The late afternoon sun caught the faceted swirls in the glass fruit bowl. The oranges weren’t exactly ripe and far from perfect. The bubbled, flawed skin of the oranges looked unappetising. Del thought that they were probably brown and dry in the centre. Nonetheless the colour brightened the room. They may never be eaten but they served a purpose. This crossed the horrendous abyss of Del’s idle mind.
She sat on her fifty dollar Salvos couch. It was red velvet. Like something out of Vogue Living, but it wasn’t. With her back against the armrest and her legs outstretched the rattle of the ceiling fan lulled her. Junk mail, letters and half-read books flapped hideously in the downdraft. The usual urban noises wafted in on a stream of hot light through the locked security screen. She sighed and stared blankly at the rented television. She wasn’t watching it. She was in her favourite ethereal state. Nothingness.
Del was roused by the dust mites she breathed in from the couch. She didn’t have a vacuum cleaner. Sneezing, she got up and served herself ice cream – chocolate ice cream and resumed her position. It was a hard thing to accomplish, nothingness.
It was late. Del put on the mattress-side lamp (since she didn’t have a bed) so she could create a shadow. She lay statue still and examined her silhouette out of the corner of her eye. She tried to see her profile but her eyeballs ached with the effort. It simply could not be done.
She wondered how long her lashes were, and then chided herself for being so vain. She wondered if her eyeballs needed exercise. Did her eyeballs lack flexibility?
She heaved over onto her side and watched her belly sag into the mattress. Disgustedly fascinated she poked her belly hard. It jiggled grotesquely, she thought, and it certainly made a sloshing sound. Revolted, she rolled back onto her back. Her pendulous breasts cleaved and flopped at her sides.
So began another appearance-agonising night. How much cosmetic surgery could one have before dissolving into a puddle on the floor? What do you do when you don’t fit your own body?
She watched the door. She waited for someone to break in and kill, rob or rape her. She knew she watched too many movies alone, but she was alone and her eyes began to well with the tears of self-pity.
When she had stopped crying she watched the fan. Her eyes ached again and were as dry as sand. She felt for her pulse and couldn’t find it. She began muttering to herself and wondered if she was dead. She lay very still and listened, it was there – just. She thought she could be dying. She reached over to her notepad and pen (reserved for pedantic purposes). She jotted a note to see the doctor.
Between the canyon of her breasts she could still see her belly and pushed it again. She began to sing.
Jelly on a plate
Del’s fat belly must lose weight!
Halfway through an encore she stopped suddenly and began to cry again. After some time she went back into the lounge room.
She switched on the light. The bowl of bright oranges was the first thing that caught her eye. Del picked one up and began to peel it. Maybe it would counteract the ice cream, she thought. The citrus spray stung her eyes and the pulpy skin clogged under her nails. Carefully quartering the flesh, she began to eat. As the sweet juice dribbled down what she imagined to be her many chins, she knew nothing could be known from the outside.