Saturday, 18 June 2022

'Detached' by Anika Carpenter

The man opposite me has been eyeing my chest since we left Euston Station. I don’t want to think about my breasts right now; I’m reading a novel. A Biologist and I, by proxy, are exploring a fish market in Norway. A halibut ‘shiny as freshly polished brogues’ is urging the Biologist to join him for dinner. She’s declining, citing deadlines. But, the Halibut’s smile is salty, and the crunch of ice as other fish are picked from trays and parcelled in paper reminds her that life is easily half lived.

Unbroken observation of my chest infects the story’s dialogue. The Halibut flounders, ‘You should be ashamed of the way you’re pressing your pretty hands against the glass of the refrigerator, trying to seduce me with your in-depth knowledge of oceanography.’

I shake my breasts loose and hand them to the man sitting opposite me. But, a few lines back into my book, there is sighing, and when I look up, there is also squeezing. I scoop up my breasts and bundle them into the overhead luggage rack. The man sitting opposite me departs at York.

By Newcastle, the Halibut and the Biologist have dived off of Skorpo Island, swayed with kelp, joined a choir of clams. By Edinburgh, they’ve decided against birthing mermaids.

Online, the train company’s lost property portal instructs me to enter the colour, size and distinct identifying features of the object/s I’ve lost. Five results pop up. None of the breasts on show are mine. Maybe mine are still in the luggage rack? Perhaps a cleaner tossed them into a rubbish cart where they’re filthy and cold, pressed up against sleazy headlines.

News comes via a mountainous postcard   ̶  ‘We’re touring Tromsø! Bounding around Bergen! Resting beneath the Northern Lights, celebrating the redirection of charged particles.’

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