Here is the beginning of the Deep Red Sea, a one-woman prose poem for performance. If you would like more info, or to read the full piece, please contact me on megan@improvision.co.za

Prologue

I want to tell you a story. This is not my story but in the telling of it, it will become mine. It is not your story. But you will know this story by the signs, and it will have parts of your story, becoming yours. This story will shed tears, becoming my tears, becoming your tears. And these tears will flow from the sea, like our blood out of our veins, which is why this story is called The Deep Red Sea. And the tides are red, like blood.

This story is like other stories. It is a story about love. All stories are about love. This story is about love. Stories are either about love and power or power and love. Some stories are about pain or betrayal because of power and love. Just mix up the order of any of these for any story.

Part 1

Some Herstory

In this story I am not me. In this story I am tall. I have small breasts in this story. I am right-handed and I paint. I am a painter in this story. In this story I love animals. And I love the sea and I dream of the ocean. I am not me here; here I am this tall woman, with a long sharp nose and a workman’s hands and small breasts, who paints. And even though I like the sea and I love dogs and I paint sometimes, this woman, in this story, who I will be, is not me.

This woman who I will be will start the story by painting and crying. I will start to be her now, and I will paint and cry and talk to my best friend on the phone. I will have a best friend who lives in Australia, and even though I do have a best friend who lives in Australia, the best friend who I will talk to will be the best friend of the woman I will be.

“I know. I know. It is just so sore. And I hate myself for hurting her like that. You should have seen her face. It crumpled like a brown paper bag. I miss her. I … feel horrible. Oh, Lee, have I made the most terrible mistake?”

In the pause, while my best friend is talking and giving advice and consolation I will tell you what has happened to me and what I have done and why I am crying in this story.

I have broken up with my girlfriend. It was heartbreaking. We had been together for eleven years; a lifetime, a journey, a ritual, a comfort that had ended in a dead-end, a stale-mate, stale breath, tired, grumpy, old cushion old couch co-existence.  I had, after suspecting growing into knowing that it was over, finally found the courage and ended it. But, because of old feelings, and sadness, and longing and flutterings of hope and moments of fantasy memory smell and intimate sharings and made-up words that were only ours in love, the loss of a kitten, run over in our road, this separation took so long to do. And the longer it took the less I was believed, and so it slip-slid back into an endless unhappy lump of indecision. We shared a bed, house, phone and cat, but my heart was slowly silting up with a throbbing resentment and unluckiness.

I will tell my best friend more about this unluckiness.

“When I told her she had to move out she went berserk. Amy punched through the wood panelling of the front door and set off the alarm. When the security guy arrived he thought she had killed someone, her fist was dripping with blood. Lee, can you believe I refused to take her to the hospital? Shit! Am I a cold-hearted bitch?”

And again I will tell you what happened while my best friend reassures me in an ‘it’s all for the best and how I need to be strong and how time heals’ voice.

I asked my old love to move out.

I had just come back from my friend’s exhibition opening. It had been a glamorous minimalist affair. Her tiny miniature sculptures were all white porcelain baby animals, mounted on white pillars in a completely white room. She had asked her invited guests to wear white too, and typically, only the newspaper critic hadn’t followed the request. I had worn a white vest and white overalls but the blue dark shadows under my eyes betrayed me. And old friends kept asking me what was wrong. Then, in an alley outside, and to the accompaniment of a far off police siren I let the loose tongue of a quick joint spill out of my mouth. I stood in the gloom and smell of that alley and spoke-choked my unhappiness out to my agent.

“Angelique,” she said, and her voice slid cool and sharp as a blade into my soft, wet head. “Now I know why you haven’t had an exhibition in years. Go home, kick her out and paint. Call me when you have twenty paintings and we’ll exhibit. Now go.” She turned, breathing out the last of the blue smoke, crushing the end of the joint on the road with her white heel, and then she disappeared into the celestial white light of the florescent doorway.

In a fever I drove the twenty minutes back to the house, with colours flashing and idea memory images half forming on my mind’s canvass. And now I will use what happened next as an excuse. A final excuse. A brilliant blame.

“I swear I walked in and found her on her hands and knees on the kitchen floor with one of my paintbrushes in her hand. She was trying to get an olive from under the fridge. With my brush. I hit the roof and she hit the door.

When she came back yesterday to fight about the last of the stuff, I couldn’t fight back. I let her take almost everything. And it was even more sad. A fight would have shown her that I still cared.”

Suddenly in an empty house, the car gone and the cat, the bills mounting; of course she was the one with the stable job, I will slowly set out to re-grow myself.