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House Fire

September 21, 2011

Many years ago I advertised for a housemate. I met all sorts of women, one whose first comment was asking me whether I thought she could get a piano up the narrow stairs, another who was a puppeteer who said she didn’t have much stuff as she had lost all of her possessions in a house fire the year before. Neither of these women moved in, but my potential lives with them as housemates still live on somewhere, like plants that remain perpetual seedlings.

When the girl who had lost all her things in the fire left, I walked around my house, imagining what I would save. I stared at my diaries and imagined how I would throw them into a sheet and drag the bundle down the stairs behind me, a big brain with sharp corners poking out of it.

Gradually, everything in the room seemed too essential to leave behind. All of it would have to be saved. To quiet the entreaties of my faithful objects that they could not be left to burn, I turned off all the lights. Every couple of minutes the room was striped by the lights of the cars turning onto Parramatta road. I watched the lights on the wall, hypnotised by their rhythm. I was alone in the dark house and I was free to do anything I wanted to, yet this is what I did.

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