Strange Impressions




The men with laptops cackled as the gondola careened thorugh the woods. It ejected them at a fertile roadside where three gigantic deer stood in view, spindly and skittish. Your hand was diseased and one of the men bit the poison out of it. You felt manic and restless but a sleek gelatinous seed pod sprouted before you. You were drunk on pain. It was a long walk home through the empty train station, past the sunlit mattresses, into the arms of the smiling photographer.

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The gold building with the glass roof is awash in yellow light. Standing alone in the mail room you hear the word ‘avarice’ as you pour glue onto the decorative plate. Flyers are blowing away, the hats on the heads of the guards stay right where they are, you want to run as fast as you can into the dusk. You are performing the work of nature.

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A slivver of cool air drifts over his hands and he pictures a figure in a silver shroud under a dark tree. The figure turns away and strides towards a fountain, piercing a long finger through a stream of water. It’s skin is translucent and glows like ice. He is crystalised by it, and his fingers rest on the keyboard like fallen pylons. Next door a party begins, and on the other side of the planet alarm clocks sound in an endless cacophony.

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As you raise your hands to the sky readying them for the release, a gleaming window pane catches your eye, and the pastel interior of a sunlit lobby oozes into view. It’s not quite the present, but its something better, and you take a heat soaked step into a ferocious placidity that knows no bounds.

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Straining hard through the maelstrom of hail buffetting your viscous face, you are reminded of a buxom gold button you once had the pleasure of pressing in an elevator in Copenhagen, and you whirl back around towards the stone bridge, swilling the air as though it were whisky and watching the turgid water agitate downstream. 

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Crying ‘hurrah’ at the cascade of mountains before her, a trickle of water sloped over her cheek and she flipped the joker from the deck of cards, feeling all the devices of her life flank around a gathering sensation of solitude.

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As you gaze at a book about camembert on a faux wooden shelf, a figure in red walks by with three tomatoes in a plastic bag, and a dusty head emerges from a manhole to answer a phone. It’s a high octane morning, tapestries seem to be draped everywhere, and you are ready for a vivid jaunt in a glorified street scape which will predictably evade you.

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You are walking under a canopy of oaks, intermittently atrophied in a vast scape of amber leaves. The note you have in your hand falls to the pavement as you gaze entranced at the cliffs beyond the brick fire station. A cool breeze stirs around your neck as you recall a window you once looked through onto a slick voltaic roadway, and it seems agreeably apparent that you are in multiple places at once.

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The creased man is still talking to him about cars, but all he can see is the woman in the yellow dress talking on the phone. She’s speaking quietly into the phone on the terracotta steps. As she saunters towards them, she dips her head to light the tip of a cigarette, and passes them by. Overhead the sun burns like a broken yolk, and silver palms murmur behind a string of telephones lines.


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As she searches she realises that sometimes she doesn’t know any words at all. The words or parts are just a spectra of vibrations. Even when she thinks about flat pack furniture and other simple systems, she cannot absorb any precision at all into her mind. That’s when she knows she needs to submerge herself completely. Yesterday she was contemplating something imperceptible, and she momentarily ceased existing altogether.

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You are wrapped in the sanctuary of an open plan kitchen, admiring a trail of ants which marches beside your matte-like hand. A smattering of beige tiling graces the wall before you, and you notice a fabergé egg on the window sill next to a watercolour of a dark pond. As you scan the room, you recall a dream you had in which you were retrieving large glass orbs from deep underwater chasms with athletic dexterity. Your present is temporarily rewarded with a fantastical quality, which casually subsides into the ethereal sensation of a curling snake of ants on the surface of your skin.

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Under a slick emerald sky a patter of voices emerged. A wave broke on an inky crag and a silken surge of horror bolted through her body. Over the headland an orange quilt was laid out on a patch of smooth pebbles while a spoon slipped silently beneath the surface of a bowl of soup. Some years later, on this very spot, a boy dropped his magnifying glass into a jumble of silver bracken, and it was never seen again by human eyes.

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Almost all day she’s been watching videos in the white room. It’s a bright chamber but all of the dust is starting to seep in. Her socks are sliding around in her silt filled shoes and a pale film of light flows over the television shell. But mercilessly, through the air filter in the tiled bathroom, the ambient sound of a distant lawn mower wafts inside, obscured by the foliage of a douglas fir.

