Another Day in Escher’s Apartment Complex
She leans over the balcony railing. Behind her, a balustrade veers, narrowly missing the side of her head. Up and down staircases faceless figures walk. Or do they crawl, or do they fly? Her retina squints and stops inverting images. Or, it re-orients them by 45, 90, 135 degrees.
At the edges, archways offer glimpses of natural light falling on plant life. But the tranquil scenes twist, always, out of reach. Tree shadows writhe like octopuses, potted sunflowers angle towards compass points which rotate as soon as she’s worked them out.
She accepted the monochrome grid, years ago. Let herself dwindle to the non-specificity of a crash test dummy or a burglar in a body stocking. Her hairless head a grooved honey dipper. Should she also acquiesce in this perspectival fracturing?
No choice, she thinks.
Perhaps all the planes cohere in a higher dimension. Perhaps this is a distorted projection of quasicrystalline point space from an eight-dimensional crystal. Perhaps that’s as pathetically optimistic as belief in the tooth fairy.
And anyway, it didn’t used to be like this.
She has memories of honeyed sun drizzling her sleep-drenched hair. Of clear-sightedness coming every morning in a room where the walls grew at comforting angles. Windows and doors giving on to gardens where wind scuffled leaves, and leaves caressed wind, in a way her cells intuited.
People are in the memories, too. If she saw Mother framed in a doorway, she could run to her. Mother’s reaching hand could touch her cheek. Her arms could wrap Mother’s legs, her heart jolt Mother’s kneecaps.
She veers into space, pleading for human touch. Quickly reduces her angle of incidence. If she pitched off the balcony, where would the baffled forces of gravity pull her?
Her intentions spinning, she lets go of the railing. She’s watched the walkers, floaters and fliers long enough, she thinks. It’s time to brave the vortex.
Turning and turning in the narrowing gyre.
Faye Brinsmead lives in Canberra, Australia. A lawyer by day, she writes short fiction in all the snippets of time she can find. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in MoonPark Review, The Cabinet of Heed, Reflex Fiction and Twist in Time Literary Magazine. Say hello on Twitter @theslithytoves.
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