Stomp (Libbie Chellew)

Posted on March 15, 2014 by in Lies To Live By

Stomp (Libbie Chellew)

NeckI wish I didn’t have a hole. It seems extreme, I know. But I can’t seem to get the idea out of my head. Life would be easier without a hole. There’d be less anxiety. It seems I’m forgetting about the arsehole in all this and I guess I am. We’re all equal in that sense. Maybe it’s more to do with wishing for a cock. Penis envy. I don’t think so.

Grace was attacked. She’s a friend of mine. She’s fine now. It’s been years, you know. She had counselling. She says she’s fine. She’s engaged to a guy named Craig. Clearly using her hole. I don’t mean to be rude but she is actively using it. She says she’s fine. She must be fine. She’s had a lot of support.

I find myself thinking about it, though. Every time I see a guy. I get hot around the ears and tight in the throat. Grace says she didn’t see anyone as she walked through the car park to her car. She says she was still on edge because it was empty. She’d actually thought at the time that it was the kind of place where bad things could happen. In some ways that was a bit of a premonition for Grace, I think.

But I think about it all the time, now. All the time; and I notice when I’m in the kind of place where bad things happen, if I walk through a dark park or near a train station. If I’m alone with a thing, a thing with a cock, like stuck in an elevator with one.

Grace and I talked about it in the first week after it happened. Grace says she had her keys in her hand. But she wasn’t holding a key between her middle fingers; she wasn’t holding the keys to use them as a weapon. We’d been told in a self-defence class in year ten not to do that. If you try to stab an attacker with your keys and dropped them, how would you get away when you finally had the chance? How would you get away if your keys had been lost in the struggle? That’s what Grace remembered from self-defence.

Do you have the time? the man says to her. Then he is next to her, against her, backing her between two cars. Excuse me, is all she says. That’s all she says and she pushes against him. He has her arm. Like a bouncer guiding some delinquent through pub traffic.

This is the most detail she ever really talked about. This is where her story gets wrapped up. She tells it only to show how she didn’t really have time to react. How it happened so quickly. He pushed her down on the concrete after this. And that was that.

She gave me her statement to read. A few days before the trial started, when I was at her house, she gave it to me to read. I can’t seem to get over it. I keep thinking about it. It’s fucking revolting and I hate myself for thinking about it. I think that’s why I don’t really see Grace much anymore.

But back then I stayed at her place after it happened. I stayed in her room in case she had bad dreams, in case she woke up upset. I hugged her when she cried and I cried with her. Grace would keep saying how we were taught not to hold our keys between our fingers. And I made cups of tea for Grace and her mum.

I was in court to support her, too. We saw the guy in court. He was there. Grace was trying not to cry because the guy was in the room. She didn’t want to cry in front of him again. Again. The first thing I thought was, he’s not so big. He was only a little taller than I am. Maybe Grace should have pulled instead of pushed when he had her arm. But he had her arm close to him. He was holding her tight, I think.

Anyway he was facing the courtroom but he didn’t look around. He just looked calm. I stared at him. I couldn’t help myself.

In Grace’s statement she gave more detail. I read it over twice. She says he pushed his forearm against her neck so her face squished against a car window. She says she dropped her keys. That annoyed me to read that. If you’re going to drop them anyway you might as well have a go at the key stab. The self-defence instructor should know that.

The loser says, you’re not going to fight, you’re not going to try anything, I’ll kill you if you do. And Grace believes he’s going to kill her. And he throws her to the ground. She says she doesn’t know what he was wearing but his jacket made swishing noises. And the bitumen rips her face. And he pulls at her underwear but she is pressing her pelvis against the bitumen. She hears him undoing his zip. And it doesn’t really matter what she was yelling but she explains it all in the statement. He says to her, shut up, cunt.

What I remember from self-defence is learning how to fight while on our back. I say to the instructor, what about if we’re being held down on our front, on our face? The instructor just says that after the eight weeks of one-hour lessons we shouldn’t get to that point. We shouldn’t even get to the point where we are fighting on our backs either. But he taught us that, how to fight a guy from the ground. I say to him, what if there is more than one guy holding us down? And he looks at me like I’m a downer.

I imagine Grace choking out a few words, saying something to make the guy flip her over, something like, you’re a coward and you can’t even look me in the eye while you do it. And it works. That’s how she gets him to flip her over, because if she’d been on her back she could have put up a fight.

