Things Change Shape

Strange, how things change shape. Even though I’ve never really got used to it I soon learnt not to tell everybody about it. The first time...phew! I told my aunty - it happened at her house. She just laughed at me. I’ve never liked being laughed at.

It happened again just yesterday. I was nearly run over by a truck as I was crossing the pedestrian crossing. You see, I was half way across when I noticed one of those metal cover things that you see in the road. I think they are access holes for the Gas or Electricity Company or something. So I noticed this thing and had to stop dead in my tracks. It was the most unusual shape. An ellipse. I mean those covers are always perfectly round. They are standard issue - even the same size.

So there I was, peering at this cover thingy at close range - because even after fifty odd years of things changing shape before my eyes I never can quite take it in immediately, I always have to take a good long look (sometimes whatever it is that I’m looking at will change back to its normal shape while I’m observing it) - when all of a sudden I heard this horn blasting. I looked up and saw a great Kenworth thundering down on me. I was so shocked I just stood rooted to the spot. The truck came to a rubbery halt and then I fell down. No-one came to help me - shouldn’t surprise me I suppose - because they were all laughing too hard. In retrospect I guess it was an amusing sight, I try to see another’s point of view, but I’m fairly long in the tooth and here I was sprawled on the ground - yes, I suppose it must have been funny, what with my underwear showing and all - I mean I could’ve broken a bone or anything. Anyway I hadn’t broken anything and I made it home by myself all right so no need to worry about it any further is there?

I didn't go out anywhere today. Susan suggested that I shouldn’t. Lovely girl Susan. Met her a couple of years ago when I moved to this new place. I told her about things changing shape and she didn't laugh. Not like my Aunty.

You see, I was visiting her one day. My aunty that is. Mum called it visiting whenever she left me there, which was quite often. Mum had to work. She worked a lot. As she would walk out the door after giving me a kiss and a little packet of bikkies wrapped in greaseproof paper (my aunty didn’t have bikkies at her house - at least that’s what she said, but once I saw her eating some when she invited her neighbour in for a cuppa) my aunty would say, “Have a good time at work love.” She always had a strange voice when she said this, sort of strangled, and she wore a smile that made her mouth look like it was being stretched back through her head by a rubber band.

Of course, now I know that it was because Mum was a call girl. She worked on weekends and nights mostly. I didn't know at the time that was what she was. I mean I wouldn’t have even known what a call girl was. I thought she was a dance instructor. It was only later, during a particularly bitchy fight with my aunty that the truth came out. I didn’t care.

That time, when I first saw something change shape, at my aunty’s, I was playing in her living room. I was arranging a whole bunch of different coloured beads in one of my aunty’s ashtrays. It was a big square ashtray, a vivid blue colour, someone had given it to her as a present when he came back from Mexico. It had three places on each side to rest a cigarette. As I was rearranging the beads for about the third time, the ashtray changed shape! Where there had been three places for resting a cigarette, all of a sudden there was only one each side. I screamed. My aunty came running. I told her I had done some magic. I really thought I had. I thought maybe I had arranged the beads in such a manner as to give them supernatural powers. She said “What’s all the carry on about?” Then she snorted, she was very good at it. “Magic eh?” She crossed her arms across her flat chest (not like my mum’s) and looked at me as if to say “Well, tell me more.”

I explained about the ashtray and she just laughed. She told me it had always looked like that. I argued with her. I was completely convinced that I was right. How could she not even notice that her own ashtray had changed shape? I shouldn't have argued with her. Sure, she laughed, in a hard sort of way, for a while, but then she got sick of that and hit me instead. She sent me out of the room. I cried. She didn’t care.

After that I didn’t tell anyone else about things changing shape, but it happened all the time. I’m sure other people noticed too but maybe they found it easier than I did to deny the truth to themselves. After all, that’s what just about everybody does all the time isn't it? Deny the truth. Brain dead most of them. In this world how many people really believe their farcical existences to be the best option? Surely they see the futility of it all? I mean to say, get born; go to school; get married; have kids; spend your whole life in a boring useless job; cry, rage, howl, despair along the way then die. Yet people deny that this is an inconsequential life. Denial, denial.

I don’t talk about this to anyone. It’s like telling people about things changing shape. They don’t like it. Or they don't care.

But, like I was saying, I’m sure other people have noticed things changing shape. You know sometimes I would be at the bus stop and across the road, I would see something like a water fountain which had only had one drinking tap when I arrived, suddenly change shape and have two. I would feel a tiny tremor of uncomfortable movement next to me, turn to my neighbors and notice their eyes flick quickly away from the water fountain. If they noticed me looking at them, and I always did, very intently, willing them to tell me what they had just seen, they would look away just as quickly. Denial, I’m sure of it.

So, all of a sudden, after yesterday’s death defying episode with the Kenworth I’ve decided to make them tell me when they see something change shape. As soon as I see a change happening I’ll yell and carry on till someone else admits that they see it too. If I don’t make this stand (especially after all this time) surely I’m as guilty of denial as everyone else. It’s all well and good for me to accuse them of avoidance but what have I been doing for the last half century? Nothing. That’s what. Letting them get away with it. But no more. No indeed. It’s just the beginning you see. I will get people to stop denying everything. I’ll start with this business of things changing shape and build up to the other stuff.

I've told Susan. She thought it was a good idea. That’s what she said. But she did think I should perhaps wait until next week. Apparently I’m having some visitors this week. It's lovely how Susan lets me have visitors here. She’s a good woman, even if she won’t admit that she sees things change shape. Looks after me. Makes sure I don't miss meal times, though I don’t really like to go to the dining room with all the others. They keep trying to distract me from my purpose. They never listen properly anyway. Always going on about some trivial little thing. Well, old people are like that aren’t they?

Oh, I mustn’t forget to tell Susan about the bucket that started out round when the cleaner came in this morning and was rectangular by the time she left. Yes, I’ll tell Susan. So strange, how things change shape.

After all, that’s what just about everybody does all the time isn't it? Deny the truth. Brain dead most of them.