‘Passionfruit’ and ‘Cold Snaps’
Quick Fictions Sussex: Myriad Editions and the University of Sussex, 2013.
Quick Fictions is a digital project of Myriad Editions and the University of Sussex. Each story published in the Quick Fictions suite must be under 300 words.
Tether to our nostalgia, wistful creeper. In the evening, pulling the vine back off the fence palings to look for ripe ones. The lunar glow of nascent passionfruit, their Martian flowers. Bouncing his infant son, my brother-in-law recounts a Dutch idiom, huisje, boompje, beestji: “the house, the tree, the pet”. Three ingredients for a whole life. Subconsciously, we replace the tree with the passionfruit vine. As children our hands were always too small to carry all the fruit gathered in a day. We lined them up on the kitchen windowsill: from the smooth and globular to the withered little black stars. Best to eat them hot from the sun and lick the insides clean. Styrofoam squeak of the passionfruit halved. Now they grow smaller and the white pith has thickened, womb-like. The vine is old of course, and the summers are hotter. A philosopher at the nearby university writes of a ‘psychoterratic’ condition he calls solastalgia. With his research team, Glenn Albrecht has observed it in multiple cultures. Solastalgia is a type of mental pain that arises when home is irreparably changed by the subtle indexations of the climate. Things that should bloom don’t. Small rituals are relocated. Because the vine is depleted we buy ours this year. Passionfruit are expensive. “Well, you can’t feed a family on flowers,” a woman at the checkout said.
There’s a certain Icelandic number you can call to hear the glaciers melting. In the darkly-lit, cottonmouth hours, those over-spent midways when your toes are in your stomach, open the phone quick: find the contact listed “Icebergs”. Hands press the phone against your sticky head. If you need to, put the handset down on the tiles and lie on top of it. Shielded by a foot of ceramic from the hunting thoughts loose in the rooms, you place your call to the end of the world. It sounds like a mountain eating an orchestra. Beneath that, the witless tickle of thaw music and plunking moraines. Let go your jaw. Let it slide out beneath you. These songs of dying water. Cold, mercurial. Rapids in the canals of your ears.
Hear how a boulder sometimes
The rattle of stones in the outwash. Rocks going so slowly, impossibly slowly, through the glaciers. There is no word to describe their velocity. Each oval stone is birthed wet onto a bed of other oval stones.
Let your brain bathe in meltwater. Your thoughts drop through the phone into the frozen ocean. Sleep there. Sleep now in your jaw. Beyond, the sun blisters the lips of the blind.