She can fight like we learnt. When he puts both his hands around her neck, she knows what to do, and she brings her knees up, and as he takes one hand off her neck to take his cock and enter her, she clasps her hands together and pounds down on the elbow of the arm that holds her neck, and he falls toward her, and she uses the momentum of his fall, bucks up her hips, and throws him to one side, and as he falls on his side, she rises.

But it can’t be that easy, I don’t think. It seemed easy in our self-defence class, though.

Say he grabs her ankle or something and that makes her twist back down to the ground. When he tries to get on top of her again she kicks her legs wildly. He moves around her legs and goes to strangle her again but she digs her finger into his eye socket. The eye socket is the best target. It makes him yell out. I have dreams all the time about sticking my fingers into an eye socket. I can feel the moisture and pressure under my fingernails as I wake up. If Grace could have done that, then, he would have been shocked. Shocked enough for her to get to her knees and push him onto his stomach and lay her body weight across him. And then he can feel the bitumen ripping his cock, his eye burning and bleeding. And then he’s on his face.

He is on his face on the pavement.

This is what I keep going over in my mind. Over and over. I feel guilty about imagining what could have happened. But I still do, all the time. It doesn’t feel good but I still do.

If only she could choke him out like we were taught, wrapping her right arm around his neck from behind and holding her left bicep, push the back of his head with her left hand. She pushes his head and squeezes his neck with her other arm, choking him. And even if he struggles, she has the intent. She has the intention of snapping his neck before letting him go. And as he becomes limp, she keeps squeezing his neck. She tells herself to count to five. She counts slowly. As she releases him, his head drops heavily against the concrete. And Grace stands up ready to strike. But he doesn’t move. Then she calls triple zero. And she’s crying of course. And this makes me feel bad. She’s crying again. She’s crying in my scenario. She’s on the phone. Police, Fire or Ambulance, a voice asks. Should she go back to her car and wait with the doors locked? Should she check his pulse? I think she should tie him up, but she’s not MacGyver, I guess.

Grace was strong in court. She didn’t cry. I did. The guy got off because of the mishandling of evidence. All that part is complicated. But I wonder about my scenario and the police coming and the court case happening and he still gets away with it somehow. I wish she didn’t need them. I wish she didn’t need the police or the courts, to rely on them to catch the guy, and to ensure he gets justice and Foxtel.

It’s fucked. And it doesn’t satisfy me, and I make up this story in my head, and it doesn’t satisfy me either. And I wonder how Grace is satisfied, how her parents are satisfied, how they can smile and carry on.

So I imagine a fight. But only one ending satisfies me. It happens like this: Grace sees him there, unconscious, mouth slack, and his cock showing between his undone fly. And I see Grace stop. She stops crying. She stops shrieking into the phone with the police and calmly walks over to him.

She walks up to him—to his limp penis protruding from between his jacket and his jeans—and I imagine her stomping. She stomps.

She stomps and she stomps. And she doesn’t stop.

Virtual Baby (Libbie Chellew)

Posted on August 3, 2013 by in Lies To Live By

Virtual Baby (Libbie Chellew)

Breastfeeding 2There was a bottle half-full with formula on the floor in front of the Vulcan, a pile of unfolded washing on the other end of the couch and a full mug holding my morning coffee on the mantel. There was a towel, probably making the carpet damp, next to a plastic tub filled with filmy bathwater. I saw the dummy wedged between the carpet and the underneath of the coffee table.

I lay on the couch, feeling resigned and heavy. My mouth was slack against a woolly cushion. It was just after four and the house had been quiet for twenty minutes. I gave myself another moment before I sat up. Even though the house was quiet I felt no peace. The orchestra had stopped but there was still a relentless silence that pounded in my ear.

I touched the vomit-crusted shoulder of my t-shirt. I thought about finally getting to wash my hair. I thought about taking off my t-shirt. Reluctantly, I stood up.

I took off the t-shirt and threw it towards the hallway. I stood in my bra in the middle of the living room and felt the carpet under my toes. I looked down. I could cut those nails, I thought. I could vacuum too. I brushed crumbs towards the coffee table with my foot. On the coffee table was another mug; the tea inside had started to creep up the sides.

