once drew me a picture of the creature as he’d seen it lying over his ragdoll grandmother. (It apparently disengaged itself from her body at night). The picture looked like nothing more than a mad scribble, the biro having made so many swirls the paper was wet and torn like a bullet hole in a cotton shirt. But looked at more closely, there was an oxymoronic formless shape to it, but a form which made me shiver.
Was all that makeup she wore a mortician’s death mask?
One day, draped on an overfed tear of a beanbag in the school library, I heard a teacher remark of his grandmother and her excessive makeup: ‘It’s sad when they can’t accept their age.’
Garden statues flanked the slope leading up to the rear, but equally grand, entrance of his abode. The front was never used. Unclipped yew formed high lightless chambers, vaulted with branches. Mottled, copper statues rose from the goldfish speckled pools. Some bore a grotesque aspect while others verged on lewd. We giggled at them, at an age when the word ‘bottom’ could induce fits of laughter and shock in equal measure.