s a m a n t h a    m e e

Twigs and Sand


Lilly purchases a table cloth, crisp and white. She has wood delivered for the fire she never bothers to light at home alone. Adeline is coming for dinner. She has ‘surprising news.’ She is probably pregnant. Lilly irons the creases from the new linen tablecloth, ignoring the tag ‘WASH BEFORE USE.’ The spray starch smells fresh, clean and old fashioned. The scent reminds Lilly of her mother, which is odd because her mother never even ironed, let alone used spray starch. The starch evokes the memory of Lilly’s imagination mother, who’s pretty much her real mother but she would never say, ‘Why make the bed, you’re only going to mess it up again.’ Lilly picks up the can, raises her left arm and sprays a little of the starch onto her dress. She repeats the process, this time wielding the can with her left hand, her right arm raised. The nozzle is on an angle and Lilly starches her eye.

Life is hard, so I have explored my options. Not death. Death is problematic. What if death is hard? What if death is harder than life? No, I’ve decided to become something else instead. I am becoming twigs and sand. Beautiful, common, useful, and ignored. Everywhere—on a beach, in a playground. Twigs—the wet, green, bend and the dry, brown, snap. Sand—the cool, damp, moulded structure and the hot, soft, grains, escaping through the gaps between your fingers when your fists close.

Lilly met Adeline in high school; they started university together and then drifted apart pursuing separate interests. Adeline had in fact become very interested in not attending Uni at all, while Lilly sought high distinctions and a career in PR. Lilly feels no animosity about the slow decline of their friendship. Adeline professed herself to be a ‘completely disorganised fuckup’ when she cancelled the last plans Lilly ever attempted to make with her. Now Lilly stares at the little orange light on her rice cooker, grinds spices for a flavoursome but not-too-hot curry with her mortar and pestle. She ponders Adeline’s Facebook status updates since they reconnected.

‘Adeline McGuire is becoming twigs and sand.’

Lilly browns onions in oil, adds the spices, a tin of crushed tomato and some veggies and puts the lid on the pot. The house smells of curry, Lilly picks up the starch and sprays it into the middle of the kitchen, onto the curtains, in her hair.

There is no set method of morphing oneself from human form to twigs and sand. I am not quite sure when the transformation starts; perhaps I’ve always been destined for simple, gritty, wooden existence rather than meaty, complicated life. When I start contemplating a twig and sand subsistence I notice small changes—decisions get easier, there is only so much people can expect from twigs and sand. My skin, flesh and hair stop being me and become obsolete ornamentation. I lie on the ground, blow on the breeze and fall from trees.

The carpet smells of cat. Lilly doesn’t want Adeline to think she’s become a lonely cat-lady in her house in the hills. The spray starch can is big and she has a back-up. Enough to coat the carpet. The cat watches from up high; Lilly walks the lounge, hall and bedrooms, bent double, spraying the off-white loop pile with sweeping strokes. Lilly sprays her toes, her tights, between her legs. It is seven-fifteen, Adeline is late and Lilly is unsurprised. The cat comes down when the hiss of the starch can stops. He lies in front of the glass-fronted fireplace exposing his belly to the warmth. Lilly dispenses a small amount of the aerosol onto her hand, lies next to the cat and strokes his fur.

Shelter has become unnecessary. I gave up my apartment several weeks ago, sleeping in parks, on the beach, wherever I felt at home. Then the need for sleep left me too. I tell the people I love what I am doing. I say goodbye. They disregard what I say. Using the last of my human momentum I reel towards Lilly’s solitary house, keen to show her I have finally done something with my life. I’ve shed it. I hope she hasn’t gone to too much trouble, I don’t eat much anymore. I push the last of my human breath from my changing body as I approach her door, hurling myself onto the welcome mat.

I call out, ‘Lilly, I made it.’

On hearing Adeline’s voice Lilly sprays the starch into the air again; there is no longer the slightest hint of the odour of human life, cooking or animal presence in her home. The walls and furniture have a light powder coating. Lilly is almost white. The table cloth is draped over the ironing board, forgotten. When she opens the door there is no one there, certain she heard Adeline’s voice she steps out of the door, her high-heel crunches down on something at the threshold.

When Lilly steps on me I don’t feel it, I just turn into more pieces of twig, smaller granules of sand. She looks like an angel; there is a white aura around her when the light shines through the open door. Lilly looks up and around, shakes her head, says my old name.

‘Adeline, what the hell.’

But I am twigs and sand. She steps back inside, returning with an aerosol can and a dustpan and brush. She sprays me with the contents of the can, and then she sprays herself, the front door and the dustpan and brush. She sweeps me up and takes me indoors. The halogen lights in the kitchen shine through a haze. She walks through to her lounge room and towards the fireplace.

Lilly opens the tempered glass door. There is a hot rush and her hair goes up in flames. Her dress, the cat, the carpet, and the propellant laden air are all on fire. Twigs and sand combust, dustpan and brush melt. The explosion of Lilly’s house in the hills is visible from the coast. There is something in the air though, besides the burst of heat in the dry, cold night. Lilly doesn’t die. Lilly’s cat doesn’t even die. They transform. Ash and embers. Ash—the soft grey, white and black flakes ride the wind—fall on cars and people and houses miles away, enriching soil. Embers glow red and orange, start grass fires, bushfires, bringing furious heat to the cold night.



SAMANTHA MEE lives in Queensland, Australia, and has a Bachelor of Communications and Bachelor of Arts with Honours in Creative Writing from Griffith University. She has a limited internet presence so she cannot provide a link.

I S S N     1 5 5 9 - 6 5 6 7