A Day in the Life of the Author

I was woken too early by sunlight because my eye mask was lost in the sheets, and wished for another hour of sleep. I wrapped up my framed PhD certificate and took it to the JP offices in West End. In the fragment of mirror in the lift, I observed the bags beneath my eyes from tiredness, and figured that putting on blush had been a good idea because I was colourless again. The receptionist had bright pink lips and called me darling. I was to wait in the room next door. The JP lumbered in, slow and kind with a bowed back. She was a volunteer, rostered on Mondays, she said in reply to my questions, and took her stamps out of a thin plastic bag. The receptionist burst in. Samantha Stouser had won the tennis. I vaguely registered that this was important, and remembered Serena Williams in the news that morning. ‘She was playing against Williams?’ I asked. The receptionist nodded. ‘She just gave her acceptance speech. She was so humble.’ I smiled. The receptionist was friendly, but then she began scowling at the JP, until she noticed me still watching her, puzzled. She went out again. The JP asked about my degree and told me of Robert Menzies, who wrote letters to his daughter. He’d had time to think about his policies, she said, because it took so long to get from A to B. Not like these days where people were bombarded with technology all the time. She was a nice lady, and I thanked her for her help. Desperate for a coffee, I went across the road to a cafe down an alleyway I had often walked past but never had time to stop at. It was cute, with biscuits and sweets in clear compartments before the coffee machine. I contemplated the Turkish delight and decided against it. I stared at the barista too long because I was trying to work out what he was saying. He must have thought I fancied him, and offered me free shortbread with my coffee. I said I was allergic to dairy and that I couldn’t. The poor man was confused. I gave him a brilliant smile and told him, ‘You have a good day’ and went out, smiling, with my coffee. The blush was really working. Then I regretted the shortbread, and thought I should have at least taken it to make him feel better. At the traffic lights a well-dressed young man stared at a drain, then lay down in the gutter and stuck his hand into it. The lights changed. I was tempted to look back but that would have been bad manners. At the Cultural Centre busway I was so dazed with tiredness I missed my bus. The next came in ten minutes. I read some more of Nicholas Baker’s The Anthologist which was still beside my bed and which I dip into between books, as it has no plot but is amusing. At work I scanned the certified copy the degree certificate and sent it off with a postdoctoral application and wasted far too much time. A colleague told me to get some sleep. I said I would. At the bus stop, I watched the full moon rising. In the seat before me on the bus were a young Asian couple with thick black hair, comparing their open hands. A mother, father and their daughter boarded and sat behind me, speaking in a loud foreign accent which must have been European. One of them smelled of cigarettes. I turned off my hearing aid so I could read. I felt I could tell a man I loved him. The book made me laugh in places. At home, there was no mail in my mailbox. My neighbour had removed his outside furniture too because they are oiling the decks tomorrow. I ate fresh corn, and toast with Vegemite for dinner, and figured I should probably have more but the effort was beyond me. I played some Scrabble against my mother and brother on Facebook.  In both instances, I was winning. I wrote, and stared into space.


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