My husband’s mug. He had left the tea, half drunk, nearly nine hours earlier. He’d left for work in haste, starting with the clink of that mug on the coffee table and finishing with the beating of his motorcycle’s revs as he rolled over the gravel toward the street. My husband had fixed a loose screw on the cot before he left. He had fixed it but he hadn’t said a proper goodbye. I took the mug into the kitchen.

Rain pattered on the roof. Outside the kitchen window the sky was grey to the edge, making the trees and shadows darker. I wondered if he would come back from work. He has left me, I thought. He has driven off to work and thought, that’s enough. The noise has become too much. He has decided that he doesn’t love me anymore. We only ever seem to talk about things that need to be done or fixed. He would say, sadly, she couldn’t seem to make an effort. He would say he wasn’t satisfied and he would ask how his life got him here. I imagined making dinner for one. I imagined making tomato on toast. I mouthed the word ‘scurvy.’

I ran the tap in the kitchen sink until the water was hot. I put his mug under. The circular stain of tea didn’t shift. I added the mug to the collection of dishes on the bench top—about three days worth. I put in the plug and the alien-green detergent. The steam fogged the window for a moment. White hail started suddenly, and hit the windowsill and bounced off the top of the fence. I watched the hail as the bubbles bred. I wanted to go outside and turn my face towards the sky, keep my eyes squeezed shut and open my mouth, just to feel the sensation.

I opened the cupboard below the sink and took out a pair of gloves. I pulled the yellow rubber gloves onto my flexed hands. I started with the cutlery. When I leant over to take a stack of bowls my bare stomach touched the wet steel lip of the sink edge and made a line across my lower belly. I stood back quickly, taking a tea towel to my wet skin. The bowls I held slipped and clanged like cymbals against the sink. I swore quietly. I waited, leaning on the sink. I felt the steam behind my ears and on my eyes. Suddenly, it cried out.

I pulled at the gloves and they come off with a thwack, their insides revealing a paler version of their yellow surface. I slowly walked down the hallway to our room. I went in and looked down into the cot. Simulacra. Automation. Virtual. Virtual Baby. I turned away and looked for a t-shirt on the floor. I found one, not clean, but free of vomit. I pulled the t-shirt over my head. I looked back in the cot.

I touched my lower stomach, staring at the baby. It wasn’t crying as much anymore, as if it had forgotten it was meant to be. Then after a moment it started again. I wasn’t convinced. I had automatically come to the cot, conditioned to my duties but my arms were tired, immobile. It made the same noise over and over, shaking the head, jolting the body. Slowly, I placed my hand on its chest. It was warm. I could feel its heartbeat. Its chest rose and fell rhythmically with its tears.

I split the studs of the jumpsuit apart. I rolled it onto its side, checked under its arms and ran my hand over the back of its neck. I searched everywhere for a seam, for stitching, for an off button. Nothing. He was smooth. Except for some eczema in his elbows. I stood upright and breathed in. I could see myself faintly in the bedroom window, my face patterned by the fence.

I took a blanket, lifted him out and hurried out of the room. In the lounge room I calmed him. I sat on the half of the couch that wasn’t covered in unfolded washing. I made a flurry of shushing noises and sympathetic hums. This calmed him and he stopped crying. He looked up at me, his eyes bulging but his stare distant, as if his attention was inward. He kicked and wriggled violently. I started to fold. He was asleep when I was about half-way through the pile. I turned the TV on with the volume low.

I wished I had found something else to do before I’d gotten myself stuck there.

A motorcycle made a distant thunderous change of gear. I sat still as the roar came closer; I listened to it gear down to a deep rumble on approach to the house. He was home. His bike crunched up the drive. A cold draft followed him in and he came over to kiss my head, his icy face was soft against my cheek. I wiped my hair away from my face. He turned the television up so each word of the show could be heard. He talked to me about the hail and the dints in the cars at work. He was saying how lucky it was he had the bike parked in the warehouse.

There was movement on my legs. I raised the baby up and held him against my chest. I pulled out my breast and moved it carefully to his lips. He squeezed his eyes shut and sucked. I thought of something else to add to the list, something else to fix. I registered a sour taste in my mouth. I shouldn’t be left alone, I thought.

‘I have to talk to you about something.’

He looked at me.