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His sleek finger, like that of a figurine, pressed intently on the light switch and the lamp’s glow immediately soothed him. As he sunk deeper into the plush yellow cushions, and his gold watch strap glinted coyly on his wrist, he wondered softly to himself, just quietly and serenely to himself, if anyone had ever considered interviewing him about anything.

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Only when he leans effortlessly against the raw concrete slab and there is nothing but grey air and concrete around him and there is only muffled chanting on the radio and there is just an idea of a ripple of air but no movement at all, only then does he really feel his body like a machine at rest, silhouetted against all the jagged parts and all of the shining equipment poised for noise.

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Languid in the fabricated lounge area, you attempt to avert your eyes from the plastic vat of assorted dog coats on sale beside you. A grim star spangled poster reminds you to visit on Fridays for Incomprehensible Discounts. The man you need is approaching from the distance. He is negotiating a series of obstructions by swivelling his hips violently so as to walk in as straight a line as possible towards you. He is making a terrifying b-line into your excessively delicate energy field, and you are watching the whole intense debacle, powerless to its striking cohesiveness.

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As though operating on a lower, less perceptible frequency, she found herself in the night air peering at the encroaching moss next to the front steps. A magnolia unfurled in subaqueous flight and the man with the wispy beard trawled the freqiencies for a familiar sound. Inside he wondered about land and measurements and outside a magpie pivoted on a branch, two onyx eyes striking out for sparks.

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In a syrupy sunrise next to a plump blackberry bush, you are slumped in the sour dregs of an uncooperative sleep. A bus trundles around the bend plastered with the terse digital scrawl of an inconceivably banal slogan, and passes out of sight alongside iridescent lawns. Squeamish and squinting, you navigate through mental fumes and begin to piece together the fractions of life before you: in the distance an aria floats on the breeze, and across the road a small poodle jumps over a sprinkler valve.

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In a sea of teal, she lies with her soft cheek against the cool kitchen tiles. Next door in the room full of gold tassels, round figures slow dance in unison until a voice comes over the loud speaker. There is a gas station across the road. A string of lights dangle from a metal railing and a man wrapped in flannelette sheets chuckles to himself, thinking ‘I’ve been living for thousands of days but I still don't know how to get out of bed’.

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He hasn’t always understood the malaise that smudges through his mind on Sundays around noon, but this Sunday is no exception. As the storm rages outside, he spills a ramekin of olives onto the orange rug. Upon bending down, he finds a small bronze button lodged between two furls of fabric, and it becomes infinitely clear that he has exactly what he needs.

*******




When he pressed down on the soil around his new fern all of the voices in his head receded and he felt a giddy sense of equilibrium. Underneath him, a deep and abrasive chortle echoed through a subterranean train platform while a young woman in a checkered shirt peered cautiously downwards, wondering how she really felt about her new shoes.

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It is night, and the woman in the beige robe appears statuesque. She’s on the stone paving in front of the swimming pool, basking in the pale glow shimmering across her slippers. She considers all of the phone calls she needs to make, that have ever been made in fact, but she knows her body is now rigorously glued to this perpetual instant. Palm fronds are fanning regally towards her, and invigorated by the precipice, she feels compelled to raise her arms and sway slowly back and forth.

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Through the meteoric haze and the dim purr of voices you spy a face that looks like a sapphire. A clear, fragile face that seems cryptic in the wreck of murky skin and iced veneers. From your left you hear a shrill twinkling splintered by a callous surging frequency, and you crawl quietly towards the face, wondering if it can tell you aren’t human at all.

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Just as he was asked to define his ideal work environment, a blue winged warbler appeared outside the window accompanied by a slight spectral flair through a clump of burgundy heather, and he thought to himself ‘how good’.

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Under the overpass you peel a mandarin and listen to the thick roar of circling traffic. A shadow flickers over the discarded mirror on the median strip and a faint scent of molasses wafts through the air. You catch sight of a woman in her car, she runs her sharp red nails through her hair and merges into a stream of metal. It occurs to you that the clue might be towards the water, and you set about finding signs in the soft grass around you.

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Struck by a palpable vision as I pitched the tea bag into the hot water, I felt a pendulous rush of concentrated weightlessness. I seemed suspended deep within the demure aura of a man with a felt hat arranging fruit in a wooden bowl. Outside his humble window framed by sienna curtains, sun shafts over a pastoral vista. In a wistful finale, an avocado is placed atop a mound of pomelos, and one conscious step paves the way to another.

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You are standing on a golf course watching a white gull soar above a tuscan pagoda. A berserk tangle of bamboo gestures overhead as you blink nonchalantly in the direction of a distant sand hill. The holler of an unseen man drifts up the fairway as the gull squawks and plunges below the pines. And with a blissfully contorted smile you turn back towards the clubhouse, not quite comprehending the echo of majesty you’re feeling.

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His mop of flat, feeble hair made me shiver with disgust. The arrogant tapping of his pallid fingers upon the desk left us all feeling depleted. The sun was high, air conditioners thrummed around the crisp interior and I thought to myself, I must purchase some red velvet as soon as possible.

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I placed my fingers upon my eyelids and felt pure warmth pass through. I knew I needed to face the sun and absorb as much heat as I could. Of course this heat had passed through many swirling currents before me. Whilst I sat there on the stone bench next to the old house, I recalled a box of ribbons I had seen on the carpet at Lauren’s house. There were no people or dogs anywhere in sight, but there were floss pink roses next to me, perfectly still.

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Watch the man walk across the road towards his car. He steps across the road towards his car with a bag full of shirts. He feels a flutter in his heart at the thought of a clean, crisp shirt and a nice, cool drink. As he grips the bag of clean shirts he strides across the road. He simply glides across the road and ducks into his car, and everything feels
fluid again.


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A dream appears on the horizon in an apricot haze. A wild-eyed man with legs covered in oil careens up a bike path in a motorised chair. A woman in a lilac visor feeds a child on a triangle of grass. And just there, through the sunlit window beyond the empty lot, there is a peacock feather tucked into the center of a
rolled up poster. 


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For a brief but electrifying moment, as he lies listening to the song he loved as a teenager, he feels with every fibre in his being that somewhere in this world there is a perfect place that encapsulates and balances all of the nuanced and effervescent experiences that have shaped his technicolour existence.

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In a deep amber glow she sits on the velour couch against the wooden wall. Her pink shirt settles in nicely against the brown panelling. As she gazes at the television, she wonders whether she’ll ever completely admit to herself or to others just how famous she thinks she should be.

*******




I push up my sleeve as I pick up the phone to call the physician and take a swill of water ~ a smooth swill of water as I pick up the phone to call the physician. I lean back in my chair and listen to his voice, I rest my elbow on the ergonomic chair as I chuckle knowingly. My elbow just rests effortlessly on the chair and I chuckle knowingly as I listen to his voice.


*******




When she remembered the green jumper she used to have she felt a gasping memory breach the surface of her mind. Someone on a vague street corner at dusk noticed a blue glow from a sewer grate. A bird flew over a silent fruit stand, this bird might have flown over you when you were on holiday. Maybe you wanted to talk to someone on your holiday, but instead you meandered in an ephemeral unknown, which is very vivid and crystallised in your mind.


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Thats how I feel when I’m happy. I dance and speak and look. And listen to what I speak. I’m excited to put things on my table. I always try to see myself as being that person. Sometimes I glimpse myself there, being that way.


*******




I bite my lip as I stand at the crossing and the sound of an electric guitar solo floats out of a nearby furniture store. I wonder to myself for perhaps the second time whether heat still controls what we see through windows. A stirring in the bush causes a light to flash below me, and I grasp the strap of my bag and remember when I too had a scrap book full of orange clouds.


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Of-course it wasn’t easy when he returned to work. It was as if someone had carefully placed four or five cinder blocks onto his back and clipped clothes pegs to his fingers. Such bothersome and impractical extensions of himself made it hard to make toast in the staff kitchen and glance casually at his colleagues who were usually in all directions. But outside a spindly tree branch oscillated enthusiastically in the wind, and two red cars coasted by.


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As I hung up the receiver I heard a sound in the middle of the room and I spun towards it expectantly. My fair hair brushed across my ears as a pair of eyes blinked at me through the blinds. I was hoping it was something more than I had imagined. As I hoped for more, I watched the centre and looked for sources of fire, but voices floated around and the plastic phone receiver felt sweaty under my palm.


*******




Yes that is you standing and walking there. Pausing to consider a portrait in a gallery, walking towards a sensual yet severe portrait in a pristine and empty gallery and pausing to consider it. I barely notice you standing there, standing and walking and pausing just there.


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Copyright © 2018 Mia Middleton. All Rights Reserved.